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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Prize money in 1955 plus a sharp King's Gambit

     While looking at the 1955 Chess Life magazine I ran across the breakdown of the prize fund for the 1955 US Open and it was interesting to see what the players received as prize money. First place tie breaks ultimately went to Rossolimo after some confusion which you can read about here
      Rossolimo won a Buick automobile. I am not sure exactly what the cost of the car was, but a stock 1955 Buick 4-door Tourback Sedan sold for $2,291 which is the equivalent of about $20,300 in today's dollars.  For his second place finish Reshevsky got $1,000...about $8,892 today. 
Other prizes were: 
Donald Byrne $750 ($6632 today) 
Larry Evans and Abe Turner $550 ($4,864 today) 
5 players received $300 ($2,653 today) 9 players, including Arthur Dake received $72.23 ($638.80 today) 
16 players, including William Lombardy, received $3.13 ($27.68 today) 
Sonja Graf, top woman won $50 ($442.20 today) 

By contrast, the top prizes in the last U.S. Open were:  $8,000-4,000-2,000-1,500-1,000-800-600-500 plus $200 to a clear winner. The total prize fund last year was $50,000 compared to $5,115 (a little over $45,000 today) in 1955. 

Rossolimo (left) receives his car

Unrelated to the Open, I stumbled on the following King's Gambit game played in the Wichita, Kansas Open in 1954. It's a Cunningham Gambit where black snatched too many Pawns and white quickly got the upper hand. The ensuing complications were enormous and, as usual, it's a good idea to play through the variations on an actual board and try to visualize all the lines.


  1. i like your notes. they are not just a bunch of engines analysis. thanks.

  2. I believe Rossolimo sold the Buick straight after the US Open - his day job was a taxi driver, and he obviously needed the cold, hard cash! At least he got a better than the one Bobby Fischer got for his 11-0 victory in the 1963/64 US Championship tournament - a portable typewriter.

    Lee Magee wasn't a slouch - he was multiple Nebraska State champion in the 1950's.
    Those US Opens have lots of interesting games, due to the wide range in playing abilities of the participants.

  3. Mcgee was Nebraska champion in 1951, 1952, 1953 and 1955. Impressive was Rev. Howard Ohman's record: he was champion every year from 1917 to 1940, then again in 1942 and 1946.

    For an anecdote about my encounter with Rossolimo see here: