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Monday, April 25, 2016

Frank Anderson

     Frank R. Anderson (January 3, 1928, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada – September 18, 1980, San Diego, California) was a Canadian IM and a chess writer. 
     Anderson only started playing in his late teens after battling back from a serious illness that left him bedridden. He became very ill with rheumatoid arthritis in Toronto and was bedridden for five years. That's when he learned to play chess. At first played correspondence chess, quickly becoming a strong player. He graduated in Physics and Mathematics from the University of Toronto. 
     He was a computer expert by training and in the late 50s, along with Bob Cody, he wrote a program for the IBM 605 computer to play pawn endings up to a K+2Ps vs K and P. Their program was able to play these endings perfectly. When the program was demonstrated at the Canadian Conference of Scientists it played against more than 50 different opponents, each of whom was allowed to choose his own starting position, given the small number of pawns. In each case the program played perfectly. 
     Unfortunately, the strategy that enabled these endings to be programmed successfully was never documented and the programmers did not keep a written record, nor were they able to remember it. Anderson once confessed that even at the time he could not explain why some of their strategies worked. 
     His first noteworthy result was in the 1946 Canadian Championship in Toronto when he scored 10-3 in the preliminaries and just missed qualifying for the finals. Anderson won the Toronto Championship six times (1947-48-50-51-52-58).  He also played in a handful of tournaments in the United States, always doing well. In 1948, he tied for first place in the U.S. Junior Championship in Oak Ridge, Tennessee with Arthur Bisguier. He won the Ontario Open Championship in 1948, 1949, and 1951. 
     In the Canadian Championship his results were: 
1949 - tied for 3rd-4th behind Maurice Fox and Fedor Bohatirchuk 
1951 - 2nd behind Povilas Vaitonis 
1953 - tied for 1st with Abe Yanofsky 
1955 – finished 1st 
1957 - tied for 3rd-4th with Miervaldis Jursevskis behind Vaitonis and Géza Füster 

     Anderson played for Canada in three Olympiads (1954, 1958, 1964). He won the second-board gold medal at Amsterdam 1954, with a score of (+13 =2 -2). Leonard Barden wrote that for his “prize” he received a used copper or pewter jug about a foot high that had several dents in it. Barden, who described Anderson as one of the most likeable and pleasant players he had ever ever met, mentioned that due to his disability Anderson was on crutches, but he always made light of it. After the Olympiad on his way back to Canada he stopped over in London and visited Barden's home where he explained to Barden that he didn't like the jug and that it would increase his excess luggage charge if he took it home. He left it with Barden who kept in on his fireplace mantel for over 30 years. 
     He repeated the feat at the Munich 1958 Olympiad with a score of (+9 =3 -1). At Tel Aviv 1964, he scored (+4 =3 -5) on second board.  Probably the most notorious incident in Anderson's career happened at the Munich Olympiad in 1958. There he had the best percentage score on board two but became ill due to a reaction to an incorrect prescription and was unable to play his final round.  Anderson claimed that cost him the GM title because even if he had played and lost, he would have made the final norm necessary. According to the Chess Federation of Canada, a close examination based on the rules then in effect did not support his claim. Anderson was awarded the IM title in 1954 and became the first Canadian-born International Master. 
     He lost a transatlantic cable game to Igor Bondarevsky played over four days in February 1954, but won a return game when Bondarevsky visited Toronto a few months later in July 1954. Read the newspaper article HERE.
     Anderson scored 7-3 in the 1956 Canadian Open Championship in Montreal for a shared 8-12th place, drawing his game in the last round with 13-year-old Bobby Fischer. 
    He wrote a weekly chess column for the The Hamilton Spectator from 1955 to 1964 and was co-author of the tournament book of the Fourth Biennial World Junior Championship, Toronto 1957.  
     He moved to San Diego, California after the 1964 Olympiad where he lived with his wife Sylvia and operated a tax consulting business. He was inducted into the Canadian Chess Hall of Fame in 2001. His style was precise and positional, with an emphasis on the endgame, but he could also create clever tactics if the situation called for it. 
     I noticed many of his games were long and boring, but in the following game he struts his tactical stuff when at move 16 black, already with an inferior position, makes a seemingly logical attempt to plant a N on what looks like a good outpost. 

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