Random Posts

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Hollywood 1952, A Long Forgotten International Tournament

Vladimir (Walter) Pafnutieff
     Herman Steiner was well known for his connection to Hollywood and his popularization of chess among movie stars. Steiner was also the driving force behind a number of tournaments held in Hollywood and this one has been long forgotten. 
     Chessmetrics lists the strongest tournament held between 1952 and 1953 as being the Soviet Championship held in Moscow in 1952. It included six of the top ten players in the world and the next strongest tournaments were Budapest 1952 and Havana 1952. So, this tournament in Hollywood hardly compares, being a very minor one, but I was surprised to find that even the California chess magazine gave it scant attention. A supplement was published with all the games though. Still, it had Gligorich and Pomar as participants. 
     This event was held in Hollywood from April 26 to May 8, 1952 and was won by Svetozar Gligorich from Yugoslavia with 6 wins and 4 draws by a half point over Arturo Pomar of Spain. On his way home Gligorich stopped in New York to play a match against Samuel Reshevsky who won with a score of +2 -1 =7. On the Chessmetrics April 1952 list Gligorich was ranked as number 11 in the world with a rating of 2705. The 20-year old Pomar weighed in at 2385 which placed him number 337 in the world. 
     Chessmetrics observed that 1952 was a great year for Reshevsky. He was the most dominant player that year, spending 7 months ranked number one on the site's rating list. The best individual event performance between 1952 and 1953 was by Alexander Kotov with a Chessmetrics Performance Rating of 2832 in Interzonal at Saltsjobaden in 1952. The next-best individual event performances were achieved by Mikhail Botvinnik (2808 performance) in Moscow (a USSR Training tournament) and by Samuel Reshevsky (2807 performance) in Najdorf-Reshevsky Match of that year. 
     The other players in the event were Arthur Dake of Portland, Oregon, Lionel B. Joyner of Canada who was living in Long Beach, California at the time. Joyner (1933-2001) was Canadian Champion in 1961 and represented Canada in the 1958 Olympics and the First World Junior Championship in 1951. He was also a very strong correspondence master, winning the Golden Knights Postal Championship in 1961-62.
     James B. Cross (born 1930) from Glendale, California was US Junior Champion in 1950 and the 1957 California State Champion. During the decade of the 1950s he was one of the state's strongest players ranked only behind Kashdan and Steiner. On the USCF's 1959 rating list (the 13th such list) he was ranked number 10 with a rating of 2425.
     Showing the effects of age (50 years old) and lack of practice Isaac Kashdan, then living in Tujunga, California, played poorly. Chessmetrics puts his 1951 rating at 2463, ranked number 231, which was a far cry from his peak rating of 2742 in 1931 when he was ranked number 2 in the world behind Alekhine. 
     Vladimir (Walter) Pafnutieff of San Francisco, California, passed away in San Mateo, California on May 22, 1999 at the age of 86. He authored a book of his best games which also served as an instruction manual titled How To Create Combinations which was published in 1986.  He was born in Russia and immigrated to the United States in the late 1920s, settling in San Francisco where he quickly became one of the best players in the state. In the early 1970s Pafnutieff and his wife moved to Kirkland, Washington where she opened a Russian restaurant. During the next few years he played in three Washington State Championships; his best finish was sharing second in 1978. 
     Ray Martin of Santa Monica, California (born November 7, 1924, died August 31, 2001 at the age of 76) won the 1969 American Open. Sonja Graf Stevenson of Los Angeles brought up the rear. The tournament was sponsored by Jacqueline Piatigorsky and Philip C. McKenna.

     What impressed me in this game was that Graf was cruising along with the better position, but missed a winning tactical shot at move 23. Even then she was doing well when, suddenly, at move 29 she failed to notice that her P at e3 needed extra defense because when Pafnutieff captured it, the recapture 30.fxe3 left her N on g3 hanging and black's Q lurking way back on b8 was able to capture the N with check.  After that the floodgates were opened against her K.  A very instructive game. 

No comments:

Post a Comment