Random Posts

Monday, June 6, 2016

Max Fuller

     Fuller, one of the heroes of Australian chess, was born 28 January 1945 and died 27 August 2013 in Sydney at the age of 68 after having been in poor health for several years. At the end, he suffered a stroke from which he never recovered. He was found unconscious by a friend and after admission to the hospital, it was determined he was in such critical condition that there was no hope of recovery, so he was treated with palliative care. 
     Fuller, who lived a bohemian lifestyle, was Australia's first chess professional. As a teenager, he lived with his mother and a step-father whom he disliked. Every Saturday he spent the day at a local park taking on all comers and by the time he left school at the age of 16 he was determined to become a professional player. He even taught himself Dutch so he could read Euwe's Chess Archives. After his mother died in 1962, he used a small inheritance to travel to the World Junior Championship in Yugoslavia in 1963 and a year later to the Chess Olympiad in Tel Aviv. 
     Fuller represented Australia in nine Olympiads though he lived in London for a few years in the 1970s where he was very active on the chess scene and was helpful to the young British players of the day. 
     Known as a gentleman with a fine sense of humor, Fuller was modest, stylish and stick thin and was, along with Trevor Hay, the most promising junior of his day. In the 1972 Australian Championship they tied for first and a playoff failed to determine a winner. Both Fuller and Hay were drafted into the Australian army and were earmarked to fight in the Vietnam War. However, Hay left Australia on a world trip: from Australia to San Francisco, to New York, and then to Europe where he intended to play for Australia at the Chess Olympics, but he never made it past Berkeley, California because there he met up with a group of promising young American masters, Dennis Fritzinger, John Grefe, Jim Tarjan and Jeremy Silman with whom he played and studied. He returned home after all danger of being drafted had passed. As for Fuller, he said he didn't want to hurt any Vietnamese people and added, "I certainly don't want them to hurt me." but he accepted his fate and reported for his physical. Fortunately for him, after the medical exam he was rejected for being far below the minimum weight for his height. 
     His first big international break came in 1968 when he was invited to the Hastings tournament in England. Outclassed, Fuller admitted that the five draws out of eleven games were the most difficult of his life and left him exhausted. After that setback, he managed to raise the level of his play so that he finished second in the British Championship in 1970; he repeated his second place finish again in 1975. 
     Shortly after his first Australian Championship title in 1972, Fuller ran into some bad luck. At the Interzonal qualifier in Hong Kong he tied for second place with two other players. The first 2 players would qualify for Interzonal stage and be awarded an automatic IM title. After a double-round playoff they were all still tied. There was nothing in the rules to cover the situation so FIDE President Campomanes ruled that things would be decided by drawing lots. Fuller won a preliminary drawing to see who chose first. At that point Campomanes placed three envelopes on the table and Fuller chose the wrong one...no trip to the Interzonal and no IM title! 
     No question...he never officially had the IM title, but he was clearly of IM strength. At that time (1972) Fischer's rating was 2785 and Spassky was next at 2660 followed by Petrosian at 2645. Fuller, rated 2280, was far down the list, but he eventually climbed to 2400 which put him in the same company as many IMs and a few "garden variety" GMs. At one stage he had 2 of the required 3 norms and during one year he was half a point short of the required score to gain the IM title in 5 separate tournaments. 
     Despite living in England for long periods, Fuller was Australia's top player in the mid-1970s, winning every title worth winning in Australia. He won the New South Wales title in 1965, 1986 and 1988 (shared). Fuller finished equal second in the British championship in 1970 and 1975, was winner of the 1969 Whitby Open, the Australian Junior Champion in 1962, winner of the Doeberl Cup three times, winner of the Australian Open three times, Joint Australian Champion 1972 with Trevor Hay and competed in nine Olympiads for Australia from 1964-1990. 
     Fuller returned to chess in 2004 after an eight-year absence and finished equal second in the 2004 and 2005 NSW championships. In the early 1980s, he abandoned life as a chess professional and returned to proofreading for the local newspaper as a full-time job. Even then he earned a spot on the Olympic team in 1990. 
     Officially an FM, he was not active in international play after early 2006. Fuller lived most of his life playing chess, drawing welfare and seemingly living on cigarettes and alcohol. He was always generous to the point that after winning a tournament, he would throw it away buying dinner for friends. Fuller never married, and left no survivors. 
     His opponent in the following game is FM Alfred Flatow who was born in Berlin in 1937 and was Australian champion in 1970. He was Sydney Champion eleven times (1963, 1967, 1968 (jointly), 1969, 1970, 1972, 1975 (jointly), 1981 (jointly), 1982, 1983, and 1985). He played for Australia in the Chess Olympiads at Lugano 1968 and Skopje 1972. In the 1970s Flatow created The Peaceful Pawns Chess Club as a protest against President Lyndon B. Johnson's continuation of the war in Vietnam.

No comments:

Post a Comment