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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Rzeschewski in Boston

     Back on April 2 in 1921 child prodigy Sammy Rzeschewski appeared at Lorimer Hall in Boston which was crammed with 200-300 spectators, most of whom doubted his ability to cope with the 19 local players who had been selected to play against him. He scored +16 -1 with two draws. 
     There were some dramatic moments, one of which was when, after nearly 400 simul games in America, Sammy realized that someone had actually checkmated him. The little fellow was crestfallen, but the defeat only served to sharpen his wits and he went on to pull off winning combinations against the top players. For example, Harlow B. Daly thought he was all set to win when Sammy hit him with some fireworks and went on to win. Another was Sammy's win over veteran Charles B. Snow who had been a local champ for over forty years and had defeated Pillsbury once and Steinitz twice in simuls. 
     An article in the Boston Globe described him in a way that today seems a little strange, but apparently in the day didn't raise any eyebrows: 

At first glace he looked a rather wistful little chap. He has light brown hair, very thick and long and glossy, and he wears it in a great wave across his head, with one long wisp hanging down over a full, broad and not too high forehead. His eyes, brown and long-lashed and well set, are deep under the brows; his little nose is a model of short, straight fineness, and he has a sad-looking, serious little rosebud of a mouth, drooping a little but looking extremely kissable. A chin neither weak nor obtrusive makes him look grave, but his full, rather pale cheeks discount it a trifle. 
     His ears, rosy, almost round, and large, are set right in the middle of his picture in profile. For his head has has a very long overhang, which again gives him the look of an adult. 
     When a situation arose at any board that made him pause he would lean on one elbow, cross one ankle over the other and give himself to a concentrated study. He glanced up occasionally, apparently not at his opponent. It was more as if he looked inward; his eyes in those little flashes seemed blank and dead. 

     After Sammy lost this game it inspired him to take revenge on his remaining opponents. When one of the best players, a fellow named Lyon, went down to defeat the crowd cheered and a moment later the nationally known Harlow B. Daly got mated causing pandemonium to break loose. According to John F. Barry the applause was so deafening that the "little fellow childishly put his two tiny hands to his ears and as he looked up a faint, imperceptible smile crept over his face, mingled with a childish and innocent look of wonderment." 

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