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Monday, November 28, 2016

A Rossolimo Brilliancy, Schmid vs. Rossolimo Heidelberg 1949

     Rossolimo once complained bitterly that when he tried to publish a book of his games, publishers weren't interested because he "didn't score enough points," meaning he did not have any major tournament success and was never quite among the world's top players. It's a shame a book of his best games was never published. Rossolimo did write one book, Les Echecs au coin du feu, a collection of his studies and endgames with a preface by Savielly Tartakower, published in Paris in 1947. Good luck trying to find this book! It is in the John G. White collection in the Cleveland, Ohio Public Library and the Royal Library of the Netherlands. 
     Wikipedia says that in 1970 he self-published Rossolimo's Brilliancy Prizes, but that does not appear to be the case. According to Sam Sloan what Rossolimo actually did was make photocopies of magazine articles from various chess magazines which contained the games and commentaries for the 12 brilliancy prizes that he had won. Sloan claimed that he looked through him as well as the letter Rossolimo had written to the USCF asking them to publish the games in a book. Sloan said that he realized that just recopying old magazine articles by other authors would not make an acceptable book and that Rossolimo would also have had to write something. Sloan added that the games were good and Rossolimo had great stories to tell, but then he died and after that, when Mrs. Rossolimo died in 1995 all her papers disappeared.
     According to Rossolimo's son, his mother showed him her autobiography (which included much information about his father) in 1975, shortly after his father's death. She had typed it in Russian and wanted to have it published. Shortly afterwards, it was borrowed by a visitor to the Rossolimo Chess Studio by someone who promised to have it translated into English and published, but he disappeared and the manuscript was never returned.      
     At the time of his death Rossolimo was one of the country's 12 GMs and for more than 20 years had been running his chess studio in Greenwich Village. He died on July 25, 1975 after he fell down a flight of stairs outside of a chess student's apartment on 10th Street not far from his studio. He laid unconscious for several ours at the bottom of the stairs and after being found was taken to St. Vincient's Hospital where he remained in a coma for several days. After the autopsy police ruled the fall accidental, but there has been speculation that he may have been pushed by muggers. 
     He lived in Moscow during the mid-1920s, and moved to Paris with his Russian mother in 1929. In 1938 he finished second behind Capablanca in Paris and won the French Championship in 1948. He was Paris Champion a record seven times, and drew two matches in 1948 and 1949 with Savielly Tartakower. In 1955 he won the U.S. Open Championship on tiebreaks ahead of Samuel Reshevsky.
     Rossolimo played for France in the Chess Olympiads of 1950 and 1972, and for the United States in 1958, 1960, and 1966. In 1952, he moved to the U.S. with his wife Vera and son Alexander to rejoin his mother and Greek father in New York. When I met Rossolimo at his chess studio in New York City his wife was there; she was a very elegant lady that reminded me of royalty. His son, Alexander N. Rossolimo, is an American think tank executive, entrepreneur, and corporate director.
Alex Rossolimo
     According to the book Losing Moses on the Freeway: The 10 Commandments in America by Chris Hedges, Rossolimo and his family were confined by the communists in a basement before fleeing to France in 1919. When he arrived in the U.S. in 1953 and opened his chess studio he worked as a taxi driver and often slept amid the tables in the studio. It was hard for him to make enough money to even pay the rent on his studio, especially given his love for drink and frequent traveling. 
     Then along came a German named George Frohlinde who had arrived in New York in 1958, claiming he had spent the war years playing chess at his local club in Wismar on the Baltic Sea and had been unable to find work as a carpenter in Germany after the war. He started working in Rossolimo's chess studio checking out boards and sets and managing the inventory.
     Rossolimo was often away and in 1963, nostalgic for France, moved to Paris and put Frohlinde in charge for a year. According to Frohlinde he got 75 percent of the income with Rossolimo getting the remainder.  They didn't make much money; according to Frohlinde income the first week was only $50 (about $400 today). That's when Frohlinde decided to start selling chess sets and they started making more money, but then Frohlinde said, "Rossolimo came back from Paris and threw me out." 

     Frohlinde and his wife then opened a rival shop nearby and took many of the clients and most of the inventory which, he claimed, left Rossolimo destitute, no longer playing chess and trying to manage on his own.   They never spoke to each other again. After Rossolimo's death his widow ran the studio briefly, but it closed down in just a few months. Frohlinde stated that he did not learn of Rossolimo's death for a while and didn't have any particular feelings about it, commenting, "He was old and drinking heavily." 
     Rossolimo had wins over the likes of Bogoljubov, Bronstein and Euwe, against whom he had a lifetime plus score. He also scored draws against Capablanca, Fischer and Smyslov. According to the site Chessmetrics, his best world rank was 23rd in 1950 and his highest ever rating was rating 2663 in 1951.

Heidelberg 1949 
1) Unzicker 7.0 
2) Rossolimo 6.0 
3-5) O'Kelly, Kieninger and Paul Schmidt 5.0 
6-8) Niephaus, Wade and Lothar Schmid 4.0 
9-10) B.H. Wood and Witkowski  2.5
 

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