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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

More on Frank Ferryman

The Middletown Journal (Middletown, Ohio) 
Thu, Mar 30, 1950
     The editor of the Ohio Chess Bulletin, Michael Steve, sent me some newspaper clippings on Frank Ferryman who was featured in my recent post on the 1954 Ohio Championship. 
     One of the clippings from the Brooklyn Daily Eagle mentions that after game 4 of the 1942 Reshevsky - Kashdan match, members of the Manhattan and Marshall Club played a series of games where all the games opened with the Ruy Lopez Deferred Steinitz Variation (1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 d6). Ferryman, playing white on board 13, defeated K. Mahler. 
     We also read that Ferryman played with success in some of the Marshall CC rapid tournaments. For example, in 1942 he shared first with Severin Bruzaa, former champion of the Brooklyn Chess Club and on another occasion he shared first with Herman Helms. 
     Mr. Steve also included another Ferryman game and an Excel spreadsheet of the crosstable from the 1954 Ohio Championship. Along with the Ferryman game, the crosstable is of historical interest, so I am making it available for download from Dropbox HERE
     One thing that was of interest was the ratings of the players. In 1954 Ferryman was rated 2065 and on the next list in 1955 it was up to 2187.
     A word about ratings in those days...they are close to, but not exactly comparable to, today's ratings. 
     The first USCF National rating list was published on November 20, 1950 and had nine classifications: Grandmaster (over 2700), Senior Master (2500 and 2699), Master (2300 and 2499), Expert (2100 and 2299) and Class A, Class B, Class C and Class D (below 1500).
     On the first list Reuben Fine was an active Grandmaster (2817) and Samuel Reshevsky an inactive Grandmaster (2770), meaning he had not played in any rated tournaments since January 1, 1947. There were only five active Senior Masters (Kevitz, Dake, Denker, Kashdan and Horowitz) and five inactive ones (Simonson, Reinfeld, Kupchik, Polland and Treysman). That first list had 2306 players and covered a 30 year period up to July 31, 1950. 
     By the time we get to 1954, which was only the 8th list published, Reshevsky was rated 2739, Senior Masters were Donald Byrne, Robert Byrne, Denker, Kramer, and Rossolimo and there were only 36 Masters in the whole country. 
     The system in use on these lists was not exactly the same as the Elo rating system we have today. It was a system devised by Kenneth Harkness and the ratings were calculated by William Byland who did them all by hand. 
     The starting point for the calculations was every player who had an even score in the US Open was assigned a rating of 2000. The Harkness system as it was known was almost identical to the Elo system, the main difference being that if you got a perfect score your performance rating was 500 points higher than the average rating of your opponents; today it's 400 points. 
     However, the biggest difference between the Harkness and Elo system was that under the Elo system, ratings changed on a game by game basis; under Harkness it was on a tournament to tournament basis. Under the Elo system, each game, rather than each tournament, is rated. The sum of points won or lost always equaled 32...now known as the K-factor. This remains pretty much what is in effect today except that the K-factor has been tweaked for higher rated players. 
     The major problem with the system, which consisted of a relatively small group of players, was the trend in the ratings was a downward drift because established players lost points to new, improving players. As a result, by 1956 the classifications at the top were lowered so that Grandmasters were over 2600, Senior Masters over 2400 and Masters over 2200. You can see a Harkness rating table HERE. You can also read my post History of Chess Ratings in the USA.
     The following game features Ferryman's round 5 win over Walter Mann, also an Expert, who tied for places 5-10. The tournament had 47 entrants. 

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