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Thursday, January 5, 2017

Reshevsky Rolls Over Evans at the 1951 Wertheim Memorial

     This 12-player tournament was held from June 3-17, 1951 at the Manhattan Chess Club to honor former Manhattan Club president Maurice Wertheim, who had died the previous year. You can read my post on Maurice Wertheim HERE
     There were problems from the beginning with this event when a number of invitees were unavailable. For those that did accept invitations, there were problems right at the start. Carlos Guimard of Argentina arrived late because his plane was delayed a whole day in Puerto Rico. Dr. Max Euwe, on a tight schedule, had to leave New York the day after the tournament. George Kramer was commuting to New York from Philadelphia. That's about 95-100 miles. Today you can make the drive up I-95 in about two hours and by train it still takes and hour and a quarter to two hours. Who knows how long it took in 1951?! Dr. Reuben Fine, Al Horowitz and George Shainswit could only play in the evenings and Samuel Reshevsky, because of his religious observances, had to have several games rescheduled. 
     To cut down on the number of adjournments the time control was 50 moves in 2 and a half hours, giving some time to play off adjournments for players who finished early in the five-hour session. The plan worked as there were only five adjournments in the tournament.
     Reshevsky finished first, losing only one game when he blundered badly in his game against Euwe.  Euwe's play was a little spotty, losing to Najdorf and Larry Evans while being held to draws by Horowitz, Robert Byrne and O'Kelly who was having a bad tournament (+1 -3 =7). 
     Najdorf, the only undefeated player, started slowly by drawing his first four games and only scored two wins, against Evans and Fine. Still, first place was riding on his last round game against Reshevsky, but the game ended in a draw. 
     This was Fine's last professional tournament and he played in the evenings after he got off work.  Hans Kmoch wrote that Fine had played the entire tournament in a state of exhaustion, but I can't imagine that he was any more fatigued than Horowitz, Shanswit and, especially, Kramer. 
     Bisguier, a bright young 22-year old of promise, was playing while on leave from the US Army. The 19-year old Evans was also rising star who would win the US Championship at the end of the year when he finished a point ahead of Reshevsky to become the youngest US champion in history. 
     At the closing ceremonies the president of the Manhattan Chess Club, Al Bisno, announced negotiations had been concluded for a match between Reshevsky and Najdorf, with games to be held in both the US and Argentina. At the time the match was referred to as the Championship of the West or of the Free (non-Communist) World. The venue was also changed and the games were played in New York City, Mexico City and San Salvador. 

1) Reshevsky 8.0 
2-3) Najdorf and Euwe 7.5 
4) Fine 7.0 
5) Evans 6.5 
6-7) Horowitz and Byrne 6.0 
8) Guimard 5.0 
9) O'Kelly 4.5 
10) Bisguier 3.5 
11) Kramer 3.0 
12 Shainswit 1.5 

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