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Monday, May 29, 2017

The Amazing Stuart Wagman

Wagman in  1965
He played a really nice move, but it has nothing to do with the game we're playing. - Stuart Wagman 

     The five highest-rated 80-year-olds in history according to chessmetrics.com were Samuel Reshevsky, Vassily Smyslov, Svetozar Gligoric, Antonio Medina, and Stuart Wagman. 
     FM Stuart Wagman (May 14, 1919 - Saturday, November 24, 2007) was an American who lived his last 51 years in Livorno, Italy with his wife, Sylvia. 
     For many years Wagman and Oscar Shapiro toured Europe and the United States playing chess.  Shapiro was born in Boston, Massachusetts on March 18, 1909.  He became a National Master at the age of 74 and died on January 1, 2002 at the age of 92. In 1939, he won the Massachusetts State Championship and won the Washington, D.C. Championship several times. In 1951, he won the Virginia Open.
     Wagman was born in New York City on May 14, 1919 graduated from high school in 1934 and entered CCNY that year, but never graduated. He worked several years for a public accounting firm in Washington, DC, where his family had moved, before entering government service in 1941. He worked briefly as an accountant for the US Army Corps of Engineers before going into the Army in 1942 during World War II. A veteran of the Battle of the Bulge, he was discharged in 1945 and rejoined the Corps of Engineers. His assignments were mostly in Europe and his final assignment, which lasted 20 years, was in Italy. When he retired in 1976 at the age of 57 he continued to live in Livorno. 
      In 1947 he scored 7-1 in the New England Championship, but it wasn't good enough to win; first place went to a Yale freshman named Robert Byrne who scored 7.5-0.5. That was Wagman's last tournament for 17 years! His next event was the 1965 Reggio Emilia international tournament. He would not have been invited to play in that event had it not been for a local master from Pizza, Dr. Pier Luigi Beggi, who persuaded the organizer, Dr. Enrico Paoli, to invite him. His 5.5-5.5 put him in 7th place. He continued to play in several of the Reggio Emilia tournaments up until 1989. His last event was the 2005 World Senior Championship at the age of 87, making him the second-oldest participant at the event; his score of 6.0-5.0 put him in a three-way tie with William Hook and Eduard Zelkind for the best performance among US players. His play was uncompromising and he loved sharp, romantic openings. Andy Soltis claimed that Wagman was also an expert on the Dragon Sicilian. 
     Here is his win against Dr. Enrico Paoli from the 1972 Reggio Emilia tournament. Paoli (January 13, 1908 – December 15, 2005) was an Italian IM. Born in Trieste, Italy, he learned chess when he was nine years old. He was winner of International Tournaments of Vienna (1951) and Imperia (1959) and won his last Italian Championship at age 60. Paoli missed receiving the GM title by only half a point at a tournament in 1969, but was awarded the honorary title in 1996.
 

1 comment:

  1. Please keep this up. It's a great pleasure to learn about all these fascinating characters

    ReplyDelete