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Friday, October 13, 2017

Battle of Brothers

   The USCF organized its first U.S. Junior Open in July, 1946 at the Lawson YMCA in Chicago and the winner that year was 16-year-old Larry Friedman, the 1945 Junior Champion of the city of Cleveland, Ohio. The previous year Friedman finished in 4th place in the Ohio State Championship while a sophomore at Shaw High School in Cleveland.  Friedman also won the Junior Open in 1947, held in Cleveland. On July 31, 1950, Friedman appeared on the first USCF rating list at 2284. After that he quit chess until he popped up and took 1st place as the top New Jersey resident in the New Jersey Open (though the event was actually won by Tibor Weinberger) only to disappear again.
     In July 1948, Arthur Bisguier won the 3rd annual U.S. Junior Championship Tournament, held in Oak Ridge, Tennessee on tiebreaks over Frank Anderson of Toronto. Bisguier also won it in 1949 on tiebreaks over Larry Evans and James Cross when it was held in Fort Worth, Texas.
     The Byrne brothers were both students of Brooklyn chess coach and master John W. Collins.  Donald is most famous for his loss to Bobby Fischer in the the Game of the Century.  He won the U.S. Open Championship in 1953 in Milwaukee and around that time was the second-highest rated player in the U.S. behind Reshevsky, against whom Byrne had a winning record. Besides being a good chess player, though he rarely competed in tournaments, he was repeatedly selected to be Captain by his teammates because of his interpersonal acumen and his generous, helpful nature. Byrne was very popular with the Penn State chess team players. In the late 1950s, he contracted lupus, an auto-immune disease that led to the demise of his kidneys and made him allergic to the sun. He was known around campus for his very wide-brimmed brown Stetson hat. He would frequently tell stories about his chess exploits, often turning red from laughter time.
     George Kramer was a very strong master and won the 1951-52 Manhattan Chess Club championship and the state of New Jersey championship in 1964, 1967 and 1969. He also participated in a number of U.S. Championships. For more on Walter Shipman, see his obituary HERE.
     But, before they were all well known, in 1949 the five of them participated in a double round Junior Masters Tournament at the Manhattan Chess Club with the following results:

1) Robert Byrne 5-3
2) Donald Byrne 4.5-3.5
3) Arthur Bisguier 4-4
4) George Kramer 3.5-4.5
5) Walter Shipman 3-5
     Robert's only loss was to his brother and while Donald lost two games...to Bisguier and his brother.

     After this event, the brothers also did well in the club's weekly rapid transit tournament with Donald scoring 14-1 in the field of 16 players when he drew with Walter Shipman and Larry Evans. Evans finished second with a 13-2 score while Robert Byrne finished third. Arthur Bisguier finished fourth and Herman Helms was fifth.

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