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Tuesday, April 24, 2018

The Year Was 1941

Actually 2403 people died
     On December 7, 1941 the United States entered World War II by declaring war on Japan following the attack on Pearl Harbor, but before that other things happened. 
     In January, President Franklin D. Roosevelt was sworn in for his third term and aviator Charles Lindbergh testified before Congress and recommended that the United States negotiate a neutrality pact with Adolf Hitler. Also, in January, US Ambassador to Japan, Joseph Grew, passed on to Washington a rumor overheard at a diplomatic reception about a planned surprise attack upon Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. 
     Baseball fans across the nation witnessed Joe DiMaggio step up to the plate in 56 consecutive baseball games and hit safely to break a record that had stood since 1897 when Wee Willie Keeler hit safely in 45 consecutive games over the course of the 1896 and 97 seasons. And, Ted Williams managed to finish the season with an unparalleled .406 batting average; no player has hit .400 or better since. 
     A lot of famous people were born in 1941. On January 30th Dick Cheney, 46th Vice President of the United States from 2001 to 2009 was born. He served under “Dubya,” aka George W. Bush. Ol' Dick is probably best remembered for an incident that happened in February 11, 2006, when he accidently shot Harry Whittington, a 78-year-old Texas attorney, when they were participating in a quail hunt on a ranch in Riviera, Texas. 

     When he left office his approval rating, thanks to various nefarious activities, stood at a staggeringly low 13 percent. Cheney got rich by exploiting contacts with corrupt Arabs while drawing a public salary. He served as Chief Executive of Halliburton which donated to his campaign and got numerous lucrative contracts during the Bush Administration.  And, it was discovered to have overcharged the US for prior services rendered. 
    Martha Stewart, television personality and media entrepreneur was born on August 3rd. Martha avoided a loss of $45,673 by selling all 3,928 shares of her ImClone Systems stock on December 27, 2001, after receiving non-public information from her stock broker. In 2004, Martha was convicted of felony charges of conspiracy, obstruction of an agency proceeding, and making false statements to federal investigators, and was sentenced to serve a five-month term in a federal correctional facility and a two-year period of supervised release that included five months of electronic monitoring. I always thought she got a bum rap; prominent people, businessmen and politicians, have gotten away with far worse.  Did I mention Dick Cheney, for example?

     One of my favorite actors, Stacy Keach, was born on June 2nd. Keach has played mainly dramatic roles throughout his career, often in law enforcement or as a private detective. Who can forget his role as Mike Hammer, which he played in numerous stand-alone television films and at least three different television series throughout the 1980s and 1990s? 
     On the US chess scene, Al Horowitz was unable to play in the 1940 US championship because he was still recovering from injuries sustained in an automobile accident two months before the event. I posted on this incident HERE
     In 1941, Horowitz and Reshevsky played the first US championship match held since the Marshall - Edward Lasker match in 1923. The understanding was that the winner of the match would be US champion until the 1942 tournament. Originally planned as a fourteen-game match, two games were added to make it a match of sixteen games. 
     Game 1 was played at the apartment of Maurice Wertheim, president of the Manhattan Chess Club. The time control was 32 moves in 2 hours. For most of the remaining games, the time control was 40 moves in 2.5 hours, but a few games used the original time control of 32 moves in 2 hours. Games were held in a variety of locations. 
     Horowitz had recovered from the accident and within months had resumed his duties at Chess Review, the magazine he had founded seven years before. In those days the magazine was extremely popular, but not financially successful so Horowitz was always on tour trying to make ends meet. 
     Once described by US Master Sidney Bernstein as a super coffee house player, Horowitz had earned a reputation by winning the 1936 US Open and sharing first place with Isaac Kashdan in the Open in 1938. This gave the optimistic Horowitz the confidence that he could take down Reshevsky, so in late 1940, rather than wait for the next championship tournament which was two years away, he challenged Reshevsky to a match in the spring.
     Reshevsky had a plus score against Horowitz, but Horowitz had defeated Reshevsky in the 1936 championship, one of the few Americans to have defeated Reshevsky in any tournament in the previous five years. Of course, the prize fund was attractive to Reshevsky. Also, Alekhine was on the run from the war in Europe and it seemed possible that he would end up in the United Staes.  That meant that there was a possibility of a Reshevsky – Alekhine match. Reshevsky had never played a match, so Horowitz would be good practice.
     The match schedule was tight with seven different playing sites for the 16 games in three weeks. The first game was held at the penthouse home of Maurice Wertheim, a wealthy investment banker and publisher of the liberal monthly, The Nation
     Wertheim had just been elected president of the Manhattan Chess Club and he invited most of the city's leading players to witness the game. More than 150 players showed up! The first four games were drawn, but Reshevsky won the fifth when Horowitz botched the ending in a King's Indian Defense, the game given below. 
     The next three games were drawn. Then in the 9th game Horowitz lost a Pawn in a difficult position and got ground down in 82 moves, giving Reshevsky a two point lead. Another draw followed. 
     The 11th game was at the home of bookseller Albrecht Buschke and its start had to be delayed when Reshevsky showed up late. The time limit was adjusted to 32 moves in two hours rather than 40 in two and a half. 
     After 16 moves Horowitz had a promising position, but missed the best move and made a mistake which ended up giving Reshevsky a promising B vs. N ending.   To make matters worse, Horowitz forgot that the time limit had been changed and found himself with only five minutes left for nine moves. He made the time limit with seconds to spare and the game was adjourned at 1:45am! 
     Buschke then invited the players and and 50 or so guests to a buffet supper. After the supper Horowitz and Reshevsky, longtime friends, agreed to finish he game that night and it was resumed at 3:30am!! At 5:00am on move 42 Reshevsky threatened mate. Horowitz thought for 10 minutes, tapped the table, smiled and said "Very pretty, Sammy. I resign." When the match referee left he found his car had been stolen. 
     With almost no sleep, the contestants head to Queens, New York for their 12th game to be played in the afternoon and it turned out to be another marathon. A careless blunder in a K and P ending cost Horowitz the only winning position in the match and he ended up drawing. All the remaining games were also drawn giving Reshevsky a +3 -0 =13 victory. Three weeks later, he got married.

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