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Friday, July 20, 2018

Reshevsky – Gligorich Match 1952

     In March of 1952, Samuel Reshevsky was still enjoying the prime of his career and he had just defeated Miguel Najdorf +8 -4 =6 in a match that was unofficially called "The Match for the Championship of the Free World". The first eight games were played in New York, games 9 through 13 were played in Mexico City and games 14 through 18 were played in San Salvador. 
     Svetozar Gligorich was an up-and-coming star who was returning home after having won by a half point over Spain's Arturo Pomar in a tournament held in Hollywood. Both players were undefeated, but Pomar had the misfortune of being held to a draw by local California master Ray Martin. 
     Arthur Dake of Portland, Oregon shared 4th-5th places with Lionel Joyner of Canada and Long Beach, California. Dake lost one game, to Joyner, who also upset Isaac Kashdan. But, Joyner's losses to Gligorich, Pomar and Herman Steiner were too many to gain a better spot. 
     James B. Cross, an ex-US junior champion from Glendale, California finished 7th with seven draws. Isaac Kashdan, then living in Tujunga, California showed his lack of practice and finished in a dismal 7th place with a score of 4-5. 
     Walter Pafnutieff of San Francisco, Ray Martin of Santa Monica (who nicked Pomar for a draw) and Sonja Graf of Los Angeles rounded out the field. Graf lost all her games, but one; she managed to draw with Dake. 
     The event was Steiner's idea and co-sponsored by Mrs. Piatigorsky and Philip McKenna. 
     The match between Reshevsky and Gligorich was played at the Manhattan Chess Club from June 2nd to June 22nd, 1952 and was closely contested. Below are the highlights with the winner in bold. 

1. Reshevsky vs Gligorich (King's Indian) 
Reshevsky won a nice game in which switched his attack from Q-side to K-side. 
2. Gligorich vs Reshevsky (Ruy Lopez) 
The game was adjourned at move 42 with both players having a R and 5 Ps. The players agreed to a draw when Gligorich's sealed move was opened. 
3. Reshevsky vs Gligorich (Queen's Gambit Declined) 
A grandmaster draw was agreed after 28 uneventful moves. 
4. Gligorich vs Reshevsky (Ruy Lopez) 
This game was a hard fought minor piece ending with Gligorich having two Ns against Rehevsky's N and bad B. The five-hour session was adjourned after 44 moves and a draw was agreed without further play.
5. Reshevsky vs Gligorich (Queen's Gambit Declined) 
A nicely played game by Reshevsky where he saw deeply into the position. Things looked even until the ending when his two Bs triumphed over Gligorich's two Ns 
6. Gligorich vs Reshevsky (Ruy Lopez) 
A marathon 85-move game. The game was adjourned after five hours of play and upon resumption, they dueled it out for another five and a half hours. Reshevsky had an extra P, but could not make any progress. 
7. Reshevsky vs Gligorich (Dutch Stonewall) 
Reshevsky was near winning when he made a horrible blunder in time pressure and lost a piece. 
8. Gligorich vs Reshevsky (Nimzo-Indian) 
A drawn position reached after 19 moves, but they played on for another 14 moves before giving it up as hopelessly drawn. 
9. Reshevsky vs Gligorich (Queen's Gambit Declined) 
Reshevsky played his favorite Exchange Variation and there was nothing Gligorich could do except agree to the draw after 20 moves. 
10. Gligorich vs Reshevsky (Nimzo-Indian) 
Gligorich was in the difficult position of having to win, which he very nearly managed to do, in order to tie the match, but at least he had white. The result was a 73 move game that featured an N and P ending where Gligorich was a P up, but it wasn't enough to win. 

     The following game is the first game. I don't know if it qualifies as a positional masterpiece or not, but some of the positions seemed to have had Stockfish flummoxed. 

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