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Friday, December 20, 2013

Hey, Art! Give back that trophy!

      In 1957 the US Open was played in Cleveland, Ohio from August 5-17 and drew 117 players. The big story was the triumph of 13-year-old Bobby Fischer in what was to be his last US Open.
     1953 US Open Champion Donald Byrne was leading until he lost to Fischer in round 9 and dropped into a tie with brother, Robert. He overtook Fischer the next round though, with Robert Byrne and Arthur Bisguier a half-point behind.
     Both Fischer and Donald Byrne won in round 11; Donald defeating his brother. Bisguier was a half-point behind going into the last round where he defeated Donald Byrne while Fischer was only able to draw with Walter Shipman, thus Fischer and Bisguier tied for first with Bisguier being awarded the title on tiebreaks. But that wasn't the end of it!
     Bisguier was driving back to New York with the first place trophy when a recalculation of the tiebreaks gave the title to Fischer. Bisguier later wrote an article for Chess Review magazine where he tried to put forth his usual gentlemanly and sportmanslike demeanor and praise Fischer’s play, but his bitterness with the tournament officials (the event was directed by Georges Koltanowski) was apparent. What got Bisguier so riled up?
     After the tournament, one unidentified player claimed that his 8th round opponent had cheated by taking back a move. Even though he had won the game, he insisted that it be scored a forfeit!  He found two witnesses who backed him up and the organizers were unable to talk him out of changing his result from a win to a win by forfeit and gave in. This caused the tiebreaks to have to be recalculated and as a result, the title was awarded to Fischer who, by the way, had won his first round game on a forfeit when his opponent did not show up. This sounds incredulous, but there was a precedent!
     In the 1955 US Open held in Long Beach, California, Nicolas Rossolimo and Samuel Reshevsky tied for first with Rossolimo being awarded first prize, a new car, on tiebreaks.
     NM James Bolton defeated NM Ronald Gross in their 7th round game and then afterwards was informed by a spectator that, while he was away from the board, Gross had made a move, taken it back, and substituted another one.
     This upset Bolton who then went to the tournament director and demanded that he be awarded a win on forfeit, even though he had won over the board. The directors, the Senior TD was a fellow named Orlo M. Rolo, decided to let Bolton have his way. So, what was the problem?
     Bolton played Reshevsky in round 2, so by counting the game with Gross as a forfeit win it lowered Bolton's adjusted score which lowered Reshevsky's tiebreak score, which gave Rossolimo the car. At least that’s the way the story went, but Kenneth Harkness wrote a report for Chess Life proving that Bolton's action did not cost Reshevsky the car. Had the game been scored as a regular win, the first two tiebreak systems would have wound up tied, but Rossolimo would have been awarded the title and the car on the third tiebreaking system.
     Top scores in the 1955 event: 1-2-Robert Fischer and Arthur Bisguier (10), 3-Donald Byrne (9.5), 4-7-Robert Byrne, Edmar Mednis, Anthony Santasiere, Walter Shipman (9), 8-12-Gilbert Ramirez, Ivan Theodorovich, Paul Brandts, Anthony Saidy and Saul Wanetick (8.5)

1 comment:

  1. Nice anecdote. TD desicions were idiotic.