Chess Trivia 9
In 1899, the first Russian Chess Championship was held in Moscow. It was won by Mikhail Chigorin (1850-1908), who would also win in 1900-01, and 1903. The round-robin event was known as the All-Russian Masters’ Chess Tournament. There were 14 players in the event.
In 1904, the first British chess championship organized by the British Chess Federation has held in Hastings. The men’s champion was William Napier. The first women’s champion was Kate Belinda Finn (1870-1932) of Ireland.
In 1910, Creassey Edward Cecil Tattersall (1877-1957) wrote A Thousand Endgames, volume 1, the first English-language book dedicated to endgames only. Tattersall was a strong chess player (he played on the Cambridge varsity chess team), but gave up chess to become an expert on oriental and British carpets. He later became a curator at the Victoria and Albert museum on Kensington.
In 1925, the world’s first state-sponsored chess tournament was held in Moscow and played in the House of Unions. There were several thousand spectators inside and outside the tournament hall. It was won by Efim Bogoljubow (15.5 out of 20), followed by former world champion Emanuel Lasker (14 points) and world champion Jose Capablanca (13.5 points). The event was organized by Nikolai Krylenko and the Soviet government, along with the Executive Bureau of the Central Chess and Checkers Section. There were 10 Soviet master and 11 foreign masters. The movie ‘Chess Fever’ was shot around this tournament. Bogoljubow was a hero in the USSR after this tournament, until he defected to Germany a year later.
In January 1936, the finals of the All-Russian Trade Union Tournament finished after six months of steady play in Moscow. The event had 700,000 participants. Georgy Lisitsin (1909-1972) and Vitaly Chekhover (1908-1965) tied for 1st place.
In July-August 1945, the Hollywood Chess Group and the Los Angeles Times organized the Pan-American International Tournament. Unfortunately, the USA was still at war in the Pacific and transportation was difficult for many of the invitees. Herman Pilnik of Argentina was a last-minute replacement. He lost his plane reservation and drove by car. He crashed his car into an unlighted truck at night in Arizona, but arrived 3 days later with head wounds. Singer and actress Carmen Miranda (1909-1955) was there to open the event and draw the players’ numbers for the pairings. Humphrey Bogart, a tournament director of the U.S. Chess Federation, was selected as the Master of Ceremonies. One of the spectators of the tournament was actress Marlene Dietrich (1904-1992), a chess player. Samuel Reshevsky won the event and $1,000.
In September 1957, the first women’s chess Olympiad was held in Emmen, Holland. 21 countries and 43 women players participated. A team consisted of two players. The oldest lady participant was 82 years old. All the players were lodged in private apartments, and not in hotels. The USSR team took 1st place, with the world woman champion Olga Rubtsova playing on board 1. Romania took 2nd place, followed by East Germany. The USA (Gisela Gresser and Jacqueline Piatigorski) took 10th place. Both players had the exact same score with 6 wins, 3 draws, and 2 losses. Both won bronze medals. Gresser won the bronze for medal for board 1 and Piatigorski won a bronze medal for board 2.
In July 1963, the First Piatigorsky Cup was held in The Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. Paul Keres and world champion Tigran Petrosian tied for 1st place. They split $5,250 in prize money. If the money had been returned to the USSR, they would have been exchanged for rubles at an unfavorable rate. So Keres and Petrosian each bought a car (AMC Rambler) with their winnings. Petrosian was the first reigning champion to play in an American tournament since Alexander Alekhine at Pasadena in 1932. The tournament was the strongest to be held in the United States since New York 1927. Bobby Fischer was invited to play, but Fischer also asked for a $2,000 appearance fee. He declined the invitation after his appearance fee was denied. His invitation went to Pal Benko, who finished in last place. Each round saw almost 500 spectators at the event.
In 1967, Bent Larsen won the first Chess Oscar for the best chess player of the year. The Chess Oscar used to be a woman under an umbrella. It is now a man in a boat. The bronze statuette is titled Fascinated Wanderer. There were no chess Oscars from 1989 to 1994. Kasparov has won it 11 times. Magnus Carlsen won the 2010 Chess Oscar, which was announced at the end of July 2011.
1977 was a good time for chess computers. In 1977, the first microcomputer chess playing machine, the Fidelity CHESS CHALLENGER 1, was created. In that year, the International Computer Chess Association (ICCA) was formed. It later became the International Computer Games Association (ICGA). In February 1977, CHESS 4.5 won the 84th Minnesota Open with a performance rating of 2271. In 1977, SNEAKY PETE became the first computer to play in the U.S. Open, held in Columbus, Ohio (78th annual open). The computer lost its first 7 games, then won 4 in a row, then lost its final game for a 4-8 score. In September 1977, Michael Stean became the first grandmaster to lose to a computer (Chess 4.6) when he lost to a computer in a blitz game after 39 moves.
In 1981, at the age of 11 years and 10 months, Stuart Rachels (born in 1969) became the youngest chess master in U.S. history at the time. He was the first American to become a master before he was 12. The record stood until 1994 (Jordy Mont-Reynaud became a master in 1194 at the age of 10 years, 209 days). In 1988, he won the U.S. Junior Invitational Championship. He tied for 1st place in the 1989-1990 U.S. Championship with GMs Roman Dzindzichashvili and Yasser Seirawan. He gave up competitive chess in 1993. In 1998, He received a Ph.D. in philosophy from Syracuse University and is now a professor in the Philosophy Department at the University of Alabama specializing in ethical theory.
The 30th Chess Olympiad was held in Manila in June 1992. It was the first to have multiple teams from the former Soviet Union. Instead of 1 USSR team, there were 12 teams from the former Soviet Union. They took the Gold (Russia), Silver (Uzbekistan), and Bronze(Armenia) and none of these ex Soviet Union countries had a minus score. The USA took 4th place with three former Soviet players (Kamsky, Yermolinksy, and Gulko). 102 teams participated in the men’s event and 62 teams participated in the women’s event. Yemen and Kenya had teams, but they did not arrive. There were 617 players, including 117 grandmasters. Vladimir Kramnik, only a FIDE master, had the best rating performance – 2958, followed by Kasparov – 2908. Kasparov won the gold for top board 1. For the first time since 1939, there was an all-German team instead of a West German team and an East German team.
– Bill Wall
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