Thursday, 9 March 2017

Further early Fischer tournament books

On Bobby's birthday here are some more books covering his early tournaments.
A Record of the Proceedings of the Second and Third Rosenwald Trophy Chess Championships, New York, 1955/56, edited and arranged by Jack Spence, published by The White Castle Press (c.f. Fred Reinfeld's Black Knight Press) Omaha, 1958. Betts 25-244.

This is a nice hardback cloth-bound book compared with the usual ring-bound productions of Jack Spence's limited editions; there is no indication of the number printed of this particular limited edition, although the copy examined is No. 48.

The Third Rosenwald Tournament was held in New York from 7th to 24th October 1956 (although Bobby Fischer states October and November on page xiv of his book Bobby Fischer's Games of Chess, and both Profile of a Prodigy by Frank Brady and Fischer's My 60 Memorable Games give the date as 1956-57), and this invitational tournament was Fischer's most important to date. According to Frank Brady (Profile of a Prodigy, 1965 edition page 18, 1973 edition page 16) invitations were extended to the 12 players considered the best in the country.

Thirteen year old Fischer started poorly and ended in eighth place with a score of 4½/11 after winning just two games. However he was still the sensation of the tournament on account of his "game of the century" against Donald Byrne in round 8. 

The tournament was also notable in Fischer's career as it was here that he first met Samuel Reshevsky over the board, eventually losing on time in a probably lost position. Reshevsky won the event, losing only to Donald Byrne in round one.

All 66 games are included, some without notes and others annotated at length including Fischer's much acclaimed win over Donald Byrne, with notes by Hans Kmoch

This book includes reports on the first four Rosenwald tournaments; Fischer did not play in the first two but here is part of the report on the fourth Rosenwald and United States Championship for 1957/58 which was covered in my earlier article:

Games from the United States Chess Championship and 6th Rosenwald Trophy Tournament, New York City, 1959-60, edited by Jack Spence, Omaha, limited edition of 140 copies. Although the Preface is dated April 1960, and this is the date given at Betts 25-291, the copy examined includes a page of adverts dated 1962.

The tournament was spread across three venues with four rounds taking place at West Side YMCA, two at the Marshall Chess Club (been there), and five rounds at the Manhattan Chess Club. Fischer's participation was only confirmed after a dispute regarding the public drawing of pairings. Hermann Helms, who reached the age of 90 a few days after the event, supplied the daily reports to The New York Times.    

By 1960, sixteen year old Fischer was already regarded as the leading young player in the world and a strong contender for the world championship. He won his third consecutive U.S. Championship ahead of Robert Bryne and Samuel Reshevsky; first prize was $1,000. Reshevsky was leading after three rounds but Herbert Seidman beat him in round four with a double piece sacrifice. Robin Ault unfortunately lost all eleven games (been there).

The interesting item About the Players gives their ages, occupations and hobbies (outside of chess); no hobbies are listed for Fischer. 

The only pictures are of Bobby Fischer, with a misspelled caption, which was actually taken in June 1957,  and Arthur Bisguier the U.S Open Champion.

Here is the photo of Fischer from the plate section of The Games of Robert J. Fischer by Robert G. Wade and Kevin O'Connell:

A round-by-round commentary is given and all 66 games, some annotated. Here is Fischer's brevity against Herbert Seidman in round seven:

and this is his victory over Sidney Bernstein in round eight:

My thanks to Owen and Kathleen Hindle for the loan of the above two books.

Stockholm Interzonal Tournament 1962.

I can't say too much about this 64 page booklet as there are no identifying details. There is no title page, no date, no names of author/compiler, printer or publisher, no preface or introduction. In fact there is virtually no text throughout the book. This is quite a mystery as it is not recorded in either Betts or Lusis and it is not held by either the Cleveland Public Library or the National Library of the Netherlands.  I bought it for $5 in New York in 2007.

This is the first page:


This publication simply records the 258 games, in descriptive notation, from the 23 round Interzonal. Fischer was undefeated and finished 2½ points ahead of a very strong field. There is a Progressive Score Table and a Crosstable of Play, and also an Openings Index.

Fischer's games against Bertok, Bolbochan and Korchnoi are included in My 60 Memorable Games; here is page 53 of the booklet with his game against Bolbochan:


I also have the following publication covering the same event: 

Medjuzonski šahovski turnir 1962, Štokholm, by Miloš Petronić, Belgrade 1962. 


This has much more information than the previous publication with a title page, list of competitors, round-by-round results and a four page introduction by Nikola Karaklajić which unfortunately I cannot read. 

All games are given without notes in continental algebraic notation, but the highlights for me are the photographs, though generally poorly reproduced. All are uncaptioned but here is a smartly dressed Fischer:

Tigran Petrosian and Fridrik Olafsson:

Svetozar Gligorić and Pal Benkö:

Lajos Portisch and Gedeon Barcza:

and these two have just cycled to the event:

Many thanks to René Wukits for help in identifying some of these players.

                                         © Michael Clapham 2017

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