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Lisa

Lisa Lane won her first US Woman's Chess Championship in 1959, amazingly only two years after being introduced to chess.

Although most authorities agree that by today's standards, she would be around an expert level, women's competitive chess, especially in America, in 1959 was still in its infancy.

Ms. Lane gained national, and even global, attention possibly more for her looks, her tenacity and her romantic drama than for her chess. Because of this her considerable natural talent is sometimes overlooked today.


In a 1962 Harper's interview with Bobby Fischer, after Ralph Ginsberg noted that Lisa Lane considered Fischer "probably the greatest chess player alive, " Fischer answered:
            "That statement is accurate, but Lisa Lane really wouldn't be
            in a position to know. They're all weak, all women. They're
            stupid compared to men. They shouldn't play chess, you know.
            They're like beginners. They lose every single game against a man.
            There isn't a woman player in the world I can't give knight-odds
            to and still beat."

           

Fischer was probably accurate in his assessment since even the Women's World Champion was nowhere near the level of a strong Grandmaster in 1960, but with all the talk of absolutes (e.g. finding the "truth"), chess is, and probably will remain, a relative game.  Relative to the best female players of the day, Lisa Lane was not quite on their level, but not so far behind either.

Here are some games where she held her own against such players as Chantal Chaude de Silans, Fenny Heemskerk and  Nona Gaprindashvili -

 

 

 


 

 

Comments


  • 4 years ago

    Badgal4ever

    It's funny,  am driven to try study harder due to Fischer's words and others like him. I have come across a couple on chess.com

  • 5 years ago

    TheBishopsWife

    She ran a coffee house, chess club in Greenwich Village called the Queens Pawn. 

  • 5 years ago

    batgirl

    gretagarbo,

    Wow. That was a fast find on your part. And the interview was a fun read, just as the blitz game was entertaining.  Forbes was three time women's chess chmpion of Great Britain.

    Thanks so much!

  • 5 years ago

    SilentWalker

    "They're all weak, all women. They're 
      stupid compared to men. They shouldn't play chess, you know. 
      They're like beginners. They lose every single game against a man."

     Simply unacceptable language.  Do not care what time period he said this in.



  • 5 years ago

    gretagarbo

    it was a blitz game according to chessgames.com

    interview with forbes linked from this interesting page titled Fischer versus Women.

  • 5 years ago

    batgirl

    Did she?  That would be fun to read!

  • 5 years ago

    aansel

    I think Fischer played an informal game with Cathy Forbes during an interview around his return match against Spassky. I think she wrote about it. 

  • 5 years ago

    batgirl

    "So did he record any games against females ever?"

    He may have played some women off-hand or in simuls but, while possible, I would find it unlikely that there are any recorded games of Fischer against a woman

  • 5 years ago

    Tical

    Wow. Did Bobby Fischer actually say these words? He would have been hung by the 'you-know-whats' if he was around these days! So did he record any games against females ever?

  • 5 years ago

    lobosolo21

    Batgirl: Personally I thank you for your contributions here,I really enjoy them and have enriched my shallow chess culture...Regards.Smile

  • 5 years ago

    batgirl

    Well, that's what I meant by "at least there's probably no different version."  But I wasn't aware of the undependability of the bulletins.  In short, then, if the game contained different moves, we'll possibly never know for sure?


    BTW, thanks for your help in this.

  • 5 years ago

    aansel

    Batgirl,

    The score is correct according to the bulletin but bulletins are known to have many errors as they are created from reading scoresheets. I am betting there is a mistake in the score (or an omitted move) but these are very hard to find and fix.

  • 5 years ago

    batgirl

    aansel, thanks.

    Then the score is correct, or at least there's probably no different version,and the noted  mistakes are just that, mistakes made by the players?

  • 5 years ago

    aansel

    Re: Lane-Gaprindashvilli

    The game score as given is taken correctly from the event bulletin. The remaining moves are: 37...Qg6 38 h3 Be6 39 Kh2 Bd5 40 Qd3 1/2. Neither Shakmatny Bulletin nor Vestnik had the game score.

  • 5 years ago

    Raven

    Hey Batgirl, Nice article and I really appreciate the time you take to investigate and report on so much. Just wanted to let you know. And Thanks as always.

  • 5 years ago

    IM Silman

    "23.g4?? makes zero sense since 23...fxg4 24.Bg2 Qxf4 is game over"

    Batgirl said: "I hadn't seen that. Yeah, there's obviously something wrong with the score (extracted from chessgames.com). Is it possible that Gaprindashvili accepted a draw in time trouble?"

    That crossed my mind (though with a safe position and a solid extra pawn, even a couple minutes would be enough to continue playing with no risk), but ChessBase implied that there were many more moves, and that they were all gibberish. Thus the game did indeed progress. Also, there were huge mistakes all through this game, so I am pretty sure that something is very wrong. It's quite a mystery! 

    Since I really want to see the real game score, I wrote Edward Winter (the world's greatest chess historian) and asked if he could shed any light on this. I'll let you know if I get a reply.

  • 5 years ago

    batgirl

    "23.g4?? makes zero sense since 23...fxg4 24.Bg2 Qxf4 is game over"

    I hadn't seen that. Yeah, there's obviously something wrong with the score (extracted from chessgames.com).  Is it possible that Gaprindashvili accepted a draw in time trouble?

  • 5 years ago

    IM Silman

    Hey "batgirl", I really enjoy your articles. Chess history is a love of mine, so it's nice to know you're introducing others to one of the nicest features about our game: its rich, colorful past. Too many young players fail to realize that there's far more to chess than just moves.

    About Lisa Lane and other American women at that time. They were far weaker (hundreds of points) than their Russian counterparts. It wasn't competitive at all. Alla Kushnir became a very strong player (IM strength -- in fact she kicked my ass when I was 21! If I remember correctly, she also beat grandmaster Larry Evans at the same event!), and Gaprindashvili eventually earned the men's grandmaster title. Imagine a 2100 player battling a grandmaster and you'll understand why she quit -- there was no way she could ever compete with them.

    One other thing: the game you gave between Lane and Gaprindashvili doesn't make any sense. Things are hanging all over the place (23.g4?? makes zero sense since 23...fxg4 24.Bg2 Qxf4 is game over), which means that the score isn't correct (the same mistaken scoresheet is given all over the web, and on ChessBase). Of course, Lane is losing the final position, though ChessBase simply says that the remainder was undecipherable. I'll try and find a correct score of that game (if it exists). If I do, I'll make sure you get it.

    Keep up the great work!

  • 5 years ago

    batgirl

    LisaV,
    I was at first planning on a compendium of your King's Gambit games, but at the last minute decided to go with LisaL instead. She beat you out alphabetically.


  • 5 years ago

    qixel

    I love that photo series of Lane at the Marshall.  I have one of them on the desk in my chess nook.

    Amy

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