Third Rosenwald 1956 - Nailbiting!

Third Rosenwald 1956 - Nailbiting!

Mar 21, 2010, 5:04 PM |

Chess Life: Highlights on the 3rd "Rosenwald"
By U.S. Master DR. Harold Sussman

The American Chess Foundation merits the appreciation of the chess community for its dynamic promotion of the 3rd annual L. J. Rosenwald Tourney. Large enthusiastic crowds assembled to watch the masters in action at both the Marshall and Manhattan clubs.

At the Manhattan tournament banquet (left to right). James T. Sherwin, Arthur B. Bisguier, Sammuel Reshevsky, Al Bisno, President of the Mannhattan Chess Club, Larry Evans and Donald Byrne. Missing from the picture is tournamment controller George Kramer.

Almost all the games were interesting and hard-fought, and there were no unpleasant incidents despite the intense rivalry amongst the participants. In fact, a most friendly spirit prevailed as did good sportsmanship, for there were no 'grandmaster draws'. Hans Kmoch directed the play with his noteworthy impartiality and efficiency, and deserves credit for his excellent organization. Some of the original 'invitees' had to decline for varying reasons, namely: Evans, Denker, Rossolimo, Horowitz, Lombardy, Sherwin, and Shipman. They were replaced by D. Byrne, Mednis, Turner, Fischer, Hearst, Feuerstein, and Bernstein. Your reporter also received a later invitation but had to regretfully decline due to the demands of his practice.

Play commenced on October 7th, ending Oct. 14th. After a stunning defeat by Byrne, Reshevsky literally mowed down the opposition, yielding but two draws (Seldman and Feuerstein).

Sporting a new mustache and showing improved form, Sammy appeared to be rounding into shape for his proposed Bronstein match. The later has ben postponed, however, due to recent tensions abroad.

Reshevsky looks very mature with his new mustache and the angle accentuating his baldness adds to the effect. The photo is unflattering but the poise shown is typical of Sammy. He plays with confidence.

Arthur Bisguier started slowly and finished impressively to finish second. His play combined ingenuity and steadiness, and he fully deserved the runner-up spot.

U.S. Champion Arthur Biguier has just dropped a pawn against Sammy Reshevsky and is looking around for complications.

Youthful Arthur Feuerstein was a comparative surprise. Frequently in trouble, he showed an agility and elasticity which enabled him to capitalize on minor errors and save himself. He showed splendid tactical finesse under pressure and pressed Reshevsky for the lead in the early rounds. Had he not weakened in a favorable game against Mednis, he would have finished second.

The fourth prize-winner, Edmar Mednis, showed an aggressive yet solid style. He was almost always in severe time pressure and occasionally in lost positions which he somehow managed to squirm out of. In short, he had the luck associated with a skilled tactician. His forfeit against Hearst cost him a higher prize.

Berstein, tying for fifth with Byrne and Turner, was the oldest contestant (at 45!). Except for the fifth hour of play he seemed to be the youngest in spirit! He was plagued by numerous strength sapping and time consuming adjournments. Remarkably enough, he defeated four senior masters! (Bisguier, Byrne, Pavey, and Seidman). However, his play was too erratic in his other games to constitute a threat for the high prizes. In general, his play was the most original of the contestants and certanly amongst the most courageous.

Donald Byrne was obviously much out of form and in the latter rounds was hounded by a severe cold. Some of his games showed his potential, such as the wins against Reshevsky and Feuerstein, but for a player of his exceptional capabilities his results were disappointing.

A characteristic shot of Donald Byrne. He concentrates well and generates strong outer poise. Byrne and Turner were the two heavy smokers in the tournament.

Abe Turner played very strong steady chess most of the way and seemed heading for a high prize until his fiascos against Reshevsky and Bisguier in the last two rounds. Turner, a somewhat underrated master, is nevertheless a dangerous opponent when at his fighting best. He is very resourceful and counter-attacks with skill. His chief weakness appears to be an occasional lack of confidence against certain top-notch players which causes him to play passively and ineffectually.

Bobby fidgets, squirms, and bites his nails when in trouble. (see Nailbiting Bobby, part 2).

The real sensation of the tourney was 13-year old Bobby Fischer who clearly demonstrated that he is a full fledged master with a rather mature positional style! His win against Byrne was an inspired piece and fully deserved the 1st brilliancy prize. It is conceivable that Bobby will become one of America's strongest masters in just a few years. He is expert at speed chess, knows his chess theory quite well, and has an almost uncanny fervor for our royal game. Watch him!

Tying with Fischer for 8th place was the Marshal C.C. Champion Herbert Seidman. He had to work during the entire tournament and showed obvious signs of fatigue. He did play several sparkling games and received the 2nd brilliancy prize for his magnificent win against Turner. He also held his own against Reshevsky in a well-fought contest.

Seidman with a strong tourney, held Reshevsky to a draw.

The Manhattan C. C. Champion, Max Pavey, also proved disappointing as he finished in a tie for 10th and 11th with Eliot Hearst. He, too, stuck to the job; and even played in a Masters Bridge Tournament simultaneously! All this activity, coupled with the weakening effect of his recent illness, was a bit too much for him to handle fully. He did show sparks of form against Byrne and Eliot Hearst.

Hearst was a worthy and subborn opponent despite his unimpressive score. His last round win against Fischer was in his best style.

Shainswit, a very talented player, was still another 'working' master and one completely out of practice. He scored his only win against Mednis and in the latter rounds of the tourney seemed to be worn out by the grind.

There were numerous highlights and points of interest in the tourney. Bobby Fischer, our National Junior Champion, was intriguing to watch, especially when he was in trouble. He would squirm, bite his nails, look uncomfortable, fidget, and still would answer with a decisive air about him. His wins against Seidman and Byrne and his draws with Bernstein and Feuerstein are indications of his ever growing strength.

Bernstein draws against the kid from Brooklyn.

Byrne's victory over Reshevsky was a truly fine game. Sammy showed his old fighting spirit and determination by shaking off the loss and roming in.

A most interesting incident occurred at the Mednis-Hearst table when both players were forfeited! Hearst had overstepped the time limit at the 40th turn, but Mednis (did not keep) his score for about the last 10 moves. It had been announced that an accurate score must be kept or forfeit would occur. The position was quite won for Mednis and the extra point would have enabled him to tie Bisguier. Incidentally, Mednis tied Reshevsky for most points scored against the prize-winners (4.5) (see game and unique score below, and part 2 for controversy).


Feuerstein played bright chess and is a future hope for American chess. His style is fearless and original. Eliot Hearst was under the psychological handicap of having just finished his Master's thesis and preparing for the Armed Forces shortly. Bisguier missed draws against Reshevsky and Bernstein but was not really a threat for first place.

In conclusion, Reshevsky proved again he is still the big gun in American chess. We need more training tournaments like the Rosenwald to develop our young players like Fischer, Feuerstein, etc. by pitting them against our established masters.

(Blog Entry: Third Rosenwald 1956 - Nailbiting, part1, part2. and Game of the Century, with Bobby's original notes.)