I use to have an entire site devoted to Lisa Lane, the remarkable US Women's Champion in the late 1950s. But since my sites disappeared, although Rod Edwards of Edo chess salvaged some of them, this particular site never re-surfaced and is presumed dead.
I wanted to provide some of the information here, though I can hardly come close to the original, for people interested in that era.
The below article draws heavily from Look, November, 22, 1960, under the title, Lisa Lane: chess champion; Sport's Illustrated, August 7, 1961, under the title Queen of Knights and Pawns and in that magazine, April 23, 1962 under the title, Queen's Move; Newsweek, May 22, 1961, under the title, I Have to Win; The New York Times Magazine, June 4, 1961, under the title, Queen of Pawns, etc; and in The New Yorker's Talk of the Town, September 19, 1964 under the title, Chess Candidate, Owner of Queen's Pawn Chess Emporium.
While all the quotes, in red, came from these articles, I didn't cite the individual source for each quote.
The photos, smaller, low-res facimiles employed under the fair-use clause, likewise came from the above magazines with the exception of the two tournament photos that came from Life magazine.
L i s a L a n e
NM Dan Heisman is a Philadelphian chess player. He has a page devoted to the Philadelphia Modern Chess Hall of Fame, an informal selection of important players from that area. This list contains the name of a Philadelphian chess player whose presence played heavily in the eventual chess career of Marianne Elizabeth Lane, better known as Lisa Lane. Mr. Heisman describes Arnold Chertkof as "a legendary Philadelphia master, a tournament regular who was always hanging around local events. Everyone knew Arnold, and he could give a good game to anyone. An unforgettable chess character with a keen sense of humor." What Mr. Heisman failed to note is that sometime around 1957-8 Lisa Lane met Mr. Chertkof in a coffeehouse she frequented called the Artist's Hut.
Let's backtrack a bit for a peek into Lisa's life journey to the fateful meeting in the Artist's Hut.
Nine days after winning the US Women's title, Lisa married Walter Rich, an aspiring Philadelphia designer whom she met in a coffeehouse when he "beat the boy who brought me." During their less than two years of marriage, Lisa all but abandoned chess, but after their separation, went into full-time training. To support herself she started promoting herself and giving simuls.
Lisa Lane giving a 6 board simul in the window of
". ..when she moved from Philadelphia to New York to prepare for the World Women's Candidates Tournament, Lisa has been a virtual recluse in a silent apartment on West Twelfth Street. There is just enough furniture in the flat for herself, two Siamese cats (named Nimzovitch and Philidor after chess players), two sets of chessmen and some seventy-three books on chess. A clock (a double-faced tournament timepiece) and a telephone are Miss Lane's only contacts with off-board life. There is no radio, television or phonograph in the apartment."
She moved to a small spartan flat in NYC in February of 1961 where she spent most of her waking hours honing her chess skills for the upcoming World Women's Candidates Tournament to which she and Gisela Gresser (a former and future US women's champion) had been invited, along with sixteen other female players from around the world to determine who would challenge Elisaveta Bykova for the title of Women's World Champion (Bikova beat Olga Rubtsova for the title in 1958).
She had a less-than-great performance in the Women's Candidates Tournament in Vrnjacka Banja, Yugoslavia tying with Gresser for 13th-14th place out of 18. Nona Gaprindashvili won the tournament (+10-0=6) and went on to beat Elisaveta Bykova for the Women's World Championship by a landslide +7-0=4.
"I don't care how well I play if I lose," she said. "I have to win."
Unfortunately, 1964 proved to be a bad year for one who despised losing as much as Lisa Lane. First, she lost the US Women's Championship to Sonja Graf-Stevenson (who would die on March 6 of the next year ). Then she came in 12th out of 18 in the Women's Candidates Tournament a half point ahead of Gresser this time (It was won by Alla Kushnir of Russia, who eventually lost the women's championship match to Nona Gaprindashvili of Georgia).
While in New York Lisa played at the Marshall Club or Rossolimo's Chess Studio. She opened her own chess studio, the Queen's Pawn Chess Emporium, in 1964.
The Emporium is a chess shop and chess parlor on Sheridan Square
"...her potential ability to renovate the public image of chess as a game for ugly intellectuals is enormous. 'For this reason alone I'm the most important American chess player,' says Lisa. 'People will be attracted to the game by a young, pretty girl. That's why chess should support me. I'm bringing it publicity and, ultimately, money.'"
Lisa Lane playing Bobby Fischer
She considered her contemporary and then US men's champion, Bobby Fischer, the greatest player ever. Fischer considered all women players weak: "They're all fish. Lisa, you might say, is the best of the American fish."
Lisa smoking her Newport
"Seated at a chessboard, she is a chain-smoking, aggressive player with remarkable concentration..."
Here is a real fighting game won by Lisa Lane over Fenny Heemskerk at the 1961 Women's Candidate Tournament.