The First Time I Met GM Bisguier

The First Time I Met GM Bisguier

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I was saddened to see the recent passing of "The Dean of American Chess", GM Arthur Bisguier.

My mind immediately went back to the first time I met GM Bisguier. I will never forget it, as it was the first time a GM ever approached me!

I had just had one of the best tournaments of my life, the 1968 (wow!) Keystone State Open. In that event I was ranked in the bottom half of the only section, beat the only local master in the first round, started 5-0, and eventually finished tied for 2nd in the seven rounds. It was an event where almost all the top players in the Philadelphia area competed.

My next big event was the New Jersey Open over Labor Day. During that event, one of my friends USCF Expert Jerry Kolker, was paired with White against one of the top 20 players in the US, George Kramer.

Suprisingly, the opening had gone 1,e4 e5 2,Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.O-O Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.c3 Bg4?! (8....0-0 is normal. The general principle is Black should not pin this knight before White has played d4. Jerry had previously taught me why this was considered dubious, as shown in the game continuation) 9.h3 Bh5 10.d3 0-0 11.Nbd2 Na5 12.Bc2 c5 13.Nf1 Qc7 14.Ng3 Bg6 15.Nh4

My opponent was thinking, so I had stopped to watch Jerry's game.

I got a tap on my shoulder.

Imagine my surprise when I saw it was GM Bisguier. He motioned me to the side and whispered,

"Do you know the guy who is playing George?"

"Yes, that is Jerry Kolker. He is one of the best young players in Philadelphia and quite an expert on the openings."

GM Bisguier replied, "Yes, I can see that. George has fallen into a kind of opening trap."

"Yes, I know."

"Black's position is not lost but it's very unpleasant to play. George is not that great in the openings but he is one of the best middlegame players in America. So I think George will still win."

I did not want to tell GM Bisguier that although Jerry was superbly "book-up" in the openings, he was not nearly as good in the middlegame, so I just replied, "OK" and he walked away.

When I came back about 45 minutes later Jerry's position was in ruins and George Kramer won easily.

Many years later I ran into GM Bisguier and related this story to him. Like all long-ago memories, they only stick with you if there's a reason and my "fresh" memory of my first GM "tap" was, alas, not at all memorable to the GM. So, not surprisingly, GM Bisguier did not remember our first meeting at all.

So now the readers can share my memory of my first meeting with the late Dean of American Chess...