Dec 23, 2013, 12:42 PM |







The end of 1973 ws the time I decided to stop playing USCF over the board chess and to concentrate on my correspondence chess.  The truth is I was very good with enough time to consider my moves. With correspondence chess you get the time needed.  In my day correspondence chess was called "postal chess".


In 1973 I worked for the State of Illinois. But I had a severe health problem. For various reasons my insomia was extreme. I would go a couple of days [48 hours] or more without sleep.


The State of Illinois was generous with their holidays, sick leave days, personal days etc.


Here was my routine: I would work Monday and Tuesday of a typical week. [with little sleep] and then would try and find a vacation day or personal day so I could stay home on Wednesdays to try and sleep.Then I would work Thursday and Friday and catch up on my sleep Friday evening and Saturday.


Then there was the US Open in Chicago in 1973. I decided to play. But the problem was I did not have enough vacation time to take off work so I could play.


Also Chicago Tournament site was more than 1 1/2 hours away and how I hate to drive in chicago.


I would get off work in Kankakee until 5 PM and then at 6PM drive to Chicago for my games. Then after the game would have to drive back to Kankakee and be at work at 8 in the morning  This became more and more difficult because of lack of sleep and exhaustion.


Somehow I won my first three games. 


But then I was paired with Andrew Karklins who was the Illinois Champion and strong enough to be scheduled to play in the USA closed Championship.  I played the Smith Morra Gambit.


After several hours we were in a bishops of opposite color endgame where I was a pawn down. However it was  fairly easy draw. But Andrew kept trying to win and trying and trying. It was 2 30 in the morning and out of 777 players we were one of the last two tables to still be playing. Finally he agreed to a draw.


I did not get back to Kankakee until after 4 30 AM and had to start work at 8 AM. I debated withdrawing from the tournament.


But back I went to see who would be my next opponent? It was GrandMaster Bisguier!  Please see my blog "US Open Omaha Nebraska 1959" GM Bisguier won that tournament [my first USCF tournament]


I had White and decided to give him "a run for his money" I played the Goring Gambit two pawn sacrifice line! Then soon after sacrificed another pawn! At the time I was good at tactics and decided to play a tactical line. To make a long story shorter, I won the game. He resigned when we got to the 50 move time level!

There had been about a dozen people trying to get close to watch the game.


Of course I was elated but still maybe this was the time to quit and try to catch up on my sleep?


Next day I was back and had the Black pieces. I was paired with Angelo Sandrin who then was the Chicago Champion. I had played him a couple of games before and both were draws. He played 1. pawn to queen 4 which means 1. d4 I played the Gruenfeld Defense and eventually won with some tactics.


Half way point and out of 777 players I was in a 4 way tie for first place with 5 wins and a draw!!!


Unfortunately this did not last...


The next day a group of my friends knew about my sleep and exhaustion problem and they drove me to 

Chicago.  I was on Center Stage with the other 3 players  up above the other 773 or so players.


My opponent was Lawrence Day, a well known and strong master from Canada. But he had an advantage over me. He was staying at the hotel where we played.  He got hold of my score sheets and found I played this variation against the Ruy Lopez  3. Bb5  Bc5  4. c3  f5.  However I knew there was a flaw in that line but I had not  enough time to correct the flaw or find a better opening. 


Sure enough he was playing into the line where there was a flaw. He had examined the opening at the hotel.

There was nothing I could do.  After a while I resigned.


Seriously considered stopping my participation. But one more game...This time I was paired with a friend.

[more or less a friend] He was Dr Steven Tennant.  He was a very good player and had won the Illinois Championship in the past. But I had played him in some city to city matches and had a plus record against him. However this was not USCF rated chess. He was always perturbed that I had a plus record against him.


So again I played the Smith Morra Gambit. Steven had always said that gambit was no good. But I got a big advantage gainst him in the opening!  Then we got into a rook and pawns endgame where I was up two pawns.


But I was exhausted and my head was spinning and I could not think.  Finally the game ended in a draw.


Dr Steve was elated! He kept saying: "You were up two pawns and couldn't win!! You were up two pawns and couldn't win!!  He kept repeating this. But, actually he was right!  Now I knew my chess playing in this US Open was over and I withdrew from the tournament.


From that tournament I had a USCF rating of 2188.  12 points to go to be a USCF master.


I had a friend, William Harris, who was a master and who had recently won the Chicago Open with a score of 5 wins and no losses or draws. We played a 6 game match and the match was a draw and unfortumately it was not USCF rated.  William Harris died at an early age. RIP William.


Then there was a USCF tournament in Kankakee! It was 4 games in one day-called a "Tornado". I won the tourament with 4 straight wins. Enough to put my USCF rating over 2200.  A month later another tornado in Kankakee. Should I play and risk my USCF master rating??  [By that time I was really in to correspondence chess and my correspondence play was much better than my USCF over the board play.]


I played in the 2nd tornado and again I won all 4 games. So my USCF record for 1973 was 1 loss [to Lawrence Day] 2 draws [ one to Erik Karklins and one to Steve Tennant] and 13 wins--5 of which were in the US OPen vs very strong players.


I waited for my Chess life to confirm I was a USCF master but the first Chess Life had my older rating of 2188.  So waited for the 2nd Chess Life and again my rating remained at 2188 as if the 8 games I won in the Tornados did not count.  Finally one more monh waited and again my USCF rating only 2188!


It took me a while but I found the tournament director and talked to him on the phone and asked him what happened??


He stated he also played in the two tornados as well as being the director. He had done poory in both tournaments and so HE HAD NOT TURNED IN THE RESULTS TO USCF!!!! 


That was 40 years ago and I have not played another USCF game since. My over the board rating remains at 2188.  I am  almost totally disabled and could not play now over-the-board in a tournament if I wanted to. 


However my correspondence Chess was doing very well and eventually I won the United States Correspondence Chess Championship with a score of 13 wins and 1 draw and no losses in the Final round. In the Finals I won all 7 games with the Black pieces-a record which will never be broken.  This was before the days of chess engines.  A fews years after that chess engines had improved and were in use but this resulted in many more draws so my records will stand "forever"