Samuel Reshevsky : Unveiling of an Internet Lie

Samuel Reshevsky : Unveiling of an Internet Lie

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A couple of years ago, I saw a picture of a little boy playing chess with the adults, and the photo was captioned:

"Brilliant and young Samuel Reshevsky confronting 10 chess masters at once....He lost to everyone!"



After seeing this picture, I was like, okay, that's interesting. What's the truth here? Then I went through the comments and saw he was being trolled which frequently happens online. People were making jokes about him.

I went to the search engine and asked,

Ginnie, Ginnie, are you frisky?

Tell me who is Samuel Reshevsky!

Within a second, an enormous amount of secrets about Sammy Reshevsky were unleashed in front of me.

Let's talk about him, shall we?

Samuel Herman Reshevsky was a Polish chess prodigy and later became a leading American chess grandmaster. He was a contender for the World Chess Championship from the mid-1930s to the mid-1960s: he tied for third place in the 1948 World Chess Championship tournament and tied for second in the 1953 Candidates tournament. 


He was the eight times US chess champion. Learned chess at a very early age when he was four. There is more information about him on Wikipedia:

In November 1920, his parents moved to the United States to make a living by publicly exhibiting their child's talent. Reshevsky played thousands of games in exhibitions all over the US. He played in the 1922 New York Masters tournament; at that stage, he was likely the youngest player ever to have competed in a strong tournament.

Reshevsky's international career was even more impressive. It began in 1935 with a trip to England where he won at Great Yarmouth with 10/11!

RESHEVSKY SCORES IN BRITISH CHESS; New York Expert Turns Back Butcher After 39 Moves in First-Round Match.

1935 Major Open, ©British Chess Game Archive

He then won first place at the Margate tournament where he beat former world champion Jose Raul Capablanca!

In 1950, Reshevsky was awarded the title of International Grandmaster by FIDE. Zurich 1953 tournament was a very important one for him :

The following Candidates in Zurich 1953 tournament was probably Reshevsky's best chance to qualify for a World Championship match, but he finished in joint second place with David Bronstein and Keres, two points behind Smyslov. Bronstein, in his last book, Secret Notes, published in 2007 just after his death the previous year, confirmed long-standing rumors by writing that the nine Soviet grandmasters (out of a field of 15 players) at Zurich were under orders from both their chess leadership and the KGB not to let Reshevsky win the tournament under any circumstances, with Smyslov being the preferred victor. Bronstein claims that when Reshevsky maintained his strong contention late into the two-month event, the Soviets prearranged several results in games amongst themselves to successfully prevent Reshevsky's overall victory while also ensuring that Reshevsky faced the maximum test in his own games against the Soviet players. Bronstein had earlier (1995) written that he was ordered by the Soviet delegation leader to win as Black against Reshevsky in the second cycle at Zurich and managed to do so after a very hard struggle. Several other writers, including GM Alexei Suetin (who was the second of Tigran Petrosian at Zurich 1953), also confirmed the Soviet collusion in Zurich.

Zurich 1953

Debunking of the Myth :

Reshevsky was particularly known for his simultaneous exhibitions, he played above thousands of exhibitions throughout the USA. The following image was miscaptioned-

17th May 1920, Paris

New York Times published this news saying :

Twenty graybeards sitting in a square played chess yesterday in Paris against a very small boy 8 years old, and he beat them all. Among the graybeards were some of the best players in France, and one at least, whose boast it is that he drew with Capablanca, the Pan-American chess champion, but all their reputation availed them nothing against a frail child with a pale, thoughtful face who moved quietly from one board to another, reducing their most skillful plans and wiles to nothingness and mating them and mating them when they least expected it.

In another simul in America
Young Sammy!
Collected Image

Internet is a vast area where the truths and the falses are blended. It's not easy to uncover the original story. Little effort and curiosity of knowing the fact can often make history beautiful.
He would have turned 110 today. The little boy from Poland had gifted us so many amazing games and ideas that it will take forever to even ignore them. Rest in peace, Sammy! 

Read my previous blog here :

Book Review 'Amateur To IM: Proven Ideas and Training Methods by Jonathan Hawkins' Episode One

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