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Koltanowski, George

George Koltanowski (1903-2000) was a chess editor for the San Francisco Chronicle for 52 years and author of over 19,000 chess columns.  He learned chess at the age of 14.  He moved to San Francisco after World War II.  In 1949 he helped in the formation of the California State Chess Federation.  He was an International Master (1950), honorary International Grandmaster (1988), International Arbiter (1960), and past President of the United States Chess Federation (1975-1978).  In 1937 he played 34 opponents simultaneously, blindfolded, winning 24 games and drawing 10.  In 1949 he played 271 simultaneous games in an exhibition.  In 1960 he played 56 consecutive blindfold games in a row, winning 50 and drawing 6 during an event held in San Francisco,  He was well known for his blindfold knight’s tour.  He won the Belgian Championship 4 times (1923, 1927, 1930, and 1936) and was a founding member of FIDE in 1924.  He directed the U.S. Open 16 times.  He was considered the greatest chess showman and promoter that chess has ever known.  He introduced the Swiss System of pairings to national events when he directed the 1947 US Open in Corpus Christi, Texas using the Swiss System instead of a round robin.  Many of Koltanowski’s relatives died in the Holocaust, but he was in Guatemala promoting chess when World War II broke out.  The United States Consul in Cuba saw Koltanowski giving a chess exhibition in Havana in 1940 and granted him a US visa.  He authored over 20 chess books in four languages.   He directed the US Open 20 times.  He died at the age of 96. 

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