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Actor Humphrey Bogart and Chess

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    Humphrey Bogart was an excellent chess player, almost of master level (2100). Before he made any money from acting, he would hustle players for dimes and quarters, playing in New York parks and at Coney Island. The chess scenes in Casablanca had not been in the original script, but were put in at his insistence. A chess position from one of his correspondence games appears in the movie, although the image is a little blurred. He achieved a draw in a simultaneous exhibition given in 1955 at Beverly Hills by the famous chess Grandmaster Samuel Reshevsky and also played against George Koltanowski in San Francisco in 1952 (Koltanowski played blindfolded but still won in 41 moves).

    Bogart was a United States Chess Federation tournament director and active in the California State Chess Association, and a frequent visitor to the Hollywood Chess Club. The cover of the June–July 1945 issue of Chess Review showed Bogart playing with Charles Boyer, as Lauren Bacall (who also played) looks on. In June 1945, in an interview in the magazine Silver Screen, when asked what things in life mattered most to him, he replied that chess was one of his main interests. He added that he played chess almost daily, especially between film shootings. He loved the game all his life.

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    great guy and actor

  • #11

    in the hb lb game above i dont like 9 a4 at all.  it looks wrong to me.  9 castles or 9 B E3 look far superior imo. 

  • #12

    Please cite your references? Where did you find the reference to his USCF and CSCA activity?

    You say the chess scenes were not in the script at first, but according to Round Up the Usual Suspects: The Making of Casablanca by Aljean Hanmetz, the idea to include the chessboard belonged to Howard Koch, the screenwriter.

  • #13

    Here's the documentation of his USCF and CSCSA activity: http://www.chessdryad.com/articles/periodicals/cr/art_02.htm

  • #14


    (Vol. 13 No. 6, June-July 1945)

    Chess Briefs

    Outstanding summer event of 1945 is the Pan American Chess Congress, to be held at the Hollywood Athletic Club, Los Angeles, from July 29th to August 12th (not Pasadena, as erroneously reported last month). The cooperation of movie producers and stars (see front cover and cut on this page) means that the Congress will receive wide publicity. The participation of chess stars of the first magnitude will also insure its success. U. S. masters Reuben Fine, I. A. Horowitz, Isaac Kashdan, Albert S. Pinkus, Edward Lasker and Pfc. Herbert Seidman have agreed to play in the main tournament, provided they are able to obtain transportation to the West Coast. From other countries, the following players have accepted invitations: Hector Rossetto and Jacobo Bolbochan of Argentina; Dr. Walter O. Cruz and J. Souza Mendes of Brazil; Julio Salas and Mariano Catillo of Chile; Alfredo F. Olivero of Uruguay; Major J. J. Araiza and Joaquin Camerena of Mexico; Dr. Alfredo Brodermann of Cuba; Abe Yanofsky of Canada. In addition to the big tournament, there will be contests for ladies, amateurs, collegiate and high school teams, military teams. All credit to chessmaster Herman Steiner, the California State Chess Association, the Los Angeles Times and Hollywood's movie industry for sponsoring this history-making event.

    Chessplaying movie stars (see front cover) will aid and sponsor the forthcoming Pan American Chess Congress at Los Angeles. Charles Boyer and Humphrey Bogart, pictured at left with chessmaster Herman Steiner are both keen chessplayers and are helping to publicize the Congress. Bogart, who is a Director of the U. S. Chess Federation and of the California State Chess Association, will act as Master of Ceremonies. Boyer and other famous stars will attend and open the daily rounds of the master tournament. Other stars will play in the "living chess game."


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