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Today in Chess History: Dec 4

  • #1

    Dec 4, 1876: Robert Bownas Wormald died in London, England.

    Dec 4, 1904: Abraham Meurs, Dutch composer, was born in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

    Dec 4, 1918: Kaarle Ojanen was born in Helsinki, Finland.

    Dec 4, 1923: Srecko Nedeljkovic was born in Virovo, Yugoslavia.

    Dec 4, 1937: William Lombardy was born in New York, USA.

    Dec 4, 1958: Goran Dizdar was born in Zagreb, Yugoslavia.

    Dec 4, 1958: Johan Scheel, Norwegian composer, died in Roa, Norway.

    Dec 4, 1960: Viktor Moskalenko was born in Odessa, Ukraina.

    Dec 4, 1976: Joshua Waitzkin was born in New York, USA.

    Dec 4, 1981: Karl Gilg died in Kolbermoor, Germany.

    Dec 4, 1985: Tamas Meszaros was born, Hungary.

    Dec 4, 1992: Ferruccio Trabbatoni died, Italy.

    Dec 4, 2000: Gisela Kahn Gresser died in New York, USA.

  • #2

    Kaarle Sakari Ojanen (4 December 1918 – 9 January 2009) was a Finnish chess player. Born in Helsinki in 1918, he became a Finnish National Master in 1938 and was the leading Finnish player between Eero Böök and Heikki Westerinen. He was perhaps best known for defeating world championship candidate, grandmaster Paul Keres, at Helsinki, 1960.

    Ojanen earned the FIDE International Master (IM) title in 1952 and the International Master of Correspondence Chess (IMC) title in 1981. He was the thirteen-time Finnish Champion, winning in 1950, 1951, 1951–2, 1952–3, 1957 through 1962, 1967, 1972, and 1983. Ojanen represented Finland in eleven Chess Olympiads: 1937, 1950, 1952, 1956, 1958, 1960, 1962, 1966, 1968, 1970, and 1972, playing first board from 1956 through 1966, thereafter playing second, after Westerinen. Ojanen won the first board individual bronze medal at Havana 1966. In international play, he placed fourth at Oslo 1939, third of ten at Helsinki 1946, and seventeenth at Trenčianske Teplice 1949.


  • #3

    William James Lombardy (born December 4, 1937) is an American Grandmaster of chess, writer, teacher, and one time Roman Catholic priest.

    He won the 1956 Canadian Open Chess Championship. In 1957, Lombardy became the first American to win the World Junior Chess Championship and, in so doing, the first American World Chess champion of any kind. He won the tournament in Toronto with a perfect score of 11-0, the only time such a result has been achieved. Lombardy drew a two-game match with World Chess Champion Mikhail Botvinnik.

    Lombardy played first board for the US Team that won the 1960 World Student Team Championship in Leningrad, USSR, the first time the US Team won that event (they would win again at Haifa 1970) (http://www.olimpbase.org). Lombardy defeated future World Chess Champion Boris Spassky in their individual game. Lombardy won a gold medal for best result on his board in that event.

    Lombardy represented his country in several Chess Olympiads, and played many times in the US Chess Championship. Lombardy finished second in the 1960-61 US Chess Championship behind Bobby Fischer and ahead of Raymond Weinstein and a star-studded field. With this result, Lombardy qualified to compete in the World Interzonal tournament in Stockholm for the World Chess Championship. However, Lombardy decided instead to retire from chess to become a Roman Catholic priest.

    In 1972, Bobby Fischer was scheduled to play a match against Boris Spassky for the World Chess Championship. However, Fischer had a falling out with Grandmaster Larry Evans who had been Fischer's second in his successful matches against Tigran Petrosian and Bent Larsen. Fischer called upon his old friend William Lombardy to help him out with the match. Although Lombardy was still a Roman Catholic priest, he was allowed to take time off from the priesthood to go to Reykjavík, Iceland to serve as the official "second" to Fischer during the World Chess Championship 1972, between Fischer and Boris Spassky. Nevertheless Fischer often did not make use of his services. Don Schultz remembers the following conversation: Lombardy to Fischer 'That's a difficult position. Let's go back to the hotel and analyze it.' Fischer replied 'What do you mean, analyze? That guy's a fish. Let's go bowling.' Fischer won the match and became World Chess Champion.

    Lombardy later left the priesthood. He is now retired and lives in the East Village of New York City, where he is writing a chess book and sells chess lessons at his home and by appointment elsewhere.



  • #4

    Goran Dizdar (born 4.12.1958) was awarded the Grandmaster title in 1991. In 1995, he was the Croatian chess champion.

  • #5

    Joshua Waitzkin (born December 4, 1976, New York City) is a chess player, martial arts competitor, and author. As a child he was recognized as a prodigy, and won the U.S. Junior Chess championship in 1993 and 1994.

    He began playing the game at the age of six, having discovered it while wandering through Washington Square Park in New York City. It was there, while playing blitz chess with the hustlers, that he was "discovered" by Bruce Pandolfini, a chess author and teacher, who later took Waitzkin under his wing for a number of years. During his years as a student at The Dalton School in New York City he led the school to win six national team championships between the third and ninth grades in addition to his eight individual titles.

    The first master he ever defeated was Edward Frumkin, in a game featuring a remarkable sacrifice of Waitzkin's queen and rook in exchange for a checkmate in six moves. Waitzkin was only ten years old at the time.

    At age 11, he and prodigy K. K. Karanja were the only two children to draw with World Champion Garry Kasparov in an exhibition game where Kasparov played simultaneously against 59 youngsters. Two years later, he earned the title of National Master, and at age 16 became an International Master. His focus has since shifted to the martial art Tai Chi Chuan, in which he has won four pushing hands tournaments.

    Nevertheless he remains a well-known and popular chess figure, largely owing to Paramount Pictures' 1993 movie Searching for Bobby Fischer, directed by Steven Zaillian. The script for this film was based on a 1988 book by Joshua's father, Fred Waitzkin: Searching for Bobby Fischer: The Father of a Prodigy Observes the World of Chess.

    Waitzkin announced the formation of the JW foundation on April 8, 2008.

    "The JW Foundation is dedicated to helping teachers, parents, and educational institutions nurture the unique potential of children and young adults. Our mission is to help students discover a creative, resilient passion for learning while embracing and overcoming challenges".

    Joshua Waitzkin is the author of Attacking Chess: Aggressive Strategies, Inside Moves from the U.S. Junior Chess Champion (1995) and The Art of Learning: An Inner Journey to Optimal Performance (2008). He is also the spokesperson for the Chessmaster computer game series, and is featured in the game giving advice and game analysis.

    In a 2007 book, The Art of Learning, Waitzkin recounts the story of his years as a chess competitor from his own perspective. He describes how movie fame challenged his concentration on the game, how he took up Tai Chi as a form of relaxation, and then discovered that the same learning techniques he employed in chess enabled him to advance rapidly in martial arts as well. He subsequently studied eastern philosophies and psychology of learning.

    Waitzkin is active in the fight against Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. He does not have Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy; however, a close friend of his, Jonathan Wade, suffers from the medical condition.

    He has not played in a US Chess Federation tournament since 1999 nor in a FIDE tournament since before 2001.

    Josh is also a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under world champion and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu phenom Marcelo Garcia, with a goal of becoming a world champion in that martial art by 2010 or 2011.


  • #6

    Karl Gilg (20 January, 1901, Mankovice (Mankendorf), Austrian Silesia – 4 December, 1981, Kolbermoor, Bavaria) was a German chess International Master from Czechoslovakia.

    Gilg played for Czechoslovakia in several Chess Olympiads.

    • In 1927, at second board in 1st Olympiad in London (+5 −3 =5);
    • In 1928, at first board in 2nd Olympiad in The Hague (+5 −3 =4);
    • In 1931, at second board in 4th Olympiad in Prague (+2 −3 =6), team bronze;
    • In 1936, at fifth board in unofficial Olympiad in Munich (+8 −3 =5).

    In tournaments, he won at Aussig 1923, won at Chabařovice 1924, tied for 1st-2nd at Broumov 1925, took 2nd at Breslau 1925 (B tourn), took 2nd at Dresden 1926 (B tourn), won at Ostrava 1926, tied for 1st-2nd with Borislav Kostić at Trenčianske Teplice (Trentschin-Teplitz) 1926, and won, jointly with Heinrich Wagner, at Vienna 1926 (DSV Kongress). He tied for 14–15th at Semmering 1926, though defeating Alexander Alekhine in their individual game (Rudolf Spielmann won). In 1927, he tied for 7–8th in Kecskemét (Alekhine won).

    In 1928, he won in Šumperk. In 1929, he took 20th in Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad; Aron Nimzowitsch won). In 1930, he won in Olomouc. In 1930, he tied for 3rd–5th in Štubnanske Teplice (Andor Lilienthal won). In 1933, he tied for 8–9th in Ostrava (Mährisch Ostrau) (Ernst Grünfeld won). In 1934, he tied for 1st-2nd with Hans Müller in Klosterneuburg. In 1934, he took 3rd in Bad Liebwerda (13th DSV Kongress; Salo Flohr won). In 1935, he won in Konstantinsbad (14th DSV Kongress). In 1937, he won in Teplice). In 1937, he took 7th in Prague (Paul Keres won).

    In 1938, Gilg changed his citizenship to become German. That year he won in Gablonz, and tied for 4–5th in Bad Elster (Efim Bogoljubow won). In 1939, he took 3rd in Bad Oeynhausen (the 6th GER-ch; Erich Eliskases won). In 1940, he tied for 3rd–4th in Bad Oeynhausen (7th GER-ch; Georg Kieninger won), and took 9th at Krakow/Krynica/Warsaw (the 1st GG-ch, Bogoljubow and Anton Kohler won). In 1943, he tied for 6–7th in Vienna (10th GER-ch; Josef Lokvenc won).

    After World War II, he lived in West Germany. In May 1949, he tied for 26–27th in Bad Pyrmont (3rd West GER-ch; Bogoljubow won). In 1951, he took 4th in Düsseldorf (GER-ch; Rudolf Teschner won). In 1953, he took 4th in Berlin (FRG-ch; Wolfgang Unzicker won). In 1954 and 1963, he won FRG Cup championships. Gilg played for Germany (FRG) in 1st European Team Championship at Vienna 1957, where, as first reserve, he scored 1/4 (+0 =2 −2).

    Gilg was awarded the International Master title in 1953.


  • #7

    Gisela Kahn Gresser (February 8, 1906 Detroit, Michigan – December 4, 2000) was (with Mona May Karff) one of the first two female chess players in the United States, and one of the first seventeen players in the world, to be awarded the title of Woman International Master in 1950 when FIDE created official titles. She was also the first American woman to be inducted into the U.S. Chess Hall of Fame. She won the U.S. Women's Chess Championship in 1944 (scoring 8-0), 1948 (with Karff), 1955 (with Nancy Roos), 1957 (with Sonja Graf), 1962, 1965, 1966 (with Lisa Lane), 1967, and 1969 (at age 63).

    Gresser learned chess at a very late age. On a cruise from France to New York in the late 1930s, she borrowed a chess manual from a fellow passenger and taught herself how to play. By the end of the cruise, she was hooked. In 1938, she was a spectator at the first U.S. Women's Chess Championship tournament, organized by Caroline Marshall (wife of US Champion Frank Marshall) and held at the Rockefeller Center in New York City (won by Adele Rivero). She first played in the championship in 1940, and in 1944 she won it with a perfect score.

    Gresser studied classics at Radcliffe. She won a prestigious Charles Elliott Norton fellowship, which she used to continue her studies at the American School of Classical Studies in Athens, Greece. In 1927, she returned to New York, where she married William Gresser, a New York City attorney and musicologist, who died in 1982. She was a housewife, and raised their two sons, Ion and Julian. Gresser was an accomplished painter and musician, as well as a classical scholar. She went on safari many times, even in her eighties.

    In addition to her repeated successes in the U.S. Women's Chess Championship, Gresser also played in five Women's Candidates' tournaments (for the Women's World Chess Championship and three Women's Chess Olympiads. She won the 1954 U.S. Women's Open Championship. She was the first woman in the United States to gain a master title.

    She also wrote an article for the October 1950 issue of Ladies Home Journal, entitled "I Went to Moscow". Mrs. Gresser (Mrs. was her preferred title) took lessons from International Master Hans Kmoch and Grandmaster Arthur Bisguier. When she died at age 94, the USCF still had her listed:

    Gresser, Gisela Kahn (WIM) USA 2090.

    Notable game

    Here Gresser (White) hands Lyudmila Rudenko, who won the Women's World Championship in this event with 11.5 points out of 15 games (+9 =5 -1), her only defeat.
    Gresser-Rudenko, Eighth Women's World Championship, Moscow 1949-50 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Bc5 4.c3 f5 5.d4 fxe4 6.dxc5 exf3 7.Qxf3 Nf6 8.Bg5 O-O 9.O-O Qe7 10.Bc4+ Kh8 11.b4 a5 12.Bxf6 Rxf6 13.Qd5 Rf8 14.b5 Nd8 15.Nd2 c6 16.Qd6 Qxd6 17.cxd6 b6 18.Rfe1 cxb5 19.Bxb5 Nf7 20.Nc4 Ba6 21.Bxa6 Rxa6 22.Nxe5 Nxd6 23.Nxd7 Rc8 24.Rad1 b5 25.h3 Nf7 26.Re7 Kg8 27.Rde1 Nd6 28.R1e6 Rxc3 29.Ne5 h6 30.Rd7 Rc5 31.Nf7 Nxf7 32.Rxa6 Ne5 33.Rb7 b4 34.Raa7 Nc6 35.Rxg7+ Kf8 36.Raf7+ Ke8 37.Rb7 Rf5 38.Rg8+ Rf8 39.Rxf8+ Kxf8 40.Rb6 Ne5 41.Rxh6 1-0



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