Samuel Reshevsky

  • 8 years ago · Quote · #1


    Reshevsky was born in Ozorkow, Poland November 26, 1911 and died in New York on April 4, 1992. He was a serious contender for the world championship from about the mid-1930s to the mid-1960s. He came equal third in the 1948 World Championship tournament and equal second in the 1953 Cadidates Tournament. He won the US Championship eight times. He was a child prodigy and in1920 his parents moved to the US to make a living by exploiting their son’s prowess in giving simultaneous exhibitions. He gave up chess to enter the University of Chicago to study accounting. Reshevsky was a devout Orthodox Jew.

    His international career began in 1935 when he won at Yarmouth with 10 points out of 11. In 1936 he shared 3rd place at Nottingham and the following year at Kemeri was equal first. Then in 1938 he finished 4th at the famous AVRO tournament. In 1948 he competed in the 5-man Hague-Moscow and finished tied with Keres behind Botvinnink and Smyslov.

    He did not play in the Candidates tournament in Budapest in 1950. It was believed that the US State Department would not allow him to attend because of the Cold War, but Reshevsky denied this stating that it was his decision not to play. In the 1953 Candidates in Zurich Reshevsky finished in 2nd place with Bronstein and Keres behind Smyslov. Bronstein, in his last book, Secret Notes, published in just after his death confirmed rumors Soviet players were under orders were not to let Reshevsky win the event under any circumstances. The Soviets prearranged several results in games amongst themselves to prevent Reshevsky's victory. Reshevsky qualified for the Candidates', in 1967, but lost the quarterfinal playoff to Korchnoi.

    In individual matches he defeated Najdorf (twice), Horowitz, Gligorich, Kashdan, Lombardy, Bisguier, Donald Byrne, and Benko. In 1961 Reshevsky began a 16-game match with Fischer and after 11 games and a tie score (two wins apiece with seven draws) the match ended due to a dispute between Fischer and match organizer.

    Reshevsky was a tough positional player but could also play brilliant tactical chess when warranted. He used a lot of time in the openings which often forced him to play the rest of the game very quickly. Arnold Denker described playing Reshevsky as like trying to shake off a pitbull.

    Denker related one incident in the US Championship in 1942 that showed just how mean Reshevsky could be when playing. In round 6 the Reshevsky-Denker game was crucial and Denker has established a drawn position when Reshevsky’s flag fell in the presence of 40-50 spectators. The TD, Walter Stephens, rushed up to the table and picked up the clock from behind. When he tirned it around so that Reshevsky'’ clock was on Denker’s side, he immediately forfeited Denker. Despite protests from everybody present Styephens refused to change his ruling and when Denker appealed to Reshevsky, Reshevsky commented, "It’s not my decision."

    Here is a lesser known Reshevsky game against Jan Donner played in the Piatigorsky Cup in 1966.

    Reshevsky’s 24.d5 is typical in this P-formation and here involved the sacrifice of a P. It probably deserves a "!" but more for the fact that it gives White good practical chances rather than for it's being the beginning of a brilliant attack. If, for example, 24.Rd1 Qa4 25.Rb1 Qa8 threatening ...Bxf6 weakening White's K-side P's.

    Reshevsky wasn’t known for his sacrificial attacks, so when he first sac’d a P, then a B, one expects a brilliant game. But is it brilliant play or was it a case of there’s nothing better and the sacs offered him the best practical chances? See what you think of Reshevsky's 24th and 27th moves.

  • 8 years ago · Quote · #2


    That is a good read! : )


  • 8 years ago · Quote · #3


    Why did Walter Stephens do that? That seems like pretty blatant cheating in front of 50 spectators.

  • 8 years ago · Quote · #5


    Why did he? Was Reshevsky kicking him under the table?

  • 8 years ago · Quote · #7


    Reshevsky was a great player. He had not conditions and supporting like Botvinnik and other Soviet players.

  • 8 years ago · Quote · #8


    In the 20’s & 30’s L. Walter Stephens pretty much ran the Manhattan Chess Club and was described by Denker as a rigid and humorless man.

    Denker says that for years L. Walter and his wife Maude (famous at the club for her flowered hats) ran the MCC as if it were their "family plantation." Stephens had once been pastor of a Presbyterian church and was a high school economics and history teacher. Denker called him a "zealous tumor who managed to get into everything." He inflicted a dress code at the MHC along with other rules that drove people nuts. Junior players were allowed in the club only on certain days and at certain times. Denker described Stephen’s manner of dress as hideous. One St. Patrick’s Day he showed up dress in green suspenders, purple pants and an orange shirt and shoes. All in all I guess the man was too conceited to admit to making a mistake.

    For my personal reminisces of Reshevky you can see my post under "Who is your favorite chess player."

  • 8 years ago · Quote · #9


    Reb wrote:

    Reshevsky has a bit of a reputation as a first class jerk, seems to me. That incident with Denker is indicative of other things I have heard/read about him. He was jealous of Fischer's success and fame and more than once refused to play on olympiad teams with Fischer because he didnt want to play board 2 behind Fischer. Then there is their aborted match in which nobody defended Fischer for walking out when he had very good reason to do so. Instead Fischer was made out to be the "bad boy" in the whole episode. I think even today lots of chess fans dont know why Fischer walked out of that match.


    I've got a chess magazine from that time and Fischer had some support for his view, which was reasonable. Evans among others.

    There was one occasion when Reshevsky didn't get his way as he did when Stephens reversed the clock and Reshevsky just walked away, in effect cementing the erroneous decison. It was a game with Evans, and a dispute arose at the end of the game and the arbiter was siding with Evans, so Evans just pulled a Reshevsky and walked away. I forget the reason for the dispute but I enjoyed reading that Reshevsky got the tables turned on him.

  • 8 years ago · Quote · #10


    I have a book "The Art of Positional Play" by Reshevsky... It is terrible. I don't blame Reshevsky... I blame the publisher. But there are countless errors in the games. Impossible moves. You sit there for like 30 or 40 minutes and get through 25-35 moves... and then they have an error and you don't get to finish. Frustrating beyond belief. 


    "Reviser's Note


    This new edition differes from the original (1976) edition in the following ways:

    1. The chess moves have been converted from English descriptive notation to the modern, more economical English algebraic notation.

    2. Typographic and other errors in the moves and variations have been corrected.

    3. A few minor corrections were made in some text passages to improve clarity."

    What a joke. This revision was in 2002 and published by McKay Chess Library. So possibly there is a revised revision, or a different version that isn't so bad.

  • 7 years ago · Quote · #11


    Reshevsky as a youngster in NY, He was a Prodigy!

  • 7 years ago · Quote · #12


    I played GM Reshevsky in a simutaneous exabition. I lost of coursre but I was the last board, and he kept saying he had a train to catch an to hurry up. Oh well.

  • 7 years ago · Quote · #13


    gramps33 wrote:

    I played GM Reshevsky in a simutaneous exabition. I lost of coursre but I was the last board, and he kept saying he had a train to catch an to hurry up. Oh well.

     You should have pulled a Reshevsky by abruptly standing up, announcing, "This game is a draw!" then walking out of the room!

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