U.S. chess legend Larry Evans dies at 78

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Larry Evans dies at 78Grandmaster and chess journalist Larry Evans passed away on Monday, November 15th at Washoe Hospital in Reno, Nevada (USA). As reported by the the United States Chess Federation (USCF), Evans died from complications following a gall bladder operation. U.S. grandmaster Larry Evans | Photo Wikipedia

Larry Evans was born in Manhattan on March 22, 1932. Already at the age of 14 he tied for fourth-fifth place in the Marshall Chess Club championship. The next year he won it outright, becoming the youngest Marshall champion up until that time. He also finished equal second in the U.S. Junior Championship, which led to an article in the September 1947 issue of Chess Review.

At 17 Evans tied with Arthur Bisguier for first place in the U.S. Junior Chess Championship of 1949. By age 18, he had won a New York State championship as well as a gold medal in the Dubrovnik Chess Olympiad of 1950. In the latter, his 90% score (eight wins and two draws) on sixth board tied with Rabar of Yugoslavia for the best result of the entire Olympiad.

In 1951 Evans first won the U.S. Championship, ahead of Samuel Reshevsky. The following year he won his second championship by winning a title match against Herman Steiner. He won the national championship thrice more - in 1961-62, 1967-68 and 1980, the last in a tie with Walter Browne and Larry Christiansen.

Larry Evans on the cover of Chess Life

Evans on the cover of the September 1951 issue of Chess Life, after winning his first U.S. Championship | Source: Chess Life Online

FIDE awarded Evans the titles of International Master (1952) and International Grandmaster (1957). He played in many events both in the United States and abroad, where his results were less successful. He won the U.S. Open Chess Championship in 1951, 1952, 1954 (he tied with Arturo Pomar but won the title on the tie-break) and tied with Walter Browne in 1971. He also won the first Lone Pine tournament in 1971.

Evans represented the U.S. in eight Chess Olympiads over a period of twenty-six years, winning gold (1950), silver (1958), and bronze (1976) medals for his play, and participating in team gold (1976) and silver (1966) medals. His best results on foreign soil included two wins at the Canadian Open Chess Championship, 1956 in Montreal, and 1966 in Kingston, Ontario. He tied for first-second in the 1975 Portimão, Portugal International and for second-third with World Champion Tigran Petrosian, behind Jan Hein Donner, in Venice, 1967.

My Sixty Memorable GamesFor many years Evans was a good friend of Bobby Fischer, and an important part of Fischer's acclaimed My Sixty Memorable Games was done by Evans: he compiled the analysis, conveyed the text in Fischer's voice and wrote, in excellent style, the sixty introductions to the games.

Evans also assisted Fischer in his quest for the world title. He was his second for the Candidates matches leading up to the World Chess Championship 1972 against Boris Spassky, though not for the championship match itself, after a disagreement with Fischer.

Evans had always been interested in writing as well as playing. By the age of eighteen, he had already published David Bronstein's Best Games of Chess, 1944-1949 and the Vienna International Tournament, 1922. His book New Ideas in Chess was published in 1958, and was later reprinted. Over the years he has written or co-written more than twenty books on chess.

Evans began his career in chess journalism during the 1960s, helping to found the American Chess Quarterly, which ran from 1961-65. He was an editor of Chess Digest during the 1960s and 1970s. For over thirty years, until 2006, he wrote a question-and-answer column for Chess Life, the official publication of the United States Chess Federation (USCF), and has also written for Chess Life Online. His weekly chess column, Evans on Chess, has appeared in more than fifty separate newspapers throughout the United States. He also wrote a column for the World Chess Network.

Evans has also commentated on some of the most important matches for Time magazine and ABC's Wide World of Sports, including the 1972 Fischer versus Spassky match, the 1993 PCA world title battle between Garry Kasparov and Nigel Short and the Braingames world chess championship match between Vladimir Kramnik and Garry Kasparov in 2000.

Read more on Evans on Wikipedia, on which this article was largely based, on TWIC and on Chess Life Online, where Larry Parr wrote an obituary.
Peter Doggers

Peter Doggers joined a chess club a month before turning 15 and still plays for it. He used to be an active tournament player and holds two IM norms.

Peter has a Master of Arts degree in Dutch Language & Literature. He briefly worked at New in Chess, then as a Dutch teacher and then in a project for improving safety and security in Amsterdam schools.

Between 2007 and 2013 Peter was running ChessVibes, a major source for chess news and videos acquired by in October 2013.

As our Director News & Events, Peter writes many of our news reports. In the summer of 2022, The Guardian’s Leonard Barden described him as “widely regarded as the world’s best chess journalist.”

In October, Peter's first book The Chess Revolution will be published!

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