02 January 2018

January 1968 'On the Cover'

Fifty years ago the two major American chess publications entered a new year with stories from the old year.

Left: 'Anthony F. Saidy, American Open Champion'
Right: 'For Playoff in February'

Chess Life

[American Open] Details next month.

In last month's December 1967 'On the Cover', the CL cover showed a list of 'Interzonal Qualifiers' with the promise, 'A full report follows soon.' There was nothing about that tournament in the January 1968 issue, meaning that CL now had a two month backlog of promises.

Chess Review

Samuel Reshevsky is in for a playoff with Vlastimil Hort of Czechoslovakia and Leonid Stein of the Soviet Union at Los Angeles in February. The winner joins the five already qualified from the Interzonal Tournament at Sousse in 1967: Bent Larsen of Denmark, Svetozar Gligoric of Yugoslavia, Yefim Geller and Viktor Korchnoi of the Soviet Union and Lajos Portisch of Hungary, plus Boris Spassky and Mikhail Tal of the Soviet Union seeded on their results in the previous Challengers Round of matches. These eight are scheduled for match play later this year to determine who is to be the Challenger in 1969 to take on World Champion Tigran Petrosian of the Soviet Union.

Fifty years ago, norms for the transliteration of alphabets were not the same as today. That excerpt used alternate spellings for four names: Gligorich, Korchnoy, Tahl, and Petrosyan. CR carried another short article on the event:-

The Fischer Fable • The incidents involving Robert J. Fischer at the Sousse Interzonal seem to be building into a fable. We hear rumors and see articles, or parts of them at least, in other publications which are erroneous. One such story is that he had lost adjournments pending when he withdrew. He had completed ten games for an 8 1/2 - 1 1/2 score, had some postponements, but not a single adjourned game pending and, on his account, he did not withdraw. On hard facts, however, we have no more information now than that given in our December issue [a full page article with crosstable].

I imagine that the CL tardiness in reporting on Sousse was due to some reluctance by editor Burt Hochberg to write the story without having the facts. Another curiosity in the January CL was a report 'Santa Monica International' by Antonio Fortuna ('The nom de plume of an American master'). Was this in fact Anthony Saidy, who played in the Santa Monica event and who appeared on the month's cover? A.Fortuna wrote,

The event germinated as follows: The writer had long urged that whenever International Grandmaster tournaments are held in this hemisphere, the participants be invited to every major U.S. chess center to give exhibitions, talk to the local fans, and, if possible, compete in events giving U.S. masters a rare chance at international experience and qualifications for FIDE titles. As the Winnipeg tournament approached, he pointed out to several organizers in the Los Angeles area that here was the opportunity to advance the cause of chess. Consequently, three local clubs agreed to invite IGM Gheorghiu of Rumania for exhibitions.

Another article in the same issue, 'Winnipeg Centennial Tournament' by George Koltanowski, mentioned,

Florin Gheorghiu is the nervous type, and will ask almost anyone, "Is my pawn sacrifice correct" or "Shouldn't I win?" but before you have a chance to answer, he has already accepted a draw! He was to go to Los Angeles for three exhibitions arranged by Anthony Saidy, but could not obtain a visa.

It would indeed appear that A.Fortuna and A.Saidy were the same person. Why the coyness?

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