04 May 2021

May 1971 & 1996 'On the Cover'

Just like last month's April 1971 & 1996 'On the Cover' (April 2021), our covers from 50 and 25 years ago feature chess in the USA on the left and artwork on the right. As usual, there's more to the two cover stories than that.

Left: ?
Right: 'Polgar Wins World Title; James Todd - What Price Victory'

Chess Life & Review (50 Years Ago)

International Grandmaster Larry Evans, who has recently won both the National Open (story [elsewhere]) and the Louis Statham Masters and Experts Tourney at Lone Pine, Cal. Larry's latest book, 'Modern Chess Brilliancies', just published, will be reviewed in CL&R.

The last time we saw GM Evans in this series was May 1970 & 1995 'On the Cover' (May 2020), where Evans was a co-winner of the 1970 National Open. The report on the 1971 event 'The National Open: Evans Wins on Tiebreak' by George Koltanowski, Tournament Director, started,

Would the weather hold? Would the Lone Pine tournament, immediately following the National, hurt attendance? These and many other problems beset the spark-plug of the National Open, Harvey Presly, who is the assistant promotion manager of John Ascuaga's Nugget in Sparks, Nevada, and a real chess fan.

It is one of the shortest and strangest tournament reports -- Did the weather hold? -- I have ever seen for a national tournament. It didn't say when it was held (7-12 March 1971, according to pre-tournament publicity) or give any kind of synopsis of the final rounds. It only said,

Larry Evans had the most Median points [whatever those were] and won the trophy (prize money was shared, each of the top seven getting $270)

It then listed only the draws/losses for five of the top seven players. For the record, the other six were Svetozar Gligoric, Walter Browne, William Martz, Jim Tarjan, John Grefe, and Roy Ervin (also top expert). You have to work out for yourself that the top scores were all 6.5-1.5. The most discussed topic in the report was the Nugget venue. On the same page, the announcement for the 1971 U.S. Junior Open (NB: not the 'Closed') received more print space.

As for Lone Pine, Koltanowski mentioned, 'The Lone Pine event may have hurt, but only slightly.' The paragraph about the cover and the two (unfavorable?) mentions by Koltanowski are the only references I could find to the first Lone Pine event in the decade long series. Why was it overlooked?

Chess Life (25 Years Ago)

"What Price Victory" indeed. An empty realm. This is just one of the original oil paintings by James Todd, using chess as a theme. We hope you enjoy the spread, as much as we enjoyed putting it together.

Congratulations and adulations are due Zsuzsa Polgar on her victory over Xie Jun. Xie Jun has been a fine Women's World Champion, and it is a shame that there has to be a loser. Zsuzsa, now residing in Rego Park, New York, with her husband Jack Shutzman, has already applied for American citizenship.

Congratulations and adulations are also due Garry Kasparov for his victory over Deep Blue. While not a world championship, the match certainly generated world caliber interest, which was properly reflected in all the media, for more than a week.

Brickbats and barbs to FIDE for accepting a bid from Iraq to hold the Kamsky - Karpov World Championship match in Baghdad. As a sporting event, such a match would not violate the United Nations' economic sanctions against Iraq. And our own State Department concedes that the Kamsky's can travel anywhere they want since they are still using Russian passports. However, the Treasury Department, which interprets the U.S. Sanctions against Iraq, admits that the Kamsky's may have a little problem if they try to return to this country. They may lose their "Green Card" (permanent residency) status, and any monies they might win. The USCF has asked FIDE to select another site.

This is the third cover in the last four editions of 'On the Cover' to feature artwork on the 1996 CL side. The two-page spread titled 'James Todd' by Jim Todd featured nine of Todd's chess paintings, including the cover painting. It started,

My father taught me both how to play chess and how to paint. While we continued to paint to- gether through-out the time I lived at home, our chess relationship ended when the burden of his losses became too great for him to bear. Of course, I didn't know at the time that the two activities would combine to make up a significant part of my life as an artist; indeed, I didn't know as a child that painting would become my career, although 1 have devoted myself to developing my technique and exploring various media since the age of 10.

The other three stories mentioned in the 'On the Cover' paragraphs were all milestones in World Championship history. Polgar's book 'Queen of the King's Game' listed 'Jacob' Shutzman as co-author.

No comments: