05 October 2021

October 1971 & 1996 'On the Cover'

In last month's post in this ongoing series, September 1971 & 1996 'On the Cover' (September 2021), the World Championship received a full cover 50 years ago and important coverage 25 years ago. In this month's post it's USA all the way.

Left: '?'
Right: 'We are the champions! Anjelina Belakovskaya and Alex Yermolinsky Claim National Titles!'

Chess Life & Review (50 Years Ago)

Walter Browne (left) and Larry Evans concentrating at the U.S. Open in Ventura, Cal. The two grandmasters scored 10-2 to share the title and prize money. See [inside] for a brief preliminary report. Photos by Burt Hochberg.

That preliminary report, titled 'Browne, Evans Top Record U.S. Open', started,

The 72nd U.S. Open, held in Ventura, California, in August, was the largest and strongest ever held. With eight international grandmasters, three international masters and a large group of masters, totaling some four hundred players, the event was unquestionably the most successful and interesting of the annual series.

Grandmasters Walter Browne of Australia and the U.S. and Larry Evans of Reno, Nevada, tied with 10 out of 12. According to tradition, the two players became co-champions, though Browne had the better tie-breaking points. The young (22) and fast-rising Browne overcame an arduous schedule of opponents, defeating front-runner William Lombardy in the decisive final round to knock the New York grandmaster into a multiple tie for 3-6 place. [...] This is the first time Browne has at least tied for first in a U.S. Open.

GM Evans has been seen many times in the 'On the Cover' series, most recently for May 1971 & 1996 'On the Cover' (May 2021), after winning two strong open tournaments. GM Browne, who was just starting his rise to chess stardom, was last seen in July 1966 'On the Cover' (July 2016), for winning 'the first annual invitational United States Junior Chess Championship'. That might well have been the first CL/CR cover appearance in his career.

Chess Life (25 Years Ago)

The 'On the Cover' introduction was a full page story with color group photos of the participants in both events. The first paragraph covered the men's (unrestricted) event:-

Alex Yermolinsky of Euclid, Ohio, won the 1996 Interplay U.S. Championship, held July 12-29, at New Jersey's Parsippany Hilton. He shared that title with Alexander Shabalov in 1993. His 9-4 score was a point better than that of Gregory Kaidanov and Boris Gulko, but it was not a runaway contest. Alex was tied with Kaidanov, going into the last round. While Yermolinsky defeated Dmitry Gurevich, Kaidanov had his hopes dashed when he lost an exciting game to Lev Alburt.

The second paragraph covered the women's event:-

Anjelina Belakovskaya of Brooklyn, New York, also won by a full point margin. This is the first time she has won the Interplay U.S. Women's Championship outright, having shared the title last year with Sharon Burtman. Anna Gulko was second with a 6-3 score. Irina Levitina placed third -- and announced her retirement from chess. She is an active master bridge player, and will be representing the U.S. in upcoming international competitions.

Not to be forgotten were the sponsors of the event.

Interplay Productions, of Irvine, California, was our title sponsor, making it possible to offer a total of $90,000 in prize money for the two championships. Interplay produces much of the world's finest gaming software, including Battle Chess and the new Brainstorm line of products. Co-sponsors were the Parsippany Hilton, which provided the site and refreshments for the players, Organizer E. Steven Doyle, the New Jersey State Chess Federation, and USCF.

Later in the report, special mention was made of a special sponsor.

SILENT MOMENT • Joel Benjamin, who has played in 15 consecutive championships, was asked to say a few words about the late Craig Crenshaw, who passed away on March 22. Dr. Crenshaw, 79, was the sponsor of the Crenshaw Awards, an integral part of the championship. Dr. Crenshaw, retired physicist, was the chief scientist of the Army Materiel Command from 1962 until his retirement in 1974.

In the series I ran on USCF Awards 1979-92 (May 2021), I expected to find a USCF award to Dr. Crenshaw, but came up empty-handed. A search of the web revealed nothing either, although I didn't exhaust the possibilities. See also Obituary for Craig M. Crenshaw (Aged 79; newspapers.com), where his chess accomplishments merited a paragraph.

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