02 November 2021

November 1971 & 1996 'On the Cover'

Just like last month's October 1971 & 1996 'On the Cover' (October 2021), this month we have 'USA all the way' (with a little bit of Belgium). Here we see two giants of American chess, one from 50 years ago, the other from 25 years ago.

Left: '?'
Right: 'George Koltanowski Honored by California Assembly; Leah & George Koltanowski, the Dean of American Chess'

Chess Life & Review (50 Years Ago)

In training for the match with Petrosian, Fischer (left) and his second, Larry Evans, analyze in the pool at Grossinger's Hotel in New York's Catskill Mountains. An early report on the match appears [inside].

'Inside' we learned,

FISCHER LEADING, 4 1/2 - 2 1/2 • As we go to press, the latest score in the Fischer - Petrosian match is 4 1/2 - 2 1/2. Fischer won the 1st, 6th and 7th games, Petrosian the 2nd. Here are the first six games.

According to my page 1970-72 Candidates Matches, two more games would be played in the match, Fischer winning both. For the previous CL&R cover on the candidates matches, see September 1971 & 1996 'On the Cover' (September 2021): 'Fischer and Larsen during the fifth game of the sensational match at Temple Buell College, Denver.'

GM Evans once had a falling out with Fischer. How did the story behind the CL&R cover fit into that chronology? [FLUP no.1]

Chess Life (25 Years Ago)

Most cover introductions take up a paragraph or two. The introduction to the November 1996 took up a full page. First there was an explanation.

"Pawns are like buttons. When they're gone, the pants fall down all by themselves."

Those words of wisdom by George Koltanowski, the Dean of American Chess, were offered to California Assemblyman Scott Baugh during their impromptu game at the California State Assembly in Sacramento on August 5. The occasion was the presentation of a special bipartisan resolution honoring Kolty for his blindfold chess achievements and for his eight decades of dedication to the Royal Game.

George, who celebrated his 93rd birthday on September 17, has been the chess columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle for 49 years. and was named 'Journalist of the Year' by the Chess Journalists of America [CJA]. Our thanks to the Chronicle's Associate Publisher Anthony Newhall. reporter Steve Rubenstein. and photographer Steve Yeater (who provided our cover this month) for sharing this story with Chess Life readers.

The full text of the resolution was copied on the same page.

By the Honorable Curt Pringle, Speaker of the Assembly;
and the Honorable John L. Burton, 12th Assembly District
Assembly Members [...]

For the rest of the resolution, I'll just give the start of the paragraphs.

WHEREAS, International Grandmaster George Koltanowski, a distinguished San Francisco resident, who was born September 17, 1903, has enriched the lives of countless people worldwide through his informative lectures, insightful writings, and spectacular and unparalleled, simultaneous blindfold exhibitions; and

WHEREAS, His staggering successes in Caissa's realm of blindfold play [...]

WHEREAS, His commitment to voluntarily teaching chess to young people [...]

WHEREAS, His accomplishments in the chess world [...]

RESOLVED BY SPEAKER OF THE ASSEMBLY CURT PRINGLE, ASSEMBLY MEMBER JOHN L. BURTON AND THE ABOVE-NAMED COAUTHORS, That the California State Legislature takes pleasure in honoring International grandmaster George Koltanowski for his truly monumental contributions to the game of chess, applaud him on his vast accomplishments that have astounded thousands for more than eight decades, along with the dignity with which he has always comported himself, making him a deserving legend throughout the world, and extend to him best wishes for continued success in his future endeavors.

Members Resolution No. 1366
Dated this 5th day of August, 1996
[signed by Pringle and Burton]

Flipping back 25 years to the 1971 CL&R, we find a curious story 'How Sick Can a Man Get?' by George Koltanowski, under the heading 'Chess Ramblings'.

There is no good way of starting this. "I shoulda had my head examined" is no good -- "I shoulda stood in bed' is even worse. So let me just tell it straight out and get it over with. [...] And now the butcher has asked me for chess lessons: what should I tell him?
The above was written in 1954. It is pure fantasy on my part. To those members of the medical profession who feel miffed, my apologies.

Now, seventeen years later, I am still overweight, still complain of a variety of aches and pains, but my wife and I are still happy. I still teach on and off. My wife is a wonderful cook, so with her and Khayyam's loaf of bread, jug of wine, and -- not least -- chess, one could hardly ask for more!

Earlier this year, in May 1971 & 1996 'On the Cover' (May 2021), I commented on the unusual nature of Koltanowski's writing ('one of the shortest and strangest tournament reports I have ever seen for a national tournament'). The 'pants fall down' quote given above might be another example. How many other 'Ramblings' did Koltanowski leave us? [FLUP no.2]

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