02 August 2022

August 1972 & 1997 'On the Cover'

Last month's post on the top U.S. chess magazine of 50 and 25 years ago, July 1972 & 1997 'On the Cover' (July 2022), featured the U.S. Championship on the left. A month later we have the U.S. Women's Championship on the left.

Left: '1972 United States Women's Championship'
Right: 'Najdorf 1910-1997'

Chess Life & Review (50 Years Ago)

Co-winners of the 1972 Women's Championship: Marilyn Braun, left, and Eva Aronson, right. Between them is Mrs. C. Bette Wimbish, Vice-Mayor of St. Petersburg. Photo by St. Petersburg Times and Evening Independent.

The tournament report, 'The 1972 Women's Championship' by TD Bob Braine, started with three paragraphs that could have been the introduction to a tourist guide:-

The Europeans have an expression: There is a city for everybody. St. Petersburg on Florida's suncoast is for chessplayers. It is a modern, clean, peaceful and dignified city. Its inhabitants are friendly, courteous, elderly and unhurried. The cost of living, particularly for essentials, is very low and the lifestyle is leisurely. Shopping is well within a four block radius of downtown and great sightseeing at Busch Gardens is an hour away, Disneyland two hours. "St. Pete" is a mecca for fishermen and boat enthusiasts. It is a city designed for enjoyment. [...]

Then it got back to the main subject:-

The pre-tournament favorite was the nine-time champion, Mrs. Gisela Gresser, but even after a few rounds it was apparent that this was going to be a tight tussle. Five of the eleven players were newcomers to this event and when their initial nervousness wore off we noticed that each one was a stylist. It's a new era in women's chess.

The St. Petersburg Times, which covered the tournament daily, took a lively interest in Mrs. Eva Aronson who is a resident of the city. The newswriters, an easygoing, friendly group, received each of her victories with jubilation and the one time she lost a game we had to console the newspaper staff. [...]

Her co-champion, Mrs. Marilyn Braun (formerly Koput) of Milwaukee, is an attractive young woman with an ideal chess playing disposition. She is serious about her game and should go far in the chess world. She was the only player to go undefeated and from the beginning spectators were aware of her self-confidence.

And what about the other championship that was taking place 50 years ago? A one page story, 'The Match: Fischer Leading!' by Burt Hochberg, gave the raw game scores for the first six games, where the sixth game had been played on 23 July.

Chess Life (25 Years Ago)

Miguel Najdorf, who once promoted himself as Champion of the Western Hemisphere, has died at the age of 87, while visiting in Spain. His claim was not without merit. After WWII, he was probably one of the four strongest players outside the Soviet Union.

And while he wasn't the first to play it, he was certainly responsible for popularizing the variation of the Sicilian Defense which bears his name. The cover photograph is by Bill Hook, taken in 1992.

Inside was a two page (anonymous?) article, 'Miguel Najdorf 1910-1997'. It started,

A living legend is no more. Miguel Najdorf died on July 4, while visiting in Spain. Born on April 15, 1910, he was 87. He was a fixture at almost every world championship match for the past 25 years, holding court in the press room, analyzing, playing blitz, and just enjoying the moment. Exuberant is how Arthur Bisguier described him. His love for the game may be matched, but it will never be surpassed.

Perhaps the first mention of Najdorf in the west came after the 1935 Olympiad held in Warsaw, where he scored 9-2-6 (70.6%). It was enough to get him invited to his first international tournament, the Hungarian Championship, in June of 1936. The following is reprinted from The Chess Review, August, 1936: 'The Hungarian Championship tournament' by Lajos Steiner [...]

Half of the 1997 article was a copy of the 1936 article, but it also included a box 'Najdorf and the Najdorf' by IM Elliot Winslow. 'As White, he distinctly favored 1.d4, with a secondary interest in the English/Reti complexes; 1.e4 was far less common.'

A month later the September issue of CL included a six page tournament report '1997 Najdorf Memorial' by GM Patrick Wolff. It started with a four paragraph summary of Najdorf's career (and a one paragraph summary of GM Wolff's impending retirement from chess.).

I once had the opportunity to review Najdorf: Life and Games (archive.org -> chess.about.com) by Tomasz Lissowski, Adrian Mikhalchishin and Miguel Najdorf (Batsford/Sterling, April 2005); see also Two Books about World Chess Championship Candidates (ditto; 'Two of the world's best players [Najdorf and Adorjan] annotate their games in completely different ways.') My conclusion: 'A good book on all counts!' ... and a great player on all counts.

No comments: