Saturday already! While most of North America is getting snowed in amidst one of the coldest winters in memory, the European chess circuit is just beginning to get warmed up. Star-studded Tata Steel sees round played today, while Gibraltar TradeWise, one of the glitziest open tournaments in the , begins in less than a fortnight.
Coffee and Airlines: Traveler Beware!
LINK. Scary revelation from yesterday’s New York Daily News! “We recently had a test for E. coli in our water and it didn’t pass, and then maintenance came on and hit a couple buttons and it passed,” the flight attendant added. “So, avoid any hot water or tea. Bottled and ice is fine, of course.”
The good (?!) Reverend of US chess
Reverend L. Walter Stephens
Just this week I came across a fascinating article by Seth J. Blau entitled ‘Forgotten figures in Oceanside History’ about one of Oceanside Union Free School’s most distinguished principals, the Reverend L.Walter Stephens.
Glowing in praise for the good Reverend, an exceptionally qualified individual, except for the last paragraph which probably explains why one is unlikely to find Reverend Stephens when you get to chess heaven…
Reverend Stephens was a big-shot US chess organizer and selfless promoter in the 1930s and 1940s (he died on September 30, 1948), but one incident in the 1942 US Championship between Arnold Denker and Sammy Reshevsky has cast a very long shadow on his legacy:
”Denker related (‘The Bobby Fischer I knew and other stories’-A.Denker, 1995) one incident in the US Championship in 1942 that showed just how mean Reshevsky could be when playing. In round 6 the Reshevsky-Denker game was crucial and Denker has established a drawn position when Reshevsky’s flag fell in the presence of 40-50 spectators. The TD, Walter Stephens, rushed up to the table and picked up the clock from behind. When he tirned it around so that Reshevsky’’ clock was on Denker’s side, he immediately forfeited Denker. Despite protests from everybody present Styephens refused to change his ruling and when Denker appealed to Reshevsky, Reshevsky commented, “It’s not my decision.” (LINK)
You can find many versions of this incident elsewhere in US chess by doing a google on the subject. Arnold Denker, in the above mentioned book, gives an unfavorable of L. Walter Stephens as an dour man who sucked the enjoyment out of everything…(!)
(Denker and Stephens in better times (1944). Reshevsky did not play that year, and Denker won convincingly. ”Forgotten, but never forgiven”)
Anyway, the Blau article helps to put Stephens’ legacy in perspective, and I suppose offers a sort of epitaph to what happens when a good person does a single bad thing in the chess world: the chess world refuses to forget, or forgive, no matter how much good he/she does otherwise. (You might find this LINK informative if you want some more dirt)
I suppose FIDE’s Azmaiparashvili and Makroupolis might be destined to meet up with the good Reverend when their time comes. (We can only hope…)
Play it again Sam! (and again, and again…)
Practice makes perfect. But you need to have patience. Alexander Siddig and Patricia Clarkson in the 2009 film ‘Cairo Time’
A blast from the past!
Some of my Montreal readers will no doubt remember Ilan Vardi with affection and warmth. The mere mention of his name brings a smile to my face. I certainly have many fond memories of Ilan.
In 1977, at the US Open in Columbus, Ohio, Ilan, myself and another youngster by the name of Yasser Seirawan shared a hotel room for the duration of the tournament. There were only two beds…so we asked management for a portable cot, which they reluctantly agreed to.
Each night we did a ‘rotation’, a different person taking the cot! On one of these nights, around 3am, the phone rang and it was the hotel manager: he wanted us to come to the reception to collect Ilan, who, apparently, had slept-walked and was found in the reception in his pajamas…(!)
Ilan and I in the last round of the Montreal Championship, September 1975
A talented chess master in his own right, Ilan’s real claim to fame is his mathematical , which has allowed him to pursue a brilliant in Europe. You only need to do a google search to find links to what Ilan has been up to the past 35 years or so. Currently he is at the Ecole Polytechnique in Lausanne.
Anyway, why am I writing all this? The reason is that recently I found a YouTube channel of Ilan’s, and in it are a number of curious videos that show that, despite his 60 years, Ilan has not lost his spontaneous sense of humor, nor his youthfulness nor his boyish charm. I warmly encourage our mutual Montreal friends to take a look at these and help his view-count!
Always look on the bright side of LIFE!
Photo by Yosuke Yamahata. Nagasaki. August 1945.
Yamahata was born in Singapore; his father, Shōgyoku Yamahata (山端祥玉, later to become known as a photographer) had a job there related to photography.He went to Tokyo in 1925 and eventually started at Hosei University (Tokyo) but dropped out in 1936 to work in G. T. Sun (ジーチーサン商会, Jīchīsan Shōkai, aka Graphic Times Sun), a photographic company run by his father. (He would become its president in 1947.) From 1940, Yamahata worked as a military photographer in China and elsewhere in Asia outside Japan; he returned to Japan in 1942.
On August 10, 1945, a day after the Nagasaki bombing, Yamahata began to photograph the devastation, still working as a military photographer. Over a period of about twelve hours he took around a hundred exposures; by late afternoon, he had taken his final photographs near a first aid station north of the city. In a single day, he had completed the only extensive photographic record of the immediate aftermath of the atomic bombing of either Hiroshima or Nagasaki. These photographs appeared swiftly, for example in the August 21 issue of Mainichi Shinbun.
Yamahata became violently ill in 1965, on his forty-eighth birthday and the twentieth anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. He was diagnosed with terminal cancer of the duodenum, probably caused by the residual effects of radiation received in Nagasaki in 1945. He is buried at Tama Cemetery, Tokyo. (LINK)