Chess in 1952

 by Bill Wall


In 1952, Svetozar Gligoric won Hastings 1951/52.


In 1952, Botvinnik and Mark Taimanov tied for the 1952 USSR championship.  Botvinnik won the play-off match.


In 1952, an article called “Calling All Chess Players” appeared in CQ: the Radio Amateur’s Journal.  The article pointed out a conspicuous absence of chess players among ham operators, and that chess seemed to have disappeared from the amateur radio world.


In 1952, Larry Evans defeated Herman Steiner 10-4 in a US Championship match, held in Los Angeles.


In 1952, “The Game of Chess,” starring Vincent Price (1911-1993), was one of the episodes (Season 2, Episode 25) in the Lux Video Theatre (TV series from 1950 to 1959).


In 1952, the California State Chess Federation (CSCF) was formed.


On January 4, 1952 Zbigniew Szymczak was born in Lublin, Poland.  He was awarded the IM title in 1976.  He won the Polish championship in 1983. 


On January 5, 1952, Leif Øgaard was born in Norway.  He was awarded the IM title in 1974 and the GM title in 2007.  He was Norwegian champion in 1974, 1975, 1979, 1985 and 1993.


On January 10, 1952, Oleg Romanishin was born in Lvov, USSR.  He was European Junior Champion in 1972-73.   He was awarded the IM title in 1973 and the GM title in 1976.


On January 17, 1952, Lothar Vogt was born in Gorlitz, East Germany.  He was awarded the IM title in 1973 and the GM title in 1976.  He won the East German Championship in 1977 and 1979.


On January 23, 1952, Henrique Mecking was born in Santa Cruz do Sul, Brazil.  In 1965, at age 13, he won the championship of Brazil.  He also won in 1965 and 1967.  In 1966, he was South American champion (jointly) with Julio Bolbochan, Oscar Panno and Alberto Foguelman.  He was awarded the GM title in 1972.


On January 28, 1952, Valentine Arbakov (1952-2003) was born in Russia.  He was Moscow champion in 1981.  He was awarded the GM title in 1994.


In February, 1952, bank robber Willie Sutton (1901-1980) was captured.  A chess instruction book, How to Think Ahead in Chess, by I.A. Horowitz, was found in his apartment when he was captured.


On February 2, 1952, Miguel Andres-Mendez was born in Havana.  He was awarded the IM title in 1984.


On February 12, 1952, Robert Forbes Combe (1912-1952) died in Aberdeen, Scotland at the age of 39.  He was British champion in 1946.


On February 16, 1952, Sidney F. Kenton died in New York.  He was a New York and Manhattan Chess Club (Vice President) organizer.


On February 17, 1952, Henri Rinck (1870-1952) died in Barcelona.  He was a famous French chess study composer.


On February 22, 1952, James Tarjan was born in Pomona, California.  He was awarded the IM title in 1974 and the GM title in 1976.  He graduated from the University of California, Berkeley and received a Master in Library Science (MLS) degree from UCLA.  In 1984, he gave up professional chess to become a librarian at the Santa Cruz Public Library.  He donated all his chess trophies to be used in scholastic chess tournaments.  He is now back playing chess.


In March 1952, Pal Benko (1928- ) was arrested and imprisoned for 16 months in a Hungarian concentration camp for trying to escape from East Berlin and defect to the West.  He was accused of being an American spy.  When they searched his apartment, they found mail devoted to his postal chess games.  The police assumed that the notation was secret code, and they demanded to know how to break the code.


On March 4, 1952, Jaan Eslon (1952-2000) was born in Falkoping, Sweden.  He was awarded the IM title in 1977.   He died from injuries after a car wrecj.


On March 11, 1952, Jan Foltys (1908-1952) died in Moravska Ostrava, Czechoslovakia at the age of 43.  He was Czech champion in 1943.  He was awarded the IM title in 1950.  He qualified for the 1952 Interzonal of Saltsjobaden, but died of leukemia before it took place.  He represented Czechoslovakia in the 1936, 1937, and 1939 chess Olympiads.  (source: Berkshire Eagle, March 19, 1952)


In February-March, 1952, there was an international tournament in Havana full of tragedy.  During the event, there was a revolution in Cuba.  The President who sponsored the tournament was deposed.  The Mexican entrants were recalled by their government.  The Cuban chess champion, Juan Quesada, age 40, died of a heart attack during the event on March 14.  His funeral was attended by all the masters participating in the tournament.  Reshevsky and Najdorf tied for 1st, each winning $2,000.  (source: Corpus Christi Caller-Times, March 21, 1952)


On March 21, 1952, Janez Barle was born in Rijeka, Yugoslavia.  He was Slovenian (regional) champion in 1972, 1974, 1980, 1981 and 1984.  He was awarded the IM title in 1976.


In March, 1952, Humphrey Bogart was in San Francisco and played a game with George Koltanowski.  Koltanowski played blindfolded and defeated Bogart in 41 moves.  In 1952 Bogart won the Best Actor Oscar for his character in The African Queen. He and Katherine Hepburn played chess while making The African Queen in Stanleyville. Bogart claimed to be the strongest chess player among the Hollywood stars. He did lose to Art Buchwald, columnist for the New York Herald, when they played.


In April, 1952, chess was featured on the radio in a Dr. Kildare show called “Chess Match.”  A chess match is Dr. Kildare's (Lew Ayres) prescription plan to give an ailing oldster the will to live. The man, injured in an automobile accident, refuses to submit to an operation declaring he has no further interest in life. Dr. Kildare attempts to persuade him to change his mind but is rebuffed at every turn. A chess game, with Dr. Kildare throwing the match, is the climax for this story. (source: Janesville Daily Gazette, April 1, 1952)


On April 16, 1952, Yochanan Afek (ne Yohanan Kopelovich) was born in Tel Aviv.  He was awarded the IM title in 1993.  He was awarded the GM in chess composition title in 2015.


On April 24, 1952, Axel Ornstein was born in Boliden, Sweden.  He was awarded the IM title in 1975.  He was Swedish champion in 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1984, 1987 and 1988.


On April 26, 1952, Hungarian master Geza Fuster (1910-1990) defected from Hungary and sought asylum in the West.  He later immigrated to Canada.  (source: Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Apr 27, 1952)


In April, 1952, Samuel Reshevsky defeated Miguel Najdorf 11-7, in an informal match for “The Championship of the Free World.”    The games were played in New York, Mexico City, and San Salvador.


On May 1, 1952, Josif (Iosif) Dorfman was born in Zhitomir, USSR.  He was awarded the IM title in 1977 and the GM title in 1978.  In 1977, he tied for 1st in the USSR championship.


On May 7, 1952, Svetozar Gligoric took 1st place on tiebreak over Oscar Pomar in the Hollywood International tournament. The event was played at Mama Weiss' Czardas Restaurant in Beverly Hills. Herman Steiner took 3rd place, followed by Arthur Dake, Lionel Joyner, Jim Cross, Isaac Kashdna, W. Pafnutieff, Ray Martin, and Mrs. Graf-Stevenson. George Koltanowski was invited to play in the event, but a feud between him and Steiner prevented that from happening.


On May 16, 1952, Elliott Winslow was born in New York City.  He was awarded the IM title in 1986.


On May 17, 1952,Bruce Wallace Leverett was born in Saint Lewis.  He is a Life USCF Master.  He is a computer scientist.


On June 10, 1952, Angela Day was born in Canada.  She was awarded the WIM in 1982.


On June 18, 1952, Efim Bogoljubov died in Triberg, Germany after giving a simultaneous chess exhibition.  He was 63.  In 1927, Efim Bogoljubov was officially excommunicated from the USSR.  Because he “exhibited the typically bourgeois vice of putting his pocket book above has principles,” Bogoljubov, who was chess champion of the Soviet Union, was excommunicated by the chess section of the All-Union Soviet of Physical Culture.  The chess section declared he was no longer chess champion.  He was also no longer a member of the Soviet chess organization.  He was expelled when he expressed the desire to give up his Soviet citizenship in order to be able to attend a tournament in Merano, Italy.  He was unable to go because the Italian authorities refused to recognize his Soviet passport.  Bogoljubov wrote to the Soviet chess organization declaring that in view of the difficulties of moving about Europe with a Soviet passport, he was thinking of assuming the citizenship of another country.  He played two World Championship matches with Alekhine, losing both times, in 1929 and in 1934.  FIDE first awarded him the International Grandmaster title in 1950, but denied the title because they claimed he had been an ardent supporter of Adolf Hitler. FIDE awarded him the title the following year, in 1951.


On June 27, 1952, Eugene Bown Meyer was born in Kingston, New York.  He was awarded the IM title in 1980.


On June 29, 1952 Miron Sher was born in Russia.  He was awarded the GM title in 1992.


On June 30, 1952, Robert Bellin was born in Great Yarmouth, England.  he was British champion in 1979 (on tie-break).  He was awarded the IM title in 1977.


On July 7, 1952, Robert Murray Jamieson was born in Cheltenham, Australia. He was Australian Champion in 1973-74.  He was awarded the IM title in 1975.


On July 11, 1952, Mehrshad Sharif was born in Iran.  He was awarded the IM title in 1975.  He has won the Iranian championship 6 times between 1973 and 1981.


On July 16, 1952, Vasily Platov (1881-1952) died in Latvia.  He was a Latvian endgame study composer.


On July 16, 1952, Peter Hardicsay was born in Vac, Hungary.  He was awarded the IM title in 1986.


On July 26, 1952, Larry Evans won the US Open, held in Tampa.


On August 30, 1952, the USSR team (Keres, Smyslov, Bronstein, Geller, Boleslavsky, and Kotov) won the Helsinki Chess Olympiad.  Argentina was 2nd and Yugoslavia was 3rd.  The USA team took 5th.  It was the first time that USSR participated in the chess Olympiad.  They won the gold medal and repeated winning the gold medal for the twelve Olympiads in a row.  USSR won the gold medal a total of 18 times.  Earlier, in July 1952, the Soviet chess players on the Chess Olympiad team, to be held in Helsinki, voted for the line-up and placed Botvinnik on second board, behind Paul KeresBotvinnik protested and refused to play. Yefim Geller was then added to the team.


On September 7, 1952, William Ewart Napier (1881-1952) died in Washington DC at the age of 71.  He was British champion in 1904.  He started out studying music (he was a pianist and vocalist) in England, but mostly studied chess instead.  He turned to journalism and wrote for newspapers in seven different countries.  He later became secretary of the Banker’s Life Insurance Company.  He then became secretary, then vice-president of the Scranton Life Insurance company. (source: Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Sep 8, 1952)


On September 10, 1952, Werner Hug was born in Feldmeilen, Switzerland.  He was World Junior Champion in 1971.  He was awarded the IM title in 1971.  He was Swiss champion in 1975.  In 1979, he set a world record in simultaneous play on 560 boards, scoring +385 -49 =126.


On September 19, 1952, Craig Chellstorp was born in Chicago.  He won the US Junior Championship in 1972.


In October, 1952, Alexander Kotov won the Saltsjobaden (Stockholm) Interzonal.


On October 19, 1952, Aldo Haik was born in Tunis.  He was French champion in 1972 and 1983 (after a playoff).  He was awarded the IM title in 1977. 


On October 20, 1952, Philip W. Sergeant (1872-1952) died in England at the age of 80.  He was a chess author.


On November 21, 1952, Kamram Shirazi was born in Teheran.  He was awarded the IM title in 1978.


On December 5, 1952, Pertti Poutianen (1952-1978) was born in Helsinki.  He was Finnish champion in 1974 and 1976.  He was awarded the IM title in 1976.


On December 18, 1952, Larry David Evans was born in New York City.  He was awarded the IM title in 1980.