Chess in 1954

 by Bill Wall


In 1954, Bill Lombardy, age 16, won the New York state championship.


In 1954, the first Student Olympiad, world youth team championship, held in Oslo, was won by Czechoslovakia.


In 1954, the Argentine Chess Federation called off the national chess tournament after a fight broke out between a chess player and the tournament director.


In January, 1954, Jack W. Collins won the Marshall Chess Club championship.  (source: Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Jan 14, 1954)


On February 23, 1954, Jacques Mieses (1865-1954) died in London at the age of 88.  He won the chess championship of Berlin at the age of 17.  In 1938 Mieses resettled in England and took British citizenship.  He was awarded the grandmaster title in 1950, the first British grandmaster.


On February 28, 1954, Danny Kopec was born in Kfar Saba, Israel.  He was Scottish Champion in 1980 and was awarded the IM title in 1985. 


On March 9, 1954, Gildardo Garcia was born in Medellin, Colombia.  He was awarded the IM title in 1979 and the GM title in 1991.  He won the championship of Colombia ten times: 1977, 1978, 1985-1987, 1990, 1991, 1995 (jointly with Alonso Zapata), 2003 and 2006.


On March 25, 1954, Errol Liebowitz was born in the USA.  He won the USCF Absolute Correspondence Chess Championship in 1984 and 1986.


In April, 1954, the Hollywood Chess Group held the 1st official California Women's Championship, organized by Herman Steiner. The winner was Mrs. Sonja Graf-Stevenson, scoring 8-0. 2nd-3rd place went to Mrs. Gregor Piatigorsky and Lena Grumette.


On May 3, 1954, Jose Luis Fernandez-Garcia was born in Portugalete, Spain.  He was awarded the IM title in 1980 and the GM title in 1986.  He was Spanish champion in 1989.


On May 10, 1954, Eshter Epstein was born in Russia.  She was awarded the WIM title in 1972.  She was US Women's Champion in 1991 and 1997. 


On May 13, 1954, Mikhail Botvinnik drew with Vassily Smyslov in Moscow to retain the world championship title.  Both players won 7 games each and 10 games were drawn.


On May 14, 1954, John Grantley Cooper was born in Cardiff, Wales.  He was Welsh champion in 1976 (jointly), 1978 (jointly), 1984, 1985, 1992 (jointly), 1993 (jointly), 1994, 1995 and 1996. He was awarded the IM title in 1984.


From June 16 to June 24, 1954, a chess match was played between a team from the USSR and a team from the USA at the Hotel Roosevelt in Manhattan.  It was the first time the Soviet chess team played on United States soil.  The match drew 1,100 spectators, more than any other previous chess event in U.S. history.  The match was refereed by Hans Kmoch (1894-1973).  The USSR team won 20-12.  Bobby Fischer, age 11, attended all four rounds and kept score of all the games. 


On June 18, 1954, Jan Ambroz was born in Lanskroun, Czechoslovakia.  He was awarded the IM title in 1980.  He was Czech champion in 1980.


On June 23, 1954, Sergey Arkhipov was born in Moscow.  He was awarded the IM title in 1985 and the GM title in 1992.


In July, 1954, Arthur Bisguier won the US championship, held in New York.


On July 8, 1954,  Irina Levitina was born in Leningrad.  She was awarded the titles of WIM in 1972 and WGM in 1976.  She's was USSR Women's Champion in 1971, 1978 (jointly), 1979 and 1980-81. She was US Women’s Champion in 1991, 1992 and 1993.  She was World Women's Championship Challenger in 1984


On July 18, 1954, Saevar Bjarnason was born in Iceland.  He was awarded the IM title in 1985.


In July, 1954, the USSR team won the Amsterdam Chess Olympiad.  Mikhail Botvinnik was on board one for the USSR team at the Amsterdam Chess Olympiad and won the gold medal with 8.5 out of 11.  Luxemburg lost all 19 matches and took last place.  One player from Luxemburg, Georges Philippe, scored 0 out of 11 games.  His teammate, J. Jerolim, scored one draw and 16 losses in his 17 games that he played.  Another Luxemburg player, Pierre Kremer, won 1 and lost 16 (with a record of 1 win and 27 losses in two Olympiads).  This chess Olympiad was supposed to have been played in Sao Paulo in celebration of its 400th birthday.  However, Argentina cancelled the event 6 weeks before the start of this Olympiad due to financial difficulties.  Amsterdam decided to host the event at the last minute.  Over 30 teams had registered to play in Sao Paulo, but 26 teams eventually arrived in Amsterdam.  The Soviet team (Botvinnik, Smyslov, Bronstein, Keres, Geller, Kotov) won, seven points ahead of the next team, Argentina.


In August, 1954, the US Open was held in New Orleans.  Larry Evans took 1st place on tiebreak over Oscar Pomar.  In the 1950s, a Louisiana law barred blacks from chess playing rooms in New Orleans.  This prevented blacks from playing in the U.S. Open chess tournament in New Orleans.  Several African-Americans tried to enter the event, but were refused. 


On August 23, 1954, Bruce Harper was born in Vancouver, British Columbia.  He won the British Columbia championship in 1973. 


On August 28, 1954, Jeremy Silman was born in Del Rio, Texas.  He won the US Open in 1981.  He was awarded the IM title in 1988.


On September 6, 1954, Georgy Agzamov (1954-1986) was born in Almalik, Russia.  He was champion of Uzbekistan in 1976 (=Valery A Loginov) and 1981.  He was awarded the IM title in 1982 and the GM title in 1984. 


On November 3, 1954, Natalia Alekhina was born in Russia.  She was awarded the WIM title in 1984 and the WGM title in 1990.


On November 10, 1954, Kevin Spraggett was born in Montreal.  He was awarded the IM title in 1975 and the GM title in 1985.  He was joint Commonwealth Champion in 1984 and 1985 and won the Canadian Championship in 1984.  He won the Canadian Open and Canadian Closed in 1996. 


On November 12, 1954, an episode (Season 8, Episode 49) called “The Chess Player” appeared on Topper.  Cosmo Topper is expecting a visit from his pen pal chess partner, whom he has never met.  When he meets him for the first time, he is surprised that his correspondence chess opponent was a young boy genius who doesn’t believe in ghosts.  Topper was a TV series from 1953 to 1955, starring Leo G. Carroll.


On November 18, 1954, Adrian Mikhalchisin was born in Lviv.  He was awarded the IM title in 1977 and the GM title in 1978.  He was Slovenian champion in 2002.


On November 20, 1954, Harry Bedford, the No. 1 chess player for the Toronto Chess Club team, collapsed and died of a heart attack during a chess team match against the Port Colborne Chess Club.  He was 73. (source: Ottawa Journal, Nov 22, 1954)


On November 25, 1954, Diane Savereide was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  She was the U.S. women's champion in 1975, 1976, 1978 (with Rachel Crotto), 1981 and 1984. She was awarded the WIM title in 1977. 


On December 6, 1954, Acela de Armas Perez was born in Cuba.  She was awarded the WIM title in 1978.


On December 24, 1954, Richard Delaune (1954-2004) was born in Chattahoochee, Georgia.  He won the Virginia state championship in 1974, 1975, 1981 and 1985.


On December 31, 1954, Eugene Znosko-Borovsky (1884-1954), died in Paris at the age of 70.  He was a Russian chess master.