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San Antonio Tournament

Lajos Portisch10.5/15(+7 -1 =7)[games]
Tigran Vartanovich Petrosian10.5/15(+6 -0 =9)[games]
Anatoly Karpov10.5/15(+7 -1 =7)[games]
Svetozar Gligoric10/15(+7 -2 =6)[games]
Paul Keres9.5/15(+6 -2 =7)[games]
Vlastimil Hort9/15(+6 -3 =6)[games]
Duncan Suttles9/15(+5 -2 =8)[games]
Henrique Mecking8.5/15(+5 -3 =7)[games]
Bent Larsen8.5/15(+7 -5 =3)[games]
Donald Byrne7/15(+4 -5 =6)[games]
Larry Melvyn Evans6.5/15(+2 -4 =9)[games]
Walter Shawn Browne6.5/15(+4 -6 =5)[games]
Julio Kaplan5/15(+2 -7 =6)[games]
Mario Campos Lopez3.5/15(+2 -10 =3)[games]
Anthony Saidy3.5/15(+2 -10 =3)[games]
Kenneth Ray Smith2/15(+1 -12 =2)[games]
* Chess Event Description
San Antonio (1972)

In 1972, while the world's gaze was fixed on Iceland, a company in America had plans to generate publicity for itself through the chess world. Church's Fried Chicken, a restaurant chain in the United States, organized an international tournament to be held in San Antonio, Texas. European and Soviet grandmasters were pitted against grandmasters and masters from the Americas in a round robin format. The sixteen participants were (in order of Elo rating): Tigran Petrosian (2645), Lajos Portisch (2640), Anatoli Karpov (2630), Bent Larsen (2625), Vlastimil Hort (2600), Paul Keres (2600), Svetozar Gligoric (2575), Henrique Mecking (2570), Larry Evans (2545), Walter Shawn Browne (2530), Donald Byrne (2470), Julio Kaplan (2470), Duncan Suttles (2470), Dr. Anthony Saidy (2425), Ken Smith (2395), and Mario Campos Lopez (2200). The tournament ended with the top three seeds sharing first place.


San Antonio, Texas USA, 19 November - 5 December 1972

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 01 Portisch * 1 0 1 1 1 1 1 1 10.5 02 Petrosian * 1 1 1 1 1 1 10.5 03 Karpov 0 * 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 10.5 04 Gligoric 1 0 0 * 1 1 1 1 1 1 10.0 05 Keres 0 * 1 1 1 1 0 1 1 9.5 06 Hort 0 0 * 1 0 1 1 1 1 1 9.0 07 Suttles 0 0 * 1 1 1 1 1 9.0 08 Mecking 0 0 0 * 1 1 1 1 1 8.5 09 Larsen 0 0 0 1 0 * 1 1 0 1 1 1 1 8.5 10 Byrne 0 0 0 0 * 1 0 1 1 1 7.0 11 Evans 1 0 0 0 * 0 1 6.5 12 Browne 0 0 0 0 1 1 * 1 0 0 1 6.5 13 Kaplan 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 * 1 0 5.0 14 Campos Lopez 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 * 1 3.5 15 Saidy 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 * 1 3.5 16 Smith 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 * 2.0

Original collection: Game Collection: San Antonio 1972 User: suenteus po 147.

 page 1 of 5; games 1-25 of 120  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. D Byrne vs Petrosian  ½-½221972San AntonioA00 Uncommon Opening
2. Keres vs Hort 1-0601972San AntonioE14 Queen's Indian
3. Larsen vs K R Smith 1-0241972San AntonioD11 Queen's Gambit Declined Slav
4. Suttles vs Gligoric  0-1481972San AntonioE81 King's Indian, Samisch
5. M C Lopez vs Portisch  ½-½331972San AntonioB42 Sicilian, Kan
6. Mecking vs J Kaplan 1-0311972San AntonioB44 Sicilian
7. Browne vs Larry Evans  ½-½251972San AntonioA43 Old Benoni
8. Saidy vs Karpov 0-1521972San AntonioA07 King's Indian Attack
9. Keres vs Mecking 1-0281972San AntonioD32 Queen's Gambit Declined, Tarrasch
10. K R Smith vs M C Lopez ½-½641972San AntonioC02 French, Advance
11. J Kaplan vs Saidy  ½-½691972San AntonioB92 Sicilian, Najdorf, Opocensky Variation
12. Gligoric vs D Byrne  1-0391972San AntonioD91 Grunfeld, 5.Bg5
13. Hort vs Petrosian  ½-½131972San AntonioB52 Sicilian, Canal-Sokolsky (Rossolimo) Attack
14. Portisch vs Suttles  ½-½401972San AntonioB08 Pirc, Classical
15. Larry Evans vs Larsen 0-1431972San AntonioA14 English
16. Karpov vs Browne 1-0591972San AntonioA30 English, Symmetrical
17. Petrosian vs Gligoric 1-0351972San AntonioE81 King's Indian, Samisch
18. Saidy vs Keres 0-1551972San AntonioD02 Queen's Pawn Game
19. D Byrne vs Portisch  ½-½321972San AntonioA22 English
20. M C Lopez vs Larry Evans  ½-½411972San AntonioB96 Sicilian, Najdorf
21. Larsen vs Karpov  ½-½331972San AntonioE17 Queen's Indian
22. Suttles vs K R Smith 1-0491972San AntonioA07 King's Indian Attack
23. Mecking vs Hort  0-1871972San AntonioB68 Sicilian, Richter-Rauzer Attack, 7...a6 Defense, 9...Be7
24. Browne vs J Kaplan  1-0241972San AntonioB54 Sicilian
25. Mecking vs Saidy  ½-½411972San AntonioB90 Sicilian, Najdorf
 page 1 of 5; games 1-25 of 120  PGN Download
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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: The 1962 US Open was held in San Antonio. Buried down in 121st place in the crosstable:

Game Collection: US Open 1962, San Antonio

is <G W Church>.

In 1962 George W. Church Jr. was the head of Church's Fried Chicken, which sponsored the 1972 Grandmaster Tournament. Could somebody with the tournament book check and see if it mentions whether he was the "G W Church" who played at San Antonio 1962?

Jan-28-13  FSR: <Phony Benoni> Seems quite likely, but the tournament book by RHM Press doesn't appear to answer the question. On the unnumbered page right before 1, there's a picture of George W. (Bill) Church, Jr. Pages 1 and 2 extol the virtues of Church's Fried Chicken, Inc. ("GRANDMASTERS OF GOOD FOOD"). We learn, <inter alia>, that:

<George W. Church, Sr., founded Church's Fried Chicken as a post-retirement project in 1952 in downtown San Antonio. Chess had not grown to its present stature throughout America and neither had the food service industry.>

<At the time of his death in 1956, four Church's stores were open. Other members of the family continued Mr. Church's vision, and by 1962, the chain had grown to eight San Antonio stores.>

<In 1962, George W. (Bill) Church, Jr., Church's current President and Chairman of the Board, assumed chief operating responsibility for the family's business.>

Given the centrality of San Antonio to Church's (as of 1962, all of its stores were there), it's a fair surmise that G W Church and George W. (Bill) Church, Jr. are the same guy. But there's doesn't seem to be any discussion of his, or any other Church's, involvement in chess beyond the company's sponsorship of the tournament.

Page 2 of the book also mentions a "vision" of the company: "the growth of Church's Fried Chicken's International Chess Tournament through the years to come." Well, <that> didn't happen. Maybe they chickened out.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: <FSR> Thanks for checking. Had a vague memory of some information being in the book.
Jan-28-13  EdZelli: Mecking lost to Pertosian but the cross-table shows a draw. 08 Mecking 8.5/15 0
Premium Chessgames Member
  me to play: <Page 2 of the book also mentions a "vision" of the company: "the growth of Church's Fried Chicken's International Chess Tournament through the years to come." Well, <that> didn't happen. Maybe they chickened out.> They did , if I recall correctly, go on to sponsor a Grand Prix type circuit for US tournaments through the 1980's.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: <EdZelli> Thanks. Looks like there's an extra result in there for Mecking. I'll straighten it out tonight.
Premium Chessgames Member
  kingscrusher: Gutsy ken smith did try his smith-morra gambit 3 times in this very strong tournament :)
Premium Chessgames Member
  GrahamClayton: Prior to the Sinquefield Cup (2013), this was the last top level round-robin tournament held in the United States.
Oct-17-13  TheFocus: So we can expect another GM tournament in 2054?
I ain't gonna live long enough to see it. I'm taking a dirt vacation by then.
Jan-13-14  EdZelli: I wish we could get some sponsorships like the old days. Lots of good players in the south ie. San Anton, Dallas, Houston etc.
Jan-14-14  SChesshevsky: < EdZelli: I wish we could get some sponsorships like the old days. Lots of good players in the south ie. San Anton, Dallas, Houston etc.>

Fischermania can probably be thanked for this tourney and his retirement can probably be thanked for the lack of interest by sponsors since.

I believe the idea of the 72 event came up from a suggestion by a GM or USCF official, I forget which, when having dinner with the Church's. Of course, it was hoped Fischer would show and if I remember right he did but only as a spectator for a very short time.

Premium Chessgames Member
  SteinitzLives: What a glorious window of chess sponsorship opportunity was open but for such a brief moment thanks to the Fischer boom. A shame organizers and Fischer himself could not or would not jump in to get more sponsors to participate, and bring big money to chess.

Petrosian, Karpov and Keres all came to the U.S. to play in the San Antonio tourney, (which was rare, but there was a slight hope that Fischer might play in it). Kavalek would have played, but chose preparation for, and the Olympiad instead, maybe not a great choice, but understandable since there was hope Fischer would play on the Olympiad team too!

Kavalek had committed to the Olympiad, thinking that with Fischer possibly on the team, the U.S. had a real shot at a medal. This info. is per one of Kavalek's lectures in the D.C. metro area just a few years ago.

Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: Lubosh, still hanging on Fischer's coat-tails after all these years.
Nov-12-14  waustad: The idea of a fried chicken tournament has continued:
Nov-12-14  waustad: Admittedly it doesn't have quite as big names.
Nov-12-14  Petrosianic: <Of course, it was hoped Fischer would show and if I remember right he did but only as a spectator for a very short time.>

He was in the audience for part of the final round.

Nov-16-14  Howard: Yes, Fischer did make a brief appearance at the event----Chess Life and Review (as it was called at the time) had a small picture of him, in fact, taken at the tournament.
Nov-16-14  HeMateMe: How about a KFC speed tournament, just for all of the hustlers in the park, who like the extra crispy wings, smothered in ketchup or barbecue sauce? You know who you are...
Premium Chessgames Member
  thegoodanarchist: <Phony Benoni: <FSR> Thanks for checking. Had a vague memory of some information being in the book.>

I have that same memory about many of my college text books.

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: It's a shame there were no Fried Chicken Fried Livers.
Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: Shortly after this tournament, on December 12th, a massive simultaneous display took place in the La Salle Hotel in Chicago, featuring the three Soviet players.

The details aren't exactly clear, but a piece by Joel Havemann of the <Chicago Sun-Times Service> in the <Minnesota Star> of December 15th, reports a final score in favour of the Soviet Union of 186-12, suggesting each player faced 66 boards - Karpov drew 3; Petrosian lost 3 and drew 3; Keres lost 5 and drew 2.

Havemann gave his loss to Karpov (sample annotation: <At move 8, Joe Hopkins, a spectator, walks by and says Karpov has put me in a Mroczy [sic] bind. Thanks a lot. Who's Maroczy?>) but the score has a very glaring problem, so the only reliable game I could find is: Keres vs Paul R Little, 1972

Three of Karpov's games (all draws, vs Taylor, Mulberry and Markewycz), apparently from this simul, are in the DB. Did <Chess Life & Review > cover this event?

Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: From Kashdan's column in the <LA Times> of December 17th 1972, Sect.I, p.8:

<World champion Bobby Fischer, now a resident of this area, visited the tournament during the last round. He stated that the playing conditions were very good, including the lighting.

Asked why he had not competed, Fischer replied that the prizes were well below what he would consider adequate. He intends to play in tournaments, but has no commitment at present.


The total prize fund was over $10,000. The three winners divided the top prizes of $4000, $2,000 and $1,000. All traveling and living expenses during the event were paid by the sponsor.>

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: I visualise the competitors dining 24/7 like Boss Hogg.
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