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US Open 1939, New York = 40th ACF Congress
Compiled by Phony Benoni
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<40th ACF Congress
New York, New York
July 17-29, 1939>

This tournament marked a transtion in the history of chess in the United States, when at the closing dinner an announcement was made of the agreed merger between the American Chess Federation and National Chess Federation. Beginning the next year, the United States Chess Federation would organize the US Open, and the tournament took another step in its development.

It was a time for innovation elsewhere as well. The New York World's Fair of 1939-40 had opened a couple of months earlier, and its motto "The World of Tomorrow" seemed to inspired the chess community as well, as detailed in this report from the "Dunkirk (N.Y.) Evening Observer" for July 19, 1939:

<"NEW CHESS RULES IN EFFECT AT TOURNAMENT

"The 40th Annual American Chess Federation tournament got under way today with the old time 'think-as-long-as-you-like' formula barred.

"Players must complete 40 moves with two hours under the present rules and special time clocks have been installed in both the women's and men's play rooms.">

What will they think of next?

As for 1939, there is some confusion about the official name of the tournament. Usually, it's called the 40th American Chess Federation Congress, keeping the traditional numbering alive. And officers of the ACF were heavily involved in the organization, particularly Milton Hanauer and Fred Reinfeld (did the man do everything?). Also, this was the name used in daily reports in the <New York Times.> While the report in <The Chess Review> of September 1939 called it "1939 North American Championship, that may have applied only to the formal name of the Championship Final. I'm going to stick with the ACF designation for the tournament as a whole.

The <New York Times> for July 18, 1939, gives some of the conditions: two rounds daily, at 1:30 and 7:30 pm. Time control of 40 moves in two hours, adjournments after four hours play to be continued the next morning. Originally, there were to be three eight-player sections each qualifying four players for the Championship Final, though late entries changed this to four seven-player sections, each with three qualifiers. Play apparently began on the 18th, following an organizational player's meeting on the 17th.

With international play stifled by the winds of war, Samuel Reshevesky and Reuben Fine were back in town. Reshevsky was attempting to be the first to hold the US Championship and ACF titles simultaneously, but Fine was a perfect 4/4 in this tournament. Nor could 1936 champion Al Horowitz be counted out. Overall attendance dropped to 28, perhaps because of last-minute arrangements; the tournament had originally been scheduled to be played in California.

Preliminary Section 1

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 1 Samuel Reshevsky * 1 1 1 1 1 5.5 Championship 2 Olaf Ulvestad 0 * 1 1 1 1 4.5 Championship 3 Weaver Warren Adams 0 0 * 1 1 1 1 4.0 Championship 4 Joseph Rauch 0 0 * 1 1 3.0 Consolation 5 Irving Rivise 0 0 0 * 1 1 2.5 Consolation 6 Nicholas R Bellome 0 0 0 0 * 1.0 Class A 7 Bernard Wolk 0 0 0 0 0 * 0.5 Class A

Three players were to qualify from each preliminary section into the Championship final, and there were no surprises here.

Preliminary Section 2

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 1 Reuben Fine X 1 1 1 4.5 Championship 2 Herbert Seidman X 1 1 4.0 Championship 3 Gabriel Hellman 0 X 0 1 1 1 3.5 Championship 4 Daniel Abraham Yanofsky 0 1 X 0 1 1 3.5 Consolation 5 Bernard Friend 0 0 1 X 1 1 3.5 Consolation 6 Boris Garfinkel 0 0 0 0 X 1 1.5 Class A 7 Mark Pecker 0 0 0 0 0 X 0.5 Class A

A close fight developed for the third ticket into the Championship, which was eventually decided by a coin flip conducted by Tournament Referee Fred Reinfeld. (Yes, the man did do everything.). Hellman actually had the lowest Sonnenbor-Berger tiebreak among the tied players, but once again it was better to be lucky than good.

Preliminary Section 3

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 1 Israel Albert Horowitz * 1 1 1 4.5 Championship 2 Charles Jaffe * 1 0 1 1 1 4.5 Championship 3 Matthew Green 0 * 0 1 1 1 3.5 Championship 4 Samuel Kitces 0 1 1 * 0 0 1 3.0 Consolation 5 Michael Neckermann 0 0 1 * 1 0 2.5 Consolation 6 John E Fulop 0 0 0 1 0 * 1.5 7 Schulyer Broughton 0 0 0 0 1 * 1.5 Class A

Matthew Green was another young player making a name for himself. He would still be playing at the US Open in the 1980s.

Preliminary Section 4

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 1 Albert Pinkus * 1 1 1 1 5.0 Championship 2 Anthony Santasiere * 1 1 1 4.5 Championship 3 Boris Blumin 0 * 1 1 1 1 4.5 Championship 4 Walter Bradford Suesman 0 0 * 1 1 1 3.5 Consolation 5 Carl Pilnick 0 0 0 0 * 1 1 2.0 Consolation 6 Thomas J Connelly 0 0 0 0 0 * 1 1.0 Class A 7 Joseph Hidalgo 0 0 0 0 0 * 0.5 Class A

Pinkus returned from an expedition collecting natural specimens in the Guianas to win the section. Blumin and Santasiere had shown plenty of promise earlier, so their showings were hardly a surprise.

Championship

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 1 Reuben Fine X 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 10.5 2 Samuel Reshevsky X 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 10.0 3 Israel Albert Horowitz 0 0 X 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 8.0 4 Albert Pinkus 0 X 0 1 1 1 1 1 1 7.5 5 Anthony Santasiere 0 0 0 1 X 1 0 1 1 1 6.0 6 Herbert Seidman 0 0 X 0 1 1 1 1 6.0 7 Matthew Green 0 0 0 0 X 0 1 1 4.0 8 Gabriel Hellman 0 0 0 0 0 1 X 1 0 1 4.0 9 Weaver Warren Adams 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 X 0 1 1 3.5 10 Olaf Ulvestad 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 X 0 1 3.5 11 Boris Blumin 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 X 1 3.0 12 Charles Jaffe 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 X 0.0

Fine and Reshevsky left absolutely no doubt who were the big dogs in town. Pinkus collected another rare specimen by drawing with Reshevsky, and that was the difference. Illness compelled Jaffe's withdrawal after five rounds.

Consolation Tournament

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 1 Daniel Abraham Yanofsky X 1 1 1 1 1 6.0 2 Bernard Friend 0 X 1 1 1 1 5.0 3 Michael Neckerman X 0 1 1 1 4.5 4 Samuel Kitces 0 0 1 X 0 1 3.0 5 Joseph Lyon Rauch 0 0 X 1 3.0 6 Carl Pilnick 0 0 0 1 X 0 1 2.5 7 Walter Bradford Suesman 0 0 1 X 0 2.5 8 Irving Rivise 0 0 0 0 0 1 X 1.5

The best way to win a coin flip is to ensure it never happens! Yanofsky opened a few eyes here, foreshadowing his performance at the Buenos Aires Olympiad.

Class A

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 1 Bernard Wolk X 0 1 1 1 1 1 5.0 2 Boris Garfinkel 1 X 1 0 1 1 4.5 3 Nicholas R Bellome 0 0 X 1 1 1 3.5 4 Mark Peckar 0 1 0 X 0 1 1 3.0 5 Schuyler Broughton 0 0 0 1 X 1 0 2.0 6 Thomas J Connely 0 0 0 0 X 1 1.5 7 Joseph Hidalgo 0 0 0 1 0 X 1.5

It was not a Wolk in the park for the victor, but he still managed to finish on top after losing to Boris and Garfinkel. (I need a vacation.)

That's how the pre-US Open era ended. After a few slow years due to war, the tournament would soon expand beyond recognition.

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Sources:

American Chess Bulletin, July/August 1939, p. 86-94.

Chess Results 1936-1940 / Gino di Felice, p. 257-258.

"1939 North American Championship". <Chess Review>, September 1939, p. 173-183.

Reuben Fine : a comprehensive record of an American Chess Career, 1929-1951 / Aidan Woodger. Jefferson, NC : McFarland, 2004.

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NEXT: Game Collection: US Open 1940, Dallas

SEE ALSO: Game Collection: US Open Tournament Index

Prelim 1, Round 1 (Tuesday, July 18)
Reshevsky vs B Wolk, 1939
(D35) Queen's Gambit Declined, 37 moves, 1-0

Prelim 1, Round 2 (Tuesday, July 18)
O Ulvestad vs Reshevsky, 1939
(A09) Reti Opening, 31 moves, 0-1

Prelim 1, Round 4 (Wednesday, July 19)
N Bellome vs Reshevsky, 1939
(E33) Nimzo-Indian, Classical, 39 moves, 0-1

Prelim 2, Round 1 (Tuesday, July 18)
Fine vs Yanofsky, 1939
(A31) English, Symmetrical, Benoni Formation, 43 moves, 1/2-1/2

Prelim 2, Round 2 (Tuesday, July 18)
Fine vs B Garfinkel, 1939
(E40) Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3, 23 moves, 1-0

Prelim 2, Round 3, (Wednesday, July 19)
M Peckar vs Fine, 1939 
(B20) Sicilian, 8 moves, 0-1

Prelim 2, Round 3 (Wednesday, July 19)
B Garfinkel vs Yanofsky, 1939 
(E38) Nimzo-Indian, Classical, 4...c5, 39 moves, 0-1

Prelim 2, Round 4 (Wednesday, July 19)
Fine vs G Hellman, 1939
(C84) Ruy Lopez, Closed, 41 moves, 1-0

Prelim 2, Round 5 (Thursday, July 20)
G Hellman vs Yanofsky, 1939
(C14) French, Classical, 34 moves, 0-1

Prelim 2, Round 5 (Thursday, July 20)
B Friend vs Fine, 1939
(D70) Neo-Grunfeld Defense, 45 moves, 1/2-1/2

Prelim 2, Round 7 (Friday, July 21)
Seidman vs Fine, 1939
(A34) English, Symmetrical, 15 moves, 1/2-1/2

Prelim 4, Round 2 (Tuesday, July 18)
Santasiere vs B Blumin, 1939 
(A46) Queen's Pawn Game, 29 moves, 1-0

Prelim 4, Round 2 (Tuesday, July 18)
C Pilnick vs Pinkus, 1939 
(A03) Bird's Opening, 23 moves, 0-1

Championship, Round 1 (Friday, July 21)
W Adams vs O Ulvestad, 1939
(B29) Sicilian, Nimzovich-Rubinstein, 23 moves, 0-1

Championship, Round 1 (Friday, July 21)
Fine vs Santasiere, 1939
(C86) Ruy Lopez, Worrall Attack, 58 moves, 1-0

Championshp, Round 1 (Friday, July 21)
M Green vs Reshevsky, 1939
(D95) Grunfeld, 42 moves, 0-1

Championship, Round 1 (Friday, July 21)
G Hellman vs Pinkus, 1939
(C53) Giuoco Piano, 40 moves, 0-1

Championship, Round 2 (Saturday, July 22)
Seidman vs Fine, 1939
(D41) Queen's Gambit Declined, Semi-Tarrasch, 37 moves, 0-1

Championship, Round 2 (Saturday, July 22)
Reshevsky vs G Hellman, 1939 
(D48) Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav, Meran, 71 moves, 1-0

Championship, Round 3 (Saturday, July 22)
Fine vs W Adams, 1939
(D06) Queen's Gambit Declined, 34 moves, 1-0

Championship, Round 3 (Saturday, July 23)
G Hellman vs Santasiere, 1939 
(B50) Sicilian, 38 moves, 0-1

Championship, Round 3 (Saturday, July 22)
I A Horowitz vs Reshevsky, 1939 
(D74) Neo-Grunfeld, 6.cd Nxd5, 7.O-O, 33 moves, 0-1

Championship, Round 4 (Sunday, July 23)
B Blumin vs Fine, 1939
(E33) Nimzo-Indian, Classical, 36 moves, 0-1

Championship, Round 4 (Sunday, July 23)
Seidman vs G Hellman, 1939 
(D38) Queen's Gambit Declined, Ragozin Variation, 23 moves, 0-1

Championship, Round 4 (Sunday, July 23)
Reshevsky vs C Jaffe, 1939
(D51) Queen's Gambit Declined, 38 moves, 1-0

Championship, Round 4 (Sunday, July 24)
O Ulvestad vs Pinkus, 1939
(D52) Queen's Gambit Declined, 38 moves, 0-1

Championshp, Round 5 (Sunday, July 23)
M Green vs B Blumin, 1939
(D51) Queen's Gambit Declined, 27 moves, 1-0

Championship, Round 5 (Sunday, July 23)
Pinkus vs Reshevsky, 1939 
(C88) Ruy Lopez, 40 moves, 1/2-1/2

Championship, Round 5 (sunday, July 23)
Fine vs O Ulvestad, 1939
(D11) Queen's Gambit Declined Slav, 42 moves, 1-0

Championshp, Round 6 (Monday, July 24)
Reshevsky vs Fine, 1939
(E57) Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3, Main line with 8...dc and 9...cd, 27 moves, 1/2-1/2

Championship, Round 6 (Monday, July 24)
Pinkus vs M Green, 1939 
(B95) Sicilian, Najdorf, 6...e6, 58 moves, 1-0

Championshp, Round 7 (Tuesday, July 25)
Fine vs M Green, 1939
(D23) Queen's Gambit Accepted, 25 moves, 1-0

Championship, Round 7 (Tuesday, July 27)
O Ulvestad vs Reshevsky, 1939 
(A49) King's Indian, Fianchetto without c4, 40 moves, 0-1

Championship, Round 7 (Tuesday, July 21)
Santasiere vs Pinkus, 1939 
(A04) Reti Opening, 45 moves, 1-0

Championshp, Round 7 (Tuesday, July 25)
B Blumin vs G Hellman, 1939 
(D50) Queen's Gambit Declined, 28 moves, 1-0

Championship, Round 8 (Tuesday, July 25)
G Hellman vs Fine, 1939
(B45) Sicilian, Taimanov, 37 moves, 0-1

Championship, Round 8 (Tuesday, July 25)
Reshevsky vs Santasiere, 1939 
(D19) Queen's Gambit Declined Slav, Dutch, 36 moves, 1-0

Championshp. Round 9 (Wednesday, July 26)
Fine vs I A Horowitz, 1939 
(D34) Queen's Gambit Declined, Tarrasch, 34 moves, 1-0

Championship, Round 9 (Wednesday, July 26)
Seidman vs Reshevsky, 1939
(A03) Bird's Opening, 32 moves, 0-1

Championship, Round 9 (Wednesday, July 26)
O Ulvestad vs Santasiere, 1939
(E90) King's Indian, 55 moves, 0-1

Championship, Round 9 (Wednesday, July 26)
W Adams vs Pinkus, 1939
(B15) Caro-Kann, 40 moves, 0-1

Championship, Round 10 (Thursday, July 27)
Reshevsky vs W Adams, 1939 
(D02) Queen's Pawn Game, 41 moves, 1-0

Championship, Round 10 (THursday, July 27)
I A Horowitz vs M Green, 1939
(D78) Neo-Grunfeld, 6.O-O c6, 37 moves, 1-0

Championship, Round 11 (Friday, July 28)
Fine vs Pinkus, 1939
(D37) Queen's Gambit Declined, 33 moves, 1-0

Consolation Tournament, Round 2 (Saturday, July 22)
Yanofsky vs J Rauch, 1939
(C88) Ruy Lopez, 38 moves, 1-0

Consolation Tournament, Round 5 (Tuesday, July 25)
I Rivise vs W Suesman, 1939 
(C12) French, McCutcheon, 27 moves, 1-0

Consolation Tournament, Round 7 (Thursday, July 27)
C Pilnick vs Yanofsky, 1939 
(C13) French, 27 moves, 0-1

47 games

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