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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.

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?). However, the report in <The Chess Review> of September 1939 called it "1939 North American Championship", perhaps in recognition of continued Canadian participation. However, I'm going to stick with the ACF designation, as the original Western Chess Association allowed Canadians to play almost from the beginning, and even had one Canadian champion.

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 Samuel Reshevsky 5.5 Championship 2 Olaf Ulvestad 4.5 Championship 3 Weaver Warren Adams 4.0 Championship 4 Joseph Lyon Rauch 3.0 Consolation 5 Irving Rivise 2.5 Consolation 6 Nicholas R Bellome 1.0 Class A 7 Bernard Wolk 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 Bernard Friend 0 X 0 1 1 1 3.5 Consolation 4 Gabriel Hellman 0 1 X 0 1 1 3.5 Championship 5 Daniel Abraham Yanofsky 0 0 1 X 1 1 3.5 Consolation 6 Boris Garfinkel 0 0 0 0 X 1 1.5 Class A 7 Mark Peckar 0 0 0 0 0 X 0.5 Class A

A great fight for the third spot here ended in a coin flip conducted by Tournament Director Fred Reinfeld (yes, the man did do everything!). The draw between Fine and the 15-year-old Yanofsky was consided a sensation. However, D.A.Y.'s inexperience badly let him down in the coin flip. Friend called "Heads", Hellman called "Tails", and Yanofsky called "Edge".

Note to Real Historians: Those last two sentences are probably not true. Sometimes, I just can't resist.

Preliminary Section 3

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

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

Preliminary Section 4

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

Preliminary Section 1
N Bellome vs Reshevsky, 1939
(E33) Nimzo-Indian, Classical, 39 moves, 0-1

Preliminary Section 1
Reshevsky vs B Wolk, 1939
(D35) Queen's Gambit Declined, 37 moves, 1-0

Preliminary Section 1
O Ulvestad vs Reshevsky, 1939
(A09) Reti Opening, 31 moves, 0-1

Preliminary Section 2
B Garfinkel vs Yanofsky, 1939 
(E38) Nimzo-Indian, Classical, 4...c5, 39 moves, 0-1

Preliminary Section 2, Round 1 (Monday, July 17)
Fine vs Yanofsky, 1939
(A31) English, Symmetrical, Benoni Formation, 43 moves, 1/2-1/2

Preliminary Section 2
G Hellman vs Yanofsky, 1939
(C14) French, Classical, 34 moves, 0-1

Preliminary Section 4
C Pilnick vs Pinkus, 1939 
(A03) Bird's Opening, 23 moves, 0-1

Championship
Santasiere vs Pinkus, 1939 
(A04) Reti Opening, 45 moves, 1-0

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

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

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

Championship
G Hellman vs Santasiere, 1939
(B50) Sicilian, 38 moves, 0-1

Championship
Santasiere vs B Blumin, 1939 
(A46) Queen's Pawn Game, 29 moves, 1-0

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

Championship
O Ulvestad vs Santasiere, 1939
(E90) King's Indian, 55 moves, 0-1

Championship
Reshevsky vs W Adams, 1939 
(D02) Queen's Pawn Game, 41 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 2 (Friday, July 21)
Seidman vs Fine, 1939
(D41) Queen's Gambit Declined, Semi-Tarrasch, 37 moves, 0-1

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

Championship
Seidman vs Reshevsky, 1939
(A03) Bird's Opening, 32 moves, 0-1

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

Championshp, Round 6 (Monday, July 24)
Reshevsky vs Fine, 1939
(E54) Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3, Gligoric System, 27 moves, 1/2-1/2

Championship
Pinkus vs Reshevsky, 1939 
(C88) Ruy Lopez, 40 moves, 1/2-1/2

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

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

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

Championship
W Adams vs Pinkus, 1939
(B15) Caro-Kann, 40 moves, 0-1

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

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

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

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

Consolation Tournament
Yanofsky vs J Rauch, 1939
(C88) Ruy Lopez, 38 moves, 1-0

Consolation Tournament
I Rivise vs W Suesman, 1939 
(C12) French, McCutcheon, 27 moves, 1-0

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

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

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

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

W Adams vs O Ulvestad, 1939
(B29) Sicilian, Nimzovich-Rubinstein, 23 moves, 0-1

B Blumin vs G Hellman, 1939 
(D50) Queen's Gambit Declined, 28 moves, 1-0

Reshevsky vs G Hellman, 1939
(D48) Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav, Meran, 71 moves, 1-0

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

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

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

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

Preliminary 2, Round 6 (Thursday, July 20)
Seidman vs Fine, 1939
(A34) English, Symmetrical, 15 moves, 1/2-1/2

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

Championship, Round 7 (Tuesday, July 25)
G Hellman vs Fine, 1939
(B45) Sicilian, Taimanov, 37 moves, 0-1

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