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1942 US championship playoff match
Compiled by crawfb5
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For links to other post-Marshall and pre-Fischer US championship collections, see Game Collection: US championship tournaments (meta).

The 1942 US championship tournament (Game Collection: 1942 US Championship) saw the first co-winners. Reshevsky and Kashdan tied for first, and it was decided to hold a playoff match. Held about six months after the tournament and planned as a 14-game match, it was ended after 11 games once Reshevsky secured a winning 4-point margin. The first three games were held at Army facilities under the sponsorship of the USO. Games 4 and 6 were held at the Marshall Chess Club and Game 5 was at the Queens Chess Club. The final five games were held at the Henry Hudson Hotel under the sponsorship of <Chess Review>. Kenneth Harkness was the match referee. The time control was 45 moves in 2 hours and 15 minutes.

Game 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 Reshevsky 1 0 1 0 1 = 1 = = 1 1 7.5 Kashdan 0 1 0 1 0 = 0 = = 0 0 3.5 Reshevsky +1 0 +1 0 +1 +1 +2 +2 +2 +3 +4

The first five games were all won by White. In <Game 1>, Fine claimed 26...Qd8?? was the losing move <"The fatal mistake, after he might as well just give up."> and 26...Qxa3 was the only chance. Houdini thinks 26...Qd8 is perfectly fine to keep a rough balance, but 26...Qxa3 27. Nd5 Qa2 28. Rc5 leads to a big advantage for White. Both Fine and Houdini agree that 27...g4? was bad, but Houdini thinks Black still has a playable game after 27...Qxd6 28. Bc5 Qh6 29. Bxf8 Rxf8, whereas Fine thought Black is already lost no matter what. In <Game 2>, Kashdan thought Black began to go wrong with 18...fxe4? when 18...Qxe4 leads to an even ending. While 18...fxe4 was not the best, 20...dxe5 was truly bad, and Black's game completely unraveled from there. In <Game 3>, Reshevsky wrote of 28...Nf8? <"Losing at once, but Black's position was untenable."> Houdini agrees with the assessment of 28...Nf8, but thinks Black still has play after 28...Rdc8. Fine thought <Game 4> to be the best of the match to date. After 20...f6, Fine wrote, <"Black is already strategically lost: his pieces have little mobility, he has no counterplay, the prospects of freeing himself are slight. But Reshevsky can handle such positions with astounding virtuosity. Kashdan deserves all the more credit for pushing his advantage home relentlessly."> After 28...Ne5? things began to go wrong for Black; 28...h6 was the toughest defense. Houdini thinks 31. Bxf6+ throws away most of White's advantage and prefers 31. Ng3 with 32. f5 to follow. Houdini also thinks Black is fine until 39...Be5? and 40...Qc8? at which point Black is lost. <Game 5> was yet another White win. Reshevsky played somewhat speculatively and eventually, with some help from Kashdan, succeeded in driving the Black King out to g6. In time trouble, Kashdan blundered badly with 36...Ne4? Reshevsky thought after 36...Rg1+ 37. Kf3 Rf1+ 38. Kg2 Rf5 39. Rh6+ Kg5 40. Re3 that <"White would still have excellent winning prospects as the Black King is terribly exposed and subject to attack."> Houdini rates the position as equal, but in the heat of battle, especially when time is short, Reshevsky may have a point.

Kashdan had twice won against Reshevsky in the first five games and that was no mean feat, as Reshevsky rarely lost in US championship games. However, Kashdan slightly misplayed the opening in <Game 6> (Horowitz thought Kashdan transposed 11. h3 and 12. a4) and got the slightly worse game, but held the draw. <Game 7> (Reshevsky vs Kashdan, 1942) was the breaking point for Kashdan. Fine's introduction to his annotation of the game was, <"Not an outstanding performance by either side."> Reshevsky let a winning position slip to "an easy draw" with 43. b4 (either 43. Nc4 or 43. exf5+ is better, although Houdini thinks White is still winning after 43. b4 fxe4 44. b5) and then Kashdan a few moves later returns the favor with 50...h4? (Fine gave 50...e4 51. Ne3+ Kf6! <"and White can make no progress">), giving Reshevsky the win. This gave Reshevsky a 2 point lead, and Kashdan never recovered, drawing the next two games and losing the final two.

Game 8 and <Game 9> were fairly uneventful draws. While in a longer match they might have helped Kashdan get his bearings, they only served Reshevsky and his 2-game lead in a short 14-game match. In <Game 10>, Kashdan relied too much on a Knight tour (e5-g4-e3-d5) and pushing forward his pawns. Ultimately, he overextended and lost. Horowitz wrote of 28. f4, <"Feinting a faint counterattack. But White is at a loss for a good continuation. If 28. Rxa4 28...Nxc3 wins."> Houdini agrees that 28. f4 is not best, but thinks 28. Rxa4 Nxc3 29. Qb2 is better, temporarily pinning the Knight against the Queen. Kashdan had only the slightly worse game until 49...Ra1? instead of 49...Ra8, which would have been a tougher defense. Reshevsky could then get his passed pawn moving and forced an exchange of Rooks, resulting in a won Bishop ending.

Reshevsky now had an insurmountable 4-point lead with only three games remaining, so the final games were cancelled. This is as close as Kashdan ever got to being US champion.

Game 1 -- 7 Oct 1942 -- Fort Jay, NY
Reshevsky vs Kashdan, 1942 
(D83) Grunfeld, Grunfeld Gambit, 35 moves, 1-0

Game 2 -- 10 Oct 1942 -- Camp Upton, NY
Kashdan vs Reshevsky, 1942 
(C75) Ruy Lopez, Modern Steinitz Defense, 47 moves, 1-0

Game 3 -- 17 Oct 1942 -- Plattsburg Barracks, NY
Reshevsky vs Kashdan, 1942 
(D81) Grunfeld, Russian Variation, 38 moves, 1-0

Game 4 -- 15 Nov 1942 -- Marshall Chess Club, NY
Kashdan vs Reshevsky, 1942 
(C71) Ruy Lopez, 46 moves, 1-0

Game 5 -- 29 Nov 1942 -- Queens Chess Club, NY
Reshevsky vs Kashdan, 1942 
(E29) Nimzo-Indian, Samisch, 38 moves, 1-0

Game 6 -- 6 Dec 1942 -- Manhattan Chess Club, NY
Kashdan vs Reshevsky, 1942 
(C97) Ruy Lopez, Closed, Chigorin, 38 moves, 1/2-1/2

Game 7 -- 13 Dec 1942 -- Henry Hudson Hotel, NY
Reshevsky vs Kashdan, 1942
(E34) Nimzo-Indian, Classical, Noa Variation, 63 moves, 1-0

Game 8 -- 15 Dec 1942 -- Henry Hudson Hotel, NY
Kashdan vs Reshevsky, 1942
(C86) Ruy Lopez, Worrall Attack, 39 moves, 1/2-1/2

Game 9 -- 20 Dec 1942 -- Henry Hudson Hotel, NY
Reshevsky vs Kashdan, 1942
(D81) Grunfeld, Russian Variation, 52 moves, 1/2-1/2

Game 10 -- 24 Dec 1942 -- Henry Hudson Hotel, NY
Kashdan vs Reshevsky, 1942 
(D82) Grunfeld, 4.Bf4, 39 moves, 0-1

Game 11 -- 27 Dec 1942 -- Henry Hudson Hotel, NY
Reshevsky vs Kashdan, 1942
(D15) Queen's Gambit Declined Slav, 57 moves, 1-0

11 games

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