< Earlier Kibitzing · PAGE 2 OF 3 ·
|Aug-05-09|| ||returnoftheking: Even with this being a draw Kashdan would have won the ch.|
|Aug-10-09|| ||TheFocus: <petrosianic> Stephens also directed that tournament in 1944. See Chess Review, April, 1944, pg. 27. Last paragraph in a two part article.|
|Aug-10-09|| ||AnalyzeThis: <returnoftheking: Even with this being a draw Kashdan would have won the ch. >|
Actually, he wouldn't have. See this kibitz on page 1:
<Pawn and Two: Reshevsky eventually won the 1942 U.S. Championship, but only after some further adventures, including a tie-breaking match with Kashdan. As for poor Denker, he finshed tied with Pinkus in 3-4th place, 2 points behind Reshevsky and Kashdan.>
|Aug-11-09|| ||returnoftheking: <analyzethis> I don't get it. If Reshevsky had scored half a point less there would have been no tie break match; Kashdan would have been clear first. Or am I mistaken?|
|Aug-11-09|| ||markofthemushroom: Denker should just have reported that Reshevsky's flag fell. He was trying to be a nice guy and he got the business end of a zero when he could have had the full point.|
|Aug-12-09|| ||AnalyzeThis: <returnoftheking: I don't get it. If Reshevsky had scored half a point less there would have been no tie break match; Kashdan would have been clear first. Or am I mistaken? >|
You're not mistaken, I had a brain cramp. For some reason I thought you were saying the Denker would have won the championship, when you clearly wrote that Kashdan would have won. Sorry!
|Aug-12-09|| ||Petrosianic: <Denker should just have reported that Reshevsky's flag fell.>|
There was no time. Stephens was standing right there at the board, and picked up the clock a moment after Black had made the time control.
<He was trying to be a nice guy and he got the business end of a zero when he could have had the full point.>
No, it would have been a draw, not a full point. Even if Reshevsky's flag had been down, it would have been impossible to prove that it hadn't fallen after his clock had started ticking on the move after the time control. Stephens had, by accident or design, positioned himself in such a way that a Denker forfeit is the only one he could possibly have called. (So is it any wonder that that's what he thought he saw?)
To call a Reshevsky forfeit, Stephens would have had to have been looking at Reshevsky's clock before Denker had made the final move of the time control. But even though Stephens was monitoring the game closely, he was curiously out of position at that moment. But he wasn't out of position to call a possible Denker forfeit. How interesting.
The story is always told in such a way as to make Stephens look like an idiot, rather than a cheat (and the Kennesaw Mountain Landis hubris is indeed pretty idiotic). But when a guy makes a mistake like that, that just happens to unfairly benefit the strongest player in the country, and then sticks to it even after it's demonstrated to be a mistake, you have to at least wonder where his loyalties lay.
The only nice guy thing Denker did was to continue playing in the tournament. He should have been out of there right then and there. He retold the story many times, but I never saw him explain why he stayed in.
TheFocus says Stephens was directing in 1944 too. I'll look up his link. If so, it's outrageous that anyone could screw up that badly and get another chance. Stephens died in 1948, incidentally, just about the time that Steiner won the championship.
|Aug-12-09|| ||Petrosianic: BTW, it's usually not well remembered that Kashdan was ever US Champion at all. The playoff match with Reshevsky wasn't until 6 months later, so Kashdan was at least Co-Champion for that period.|
|Aug-12-09|| ||TheFocus: In the Mechanics' Institute Newsletter, July 21, 2009, in an article about Carl Pilnick, it says - Carl was the Captain of his City College of NYC team in 1942 when he qualified to play in the US Championship Finals. He was not a first hand observer of the famous Reshevsky-Denker incident as he was playing his own game at the time but remembers hearing Denker complaining loudly and that Sammy just walked out. Other participants and spectators supported Denker but to no avail. Pilnick, like many American players of the time, did not have a high opinion of the Tournament Director Walter Stephens who he recalls as "a pompous ass who knew nothing about chess but had money and liked to direct tournaments."|
Pilnick felt the incident was typical of Reshevsky who would take any advantage he could get. When Pilnick swindled Sammy into a stalemate later in the tournament (Qf2!) the latter slammed down ...Qxf2 and immediately rushed out of the room. No hands were shaken nor scoresheets signed.
|Aug-12-09|| ||AnalyzeThis: I don't think anybody thought Reshevsky should be named Miss Congeniality. He was a warrior, rough edges and all.|
|Aug-13-09|| ||TheFocus: I have been looking back at some 1920s American Chess Bulletins, when the boy prodigy Reshevsky first came to America, and even then his arrogance shined through. Many people don't know that he was billed as being two years younger than he actually was. Seems like dishonesty and deceit were a part of his nature. I personally have never been a fan of Reshevsky's, partly because of the Fischer match incidents, and this game. Seems like honor would have been attempted by Reshevsky.|
|Aug-13-09|| ||Petrosianic: <remembers hearing Denker complaining loudly and that Sammy just walked out.>|
According to Denker, he appealed to Reshevsky, but Sammy just said "It's not my decision", and walked out. He actually claimed to be a disinterested observer about his own game. Relations were strained between them for years afterwards.
<Pilnick, like many American players of the time, did not have a high opinion of the Tournament Director Walter Stephens who he recalls as "a pompous ass who knew nothing about chess but had money and liked to direct tournaments.">
I think that's the opinion that most people have of Stephens' personality. But I didn't know he had money. Soltis describes him as a High School Teacher, so, how did he have money? Did he leave his brain to medical science?... While he was still alive?
I still think Denker should have dropped out. He may have thought he was being a nice guy staying in, but it did nobody any favors, and just left Stephens around to make more stupid moves.
<I personally have never been a fan of Reshevsky's, partly because of the Fischer match incidents, and this game. Seems like honor would have been attempted by Reshevsky.>
There are a couple of incidents that cast Reshevsky in a less than sporting light, including the Stephens Incident, but I don't think the Fischer match is one of them. He did nothing wrong there except being willing to play at 11 am. The real villain was Jacqueline Piatigorsky, and, to a lesser degree, Fischer himself.
<Many people don't know that he was billed as being two years younger than he actually was. Seems like dishonesty and deceit were a part of his nature.>
It's true, he admitted later in life that he was born in 1909, but few books, even Kasparov's MGP, recognize the fact. It makes his prodigy achievements look a little less fantastic, but makes some of his geriatric achievements look even better.
But Reshevsky doesn't bear the blame for that one either. It was the people who marketed him as a child and took him on tour like a trick pony that were responsible for that decision.
|Sep-06-11|| ||perfidious: <Phony Benoni: <whiteshark: Situation is inconceivable today.>
Oh, you haven't seen some of the tournament directors I have. <Anything> is possible.>|
Here's one from the early 1980s: I was 4-0 going into the last round of an event, was top seed, had had three Blacks and was awarded my fourth (third in a row) by the TD, who was also my opponent. Beat the bugger anyway!
<chancho: In this game while trying to win a drawn position from Ronald Nichols,(an expert player) Sammy lost on time as his flag fell.>
I remember Ron Nichols from the 1980s-believe he was from Connecticut, rated about 2050.
In the 1990s, I also knew a Bob Nichols (the name listed in the Reshevsky game)-we never met in a tournament, though I lost to him in a six-board blindfold simul I gave at Montpelier, Vermont in 1994. Bob was about 1850 then.
|Sep-06-11|| ||I play the Fred: <Here's one from the early 1980s: I was 4-0 going into the last round of an event, was top seed, had had three Blacks and was awarded my fourth (third in a row) by the TD, who was also my opponent. Beat the bugger anyway!>|
Awesome. This is <refuting prep> writ oh so large.
|Sep-07-11|| ||Petrosianic: <Here's one from the early 1980s: I was 4-0 going into the last round of an event, was top seed, had had three Blacks and was awarded my fourth (third in a row) by the TD, who was also my opponent. Beat the bugger anyway!>|
Was it a legal pairing? If it wasn't, I'd have filed a complaint against him with USCF whether I won the game or not.
|Sep-07-11|| ||FSR: It seems to me that it's almost impossible for it to have been a legal pairing. Since perfidious had a perfect score and was the highest rated player, he necessarily was the highest ranked player. (Rank is determined first by score, then by rating.) As such, he should have received his due color of White. The only possible exception I can see is if the TD had already received <four> Blacks out of four games - which I greatly doubt.|
|Sep-07-11|| ||perfidious: <Petrosianic>, <FSR> It wasn't under USCF rules, but I was playing in Vermont-VCA used the rulebook, but that TD did things his way.|
|Sep-07-11|| ||Petrosianic: Sounds like you might have been able to get him in trouble then.|
|Sep-07-11|| ||Petrosianic: Back to the game. I've made this point before, but it's one that usually goes unnoticed.|
The way the story is told, Stephens forfeited Denker instead of Reshevsky. In fact, I don't believe that either player should have been forfeited. Reshevsky's flag was down, but he was thinking about his first move AFTER the time control at the time. Which means it's perfectly okay for his flag to be down then. The only time a Reshevsky forfeit could have been claimed would have been before Denker made his 45th move. (Furthermore, I believe the rules in that time said that only the player on the move could call a time forfeit.)
But Stephens wasn't looking at the clock at that time. By positioning himself behind the clock, and not picking it up until after black's 45th, he had, by accident or design, put himself in a position where a Denker forfeit is the only one he could possibly have called. In that case, is it any wonder that that's what he thought he saw?
Assuming he really thought it at all. I'm rather suspicious of "accidents" like that, when they just happen to benefit the strongest player in the country, and when the perpetrator sticks to the error even after it's pointed out. Did Stephens consciously cheat? Did he unconsciously do it? He certainly did it consciously after the fact, but how about before? This story has been told by Denker and others countless times, but they never go near that question. They also never explain why Denker remained in the tournament, or what happened to Stephens' career after that. Was he ever allowed near a major tournament again? Or even a minor one?
I tried to find out who directed the 1946 tournament, but the articles on it didn't say. And Stephens died early in 1948, so that would have been before the 1948 championship.
And is it really a TD's job to call a flag fall at all? I thought it was the player's responsibility to notice that. I assume it wasn't unusual then.
|Sep-07-11|| ||perfidious: <Petrosianic> That's a lot of questions.|
Seriously, there are indeed a number of mysteries surrounding this whole affair, other than the very clear conclusion that Stephens deliberately took the decision to award the game to Reshevsky.
With all the principals of this melodrama long dead, we're left with a lot of questions and probably no answers.
Possibly Edward Winter has had something to say about all this.
PS Just Googled Stephens' name on Chess Notes and there appeared a picture of the child prodigy Reshevsky.
Un freaking real!
|Sep-07-11|| ||solskytz: See the comment at the end of the game - the first time that I see all three possible results together at the end of the game...|
in a drawn position you lose on time and the arbiter makes you win
|Sep-07-11|| ||Petrosianic: Well, again, read 2 posts up. Reshevsky DIDN'T lose on time. There's no forfeit when your flag is down on the move after the time control. Stephens wasn't looking at the clock at the time it would have been possible to call a Reshevsky forfeit, which would have been before Denker made his 45th.|
|Sep-07-11|| ||Phony Benoni: Stephens was actually a major behind-the-scenes actor in U.S. chess during the 1930s and 1940s. He was a vice-president of USCF and its predecessors for about a decade, and played a large role in organizing and financing US Championships and other national tournaments. At least once, the US Rapid Transit Championship was held at his house.|
I don't know of any specific relationship between Reshevsky and Stephens, but it might be worth researching. And this may be totally irrelevant, but three rounds before this game he had ruled in Denker's favor in a little spat:
For the players' opinion of Stephens, look at the above kibitz from <The Focus> concerning Carl Pilnick's recollections of the event:
<"Pilnick, like many American players of the time, did not have a high opinion of the Tournament Director Walter Stephens who he recalls as "a pompous ass who knew nothing about chess but had money and liked to direct tournaments.">
My own impression is that Stephens was unbiased, but also an inflexible autocrat who refused to admit a mistake. After all, he went to Harvard; how dare these plebians question him?
|Sep-07-11|| ||Petrosianic: I was actually in a similar position once, that illustrates why Reshevsky couldn't have been forfeited. Years back, I was black in a game. White made the last move of the time control and punched the clock. His flag was up, but teetering. I made my next move and pushed the clock. The act of pushing it knocked his flag down, with zero extra time elapsed. The result: No forfeit. His flag was up when it counted.|
Similarly, it would have been impossible for Stephens to forfeit Reshevsky. Unless the rules were very different in 1942, he was deliberately out of position at the only time that he could have called a Reshevsky forfeit. Even if he had recognized thta Reshevsky's flag was the one down, there would be no way to prove that it hadn't fallen when Denker hit the clock.
I know Stephens was a USCF VP, and a lot of accounts describe him as pompous and stupid. But I haven't heard anyone else question his honesty, his loyalties, or even his competence. But he was deliberately out of position when a Reshevsky forfeit could have been called. Incompetent is the kindest thing we can say about that.
|Sep-28-11|| ||crawfb5: A little digging in the NY Times archives pulled up a few relevant facts:|
1) Stephens was a high school teacher for many years in New York. He had been a minister for two years before taking up teaching. He was a Princeton, not Harvard, grad. (obituary: 2 Oct 1948, p. 15 NY Times)
2) He did direct the 1944 championship. For those of you without easy access to old <Chess Review> issues (if you wanted to see the brief mention <TheFocus> cited a few posts back), the NY Times article for 8 May 1944 (p. 23) has a photo of him with Denker and Gresser (the women's champion) and their trophies.
3) Kenneth Harkness directed the 1946 championship. In announcing the dates and other details of the upcoming tournament, Harkness is named "executive tournament director." (NY Times 31 Jul 1946, p. 32). The Jan 1947 issue of <Chess Review> also named him as director (p. 7 in summary of contributions to tournament fund).
< Earlier Kibitzing · PAGE 2 OF 3 ·