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Photograph circa 1975; courtesy of Cleveland Public Library.  
Georges Koltanowski
Number of games in database: 378
Years covered: 1921 to 1994
Overall record: +91 -39 =63 (63.5%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games
      Based on games in the database; may be incomplete.
      185 exhibition games, odds games, etc. are excluded from this statistic.

With the White pieces:
 Queen's Pawn Game (59) 
    D05 D04 A46 A40 D02
 Two Knights (29) 
    C55 C56
 Giuoco Piano (21) 
 Orthodox Defense (19) 
    D51 D63 D62 D53 D64
 Sicilian (13) 
    B20 B60 B27 B22
 King's Indian (11) 
    E67 E60 E70 E64 E81
With the Black pieces:
 King's Indian (28) 
    E60 E67 E72 E94 E90
 Philidor's Defense (14) 
 Queen's Pawn Game (7) 
    A50 A40 D04 A41 D00
 Grunfeld (6) 
    D95 D82 D85 D92 D80
 Ruy Lopez (6) 
    C73 C64 C87
 Two Knights (5) 
    C55 C58 C59
Repertoire Explorer

NOTABLE GAMES: [what is this?]
   Koltanowski vs M Defosse, 1936 1-0
   Koltanowski vs A Dunkelblum, 1923 1-0
   Koltanowski vs NN, 1946 1-0
   Koltanowski vs Diller, 1960 1-0
   Koltanowski vs Day, 1960 1-0
   Koltanowski vs J Salazar, 1940 1-0
   Koltanowski vs Denhaene, 1931 1-0
   Koltanowski vs T Allen, 1960 1-0
   Koltanowski vs W Nolan, 1960 1-0
   Koltanowski vs NN, 1945 1-0

NOTABLE TOURNAMENTS: [what is this?]
   Hastings 1928/29 (1928)
   London (1932)

GAME COLLECTIONS: [what is this?]
   1960 Koltanowski 56-board blindfold-simul by gauer
   colle & related systems by gmlisowitz
   blindfold masters by biohaz
   Hastings 1935/36 by Phony Benoni
   Hastings 1928/29 by suenteus po 147
   KKW's 'Minature chess games' by KKW
   WingGambit by lord1412
   wing gambit victories by InspiredByMorphy
   Colle System Classics (Koltanowski variation) by Dudley
   Ramsgate 1929 team tournament by crawfb5

Search Sacrifice Explorer for Georges Koltanowski
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(born Sep-17-1903, died Feb-05-2000, 96 years old) Belgium (citizen of United States of America)

[what is this?]
Georges Gustave Koltanowski was born on the 17th of September 1903 in Antwerp, Belgium. He was awarded the IM title in 1950, an honorary GM title in 1988 and became an International Arbiter in 1960. The USCF also gave him the title of "The Dean of American Chess". More than a player, "Kolty" was also an exhibitor, writer, promoter and showman. Occasionally, he edited a column for newspapers such as the San Francisco Chronicle, Kitchener Record & others in those syndication chains.

His best tournament wins were Antwerp 1932, Barcelona 1934 and Barcelona 1935. He was Belgian Champion in 1923, 1927, 1930 and 1936, but was best known for his exploits in simultaneous blindfold play.

Of his many exhibitions, one stands out above the rest: in 1937 at Edinburgh Scotland he played 34 games simultaneously without sight of the boards, scoring +24 =10 in thirteen and a half hours, a world record. When his exhibitions were over, as a finale, he would often recite the complete moves of the games without looking at the board.

Koltanowski was one of many masters who chose not to return to Europe after the 1939 Olympiad in Argentina, which coincided with the outbreak of World War II. When the Nazis overran Belgium, several of his family members perished in the Holocaust. Koltanowski was in Guatemala at the time and was allowed to immigrate to the United States, due partly because a chess-playing consul in Cuba had been amazed by one of his exhibitions.

He directed the 1947 US Open, the first time the Swiss System was used for that event, and was greatly responsible for popularizing the Swiss System for tournaments in the US. His last International appearances were playing for the US Olympiad team of 1952 and a match against Henri Grob in 1953. He was also President of the USCF from 1975 to 1978.

Wikipedia article: George Koltanowski

 page 1 of 16; games 1-25 of 378  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves Year Event/LocaleOpening
1. E Sapira vs Koltanowski 0-139 1921 ch?C48 Four Knights
2. Tchabritch vs Koltanowski ½-½33 1921 simul blind 1/2C25 Vienna
3. Koltanowski vs Colle 1-030 1922 ch BELA03 Bird's Opening
4. A Dunkelblum vs Koltanowski  0-138 1922 Belgium chC64 Ruy Lopez, Classical
5. Koltanowski vs Colle  ½-½29 1923 rapid playA01 Nimzovich-Larsen Attack
6. Koltanowski vs Colle 1-041 1923 rapid playA01 Nimzovich-Larsen Attack
7. Koltanowski vs A Dunkelblum 1-015 1923 AntwerpB18 Caro-Kann, Classical
8. Colle vs Koltanowski 0-171 1923 ch BELE60 King's Indian Defense
9. Duchamp vs Koltanowski  0-130 1923 BrusselsD85 Grunfeld
10. Koltanowski vs Colle  1-050 1923 ch BELA10 English
11. Koltanowski vs V Soultanbeieff 1-026 1923 ch BELC49 Four Knights
12. Koltanowski vs Schmidt  1-030 1924 SimulA43 Old Benoni
13. Koltanowski vs K Sterk  1-065 1924 ol final BE61 King's Indian
14. Koltanowski vs K Piltz  1-063 1924 ol prelim 2D11 Queen's Gambit Declined Slav
15. Koltanowski vs A Selezniev  ½-½41 1924 MeranoC25 Vienna
16. Hromadka vs Koltanowski  ½-½69 1924 ol final BB13 Caro-Kann, Exchange
17. Koltanowski vs A Dunkelblum 1-027 1924 simul blind 1/10C55 Two Knights Defense
18. J Schulz Sr vs Koltanowski  ½-½64 1924 ol final BC41 Philidor Defense
19. G Cenni vs Koltanowski  0-136 1924 ol prelim 2C25 Vienna
20. Spielmann vs Koltanowski 1-044 1924 MeranoB13 Caro-Kann, Exchange
21. J O'Hanlon vs Koltanowski  0-127 1924 ol final BD46 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav
22. Euwe vs Koltanowski  1-041 1924 ol ?D30 Queen's Gambit Declined
23. G Oskam vs Koltanowski  0-124 1924 ol prelim 2D46 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav
24. Colle vs Koltanowski 0-140 1924 MeranoD10 Queen's Gambit Declined Slav
25. Koltanowski vs D Reca  0-129 1924 ol final BE14 Queen's Indian
 page 1 of 16; games 1-25 of 378  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2) | Koltanowski wins | Koltanowski loses  

Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 4 OF 4 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Aug-14-10  HeMateMe: Ha!, I love that--Capa's 'submarine piece'!
Premium Chessgames Member
  GrahamClayton: 1925 photo:
Premium Chessgames Member
  wordfunph: H. Wallis' scoresheet played against Koltanowski in Leeds in 1938..

Premium Chessgames Member
  whiteshark: < Despite the documented evidence by chess historian HJR Murray, I've always thought that chess was invented by a goddess >

~George Koltanowski

Premium Chessgames Member
  Caissanist: The story <Wordfunph> mentions was probably copied from Alfred Kreymborg's <Chess Reclaims a Devotee>, an amusing portrait of the New York chess world of a century ago:
Sep-17-12  Lil Swine: Happy Birthday Kolty
Sep-18-12  HeMateMe: George is no longer with us, though I'm sure he'd be willing to play the whole site at blindfold chess, were it technically possible.
Premium Chessgames Member
  wordfunph: <Caissanist> thanks for the link, extracted the story from a signed copy of TV Chess by Koltanowski.

read somewhere that Kolty abandoned the idea of drawing a chessboard on the ceiling of his bedroom to study blindfold, ohhhh...hardcore chess!

Premium Chessgames Member
  WannaBe: In today's SF Chronicle, they had a classic reprint from 1981:

Note the spelling by the author of Koltanowski's first name.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: George Koltanowski, NSA Agent and Tournament Director of the 1964 US Open in Boston, giving fair warning to those nearing the time control:

<"I have spies--policemen, if you will--walking among you. You may not think we can watch everyone at once, but I will be watching.">

"Thinking Men" by Gloria Negri, <Boston Globe>, August 18, 1964.

Jul-30-13  DoctorD: Perhaps PB, in regards to the Ivanov situation, organizers should ask,"WWKD?"
Sep-17-13  brankat: R.I.P. master Kotlanowski.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Abdel Irada: When "Kolty" edited the San Francisco Chronicle chess column, he was called George.

When did he pluralize himself?

Premium Chessgames Member
  Abdel Irada: <Dredge Rivers: Blindfold is for wimps! He should have tried blindfolded, gagged, and handcuffed! Now, that's HARDCORE! :)>

Mais non! That is not hardcore.

Hardcore would be: bound, gagged, blindfolded, chained, manacled and locked in a chest chained shut from the outside and submerged in ten feet of water.

(Just ask Harry Houdini.)

Premium Chessgames Member
  Abdel Irada: <HeMateMe: George is no longer with us, though I'm sure he'd be willing to play the whole site at blindfold chess, were it technically possible.>

What, you've never heard of a seance?

(To save time, we can summon Kolty and Zaphod Beeblebrox IV simultaneously.)

Premium Chessgames Member
  Nosnibor: The casual game played against Love in 1949 deserves a mention. Good old Koltanowski did a favour for Dr.Ezra Love who within 12 months of this game died from tuberculosis.This game was played by correspondence and Dr Ezra who was not a strong player wanted to beat his father,Ezra Love Senior and therefore came to an arrangement with Kolty for him to make the moves on his behalf while masquerading as the player competing against his father.He had never beaten his father before.In July 1949 just before the end of the game he was diagnosed with tuberculosis and transferred to Sunny Acres TB Sanitorium in Providence R.I.At that point he broke the news to his father and told him that in reality he was playing a master and not his son.On the 11th February 1852 Ezra Love Senior wrote to Koltanowski as follows:-" Dear Koltanowski On your move 21 RxB! you are,after such a long wait receving two resignations...My son passed away... and I too am lost...Thanks for a splendid gameand for giving my son his first victory over his dad.It made him happy.Sincerely yours.Ezra Love Sr."(Source BCM PAGES122/123,1951)
Premium Chessgames Member
  Penguincw: R.I.P. Koltanowski.
Premium Chessgames Member
  GrahamClayton: Back in 1952, Kolty hosted a chess program on radio station KPFA of Berkeley, California, commencing each Friday night at 9.00 pm. He played a game against the station's listeners, and then analysed the game in future broadcasts. Would anyone know for how long this program ran on KPFA?
Premium Chessgames Member
<George Koltanowski: Father of Northern California Chess>
Premium Chessgames Member
  Penguincw: R.I.P. blindfold chess legend, Georges Koltanowski.
Premium Chessgames Member
  docbenway: Koltanowski was an official at a Paul Masson Winery Chess Tournament in the early 1970s and was drawn to a table where 2 guys were playing Las Vegas Chess and slamming the plastic container so hard into the table it seems they would soon drive it right through. He watched for a few moments and bent forward to quietly say, "Gentlemen, maybe somebody would like to play after you." They corrected in mid stream but he was already gone.
Premium Chessgames Member
  parisattack: <GrahamClayton: Back in 1952, Kolty hosted a chess program on radio station KPFA of Berkeley, California, commencing each Friday night at 9.00 pm. He played a game against the station's listeners, and then analysed the game in future broadcasts. Would anyone know for how long this program ran on KPFA?>

The medium is the message, and Kolty appears to have used them all successfully. I have an old LP record "Koltanowski Teaches Chess - Part 1 - My Approach to the Game." It is quite a hoot, as they say in the midwest.

Sep-17-14  Lighthorse: In the late 1960s, they had a TV program on PBS here in NY with him that I watched faithfully called "Koltanowski on Chess." I still remember he had one lesson on how to do blindfold chess. I tried his method, but never could master it. I also remember his comment that they banned blindfold chess in the USSR, but didn't they realize that imagining moves over a chessboard is almost the same thing?
Sep-17-14  Lighthorse: Although I lost my notes long ago from the Koltanowski TV show, I did memorize this one great problem he showed. Here it is for posterity:

Initial position:

click for larger view

White to play and mate with the c2 pawn without capturing any of the black pawns or allowing them to move.

Here is the solution:
1.Qd1 Kh8 2.Qa1 Kg8 3.Ng3 Kh8 4.Ng2 Kg8 5.Ne2 Kh8 6.Ne1 Kg8 7.Nc1 Kh8 8.Rf8+ Kg7 9.R6f7+ Kh6 10.Rh8+ Kg5 11.Bh4+ Kg4 12.Bf5+ Kf4 13.Ncd3+ Ke3 14.Qb2 Kd2 15.Kf2 Kd1 16.Kf3 Kd2 17.Ra7 Kd1 18.Ra6 Kd2 19.Bg4 Kd1 20.Kg2+ Kd2

click for larger view

21.c4+ Ke3 22.Qc1+ Ke4 23.Bf3+ Kf5 24.Qg5+ Ke6 25.Bg4+ Kf7 26.Bh5+ Ke6 27.Rh6+ Kd7 28.Qd8+ Kc6 29.c5

click for larger view

29...Kb7 30.Qa8+ Kc7 31.Bd8+ Kd7 32.c6#

click for larger view

Premium Chessgames Member
  parisattack: Very nice puzzle <Lighthorse>! Thanks for sharing.
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