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US Championship Tournament

Robert Byrne9/13(+5 -0 =8)[games]
Lubomir Kavalek9/13(+5 -0 =8)[games]
Samuel Reshevsky9/13(+7 -2 =4)[games]
Larry Evans8.5/13(+5 -1 =7)[games]
Pal Benko8/13(+3 -0 =10)[games]
Gregory S DeFotis7.5/13(+3 -1 =9)[games]
William Lombardy7.5/13(+5 -3 =5)[games]
Edmar Mednis7/13(+4 -3 =6)[games]
Arthur Bisguier6.5/13(+3 -3 =7)[games]
William Martz6.5/13(+3 -3 =7)[games]
Larry Kaufman5/13(+3 -6 =4)[games]
Arthur Feuerstein3/13(+1 -8 =4)[games]
Israel Albert Horowitz2.5/13(+2 -10 =1)[games]
Orest Popovych2/13(+0 -9 =4)[games]
* Chess Event Description
US Championship (1972)
1972 US Championship
New York, NY
April 23-May 14, 1972

The 1972 US Championship was attractive on two counts. With Fischer no longer playing in these events, everybody else had a better chance to win. More importantly this was a Zonal year, so the top two finishers would qualify for the Interzonals beginning in 1973. These fellows took advantage of the opportunity:

Pal Benko; Arthur Bisguier; Robert Eugene Byrne; Gregory S De Fotis; Larry Melvyn Evans; Arthur Feuerstein; Israel Albert Horowitz; Larry Kaufman; Lubomir Kavalek; William James Lombardy; William E Martz; Edmar J Mednis; Orest Popovych; Samuel Reshevsky

Featured were former champions in Reshevsky, Evans, and Bisguier, plus perpetual contenders Benko, Lombardy, and Robert Byrne who had always fallen just a bit short. There was also the usual mixture of also-rans and young contenders, plus a sentimental choice in Al Horowitz, a near-champion back in the 1930s and 1940s who was actually older than Reshevsky.

Finally, there was GM Lubomir Kavalek, recently arrived from Czechoslovakia and playing in his first US Championship.

Reshevsky took the early lead with 5.5/6, but a round 7 loss to Kavalek left them tied, a point ahead of Byrne, Kaufman, and Lombardy. Reshevsky went out in front again, but a round 9 loss to Byrne left them tied for second place a half-point behind Kavalek. Lombardy continued to shadow the leaders, while Kaufman sank without a trace after meeting Reshevsky, Kavalek and Byrne in successive rounds.

By the end of round 12 Byrne, Kavalek and Reshevsky sat at the top, a full point ahead of Benko, Evans, and Lombardy. Lombardy should have been only a half-point behind, but had thrown away a simple perpetual check against Evans in round 11 due to time pressure, which he later blamed on not being told his clock was running while he was away from the board.

The three leaders all had Black in the last round, and all drew with neither danger nor serious chances to win.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 Pts 1 Byrne * = 1 = = = = 1 = = 1 1 1 = 9.0 2 Kavalek = * 1 = = = = 1 = = 1 = 1 1 9.0 3 Reshevsky 0 0 * = = = 1 1 1 = 1 1 1 1 9.0 4 Evans = = = * = = 1 = 0 1 = 1 1 1 8.5 5 Benko = = = = * = = = = = 1 = 1 1 8.0 6 DeFotis = = = = = * = 0 1 = 1 = 1 = 7.5 7 Lombardy = = 0 0 = = * = 1 1 1 1 0 1 7.5 8 Mednis 0 0 0 = = 1 = * = 1 = 1 = 1 7.0 9 Bisguier = = 0 1 = 0 0 = * = = 1 1 = 6.5 10 Martz = = = 0 = = 0 0 = * = 1 1 1 6.5 11 Kaufman 0 0 0 = 0 0 0 = = = * 1 1 1 5.0 12 Feuerstein 0 = 0 0 = = 0 0 0 0 0 * 1 = 3.0 13 Horowitz 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 = 0 0 0 0 * 1 2.5 14 Popovych = 0 0 0 0 = 0 0 = 0 0 = 0 * 2.0

The playoff for the two Interzonal spots was held in early 1973. Kavalek was eliminated, sending Byrne to Leningrad Interzonal (1973) (from which he qualified for the Candidates) and Reshevsky to Petropolis Interzonal (1973) (where he gave Vladimir Savon the surprise of his life).


1st-3rd: Byrne, Kavalek, Reshevsky $1316.67 4th: Evans $ 650.00 5th: Benko $ 500.00 6th-7th: DeFotis, Lombardy $ 350.00 8th: Mednis $ 200.00 9th-10th: Bisguier, Martz $ 142.50 11th: Kaufman $ 115.00 12th: Feuerstein $ 100.00 13th: Horowitz $ 100.00 14th: Popovych $ 100.00

The US Championship (1973) followed the next year.

SOURCE: Title Chess: an account of the 1972 United States Chess Championship and Zonal Qualifier, by Burt Hochberg.

 page 1 of 4; games 1-25 of 91  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. I A Horowitz vs Kavalek 0-1241972US ChampionshipB92 Sicilian, Najdorf, Opocensky Variation
2. A Feuerstein vs Evans 0-1331972US ChampionshipA49 King's Indian, Fianchetto without c4
3. Popovych vs Lombardy  0-1521972US ChampionshipB46 Sicilian, Taimanov Variation
4. Reshevsky vs Bisguier 1-0401972US ChampionshipA06 Reti Opening
5. Kaufman vs W Martz  ½-½271972US ChampionshipB36 Sicilian, Accelerated Fianchetto
6. R Byrne vs Mednis  1-0601972US ChampionshipB68 Sicilian, Richter-Rauzer Attack, 7...a6 Defense, 9...Be7
7. Benko vs G S DeFotis ½-½181972US ChampionshipA57 Benko Gambit
8. Evans vs Reshevsky ½-½241972US ChampionshipE81 King's Indian, Samisch
9. W Martz vs R Byrne  ½-½271972US ChampionshipE77 King's Indian
10. Kavalek vs G S DeFotis  ½-½271972US ChampionshipA10 English
11. Mednis vs Benko  ½-½291972US ChampionshipB81 Sicilian, Scheveningen, Keres Attack
12. Bisguier vs Kaufman  ½-½211972US ChampionshipD92 Grunfeld, 5.Bf4
13. I A Horowitz vs Popovych  1-0371972US ChampionshipB92 Sicilian, Najdorf, Opocensky Variation
14. Lombardy vs A Feuerstein  1-0361972US ChampionshipB90 Sicilian, Najdorf
15. A Feuerstein vs I A Horowitz 1-0251972US ChampionshipD36 Queen's Gambit Declined, Exchange, Positional line, 6.Qc2
16. Popovych vs Kavalek  0-1401972US ChampionshipB43 Sicilian, Kan, 5.Nc3
17. Kaufman vs Evans  ½-½561972US ChampionshipA30 English, Symmetrical
18. R Byrne vs Bisguier  ½-½271972US ChampionshipC42 Petrov Defense
19. Benko vs W Martz  ½-½171972US ChampionshipB02 Alekhine's Defense
20. G S DeFotis vs Mednis  0-1421972US ChampionshipA00 Uncommon Opening
21. I A Horowitz vs Reshevsky 0-1351972US ChampionshipB58 Sicilian
22. Bisguier vs Benko  ½-½161972US ChampionshipB50 Sicilian
23. Kavalek vs Mednis 1-0391972US ChampionshipB09 Pirc, Austrian Attack
24. Lombardy vs Kaufman  1-0451972US ChampionshipA07 King's Indian Attack
25. Popovych vs A Feuerstein  ½-½241972US ChampionshipB43 Sicilian, Kan, 5.Nc3
 page 1 of 4; games 1-25 of 91  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2)  

Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 2 OF 2 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Feb-07-18  Petrosianic: <Just use your fingers. It's real easy, at least until you get to number ten.>

You stopped reading after the first sentence, didn't you? How embarrassing for you. Had you continued, you'd have seen that the question was about methodology rather than arithmetic. Didn't you even <wonder> what all those other words were?

Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: <You stopped reading after the first sentence, didn't you?>

Just your posts.

Feb-07-18  Petrosianic: Well, that's why you make silly mistakes. Generally, if you realize you've done something stupid, it's better to delete the post and pretend it never existed. Then my post will seem to reply to nothing. Too late now.
Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: <Well, that's why you make silly mistakes.>

Clearly this post is mistaken. I never make mistakes.

Feb-07-18  Petrosianic: I just proved that you did and you conceded my point without dispute. Remember? I pointed out that what you mistakenly thought was a question about how to count to 10 was actually a question about what should and shouldn't be counted. You conceded that you'd made a mistake without disputing it. You even explained why you made the mistake (not reading past the first sentence).

But what I want to know is are you trolling this discussion because you don't like the 1972 Championship? Or are you just embarrassed that you have nothing to contribute and don't want anyone else discussing it either? I'll take the absence of a clear answer to mean the latter.

Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: <I just proved that you did and you conceded my point without dispute.>

This sentence makes no sense.

Feb-07-18  Petrosianic: That's your tough luck. You admitted you were wrong. You also admitted you were trolling out of embarrassment at having nothing to contribute (I told you that's how I'd interpret a meaningless answer.) I'll feel free to describe you as a self-confessed troll in future and use this thread as evidence.

I hope that's the outcome you wanted.

Feb-07-18  Petrosianic: Anyway, so Howard's answer won't get lost in the trolling, here it is again:

It's tricky the way they count championships. For example, did Fischer "win" the US Title 8 times? Or did he win it twice and defend it 6 times? All sources say he won it 8 times.

With a tournament championship, they tend to count each victorious event as winning the title one time. With matches it's the opposite. "Winning" a title means defeating a defending a champion, and defending the title is something separate.

The US Championship has been a tournament championship since 1936. Even though it's been defended in a match 3 times, it's still a tournament championship and counted that way. For years Larry Evan's column called him a 5-time US Champion, which meant 4 tournament wins and one match.

Recently there's been a trend to mistakenly count match championships the same way as tournament ones. You can see several people (including Susan Polgar) claim that Karpov is a 7 time world champion. They reach that number by counting defenses as wins and by counting the FIDE Championship as the World Championship. Not so. Karpov is a 1-time champion, 1975-1985.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Fusilli: <Karpov is a 1-time champion, 1975-1985.>

I don't know if referring to the number of "times" someone was world champion is fair. In your approach, Botvinnik was a 3-time champion but Kasparov a 1-time champion. Yet Kasparov reigned longer than Botvinnik (15 v 13 years total).

I think that speaking of "times" is fair when the event is steadily held at fixed time intervals, e.g. the soccer world cup. But for something held irregularly, it distorts what is trying to communicate.

I'd argue that my point is the generally accepted view, as shown by the fact that we refer to champions as the Nth champion, prioritizing the first victory. So, Alekhine is the 4th champion, not the "4th and 6th" champion. The 6th is Botvinnik (again, not "the 6th, 8th, and 10th").

In the case of the world championship, I think it makes more sense to refer to the number of years someone was world champion. That is the number of years that person was acknowledged as the best player in the world, regardless of the number of opportunities that arose to challenge him.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Fusilli: Trivia: Last year was bad news for this championship's contender group, btw. Three of them died in 2017, shifting the tournament from one where most contenders were still alive to one where most are gone.
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <Fusilli>, two of the three you mention are easy: Bisguier and Lombardy. Who was the third to pass on last year?
Feb-07-18  Petrosianic: <I don't know if referring to the number of "times" someone was world champion is fair. In your approach, Botvinnik was a 3-time champion but Kasparov a 1-time champion. Yet Kasparov reigned longer than Botvinnik (15 v 13 years total).>

It's not my approach, it's the way chess books and magazines always used to count such things. If you read one, it'll be confusing if you don't realize that that's what they mean. Maybe that's changing.

<I think that speaking of "times" is fair when the event is steadily held at fixed time intervals, e.g. the soccer world cup. But for something held irregularly, it distorts what is trying to communicate.>

Yes, and with chess even the irregularity is irregular. The US Championship was at first held every two years. Then for a while it was every three years. Then for a long time it was every year. Then after the 1969 tournament there was a 3 year gap again. Since then it's been pretty much every year except when they don't feel like it.

<In the case of the world championship, I think it makes more sense to refer to the number of years someone was world champion.>

Yeah, and that's one more reason I didn't like the rematch clause. Regardless of how many times he defends the title, the World Champion is the one that everyone looks up to and tries to emulate. The World Champion has a certain ability to mold chess and influence what's hot and what's not. (Remember how everyone started trying to play the Najdorf after Fischer won). A guy who wins the title and loses it a year later hasn't really had much chance to do this. And the champion defending his title in the middle doesn't really break his reign into two parts.

The FIDE Title skews things even further. You sometimes hear people bragging that Anand won the title in "all three formats" (as though all three were part of the norm. That's like saying Botvinnik deserves MORE credit for winning a tournament than if he'd beaten Alekhine. (!?) The Undisputed World Championship has never been decided in a knockout, and even if it were, it would be no achievement for Anand to win an event that the others had no chance to win.

Feb-07-18  Petrosianic: <Who was the third to pass on last year?>

De Fotis.

Feb-07-18  Petrosianic: De Fotis' result is one of the most unusual in US Championship history. I've never understood how such a low rated player, who only played in one tournament, could enter a tournament, play 13 games against such strong opposition, and only lose one.

If I played the games over, I might know.

Feb-07-18  Nerwal: De Fotis' fide rating at the time was 2425, 235th in the world. Of the players he finished ahead, only Lombardy, Bisguier and Mednis were rated higher than him.
Feb-07-18  Petrosianic: I didn't know that. But then why did he never play in another championship? Did his rating fall, or did he turn down invites, or what? His bio doesn't mention it, I think he might have been a Bridge Master or something, and more involved in that than in chess.
Feb-08-18  RookFile:

<According to sources, Mr. DeFotis walked away from competitive chess in the early 1990's as a FIDE Master due to the lack of significant prize funds in chess -- and perhaps out of frustration that midwest GM-norm events were scarce.

Mr. DeFotis was also a world-class backgammon player and superior contract bridge enthusiast -- and excelled at other games as well. According to Marshall, DeFotis was a member of a five-man team that won the 1979 Grand National Team Championship of the American Contract Bridge League.>

Feb-09-18  Howard: Greg Defotis died?! Didn't know that at all! Still vaguely remember his name from the 70's, not to mention from Soltis' books on the history of the US Championship.
Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: <Petrosianic> DeFotis gave up chess for backgammon and/or bridge, figuring (correctly) that he could actually make some money playing those games.
May-08-19  Caissanist: <Petrosianic> The quality of De Fotis's play in this tournament was very impressive, more so than his score would indicate. As so often happens, his youth seems to have given opportunities for older, less muscular players to lead him astray, so he wound up getting swindled in winning positions by Popovych and Feuerstein, and taking a draw in another winning position against Reshevsky.
Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: Kaufman, Feuerstein, and Popovych are the only players from this tournament who are still with us.
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: While Feuerstein is the only player named still alive of those players here whom I faced at the board, back in the day (Mednis, Bisguier, Benko and Lombardy being the others).
Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: <perfidious> Did you win or draw against any of them?
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <FSR>, believe I drew a game with Bisguier in a simul in 1974 or 1975; went 0-4 in serious games. Drew with Feuerstein in our only encounter after making the last twenty moves with one minute left on the clock. Benko smashed me in a KID, using the Makogonov, the day after Susan Polgar whacked me in the same variation. Blundered in a level ending and lost to Lombardy in a game which began with the unusual move order 1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6; never really cared to play into the main line with 2....Nf6.
Nov-27-21  Helios727: It does not seem right that America was reduced to two players in the interzonals and yet at the same time the 24-player interzonal was expanded to 36 players in two interzonals.
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