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Peter Winston
Number of games in database: 12
Years covered: 1972 to 1977
Last FIDE rating: 2220
Overall record: +3 -8 =1 (29.2%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games.

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FIDE player card for Peter Winston

(born Mar-18-1958, 65 years old) United States of America

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Peter Jonathan Winston was born in New York City in 1958. In 1967, he scored 12-0 in the New York Elementary School Championship. He won the event again in 1968. In 1969, as an 11-year-old, he tied for first place in the Open section of the New York High School Championship. That same year, he won the New York Junior High School Championship. He tied for first place with Larry Christiansen at the 1974 US Junior Championship. He disappeared in mysterious circumstances in January 1978.

Wikipedia article: Peter Winston

 page 1 of 1; 12 games  PGN Download 
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. P Winston vs Browne 1-0371972Atlantic OpenA67 Benoni, Taimanov Variation
2. P Winston vs L Gilden 0-134197273rd US OpenB23 Sicilian, Closed
3. P Winston vs A Karklins 0-135197273rd US OpenC69 Ruy Lopez, Exchange, Gligoric Variation
4. R Shean vs P Winston  1-033197273rd US OpenB21 Sicilian, 2.f4 and 2.d4
5. P Winston vs Miles ½-½301974Wch U20B08 Pirc, Classical
6. P Winston vs J Sunye Neto 1-0461974Wch U20B97 Sicilian, Najdorf
7. P Winston vs R Dieks  0-1281974Wch U20B96 Sicilian, Najdorf
8. P Winston vs Miles  0-1371974Wch U20B78 Sicilian, Dragon, Yugoslav Attack, 10.castle long
9. P Winston vs L Schneider 0-1371974Wch U20B58 Sicilian
10. S Giardelli vs P Winston 0-1461974Wch U20A29 English, Four Knights, Kingside Fianchetto
11. S Bernstein vs P Winston  1-0371975Hylan House Class TourneyA37 English, Symmetrical
12. C Van Tilbury vs P Winston 1-0241977Continental OpenE30 Nimzo-Indian, Leningrad
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2) | Winston wins | Winston loses  

Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 2 OF 2 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Sep-13-07  Strongest Force: <monopole2313> The book came out but only in a very limited amount.
Sep-13-07  Strongest Force: Now that i think of it, i remember visiting Random House on some personal matters and in the main reception area Peter's book was displayed nicely amongst other new books. I recall how proud i felt and i was thinking that Peter would have a great future... little did i know...
Sep-13-07  peterh105: In reply to one of the posters above, I don't think it disrespects his memory to try and get to the truth about what happened to him. A mystery is a mystery, and people will speculate since nobody has the facts. If you're old enough to remember those days you know there were a lot of drugs going around and there was nothing abnormal about indulging. Some people got into difficulties as a result, but that doesn't mean they were bad people. Nor is it clear what role, if any, drugs played in Peter Winston's case, since what people have posted is somewhat contradictory. As a Queens boy, I wonder where he went to high school.
Sep-14-07  Maynard5: In response to peterh105. My earlier statement that a particular post had denigrated the memory of a fine player were in reference to an incredibly tasteless comment that has since been deleted. This comment really was defamatory. The webmaster agreed that the comment violated the policies of this website, and removed it.
Premium Chessgames Member
  playground player: Chess masters as a group are still saner than young female entertainers.
Oct-04-07  Maynard5: Last month, there was an article in Chess Life about the disappearance and apparent death of Peter J. Winston. Authored by his friend and fellow chess player Charles Hertan, it provides new evidence on the case. There are links to the article in several posts above.

The new article demonstrates that an earlier report, which may still be on the internet, gave incorrect information. Among other things, it stated that Peter Winston had disappeared in late 1977, following some poor tournament results. According to the new article, Winston’s disappearance occurred on or about 26 January 1978. This would have been several months after the tournament, indicating that the two events were unrelated. The earlier report also claimed, again incorrectly, that Peter Winston was in rehabilitation for use of hard drugs. The new article makes it clear that this was not the case. The earlier report also theorized that Winston could have committed suicide, without providing any evidence that this was the case. The new article reports that Winston was not suicidal.

The new article does not provide definitive evidence as to the cause of Peter Winston’s disappearance, but suggests that it was more likely to have been the result of an accident. According to the article, and some posts on the Chess Ninja website, Winston had left his home without money, identification or luggage. In late January 1978, a severe winter storm hit the East Coast, and there were any number of fatalities due to accidents. If Winston had been in one of these accidents, but was not carrying identification at the time, he might not have been identified, leaving his disappearance a mystery.

Mar-18-08  brankat: A very talented young player was Peter Winston. A tragic twist of fate took him away from us way too early.
Mar-18-08  Strongest Force: The upper-west-side where Pete grew up seemed to be a unhealthy fast paced place where kids tried to live like adults before they were ready. I am not 100% sure but i believe Pete was like many kids in that area: from good homes, whose parents couldn't control them and they came & went as they pleased: doing whatever they wanted & whenever they wanted to do it.

As i reflect back, Winston seemed to be like he was not in control of himself, during his last two years. Like something had taken control of him and he couldn't fight whatever it was that was not only destroying his master-level playing ability but was destroying him as a person as well. During his last two tournaments he would often approach me and be amazed at how badly he was playing. It put him in a very sad somber mood and he seemed to be perplexed as to why he couldn't play good chess any more. I did not hear any rumors about drugs at the time and i thought it was just a phase he was going through and that eventually he would once again be the same-old guy he use to be.

Mar-05-09  Maynard5: The recent, untimely death of Mark Diesen at 51 closes another chapter in the saga of Peter Winston.

Late June 1974, Philadelphia: Eight young masters battled it out in the U.S. Junior Championship. It was one of the strongest fields to play up to this time. The competition was widely expected to be for second place, since at that point Larry Christiansen was nearly in a class by himself. But Peter Winston, a 16-year old prodigy from New York, kept the pace, and scored 5.5-1.5, sharing first place with Larry.

His accomplishment was all the more creditable because of the strength of the field, and the ferocity of the competition. The article on the tournament, published in Chess Life in September 1974, remarked on the fighting abilities of the players and the unusually small number of draws.

Mark Diesen, also 16 and already rated over 2300, should probably have placed third. He held Larry to a draw early on. But he went wrong against Jon Frankle – both players were in serious time pressure – and had to content himself with fourth place, while Jon took third.

The following year, however, Mark went on to place second (after Larry Christiansen), and in 1976, he shared first place. Unfortunately, Peter was unable to repeat his earlier triumph, and did poorly. It was clear that something had gone wrong in his personal life, which interfered with his skill at the game.

Of the players who finished first through fourth in 1974:

Larry Christiansen: International Grandmaster, three-time U.S. champion.

Peter Winston: missing and presumed dead, January 1978.

Jon Frankle: PhD at Berkely, and now a software engineer in Silicon Valley.

Mark Diesen: World Junior champion in 1976, and an IM. He went on to a successful second career in chemical engineering, and continued to follow chess, although he was no longer competing professionally.

Premium Chessgames Member
  GrahamClayton: Some more discussion of Winston's disappearance:

Mar-19-11  pjl1015:
Mar-19-11  Jim Bartle: That New Yorker story is extremely well written. But that's a pretty brutal comment at the end:

"I’ve come to think that chess reinforced several of the worst and most dangerous traits of the adolescent—or, in particular, the adolescent-intellectual—character. Chess is a closed and perfect world with a clearly-defined and finite set of rules—the opposite of life, and, for those who become devoted to it, a substitute for life, for exactly that reason. Playing chess in any serious manner is the best way for a young person to avoid facing the sort of complex interpersonal experience that is the most essential kind of learning that’s needed to help a person make his way in the world. I think of the time I spent on chess as worse than a distraction or a waste—a pathological delusion."

Mar-19-11  BobCrisp: No, it is not extremely well written; it's not even well-written. In my opinion, it's junk. So there.
Mar-19-11  Shams: <Playing chess in any serious manner is the best way for a young person to avoid facing the sort of complex interpersonal experience that is the most essential kind of learning that’s needed to help a person make his way in the world.>

Obviously console gaming is well outside of this churl's purview.

Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: "I think of the time I spent on chess as worse than a distraction or a waste—a pathological delusion."

You could substitute "religion" for "chess" and get a truer statement (of many people, not necessarily the author), IMO. "Astrology" and various other nonsense also works.

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: It's obvious, both by his own admission, and by the naivete he displays, that the author of that piece on Winston never got far enough in chess to understand that not everything is so clear-cut as he makes it out to be.
Mar-13-12  esundel: i remember when i heard about peters disappearance, it was one of the strangest stories in chess. i would be interested to communicate with any other people who might have known him. perhaps <Strongest Force> or <<RiverBeast>>
Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: The Mysterious Disappearance of Peter Winston:
Premium Chessgames Member
  SteinitzLives: A tragic story without any satisfying theories as to what specifically may have happened to young Winston. I know this much: gambling may be fun, but it is often dangerous on many levels.

Combine that with his youthful inexperience with life, need for or possible dependence on medication for his mental stability, and as mentioned in the article, a lack of physical coordination, perhaps therein lies the recipe for his disappearance and quite possibly his death.

If I had a friend that was mentally ill, and into gambling, I doubt I would let him wander off into the night at a race track in NY. However in Hertan's defense, if Winston was a faster runner than he was, and just took off . . . . . well, what could he do?

Winston won't be the first or last young (or older) chess player (mentally healthy or ill) to think he can gamble and thrive in that exciting, adrenaline rush environment, and meet with a sad end.

This should be a cautionary tale for many.

Premium Chessgames Member
  OhioChessFan: I have to agree with <BobCrisp> that the New Yorker article is trash. Reading a run on sentence like this makes my eyes bleed:

<I jokingly describe myself as a “recovering chess player,” and the joke conceals the truth: I spent much too much time on the game, especially as a teen-ager; though I played in tournaments and, at my patzer level, did well in them, I’ve come to think that chess reinforced several of the worst and most dangerous traits of the adolescent—or, in particular, the adolescent-intellectual—character>

I have wondered in general if DNA testing would solve some of the missing persons cases but it doesn't seem to happen often.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Fusilli: <OhioChessFan: I have to agree with <BobCrisp> that the New Yorker article is trash.>

That piece is too short to qualify as an article. It's just a little comment on this real piece:

<The New Yorker> has a reputation for good writing, and I think the reputation is deserving, though I found exceptions. When you publish a magazine that comes with just five articles on very different subjects, your only chance is to make them really, really good. They should catch the reader's attention and sustain it, even if they are on topics the reader never thinks about. The New Yorker eventually failed to do that for me, so I let my subscription expire (I was subscribed for years). Too many articles written at a stylistically and formally fine level, but uninteresting and non-engaging.

Jun-10-17  Howard: It seemed a bit strange that Chess Life & Review never even mentioned Winston's strange disappearance (and apparent death). I have the back issues from then, and nothing was ever said.
Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: Re. This blog piece on Winston, although later updated, doesn't inspire confidence.

Is there any truth to the claim that <Arpad Elo, the FIDE Ratings Administrator, felt that it was statistically virtually impossible for a rated chess master to lose all of his games and therefore the games must have been thrown. Elo therefore refused to rate the entire tournament, thereby depriving many young players of their new FIDE ratings.>?

<<U.S> Master and TD, Bill Goichberg, wrote of Winslow’s last event...>

When and where?

Dec-12-20  PhilFeeley: I wrote this review of a book on the Carlsen-Karjakin match that has a whole chapter about Winston:

<It's hard to decide whether the book "The Grandmaster: Magnus Carlen and the Match That Made Chess Great Again" is good or just hopeless. The blurbs on the back are all from non-chess players and all equally praising its merits.

But this is a book by a non-chess player who writes about his own encounter with chess as a youngster, then abandoned for other pursuits. During the course of covering the games of the Carlsen-Karjakin World Championship match for a book, he drags up the usual suspects of deviancy or proof of chess's inability to capture the general public's mindset because of its elite mentality. No one understands it beyond those who play it and they are clearly deviant.

As evidence, he drags out the usual suspects: Morphy, who runs his law practice into the ground by alienating his clients with obsessive rants about chess; Steinitz, who was institutionalized in a Moscow sanitorium bragging about playing chess with God; Minckwitz, who threw himself under a train; Rubinstein, who suffered from pathological shyness and paranoia, Bloodgood the murderer, Fischer, Josh Waitzkin and Peter Winston.

Who was that last one? you might ask, as the chess community is good at forgetting its failures in pursuit of its next champion. The author spends a whole chapter on this guy, basically describing a player's descent into paranoia that looks a lot like Fischer's. Winston was a young promising player at the time of Fischer who just disappeared one night during a huge snowstorm in the New York area. To this day they've never recovered his body or discovered if he just went into hiding. The chess community has little about it, even here.

The author interviews Frank Brady about Winston (and Fischer, btw), and Richard Brody, a childhood friend of Winston, who remembers him fondly, and tries to interview Winston's sister, who tells him that, even after 40 years, "she still wasn't sure if she was ready to talk about Peter."

The book is full of characters like this, full of mental defects, kooks and people you'd never want your children around, making me wonder which book the blurbers read. His musing "How it's those closest to greatness...who must sacrifice everything so that champions can abandon nearly all the ordinary responsibilities of life" sums up the whole book, yet he, as a writer, never reflects that this is exactly how James Joyce treated his own brother.

One of the few bright spot in the book is his interview with Judit Polgar, there to comment on the match for the chess community. Polgar debunks his whole thesis that chess somehow makes youngsters deviant and creates warped adults. On his comment about Fischer that the ultimate pleasure in chess is "crushing your opponent's ego," she says, "That was Bobby's attitude...I don't think most players share that view."

And he never acknowledges that with 600 MILLION+ adherents to this pursuit, you're bound to find a few weirdos. It would probably happen in any activity, and indeed does. Think of outrageous boxers' comments, or artists or politicians. There's no end of crazy people everywhere. It doesn't mean there's something wrong with everyone else involved.

In the end I don't see how this book proves that this match "made chess great again." It just seems to re-emphasize (even over-emphasize) the whole divide between those who play chess and those who don't.>

Dec-09-21  login:

'.. The State of New York has over 30,000 unidentified bodies buried within the state. If Peter were still alive, he would be sixty-three years old this year. ..'


from True Crime Mysteries by Megan Ashley, 2021



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