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Shelby Lyman
Number of games in database: 23
Years covered: 1954 to 1979
Last FIDE rating: 2260
Overall record: +13 -8 =2 (60.9%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games.

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Most played openings
B01 Scandinavian (2 games)
C45 Scotch Game (2 games)
E38 Nimzo-Indian, Classical, 4...c5 (2 games)
C30 King's Gambit Declined (2 games)

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FIDE player card for Shelby Lyman

(born Oct-22-1936, died Aug-11-2019, 82 years old) United States of America

[what is this?]

His daily (6 times/week) puzzle was a regular feature to a Canadian newspaper, the National Post, as well as the Boston Globe, Miami Herald, St. Petersburg Times West Palm Beach, Tallahassee Democrat, Sarasota Herald Tribune, Houston Chronicle, Boston Democrat, Boston Globe and San Francisco Chronicle, among others. He became famous for his television coverage of the games of the Spassky - Fischer World Championship Match (1972). His uncle was Harry Lyman.

Wikipedia article: Shelby Lyman

Last updated: 2021-04-05 06:00:50

 page 1 of 1; 23 games  PGN Download 
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. S Lyman vs H Gross  1-02919542nd Pan-American Chess CongressC30 King's Gambit Declined
2. Evans vs S Lyman  1-03619542nd Pan-American Chess CongressE29 Nimzo-Indian, Samisch
3. J Moskowitz vs S Lyman  0-12719542nd Pan-American Chess CongressC63 Ruy Lopez, Schliemann Defense
4. H Gordon vs S Lyman  0-13719542nd Pan-American Chess CongressA48 King's Indian
5. H Ohman vs S Lyman  0-125196061st US OpenA02 Bird's Opening
6. S Lyman vs W M Byland  1-036196061st US OpenB18 Caro-Kann, Classical
7. S Lyman vs J A Curdo 0-1201961Rhode Island opC30 King's Gambit Declined
8. S Lyman vs J Sherwin 1-0191962New YorkC34 King's Gambit Accepted
9. H L Marks vs S Lyman  0-147196263rd US OpenB08 Pirc, Classical
10. S Lyman vs Lombardy  0-121196263rd US OpenB97 Sicilian, Najdorf
11. M Burkett vs S Lyman  0-125196263rd US OpenC56 Two Knights
12. A Medina Garcia vs S Lyman 1-022196263rd US OpenC45 Scotch Game
13. E Marchand vs S Lyman  ½-½41196263rd US OpenA15 English
14. S Lyman vs E McCormick 1-027196263rd US OpenB01 Scandinavian
15. S Lyman vs R Byrne  0-156196263rd US Open000 Chess variants
16. John B Payne vs S Lyman  1-038196263rd US OpenC68 Ruy Lopez, Exchange
17. S Lyman vs B Greenwald 1-0131964Marshall CC chB01 Scandinavian
18. S Lyman vs W Suesman  ½-½44196465th US OpenC45 Scotch Game
19. M Colon Romero vs S Lyman  1-037196465th US OpenE38 Nimzo-Indian, Classical, 4...c5
20. J F Donovan vs S Lyman  0-136196465th US OpenE38 Nimzo-Indian, Classical, 4...c5
21. A Mengarini vs S Lyman  0-134196465th US OpenC84 Ruy Lopez, Closed
22. S Lyman vs J Meyer  0-123196465th US OpenB98 Sicilian, Najdorf
23. S Lyman vs K Burger 1-0311979USAB96 Sicilian, Najdorf
 page 1 of 1; 23 games  PGN Download 
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2) | Lyman wins | Lyman loses  

Kibitzer's Corner
Jul-20-07  Caissanist: Buried in the classified ads section of the San Francisco Chronicle is a daily chess column written by Lyman (the country's only daily chess column, so far as I know). Each column includes a puzzle, generally about as hard as a Monday or Tuesday Chessgames puzzle.
Jul-20-07  collodi: The chess puzzle, without the column, also runs daily in the Boston Globe. Remember the days when Lyman moderated the world chess championships of the 70's + 80's live on national television? Will we ever see such coverage in the USA again?
Jul-21-07  Jim Bartle: I remember. It was so low-tech, with a single demo board on the wall, and they waited for moves to come in via telex, but it still was great due to the enthusiasm of the hosts.
Jul-21-07  RookFile: Those were awesome. I loved watching the Karpov vs. Kasparov wars, for example.

Sadly, the other day, I read that a computer had solved checkers. I give chess about 30 years, and then a computer will be able to play perfect chess from move 1.

Feb-12-08  randallbsmith: As to Lyman -- I too try to do his puzzle in the SF Chronicle ... anyone know if he maintains a web page (or at least an e-mail address)? Informal googling lead me nowhere ... It would be fun if there was a comment feature like we have here at for Lyman's puzzles.
Feb-23-08  Jedzz: I couldn't find anywhere to get in touch with Lyman regarding his chess column, so I guess I should post this here.

Yesterday's chess puzzle was the following:

"Black has a crusher. Hint: Target a key defender"

click for larger view

The given answer is "1 ... Ra1! (threatening Rxf1 mate as well as ... Nxf2 mate)." But, of course, white can simply move the g or h pawn to escape, black wins the rook, and the game continues.

Why did Lyman miss the actual forced mate in three here? 1 ... Nxf2+ 2 Rxf2 Ra1+ 3 Rf1 Rxf1# This irked me.

Apr-09-08  genacgenacgenac: Good call! Never caught Lyman in a "lie" before.
Apr-09-08  neveramaster: I remember during Karpov-Korchnoi 78, all the panelists were sure Korchnoi had a won game, and Shelby says "we don't have Karpov's next move, Karpov resigned". Then in the background, it is stated that Korchnoi resigned. Shelby looks embarrassed, but he quickly figures out the mating net that Karpov had spun.
Apr-09-08  Granny O Doul: <neveramaster> Shelby always had trouble figuring out those RNN attacks.
Apr-25-08  Tessie Tura: In today’s SF Chronicle, Lyman wrote a nice little reminiscence about playing skittles at the Boylston Chess Club in the Fifties. Here’s an excerpt:

“ There were no timers or chess clocks in view for casual, everyday use. One trusted the opponent to play at a reasonable speed without them. If a club member faulted in that regard, he was avoided as a future opponent. Or if really annoyed, a prolonged exit by his aggrieved partner to the men’s room was a suitable punishment. One could also resign in an obviously overwhelming position. Only the most obtuse would enjoy such a victory.”

Nov-07-08  hotalot: Check out today's (Nov 7) Shelby Lyman column. Bd4! (???) is simply followed by QxB
Jan-17-09  nullmuse: I have just discovered that Shelby Lyman's "On Chess" column runs each Saturday in The Columbus Dispatch. This is the third week I've been looking forward to reading it.

I also cannot find anyway to contact him directly. Most columnists now publish an e-mail address in their byline for feedback.

In the first column of his I read, I noticed he had failed to catch an easy and obvious escape for the king that allowed black to create a stalemate instead of white forcing a checkmate.

In TODAY'S "Beginner's Corner" puzzle ("First title match, from 19th century, far from glitzy" 17Jan2009) the "Beginner's Corner" puzzle is "White moves, white forces checkmate"--there's no white king in the diagram!

Logically, White King would be on G1, but lacking the King altogether definitely influences how one would solve the puzzle!

Jan-22-09  edjsch: I've been reading Shelby's column for maybe 30 years (it must have started shortly after he hosted the Fischer - Spassky match on PBS), and I don't reacall any errors on his puzzle. (Usually it's I who missed something!). But, you are correct, last week's puzzle indeed was missing the white king! Must have been a "typo" in the graphic. I emailed my local paper, Newsday, but they did not reply. Apparently Mr. Lyman doesn't do email! (Anyone have an email address for him?)

In this weeks column (1/20/2009) it looks like there's another error to "Black mates in 2". Correct me if I'm wrong, but Black can mate in 1. There's no need for the Rook to take the Knight on E1 before the Queen moves to D3. The Queen can simply move to D3 on the first move because the Knight is pinned and cannot take the Queen. Did I miss something?

May-30-10  geezer2: National Post (Canada) has problem May 29 2010: Black is to play but does not check or begin a mating sequence. (Lyman's hint is "Win at least a pawn"). His solution assumes a defensive King response whereas a rook check is available. I'd post the position but I don't know how.
May-30-10  geezer2:

click for larger view

Not so hard!

Shelby's solution is Nd3

Premium Chessgames Member
  chancho: <Training by itself can't trump genius Saturday, January 8, 2011 02:50 AM

The Columbus Dispatch

What are we to think of the strikingly anti-elitist 1926 declaration by Emanuel Lasker, who reigned as world chess champion for almost 27 years?

"Take any boy," he said, "any boy fairly intelligent and fairly healthy, and you can make a chess prodigy of him - or any other sort of prodigy."

In more recent years, a similar point of view was expounded by Hungarian pedagogue Laszlo Polgar: Let children follow their natural interests, he said, and their possibilities are unlimited.

An astonishing result is the achievement of his three daughters, the chess-playing Polgar sisters: Judit, for years ranked among the top 10 in the world; Susan, a former women's world champion; and Sofia, an International Master.

My view is that Lasker and Polgar describe an essential of achievement but fail to encompass the sometimes critical role of DNA or genius.

I can think of several children whom I've observed who immediately towered among their peers. Their innate grasp of the game was astonishing.

The inimitable precociousness of Paul Morphy, Jose Capablanca and Samuel Reshevsky, among others, reminds us that genius - though rare - is a real phenomenon.>

Jul-01-12  wordfunph: "Everything went wrong, I think we called 86-year-old Ed Lasker on the phone. And it turned out he was deaf."

- Shelby Lyman (on the live coverage of the Fischer-Spassky World Championship Match)

Source: Chess Life 2012 July

Premium Chessgames Member
  Benzol: The following game was apparently played in the New England Open in 1963.

[Event "New England Open"]
[Site "USA"]
[Date "1963.??.??"]
[EventDate "?"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Lombardy, William James"]
[Black "Lyman, Shelbourne"]
[ECO "C93"]
[WhiteElo "?"]
[BlackElo "?"]
[PlyCount "59"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 d6 8. c3 O-O 9. h3 h6 10. d4 Re8 11. Be3 exd4 12. cxd4 Na5 13. Bc2 Nc4 14. Bc1 c5 15. b3 Nb6 16. Nbd2 Bb7 17. d5 Nfd7 18. Nf1 Bf6 19. Rb1 Ne5 20. N3h2 c4 21. Ng3 Rc8 22. Nf5 Kh7 23. Be3 Nd3 24. Bxd3 cxd3 25. Qxd3 Rc3 26. Qd2 Rxe4 27. Bxb6 Rxe1+ 28. Rxe1 Qxb6 29. Ng4 Qd8 30. Re8 1-0

Bill Lombardy won this event and this was Shelby Lyman's only loss.

Dec-03-14  zanzibar: I'm surprised there are so few of his games on <CG>.

I'll be adding 3 more of his from <2nd Pan-American, Hollywood (1954)> soon.

Aug-15-19  andrewjsacks: A fond farewell to a great guy, good player, and entertaining chess writer. RIP.
Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: Chess Life, May 1964, p.122:

<Shelby Lyman became champion of the famous Marshall Chess Club in New York City by scoring 9 1/2 - 1 1/2 in a strong field that included five masters and two senior masters. Lyman's sole defeat was at the hands of International Master Raymond Weinstein and he yielded a draw to David Hall. He defeated, among others, International Master James Sherwin and masters Asa Hoffmann, Louis Levy, Dr. Orest Popovych and Paul Robey.>

Sherwin finished 2nd, with Hoffmann, Levy and Weinstein tied for 3rd.

May-07-21  login:

'Shelby Lyman, 82, Dies ..'

'.. So many people called to praise the broadcast, Mr. Lyman told The New York Times in 2008, that “we pre-empted 'Sesame Street,' and we became a five-hour, move-by-move show.”


Shelbourne Richard Lyman, who preferred to go by Shelby, was born .. to Rachel and Louis Lyman in Brooklyn Jewish Hospital, where his father was an intern. He grew up in the Dorchester section of Boston and went to Boston Latin School and then Harvard University, graduating in 1961 with a degree in social relations that covered psychology, anthropology and sociology. ..'

from The New York Times by Dylan McClain


'Top Comments: the Shelby Lyman edition'

'.. One regular guest was Bruce Pandolfini .. member of the Manhattan Chess Club in NYC - who was also a fledgling poet and stockboy at the Strand Bookstore in Greenwich Village (making $3/hour).

His time on the show raised his exposure and said the best advice Shelby Lyman ever gave him: was to go into chess teaching (with Lyman telling him to take over some of his students, due to a lack of time). After the series, he was soon earning $15/hour and today is estimated to have given over 25,000 private or group lessons (possibly among the world’s highest totals). ..'

from Daily Kos by Ed Tracey

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