THE CALIFORNIA CHESS REPORTER (Vol. XXIV No. 6) May-June 1975
THE PRIZEWINNERS AT LONE PINE
The $12,500 prize fund went as follows: Ist- Liberzon $4,000, 2nd- Evans $2,500, 3rd through eighth-$650 each, and ninth through thirteenth-$120 each. In addition there were daily best-game prizes of $50 each, and three grand prizes for best games amounting to a total of $1,000. These grand prizes were awarded to four players: Alla Kushnir, the only lady contestant ever to play at Lone Pine (for her first-round win over Larry Evans), Istvan Bilek (for defeating Arthur Dake), Leonid Shamkovich (for defeating Roy Ervin) and Peteer Biyiasas (for winning from David Berry). The daily awards were: Kushnir two (Evans and Istvan Bilek), Peter Biyiasas two (David Berry and Mata Damjanovic), Leonid Shamkovich two (Roy Ervin and William Martz), Michael Rohde (John Grefe), Bilek (Arthur Dake), Berry (Dennis Waterman) and Miguel Quinteros (Istvan Csom).
Some of the noteworthy performances: Alla Kushnir, one of the three Israelis who recently migrated from the USSR, has been Number Two in the world to Nina Gaprindashvili for a dozen years. She broke even with seven grandmasters, winning from Evans and Bilek, losing to Benko and Forintos, and drawing with Reshevsky, Csom and Robatsch.
Norman Weinstein of Boston had the best score of players without titles (he accomplished the grandmaster norm, but it's useless unless one is an IM). Norman who is 24, won from Shamkovich, GM; Robatsch, GM and Biyiasas, IM, and finished without losing a game.
Arnold Denker of Ft. Lauderdale, a former U.S. Champion, defeated GMs Rossetto and Schmid. Roy Ervin, 23, of Los Molinos, defeated GM Bilik; William Martz, 30, of Wisconsin, defeated GM Forintos, and Craig Barnes, 20, of Berkeley, former U.S. High School Champion, defeated GM Rossetto.
LONE PINE, CALIFORNIA
Lone Pine is located in the eastern park of the State of California on the Nevada side of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. It is remote, being 211 miles from Los Angeles, 264 miles from Reno and 460 miles from San Francisco. It is tiny; the population was 1,241 in the 1970 census and it is not clear from the road where that many people can be. The town is about ten blocks long and three blocks wide with U.S. Highway 395 running down the middle. There are nine motels, eight service stations and eight restaurants (if you include Cleveland Frosty and Frosty Chalet).
Louis D. Statham, a wealthy engineer and inventor, sold his big house in the Holmby Hills area of Los Angeles to Hugh Hefner a few years back and moved to Lone Pine. (Hefner operates Statham's house a Playboy's Western Mansion. You may have seen it on television a few months ago. It is a stone castle with waterfalls, grottoes, animals and rare trees and shrubs). Statham, who is a pretty-good chessplayer with a postal rating of 1368 (Class A), found out that in spite of correspondence chess, ham radio, photography and a habit of keeping on inventing things, he wanted some chessplayers around Lone Pine. He missed the chess club! So he brought in Isaac Kashdan to set up a series of master chess tournaments, paying all the bills himself.
The 1975 tournament, his fifth, is reported to have cost $65,000 in prizes, travel expenses and lodging - exclusive of about $300,000 for the Lone Pine Town Hall, which Statham built and donated to Inyo County because the lodge hall previously used had become too small.
Statham actually invited every grandmaster in the world! He is said to have been disappointed in the response, for the highest-rated player, Gligoric, is "only" 21st in the world. Aside from a couple of missed opportunities because of thoughtless planning, (Matulovic, for example, thought he could get a visa in England; his compatriot, Damjanovic, was able to play because he obtained a visa before leaving Zagreb) the absence of many GMs was due to the Fischer-Karpov argument and the childish retaliation of the USSR Chess Federation, which kept not only the Soviet players but also other Iron Curtain players away. (It is true that USCF Business Manager Ed Edmondson called Karpov a "little mouse" roaring at lion Bobby Fischer - but is that a mature, grown-up reason for boycotting a tournament run by two fine gentlemen in California?
THE REPORTER GOES TO LONE PINE
A trip to Lone Pine had been contemplated by the directors and officers of the California State Chess Federation since the meeting in July, 1974 of a few of the officials. The southern California element would be represented by two officials already at Lone Pine: tournament director Kashdan and assistant Carl Budd - others would be only a couple of hundred miles away. But northern and central California - that's another story! The trip by automobile is brutal - nearly 500 miles in a roundabout manner, crossing the Sierra Nevada Mountains. So the plan to meet in Lone Pine seemed unworkable. Actually it was, for the meeting that was held had only six or seven in attendance, far from a quorum. But there almost wasn't a meeting at all.
Kashdan urged McClain and Burger to come for the meeting and for the tournament. But they had work to do, and could not be away for more than a couple of days and it seemed too far for that. Then McClain learned that RHM had scrapped its plans for a tournament book. At this juncture Jude Acers dropped in McClain's office. He said, "Mac, it isn't right that a great tournament like this should not have a book. This is the biggest thing ever to happen to chess in California."
A call to Burger brought forth the information that would be in Fresno on April 18th and could take two days off to go to Lone Pine. Acers could not go, so McClain prevailed upon Ken Fong to make the trip, whereupon he in turn prevailed upon Ron Chan to come along and take pictures.
On Friday night, late, the three left Oakland for Fresno. Normally a three-hour trip at most, it took longer because they managed to get lost in going east from Interstate 5 to Fresno. After blowing about an hour navigating by the stars along the countless country roads which make a grid between the freeway and the city - but usually don't go anywhere - they arrived at Burger's motel in time to get four hours sleep before taking off Saturday morning for Lone Pine. (Celestial navigation is an old trick for chessplayers in California. It was necessary in the early days of the North-South team match for there were no freeways in the 20s. Besides, McClain had once got lost in the very same area while returning from a trip to the Rose Bowl with Bill Barlow. It was Barlow who said, "Stop the car! Mac, you're heading the wrong way." For those who are interested, a good rule if you get lost west of Fresno is "Never go into the town of Tranquillity.")
So we headed for Bakersfield, two and a half hours south, in order to find a crossing through the high Sierra. During this time, we passed Lone Pine's line and would have to come back to the north once across the mountains. From Bakersfield, we went east through the Tehachapi Valley and Walker's Pass to the Mojave Desert, then straight north into the Owens Valley. Arrival at Lone Pine was two in the afternoon, about four hours from Fresno.
We knew, of course, that Saturday was a rest day in the tournament. But we did not realize that the chessplayers would scatter every which way. Even Kashdan had gone somewhere for a walk. But we talked on the telephone to Louis Statham and made arrangements to see Kashdan later in the day, had some lunch and checked in the Mt. Whitney Motel. We discovered right away that Karl Robatsch, Alla Kushnir, Vladimir Liberzon and Leonid Shamkovich were not only neighbors in the motel, but where in. After interviews and photographs, they directed us to the next motel where we met Svetozar Gligoric, Lothar Schmid and David Levy.
Several thousand words, a hundred photos and some hours later, we found ourselves at dinner at the Sierra View Restaurant, Lone Pine's finest. In addition to Gligoric, Levy and the four explorers, we had a reunion with Gliga, who helped us with the tournament book of the Hollywood International Tournament boo of 1952, along with Herman Steiner and Flip McKenna. For Burger, it was an opportunity to show an end game composition which McClain had shot down in flames two or three times on the trip to Lone Pine. Gliga shot it down again. (But Burger fixed it up again the next morning and went around claiming it was sound). It was a chance for all of us to meet David Levy, the Scot whose name is often mispronounced, "levee." We asked him why. "Because, I suppose they can't speak English," David replied. We asked him about his famous be of five thousand pounds that no computer could beat him. "It was only five hundred," he said, "and it was with three persons. Besides, the original five years are up and I've extended the bet another five years."
The next day was spent interviewing and photographing the chessplayers, (following the CSCF meeting which was held over breakfast), and at one o'clock the sixth round began. The second-round disputed forfeit of Peter Biyiasas to Walter Browne was settled at this time. It seems that the game was adjourned (for the second time) and when the sealed-move envelope was opened later there wasn't a move by Biyiasas (David Levy writes that an assistant tournament director saw Biyiasas put his scoresheet, with the move written down, in his pocket and didn't tell anybody. It appears that the said assistant was only a helper with the chairs and so forth, one of the Lone Pine volunteers and not a qualified tournament director).
TD Kashdan ruled that Biyiasas had lost the game, and Peter protested. A protest committee was formed and later ruled that the game should be played. As we heard it, the grounds were that although Peter's score was not in the envelope, Walter's was, and he had improperly placed it there instead of letting Peter do it. On the day we were there, the committee, having once overruled the TD, now overruled itself, and Browne won the game. The ending, by the way, has been analyzed to a draw. The protest committee, which may have changed its composition during the four days of deliberating, contained David Levy and Lothar Schmid (the referee for the Fischer-Spassky world's championship match in Iceland).
Later on in the afternoon of that Sunday, we had to start on the long trip home. But first we wanted to meet the fabulous Mr. Statham. Because he is an early riser and oftentimes needs a nap in the afternoon, Mr. And Mrs. Kashdan tend to overprotect him from visitors. We were warned not to overstay our welcome, but in the end it was we who had to break away.
After the usual ice-breaking, Helen Kashdan left us. Louis Statham showed us his radio and photography rooms, the studio building (where Mrs. Statham paints) and the organic garden (we did not visit the trout hatchery.) Then he and Ron Chan settled down for a long discussion of photography while Doris Statham showed Burger and McClain around the house. Her paintings were extraordinarily good. Her grand piano brought forth the question and answer "I once played in concert tours. That was after I quit teaching organic chemistry at U.C. San Francisco." We found that she grew up in Alameda.
Louis Statham, a native of San Antonio, invented and manufactured medical instruments. He retired some years ago, but admits to slipping to the extent that he has "un-retired." He gave Ron Chan a photodryer which he invented while at Lone Pine, because the dryers being sold produced wrinkles.
As our stay, which by this time was in our second hour, drew to a close, a somewhat worried Isaac Kashdan appeared and looked everything over. But Kash found nothing amiss and when Mrs. Statham offered drinks everyone said "yes." The two Chinese being underage, had Cokes. The Stathams had beer while Burger and McClain had two stiff bourbon-and-sodas. Oh yes; Kash also had a drink. Then we had to leave.
While still under the influence of two gracious hosts plus the stiff drinks, we started on the long way home - the northern route past Independence, Manzanar, (the World War II camp for Japanese) Bishop, Mammoth, Big Pine, Bridgeport, Gardnerville and finally Lake Tahoe and Highway 50 across the Sierra again, and through the Central Valley to the Bay Area. With McClain driving (who had furnished the car and laid down the rule 'the driver pays for his own tickets') we went along a fast clip until a highway patrolman nailed us in a speed trap near Mammoth Lakes. The ticket coast Mac $45, but it had its good news: the best restaurant in the area was not in Bridgeport, where we planned to eat, but in Mammoth, the Whiskey Creek Lodge. We left the highway and drove into Mammoth through banks of deep snow, took our last photos in the waning sun and then ate a fine dinner.
For the last lap, Bob took over the wheel: North into Nevada, past the road to the little town of Thompson, where he was born, around Lake Tahoe, through the perpetual daylight, although midnight by the clock, of the gambling strip on the Lake, down Highway 50 through Sacramento where he grew up, and back to Oakland - eleven hours after leaving Lone Pine.
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