The California Chess Reporter

(Volume XIX Number 3, November-December 1969)


by Jude Acers

Chuck Henin is an extraordinary practical player who wins, draws, and even loses in the most unbelievable fashion. His games are full of bombs, swindles and occasionally lucid planning. That he is unpredictable, and a fighter who lives and dies at the board during a week end tournament, is evident to anyone who watches him closely. His silent, ponderous manner is capsuled expressionlessly behind a slightly jerky moustache. If a calamity has arrived both hands will rise parallel to the table as if imploring help from above, and he many even murmur a word or two. But Chuck is generally silent throughout a tournament and heads for home with little ado after the ordeal is over.

Chuck leaned against his car one evening after a day's play, looked me squarely in the eye and said "I don't know why you think so highly of my swindles. Believe me; I've been taken just as often as I've pulled off a save." Well, Mr. Henin, that did it. So we must ask again: "Just as often, Mr. Henin? Have you really taken as much punishment as you have dealt out? Think carefully as we tell our readers of that day in Santa Monica when, before the eyes of William Bills and the writer, you created not just a miracle, but a simultaneous exhibition of miracles with us there to document every inch of the way, while going out of our minds with excitement."

Let us go back in time to Santa Monica, 1968 - Round 3. Bills walks over to me: "Jude, Henin's opponent can checkmate in two moves. And, you'll never believe this, but Henin's flag has been down five minutes and his opponent hasn't noticed it!"

I looked at the game and I was flabbergasted. Bills had not exaggerated. Henin's opponent NOW HAS A MATE IN ONE. I now decided that an event which could prove to be a lesson to any young man was in the making. Nothing could drive me from my sentry post. I had to endure everything. By "everything" I mean:

   A. Henin's flag was now down by eight minutes...ten minutes...fourteen minutes.
   B. The opponent could mate in one with a simple rook check, after having missed a mate in two not once but twice (he was to miss mate seven times).
   C. The opponent had five moves to make in fifteen minutes, and on each move he could have mated instantly - or at least noticed that Henin had lost on time.
   D. Then, nervous about his increasing time pressure, the poor opponent offers a draw! This is quietly accepted by Chuck's imploring-help-from-above handshake.

No emotion from Tombstone Henin, nor does he say anything about all the checkmates. Zoom! He's gone!

But this is not the end of the matter, for without another word the Miracle Worker slipped away and withdrew from the tournament. He had escaped again, leaving all of us to marvel. Boy, was that close! I practically died watching it.

I won't say that Chuck Henin can walk on water (for more than a mile or two) or that he is faster than a speeding bullet. But he can actually forfeit on time or allow you to checkmate him without turning a hair. That's Charles Henin, pride of the Los Angeles Flatbush and our man in the game. Henin Baby, we love you anyway!

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