Vol. XIII, No. 16, Monday, April 20, 1959

Borochow on Reshevsky

In response to our January 5 suggestion that readers might like to hear of the chess accomplishments and games of some of our elder statesmen, we received several letters nominating Harry Borochow as the worthy subject of an article in CHESS LIFE. Our newest Master Emeritus has furnished a wealth of material for this purpose, and the Borochow article will appear in an early issue. Two of the items which he submitted tie in so well with the Reshevsky saga that they have been extracted from the Borochow material, and they are presented here.

In 1921 I was referee at Samuel Reshevsky's exhibition at Hamburger Department Store (now the May Co.), in Los Angeles, when Sammy age 9, was playing 12 simultaneously. He won 9, draw 2, and when he resigned to Donald Mugridge, age 16, he burst out crying, sobbing to me, "I wouldn't mind if I lost to an older man, but to a little boy..."

Just prior to the above incident, Sammy had played 20 simultaneously at the L.A. Athletic Club, his manager having announced at 11:00 p.m. that he would play until 12, when Dr. Griffith and I were to adjudicate the unfinished games. About 11:15 Sammy came to my board, where I had an apparent win, whispered to his manager, who then announced adjudication would begin now. Draws were awarded to Don Mugridge, E. W. Grabill and Carl J. Bergman. I claimed a win which Dr. Griffith was ready to concede, and I awarded Dr. Griffith the win, to which Sammy objected, saying, "We will play that game out," to which Griffith, a Knight ahead for two Pawns, with a good position, agreed. The 9-year-old then studied my game for about 15 minutes and demonstrated a forced draw, to which I had to agree. The game below shows the ability of Sammy at the tender age of 9, considering the 20 best players of Los Angeles were all out at this occasion (with the exception of Stasch Mlotkowski). The play-off of the game occurred in the presence of Charles Chaplin, 5-year-old Jackie Coogan, and myself as referee. Sammy and Jackie posed for a snap-shot with boxing gloves, whereupon Jackie punched Sammy in the eye, not to his liking, so he pouted a bit, then went on with the game. I guess Jackie was a bit too husky for Sammy to cope with, but he could have slaughtered him over the chess board. Sammy was ready to make the move against Dr. Griffith, but I explained, that having gone clockwise, he had passed Dr. Griffith two boards before he came to my board, hence it was the Doctor's move. Sammy, undoubtedly thinking it was his move, stuck to his guns, whereupon the Doctor agreed, and lo and behold, Sammy won in a few more moves!

The boys at the Washington Chess Divan will undoubtedly get a big kick out of the Mugridge incident, as did your editor, if, like him, they are unable to imagine Uncle Don as ever having been "a little boy."

Your editor considers this item by Harry Borochow highly significant, and indicative not only of the nine-year-old Reshevsky's fantastic ability to evaluate a position, but also to demonstrate tactically the correctness of those evaluations. Here were two positions which had been officially adjudicated as losses for the boy wonder. He looks them over in what must have been a strained atmosphere, announces that the adjudicators were mistaken, and proceeds to demonstrate by playing them out, winning one, and drawing the other, against expert, if not master strength, opposition from the adjudicators, themselves! Here is the Borochow game:

Simultaneous exhibition at Los Angeles Athletic Club, 1921, by 9-year-old Samuel Reshevsky, against the flower of Los Angeles chess.

Notes by U.S.C.F. Master Emeritus - Harry Borochow

White - Reshevsky   Black - Borochow
1. P-K4     N-KB3
2. P-QB4     P-Q3
3. N-QB3     B-B4
4. P-B3     QN-Q2
5. P-K4     B-N3
6. KN-K2     P-K4
7. B-K3     B-K2
8. R-B     0-0
9. N-N3     R-K
10. B-Q3     P-B3
11. Q-Q2     B-B
12. 0-0     Q-B2
13. P-B4     PxBP
14. BxP      R-R4
15. NxN     BxN
16. P-B5     P-B3
17. Q-KB2     P-QR3
18. Q-N3     QR-Q
19. K-R! ...

Excellent play, for Black cannot now play N-N; for 20. PxP, BxP; 21. N-Q5 threatening NxBPch.

19. ...     B-N3
20. PxP ...
White might defer capture of P, but with his he succeeds in putting Black Q out of play.

20. ...     Q-N3
21. N-R4     QxQP
22. R-B4     Q-R2

The only move, and now threatening P-QN4. He thus wins a P, but Sammy soon wins it back.

23. QR-B     BxKP
24. B-B4ch     B-Q4

If K-R; 25. B-B7.

25. BxBch     PxB
26. Q-Q3     P-Q5
27. R-B7     N-K4
28. BxN     RxB

Not 28. ..., PxB; 29. Q-N3 threatening RxBch to which there is no defense.

29. Q-QN3ch     K-R
30. RxQNP     Q-R
31. P-Q7     R-K7

Threatening R-N.

32. Q-KB3     R-K6
33. Q-B6     R-K3!

To stop White's N-N6 threat.

34. QxR ...

To avoid draw by repetition of moves.

34. ...       QxR
35. RxP      Q-N5! Drawn

Here Sammy demonstrated the draw by 36. P-KR3!, if 36. ..., QxN; 37. RxBch!!, RxR; 38. Q-K7, Black must take the draw by 38. ..., Q-Q8ch; 39. K-R2, Q-KB8, 40. P-Q8 (Q), Q-B5ch for perpetual check; or 36. ..., PxR; 37. QxPch, K-N; 38. QxR, and if 38. ..., QxN; 39. QxBch etc.

A remarkable game by Sammy, and fighting defense and offense by Harry.

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