Vukcevich is a very imaginative player and is always
ready in the post mortem to show the most extraordinary and complicated
1) Milan Vukcevich 1937-2003 2) Shabba wins in Chicago 3) Mezentsev victorious in Los Angeles 4) Aigner and MacFarland tie for first in Sacramento 5) Upcoming Events
1) Milan Vukcevich 1937- 2003
The chess world has lost one of its most talented and dedicated devotees with the passing of Milan Vukcevich on May 10 in Cleveland after a long bout with cancer. Chess players tend to be divided into over the board and correspondence players, problemists, and end game composers. Milan was the rare individual who excelled in all forms of the game.
Born in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, on March 11, 1937 Milan did not have it easy in his youth. He grew up without his father Radoje, who was a liaison officer between the royal army of Yugoslavia and U.S. Forces, and was forced to flee to the United States after incurring the enmity of President Tito. In his book, Chess by Milan (1981), Vukcevich credits his uncle Milan Trivanovic, his brother Ivan Sprung and family friend (and future IM) Trandaphilos Siaperas for installing in him a life-long love of playing chess and composing problems. Also close to Milan were the members of the Belgrade chess club Slavia, which numbered among its members Matulovic, Janosevic, Maric, Sokolov, and Lazarevic. This was a golden time for chess in Yugoslavia and Milan blossomed in the supportive environment.
He earned his Candidate Master title in 1953 and by 1955 was strong enough to win the Yugoslav Junior Championship and draw a match with a young Bent Larsen 3-3. That year he also began his studies at the University of Belgrade where he was affiliated until 1963. During this decade his chess and academic career blossomed. He received the very difficult to obtain Yugoslav Master title by scoring 50 percent in the 1958 Yugoslav Championship (he had missed by a half point in 1957), but it was in 1960 that he attracted the attention of the chess world. Everyone remembers Leningrad 1960 as the scene of the great triumph for the US Student Olympiad team (Lombardy, Kalme, Weinstein, Saidy, Mednis and Hearst) over the Soviets but not too many might recall that Yugoslavia was third and Milan was the key factor. He tied for the best result on second board with the late Charles Kalme with 11 1/2 from 13, only US first board William Lombardy had a better overall result in the competition with an amazing 12 out of 13. Milan's victories over Tringov and Drimer won the best game and best endgame prizes. Later in the year he received a second team bronze medal when he was a member of the Yugoslav team that finished third in the Olympiad in Leipzig.
Milan moved to the United States in 1963 to enter the doctorate program in metallurgy at MIT. He graduated in 1967 and shortly thereafter moved to Cleveland where he taught at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland for six years. When the university pressured him to engage in research not congenial to his nature, Milan refused and left to work in industry, primarily at the General Electric Company in Cleveland.
He played league chess in Boston and Cleveland in the 1960s but it was his first place tie with GMs Benko and R. Byrne at the 1969 US Open that brought him to the attention of the American chess public. In 1975 US Closed championship he had his best ever result, narrowly missing qualification for the Interzonal, when he finished third. The following year he found the perfect vehicle to renew his love for team chess in the newly formed National Telephone League. Competing for the Cleveland Kinghunters he performed exceptionally well year after year. In 1976 he led Cleveland to a third place finish, tying with GM Kavalek for best result on board one with 6 1/2 from 8. His sole loss was to Richard Verber when he lost on time on move 40 after failing to punch his clock in a winning position. His score in 22 games in the NTL from 1976-1979 was a fantastic 16 1/2 points against almost entirely GM and IM opposition.
The demise of the National Telephone League marked the end of Milan's departure from the national chess scene though he continued to play locally in Cleveland in major events in Ohio, helping to raise the standard of chess in the Buckeye State. Among the Cleveland players who benefited from playing him in the late 1960s through 1980s were IMs Calvin Blocker and Dmitru Ghizdavu and NMs Ross Strague, Tom Wozney, Robert Burns, James Schroeder, James Harkins and Richard Noel.
GM Lubosh Kavalek in a 1973 interview opined that Vukcevich, had he chosen to pursue chess professionally, possessed all the qualities to eventually become one of the world's top thirty. His chess style was characterized by extensive and original opening knowledge, the ability to calculate deeply and accurately, and a penchant for problem-like solutions (exemplified by his stunning ...Ng3!! against Shamkovich). This level of competitive success never came to be, partly because he loved his career as a scientist. As Vukcevich prepared for the 1975 Us Championship he told The Plain Dealer that he did not consider going the route of most chess champions: eking out a living by playing in tournaments, teaching and writing about the subject. "I cannot be just a chess player or just a scientist. I have to be both. I have to get to my lab next week, even though I will be playing in the tournament . . . I have a very happy life, happier than many others."
Another reason that Milan never realized his full potential was that he preferred beauty in chess above all else. In his book "Milan on Chess" he mentions having come to prefer the noncompetitive world of composition to that of tournament chess, and the last twenty years of his life he composed many chess problems. He became the first American to hold the FIDE International Grandmaster of Chess Composition title in 1988. Just before his death he published a second book of his best problems that is available for $35 from Mike Prcic, 2613 Northshore Lane, Westlake Village, CA , 91361-3318. For his career achievements as a chess player and problem composer Milan was inducted into the US Chess Hall of Fame in 1998.
Milan's accomplishments as a scientist were considerable. A Nobel Prize nominee for Chemistry he authored two books and for many years held the title of Chief Scientist at General Electric. He was a professor at the University of Arizona when he passed away.
As much as Milan accomplished as a player, composer and scientist he will best be remembered for his love of life and friendly manner. James Schroeder, writing in the Cleveland Chess Bulletin, relates how Milan never asked for any special treatment despite being the best player in Cleveland in the 1960s and 70. While playing in the 1975 Ohio Chess Congress I had a chance to see first hand what a standup guy Milan was. The overwhelming favorite to win, he was upset early by an A player from Cincinnati by the name of Perry Sill, who beat him with a book trap in the Schliemann variation of the Ruy Lopez in 19 moves. Many players in this situation would have been very angry and stomped out, but Milan congratulated his young opponent and stayed in the tournament for the remaining rounds despite no longer having any chance to win the event.
Tringov,G - Vukcevich,M [C34]
1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 h6 4.d4 g5 5.Bc4 d6 6.c3 Nc6 7.0-0 Bg7 8.g3 Bh3 9.Rf2 Nf6! 10.Qc2 Qd7 11.gxf4 gxf4 12.Kh1 0-0-0 13.Bd3 d5! 14.e5 Ne4 15.Bxe4 dxe4 16.Qxe4 Bxe5! 17.Bxf4 Qg4! 18.Ng1 Bxf4 19.Nxh3 Qd1+ 20.Ng1 Rhg8 21.Rg2 Rxg2 22.Qxg2 Ne7! 23.Qe2 Qc1 24.Nd2 Qxd2 25.Qxd2 Bxd2 26.Rf1 f5 27.Nf3 Be3 28.Re1 f4 0-1
Vukcevich,M - Bisguier,A [C78]
Shamkovich,L - Vukcevich,M [B79]
2) Shabba wins in Chicago
US Champion Alex Shabalov took home top honors in the Chicago Open held May 23-26 at the Hyatt Regency in Oak Brook, Illinois. The Pittsburgh resident scored 6-1, beating GMs Gregory Kaidanov and Pavel Blatny and IMs Mark Ginsburg and Mark Bluvshtein. His two draws, yielded in the middle rounds of the event, were against GM Walter Browne and IM Jan Van der Mortel.
There was a large group tying for second on 5 1/2, including GMs Jan Ehlvest, Alexander Goldin, Alexander Stripunsky and Nikola Mitkov and IM Ben Finegold. Close behind, a half point back, were MI GM-in-Residence Alex Yermolinsky and fellow GMs Kaidanov, Igor Novikov, Ildar Ibragimov, Yury Shulman plus IM Eugene Perelshteyn. The latter two qualified for the 2004 US Championship. Curiously, unlike Foxwoods where all the top Americans under 2650 USCF paid the $75 US Championship Qualifier fee, here only 4 players over 2500 did. Since the list of seeded players from the rating list will only be determined at the end of the this year it may be that several individuals intend to raise their rating soon!
Several Northern California players played besides Yermo. Six-time US Champion Walter Browne had 4 from 6, SM Dmitry Zilberstein 4 from 7, Vladimir Strugatsky 3 1/2 from 7, Ron Cusi 3 from 7 and Paul Gallegos 3 from 7. The latter was an excellent result by Gallegos, who rated around 2200, faced opposition averaging over 2400.
Over 20 GMs played in this event organized and directed by Bill Goichberg, driving force of the Continental Chess Association.
3) Mezentsev victorious in Los Angeles
Mountain View SM Vladimir Mezentsev won the Lena Grumette Memorial in Los Angeles over Memorial Day Weekend. Mezentsev, who has two IM norms, scored 5 1/2 from 6. After yielding a draw in round one he came back strong, beating 2300s Abrahamian and Salimbagat and top-seed IM Enrico Sevillano in the final three tounds. Andranik Matikozian was second at 5 followed by fellow IMs Jack Peters, Melik Khachiyan and Sevillano on 4 1/2. MI junior Monty Peckham turned in a strong performance with 3 1/2 from 5, including a victory over IM Tim Taylor. There were 139 players in the multi-section event, excluding scholastic and one day sections.
4) Aigner and MacFarland tie for first in Sacramento
NMs Michael Aigner and James MacFarland tied for first in the 2nd Koltanowski Memorial held May 24-26 in Sacramento. The two winners, who drew with each other in round 5, scored 5-1. A point back were up-and-coming juniors Ben Haun, Nick Yap and Ben Tejes. Daichi Siegrist took the Reserve section with 5 1/2 from 6. 63 players competed in the two section event organized by the Sacramento Chess Club.
5) Upcoming Events
Upcoming Tournaments at the MI
Full details at www.chessclub.org
Stamer Memorial: June 6-8
Scholastic Quads: May 31
West Coast National Events
A Heritage Event!
US OPEN AUGUST 3-15
LAX Radisson 6225 W. Century Blvd. · Los Angeles, CA 90045 · (310) 670-9000 $89 Chess Rate - Lowest in years!
A USCF National Championship
A Heritage Event!
If mailed by 7/26 or paid by phone, fax or online with credit card by 7/30.
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