California Chess in the 1950's

by Bill Wall

In 1950, Ray Martin (2210) won the Hollywood Invitational, ahead of Herman Steiner (2355) and Jim Cross (2321).

In July, 1950, the USCF published its first rating list. The top California player was Herman Steiner (2394).

In 1950, George Koltanowski and Herman Steiner were awarded the International Master title.

In September, 1950, Ray Martin (2210) of Santa Monica won the California State Championship, held in San Francisco. George Croy (2284) and Vladimir Pafnutieff (2200) tied for 2nd-3rd. There were 8 players.

In 1950, Arthur Spiller of Culver City won the California Open, held in Santa Barbara. There were 23 players.

In 1950, the Santa Monica Chess Club won the Los Angeles County Championship.

In 1950, Charles Bagby (2270) won the Northern California Championship.

In 1951, Guthrie McClain was co-founder and Associate Editor of the CALIFORNIA CHESS REPORTER.

In April, 1951, Herman Steiner was rated 2355 by the USCF.

In September, 1951, Arthur Spiller won the California State Championship, played in Santa Monica. Irving Rivise (2325) took 2nd. There were seven players.

In 1951, Neil Falconer won the California Open, held in Santa Cruz. Vladimir Pafnutieff and William Adams (2205) took 2nd-3rd. There were 43 players.

In November, 1951, Herman Steiner was rated 2340 by the USCF.

In December, 1951, George Koltanowski played 50 games blindfolded at 10-seconds-per move, winning 43, drawing 5, and losing 2 in 9 hours of play in San Francisco.

In 1952, George Koltanowski, playing blindfolded, defeated Humphrey Bogart in 41 moves in San Francisco.

On February 12, 1952, James Tarjan was born in Pomona. He became a grandmaster in 1976.

In 1952, Herman Steiner (2410) took 3rd place, behind Gligoric and Pomar, in the Hollywood International tournament (actually played in Beverly Hills). George Koltanowski was invited to play in the event, but a feud between him and Steiner prevented that from happening.

In 1952, Irving Rivise (2334) and Henry Gross (2314) tied for the California State Championship.

In 1952, Larry Evans (2660) defeated Herman Steiner (2427) 10-4 in a U.S. Championship match.

In 1953, Herman Steiner (2417) won the California State Championship.

In 1953, Henry Gross (2314) won the Chess Friends of Northern California championship.

In 1954, Herman Steiner (2417) won the California Open, held in Santa Barbara. Jim Schmitt took 2nd. There were 81 players.

In 1954, Arthur Bisguier won the Pan-American Open, held in Los Angeles.

In 1954, William Addison won the Northern California Open.

In 1954, R. Curtis won the Golden Gate Championship. William Addison took 2nd.

In 1954, Irving Rivise won the Southern California Championship.

In 1954, Herman Steiner (2417) won the California State Championship. It was a 10-player round robin.

On November 25, 1954, Diane Savereide was born.

On December 6, 1954, Peter Prokoodin died in San Francisco at the age of 66. He founded the Russian Chess Club in 1931 and served as its president for 20 years.

On December 10, 1954, J.C. McReady died at the age of 80. He was a member of the Mechanics' Institute for 45 years.

On January 17, 1955, Terry Crandall was born in Pasadena.

In 1955, the U.S. Open was held in Long Beach. 1st place prize was a 1955 Buick worth $3,000. It was won by Nicholas Rossolimo. There were 156 players.

In May, 1955, George Koltanowski played 110 boards in Los Angeles. He won 89, drew 17, and lost 4.

In 1955, Herman Steiner (2507) won the California Open, held in Fresno.

On November 25, 1955, International Master Herman Steiner (2507), who was born in 1905, died at the age of 50. He came home from the 5th round (his score was 4 wins and one loss) of the California State Championship in Los Angeles and postponed his 6th round game, scheduled for that evening, because he felt unwell. At 9:30 PM, while being examined by his doctor, he was stricken by a massive coronary occlusion and died. Out of respect to Steiner's memory, the State Championship was cancelled. Steiner's final game was a draw against William Addison.

In 1955, Isaac Kashdan (2439) became chess editor of the Los Angeles Times.

In 1956, Gilbert Ramirez (2222) won the California Open.

On June 27, 1956, Larry Christiansen was born in Riverside. He became a grandmaster in 1977.

In 1956, Samuel Reshevsky gave a simultaneous display in Los Angeles. One of the players that got a draw from him was Humphrey Bogart.

In 1956, Sonja Graf-Stevenson (1908-1965) won the California Women's Championship, held at the Herman Steiner Chess Club in Los Angeles. Lina Grumette was 2nd and Jacqueline Piatigorsky was 3rd.

In 1956, Nancy Roos of Los Angeles tied for 1st in the U.S. Women's Championship with Gisel Gresser.

On July 18, 1956, Dr. Walter Romaine Lovegrove died at the age of 86. He won the first California championship in 1891.

On December 15, 1956, Adolf (Adolph) Fink died in San Francisco at the age of 66. He was a life member of the Mechanics' Institute. He was California State Champion three times (1922, 1928, and 1929) and co-champion, with Herman Steiner, in 1945. He was born in 1890.

On January 14, 1957, Humphrey Bogart died. He was an enthusiastic chess player, subscribed to CHESS REVIEW and CHESS LIFE, and was a chess director for the USCF and for California.

In 1957, Gilbert Ramirez (2222) won the California State Championship.

In 1957, Gilbert Ramirez (2222) won the California Open Championship.

In February, 1957, Samuel Reshevsky played 77 opponents simultaneously in Los Angeles, winning 54, drawing 21, and losing 2 (to John McMilland and Dr. Sam Naiditch).

On April 6, 1957, Nancy Roos died in Los Angeles.

In 1957, Southern California beat Northern California 37-36.

In July, 1957, Robert Fischer (2298), age 14, won the U.S. Junior Championship, held at the Spreckels-Russell Dairy auditorium in San Francisco. He won 8 games and drew one (to Gilbert Ramirez). Gilbert Ramirez of San Francisco was 2nd. Stephen Sholomson of Los Angeles was 3rd. There were 33 players, directed by George Koltanowski. Fischer also won the speed championship. Fischer won a typewriter for his efforts. Ramirez won a radio.

On July 23, 1957, Kim Commons was born in Lancaster. He became an International Master in 1976.

On July 26, 1957, Nicholas deFirmian was born in Fresno. He became a grandmaster in 1985.

On September 24, 1957, William B. (Pat) Patterson died at the age of 51. He helped establish the Palmdale Chess Club.

In 1957, Jim Schmitt (2233) won the California Open.

On September 25, 1958, (William) John Donaldson was born in Los Angeles. He became an International Master in 1983.

In 1958, Fritz Leiber won the Santa Monica Open. Gordon Palmer took 2nd.

In 1959, Richard Shorman was editor of the Oakland YMCA Chess Bulletin.

In 1959, Dudley Hosea of San Diego died. He was a noted supporter and promoter of the game in the area.

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