Reshevsky in California

by Bill Wall

Samuel (Szmul or Sammy) Herman Reshevsky (Rzeszewski) was born on November 26, 1911 in Ozorkow, Poland. He learned how to play chess before the age of 5. By the age of 6, he was giving simultaneous exhibitions in Europe. He and his family came to America in November, 1920. Reshevsky was 9 years old.

In 1921, he began to give exhibitions cross country, which took him to California. In 1921, he gave exhibitions in San Francisco and Los Angeles. Reshevsky's father, Jacob, was in poor health and a doctor recommended that he go out West with his son, which would improve his health.

On June 17, 1921, Reshevsky arrived in Oakland by train from Portland with his tutor and manager Charles Azenberg, his father Jacob, and his mother Shejendel. They then took a ferry over to San Francisco.

On June 21, 1921, at 2:45 PM, Reshevsky gave a simultaneous exhibition at the Emporium's assembly room in San Francisco. He played 12 opponents at once. He won 11, drew 1 (to Arthur B. Stamer), and lost no games. The exhibition lasted 2 hours and 35 minutes. The players were: Carl Adland, H. Jones Bateman, Ezra Gottheif (age 14), Lt. Arthur L. Guerra, Franklin Hopkins, Fred Keyworth, D.D. Ollphant (first to lose), George Pause, H.W. Simkins, Arthur Stamer, Will Tevis, and Charles Weskov. During the exhibition, photographers were taking pictures of him, which upset him very much. He had to be calmed down by his parents and his manager. A crowd of 600 watched the exhibition.

On June 22, 1921, Reshevsky played another boy a game of tennis in Golden Gate Park. Reshevsky won his first game of tennis. He also played some marbles. He did not play or study chess on this day.

On June 23, 1921, he played 10 people in San Francisco at the Hotel St. Francis Italian room. He won all 10 games in an hour and a half. The event was sponsored by the Jewish Community of San Francisco. There were over 200 spectators.

Reshevsky traveled to Los Angeles after his San Francisco exhibition. Before he gave an exhibition in Los Angeles on June 27, he visited a movie studio and met Charlie Chapman (1899-1977) when he was making the movie, The Kid, starring Jackie Coogan. He was met Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. on the set of Mark of Zorro.

On Monday, June 27, 1921, starting at 11 PM, he played 20 people at the Athletic Club in Los Angeles. He won 14 and drew 6. There were over 300 spectators, including Charlie Chapman and 5 year old Jackie Coogan. Reshevsky drew Harry Borochow, Frank Garbutt, F. W. Grabill, J. H. Keyes, Donald H. Mugridge (age 16), and J. F. Woodbury. He defeated Carl Bergman, William Conklin, W. M. Duncan, Edward Everett, Dr. R. B. Griffith, G. H. Grinnell, J. G. Hamilton, Harry Linder, R. L. Peeler, F. Pelouze, H. T. Rudisill, Clif Sherwood, E. W. Vanbanan, and L. W. Watson.

After the exhibition, 9 year old Sammy Reshevsky and 5 year old Jackie Coogan posed for a snap-shot with boxing gloves. Soon after, Coogan punched Reshevsky in the eye.

On June 28, 1921, he played 12 people at Hamburger's Department Store (later the May Company) in Los Angeles, winning 10, drawing 1 (to L. A. Rosenblatt) and losing 1 (to Donald Mugridge). Reshevsky beat A. L. Burnett, Frederick Fielding, C. W. Foote, S. Ginsburg, S. Haiken, I. M. Hollingsworth, L. W. Palmer, A. Schloz, S. Weissenberg, and J. Weisstein.

On July 4, 1921, he played two games blindfolded against Harry Borochow. Reshevsky won both games.

On July 6, 1921, he started a game with Dr. R.B. Griffith. It was adjourned and finished on July 11. The game was a draw.

On July 11, 1921, he played 7 games at the Los Angeles Athletic Club, winning 6 and drawing 1 (to W. M. Duncan). He beat Carl Bergman, J. N. Epstein, Dr. Haughton, R. L. Peeler, H. T. Rudisil, and L. W. Watson.

From August 15 to August 28, 1932, he played in the Pasadena International (Chess Congress Masters Tournament), held at the Maryland Hotel in Pasadena. Reshevsky finished in a tie for 3rd (with Dake and Herman Steiner), behind Alekhine and Kashdan. He won 5 games (beating Dake, Bernstein, Fine, Araiza, and Fink), drew 2 games (Steiner and Factor), and lost 4 games (to Alekhine, Kashdan, Borochow, and Reinfeld). His games with Steiner, Fine, and Fink have not been found or published. Reshevsky, Dake, and Steiner each got $50 for their 3rd place tie.

From July 29 to August 10, 1945 he played in the Pan-American Chess Championship played at the Hollywood Athletic Club. He won the event with 9 wins and 3 draws, winning $1,000.

In January 1950, he gave a simultaneous exhibition in Los Angeles.

On February 6, 1954, he gave a clock simultaneous exhibition in San Francisco.

From August 8 through August 20, 1955, he played in the U.S. Open at Long Beach. First prize was a 1955 Buick. The Buick was valued at $2,250 ($15,000 in today's dollars). Second prize was $1,000. There were 156 players. Reshevsky tied for first with Nick Rossolimo. Rossolimo won the car on tiebreak. Reshevsky won 8 and drew 4.

In 1956, he drew a game with Humphrey Bogart in a Hollywood simul.

On February 11, 1956, he played 7 opponents in San Francisco at the Mechanics' Institute, winning 5, drawing 1, and losing 1 (to Ron Gross).

On February 21, 1957, he gave a simul in Los Angeles, winning 21 games, and drawing at least one game (to Miss Page). In other exhibitions, He played 77 opponents simultaneously, winning 54, drawing 1, and losing 2 (to John McMilland and Dr. Sam Naiditch).

On March 2, 1957, he gave a 9 board simul in San Francisco.

On January 9, 1961, he gave a simultaneous exhibition in San Francisco. Roy Hoppe got a draw from him.

From July 16 to August 10, 1961, he played a match with Fischer. The first 4 games were to be played in New York. The next 8 were to be played in Los Angeles. The final 4 were to be played in New York. In Los Angeles, the event was played at the Herman Steiner Chess Club at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. The first game of the Los Angeles match began on July 27, 1961. The 12th game had a change of schedule, to be started at 11 AM on Sunday, August 13, 1961 to work around the Mrs. Jacqueline Piatigorsky's schedule who was the patron of the event. Fischer did not like this early hour and forfeited the match. Reshevsky had won two games, lost two games, and drew 7 games.

In February, 1963, he won the zonal playoff between him Evans, and Addison. The event was held in Los Angeles. Reshevsky won one game and drew one game against Evans and Addison.

From July 2 to July 28, 1963, he played in the Piatigorsky Cup, held at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. He took 5th place, behind Keres, Petrosian, Najdorf, and Olafsson.

From July 20 to August 15, 1966, he played in the 2nd Piatigorsky Cup, held at the Miramer Hotel in Santa Monica. Reshevsky tied with Petrosian for 6th place, behind Spassky, Fischer, Larsen, Portisch, and Unzicker.

From February 8 through March 2, 1968, he played in an interzonal playoff with Stein and Hort at the Herman Steiner Chess Club in Los Angeles. Reshevsky had 8 draws and qualified for the Candidates.

From August 8 through August 20, 1971, he played in the 72nd US Open in Ventura. He tied for 3rd and earned $362.50. He won 7 and drew 5.

From April 13 through April 24, 1975, he played at the 5th annual Louis Statham tournament at Lone Pine. Reshevsky scored 5-5 and tied for 18th-28th place. His only loss was to Duncan Suttles.

From March 20 through March 30, 1975, he played at Lone Pine. He scored 5.5-3.5 and tied for 7th-14th. He defeated Dake and Sunye.

From April 2 through April 12, 1978, he played at Lone Pine. He score 5-4 and tied for 17th-30th place.

From March 25 through April 4, 1979, he played at Lone Pine. He score 5.5-3.5 and tied for 11th-22nd place. His only loss was to Hort.

From March 16 through March 26, 1980, he played at Lone Pine. His score was 5-4 and tied for 18th-26th place.

From March 29 through April 8, 1981, he played at Lone Pine. His score was 4-5 and tied for 40th-47th place.

From August 7 through August 19, 1983, he played in the U.S. Open in Pasadena. He scored 8-4.

From June 10 through June 21, he played a match with Larry Christiansen. He lost the match with 1 wins, 2 losses, and 5 draws. It was Reshevsky's only loss in match play.

On November 20, 1988, he gave a simul in San Diego, winning 21, losing 2 (to Cochran and Mark Brooks), and drawing 1.

From November 24 through November 27, 1988, he played in the Software Tool Works Open in Long Beach.

He died on April 4, 1992.

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