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Chess Champion Bobby Fischer
Date taken: 1962
Photographer: Carl Mydans
Anglonautes: Wrong Life caption ? - the man in the
not be Chess Champion Bobby Fischer (1943-2008).
Date taken: 1939
Photograph: Hansel Mieth
chess UK /
the-cheating-scandal-rocking-the-chess-world - Guardian podcast
chess player USA
chess master USA
chess champion USA
William James Joseph Lombardy
Walter Shawn Browne Australia / USA 1949-2015
Robert James "Bobby" Fischer
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> Board games > Chess
Dies at 78
November 17, 2010
The New York Times
By DYLAN LOEB McCLAIN
Larry Evans, a five-time United States chess champion and prolific writer who
helped Bobby Fischer win the world championship in 1972, died Monday in Reno,
Nev. He was 78.
Mr. Evans, who lived in Reno, died of complications of gall bladder surgery,
according to the Web site of the United States Chess Federation, the governing
body for the game.
Though Mr. Evans was a grandmaster, he was best known for his writing; he had a
syndicated chess column for decades and wrote more than 20 books, among them
“New Ideas in Chess,” “Modern Chess Brilliancies” and “The 10 Most Common Chess
Mr. Evans was an editor of the 10th edition of “Modern Chess Openings,” long a
mainstay for tournament players. He also founded American Chess Quarterly and
edited it from 1961 to 1965. The book that Mr. Evans was probably most famous
for was one on which he assisted: Mr. Fischer’s “My 60 Memorable Games.” He
cajoled and exhorted Mr. Fischer to finish the book, edited and helped him with
the prose and wrote introductions to all the games.
Typical of Mr. Evans’s style was the introduction to Game 9 against Edgar
Walther, in which Mr. Fischer escaped with a draw: “What makes this game
memorable is the demonstration it affords of the way in which a grandmaster
redeems himself after having started like a duffer; and how a weaker opponent,
after masterfully building a winning position, often lacks the technique
required to administer the coup de grace.”
During Mr. Fischer’s prelude to the world championship, Mr. Evans was what is
known in chess as his second. He helped him train and prepare for his matches
against Mark Taimanov, Bent Larsen and Tigran Petrosian. Before the championship
match in Reykjavik, Iceland, in 1972 against Boris Spassky, Mr. Evans and Mr.
Fischer had a falling out. Frank Brady, Mr. Fischer’s biographer, speculated
that the rift was over Mr. Evans’s desire to have his wife, Ingrid, accompany
them on the trip, which lasted more than two months.
Larry Melvyn Evans was born March 22, 1932, in Manhattan. Growing up, he hustled
games for dimes on 42nd Street. He won the championship of the prestigious
Marshall Chess Club on West 10th Street at 15 and was New York State champion by
18. In 1950, he played for the United States team in the biennial Chess Olympiad
in Dubrovnik, Yugoslavia, and took an individual gold medal. He went on to play
on seven more Olympiad teams, including the one that won the gold medal in
Haifa, Israel, in 1976.
In 1951, at 19, he won his first United States championship. He defended the
title a year later in a match against Herman Steiner. He won the title again in
1961, 1968 and 1980, when he tied for first with Walter Browne and Larry
Christiansen. He also won four United States Open championships. The World Chess
Federation awarded him the title of grandmaster in 1957.
In the 1960s, Mr. Evans moved to Reno when he discovered he had another talent:
counting cards. “He had a memory that he built up from chess,” Dr. Brady said.
“He could memorize cards, and he wasn’t making any money from chess in those
days. Nobody was.” His other profession did not last. “He made a lot of money
and he kept getting banned from casino to casino,” Dr. Brady said.
Mr. Evans is survived by his wife, an artist and photographer, and two stepsons.
Mr. Evans had a few successes in international tournaments, among them a first
at Portimo, Portugal, in 1975. But he rarely played internationally, and in his
one attempt to qualify for the world championship, at the Amsterdam Interzonal
in 1964, he finished 14th.
Dr. Anthony Saidy, an international master who knew Mr. Evans for many years,
said the risk-taking that made Mr. Evans successful in tournaments in the United
States did not work as well against the very best players, but he was still a
formidable player. Dr. Saidy said, “He was one of the very few American
grandmasters that I couldn’t beat, ever.”
Larry Evans, Chess
Champ, Dies at 78,
Skipping Class, Mastering Chess
The New York Times
By TIMOTHY WILLIAMS
It is early
afternoon, 20 minutes into G band — or sixth period — at Edward R. Murrow High
School in Brooklyn. But today, Shawn Martinez, a third-year student, and one of
the stars of its national championship chess team, is nowhere near school.
Instead, while his classmates memorize the periodic table of the elements,
perform Shakespeare or solve for x, Shawn, wearing a black do-rag under a brown
Yankees cap, distractedly watches a pickup chess match inside the atrium of a
building on Wall Street. The place is a hangout for chess hustlers.
Shawn, 16, skips a lot of school — “It wasn’t weeks that I missed, it was
months,” he says — but he is no ordinary truant. He is so gifted a chess player
that he has claimed a place among the top young players in the nation after
learning the game only four years ago. He is also important to Murrow’s chances
of capturing its fourth consecutive national high school title; the tournament
begins today in Kansas City, Mo.
Shawn comes to Wall Street to play a type of chess called blitz, a game in which
the ticking of a three-minute clock eliminates the ponderous pauses of
traditional chess and transforms the game into a fevered, trash-talking street
sport in which money, not prestige, is the prime motivator. For Shawn, a large
bet might be $10 a game.
“It helped my game to play for money,” said Shawn, dismissing as “average” the
players he had been watching. “I love chess with a passion. It’s all the
situations you get put in — it’s like life to me. It’s like anger to me.
Sometimes, if I don’t like something that’s happening, I can take my anger out
on the chessboard.”
Murrow has no varsity sports; its nationally known chess team is a source of
deep pride at the school. And while Shawn’s story has echoes of the classic tale
of the star high school athlete who struggles academically but remains on the
team, it is also very different. Instead of marveling about quarterback options
and touchdown passes, his supporters speak about castling and checkmates. And no
one questions his intelligence.
Charming and funny, Shawn has a remarkable long-term memory, and parries easily
with older members of the Wall Street crowd as he takes their money. He is by
turns quiet and boisterous, open and defensive, and seems easily bored. He says
he does poorly in English class, but he is well spoken. During nearly three
years at Murrow, Shawn has missed so many classes that he is credited with
passing only three courses.
Administrators and the teacher who runs the club say they have struggled with
Shawn, and are seeking a balance of how to engage him in his studies without
barring him from the one thing about which he is passionate. Beth Siegel-Graf,
Murrow’s assistant vice principal for student guidance, said allowing Shawn to
compete on the team is part of a strategy intended to keep him from dropping out
“What we try to make students and parents understand is that students doing
poorly in school are hooked to the building because of their extracurricular
activity,” she said. “We try to use that activity as a hinge.”
A math teacher named Eliot Weiss started the school on its road to becoming the
powerhouse it is today when he formed a chess club; Murrow is now able to
attract some of the city’s best young players. The team was the subject of a
recent book, “The Kings of New York,” by Michael Weinreb, an occasional
contributor to The New York Times. Two years ago, the team met President Bush in
the White House.
Shawn, like many great players, has been blessed with the combination of an
amazing visual memory and the ability to essentially see into the future by
predicting various outcomes within a few seconds. During the past two years,
Shawn has raised his United States Chess Federation rating more than 100 points
to 2,028, giving him the rank of expert, a level just below master, and ranking
him No. 19 among 16-year-olds. During that same two-year period, however, he has
flunked every class.
His relationship with chess sums up his contradictions: he loves it, yet in one
candid moment he said it had ruined his life. He had strong grades in sixth
grade, he said, but was failing in seventh — the year he started playing. And he
rejected the opinions of adults that he benefits from his relationship with the
“I became addicted to chess,” he said. “They think they did something for me,
but they didn’t. Chess didn’t save my life. They want to make it like I’m a kid
from the ghetto and I can play chess and that’s special. Why does it have to be
like that? It’s embarrassing. They compare me to my environment — the way I
dress to chess. You don’t have to be the brightest person in the world to play
Perhaps the most significant of those adults, Mr. Weiss has evolved into
something of a father figure for Shawn, whose own father died when he was young.
The teacher said he was taken aback by Shawn’s chronic underperformance.
“I have never had a student this talented in a particular skill — not just
talented, but one of the best in the country — and so disinterested in
schoolwork, not understanding what it means to fail high school,” Mr. Weiss
On some days, Shawn does attend classes with about 10 other students who are
also behind. On many other days, he simply does not bother. He likes math, but
the algebra course he has been forced to take repeatedly is too easy, he said,
so he does not make an effort. “The sad thing is, some of the kids can’t even do
it,” he said.
Murrow, a 4,000-student school in the Midwood neighborhood with a far-reaching
variety of course offerings that are reminiscent of a small liberal arts
college, was founded in 1974, and it gives its students considerable freedom.
Periods are called bands. There are no bells, and no one is herded from class to
class. Free time is scheduled into every school day, and students can choose to
eat, to sleep, to do homework, to do nothing or, as Shawn has often done, to
play cards in the cafeteria.
“It is a school where if you don’t have your personal responsibility together,
you could drop out,” Shawn said.
Ms. Siegel-Graf, the assistant vice principal, said Shawn was allowed to
accompany his teammates on the plane to Missouri on Wednesday afternoon after a
conference at which he promised that, this time, he would begin going to school
regularly. Shawn turns 17 on April 24 — 11 days after the nationals start — and
Ms. Siegel-Graf said Shawn and the school had worked out an arrangement in which
although he would still be technically enrolled at Murrow, he would begin taking
courses to prepare for the G.E.D diploma.
The rules for the national tournament require students to be enrolled full time
in school in the United States or its territories for the entire semester. They
also state, “The coach is responsible for assuring that all of his players are
properly registered and eligible to participate as members of his team.”
On a recent Thursday, a few weeks before the nationals, Shawn said he had not
gone to school because he had a sore throat. Later, he said he had run out of
minutes on his mobile phone and needed to win some money playing chess to pay
Here, among the businesspeople and tourists on Wall Street, Shawn sticks out
with his Yankees cap, baggy jeans and well-worn red and black Nike high tops,
but he also mixes easily with the stockbrokers and others who come to play.
They challenge Shawn and lose their money, even after he warns them he is an
“What I do is allow them to think they can beat me,” he said, though he denies
adamantly that he is a hustler. “It’s gambling, and gambling you do at your own
Playing chess for money is a gray area in the law. The state statute generally
prohibits wagering on “games of chance,” but it is unclear whether chess falls
into that category. A Police Department spokesman did not respond to a request
to clarify the matter.
Shawn was taken away from his birth mother when he was one week old because of
her crack cocaine habit. Lidia Martinez, a widow who is Shawn’s adoptive mother,
said she knew immediately upon seeing the week-old Shawn that she wanted to
adopt him. Ms. Martinez acknowledged however, that she, like everyone else, had
failed to get her son to go to class. “He believes he’s too smart for school,”
Shawn says he is able to remember his biological father, who died when he was 2.
He says he can even recall his own first birthday.
At Murrow, Shawn is the third best chess player, behind the seniors Alex
Lenderman and Sal Bercys, who are each among the top 2,000 players in the world.
They were both featured prominently in Mr. Weinreb’s book, while Shawn appeared
in fewer passages. In one he is described as being “monosyllabic” and unable to
let his guard down.
“The kid’s been an enigma since junior high school,” Mr. Weinreb wrote. “He has
a gift, that much is clear, and he’s managed to discover it amid a life that has
been fraught, like so many in the city, with disappointment.”
While Alex and Sal have played since around the time they started kindergarten,
have had private coaches, and have extensive experience at tournaments, Shawn
claims to have never even cracked a chess book. “I never studied a book in my
life,” he said. “I’m too bored.” Shawn said he learns by playing, often against
opponents online. He favors an aggressive style that employs his pawns as
“When you put pawns together, there’s no stopping them,” he said. “You put two
or three together and they practically control the whole game. People know me
for my pawns.”
Teenage Riddle: Skipping Class, Mastering Chess,
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