Chess in 1948

 by Bill Wall


In 1948, the first British Girls Chess Championship was won by A. Pocknell.

In 1948, in the film 3 Godfathers, John Wayne’s character, Robert Mamaduke Hightower, played chess.  When asked what Marshall Sweet (Ward Bond) was going to do with bank robber Hightower when he gets him behind bars, the Marshall says “I’m gonna play him a game of chess.  He’ll be right good at it too, I’ll bet.”  Later, the two do play chess while Hightower sits in jail awaiting his trial verdict.  In 1948, during the filming of Red River, Wayne played lots of chess matches with Pierce Lyden (1908-1998), who had a small part in the movie as a scout.  During the filming, Pierce and Wayne played dozens of chess games, with Wayne winning every game.

In 1948, Koltanowski became the chess columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle, which carried his chess column every day for the next 52 years without interruption until his death in 2000, publishing an estimated 19,000 columns.  His chess column soon appeared as a syndicated feature in other papers.


In 1948, Elizabeth Bykova became the Russian woman to achieve a master's rating -.


In 1948, Larry Evans, age 16, won the Marshall Club Championship.


On January 1, 1948, Allen G. Pearsall (1877-1948), age 70, was struck by a car and was killed instantly in Chula Vista, California.  He was a member of the Correspondence Chess League of America and a member of the International Chess Olympiad, playing on the USA team.  He was returning home after playing chess at the San Diego Chess Club and had just stepped off of a street bus when hit.  (source: Chula Vista Star, Jan 9, 1948)


On January 4, 1948, John Purdy won the Australian Open chess tournament in Melbourne, scoring 8 out of 9 points.  (source: Sydney Morning Herald, Jan 5, 1948).


In January, 1948, Laszlo  Szabo won Hastings 1947-48, scoring 7.5 - 1.5.


On January 14, 1948, Petko Atanasov was born in Karan Varbovka, Bulgaria.  During the period 1963-66 he was Bulgarian National Junior Champion three times.  He was awarded the IM title in 1983.


On January 27, 1948,  Laszlo Vadasz (1948-2005) was born in Kiskunfelegyhaza, Hungary.  He was awarded the IM title in 1975 and the GM title in 1976.


On January 29, 1948, Raymond Keene was born in London.  In 1971, he won the British championship.  He was awarded the IM title in 1972 and the GM title in 1976.  He was the 2nd OTB British grandmaster, after Tony Miles.  He has written over 140 books, mostly on chess, and is the chess correspondent for The Times and The Spectator.


On February 14, 1948, Radovan Govedarica was born in Vrbas, Yugoslavia.  He was awarded the IM title in 1980.


On February 19, 1948, Mikhail Mukhin (1948-1977) was born in Alma-Ata, Kazakhstan.  He won the USSR junior championship in 1965.  He was awarded the IM title in 1975.


In March, 1948, the Amsterdam and New York Stock Exchange had a radio chess match with 10 players to a side.  The Dutch team won. 


On March 3, 1948, Momcilo Despotovic was born in Belgrade.  He was awarded the  IM title in 1978 and the IMC title in 1982.


On March 14, 1948, Milan Bjelajac was born in Skopje, Yugoslavia.  He was awarded the IM title in 1982.


On March 16, 1948, Tatiana  Lemachko was born in Russia.  She was awarded the WGM title in 1977. 


In April, 1948, the first Polar radio chess game started between Australian scientists on Heard Island and South Africans on Marion Island, 1,400 miles away.  The Australians were studying cosmic rays in the Antarctic, while the South Africans were maintaining a weather station in the Antarctic.


On April 24, 1948, Juan Carlos Hase was born in Argentina.  He was awarded the IM title in 1982.


On May 6, 1948, Timothy David Harding was born in London, England.  In 2002 he was awarded the title of Senior International Master of Correspondence Chess.  He is a well known chess historian and chess author.


On May 16, 1948, Mikhail Botvinnik won at The Hague/Moscow to become world chess champion.  His prize was $5,000.  In the world championship match-tournament, Paul Keres (1916-1975) may have been ordered by the Soviets to throw his games to Mikhail Botvinnik for the world championship.  Keres played well against his three other rivals, but lost his first four games to Botvinnik.  Years later, Botvinnik gave an interview stating that Stalin had given orders for Keres and Smyslov to lose to Botvinnik so that Botvinnik would become world champion.  Botvinnik won by a 3 point margin and had a plus score against all his rivals. (source: Brooklyn Daily Eagle, May 20, 1948)


On June 9, 1948, Radoslav Simic was born in Yugoslavia.  He was awarded the GM title in 1984.


On July 16, 1948, Pasulus Boersma was born in Leewarden, Netherlands.  He was awarded the IM title 1986.


On July 17, 1948, Weaver Adams won the 49th US Open, held in Baltimore, scoring 9.5-2.5.  (source: Brooklyn Daily Eagle, July 18, 1948)


On July 24, 1948, Arthur Bisguier, age 18, won the 3rd annual US Junior Championship held at Oak Ridge, Tennessee. (source: Lubbock Avalanche Journal, July 25, 1948)


On August 15, 1948, David Bronstein won the first Interzonal at Saltjobaden (near Stockholm).  His prize was $550.  He survived an assassination attack during the Interzonal tournament.  On the last day, Bronstein was playing Savielly Tartakower.  Suddenly, a Lithuanian made a lunge at Bronstein to kill him. Several spectators grabbed the man. He wanted to murder all Russians because he claimed the Russians were responsible for sending his sister to Siberia and murdering her.  Bronstein won the game and the Interzonal with an undefeated 13.5-5.5 score. (source: Salt Lake Tribune, Aug 16, 1948)


On August 25, 1948, Marilyn Braun (nee Koput) was born in Milwaukee.  She was awarded the WIM title in 1972.


On August 29, 1948, Charles "Kit" Crittenden won the North Carolina state chess championship at age 13, the nation's youngest state champion.


On August 31, 1948, Herman Steiner of Los Angeles won the 7th US Championship in South Fallsburg, NY, scoring 15-4.   Gisela Gresser and May Karff tied for the women’s title.  (source: Salt Lake Tribune, Sep 1, 1948)


In September, 1948, Edith C. Price (1872-1956) won the British Women's championship in London at age 76, making her the oldest chess player to win a national championship.


On September 30, 1948, Zeljko Djukic was born in Glamoc, Yugoslavia.  He was awarded the IM title in 1986.


On September 30, 1948, Llewellyn Walter Stephens (1883-1948) died at the age of 65.  He organized and financed many US chess tournaments.  He was the first president of the Brooklyn Chess Club.  (source: Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Oct 7, 1948)


On November 6, 1948, Robert Huebner was born in Cologne.  He was awarded the IM title in 1969 and the GM title in 1971.  He was one of the top 10 players in the world with a PhD in papyrology.


On November 18, 1948, Frederic Lazard (1883-1948) died in Le Vesinet, France at the age of 65.  He was Paris champion in 1911.  He finished 1st= with Andre Cheron in the 1926 French Championship.


On November 20, 1948 three chess stamps were issued in the USSR to commemorate the 18th World Chess Championship match-tournament, held in The Hague, Netherlands, from March 1-25, and in Moscow, from April 10-18, 1948.  The inscription on the stamps reads: Tournament Match for the World Chess Championship, Moscow 1948.


On December 2, 1948, Haukur Angantysson (1948-2012) was born in Flateyri, Iceland.  He was Icelandic champion in 1976.  He was awarded the IM title in 1981.


On December 14, 1948, Bronstein and Kotov tied in the 16th USSR Championship, held in Moscow.