Chess in 1951

 by Bill Wall


In 1951, the  International Arbiter (IA), title was created by FIDE.


In 1951, the International Braille Chess Association was founded by R. Bonham.  It was affiliated with FIDE in 1964.


In 1951, the first USSR correspondence championship was  won by Konstantinopolsky.


In early 1951, Milton Hanauer won the 1950-51 Marshall Chess Club championship.


In 1951, Arnold Denker won the Manhattan Chess Club championship.


In 1951, James Sherwin won the New York state championship at the age of 17.


In 1951, Mary Bain won the US women's championship.


On January 4, 1951, Roy Ervin (1951-2001) was born in Los Angeles.  He was a FIDE master who earned one IM norm at Lone Pine in 1977.  He played in Lone Pine in 1975, 1976, 1977, and 1978.  In 1976, he won the Northern California championship.


On January 6, 1951, Wolfgang Unzicker won Hastings 1950/51.


On January 17, 1951 Bobby Fischer, age 7, played a game against Senior Master and U.S. Speed Chess Champion Dr. Max Pavey, who was giving a simultaneous exhibition at the Grand Army Plaza Library in Brooklyn. Bobby lost in 15 minutes (he lost a Queen) and burst into tears when he lost the game. Another player, Edmar Mednis (1937-2002), age 14, also participated in this simul and drew.  Pavey took on 13 players that evening.  Fischer later admitted that his loss to Pavey had a great effect in motivating him to get better at chess.   The January 18, 1951 issue of the Brooklyn Eagle said this about the exhibition.  “In his exhibition at the library, Pavey played 13 games with different opponents without losing one.  He drew two games against Edmar Mednis, a junior member of the Marshall Chess Club, and Sylvan Katske.  The other 11, including eight-year-old (sic) Bobby Fischer, were defeated.”  Max Pavey's 1951 USCF rating was 2442 (#15 in the US and about #90 in the world).   Watching in the crowd was Carmine Domenico Nigro (1910-2001), president of the Brooklyn Chess and Checkers Club, located in the old Brooklyn Academy of Music. After the game, Carmine (rated 2028) went up to Regina and Bobby and invited Bobby to join his club.  He told Regina Fischer, Bobby’s mother, that Bobby would not have to pay any membership dues At the time, Nigro was teaching chess to his son, William, and offered to tutor Bobby Fischer as well. William was uninterested in chess, and Carmine increased William's allowance if William agreed to take a lesson in chess. Bobby couldn't wait to have a lesson every Saturday and became absorbed in the game.   William was slightly younger that Bobby.  The very next evening, Regina took Bobby to the Brooklyn Chess Club, headed by Carmine Nigro. Bobby, age 7 (but looked 5), was the first child permitted to join the Brooklyn Chess Club (there were also no women chess members).  On that first night, Bobby lost every game at the club.  Despite his losses, Bobby continued to show up at the Brooklyn Chess Club. (source: Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Jan 18, 1951. Page 29  and page 23)


On January 19, 1951, Jose de Jesus Hernandez was born in Cuba.  He was awarded the IM title in 1977.


On February 10, 1951, John “Jack” A. Peters was born in Boston.  He was awarded the IM title in 1979.


On February 14, 1951, Bosko Abramovic was born in Zrenjanin, Yugoslavia.  He was awarded the IM title in 1980 and the GM title in 1984.


On February 21, 1951, Jeno Doery born in Budapest.  He was awarded the IM title in 1986. 


On March 2, 1951, James Bolton (1928-2004), 22, was arrested in Connecticut’s first draft evasion case under the new Selective Service Act after the outbreak of the Korean War.  He testified he believed the law was unconstitutional and lost.  He was sentenced to one year and one day in jail.  Bolton was the winner of the 1950 New England chess championship.  He won the Connecticut State Championship in 1953, 1957, and 1966. (source: Bridgeport, Connecticut Telegram, March 3, 1951 and June 5, 1951, and New York Times, March 4, 1951, p. 60)


On March 30, 1951, Petar Velikov was born in Dobrich, Bulgaria.  He was awarded the IM title in 1975 and the GM title in 1982.  He was Bulgarian champion in 1987.


In April, 1951, the USCF published its 2nd national rating list.  Reuben Fine was #1 at 2817 followed by Samuel Reshevsky at 2734.


On April 5, 1951, Alberto Barreras was born in Cienfuegos, Cuba.  He was awarded the IM title in 1981.


On April 23, 1951, Alain C. White, Alain (1880-1951) died in Sumerville, SC at the age of 71. He was a chess problem authority and an American chess composer.


On April 25, 1951, Allan George Savage was born in Alexandria, Virginia.  He was awarded the FM title in 1983 and the Correspondence IM title in 1996. He was Maryland State Champion in 1988 and 1990.


On May 3, 1953, Cecil John Purdy won the Australian championship for the 4th time.  He won in 1934,1937, and 1948.


On May 11, 1951, Mikhail Botvinnik drew with David Bronstein in Moscow to retain world championship with a 12-12 score.    Both players won 5 games each and 14 games were drawn.  This was the first World Championship match under FIDE rules. (source: Salt Lake Tribune, May 12, 1951)


On May 11, 1951, William “Bill” Dale Wall was born in Raymond, Washington.  He is a chess author, coach, organizer, and contributor to


On May 23, 1951, Anatoly Karpov was born in Zlatoust, located in the Southern Ural Mountains in the USSR.  He won the World Junior Championship in 1969, thereby automatically gaining the title of International Master. In 1970, he became an International Grandmaster after finishing equal fourth at Caracas, Venezuela.  When FIDE declared Fischer forfeited in 1975, Karpov became the 12th World Chess Champion.  He was world champion in 1975-1985 and FIDE world champion from 1993-1999.


On May 25, 1951, Krunoslav Hulak was born in Osijek, Yugoslavia.  He was awarded the IM title in 1974 and the GM title in 1976.  He was Yugoslav champion in 1976.  In 2005, he won the Croatian championship.


On May 25, 1951, Gyula Horvath was born in Bacsalmas, Hungary.  He was awarded the IM title in 1986.


On May 29, 1951, Geza Maroczy (1870-1951) died in Budapest at age 81.  He was on the original FIDE grandmaster list in 1950.  He was one of the best players in the world in his time.  He worked in Hungary as a clerk at the Center of Trade Unions and Social Insurance.  When the Communists came briefly to power, he was a chief auditor at the Educational Ministry.  After the Communist government was overthrown, he could not find a job.  He retired from international chess in 1908 and was a practicing engineer and mathematics teacher.  For a while, he worked in waterworks construction.


On June 1, 1951, the Staunton Centenary tournament was held in England.  It was won by Svetozar Gligoric.


On June 11, 1951, Julio Boudy was born in Cuba.  He was awarded the IM title in 1975.


On June 23, 1951, Boris Ivkov, age 17, won the first World Junior championship, held in Birmingham, England.


On June 14, 1951, Steen Fedder was born in Copenhagen.  He was awarded the IM title in 1982.


On June 18, 1951, Gyula Sax was born in Budapest.  He was awarded the IM title in 1972 and the GM title in 1974.  He was Hungarian champion in 1976 and 1977.


On June 20, 1951, Samuel Reshevsky won the Wertheim Memorial in New York.


On June 27, 1951, Ulf Andersson was born in Vasteras, Sweden.  He was Swedish Champion in 1969.  He was awarded the IM title in 1970 and the GM title in 1972.  He was awarded the GMC title in 1996.


In July, 1951, Larry Evans won the US Championship, held in New York.


On July 23, 1951, Kim S. Commons (1951-2015) was born in Lancaster, CA.  He won the California championship in 1972.  He was awarded the IM title in 1976.


On July 29, 1951, Camille Coudari was born in Aleppo, Syria.  He was awarded the IM title in 1979.


In August, 1951, Larry Evans won the US Open, held in Fort Worth, Texas.


On August 8, 1951, Juan Carlos Fernandez Gonzales was born in Argentina and moved to Cuba.  He was awarded the IM title in 1975.


On August 25, 1951, Stephen Dan was born in Worcester, MA.  He is a chess magazine editor and columnist.


On September 2, 1951, Robert Salgado was born.  He is a FIDE master.  He won the 1975 and 1983 USCF Golden Knights Correspondence Championship.


On September 5, 1951, John Leonard Watson was born in Milwaukee.  In 1969, he won the first National High School Championship.  He was awarded the IM title in 1982. 


On September 6, 1951, Zoltan Ribli was born in Mohacs, Hungary.  He was awarded the IM title in 1970 and the GM title in 1973.  He won the Hungarian championship in 1973, 1974, and 1977.


On October 15, 1951, Rafael Vaganian was born in Yerevan, USSR.  He was awarded the GM title in 1971.  He won the USSR championship in 1989.


On October 23, 1951, Tamas Horvath was born in Zalaegerszeg, Hungary.  He was awarded the IM title in 1982.


On November 1, 1951 seven stamps were issued in Cuba as part of the 30th anniversary of Jose Capablanca winning the world chess championship from Emanuel Lasker in 1921. This was the first portrayal of a chess player (Capablanca) on a stamp. Two stamps of Capablanca are based on a portrait by the Cuban artist E. Valderrama, and two stamps are from a photograph of Capablanca taken in 1941. One stamp shows the final position of the last game of the world championship match, 1921.  There was a print error on one of the stamps (2 cent stamp), spelling “JOSF” instead of “JOSE.”  The Capablanca commemorative stamps outsold any previous issue in Cuba’s postal history except for a Roosevelt stamp. 


On November 4, 1951, Eugenio Torre was born in Idoilo City, the Philippines.  He was awarded the IM title in 1972 and the GM title in 1974.


On November 20, 1951, Vladimir Hresc was born in Zemun, Yugoslavia.  He was awarded the IM title in 1985.


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.


On December 5, 1951, (Haji) Ardiansyah was born in Bandjermasin, Indonesia.  He was awarded the IM title in 1969 and the  GM title in 1986.


On December 8, 1951, Gregory S. DeFotis was born in Chicago.  He is a FIDE master.  He won or tied for 1st place in the U.S. Junior Championship three times.  He tied for first in the 1973 U.S. Open.


On December 14, 1951, Jan Timman was born in Amsterdam.  He was awarded the GM title in 1974.  He has won the Dutch championship 9 times.


On December 15, 1951, Paul Keres won the 19th USSR Championship in Moscow.


On December 20, 1951,  Vitomir Arapovic was born in Mostar, Yugoslavia.  He was awarded the IM title in 1979.


On December 24, 1951, Leon Piasetski was born in Canada.  He was Canadian Junior Champion in 1970.  He was awarded the IM title in 1975.


As of December 31, 1951, the top 20 players were Reshevsky, Dake, Denker, Evans, Fine, Horowitz, Pavey, Bisguer, D. Byrne, R. Byrne, Kashdan, Kevitz, Kramer, Seidman, Shainswit, Steiner, Pinkus, Adams, Hesse, and DiCamillio.