Chess in 1966

 by Bill Wall


In 1966, the USSR census showed 3,540,000 registered chess players.


In 1966, Harry Golombek (1911-1995) was the first person to receive the OBE (Officer of the British Empire) for “services to chess.”


On January 9, 1966, Ladislav  Prokes (1884-1966) died in Prague at the age of 81.  He was joint Czechoslovak champion (=Karel Hromadka) in 1921.


On January 18, 1966,  Alexander Khalifman was born in Leningrad.  He was awarded the IM title in 1986 and the GM title in 1990.  He won the Russian championship in 1996.  He was FIDE World Champion in 1999.


On January 29, 1966, Maxim Dlugy was born in Moscow.  He was awarded the IM title in 1982 and the  GM title in 1986.  He was world World Junior Champion in 1985.  He was USCF President in 1990.


On February 19, 1966, an episode (Season 1, Episode 22) called "Smart the Assassin" appeared on Get Smart (TV series from 1965 to 1970).  Smart is hypnotized to kill the Chief during their nightly game of chess at the Regency Club.


On March 6, 1966, Maurice Ashley was born in St. Andrew, Jamaica.  He was awarded the IM title in 1993 and the GM title in 1999.   He is the first and only African-American to achieve the grandmaster title.


On March 27, 1966, an episode called “The Defector” of The FBI centered on a chess theme.  Before an important summit conference, there is hope a Russian espionage man, Dr. Gregory Holman (George Voskovec), a noted chess player, will defect.  He is in Washington, DC, playing in a chess tournament.  However, he is supposedly later killed by his own people.  Chess is used to send a message in the plot.  Inspector Lewis Erskine (Efrem Zimbalist, Jr,) must cope with another chess player selling information to both sides and Korvin, the experienced ambassador from Holman's country.


On March 30, 1966,  Efstratios Grivas was born in Egio, Greece.  He was Greek champion in 1983 and 1996.  He was awarded the IM title in 1984 and the GM title in 1993.


In April 1966, Walter Browne (1949-2015) won the Interscholastic Chess League for 10th-12 grades in New York, scoring 5.5-0.5


On April 23, 1966, Lembit Oll (1966-1999) was born in Estonia.  He was Estonian champion in 1982. He was awarded the IM title in 1983 and the GM title in 1990. 


On April 25, 1966, Mir Sultan Khan (1905-1966) died of Tuberculosis in Sargodha, Pakistan at the age of 60.  He won the India championship in 1928.  He was British Champion in 1929, 1932 and 1933.


On May 13, 1966, Niaz Murshed was born in Bangladesh.  He was awarded the GM title in 1987. 


On May 21, 1966,  Zdenko Kozul was born in Bihac, Yugoslavia.  He was awarded the GM title in 1989.  In 1989 and 1990 he won the Yugoslav championship.


On May 29, 1966, Tigran Petrosian defeated Spassky, 12.5-11.5, in Moscow to retain the world chess championship title.


On June 26, 1966, Walter Browne won the first US Junior Invitational, held in New York.


On August 7, 1966, Robin Smith, age 24, was one of four inmates to compete in a two-day chess tournament at the Indiana University Medical Center, sponsored by the Indianapolis Chess Club.  Smith won his match game Saturday and returned to the Indiana Reformatory Institution.  But after he lost Sunday, he slipped away, unnoticed by a counselor and three prison buddies.  He was sentenced in 1965 to 10-25 years for robbery. (source: Kokomo Morning Times, Aug 9, 1966)


In August, 1966 Anatoly Karpov became Russia's youngest master at 15 years, 2 months. He participated in his first international chess tournament in December, 1966 when he played and won an invitational chess tournament in Trinec, Yugoslavia.


On August 13, 1966, an episode (Season 2, Episode 7) called “Works with Chess, Not with Life” appeared on Public Eye, a British television series (1965-1975).


On August 15, 1966, Spassky won the 2nd Piatagorsky Cup held in Santa Monica, California at the Miramar Hotel.  Bobby Fischer took 2nd.  Over 1,000 people watched Fischer’s game with Boris Spassky, the largest audience for a chess game in U.S. history.


On August 25, 1966, Noam David Elkes was born in New York City.  He is an American mathematician and chess master.  He was the youngest professor ever tenured at Harvard (age 26).  In 1981 and 1982 he placed first in the USA Math Olympiad.  He had a perfect score in 1981.     At age 18, he graduated from Columbia University as class valedictorian, majoring in mathematics and music.  He earned his PhD from Harvard in mathematics at age 20.   He won the world chess solving championship in 1996 and 2001.  In 2001, he was awarded the title of Grandmaster for Chess Solving.


On October 27, 1966,  Dibyendu Barua was born in Chittagong, Bangladesh.  He was awarded the IM title in 1984 and the GM title in 1991.


In November, 1966, during the Chess Olympiad in Havana, Mikhail Tal (1936-1992) went out one evening to a local bar in the city. Apparently, he was caught flirting with a local woman, whose husband or boyfriend took exception. Tal ended up being struck over the head with a beer bottle. As a result, he missed the first four rounds of the event, and when he did appear in the tournament hall, it was with his head heavily bandaged.  Bobby Fischer played Board 1 for the U.S. at the 17th Chess Olympiad in Havana, scoring 14 wins, 2 draws, and 1 loss (to Florin Gheorghiu). He took the silver medal, just behind World Champion Tigran Petrosian.  He gave Fidel Castro an autographed copy of his book, Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess.  His USCF rating was 2748.


On November 21, 1966,  Evgeny Bareev was born in Moscow.  He was World Under-16 Champion in 1982.  He was awarded the IM title in 1986 and the GM title in 1989. 


In December 1966, Fischer won the 1966-67 U.S. Championship with 8 wins, 3 draws, and no losses. This was his 8th U.S. Championship title (winning in 1957/58, 1958/59, 1959/60, 1960/61, 1962/63, 1963/64, 1965/66 and 1966/67). Fischer did not play in the 1961-62 championship and there was no 1964/65 championship.  In 8 US championships, he only lost 3 games (to Edmar Mednis, Samuel Reshevsky, and Robert Byrne).  His USCF rating was 2758.


In December, 1966, Dutch chess champion Jan Hein Donner created a Christmas card with the slogan “Johnson Murderer.”  The card was entered at an auction of art works by amateurs in Amsterdam.  Authorities of the auction later removed from public sale the Christmas card.  The Christmas card was made in reference to U.S. policy in Vietnam.  The Christmas card was later sold after the official auction for $75.  (source: San Rafael Daily Independent Journal, Dec 24, 1966)


In December, 1966, Fischer started writing a chess column for Boys' Life, the official publication of the Boy Scouts of America. He wrote a column until December, 1969.   During that period, Fischer became the single most popular person in the magazine.