Chess in 1955

 by Bill Wall



In 1955, the Franklin and Mercantile clubs merged to form Franklin-Mercantile Chess Club


In 1955, Franklin Howard and Bill Lombardy tied for 1st in the 38th Marshall Chess Club championship.


By 1955, there were over two million serious chess players in the USSR.  There were 104 masters and 16 grandmasters in the Soviet Union


In 1955, an African-American chess player, William A. Scott, was refused to be allowed to play in the Georgia Open chess championship.


In January, 1955, Kevitz and Sherwin tied for 1st at the 67th Manhattan Chess Club championship.


On January 5, 1955, Samuel Reshevsky won the first Rosenwald Trophy in New York.


On January 6, 1955, Slavoljub Marjanovic was born in Lalinac, Yugoslavia.  He was awarded the IM title in 1977 and the GM title in 1978.  He was Yugoslav champion in 1985.


On January 8, 1955,  Vasily Smyslov and Paul Keres tied for 1st at the 30th Hastings tournament for 1954-55.


On January 23, 1955, Ruth Inez Haring was born in Bourne, MA.   She was awarded the WIM title in 1977.  In 2011 she was elected president of the U.S. Chess Federation.


On January 31, 1955, Henry Ernest Atkins (1872-1955) died in Huddersfield, England at the age of 82.  He was awarded the IM title in 1950.  He won the British chess championship in 1905, 1906, 1907, 1908, 1909, 1910, 1911, 1924 and 1925.  He attended Cambridge University as a mathematics scholar and played board one on its college team for four years, only losing one game during that time.  He taught mathematics before being appointed principal at Huddersfield New College.  He was its principal for 28 years.  He was a schoolmaster who played chess only in his spare time.


On February 8, 1955, Peter Szekely (1955-2003) was born in Hungary.  He was awarded the IM title in 1976 and the GM title in 1994.


On March 20, 1955, Eric Schiller was born in New York.  He is a USCF Life Master and FIDE Master.  He won the 1974 Illinois State Championship and the 1995 Calchess State Championship.  He is a prolific writer of chess books.


In April, 1955, a group of Russian chess players, stationed at a weather station on an Arctic ice flow, defeated a chess team in Moscow in an extended match played by short wave radio.  The Arctic team won, scoring 16.5-10.5 after 5 months of playing.  (source: Daily Reporter, Dover, Ohio, Apr 21, 1955)


On April 14, 1955, Attila Schneider (1955-2003) was born in Budapest.  He was Hungarian champion in 1982 and 1989. He was awarded the IM title in 1984.


On April 23, 1955, Anthony Miles (1955-2001) was born in Birmingham, England.  He was awarded the GM title in 1976, becoming Britain’s first native British chess grandmaster.


On April 25, 1955, John Nunn was born in London, England.   He was awarded the IM title in 1975 and the GM title in 1978.  He won the European Junior Championship in 1974-75. He was British Champion in 1980 and was a triple gold medalist in the Thessaloniki Olympiad in 1984. In 2004 he won the World Problem Solving Championship. He won it again in 2007 and 2010.


On April 26, 1955, Julius Armas was born in Bucharest.  He was awarded the IM title in 1985.


In May, 1955, George Koltanowski set a new U.S. record by playing 110 boards at the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles. He won 89, drew 17, and lost 4 in 12 hours and 10 minutes of continuous play. The event was sponsored by the Chess Friends of Southern California.


On May 16, 1955, Harold James Ruthven Murray (1868-1955) died in England at the age of 86.  He was a prominent chess historian who wrote A History of Chess in 1913.


On May 21-22, 1955, Bobby Fischer played in his first U.S. Chess Federation (USCF) tournament. He scored 2.5 points (out of 6) in the U.S. Amateur Championship in Lake Mohegan, New York (played at the Mohegan Country Club). Carmine Nigro took him to the event. Fischer, age 12, only wanted to watch, but was persuaded to play by Nigro. Nigro paid the $5 entry fee for Bobby and his USCF membership.  The only known Fischer game from this event was Humphrey-Fischer in round 6. Fischer drew that game. Fischer won 2, drew 1, and lost 3 (2.5-3.5). He tied for 33rd place. The event was won by Clinton L. Parmalee of New Jersey and organized by Kenneth Harkness (1896-1972). There were 75 entrants. The event was open to anyone except rated masters (masters were anyone rated 2300 or over). The event was covered in the June 5, 1955 issue of Chess Life and in Chess Review, June, 1955, page 164.  Fischer’s post-tournament provisional USCF rating was 1826. 


On May 27, 1955, Darlo Alzate was born in Colombia.  He was awarded the IM title in 1984.  He was the champion of Colombia in 1989, 1998, 2001, and 2005.


In June, 1955 Bobby Fischer scored 4.5-3.5 in a Washington Square Park (Greenwich Village) 8 round Swiss tournament with 32 players. He tied for 15th place.  The tournament director was Jose Calderon.  The entry fee was 10 cents.  The entry fee money was sent to the American Red Cross as a donation.


In late June, 1955, Bobby Fischer entered the Manhattan Chess Club for the first time with Carmine Nigro.  He was met by Walter Shipman (1929- ), one of the club’s directors.  Shipman immediately matched Bobby with a player, and Bobby won the game.  Another opponent was found and Bobby won again.  Shipman then played Fischer a series of blitz games, and Bobby won a third of the games.  Shipman recalled, “I was so impressed by his play that I introduced the 12-year old to Maurice Kasper (1900-1972), the president of the club and a millionaire garment maker, whose beneficent offer of a free junior membership was immediately accepted by Bobby.” 


On June 28, 1955, Calvin Blocker was born in Cleveland, Ohio.  He was awarded the FM title in 1981 and the IM title in 1982.  He has won the Ohio chess championship multiple times.


On July 7, 1955, Jay R. Bonin was born in New York.  He won the New York State Championship in 1982 and 1997. In 1986, he won the New York Open. In 1997, he won the Manhattan Chess Club Championship. He won the Marshall Chess Club Championship in 1984, 1987, and 1997.  He was awarded the IM title in 1985.


On July 8, 1955, the USSR defeated the USA in a chess match in Moscow, scoring 25-7.


On July 10, 1955, Lars-Åke Schneider was born in Stockholm.  He was awarded the IM title in 1976.  He was Swedish champion in 1979, 1982, 1983 and 1986.


On July 11, 1955, Lars Karlsson was born in Stockholm.  He was awarded the IM title in 1979 and the GM title in 1982.  He won the Swedish championship in 1992.


On July 26, 1955, Stefan Djuric was born in Belgrade.  He was awarded the IM title in 1978 and the GM title in 1982.


On August 7, 1955, Boris Spassky won the 3rd world junior championship in Antwerp, Belgium, scoring 9 out of 10. Edmar Mednis took 2nd place, scoring 7 out of 10. (source: Sydney Morning Herald, Aug 9, 1955)


In August, 1955, an international chess tournament was held in Johannesburg.  One of the participants was former world champion Dr. Max Euwe.  Seven black youths handed him a partition protesting a South African color bar of not allowing blacks to play chess in any international tournament in South Africa.  They wished him luck personally.  (source: Oil City Derrick, Oil City, PA, Aug 20, 1955)


On August 20, 1955, the 56th US Open was held in Long Beach.  Nicholas Rossolimo took 1st place on tiebreak over Reshevsky.  He won a new Buick automobile.


On August 24, 1955, Charles Kalme won the US Junior championship in Lincoln, Nebraska.  Fischer takes 20th place.


On August 31, 1955, an episode called “The Chess Game” appeared on Kraft Theatre (TV series from 1947 to 1958).  It’s a mental chess game of John Green, suspected of murder that he did not do, trying to evade the law.


On September 4, 1955, Edmar Mednis won the 77th New York State Championship in Cazenovia, NY.


On September 23, 1955, the Gothenburg, Sweden Interzonal was won by David Bronstein.


On November 25, 1955, Herman Steiner (1905-1955) died at the age of 50 while playing in the 1955 California chess championship.  He died of a heart attack after a California State Championship game in Los Angeles. He was defending his state championship title and finished his 5th round game (a 62-move draw against William Addison). He then said he felt unwell, so his afternoon game was postponed. About two hours later, around 9:30 pm, Steiner had a fatal heart attack while being attended by a physician.  He won the US championship in 1948.  He was awarded the IM title in 1950.  At the time of his death, he was the Los Angeles Times chess editor.  He was survived by his wife Selma, and two sons, Eugene and Armin.  (source: Danville, Virginia Bee, Nov 26, 1955)


On November 27, 1955, Valery Chekhov was born in Moscow.  He was World Junior Champion in 1975. He was awarded the IM title in 1975 and the GM title in 1984.


On December 11, 1955, Valentin Lukov was born in Bulgaria.  He was awarded the GM title in 1988.


On December 11, 1955, Richard Clewin Griffith died in Hendon, England.  He was British champion in 1912.  Co-author, with John Herbert White, of Modern Chess Openings.


On December 13, 1955, Valery Loginov was born in Uzbekistan.  He was champion of Uzbekistan in 1976 (=Georgy Tadzhikanovich Agzamov), 1982 and 1984.  He was awarded the GM title in 1991.


On December 17, 1955, William Winter (1898-1955) died in London if tuberculosis at the age of 57.  He was London Champion in 1926, 1928-29, 1932, 1939 and 1947.  He was British Champion in 1935 and 1936.  He was awarded the IM title in 1950.


On December 24, 1955, Adam Kuligowski was born in Warsaw.  He was Polish champion in 1978 (on tie-break). He was awarded the IM title in 1979 and the GM title in 1980.