Evans on Chess

U.S. Grandmaster Larry Evans died November 15, 2010.  He was 78 and was one of the top chess players in America. 

Larry Melvyn Evans was born on March 22, 1932 in Manhattan, New York City.  He learned chess at a the age of 12 and joined the Marshall Chess Club at age 13.  At age 14, he tied for 4th-5th in the Marshall Chess Club championship.  In 1948, at age 15, he was the champion of the Marshall Chess Club, becoming the youngest Marshall champion at that time.  He also finished equal 2nd in the U.S. Junior Championship

Evans won the Marshall Chess Club championship in 1948, 1949, and 1950

At 16, he played in the 1948 U.S. Chess Championship, tying for 8th place.

In 1949 he tied for 1st place with Arthur Bisguier in the U.S. Junior Championship.

By age 18, he had won a New York State championship and was a gold medal winner in the Dubrovnik Chess Olympiad of 1950.He scored 90% (8 wins and 2 draws) on 6th board for the USA team..  He had the best result of the entire Olympiad.

He represented the USA in 8 Chess Olympiads.  He won the gold medal in 1950, the silver medal in 1958, and the bronze medal in 1976.  Team USA, in which he was a member, won the gold medal in 1976 and silver medal in 1966.

In 1950, on the first US Chess Federation rating list, Evans was ranked 8th in the nation, with a rating of 2384.  Reuben Fine was ranked the highest at 2817, followed by Samuel Reshevsky at 2770.  By 1951, Evans was the 3rd highest rated player (2660), behind Reshevsky and Fine.

In 1951 and 1952 (defeating Herman Steiner in a match – the last U.S. championship match), he won the U.S. Championship.  He also won it in 1961-62, 1967-68, and 1980 (joint).

He won the U.S. Open Chess Championship in 1951, 1952, 1954, and 1971.

In 1951, at the age of 19, Evans had won the U.S. Open Championship, the U.S. Closed Championship, and the U.S. Speed Championship. 

In 1952, he was awarded the International Master title from FIDE.  He was awarded the Grandmaster title in 1957.

In 1954, he beat Mark Taimanov 2.5-1.5 in the USA-USSR radio match.

In 1955, Evans was the 2nd highest rated player in the U.S. at 2629.  Reshevsky was ranked 1st at 2766.

In 1956, the U.S. State Department appointed him a “chess ambassador.”

In 1956 and 1966, he won the Canadian Open Chess Championship on tiebreaks over Bill Lombardy.  Evans drove Bobby Fischer to this tournament, where Bobby took 10th-12th place.

In 1961, he was the chess editor of American Chess Quarterly, which ran from 1961 to 1965.

In May-June 1964, he took 14th place in the Amsterdam Interzonal.  There were 24 players.  It was a four-way tie for first place between Smyslov, Larsen, Spassky, and Tal.  Evans was paid $500 for playing in the event, which was better than the 1st place prize - $250.

In 1967, Evans was the 3rd highest rated player in the U.S, rated 2593, behind Fischer at 2762 and Benko at 2595.

In 1968, his peak USCF rating was 2631.  He was the 2nd highest rated player in the U.S., behind Fischer at 2762.

In 1968, Evans got married to a painter and moved to Reno, Nevada to try his skill at blackjack.  Larry Evans was one of the earliest card counters in playing blackjack, and the first noted chess master to be evicted from all the Nevada casinos.

In 1969, Evans collaborated with Bobby Fischer to help write Fischer’s My 60 Memorable Games.  Evans wrote all the introductions to the games in Fischer’s book.

In 1970, he tied for 1st with Arthur Bisguier at the National Open in Sparks, Nevada.

In 1971, he won the first Lone Pine tournament (Statham masters tournament) in Lone Pine, California and tied for 1st at the American Open.

From 1971 until 2010, he wrote his nationally syndicated chess column, Evans of Chess.

In 1972, he covered the Fischer-Spassky world championship match for Time and ABC’s Wide World of Sports.

In 1977, his peak Elo (FIDE) rating was 2555.

In 1982, Evans tied for 1st place with John Curdo in the U.S. Senior Open championship.

In 1994, he was inducted into the U.S. Chess Hall of Fame.

In 2000, he was awarded the USCF’s Chess Journalist of the Year.

In 2006, the U.S. Chess Federation notified Larry Evans that his question-and-answer chess column, Larry Evans on Chess, was being cancelled in Chess Life magazine.  As measured by reader surveys, it was the most popular column in the magazine for many years.

On November 15, 2010, Evans died from complications following gallbladder surgery in a Reno, Nevada hospital.  He is survived by his wife Ingrid Evans, and two stepsons.

He wrote or co-wrote more than 20 books on chess.  This included: David Bronstein’s Best Games of Chess, 1944-1949 (1950), Vienna International Tournament 1922 (1950), Championship Chess and Checkers for All (1953), Trophy Chess (1956), New Ideas in Chess (1958), Modern Chess Openings, 11th edition (1965, with Walter Korn), Chess Catechism (1970), Modern Chess Brilliancies (1970), What’s the Best Move (1973), Evans on Chess (1974), The Chess Opening for You (1975), An Unbeatable White Repertoire after 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 (1976), How to Open a Chess Game (1988), Lessons with the Masters (1989), How to Get Better at Chess (1991), Ten Most Common Chess Mistakes – and How to Avoid Them (1998), Test Your Chess I.Q. (2001),  Chess Endgame Quiz (2002), How Good is Your Chess (2004), This Crazy World of Chess (2007)

Evans – Bisguier, New York 1963, Queen’s Gambit, 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Bg5 c5 5.cxd5 cxd4 6.Qxd4 Be7 7.e4 Nc6 8.Qe3 exd5 9.Bxf6 Bxf6 10.exd5+ Ne7 11.d6 Qxd6 12.Bb5+ Bd7 13. Rd1 Bxc3+ 14.bxc3 Qxd1+ 15.Kxd1 Bxb5 16.Nf3 O-O-O+ (16…Bc4) 17.Kc1 Nc6 18.Qc5 Bd3 19.Ne5 Rhe8 20.Nxf7 (20…Rd7 21.Nd6+, winning the exchange)   1-0