Chess Heroes: Isaac Kashdan

Isaac Kashdan This is our new series devoted to those, who did not earn worldwide credit adequate to their chess skills and Olympic achievements. One of them is certainly Isaac Kashdan (born 1905), relatively unknown US player. In fact he was one of strongest players of the world in early 30's. Even Alekhine mentioned one day that Kashdan might be next World Champion. He earned well-deserved nickname of "the little Capablanca" because of his unique ability to extract victories from seemingly even positions. Unfortunately Kashdan could not engage seriously into chess career. He turned to earn a living as an insurance agent and administrator in order to support his family.

His Olympic record is ultimate and unique. He participated in 1928, 1930, 1931, 1933 and 1937. He won three gold and one silver medal with US team. He won as much as 52 games overall and lost only 5, one at each Olympiad, two of them in the last round (vs Rubinstein in 1931 and vs Flohr in 1933). He never scored worse than 70% winning two gold individual medals, one silver, one bronze, and one fourth place overall. In Stockholm, 1937 he scored 14/16, the best individual record of all the players. His all-time Olympic record of 79.7% is unique achievement superior to vast majority of chess giants.

He had many serious achievements in non-Olympic tournaments as well. In 1930 he won 1st prizes in Berlin, Stockholm and Gyor. He was 2nd, right behind Capablanca in New York, 1931 and tied for 4th in Bled on the same year. In 1932 he tied 2nd behind Alekhine in Pasadena, tied 1st prize with Alekhine at Mexico City and tied 2nd to Flohr at Hastings. He tied for 1st place in US Championship in 1942 but lost play-off vs Reshevsky.

After the War Kashdan maintained his ties to chess by organizing and directing tournaments, and editing the chess column for the prestigious Los Angeles Times from 1955 until 1982. He was also the co-founder of Chess Review. In 1950 he was awarded the IM title, in 1954 he got the GM title and the IA title in 1960. He passed away at the age of 79 in 1985.

Few have contributed more to the development of the chess life in USA than GM Isaac Kashdan.

This is one of his best and most famous games being a vivid proof for his profound knowledge of the endings. For the above, he was given a special prize for the best ending:

Kashdan - Flohr, Hamburg 1930