Manhattan Chess Club (USA)—Club of La Plata (ARG) 3½—6½
radio match, 2nd November 1947



Early this month New Yorkers heard news which shook their complacency. The vaunted Manhattan Chess Club had been trounced 6½—3½ in its radio match with the Jockey Club of La Plata, Argentina. Careful observers pointed out that the defeat was a blow to American chess as well. The lineups on both sides gave the match more importance than mere inter-club rivalry. It was to all intents and purposes a full scale international event.

Headed by US champion Samuel Reshevsky, the Manhattan team included most of the top ranking US players. Isaac Kashdan is present US Open titleholder; Arnold Denker, a former US champion; I. A. Horowitz, Alexander Kevitz and Albert Pinkus have all taken a share of glory in national tournaments and the USA—USSR matches. One-time Scottish titlist, Max Pavey has little time for tournament chess yet ranks as one of the Manhattan Club's top players. George Kramer was ninth in the 1946 US championship and fourth at Corpus Christi this year. George Shainswit and Donald Byrne are in the fore as talented younger players. With such an array, the one-sided defeat was certainly unexpected. Naturally the team could have been bolstered it is had been a United States rather than a Manhattan team but the implication is clear: the United States is losing its place as one of the strongest chess playing countries in the world. The match is a distress signal which must be heeded.

Only Reshevsky was able to win. He downed Gideon Stahlberg, winner of the recent Mar del Plata sextangular tourney ahead of Najdorf and Euwe. How the US champion was able to extract a win from the apparently dead even position is a grandmaster's secret. The result is proof positive that Sammy is in earnest about the world championship. If he shows his present form and fighting spirit, he will be one of the most dangerous contestants.

Against Najdorf, Kashdan put himself at an early disadvantage by choosing a doubtful opening. The Polish grandmaster showed the chess which has put him in the van of present-day masters. He pushed home his attack relentlessly. The game was the best of the series.

Denker met the Argentine champion, Julio Bolbochan. Encountering his favorite Sicilian, Denker showed no partiality and built up an early edge by sharp tactics. Later, wearied by the long session, he lost his grip on the position and began to drift. Even when he accepted his opponent's offer of a draw, Denker still had winning chances.

The remaining games were hardly notable. Horowitz and Pilnik played a "book" variation which left little play for either side. Kevitz could make nothing out of his slight pull. Pinkus had the misfortune to be first to lose. After winning a pawn in the opening, Pavey allowed too many exchanges and could not make it count in an ending with Bishops of opposite colors. Kramer played light-heartedly and suffered the logical consequences. Shainswit's game was a bit of boring shadow boxing. Byrne was simply out of his depth against his adversary's positional play.

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The moves were transmitted by radioteletype installed at the club by RCA Comminications. Messages were sent to a relay point where they were fed directly into an open circuit for transmission to Argentina. Despite the speed of this method, the lag between moves was intermidable. One actor, reported by the South Americans, was the press of spectators at that end. The crowds impeded the running of messages between the radio and playing rooms. Whatever the cause, there were incredible delays. After only four moves, Byrne had to wait an hour for his opponent's reply. Six moves later, a time check indicated that Luckis had taken only three minutes for his first ten moves! Under these conditions, play dragged unbearably. Beginning at twelve moon on November 2nd, the match lacked only seconds of being twelve hours long yet no game went more than forty moes! The time limit for play was only forty moves in two hours. In short, eight hours were consumed for transmission alone!

Officiating were Hans Kmoch, referee and Sidney Kenton, team captain for the New Yorkers. Kmoch, a famous chess author and analyst, has only recently emigrated to this country from Holland.

/ Taken from The Chess Review /