Friday, February 3, 2006

More bad boys of chess

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

I got quite a lot of comments about my column last week, mostly from club members regarding chess players who were categorized as “sinners” and they were asking for more. Actually, there are quite a lot, but I am only listing those who are well known. Here are a few more of them.

Al Capone (1899-1947) -- known as “Scarface” slashed with a knife in a bar room brawl, he was the most famous gangster during the prohibition era. He was not an immigrant from Italy as what most people think, but grew up in the US.

TAX MAN. He was into prostitution, illegal gambling, murder, bootlegging and by his charisma, was the most visible gangster in an era when cities were controlled by criminal syndicates. He was extremely smart and got away with most of his crimes. What did him in were those men who are called “accountants with a mission” -- the Internal Revenue Service. He was convicted of tax evasion and sent to prison.

He is a legend and has been a subject of several movies and books.

George Kelley (1895-1954) - also known as “Machine Gun “Kelley for his expertise with the gun, started as a bootlegger and through the influence of his girl friend Kathryn Thorne, graduated to more serious crimes such as bank robberies and kidnapping.

Caught by federal agents who were on his trail for the kidnapping of wealthy oil tycoon Charles Urschel, whose family paid $200,000, a princely figure at that time, he was sent to Alcatraz and eventually to Leavenworth where he died of a heart attack.

His life was also featured in several movies.

Lee Harvey Oswald -- He is the most famous assassin in history for allegedly killing the American President John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Texas on Nov. 22, 1963.

The House Select Committee on Assassinations concluded in 1979 that Oswald was the assassin, as determined by the Warren Commission, and also that there was probably a conspiracy.

Many not only dispute the conclusion but also claim that Oswald was not involved at all. Shortly after his arrest, Oswald denied killing the President and insisted he was only a “patsy” and denied any participation in the assassination. Two days after his arrest he was killed by Jack Ruby, a nightclub owner.

Investigations, scientific testing and re-creations of the death of Kennedy have not settled the question of who really killed the President.

Sirhan Sirhan -- On June 5, 1968 Sirhan shot presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, the younger brother of John, in the Ambassador hotel in Los Angeles. Robert died the next day. Sirhan was an Arab who was deeply disturbed by Kennedy’s support for Israel.

He was sentenced to death but it was later commuted to life in prison. His repeated applications for parole have been denied.

Robert Stroud (1890-1965) -- known as the “Birdman of Alcatraz” for his research on canaries while in prison, he was immortalized in the movie of the same title by Burt Lancaster as a cultured and humane individual. Actually, he was a violent man who shot to death a bartender who was harassing his wife and stabbed to death a guard in front of 1,100 inmates in the prison mess hall.

He was sentenced to death but it was later commuted to life in prison. He later authored two books on canaries, their diseases, habits and physiology.

NOT ON THE LIST. Sonny Sollano -- Music lover. Chess player. Philosopher. Theologian. Poker player. Good father.

Devoted husband. Sonny was all these and more. He was also a very good friend and together with Art Ynclino we would spend evenings, in between chess games and cold bottles of beer, discussing the wonders of the universe and the history of man.

Today is his second death anniversary.

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