Friday, November 3, 2006

Chess deaths II

By Frank “Boy” Pestaño

Harry Nelson Pillsbury was the United States chess champion from 1897 until his death of syphilis in 1906. The stigma surrounding the disease makes it unlikely that he sought medical treatment. At that time the disease was potentially fatal.

Along with Paul Morphy and Bobby Fischer ,Pillsbury ranks as one of America`s greatest chess players ever .He was a very strong blindfold player and could play checkers and chess simultaneously while playing a hand of whist and reciting a list of long words.

Another disease potentially fatal at that time was tuberculosis, the scourge of the third world. Chess players who died of the disease were Rudolf Charousek (1873-1900) ,Cecil de Vere (`1845-1875) and David Janowsky (1868-1927).

Charousek was a Jewish Hungarian player who was described by Reuben Fine as the John Keats of chess He was one of a few players who a plus score against world champion Emanuel Lasker who said “I shall play a championship match with this man someday”.

Cecil Valentine De Vere (1845-1875) was the pseudonym of Cecil Valentine Brown, the winner of the first official British Chess Championship, in 1866.

He played chess effortlessly and elegantly without recourse to chess study or theory; in this respect he was not unlike Capablanca. His meteoric rise to fame and equally dramatic decline has been compared to Morphy and he is often cited as 'The English Morphy.”

David Janowsky was a French-Polish player who is considered one of the best players in the 20th century.Like Anand today, he was a very fast player and is known for his play with the two bishops, Capablanca says of him: “When he is in form he is a devastating player.”

Thomas Wilson Barnes born 1825 was one of the strongest English players in the 1850's. He's best remembered for having more wins against Paul Morphy in friendly play than anyone else. Being overweight he decided to reduce his size, but the loss of 130 pounds in 10 months was more than his system could handle and resulted in his death in 1874.

Henry Buckle is known more in history as the author of the monumental work, the History of Civilization, which is considered one of the greatest literary feats ever. It is said that he read 10 hrs a day for 17 years in preparation to writing this book. On his travel to Beirut and then Nazareth he was infected with typhoid fever and died in Damascus in 1862.

Dying due to car accidents were Janos Flesch (1933-1983) and Guillermo Garcia (1953-1990). Flesch was a Hungarian international master who is best known for claiming a world record simultaneous exhibition by playing 52 boards. Guillermo Garcia Gonzales was born 1953 in Cuba. He earned the IM title in 1974 and the GM title in 1976. He also won three Cuban Championships (1974, 1976, 1983).

Borislav Kostic was a professional chess player from Serbia. From 1923–1926, Kostic travelled all over the world, including Australasia, the Far East, Africa, India and Siberia, demonstrating his exceptional skills, generating interest in chess and forging new links with people across the globe. He was undoubtedly a brilliant publicist and ambassador for the game, although this probably prevented him from realising his full potential as a player. He died of blood poisoning from a scratch in 1963.

Nikolai Krylenko is considered the father of Soviet chess. Of the 14 classical champions 9 are Russians and the man mainly responsible for this phenomenon is Krylenko. However, he was executed during one of Stalin`s purges in 1938.

Vera Menchik died as a result of the bombing of London and was of British-Czech origin.She was the first female world champion in 1927 and defended her crown 6 times.

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