U.S. chess loses am­bas­sador with pass­ing of Bis­guier

The Washington Times Daily - - LIFE - DAVID R. SANDS David R. Sands can be reached at (202) 636-3178 or by email at dsands@wash­ing­ton­times.com.

Amer­i­can chess lost one of the good guys with the pass­ing of GM Arthur Bis­guier at the age of 87 on April 5. It was some­how fit­ting that New York-born Bis­guier passed away smack in the mid­dle of the 2017 U.S. na­tional cham­pi­onship tour­na­ment in St. Louis, since the widely-loved “Dean of Amer­i­can Chess” has been smack in the mid­dle of the na­tional chess scene since he first emerged as com­ing force with his fifth-place fin­ish at the 1946 U.S. Open as a 17-year-old high school stu­dent.

His play­ing re­sume was im­pres­sive, al­though Mr. Bis­guier was part of an en­tire gen­er­a­tion of strong post­war Amer­i­can play­ers who la­bored in the im­mense shadow of Bobby Fis­cher. He was U.S. cham­pion in 1954, played on five Olympiad teams be­tween 1952 and 1972, won three U.S. Opens, a U.S. ju­nior cham­pi­onship and three U.S. Se­nior Opens.

But Mr. Bis­guier’s most last­ing legacy may have been the lives he touched and friend­ships he made as a rov­ing good­will am­bas­sador for the game, re­cruited by the U.S. Chess Fed­er­a­tion for lec­tures, ex­hi­bi­tions and lessons at in­nu­mer­able hos­pi­tals, nurs­ing homes, schools and pris­ons. At the end of his life, Mr. Bis­guier was the world’s old­est ac­tive grand­mas­ter, and he may been the best-liked as well.

“It is no ef­fort for Art to win friends and in­flu­ence peo­ple,” Chess Life writer Ken­neth Hark­ness once ob­served. “It is a nat­u­ral gift.”

At the board, Mr. Bis­guier was just as keen as any great player to crush the other guy, with a par­tic­u­lar tal­ent for the at­tack. To­day’s game finds him best­ing fre­quent spar­ring part­ner GM Pal Benko in the 1960 U.S. Open.

In a Semi-Tar­rasch QGD, White doesn’t or­di­nar­ily give up a bishop so read­ily with 10. Re1 Bf6 11. Be3!, but Bis­guier will ben­e­fit down the line from the open c- and f-files. Black, though is do­ing fine up through 20. Ne5 g6 21. Be4, when he could have found full equal­ity with 21 ... Bxe4 22. Nxe4 Kg7 23. Rxc8 Qxc8 24. b4 Nb7 25. Qa4 a5!.

In­stead, Black opens up the flood­gates with 21 ... f6? (see di­a­gram) 22. Bxg6!? (even bet­ter might be 22. Nxg6! hxg6 23. Bxg6 Kg7 24. Qg4, when White has a clear edge after 24 ... Rg8 [Rxc2?? 25. Bf5+ Kf8 26. Bxe6, with un­stop­pable mate] 25. Rc7! Qd8 26. Qxe6 Kxg6 27. Rxe7 Qd5 28. Qg4+ Qg5 29. Qxg5+ fxg5 30. b4, win­ning ma­te­rial) fxe5 23. Qh5 hxg6 24. Qxg6+, with a fierce at­tack.

The po­si­tion re­mains dou­bleedged un­til Black loses his way: 24 ... Kf8 25. Nc4! (clear­ing the rook’s way to f2) Be4? (Rxc4! 26. Rf2+ Bf3! 27. Rxf3+ Qxf3 28. gxf3 exd4 29. exd4 Rxd4, and it’s still a tense bat­tle) 26. Qh6+ Kg8 27. Qxe6+ Kh8 28. Qxe5+ Kg8 29. Qe6+ Kh8 30. Nxb6! — Benko gets a scary-look­ing at­tack for his lost queen, but White stays in con­trol.

White clar­i­fies things on 34. Qf7! (stop­ping the threat of per­pet­ual check) Rf2+ (Bxa8 35. Qh5+) 35. Qxf2 Bxf2 36. Kxf2 Bxa3 37. Kg3, and White’s four ex­tra pawns will dom­i­nate Black’s king and bishop. In the fi­nal po­si­tion after 49. b5 Bd1 (Be4 50. Kb7 Bxd5+ 51. Kxa7 Kxe6 52. b6 Kf6 53. b7 Bxb7 54. Kxb7 and wins), Benko re­signs be­fore White can ad­min­is­ter 50. d6+ Kxe6 51. d7 Bf3+ 52. Kc7 and wins.

Bis­guier-Benko, U.S. Open, St. Louis, Au­gust 1960

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 c5 4. e3 cxd4

5. exd4 d5 6. Nc3 Be7 7. cxd5 Nxd5

8. Bd3 Nc6 9. O-O O-O 10. Re1 Bf6

11. Be3 Nxe3 12. fxe3 b6 13. Ne4 Be7

14. Rc1 Bb7 15. a3 Rc8 16. Re2 Na5

17. Rec2 Rxc2 18. Rxc2 Qa8 19. Ned2 Rc8 20. Ne5 g6 21. Be4 f6 22. Bxg6 fxe5

23. Qh5 hxg6 24. Qxg6+ Kf8 25. Nc4 Be4 26. Qh6+ Kg8 27. Qxe6+ Kh8 28. Qxe5+ Kg8 29. Qe6+ Kh8 30. Nxb6 Rxc2 31. Nxa8 Rxg2+ 32. Kf1 Nc4 33. Qxc4 Bh4 34. Qf7 Rf2+ 35. Qxf2 Bxf2 36. Kxf2 Bxa8 37. Kg3 Kg7 38. Kf4 Kf6 39. e4 Bc6 40. d5 Ba4 41. b4 Bc2 42. e5+ Kg6 43. h4 Bd1 44. Ke4 Kf7

45. Kd4 Ke7 46. Kc5 Kd7 47. e6+ Ke7

48. Kc6 Bf3 49. b5 Bd1 and Black re­signs

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