Historic Unedited Photos They Don't Want You To See
Publication: Historical Archives. Posted by
Historic Unedited Photos They Don't Want You To See
Chess prodigy Samuel Reshevsky is eight years old in this picture, where he can be seen playing multiple simultaneous games with several adults.
“Good chess players develop a tactical instinct, a sense of what is possible or likely and what is not worth calculating.” One of the greatest chess players to ever live, Samuel Reshevsky played his first game of chess at the age of four and, by the age of six, was already well-known throughout his native France as an accomplished player. At eight years old, he competed against a room of highly skilled chess players in an exhibition in France and later ventured to the United States where his skill earned him widespread praise. With the picture capturing the early success of a future Grandmaster, let’s take a closer look at Reshevsky’s life and career!
The Makings of a Chess Prodigy
Samuel Herman Reshevsky was born into a Jewish family on November 26, 1911, in Ozorków, Poland. He showed an early interest in chess and learned to play the game at the age of four. Within a few months, he was an acclaimed child prodigy known for his impeccable skill and ability against some of the game’s finest players. By the age of six, he played against France’s most accomplished players and, within two years, was a household name at exhibitions across the country. The historic picture shows the eight-year-old Reshevsky at one of those exhibitions where he took on a room of skillful players.
Amid his growing success in France as a chess prodigy, Reshevsky did not think twice about his love of the game but his parents had bigger plans for him. They knew that ever greater opportunities awaited them in the United States, which is why they packed up and moved to New York in November 1920. Once in America, his parents kept him out of school and made a living by entering him in exhibitions and tournaments across the country. He competed in his first American simultaneous exhibition at nine years old and faced 20 officers and cadets at the Military Academy at West Point where he won 19 games and drew one. He went on to play over 1,500 games across the country, losing only eight games in a single year.
Reshevsky excelled at tournaments like the 1922 New York Masters where he was the youngest to ever compete, but the District Court in Manhattan thought very little of his success as a chess player and threatened to charge Reshevsky’s parents with improper guardianship for keeping him out of school. Fortunately, Julius Rosenwald, the wealthy co-owner of Sears, Roebuck, and Company in Chicago, knew the family and stepped in as Reshevsky’s benefactor, promising the court that he would ensure the youngster completed his education.
Under Rosenwald’s guardianship, Reshevsky gave up playing competitive chess for seven years between 1924 and 1931 to focus on his education. He played occasional tournaments but spent most of his time on schoolwork. After graduating from high school, he made a major comeback at the 1931 US Open Chess Championship in Tulsa. Over the next few years, he won the 1934 US Open title as well as numerous US Chess Championships in 1936, 1938, 1940, 1941, 1942, 1946, and 1969. He also launched his international chess career in 1935 with his first England championship at Great Yarmouth. He followed up with another win at the Margate tournament and enjoyed top-three finishes at the Nottingham 1936 chess tournament and the 1937 AVRO tournament.
A serious contender for the World Championship chess title, Reshevsky divided his time between playing chess and enrolling at the University of Chicago where he earned his accounting degree in 1934. After graduation, he found work as an accountant and moved to New York City where he married Norma Mindick in 1941 and started a family with the births of their three children.
Balancing his family life and his career with chess, Reshevsky was one of five chess grandmasters to compete in the World Championship match tournament in The Hague in Moscow in 1948. He finished in third place and, just two years later, was awarded the title of International Grandmaster by the World Chess Federation, in 1950. Over the next decade, he remained a serious competitor and competed eight times for the US Chess Olympiads. He helped the United States team win gold in 1937 and bronze in 1974, and later won an individual bronze medal for his performance in 1950.
Later Life and Legacy
Later admitting that his only regret was never becoming a world champion, Reshevsky shared his accomplishments with the world in several books including Learn Chest Fast!, The Art of Positional Play in Chess (1978), Great Chess Upsets, Reshevsky on Chess: The U.S. Champion Tells How He Wins (1948), How Chess Games Are Won (1962), Reshevsky’s Best Games of Chess, and Reshevsky on the Fischer-Spassky Games. In his works, he described his style as a tough, forceful player with a keen aptitude for positional play.
“By playing slowly during the early phases of a game, I am able to grasp the basic requirements of each position. Then, despite being in time pressure, I have no difficulty in finding the best continuation. Incidentally, it is an odd fact that more often than not it is my opponent who gets the jitters when I am compelled to make these hurried moves,” he said of his play. “I am essentially a position player, although I can conduct an assault with precision and vigor when the opportunity arises. My style lies between that of Tal and Petrosian. It is neither over aggressive nor too passive. My strength consists of a fighting spirit, a great desire to win, and a stubborn defense whenever in trouble. I rarely become discouraged in an inferior situation, and I fear no one.”
After eight decades of success as a renowned chess player and a well-regarded chess writer, Reshevsky took his final breath on April 4, 1992, at his home in New York City at the age of 80. Today, his passion for chess thrives in the work he left behind and his legacy continues as one of the greatest chess players in history who earned the Grandmaster title in 1950 and enjoyed his peak rating at 2565 in July 1972. “Chess sharpens the mind,” he believed, “stimulates concentration, improves the memory and promotes visualization.”