Where (in New York) did they live?

by André Schulz
7/23/2019 – Today, in the times of data gathering, data security and strict privacy rules, it is hard to imagine but in the 1960s chess yearbooks could and did publish the addresses of famous chess players. Which now allows you to virtually visit the houses in which Fischer, Fine, Denker and other chess players had lived in New York in 1966. | Photo: World Chess Hall of Fame, St. Louis

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The addresses of famous chess players in New York

Today, we live in a time of global communication. In principle, each and everyone is linked to each and everyone. And when you visit websites on the internet — supposedly anonymous or not — the global 'datakraken' ruthlessly record all your movements. Everything has its price, even if it is declared to be "free". The data collectors then sell their spoils to service companies who use the data for more efficient advertising. As a result data security has become more and more important.

Engelhardt's Pocket Yearbook for Chess

Thus, from today's perspective, Engelhardt's Pocket Yearbook for Chess, a German chess calendar first published in 1951 in Berlin, comes across as charmingly innocent in regard to data privacy. It listed the addresses of known and prominent chess players — which is simply unthinkable today.

When Engelhardt collected and published these addresses he could not dream of the technical possibilities of our time. Now it is possible to locate almost every point on earth with Google Maps, and often Google Street View also allows you to take a look at houses and their environment.

And that's what we will do now. Our source is Engelhardt's Pocket Yearbook for Chess from 1966. First discovery: the addresses of Soviet players are not given, not the address of Petrosian nor the address of Spassky, the two World Champions from 1963 to 1972. Engelhardt and his helpers could not look behind the "Iron Curtain" (at least not as far as the USSR).

Robert James Fischer

But the US was much less restrictive. In 1966, the future World Champion, Robert "Bobby" Fischer, lived in Brooklyn, N.Y., 11238 USA, 560 Lincoln Place.

Today, his former address looks like this:

Fischer lived in the corner house which certainly is the same as in 1966. The entrance with the decorated bay above the door, on the right, is number 560. Today the area is not a prime location and in 1966 things probably were not much different. It evokes memories of the Spiderman movies (Tobey Maguire as Spiderman and as Robert J. Fischer!). But the area is lively and has a lot of shops. In 1966 Fischer was 24 years old and he was living alone.

Fischer riding the subway (1962) in a custom-made-suit. This could be an arranged photo.

In August 1966 Fischer was invited to play in the 2. Piatigorsky Cup in Santa Monica where he met Tigran Petrosian, World Champion since 1963, and Boris Spassky, who was to become World Champion in 1969. In the first part of the tournament Fischer suffered a couple of losses but recovered in the second half of the tournament and finished second in the end. He also managed to defeat his old rival Samuel Reshevsky:

 

Six years later, in 1972, Fischer became World Champion.

Reuben Fine

Alphabetically and geographically Reuben Fine was not far away from Fischer. In 1966, Fine, too, lived in New York, at 789, West End Avenue.

Which is here:

Today, the house appears to be a bit old, but Fine, who was a university professor and psychologist, could without doubt afford better housing than Fischer who grew up rather poor. The canopy with the number 789 makes a good impression and the house most likely has a concierge. Maybe this was Fine's business address and he lived somewehere else.

Before World War II Fine was one of the world's best players and in the AVRO tournament 1938 he shared first place with Keres and defeated the reigning World Champion Alexander Alekine.

 

In 1948 Fine was invited to take part in the World Chess Championship tournament. Alekhine had died in 1946 and the winner of this tournament would be the new World Champion but Fine declined the invitation, claiming that he could not interrupt work on his doctoral dissertation in psychology. However, there have always been discussions whether this was the real reason for Fine's withdrawal, and in a ChessBase article from 2007 Edward Winter included Fine's refusal to play for the World Championship in his list of "Unsolved Chess Mysteries". In 1951 Fine played his last serious tournament but after still continued to publish articles and books about chess.

Pal Benkö

Pal Benkö was born 15 July, 1928 in Amiens, France, but grew up in Hungary. In 1958 he emigrated to the USA and in 1966 he lived in New York, at 1425, 3rd Avenue, New York.

Benkö lived in the white house with the fire escape staircase that today looks a bit shabby. Four years earlier, in 1962, the two New Yorkers Fischer and Benkö had played at the Candidates Tournament in Curacao but stood no chance against the Soviet phalanx.

Curacao was not the first Candidates Tournaments in which both Fischer and Benkö took part. In 1959 they both had played in the Candidates Tournament in Yugoslavia - Fischer was only 16 years old at that time.

In 1970 Benkö had qualified to play in the Interzonal Tournament in Palma de Mallorca but gave his place to Fischer. Fischer won the Interzonal, all ensuing Candidate Matches and finally also the World Championship match against Spassky in 1972. 

From 1961 to 1975 Benkö shared first or won the Open US Championships no less than eight times. From 1962 to 1972 he played at six Chess Olympiads for the US.

Fischer and Benkö also both took part at the Rosenwald Trophy tournament 1966-67, which was also a US Championship. Fischer won the tournament with 9½/11, two points ahead of Larry Evans, while Benkö finished with 6/11, sharing third and fourth place with James Sherwin. However, Benkö managed to beat both Byrne brothers, Robert and Donald. Here's his game against Robert Byrne:

 

Albrecht Buschke

When you browse through the addresses in Engelhardt's Yearbook you come across the name Albrecht Buschke. Buschke (1904-1986) was not a chess player but a renowned antiquarian, and a collector of chess books and autographs who had settled in New York. Today, only collectors remember his name but back then Buschke had contact to a lot of well-known players of his time, e.g. Capablanca.

After starting to collect in 1920 Buschke owned autographs by Howard Staunton, Greco and Damiano, and later he also got hold of a first edition of Benjamin Franklin's "Morals of Chess" from the Columbian Magazine of 1786. Buschke hailed from Berlin where he had worked as a lawyer and specialist for foreign currency at the gasworks of Berlin. For a time he also published Kagans Neueste Schachnachrichten, back then a famous chess magazine.

Buschke was a jew and after the Nazis came to power in 1933 he lost his job and in 1938 he emigrated to the USA, bringing 3.000 chess books and 1.500 autographs and manuscripts with him. In New York he worked as an antiquarian and among his customers were a couple of important libraries.

Albrecht Buschke first lived in Staten Island but at the end of the 1940s he moved to a prominent address, to 80 East, 11th Street. Which is in close proximity to Broadway and once was the address of a famous hotel, the Grand Hotel St. Denis, which had opened in 1853 - Abraham Lincoln was one of its many famous guests. In 1917 the hotel closed down and social organisations, publishing houses and antiquarians moved into the large building. However, since then the whole area has been gentrified and the buildings have been eviscerated and modified and the beautiful facade of the house is now gone.

The Death and Life of a Great American Building...

View from Broadway to the corner house 80 East, 11th Street

Arthur Bisguier

Arthur Bisguier also had his home in New York. He lived in Elmhurst, which is part of Queens, in 84-25 Elmhurst Avenue.

Which looks like this:

Elmhurst was founded in 1652 as Middleburgh by Dutch immigrants and was a suburb of New Amsterdam in the "Nieuw Nederland". In 1664 the English took over the settlement and renamed it New Town (later Newtown), in 1887 it was named Elmhurst. Before World War II a lot of Jewish and Italian immigrants lived here. Today, Elmhurst is multi-ethnic, though about 50% of the population is from Asian descent.

In the postwar period Arthur Bisguier (1929-2017) was one the great US players. When he was four his father taught him the rules of the game, and later Bisguier was several times US Junior Champion and US Champion. From 1952 to 1972 he represented the USA five times at Chess Olympiads. In 1955 and 1962 he also played in Interzonal tournaments, and in later years Bisguier worked as an organizer and journalist.

Arthur Bisguier

In the course of their career Bobby Fischer and Bisguier played 15 games against each other. Bisguier won the first one, played at the Rosenwald Memorial tournament 1956, the second game ended in a draw but then Fischer won all of the following 13 games. Here's Bisguier's only win against Fischer.

 

By the way, in this tournament Fischer also played his famous game against Donald Byrne.

Another famous chess player from New York is Arnold Denker. He was born on February 20, 1914 in the Bronx, but in 1966 he lived in 312, Main Street, East Rockaway, New York which is outside of New York City and part of Hempstead.

This is the area where Arnold Denker lived in 1966. However, it is difficult to determine with Google Street View where exactly Denker lived. Maybe in the white house. But this house might also be new, built after 1966.

As a player, organiser and publisher Arnold Denker (1914-2005) did a lot for American chess, and in 2004 the US Chess Federation proclaimed him "Dean of American Chess", the highest honour in American chess. Denker was the third person to receive this title.

Denker grew up in an Orthodox Jewish family and learnt chess from his brothers. In his youth he was not only playing chess but was also a promising boxer. In 1944 he won the US Championship with a score of 15½-1½ (14 wins, 3 draws, no losses), a record that lasted until Fischer won the US Championship 1963/1964 with a score of 11-0. Two years later, in 1946, Denker won his second US Championship title. The following win against fellow New Yorker Reuben Fine is from the 1944 Championship.

 

Israel Albert Horowitz

Another famous chess player from New York is Israel Albert Horowitz (1907-1973).

Israel Albert Horowitz

He was born in Brooklyn on November 15, 1907 and in the 1930s he was one of the best players in the US.

 

At the Chess Olympiads 1931, 1935 and 1937 Horowitz won gold with the US team, and at the Olympiads 1935 and 1937 he was the best individual player, scoring 12/15 in 1935 and 13/15 in 1937.

After World War II Horowitz focused more and more on writing. For ten years he wrote three chess columns per week for the New York Times while also being a prolific author of chess books. In 1933 he founded the Chess Review magazine together with Isaac Kashdan but after a few issues Kashdan quit and Horowitz became the sole owner. In 1969 the US Chess Federation bought the Chess Review to merge it with Chess Life, the official magazine of the US Chess Federation.

Horowitz lived in the house in which you now can buy "Zen Vitamins":

These are addresses of famous chess players who lived in New York in 1966. But of course there are much more famous players who lived in New York, at least for a time. Their addresses were also published in Engelhardt's Yearbook or its predecessor Ranneforth's Chess Calendar or in various other magazines. Asking Where Did They Live? chess historian Edward Winter once gathered and published a list of addresses of chess players (not only from New York).

Frank Marshall

One of the greatest chess masters from New York is Frank Marshall. He was born on August 10, 1877 in New York City but moved to Canada when he was eight years old though he later returned to New York. In 1900 he lived at 1110 Putnam Avenue, New York City. 

Which today looks like this:

The house with the number 1110 seems to be rather new. But on the left are some older houses which might have already been standing there in 1900. It is easy to imagine how Frank Marshall. who was 23 years old in 1900, leaves the house to stroll through the streets to go to his chess club.

Marshall is famous for his ferocious attacking play and in 1912, at the German Chess Congress in Breslau, he played one of the most amazing moves in the history of chess.

 

Emanuel Lasker

Emanuel Lasker was born on December 24, 1868 at Berlinchen in Neumark (which is now Barlinek in Poland), and in the course of his career visited the USA often and even lived there for some years. In October 1937, after fleeing with his wife Martha from the Nazis to Moscow and from the Stalinist purges to New York, Lasker spent his last years in the New York. His address was: 610 West 139th Street, New York.

Which is here:

It is not unlikely that these are still the same houses in which Lasker lived. Lasker no longer played competitive chess at that time but some casual games of him survived. Here's one:

 

Lasker died on January 1, 1941 in New York. 

José Raúl Capablanca

One of the most famous chess players who made New York their adopted home is Cuban World Champion José Raúl Capablanca. In the early 1900s Capablanca had moved to New York to study at Columbia University but soon stopped studying and devoted all his time to chess. Later (1934) he lived in a rather fine area in Manhattan, close to Central Park, at 118 W. 57th Street, New York.

Which today looks like this:

The area definitely was different when Capablanca lived there. Capablanca also died in New York, in March 1942, after a stroke. His last tournament was the Chess Olympiad 1939 in Buenos Aires.

Another World Champion who lived in New York is Wilhelm Steinitz. His address was 505 26th St., Manhattan, New York.

The teaser photo shows Gisela Gresser and Arnold Denker who play a casual game after winning the US Championships 1944. Edward Lasker, Reuben Fine, Herman Steiner, Carolyn Marshall, I. A. Horowitz and Frank Marshall follow the game.

Translation from German: Johannes Fischer

See also: Edward Winter: Where did they live...

 




André Schulz started working for ChessBase in 1991 and is an editor of ChessBase News.
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ulyssesganesh ulyssesganesh 7/25/2019 02:03
great piece on chess nostalgia!!!!!
Mr TambourineMan Mr TambourineMan 7/24/2019 12:06
Update with dots on a map pls
Philip Feeley Philip Feeley 7/24/2019 07:16
Great story, great photos. What happened to the one of Wilhelm Steinitz's place?
Philip Feeley Philip Feeley 7/24/2019 03:53
What happened to Buschke's collection??
stikmat stikmat 7/23/2019 11:37
Donald en Robert Byrne are also from New York. Unlike the others they were native New Yorkers.
oneswellfoop oneswellfoop 7/23/2019 05:53
What about Nicolas Rosolimo?
His club lives on as the Chess Forum in the Village, https://www.chessforum.com/
He lived nearby and then above his studio (I believe.)
His New York Times obituary is at https://www.nytimes.com/1975/07/25/archives/nicolas-rossolimo-65-is-dead-grandmaster-ran-chess-studio.html

Search youtube for "Rossolimo: Chess Artist."
jsaldea12 jsaldea12 7/23/2019 11:05
Beautiful memories
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