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The great triumph of Medina in the US Open

( Author: © Javier Cordero Fernández - Translation: Eugene Salomon)

         There are victories that stand out above the rest for their difficulty. The milestone achieved by Medina at the US Open in 1962, when international successes were scarce in Spanish chess, it was just sensational. To achieve a triumph in a tournament of this size is acomplicated task. The US Open is a competition with history, it has been played since 1900 and its list of winners has illustrious names such as Fischer (1957, only 14 years old), Korchnoi, Spassky or Larsen (winner twice), as well as famous North American players such as Reshevsky, Fine or Benkö. Many other names give luster to the list of winners, from Carlos Torre Reppetto (who won in 1924) to Judit Polgar (who won in 1998).

         Every year the US Open isattended by outstanding American and foreign masters who seek to take a good prize. The tournament prize pool has always been important and it was in 1962: with a registration fee of 20$, any player could participate and fight for the succulent prizes: 1º 1,000$, 2º 500$, 3º 300$, 4º 200$, 5º 100$, 6º to 10º 50$, 11º al15º 25$. Historically, the US Open prizes have always been highly coveted, although perhaps they never were as much as in 1955, when the winner received a Black Century car; the lucky one was the talented Nicolas Rossolimo, who finished tied with Reshevsky and won in the tie-break coefficient.

Back Century of 1955

         In the 60's American chess was not in a buoyant situation, few tournaments were organized and the level of activity was quite low. Profesional chess players had a tough time. For that reason, this type of tournament attracted those nomads of the board who moved from city to city, from country to country, looking for a livelihood that often depended on their performance in that tournament. Another good example is the Open of Lone Pine (which was played in the 70s), which had juicy prizes donated by its creator: Louis D. Stahman. This retired industrialist had made a fortune inventing and producing medical equipment, and gave free rein to his passion for chess by organizing a tournament that in each edition managed to attract dozens of masters from different parts of the world. In addition, Stahman wanted to stimulate the competitiveness of the participants giving cash prizes to the brightest game of each round. This measure gave even more popularity to his tournament and served so that players who were left with no options to fight for the top positions, they could still have the incentive of prices worth taking risks in their games. The truth is that these types of tournaments, almost testimonial, did not seem a good basis for chess to grow in the country and that was counted on the huge pull of Fischer's triumphs.

        
In the 1962 edition, the city of San Antonio (Texas) was chosen as its headquarters, a state that sometimes seems to live apart from the rest of the country, with its own ideas and its large ranches. And Medina and 143 other chess players went to that peculiar land, in the middle of August (played from the 13th to the 25th of that month), to compete without truce for 12 rounds at the Connie Leeger Center.

         At that time, Medina resided in Venezuela, a country where he had settled in 1953 after a tour of tournaments he had made in South America (Rio de Janeiro, Havana and Caracas). In Caracas he was attracted by the good economic prospects offered by a growing country. There he worked in a pharmaceutical laboratory, as a chess teacher, as a chess columnist in the newspapers "El Nacional" and "El Universal" and finally teaching at the Technical School of Engineering. Before going to the US Open in 1962 he had decided to return to Spain. A re-organization of FEDA (Spanish Chess Federation) with a new president had given him good prospects for the future in national chess. For this reason, Medina arrived in great shape in the United States, since, freed from his work obligations, he had more time to prepare.

Medina vs Gilden, last round of US Open 1962

         Anyone who has participated in a tournament of these characteristics can attest to the difficulties that have to pass to qualify for the first positions... and this time was no exception. Not only is it difficult to face the most outstanding masters, you also have to face players who, although they are not professionals, can be very dangerous and generate surprises in each round. Medina showed from the beginning that his presence was not going to be ignored. In fact he led the tournament practically at alltimes until round 8, in which Robert Byrne managed to stop him. Medina faced the last 4 rounds with good chances, only a point behind Byrne, Bisguier and Stephen Jones, and half of Lombardy. He was not a favorite. However, the Spaniard knew how to recover from the defeat suffered against Byrne and began to get one win after another, reducing the distance that separated him from the leading group... it was not easy, his victory against Lapiken meant a great effort: the game started at 7pm and ended at 3am after 88 moves; the next round started atnoon.

          Byrne lost unexpectedly to Stephen L. Jones in the ninth round after leaving a piece in a surprising error, which left Jones as leader alone... a fragile leader that sank crashingly losing the last 3 games, going from great favorite to finish 12th. At the penultimate round, with Bisguier in the lead followed by only half a point by Medina and Benkö... and Medina played with Bisguier. As in most of the games of the tournament, Medina posed a positional fight, this time with a lot of tension on the kingside, and little by little he managed to take advantage of the best placement of his pieces until achieving a victory that left him in charge of tournament, tied with Benkö, before the last and decisive round. Medina had already played with the strongest rivals (he drew with Benkö and Lombardy), while Benkö had to face Lombardy and Bisguier against Byrne. His 4 rivals started their games, while Medina went back to embark on a positional fight against Gilden, junior champion of the United States, who was playing in a master fashion and was in first position alone. Medina continued to make history, history of Spanish chess, achieving a milestone that only Arturo Pomar had achieved before (in 1954 he had triumphed in the US Open after finishing tied in first position with Larry Melvin Evans).

Medina with the winner trophy

         The games of Medina in the US Open have been hidden forall these years, they did not appear in the bases except for some exceptional case, although Eduardo Bauzá, after searching in American magazines, has managed to find 10 of the 12 games of Medina, to which you have to add another one found by Teo Borras, which you can download below. Finally, we close this article with the classification of the tournament in its first 50 positions:

Clasification US Open 1962

Ángel Medina

Pal Benkö

William James Lombardy

 

Download 11 games of Medina in US Open 62

 

 

 

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

Points

1

  Medina, Antonio

1:92

1:48

1:19

1:23

½:3

1:31

½:2

0:5

1:32

1:17

1:4

1:18

10.0

2

  Benkö, Pal

1:55

1:51

1:24

1:20

1:13

½:5

½:1

0:4

1:34

1:6

1:12

½:3

9.5

3

  Lombardy, William J.

1:63

1:78

1:32

1:31

½:1

½:4

½:20

1:21

1:18

½:5

1:8

½:2

9.5

4

  Bisguier, Arthur

1:80

1:71

1:15

½:7

1:8

½:3

1:23

1:2

½:6

1:12

0:1

½:5

9.0

5

  Byrne, Robert

1:64

1:85

½:21

1:22

1:10

½:2

1:14

1:1

0:12

½:3

1:31

½:4

9.0

6

  Harrow, Martin

1:82

1:66

0:12

1:75

1:135

½:7

1:22

1:20

½:4

0:2

1:14

1:13

9.0

7

  O'Keefe, Jack

1:68

½:49

1:73

½:4

1:21

½:6

1:24

0:12

½:20

1:34

1:36

½:10

8.5

8

  Fdez. León, José

1:123

1:40

1:33

½:9

0:4

½:45

½:85

1:48

1:26

1:11

0:3

1:12

8.5

9

  Burger, Karl

1:102

1:46

1:50

½:8

½:26

0:23

1:16

½:11

0:21

1:48

1:24

1:22

8.5

10

  Davila, Edmundo

1:65

½:52

1:130

1:15

0:5

0:22

1:30

½:50

1:47

1:29

1:32

½:7

8.5

11

  Matzner, Stephen

1:104

0:69

1:83

½:66

1:49

1:35

½:43

½:9

1:23

0:8

1:20

1:32

8.0

12

  Jones, Stephen

1:76

1:60

1:6

0:21

1:34

1:71

1:18

1:7

1:5

0:4

0:2

0:8

8.0

13

  Szedlacsek, Louis

1:89

1:45

1:16

1:36

0:2

0:14

1:52

0:32

1:78

1:66

1:21

0:6

8.0

14

  Sandrin, Angelo

1:86

½:37

½:59

1:53

1:42

1:13

0:5

0:34

1:46

1:43

0:6

1:33

8.0

15

  Finegold, Ronald

1:56

1:47

0:4

0:10

1:121

½:130

½:35

1:65

1:38

0:18

1:45

1:34

8.0

16

  Sullivan, Joseph

1:77

1:81

0:13

1:69

0:18

1:82

0:9

1:79

1:35

½:20

½:17

1:53

8.0

17

  Lapiken, Peter

1:70

0:33

1:67

½:45

0:44

1:60

1:130

1:47

1:27

0:1

½:16

1:41

8.0

18

  Gilden, Lawrence

1:67

1:42

½:22

½:52

1:16

1:36

0:12

1:25

0:3

1:15

1:23

0:1

8.0

19

  Payne, John

1:126

1:84

0:1

1:33

½:43

½:44

0:66

0:35

1:74

1:79

1:37

1:31

8.0

20

  Zuckerman, Bernard

1:101

1:38

1:27

0:2

1:52

1:26

½:3

0:6

½:7

½:16

0:11

1:48

7.5

21

  Formanek, Edward

1:118

1:87

½:5

1:12

0:7

1:40

1:39

0:3

1:9

½:31

0:13

½:23

7.5

22

  McCormick, Edgar

1:100

1:61

½:18

0:5

1:41

1:10

0:6

1:39

0:31

1:84

1:25

0:9

7.5

23

  Smith, Kenneth

1:99

1:75

1:28

0:1

1:78

1:9

0:4

1:66

0:11

1:44

0:18

½:21

7.5

24

  Saltzberg, Mitchell

1:91

1:43

0:2

1:59

½:40

1:48

0:7

0:44

1:81

1:53

0:9

1:46

7.5

25

  Burgar, Wesley

1:121

½:130

½:35

½:38

½:66

1:59

1;45

0:18

½:42

1:30

0:22

1:43

7.5

26

  Brieger, Robert

½:95

1:94

1:37

1:49

½:9

0:20

½:44

1:111

0:8

½:42

½:46

1:47

7.5

27

  Lux, Tom

1:54

1:138

0:20

0:43

1:70

0:37

1:67

1:115

0:17

1:61

1:66

½:29

7.5

28

  Burkett, Max

1:117

1:57

0:23

1:80

0:31

1:58

0:34

½:81

1:63

½:33

½:43

1:54

7.5

29

  Trwin, Peter

1:129

½:59

0:49

1:111

½:47

0:66

1:55

1:45

1:85

0:10

1:44

½:27

7.5

30

  Suraci, Anthony

½:94

½:95

1:123

0:82

1:107

½:88

0:10

1:97

1:60

0:25

1:81

1:58

7.5

31

  Lyman, Shelby

1:97

1:53

1:135

0:3

1:28

0:1

1:78

½:36

1:22

½:21

0:5

0:19

7.0

32

  Morgan, Charles

1:98

1:62

0:3

0:40

1:99

1:69

1:37

1:13

0:1

1:36

0:10

0:11

7.0

33

  Hidalgo, Charles

1:110

1:17

0:8

0:19

0:56

1:126

½:97

1:54

1:39

½:28

1:51

0:14

7.0

34

  Cunningham, Walter

0:83

1:139

1:92

1:46

0:12

1:75

1:28

1:14

0:2

0:7

1:38

0:15

7.0

35

  Zangerle, Karl

½:108

1:72

½:25

½:71

1:82

0:11

½:15

1:19

0:16

½:31

1:68

½:36

7.0

36

  Marchand, Erich

1:107

1:44

1:69

0:13

1:85

0:18

1:46

½:31

1:84

0:32

0:7

½:35

7.0

37

  Jenkins, Thomas

1:111

½:14

0:26

½:108

1:54

1:27

0:32

0:38

1:101

1:85

0:19

1:80

7.0

38

  Smith, George

1:120

0:20

1:104

½:25

0:39

½:55

1:82

1:37

0:15

1:56

0:34

1:67

7.0

39

  Slifer, William

0:138

1:119

½:41

1:62

1:38

1:53

0:21

0:22

0:33

1:80

½:61

1:66

7.0

40

  Tiers, George

1:133

0:8

1:54

1:32

½:24

0:21

½:47

0:78

1:67

0:51

1:99

1:57

7.0

41

  Street, Frank

+:88

0:50

½:39

1:61

0:22

0:79

1:95

1:68

1:52

½:35

1:42

0:17

7.0

42

  Shaw, Jack

1:127

0:18

1:107

1:115

0:14

½:128

½:79

1:99

½:25

½:26

0:41

1:72

7.0

43

  McIlrath, Jim

1:141

0:24

1:90

1:27

½:19

1:50

½:11

½:85

½:44

0:14

½:28

0:25

6.5

44

  Castle, Richard

1:124

0:36

½:55

1:122

1:17

½:19

½:26

1:24

½:43

0:23

0:29

½:51

6.5

45

  Rohland, Marshall

+:144

0:13

1:95

½:17

1:96

½:8

0:25

0:29

1:64

1:78

0:15

½:55

6.5

46

  Berry, George

1:96

0:9

1:91

=.34

1:86

1:67

0:36

1:56

0:14

1:99

½:26

0:24

6.5

47

  Kane, George

1:128

0:15

1:116

½:50

½:29

+:135

½:40

0:17

0:10

1:70

1:82

0:26

6.5

48

  Christman, James

1:131

0:1

1:86

½:96

1:79

0:24

1:128

0:8

1:111

0:9

1:63

0:20

6.5

49

  Slater, Kathryn

1:125

½:7

1:29

0:26

0:11

1:57

0:50

½:64

0:79

½:86

1:90

1:87

6.5

50

  Mego, Joseph

1:119

1:41

0:9

½:47

1:60

0:43

1:49

½:10

0:66

0:58

1:74

½:62

6.5

-  Up to a total of 144 players -

Javier Cordero Fernández

(June 26, 2017)

 

 

Un puzzle al que le faltan piezas

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