Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Legend of George Koltanowski

As we stand on the eve of the latest installment in the Boylston's monthly Legends of Chess tournament series, it is only natural that our curiosities be piqued by the question: 'who was George Koltanowski?'

Perhaps best known for twice breaking the record for largest blindfold simul, Koltanowski (1903-2000) worked relentlessly as a chess promoter and author. He is perhaps the most famous TD of all time, directing the U.S. Open every year from 1947 through the late '70's, introducing the Swiss system to that event for the first time in its history in the first of those years. He became president of the USCF in 1974.

His achievements as a player were less notable, and in fact he played little tournament chess after an unremarkable showing in the 1946 U.S. Open. He was, however, awarded the International Master title in 1950.

And then there are his blindfold exploits. In 1937, he broke a world record by playing 34 games simultaneously while blindfolded. In 1960, he broke it again, playing 56 games at once blindfolded in San Francisco. He won 50 of those games and drew six. That record still stands today.

So join us this Saturday as we honor this legend of chess!

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