Saturday, December 3, 2011

Happy 100th Birthday, Ms. Piatigorsky!

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Ms. Jacqueline Piatigorsky, of the Rothschild family, had turned 100 on Nov. 6th this year. She is best known to most chess players as the co-sponsor of the Piatigorsky cup tournaments and the Fischer - Reshevsky aborted match. It is easy to think she and her husband, Gregor Piatigorsky, the famous cellist (both Jews, of course), were just "dabblers" -- rich patrons who threw money at strong players for their own amusement.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Ms. Piatigorsky is not only a life-long chess enthusiast, but she was one of the strongest women players  in the USA (highest-rated female player in California and 2nd-highest in the USA in the 1960s, according to Wikipedia) and represented the USA in the 1957 Women's Chess Olympiad, scoring a very respectable 7.5/11 and winning a bronze medal on the 2nd board.

Here, from, is a cute game she won (with quite a lot of help from her opponent, Willa Owens, women chess champion of Ohio), in the 1951 USA women's chess championship in New York (annotations by Owens, who explains how "the roof caved in":)

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 c5 4.Ngf3 Nc6 5.exd5 Nxd4?? 6.Nxd4 cxd4 7.Bb5+! Bd7 8.dxe6 Bxb5?? 9.Qh5! Qf6 10.Qxb5+ ("Boing!" -- Owens) 1-0 

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