Shelby Lyman on Chess: Sammy the Great
Sunday, May 31, 2015
(Published in print: Sunday, May 31, 2015)
A historic prodigy himself, Samuel “Sammy” Reshevsky ruled the American chess scene until Bobby Fischer won the U.S. championship in 1958 at the age of 15. Reshevsky finished second.
Reshevsky’s toughness as a competitor is the stuff of legend. When pressure mounted, few opponents were more difficult to face.
Because of a negligible focus on chess between tournaments, Sammy hunkered down — hardly emerging from his hotel room — in concentrated study between games.
When play began, he usually spent disproportionate time on the opening and early middle game, immersing himself in the intricacies and subtleties of positions that were frequently unfamiliar.
As we might expect, his clock often ticked down dangerously as play came to a conclusion.
Although Reshevsky’s approach left him prey to time forfeit and late game blunders, it also was a source of strength.
It was a formidable task during these episodes, in which Sammy might take only a few seconds to hammer out each move, to stand up to the pressure as well as the strategic genius imposing itself from across the board.
According to Fischer, Reshevsky was probably the strongest player in the world during the decade 1946-1956.
Full article here.