They also serve who rent the hall, calculate the pairings and update the wall chart.
The 2018 class of inductees into the St. Louis-based World and U.S. Chess Hall of Fame contains some worthy if not particularly unexpected choices. Hypermodern pioneers Aron Nimzovich and Richard Reti and longtime U.S. star and former national champion Alexander Onischuk are all well known to the game’s fans for their achievements at the board.
But in a nice touch, they will be joined this year by uber-organizer Bill Goichberg, who over the years has done as much as anyone to popularize the game in the United States and offer tens of thousands of enthusiasts opportunities to enjoy their passion, earn a little money and maybe take home a trophy or a new title. His efforts over the past half-century have benefited the country’s very best players and uncounted beginners getting their first taste of organized competition.
Since the mid-1960s, Goichberg has organized national scholastic tournaments for every grade from kindergarten to high school. His Continental Chess Association has put on thousands, including the World Open, one of the world’s largest and most popular open events, that debuted in 1973 and is still going strong. He has served as an editor of Chess Life, president of the U.S. Chess Federation and captain of the 1976 U.S. Olympiad team.
One massive improvement to the game Goichberg helped usher in was a strict no-smoking policy at his tournaments that probably improved the lives and respiratory systems of untold numbers of players. All that time providing an opportunity for others to play necessarily cuts into the time one can devote to one’s own game, but Goichberg did manage in his spare time to achieve a life master rating relying on a sharp, attacking style. Check out his play in a game from the 1968 U.S. Open, where a classic line-opening bishop sacrifice leads to a devastating mating assault.
The kings castle on opposite wings in this Rubinstein French Defense, but Black fails to appreciate the danger posed by Goichberg’s two bishops. White pulls off a classic line-opening piece sacrifice after 13. Bd3 Qd6 14. Ne5 Bb7?! (the kingside was already looking airy, but Black at least had better survival chances on 14 … f5 15. g4 Nb4 16. Bxb4 Qxb4 17. Ng6 Rf7 18. c3 Qd6) 15. Bxh6! gxh6 16. Qg4+ Kh8 17. Qh5, and Black’s defense is already in tatters.
After 18. Rh3 Nf4, the White queen, rook and bishop are forked, but that is barely a speed bump for the final assault: 19. Qg4+ Bg5 (Ng6 20. Bxg6 is crushing) 20. hxg5 Nxh3 21. gxh3 — the material deficit is only the exchange for a pawn, but Black can’t hold back the withering fire of White’s combined army. The finale: 21 … Qe7 (Rh8 22. gxh6+ Kf8 23. Qg7+ Ke7 24. Qxf7+ Kd8 25. Qf6+ Kc8 26. Qxh8+ and wins) 22. gxh6+ Kxh6 23. Rg1 f5 (only a little harder for White is 23 … Qf6 24. d5! Bxd5 24. Qd4 Rad8 26. Ng4+ Kh5 27. Nxf6+ Kh6 28. Qe3 mate) 24. Qg6 mate.
The fifth member of the 2018 class may be a little less familiar even to serious aficionados: Three-time Soviet women’s champion Kira Zvorykina was one of the strongest female players in the middle decades of the 20th century, losing a world title match to fellow Soviet WGM Elizaveta Bykova in 1960. We have an example of her play from the 1958 Belorussian women’s championship, where her opponent has just tried to slow down the White attack with 19 … Bf6-h4, apparently pinning the g3-knight.
There followed 20. f5! Bb7? (the bishop was actually better placed on its home square than on the open long diagonal; after 20 … h5, Black can survive 21. Nxh5!? Bxe1 22. Nf6+ with 22 … Kg7 23. Nxe8+ Rxe8 24. Rdxe1 Rxe4) 21. Ng4 h5 (walking into an inspired combination) 22. Nxh5!! Bxe1 (Qe7 23. Ng3 Nd7 24. e5 Rad8 25. Qe3 g5 26. Ne4, and among White’s many threats is simply 27. g3, winning the trapped bishop) 23. Nhf6+ Kh8 (allowing a quick end, but White is also on top after 23 … Kg7 24. Bh6+ Kh8 25. Nxe8 Rfxe8 26. fxg6! fxg6 [Bh4 27. Rxf7 Bxe4 28. Bg7+ Kg8 29. Nh6 mate] 27. Rdxe1 Rxe4 28. Rxe4 Bxe4 29. Rf7 Rd8 30. Bg7+ Kg8 31. Nh6+ Kh7 32. Bf6+) 24. Rd3! Qxe4 25. Rh3+, and Black resigns in the face of 25 … Bh4 26. Rxh4+ Kg7 27. Rh7 mate.
The nominees will be honored in St. Louis on April 17, just before the kickoff of the 2018 U.S. and U.S. Women’s Chess Championship tournaments at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis.
Goichberg-Potter, 68th U.S. Open, Atlanta, August 1967
1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Nd7 5. Nf3 Ngf6 6. Nxf6+ Nxf6 7. Bc4 h6 8. Qe2 Be7 9. Bf4 O-O 10. O-O-O Nd5 11. Bd2 a6 12. h4 b5 13. Bd3 Qd6 14. Ne5 Bb7 15. Bxh6 gxh6 16. Qg4+ Kh8 17. Qh5 Kg7 18. Rh3 Nf4 19. Qg4+ Bg5 20. hxg5 Nxh3 21. gxh3 Qe7 22. gxh6+ Kxh6 23. Rg1 f5 24. Qg6 mate.
• David R. Sands can be reached at 202/636-3178 or by email email@example.com.