Larry Evans

For the football player of the same name see Larry Evans (football player).

Larry Melvyn Evans (born March 23, 1932) is an American chess grandmaster and journalist. He won or co-won the U.S. Chess Championship five times and the U.S. Open Chess Championship four times.

Chess career

Evans was born in Manhattan and learned much about the game by playing for ten cents an hour on 42nd Street in New York City. He became a rising young star. At age 14, he tied for fourth-fifth place in the Marshall Chess Club championship. The next year he won it outright, becoming the youngest Marshall champion up until that time. He also finished equal second in the U.S. Junior Championship, which led to an article in the September 1947 issue of Chess Review. At 16, he played in the 1948 U.S. Chess Championship, his first, tying for eighth place at 11.5-7.5. Evans tied with Arthur Bisguier for first place in the U.S. Junior Chess Championship of 1949. By age 18, he had won a New York State championship as well as a gold medal in the Dubrovnik Chess Olympiad of 1950. In the latter, his 90% score (eight wins and two draws) on sixth board tied with Rabar of Yugoslavia for the best result of the entire Olympiad. In 1951, he first won the U.S. Championship, ahead of Samuel Reshevsky, who had tied for third-fourth in the 1948 World Championship match-tournament. Evans won his second championship the following year by winning a title match against Herman Steiner. He won the national championship thrice more - in 1961-62, 1967-68 and 1980, the last in a tie with Walter Browne and Larry Christiansen.

FIDE awarded Evans the titles of International Master (1952) and International Grandmaster (1957). In 1956 the U.S. State Department appointed him a "chess ambassador".

Evans performed well in many U.S. events during the 1960s and 1970s but his trips abroad to international tournaments were infrequent and less successful. He won the U.S. Open Chess Championship in 1951, 1952, 1954 (he tied with Arturo Pomar but won the title on the tie-break) and tied with Walter Browne in 1971. He also won the first Lone Pine tournament in 1971. He represented the U.S. in eight Chess Olympiads over a period of twenty-six years, winning gold (1950), silver (1958), and bronze (1976) medals for his play, and participating in team gold (1976) and silver (1966) medals.

His best results on foreign soil included two wins at the Canadian Open Chess Championship, 1956 in Montreal, and 1966 in Kingston, Ontario. He tied for first-second in the 1975 Portimao International in Portugal and for second-third with World Champion Tigran Petrosian, behind Jan Hein Donner, in Venice, 1967. However, his first, and what ultimately proved to be his only, crack at the World Chess Championship title ended in a disappointing 14th place (10/23) in the 1964 Amsterdam Interzonal.

He never entered the world championship cycle again, and concentrated his efforts on assisting his fellow American Bobby Fischer in his quest for the world title. He was Fischer's second for the Candidates matches leading up to the World Chess Championship 1972 against Boris Spassky, though not for the championship match itself, after a disagreement with Fischer.

At his peak in October 1968 he was rated 2631 by the United States Chess Federation.

Chess journalism

Evans had always been interested in writing as well as playing. Before the age of eighteen he had already published David Bronstein's Best Games of Chess, 1944-1949 and the Vienna International Tournament, 1922. His 1958 book New Ideas in Chess proved very influential on the chess players of the 1950s and 1960s, and has been a consistent seller over the years. Over the years he has written or co-written more than 20 books on chess.

Other well-received books by Evans include Modern Chess Brilliancies (1970), What's The Best Move (1973) and Test Your Chess I.Q. (2001). He revised the tenth edition of the openings treatise Modern Chess Openings (1965), co-authored with editor Walter Korn. He also made a significant contribution to Fischer's My 60 Memorable Games (1969), writing the introductions to each of the 60 games and had urged the future World Champion to publish when he had initially been reluctant to do so.

During the 1960s Evans developed a very successful career in chess journalism and helped found the American Chess Quarterly which ran from 1961-65. He was an editor of Chess Digest during the 60s and 70s and he still writes regularly for Chess Life, the official publication of the United States Chess Federation (USCF) and Chess Life Online. His popular question and answer column was read by more than 250,000 readers every month and ran for over thirty years, but was cut in 2006 as part of a new editor seeking a new look for the magazine. His weekly chess column, Evans on Chess, has appeared in more than fifty separate newspapers throughout the United States. He also writes a column for the World Chess Network.

Evans has also commentated on some of the biggest matches for Time magazine and ABC's Wide World of Sports, including the 1972 Fischer versus Spassky match, the 1993 PCA world title battle between Gary Kasparov and Nigel Short and the Braingames world chess championship match between Vladimir Kramnik and Gary Kasparov in 2000.

His contributions to chess writing and journalism have earned him many awards, including the USCF's Chess Journalist of the Year award in 2000. He was inducted into the U.S. Chess Hall of Fame in 1994.

Selected games

This game, against future grandmaster Abe Yanofsky, who had won the brilliancy prize against Botvinnik at Groningen the year before, was Evans' first victory against a noted player:

Yanofsky-Evans, U.S. Open, Corpus Christi 1947 1.e4 Nf6 2.e5 Nd5 3.d4 d6 4.Nf3 Bg4 5.h3 Bxf3 6.Qxf3 dxe5 7.dxe5 e6 8.a3 Nc6 9.Bb5 Qd7 10.c4 Nde7 11.0-0 Qd4 12.Bg5 a6 13.Bxe7? axb5 14.Bxf8 Rxf8 15.cxb5 Nxe5 16.Qe2 0-0-0 17.Nc3 Ng6 18.Rad1 Qe5 19.Qc2 Rxd1 20.Rxd1 Rd8 21.Rc1 Nf4 22.Kh1 Qg5 23.Rg1? (23. f3) Qh5! 24.Kh2? Rd3! 25.f3 (see diagram at left) 25...Rxf3! 26.Rd1? (26.Rc1 protecting the queen) 26...Nxh3!! Larry Parr wrote, "Larry Evans recalls 'a rush' as he played this spectacular crusher. 'This victory,' he wrote in a recent e-mail, 'gave me my first taste of fame. If I could beat the guy who beat Botvinnik, perhaps someday I could also beat Botvinnik!'" 27.gxf3 Nf2+ 28.Kg3 Qh3+! 29.Kf4 Qh2+ 30.Ke3 Ng4+! 0-1 If 31.Kd3, Ne5+ wins White’s queen.


Selected books

  • What's the Best Move? (1995). ISBN 0-671-51159-9.
  • The 10 Most Common Chess Mistakes (1998). ISBN 1-58042-009-5.
  • How Good Is Your Chess? (2004). ISBN 1-58042-126-1.
  • New Ideas in Chess (1967). Cornerstone Library. ISBN 0-486-28305-4 (1984 Dover edition).
  • Modern Chess Brilliancies (1970). Fireside Simon and Schuster. ISBN 0-671-22420-4.
  • Modern Chess Openings (1965). 10th edition, revised by Larry Evans, edited by Walter Korn. Pitman Publishing.
  • Evans on Chess (1974). Cornerstone Library.
  • This Crazy World of Chess (2007). Cardoza Publishing. ISBN 1-58042-218-7.

External links

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