Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Chess Every Monday at LCCC - and P. R. Geffe Conclusion

Bogart (left at board) and Woliston-Geffe (not pictured) were California chess regulars
Just a reminder - the LCCC offers chess every Monday night at the Hartland Senior Center. Stop on in 6 - 9 pm.

Philip R. Geffe: A Chess Story - continued - by John S Hilbert and IM John Donaldson, Chess Life, Oct. 2003

After winning the California State Tournament, Woliston (Geffe) as he was know - was invited to play in the first US Chess Championship sponsored by the United States Chess Federation in New York City in 1940.

Prior to the tournament he visited all the local chess watering holes. He managed a draw with Reuben Fine in a casual 10 seconds a move game and lost a close game to Sammy Reshevsky. But the best thing about the trip was meeting back up with his old playing partner and friend Olaf Ulvestad.

Olaf failed to make the tournament in a tie-break scenario of a coin flip - giving the spot to Fred Reinfeld! But the old friends made the most of their time together as Olaf prepared Philip for the upcoming tournament.

But Woliston did not fare well against the bevy of international stars at this tournament. There was Reshevsky, Fine, Kashdan and Denker. After opening with a 2 - 1 result, back to back losses to Steiner and Fine, two draws and two more losses effectively ended his chances.

In the 17th round, Ruben Fine trailed Sammy Reshevesky by a 1/2 point as they sat down to play the final round. In inaccuracy by Fine on his 27th move completely threw away his winning position. It was the only real chance Fine would have in beating his life long nemesis in all the national events they would enter together. Woliston remembered, "When it was over, Fine looked crushed and almost ready to cry."

The attack on Pearl Harbor changed Woliston's fate, as it did so many other people. He enlisted in the Merchant Marines and became a radio officer. Having to use his actual birth certificate to enlist, his official name returned to Philip R. Geffe. Hence, this is why so much of his early chess career was lost for a quarter century or more.

After the war, chess took a back seat to life as Philip married and raised three children. It was not until 1965, twenty five years after his last tournament, did P. R. Geffe return to tournament chess.

Chess too, would come into play in his business life as well. "I went to work for Westinghouse Defense & Space Center in Baltimore, Maryland. My boss and the guy that hired me was Anatole Zverev, a Russian immigrant. We played chess at my employment interview."

Philip started playing again with some regularity and won the Maryland State title in the late 1960's. And in 1970, won the Nevada State Championship.

He is still an active player in California (Ed. Note:vwith a 2200 rating and still living at 96!).

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