What made 1994 a memorable year for chess? Certainly it had its share of controversial incidents, led by the touch-move dispute in which Garry Kasparov took back a move against Judit Polgar. But the most notable change from previous years was the sharp increase in prize money. Thanks to the sponsorship of Intel Inc., the upstart Professional Chess Assn. distributed more than $1 million in prizes to the world's leading chess stars. At least seven grandmasters earned six-figure incomes from prize money, and substantial under-the-table appearance fees added to their haul.
The most outstanding performance of the year was unquestionably Anatoly Karpov's 11-2 score against the world's elite in Linares, Spain, in March. By finishing 2 1/2 points ahead of Kasparov, Karpov silenced the critics who denigrated his World Chess Federation (FIDE) title of world champion. However, Karpov failed to duplicate his Linares form in later tournaments, and he has been neglected by FIDE as the organization schemes to return Kasparov to the throne.
Kasparov had mixed results, winning three significant tournaments but losing twice to computer programs and three times to his protege, 19-year-old Vladimir Kramnik. His future challengers may be Gata Kamsky, the 20-year-old New Yorker who rose to third in the world, or Judit Polgar, the 18-year-old Hungarian who won her first major international tournament in Madrid in May.
The greatest local event was the U.S. vs. Armenia team match in Glendale in May. The Armenian visitors stayed to compete in the Memorial Day Classic, and three of them shared first place. Our other traditional tournament, the American Open, was won by Dmitry Gurevich. Cyrus Lakdawala scored a record 6 1/2- 1/2 in the SCCF State Championship in July, and Jack Peters and Larry Remlinger tied for first in the Southern California Open on Labor Day weekend.
The Southern California Chess Federation (SCCF), which oversees local tournaments, has hired John Crayton as the new editor for its bimonthly magazine, "Rank and File." Crayton, a computer specialist who worked on the recently issued Deja Vu compact disc that contains the moves of 350,000 games, hopes to publish his first issue this month. He invites chess fans to send him articles at 1625 Davis St., Corona, Calif. 91720, or call him at (909) 371-6523.
Matt Beelby scored a perfect 5-0 to win the 53-player Mike Green Memorial at the Arcadia Chess Club. Paul Asmer and Fred Brock split the "A" prize, Bill Johnson and Richard Laidman shared "B" honors, Dave Presley took the "C" prize and C. B. Brennan was best "D-E-unrated."
The next Arcadia tournament, the five-round Winter Open, begins Jan. 9. The club meets Monday evenings in the Senior Citizens building, 405 S. Santa Anita Ave. in Arcadia. Call Mel Clark at (818) 447-9355 for more information.
Fereidon Geula, Ron Hermansen and Tommy Kwee tied for first prize with 5-1 scores in the 33-player Holiday Swiss at the West Valley Chess Club. Class prizes went to Filiberto Zadini (best "A"); Artho Ter-Matevosyan ("B") on tiebreak over Herman Hess; Marcial Nieto ("C"); Albert Chiou (best under 1400), and Rudy Curameng (top unrated).
The West Valley Chess Club, which meets at 6:30 p.m. Thursdays in the West Valley Jewish Community Center, 22622 Vanowen St. in Canoga Park, will begin its seven-round club championship on Thursday. For details, call Herman Hess at (818) 346-5959 or John Price at (818) 363-1379.
The new Gallant Knights Chess Club will host a six-round tournament on Wednesday evenings, starting this week, at Stuft Pizza, 25352 Crenshaw Blvd. in Torrance. For more information, call Rick Okubo at (310) 544-1140.
Chess Palace, the chess store and club at 3255 E. South St. in Long Beach, plans a busy 1995 schedule. The club will continue to run month-long Tuesday Knights tournaments, quad tournaments every Saturday at 11:30 a.m. and Action chess (30-minute games) events Sundays at noon, but owner Charles Rostedt has added Action chess quads every Thursday at 7:30 p.m. Call him at (310) 634-8477 for details.