Iowa Chess in the 1960's

One Woodpusher's Memories of the Iowa Chess Scene from 1964-1970

by Bill Price

Please visit this link as well:

Excerpts from Iowa Chess En Passant, 1961-1969

Recently (2004) I was surfing the Net and came across a website for the Iowa Chess Association. On it was an editorial lamenting the lack of participation in Iowa chess tournaments.

This caught my attention since I myself was a participant in the Iowa chess scene of the 1960's. At the time I was a teenager living on a farm near the tiny village of Burr Oak near the Minnesota border, and my only chance of playing chess with other rated players was in the few state tournaments that I was able to attend.

I participated in 13 Iowa chess tournaments between 1964 and 1970, including seven straight Iowa Opens, three Iowa State Championships, as well as a couple tournaments in neighboring Minnesota.

Although it was only a couple times a year, my attendance at these tournaments was sufficient to acquaint me with the unique culture of Iowa chess in the 1960's. I would say that there were probably no more than 70 serious chess players in the whole state of Iowa during that time, and a major tournament would typically be attended by only around 30 to 40 people, if even that many. Lesser tournaments would see a turnout of only around a couple dozen or less.

But in spite of our meager numbers, there was a remarkable kind of cohesiveness that characterized the Iowa chess community of the 1960's. Year after year I would see the same faces, meet the same people, and see the same names on the crosstables. There were of course some individuals who came and went, but by and large it was the same group of people from year to year, from tournament to tournament. These people lived over a wide geographical area, and the tournaments were held in a variety of cities. This made it seem almost like a mystical community adrift, a group of nomads meeting only a few times each year and then melting back into private non-chess lives for a period of time until the next tournament came along.

Not only was the Iowa chess community small back then, it was also relatively weak in playing strength. There was not a single USCF master in the entire state. Neighboring Wisconsin had its local hero in the person of USCF master William Martz, and Minnesota boasted of its USCF master Curt Brasket, but the strongest players that Iowa could speak of were only rated the 1900's and 2000's. I myself was only an average woodpusher with a rating of around 1600, and many of the venerable "old-timers" had ratings in the 1400's and 1500's.

It seemed that the state championship was passed around from person to person within the 1900-2000 rated group. One of these was Dan Reynolds, whom I remember as a tall, bespectacled, middle-aged man with a large build and a crew cut. Dan first won the Iowa state championship in 1957, and held the title off and on again for several years afterward.

Dan Reynolds won the Iowa state championship again in 1963, the year that I started getting seriously interested in chess. I was interested in learning more about chess, and so after noticing Dan Reynold's name in the newspaper I wrote him a letter in early 1964, asking him how I could obtain some chess books or magazines. I didn't know his address, and just sent the letter to "Dan Reynolds, Iowa Chess Champion, Fort Dodge, Iowa." The letter found its destination, and he wrote me an immediately reply. Not only did he send me the address of the USCF and a list of recommended books, but also offered to play me a chess game by mail. It was a very gracious offer from the state champion to a 14-year-old farm boy from Burr Oak, Iowa.

My first chess tournament was the 10th Annual Iowa Open held at the Montrose Hotel in Cedar Rapids on Labor Day weekend, 1964. I entered the Junior Division with nine other boys, and finished in 9th place with a score of 1-4. Curiously enough, all the games that I lost I should have won, and the one game I did win I should have lost.

My first game was with Lee DeWitt, a marathon 78-move game that dragged on for four hours. I had the white side of a Ruy Lopez, won two Pawns from him in the middle game, and went into what should have been an easily won Rook-and-Pawn ending. I played the ending very poorly, let my advantage dwindle away, and then found myself having to part with my extra Pawns just to stay alive. We queened Pawns on opposite sides of the board which cost us both our Rooks and left us at the following position after the 69th move:

Lee DeWitt

Bill Price

Black of course has a won game since his King is closer to the action. I was still naively optimistic and marched my King up to my Pawn, hoping for a draw. The game went 70.Kc5 Kg2 71.Kd4 Kf3 72.Ke5 Kg4. Only now did I realize that I had been left with the short end of the stick. It was a lesson I never forgot.

While at this first tournament I met Clem Ellis, a 54-year-old high school principal from Canton, Minnesota. This was an amazing stroke of luck, since Canton was a small village located just a few miles north of Burr Oak. I had just found another chessplayer who lived in the same rural area as myself! Thus started a chess friendship that lasted several years. Clem and I played many games together through the years, and he provided transportation to many of the subsequent tournaments in which I participated.

Clem EllisClem Ellis was a tall, curly-haired Irishman with a cheerful disposition, sunny smile, and an almost childlike curiosity and enthusiasm about chess. He loved chess, loved chess lore (of which I knew nothing at the time) and loved gambits, sacrifices, and combinations (in contrast to my dull conservative style). I picture him today as a kind of amateur version of Frank Marshall. He had a penchant for off-beat openings and was a great fan of the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit, his opening of choice when playing the White pieces. After falling prey to his fierce Blackmar-Diemer a couple times, I as Black began groping for strained and contorted ways of avoiding his favorite weapon. As Black Clem experimented for several years with a curiosity called the "Franco-Sicilian defense", a combination of the French and Sicilian defenses. Most of these curiosities he dredged up from his favorite books by German author Gerhart Gunderam.

It was an interesting coincidence that Clem Ellis played state champion Dan Reynolds in this 1964 tournament, and the game score was published prominently on the 3rd page of the September 1964 issue of the Iowa Chess En Passant. Clem as White employed his favorite Blackmar-Diemer Gambit, and got a nice-looking game against his formidable opponent. While building up his attack, however, he neglected his home front and missed a very pretty Queen sacrifice and smothered mate combination against his own King, pulled off in true champion style by Dan Reynolds. Here is the score of that game:

Clem Ellis - Dan Reynolds, 10th Annual Iowa Open, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, September 1964

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nc3 d5 3.e4 dxe4 4.f3 exf3 5.Nxf3 g6 6.Bc4 Bg7 7.0-0 0-0 8.Bg5 c6 9.Qd2 Nbd7 10.Rae1 Nb6 11.Bb3 Nbd5 12.Ne4 Nxe4 13.Rxe4 Nf6 14.Rh4 Bf5 15.Bh6 Ne4 16.Qe3 Bxh6 17.Qxh6 g5!

Dan Reynolds

Clem Ellis

18.Nxg5? Qxd4+ 19.Kh1 Nf2+ 20.Kg1 Nh3+ 21.Kh1 Qg1+ 22.Rxg1 Nf2mate.

Clem Ellis and I played several offhand games during the mid to late 1960's, and then met over the board a few more times in 1972. I soon went overseas for a few years and then to California before meeting Clem one last time in 1984. By then he was retired, living in a trailer park in Mabel, Minnesota, and still active in chess, but only in postal games. He looked quite young for his age, and still had that bubbly personality and beaming smile. I never saw him again. A few years ago I found his obituary on the Internet - he died on September 17, 1997 in La Crescent, Minnesota.

(Read the newspaper article at the bottom of this webpage for more information about Clem Ellis.)

I am by no means an authority on Iowa chess history, all I know being exclusively from my own personal experiences and from what I have read in the 1960's Iowa Chess En Passant magazines. I will leave official history to others more knowledgeable than myself. However, based on what I know it seems that those responsible for putting Iowa chess on the map were not masters and experts, but a small group of ordinary but very dedicated woodpushers. Prominent among these were Willis G. Vanderburg of Shell Rock, and John M. Osness and the Donath brothers of the Waterloo - Cedar Falls area. (Subsequent note: This list should also include two luminaries whom I never met: chess teacher Dr. Julius S. Weingart, and former ISCA President and original ICEP editor Dr. Max Fogel, two players who made significant contributions to Iowa chess.)

I met Willis Vanderburg over the board a couple times in Iowa tournaments, all pleasant memories since I always got a good game against him. I can no longer picture him after all these years, but I seem to remember him as an elderly, somewhat portly gentleman with a slightly pompous air - not meant as a negative observation, but only as a general impression that I as a teenager had of him. I remember that he drove Dr. David Crownfield and me to the Iowa State Championship in 1968 in his car and back again. Willis Vanderburg was active in Iowa chess as early as 1934, when he first met the Donath brothers at a tournament in Cherokee. In 1947 Willis helped organize the Black Hawk Chess Club - later to become the Cedar Valley Chess Club of Waterloo. In 1948 he organized the first post-War Iowa State Chess Championship tournament in Waterloo. On February 21, 1956 Sammy Reshevsky played 49 Iowans in a simultaneous exhibition in Dubuque. Reshevsky won 49-0, and Willis Vanderburg had the honor of being one of the two "close" games.

Fritz and O. Jack Donath were two chess-playing brothers of German descent who were virtually permanent fixtures at all major Iowa tournaments during the 1960's. Fritz and Jack starting playing tournament chess in 1934, and became charter members of the Black Hawk Chess Club, i.e., Cedar Valley Chess Club in 1947. My personal memories of the Donath brothers are mixed with some bittersweet feelings, since I lost to both of them pretty badly in match play with the Cedar Valley Chess Club when I was playing for the University of Northern Iowa. I lost both games with Fritz and lost and drew with Jack. I was rated higher than either of them, and felt pretty bad about the poor showing. But I remember that Jack and Fritz were both very friendly and gracious, and after one of those games Fritz personally chauffered me back to campus in his car.

John Osness The name of John Osness is probably familiar to anyone who has ever played chess in Iowa. John lived in Waterloo and served as tournament director for countless Iowa state tournaments. I played him a few times in tournament and offhand games (here the memories are a bit more pleasant than the Donath games), and also played his son Nick twice during the Iowa Opens (one loss, one win). John also faithfully published the little Iowa chess magazine Iowa Chess En Passant for many years since its inception in June, 1961, the attractive format and interesting content presumably of John's design. Whenever there was any issue relating to Iowa Chess, whether it be business meetings or organization or management of tournaments, John was sure to be there at the forefront. To this day I can still see him between rounds at state tournaments, sitting at a table and organizing cards on which the pairings for the next round were determined.

At the 11th Iowa Open in 1965 I played John's son Nick, and John came by with a camera and took our picture. I remembered that incident for years, but never got to see the picture. In 1991 I decided to write him a letter and ask him about it, not really expecting him to remember the incident, or even remember me, for that matter. Much to my surprise I received a reply from "Iowa Chess Man" John Osness in which he enclosed a copy of that photograph taken in 1965! On the back he wrote the name and number of the tournament, and the number of the round, all of which he remembered precisely. He remembered me as well, and filled me in on some details of Iowa chess players we had both known from the 1960's.

John wrote that Fritz Donath and Willis Vanderburg had since passed away. I was shocked to read that Dan Reynolds had also died at the early age of 42. Dan had won his first Iowa Championship in April 1957 when he was 22, and so I assume that the year of his passing was 1976 or 1977.

This letter was written early in 1992, and as I understand it, John himself has in the meantime also passed away. I was very sad to read about this in the Internet, and I can only imagine the tremendous loss his death meant to the Iowa Chess community.

Between 1965 and 1966 some young new faces burst upon the Iowa chess scene, most (if not all) of them from Roosevelt High School in Des Moines. Most prominent among these were Dan Harger, Lee Cranberg, and Jon Frankle, all three of whom quickly skyrocketed to the zenith of the Iowa chess firmament. As I recall, all three were younger than me, and during the first couple years we were all more or less equals in terms of playing strength. Not so today. Today Dan Harger and Jon Frankle are USCF masters, and Lee Cranberg - although not a master as far as I know - went on to become a Class A player and, by the way, a prominent neurologist at Harvard Medical School.

Lee Cranberg was a frequent opponent during my Iowa chess adventures between about 1967 and 1969, and except for a few offhand games he always got the best of me.

Lee and I first met in the Junior Division of the 1967 Iowa North-Central tournament in Marshalltown. Going into the third round we were both leading the division at 2-0. I was prepared for a long battle, but was surprised to find my Queen trapped in six moves! (For a score of this game, see my “Shortest Games” webpage). I immediately resigned the game, yielding Lee the point. He and I both went on to win our remaining two games, he finishing in first place and I in second.

Our second encounter was in the Junior Division of the 1967 Iowa State Championship in Iowa City. There were only six juniors registered, and so our tournament was basically a round robin, every player getting a chance to slug it out with every other player. In the pairings Lee and I ended up playing each other in the fifth and last round. I had blundered and lost in the first round, but had recovered nicely with three straight wins. Lee entered the fifth round with three wins and a draw, and was thus a half point ahead of me. In third place with 2½ points was Bob Day, who had beaten me in round 1 and drawn with Lee in round 2. Everything depended on the outcome of that last round. If I won, I would capture first place and be crowned Junior Chess Champion of Iowa. If I lost, the most I could hope for would be third place (out of six contenders!). But if, on the other hand, I settled for a draw, I would at least be guaranteed to tie for second place, a very respectable spot for a state championship. I was still smarting from the last game with Lee in January, and was a bit wary of overextending myself against him.

Round 5 was to start at 4:00, but it didn't get under way until past 4:30. Bob Day and Ken Weitz pulled me aside before the game and tried to convince me to go for the win. For whatever reason, they didn’t want to see Lee win the state title, and I was their only hope.

I was given the White pieces, and Lee again played a Petroff Defense. (Bad memories!). During the first few moves I got a slight advantage, but by the 18th move I was starting to feel uncomfortable about the game and began losing my nerve. I decided to offer Lee a draw, and he immediately accepted. Lee thus finished with 4-1 and was crowned Iowa Junior Chess Champion of 1967, and I tied for second place with 3½-1½. Bob Day, also in second place with 3½-1½, was not too pleased that I had taken the easy way out. But I had at least won bragging rights to say that I had tied for second place in a state championship!

But what would have happened had I not been in such a conciliatory mood and had played on? Could I have won that game? Here is the position after Lee's 18...0-0-0:

Lee Cranberg

Bill Price

Fritz evaluates White's position here as slightly better, suggesting the continuation 19.g3 d6 20.Rhe1 dxe5 21.Rxe5 Rhe8 22.Rf5.

So perhaps if I had been endowed with a little more courage and the will to fight on, the 1967 Iowa Junior Chess Champion may have been Bill Price of Decorah rather than Lee Cranberg of Des Moines.

And just for the record, here are the results of that tournament:

Iowa State Junior Chess Championship
Iowa City, Iowa
April 8-9, 1967

1. Lee Cranberg            W5 D2 W4 W6 D3  4-1
2. Bob Day                 W3 D1 W5 L4 W6  3½-1½
3. Bill Price              L2 W4 W6 W5 D1  3½-1½
4. Michael Laffin          L6 L3 L1 W2 W5  2-3
5. Ken Weitz               L1 W6 L2 L3 L4  1-4
6. Arne Sorenson           W4 L5 L3 L1 L2  1-4

Jon Frankle, whom I seem to remember as the youngest of the three, scored an easy victory against me in the last round of the 12th Iowa Open (Junior Division) in 1966. I left my Knight in take on the 13th move and resigned after he snapped it up. Jon was very upset that he had scored such a cheap win, and he tried in vain to coax me into playing further. But I was totally discouraged at that point, having thrown away my chance for second place in the division. After the game we went off to a nearby drugstore together to get some candy, and all the while he was chiding me about my wimpish resignation. Thirty-five years later (2001) I ran into Jon Frankle at a tournament in Los Angeles, California. He was now a seasoned Master, whereas I was still pretty much the same woodpusher as I had been in 1966. I was just visiting the playing hall as a spectator to check out the action, and was surprised to find Jon's name on the crosstable. I went over to the board that was assigned to his name, and there, instead of the small 11-year-old brown-haired kid I remembered from 1966, sat a graying man in his late forties, but still with that familiar sparkle in his dark brown eyes. After his game was finished I went up to him and introduced myself. Jon politely acknowledged my greeting and exchanged a few words with me, but it was obvious that he had no memory of the person he was addressing. (I am blessed - or cursed - with an unusually youthful appearance, and he no doubt took me to be a member of a much younger generation, certainly not anyone who could remember those Iowa chess tournaments from the mid-60's.)

Dan Harger and I first met in 1965 in the last round of the Junior Division of the 11th Iowa Open, and he beat me in a game that could have gone either way. Dan Harger was a very interesting fellow, and we instantly became good friends. We remained friends throughout the rest of the 1960's, but meeting each other of course only at chess tournaments.

Dan was quite a prodigious and energetic chessplayer. In 1965 we were about equally matched, but within a year his playing strength had forged ahead of mine dramatically. Upon arriving in Cedar Rapids to play in the 12th Iowa Open in 1966, I asked someone if Dan Harger had registered for the Junior Division yet. "Dan is here," was the reply, "but I don't think he's going to be playing in the Junior Division!" It was true. He had registered in the Open Division with the adults, and ended up finishing 8th out of 38 players with a 3-2 score.

Dan's playing style was quite entertaining. He was a bundle of energy and couldn't sit still. I remember during one tournament I began watching Dan's game after my own game was finished. It was his opponent's move, and Dan was out somewhere in the lobby, walking around and talking with people. His opponent made a move and punched his clock, and so I thought I had better go tell Dan. "What move did he make?" he asked. I told him. "The fish!" he laughed, and he made his way back to his game. He sat down briefly, looked the situation over for a couple seconds, deftly whacked one of his pieces onto a new square, punched his clock, and then jumped up from the table to wander around the tournament hall some more. That is how he played chess.

Dan had a great sense of humor, and he was always clowning around. Once I brought my tape recorder to a tournament, and we spent an evening in his hotel room recording a mythical game between some deceased grandmasters, Dan ad-libbing the moves and running commentary as I held the microphone. It was pretty funny, and I still have that tape lying around somewhere today.

In July, 1967, I took a bus up to Minneapolis to play in 5th Annual Aquatennial Open, and I found out that I had checked into the same hotel as Dan Harger. He was there playing skittles games with friend David Beebe, a Minneapolis resident. This happened to be during some of the racial unrest that was rocking parts of the country, and apparently a race riot of some kind was under way in Minneapolis. We were staying in a cheap hotel in a questionable area, and David's father called him up and suggested we all get out of there fast. He came by and picked us up, driving us all to the Beebe home to spend the night. Dan Harger and I were put up in makeshift beds down in their basement.

I was 17 years old at the time, and Dan around 16, and we spent the entire night lying awake in the dark and talking about everything under the sun. Dan had a surprisingly mature understanding of chess for a 16-year-old, and he talked with me about chess things that seemed incomprehensible to me at the time, but today in retrospect I realize that he was just more mature than I. I got to know some of the serious side of Dan that night. The conversation wandered from chess to girlfriends, our personal lives, and just about every topic imaginable. Dan, I found out, was a terrific fan of J. R. R. Tolkien, and he raved to me about the "Hobbit" and the "Lord of the Rings", books that I had never heard of before. A year later I purchased my own set of Tolkien books and discovered what Dan had been talking about, becoming quite a Tolkien fan myself. I have Dan Harger to thank for that.

Dan was by his own admission an egotist on the chessboard. "A good chessplayer has to have a big ego," he once told me. He boasted to me that he knew more about openings than anyone else in the state of Iowa - and he was probably right. As I recall, he had a voluminous knowledge of book openings, an asset that undoubtedly served him very well in all those tournaments. Dan's first major success in a state tournament was his convincing 5½ - ½ win in the 9th Annual Thanksgiving 30/30 tournament in Waterloo in November, 1966. He finished second to Dan Reynolds in the 5th Annual Iowa North-Central tournament in Marshalltown in February, 1968, and again second to Reynolds in the 1968 Iowa Championship in March.

Dan's big moment of fame arrived April 27, 1969, when he finally won the Iowa State Championship in Waterloo. The Iowa Chess En Passant reported that Waterloo "had the pleasure of crowning one of the youngest Iowa Chess Champions in history", since at the time Dan was only 18 years old...




Smith - Dan Reynolds
(No date, place, or event given).

1.d4 Nf6 2.e3 d5 3.Bd3 Nc6 4.Nd2 e5 5.c3 Bd6 6.f3 0-0 7.Ne2 Qe7 8.e4 exd4 9.cxd4 dxe4 10.fxe4 Bg4! 11.e5



11... Bxe5 12.dxe5 Nxe5 13.Qc2 Nxd3+ 14.Qxd3 Rad8 15.Qc4 Rd4! White resigns.



Dan Reynolds - D. Edwards
1962 U.S. Open
San Antonio, Texas

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc5 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.d4 exd4 6.0-0 Bc5 7.e5 Nd5 8.c3 d3 9.Qxd3 Nde7 10.b4 Ba7 11.Re1 0-0 12.Bc2 Ng6 13.Bg5 Qe8 14.h4 h5 15.Nbd2 Nd8 16.Bxd8 Qxd8 17.Ne4 Re8 18.Ng5 Nf8 19.Bb3 Re7



20.Nxf7 Rxf7 21.e6 Rxf3 22.e7+ Rf7 23.Bxf7+ Kxf7 24.exd8Q Ne6 25.Qf5mate

Charles Weldon - Dan Reynolds
1962 Rockford Open
Rockford, Illinois

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 e5 5.Nb5 a6 6.Nd6+ Bxd6 7.Qxd6 Qf6 8.Qd2 Qg6 9.Nc3 Nge7 10.f3 d5 11.exd5 Nb4 12.Ne4 Nbxd5 13.Bc4 0-0!?



14.Bxd5 Nxd5 15.Qxd5 Qxg2 16.Ng3 Bg4! 17.Qd2 Qxf3 18.Rf1 Qc6 19.Qg5 f5 20.Bd2 Rad8 21.Rf2 Qxc2 22.Rc1



22... Qxc1+ 23.Bxc1 Rd1mate

Dan Harger - Dan Reynolds
5th Annual Iowa North-Central
Marshalltown, Iowa
Round 5
February 11, 1968

The March 1968 issue of Iowa Chess En Passant reported: “After four rounds of the Fifth Annual Iowa-North Central Open Chess Tournament it was obvious that Dan was going to be the winner, but no one was sure that his last name would be Reynolds or Harger. Harger only needed a draw to win, and it appeared that he had one after some twenty moves, but then Reynolds launched an attack that Harger failed to defend precisely, and Reynolds won a very interesting end game.”

Notes by Dan Harger

1.c4 Nf6 2.Nc3 e6 3.Nf3 d5 4.d4 Be7 5.Bg5 0-0 6.e3 h6 The modern treatment of the Queen’s Gambit Declined. 7.Bh4 b6 8.cxd5 exd5 9.Bd3 Be6 This is better than 9…Bb7. 10.0-0 c5 11.dxc5 bxc5 12.Rc1 Nc6 13.Bb5 Qb6 14.Bxc6 Qxc6 15.Qa4 Qxa4 16.Nxa4 … Black’s c-Pawn and d-Pawn are “hanging” so White tries to exploit them. 16…Rfc8 17.Ne5? This loses tempi. 17…g5 18.Bg3 Ne4 19.Nc3 Nxg3 20.hxg3 Kg7 Begins to centralize the King and prepares for action on the h-file. 21.Rfd1 f6 22.Nf3 Rd8 23.Rc2 g4? Leaves f4 unprotected. 24.Ne1 Rd7 25.Rcd2 Rad8 26.Nc2 f5 27.Ne2! Heading for f4 to restrain the pawns. 27…Bd6 28.Nf4 Bxf4 29.gxf4 h5 30.g3? Better is Kh2. 30…h4! 31.gxh4? Better is Kg2. 31…Rh8 32.b4 Kg2 followed by Rh1 seems better. 32…c4 33.Nd4 Kf6 34.Ne2? Better is Kg2 followed by 35. Rh1. 34…Rxh4 35.Nc3 Rdh7 36.Nxd5+ Kg7 37.Nc7 Bc8 38.Ne8+ Kf8 39.Nd6 c3 40.Nxc8 Rh1+ 41.Kg2 cxd2 42.Rxd2 R7h2+ 43.Kg3 Rh3+ 44.Kg2 Rc1 45.Nxa7 Rhh1 46.f3 Rcg1+ 47.Kf2 g3+ 48.Ke2 Rh2+ 49.Resigns

Dan Reynolds - Keith Huntress
1965 Iowa Championship
Ames, Iowa
Round 5

Notes by Dan Reynolds

A normal position in the Steinitz Defense to the Ruy Lopez is reached, and then Black deviates from the normal defense scheme and makes a series of weak moves. Finally he sacrifices a piece for two pawns, and White by way of the Queen maneuver Qf4-g3 wins additional material, and Black’s game collapsed.

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 d6 4.d4 exd4 5.Nxd4 Bd7 6.Nc3 Nf6 7.0-0 Be7 8.b3 … The fianchetto of White’s QB has been proven to be very strong in this variation. 8…0-0 9.Bxc6 … Now that Black has castled White wants to avoid Black’s Nxd4 since he cannot capture Black’s Bishop with check. 9…bxc6 10.Bb2 c5 This weakening of the pawn structure is not advisable. The normal defensive scheme is Re8 followed by Bf8, g6, and Bg7. 11.Nde2 Bg4 Another weak move. Again Re8 was best. 12.f3 Bh5 Black allows his Bishop to be driven out of play. Best was Be6 or Bd7. 13.Qd2 c6? This move is very weakening. Best was Re8 followed by Bf8. 14.Qe3 Qc7 15.Rad1 Rad8 16.g4 Nxg4 17.fxg4 Bxg4 This position must be favorable to White, as Black who has just sacrificed has no follow up to his “attack”. Now White utilizes a tempo move on the Black QB to reach a strong attacking position. 18.Qf4! f5 Neither Bxe2 or Bh3? (Qg3!) is satisfactory. Had Black been aware of the danger to his Kingside he would have played Bh5 and then to g6. 19.Qg3! Rf6!? Black’s move looks strong, but White’s attack comes first. 20.exf5 Bxf5 21.Nd5! cxd5 Black has no alternative. 22.Bxf6 Bxf6 23.Rxf5 Qe7 24.R1xd5 Qxe2 25.Rxf6… and White won in a few moves.

Clem Ellis - Dan Reynolds
14th Annual Iowa Open
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Round 5
September 1, 1968

1.d4 c5 2.d5 e5 3.e4 d6 4.Be3 Nf6 5.Nd2 a6 6.a4 Ng4 7.Ngf3 Be7 8.Nc4 Nd7 9.a5 Nxe3 10.Nxe3 b5 11.axb6 Nxb6 12.Qd2 0-0 13.Bd3 Bg5 14.h3 Bf4 15.g3 Bxe3 16.Qxe3 c4 17.Be2 f5 18.c3 fxe4 19.Nd2 Rb8 20.Bxc4 Nxc4 21.Nxc4 Qc7 22.Qxe4 Rxb2 23.0-0 Rb8 24.g4 Rf4 25.Qe3 Rxc4 26.f4 Rxc3 27.Rac1 Rxe3 28.Rxc7 exf4 29.Rfc1 Rg3+ 30.Kf1 Bxg4 31.hxg4 Rxg4 32.Rd7 Rg6 33.R1c7 h5 34.Kf2 h4 35.Kf3 h3 36.Kxf4 h2 37.Kf5 h1Q 38.Kxg6 Qh6+ 39.Kf5 Qf6+ 40.Ke4 Rb4+ 41.Resigns

Paul Hersh - Dan Reynolds
8th Annual Thanksgiving 30-30
Waterloo, Iowa
November, 1965

1.d4 c5 2.d5 e5 3.c4 d6 4.Nc3 f5 5.g3 Nf6 6.Bg2 Be7 7.Nf3 Na6 8.a3 0-0 9.Rb1 Bd7 10.0-0 Rb8 11.b4 Qe8 12.b5 Nc7 13.b6 axb6 14.Rxb6 Na8 15.Rb2 b5 16.cxb5 Bxb5 17.Ng5 Bd7 18.Qc2 Nc7 19.e4 h6 20.Nh3 fxe4 21.Nxe4 Rxb2 22.Bxb2 Ncxd5 23.Rd1 Nxe4 24.Bxe4 Nf6 25.Bg6 Qa8 26.Bf5 Ba4 27.Qc4+ d5 28.Be6+ Kh8 29.Bxd5 Nxd5 30.Rxd5 Bc6 31.Rxe5 Bf6 32.Rxc5 Bxb2 33.Rxc6 Re8 34.a4 Re1+ 35.Kg2 Rc1! 36.Resigns

Arnold Adelberg (1801*) - Dan Reynolds (2036)
1963 Iowa Championship
Waterloo, Iowa

April 1963

(This game was awarded First Prize for "Best Played Game" of the tournament.)

"Adelberg, a newcomer to Iowa chess, joins the long line of losers to the methodical Reynolds."

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 g6 5.c4 Nf6 6.Nc3 Nxd4 7.Qxd4 d6 8.Be2 Bg7 9.f4 Premature. Be3, 0-0; 10 Qd1 would be better. 9...0-0 10.Qd3 Blocks KB. 10...Be6 11.f5 gxf5 Black welcomes possibility of attack on g-file. White would expose King with Kingside pawn moves, and 0-0-0 would give Black a quick attack with a6 and b5. 12.exf5 Bd7 13.0-0 Bc6 14.h4? Nd7 15.Qg3? White's Queen is exposed. Best was Bf3. 15...Kh8 16. Bf3 Rfg8 17.Qh3 Best was Qf2. 17...Ne5 18.Bxc6 Qb6+ Clears first rank for doubling rooks. 19.Kh1 Qxc6 20.b3 Bf6! Anticipates White's Nd5. 21.Nd5 Rg4 22.Nxf6 exf6 Now White's Bishop is ineffectual while Black's Knight is potentially dangerous. 23.Bb2 Rag8 24.Rf2 Qe4! 25.Rd1? Rxh4 26.Resigns

Dan Reynolds - Arnold Adelberg
1968 Iowa Championship
Ames, Iowa

Round 2

March 30, 1968

Notes (presumably) by Dan Harger

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 Better is ...g6. 4.Bxc6 dxc6 5.0-0 Bg4 6.h3 Bh5 7.d3 e6 8.Nbd2 Qc7 9.Re1 Nf6 10.Nf1 Be7 11.b3 Nd7 To oppose on the diagonal. 12.Ng3 Bf6 13.Nxh5! Bxa1 14.Bf4 Be5 15.Nxe5 Nxe5 16.Nxg7+ Ke7 17.d4 Rhg8 Better seems 17...cxd4 18.Qxd4 f6! 18.Bxe5 Qd7 19.Qf3 cxd4 20.Qf6+ Kf8 21.Bxd4 b6 22.Rd1 Qe7 23.Qh6 Resigns. White wins more material.

Dan Reynolds - John Penquite
7th Annual Iowa Open
Cedar Rapids, Iowa

September 1961

Notes by U.S. Expert Dan Reynolds

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Be2 e6 7.0-0 Be7 8.Be3 b5 Black intends to put pressure on White's e-Pawn by Bb7, Nbd7, Nc5. 9.a3 This is weak. White can cause Black embarrassment by Bf3. Black is forced to play e5 (the threat is e5), and after Nf5 White has an excellent game. 9...Bb7 10.Bd3 Better is f3, to be followed by Qe1 and Rad1. The bishop is poorly placed on d3 and White's pieces will be tied to the defense of the e-Pawn after he plays his intended f4. 10...Nbd7 11.f4 Still best is f3. 11...Qc7 12.f5 Black has an excellent game. His pieces are well placed and an advance in the center by d5 or e5 or both cannot be prevented. White's idea is to try for a blocked center, and try a king side attack with g4-g5, etc., after Black castles. This is not possible before castles because of the reply h6. 12...e5 13.Nb3 Nc5 Black has adequate pressure against the e-Pawn. He should play Nb6, Re8, and 0-0 and possibly Bc6 and Qb7, developing all his pieces before playing d5. White cannot prevent this advance and he has no good plan to follow. 14.Nd2 d5 Good but premature. 15. exd5 Nxd3? Best is Nxd5. Black's move allows White a big lead in development and excellent freedom of movement for his pieces. Especially dangerous since Black has not castled and his King side is undefended. 16.cxd3 Nxd5 17.Nxd5 Bxd5 18.Rc1 Qb7 19.Qg4! h5? Black's position is very difficult. Correct is Kf8 (Bf6; 20.Bc5 prevents 0-0; also if ...g6; 20 f6); 20.Ne4 Bxe4 21.dxe4 f6 22.Rc2 Rc8, 23. Rxc8 Qxc8, 24.Rc1 Qb7, 25.Qe2 h6, 26.Qc2 Kg8, 27.Qc8+ Qxc8, 28.Rxc8+ Kh7, 29.Rd7 and White wins a pawn after Ra7 and Rb7. If Black plays 29...Bd8, then 30.Ra7 a5, 31.Rb7. The move chosen is hopeless. 20.Qxg7 Kd7 21.Ne4! Rhg8 Not Bxe4, 22.dxe4 Qxe4, 23.Rcd1+ 22.Qxe5 f6 23.Rc7+! Qxc7 24.Qxd5+ Resigns. After ...Bd6, 25.Qe6+ White wins both Rooks or the Queen with a mating attack.

Craig Ellyson - Dan Reynolds
Iowa State Championship

April 30, 1960

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 g6 6.Be3 Bg7 7.f3 Nc6 8.Qd2 0-0 9.g4 Qa5 10.0-0-0 Be6 11.Nxe6 fxe6 12.Bc4 Nd8 13.h4 Rc8 14.Bb3 Nd7 15.Bd4 Ne5 16.Bxe5 Bxe5 17.Kb1 Rxf3 18.h5 Bxc3 19.bxc3 Qxc3 20.Qxc3 R8xc3 21.hxg6 hxg6 22.Rh6 Kg7 23.Rdh1 Kf6 24.Rh8 Nc6 25.Rg8 Ne5 26.Rh7 Nxg4 27.Rc8+ Ke5 28.Rxf3 Rxf3 29.Rxe7 Rf6 30.Rxb7 Kxe4 31.Rxa7 d5 32.Ra4+ Kf3 33.Kc1 Ne3 34.Kd2 g5 35.c4 dxc4 36.Bxc4 Nxc4+ 37.Rxc4 g4 38.Ke1 Rh6 39.Rc3+ Kg2 40.Rc2+ Kg1 41.a4 g3 42.a5 Rh2 43.Rc3 g2 44.Rg3 Rh4 45.Re3 Kh1 46.Kd2 g1Q 47.Resigns

Dan Reynolds - Bob Burrell
"Iowa Champs" vs. Cedar Valley Chess Club, Board 1
January 12, 1964

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.f4 c5 6.c3 cxd4 7.cxd4 Nc6 8.Ndf3 Bb4+ 9.Kf2 0-0 10.g3 Nb6 11.Bd3 h6 12.Ne2 Bd7 13.Kg2 Nc4 14.b3 Nb6 15.Be3 a5 16.Rf1 a4 17.a3 Be7 18.b4 Nc4 19.Qc1 b5 20.g4 Rc8 21.f5 f6 22.fxe6 Bxe6 23.Nf4 Bxg4 24.Ng6 Rf7 25.Nfh4 fxe5 26.Rxf7 Kxf7 27.Nxe7 Qxe7 28.Ng6 Qe6 29.dxe5 N6xe5 30.Nxe5 Nxe5 31.Qf1+ Bf3+ 32.Kf2 Ng4+ 33.Kg3 Qxe3 34.Qxf3+ Qxf3+ 35.Kxf3 Rc3 36.Ke2 Ne5 37.Bxb5 Nc4 38.Bxa4 Rxa3 39.Rxa3 Nxa3 40.Kd3 Ke6 41.Kd4 Draw

Dan Reynolds - Bob Burrell
8th Annual Thanksgiving 30-30
Waterloo, Iowa
Round 4
November 21, 1965

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 d5 3.Nc3 e6 4.Bg5 Be7 5.e3 0-0 6.cxd5 Nxd5 7.Bxe7 Qxe7 8.Nxd5 exd5 9.Bd3 Qb4+ 10.Qd2 Qxd2+ 11.Kxd2 Bg4 12.Ne2 Nd7 13.Rhc1 c6 14.b4 a6 15.a4 Nf6 16.Nc3 Ra7 17.b5 axb5 18.axb5 Rfa8 19.Rxa7 Rxa7 20.bxc6 bxc6 21.f3 Bd7 22.Bc2 Kf8 23.Na4 Ke7 24.Rb1 h5 25.Rb2 Ne8 26.Nc5 Nd6 27.Bd3 g6 28.Kc3 Kd8 29.h3 Ke7 30.Kb3 Kd8 31.g4 hxg4 32.hxg4 Nb7 33.Nxd7 Kxd7 34.Ra2 Rxa2 35.Kxa2 c5 36.dxc5 Nxc5 37.Bb5+ Ke6 38.Kb2 f5 39.g5 f4 40.exf4 Kf5 41.Kc3 Kxf4 42.Be8 Kxg5 43.Bxg6 Kxg6 Draw

William Martz (2252) - Dan Reynolds (1957)
13th Annual Iowa Open
Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Round 4
September 3, 1967

"The master plays like one."

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Bg5 Nbd7 5.cxd5 exd5 6.e3 Be7 7.Bd3 c6 8.Qc2 0-0 9.Nf3 Re8 10.0-0 h6 11.Bf4 Nb6 12.Rb1 Be6 13.h3 Bd6 14.Ne5 Qe7 15.Bh2 a6 16.Qe2 c5 17.Rbe1 Rac8 18.f4 Bxe5 19.dxe5 Ne4 20.f5 Nxc3 21.bxc3 Bd7 22.f6 gxf6 23.exf6 Qf8 24.Qh5 Bb5 25.Bd6! Resigns


William Martz (2252) - Glen Proechel (1997)
13th Annual Iowa Open
Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Round 5
September 3, 1967

As a companion piece to the above Martz-Reynolds game, I present the following exciting game from the next round in the same tournament in which USCF Master William Martz won a pretty King and Pawn endgame from expert Glen Proechel. Martz was going into the last round with a perfect 4-0, and Proechel with a 3½-½ . I remember watching the final stages of this game. My own game was finished, and I joined several spectators who were following the endgame between the master from Wisconsin and the Iowa expert. I can still see Martz as he silently hunched over the board in perfect concentration, playing out the final moves of the K&P endgame. Even more unforgettable was the bewildered look on Glen's face after the game when he remarked, "I didn't make any mistakes, but he still beat me! "

Notes (presumably) by Dan Harger

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 Be7 5.e3 Nbd7 6.Nf3 0-0 7.cxd5 Nxd5 More usual is 7...exd5; 8 Bd3 c6; 9 Qc2 Re8; 10 0-0. 8.Bxe7 Qxe7 9.Rc1 Nxc3 10.Rxc3 c6 11.Bd3 e5 12.Qc2 h6 13.0-0 White has an advantage in development and slight pressure against Black's position. 13...exd4 So N may move. 14.Nxd4 Ne5 15.Be2 Qf6 16.Rd1 Qg6 17.Qxg6 Nxg6 After this Black's pieces are not very well placed. 18.b4 Starting the well known Minority attack. 18...a6 Black cannot allow b5. 19.a4 Rd8 At last Black's pieces get into play. 20.a5 Fixing Black's Q Side Pawns. 20... Be6 The only reasonable square for the Bishop. 21.Nxe6 Rxd1+ 22.Bxd1 fxe6 23.Rd3 Nf8 24.f4 Fixing the e-Pawn allowing the King quick entry into game. 24...Kf7 25.e4 Ke7 26.Kf2 Nd7 27.e5 c5 If ...Rd8, then 28 Bb3, c5; 29 Rg3, Kf7; and 30 f5. 28.Ba4 Rd8 29.Rg3 Kf8 30.Rd3 Ke7 31.Bxd7 Rxd7 32.Rxd7+ Kxd7 At first sight this looks good for Black, but it isn't. 33.bxc5 Kc6 34.Ke3 Kxc5 35.f5 exf5 If Kd5; 36 f6 36.Kf4 g6 37.h4 b5 38.axb6 Kxb6 39.h5 gxh5 40.Kxf5 a5 41.e6 Kc7 42.Kf6 a4 43.e7 Kd7 44.Kf7 Resigns. A beautiful end game!!

The following game between Jon Frankle and Dan Harger is one of the wildest and most unusual I have ever seen.

Jon Frankle - Dan Harger
1971 Iowa Championship
Ames, Iowa
April 25, 1971

1.Nf3 g6 2.e4 Bg7 3.d4 c5 4.Bc4 cxd4 5.c3 dxc3 6.Nxc3 Nc6 7.0-0 d6 8.Ng5 Ne5 9.Bb3 h6 10.f4 hxg5 11.fxe5 Qb6+ 12.Rf2 Bxe5 13.Bxf7+ Kd8 14.Nd5 Bxh2+ 15.Kf1 Qa6+ 16.Qe2 Bg4 17.Qxa6 Bg3 18.Qxd6+ exd6 19.Kg1 Bxf2+ 20.Kxf2 Nh6 21.Bxg5+ Kc8 22.Rc1+ Kb8 23.Bxg6 Rg8 24.Ne7 Rg7 25.Bf6 Rf7 26.Bxf7 Nxf7 27.Nd5 a5 28.Kg3! Be2 29.Nb6 Ra6 30.Bd4 Resigns. "My games with Dan are interesting, if nothing else." - Jon Frankle.

This miniature game was played in the same tournament that was to be my very last in the state of Iowa. I did not witness the game, but I do remember a very amused Dan Harger showing it to me when it was over. (Jon, incidentally, was not amused.) Two years later it was published in the May/June 1972 issue of Iowa Chess En Passant under Dan's column entitled "How Not to Play Chess."

Dan Harger - Jon Frankle
16th Annual Iowa Open
Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Round 5

September 6, 1970

1.g4 d5 2.Bg2 Bxg4? 3.c4 c6 4.cxd5 cxd5 5.Qb3 e6?? 6.Qa4+ Resigns. The Bishop is left hanging.

Dr. Art Crew (1875-1972) was Iowa State Chess Champion in 1912!

Craig Ellyson - Dr. Art Crew
6th Annual Iowa Open
Cedar Rapids, Iowa

September 3, 1960

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nge7 4.Nc3 a6 5.Ba4 b5 6.Bb3 Ng6 7.d4 Bb4 8.0-0 0-0 9.Nd5 Ba5 10.Bg5 Qe8 11.Bf6 Bb7 12.Ng5 h6 13.Qh5 Nxd4 14.Nxf7 Ne2+ 15.Kh1 Bxd5 16.Bxd5 Rxf7 17.Qxg6 Nf4 18.Qxg7mate


Clem Ellis and I once played in a tournament in his home state of Minnesota. This was the "Minnesota Challenger's Tournament" held in St. Paul on the weekend of April 1-2, 1967. Even though this was a Minnesota tournament with players all unfamiliar to me, the action and atmosphere was much like those Iowa tournaments of the 1960's. The following (slightly edited) excerpt from my 1967 autobiography gives a flavor of what those weekend tournaments were like.

(Friday evening, March 31, 1967) ...Mom told me that Clem Ellis had called and wanted me to go with him to a Minnesota chess tournament that weekend. I called him up and agreed to the offer, and we then made arrangements. That night I got ready and studied up on Alekhine’s Defense, which I intended to make my new “secret weapon.”

On Saturday morning April 1st I got up at 4:30 a.m. I drove up to Clem’s place with Mom in the Volkswagen, and she drove it back. Clem and I loaded up his car and we took off for the Minnesota Challenger’s Tournament in St. Paul. On the way up we talked chess and discussed various openings. Clem certainly was a good chess friend to me in those days, sharing my enthusiasm with a youthfulness that belied his 50-odd years.

The tournament was held in the YMCA in St. Paul, and we had quite an adventure finding our way there. We first asked directions of a man in a liquor store, and then of a mailman. By the time we got there we found out that there were no more rooms available, and we were forced to find lodging at a nearby “Hotel Capri.” We then went over to register for the tournament. It was being held in a large room at the YMCA, and there was a high school tournament of some kind being held in the same room. It was quite a madhouse with around 150 high school kids there with the rest of us. Twenty of us “adult” players had signed up for the “Challenger’s” tournament.

After waiting for the pairings to be made, we finally started the first round. I was paired on board 5 with a fellow named Alden Riley, one of the well-known regulars in Minnesota tournaments. Alden was rated at 1562, about the same as John Osness, the Donaths, and many of the Iowa regulars. I had Black and of course tried out my Alekhine’s Defense for the very first time. The opening went fairly well, but I ended up with a mediocre game. Somehow I nevertheless managed to win the game, and my Alekhine’s Defense had scored its first victory. Clem wasn’t so lucky; he lost his first game. We two then went down and ate in the YMCA cafeteria.

Pairings for the second round soon came out, and I found myself at board 1 (!) with J. H., the fellow who had beaten Clem in the first round. J. H. was a balding young man with an insufferably arrogant and supercilious attitude. I had White, and when I made the first move of my favorite Bird’s Opening he snorted contemptuously and proceeded to dismantle my position with brutal precision. Rated at 1763, J. H. was at the top of the crosstable. By the 11th move I had lost a piece, and I resigned the game on the 34th move. It was a rather humiliating experience, made even more distasteful by the guy’s unfriendly attitude. Clem had been paired with Alden Riley (!) and won his game.

After the second round Clem and I went back over to our hotel. Clem got into quite a conversation with the elevator operator when he found out that he had lived in Clem’s old hometown. Clem and I went over our games in the hotel room, and then played over some openings. At 6:45 we went to Davidson’s cafeteria and had our supper. After we had eaten we went back to the room, got our boards and sets, and went back to the YMCA for round 3.

Round 3 got underway at around 8:00 that evening, and my opponent was an unrated player named John Riddle. I played my Alekhine’s Defense as Black, got a good game, but ended up throwing away my advantage. I soon found myself in a hopelessly lost position. I had only a King and a Rook against his King, Rook, Bishop, and three Pawns! I would have resigned but for the fact that my opponent was in serious time trouble. Ours was one of the last games still going that evening, and several onlookers had gathered around to watch the spectacle. Fighting the clock and desperately trying to Queen a Pawn before his flag fell, Riddle began neglecting his King position on the side of the board. I marched my King up next to his, and before he knew it I checkmated him with my lone Rook!

Here is the position right before White's 44th move:

Bill Price

John Riddle

John quickly played 44.Ra5??, whereupon I quietly slipped my Rook over to h8 and announced ... "checkmate!"

I will never forget his reaction. His face froze into a look of utter shock as he blurted out “What!? Oh no!!” His overwhelming piece superiority had all been in vain, and I had stolen the point. “Cheap, cheap!” one of the spectators commented to me with a reproachful smile. It truly was a very cheap win. But a win is a win and I now stood at 2-1.

By the time our game was over it was already midnight. Clem had won his game against a weaker player named Dennis Mills. A couple guys had started playing a game on Clem’s set, and we had to wait until they were finished. We eventually made it out of the playing hall, but when we stepped outside we found that it was raining cats and dogs. We waited around a bit hoping that the rain would subside a little, but it didn’t. I ran out to Clem’s car, got his coat, and then we made a dash for it over to the Hotel Capri.

Clem didn’t get to bed right away and stayed up until about 1:30. It was a wet, rainy night, and the sound of cars driving on the wet streets below droned into through our window as I tried to get some sleep. Even more annoying and curious was the sound of some guy shouting somewhere down below on the street. He was shouting all night long. I couldn’t tell exactly what it was he kept shouting, but it sounded something like “fore!… fore!”. It was all very odd, and I couldn’t for the life of me imagine what the guy was doing. He kept shouting out his “fore” at intervals, all night long, and even into the early morning hours.

On Sunday morning I got up between 8:00 and 9:00. Clem went to find a Catholic church to attend mass, and I wrote in my diary. The unseen “town crier” was still shouting out his “fore” or whatever it was. In Clem’s absence I copied down a couple of his games and then studied some openings. After he came back he played over his game with Dennis Mills for me. We studied various openings all morning long, and he showed me the P-QB5 variation of the Caro-Kann. We also analyzed a variation of the Soller Gambit.

At 12:30 we finally left the hotel, put our suitcases into the car, and went over to the YMCA for the rest of the tournament. I was paired with John Asselin, a young high school or college-aged fellow. Although rated at only 1422, John turned out to be a very strong player, and he beat me soundly with a Sicilian Defense. The game went nearly four hours, from 1:00 to 4:45, until I deliberately let my flag fall in a lost position. John was a very quiet person with what looked something like a perpetual smile frozen onto his stony face. We didn’t talk much about the game after it was over, and we quietly parted our ways. Clem had lost to an unrated played named Eugene Ersfield. After four rounds, both of us had even scores of 2-2.

Clem and I went downstairs to relax a bit before the fifth round, getting some pop and snacks. When we came back at past 5:30 the fifth and final round pairings were up. To our astonishment we found that we had been paired with each other! Clem was all smiles. He had reason to be, since he had just trounced me five times in a row during our weekend practice games in March. I of course was disappointed, and I also felt a lot of chess fatigue after the long battle with John Asselin. It didn’t look good for me going into the last round.

I was given the White pieces. As expected, Clem answered my 1 P-K4 with his trademark Franco-Sicilian. This time I played a little more solidly and managed to keep Clem in a fairly cramped position. I built up a Kingside attack and was able to win the Exchange, along with a Pawn or two. Things were starting to look brighter for me, and Clem began looking a little worried. I kept up the pressure as much as I could, but Clem defended tenaciously. After a long and hard-fought battle I finally forced him to resign on the 61st move!

What a victory! After five straight losses I finally beat Clem, and that in a tournament game! Not only that, but it was the last round of the tournament, the round that determined who ended up with a positive score of 3-2 and who with a negative 2-3. It was a particularly sweet victory for me, considering my history of bitter tournament losses. (One of those losses was to Clem's son Richard Ellis, a weaker player who lost to me numerous times in offhand games, but who then beat me in a tournament game in 1965, putting me out of the running.)

Clem looked tired and resigned, and we gathered up our things and left the YMCA at around 9:00 after our game was over. We had a bite to eat at a café in Cannon Falls, just south of the Twin Cities. It was 12:10 by the time we reached Canton. I called up Mom from his house, and she drove up and got me. I finally got to bed at around 1:00.

The tournament, incidentally, was won by the arrogant J. H. who finished with a convincing 5-0 sweep. His last round victory was over John Asselin, who finished a clear second with 4-1. My only two losses had thus been against the two winners of the tournament!


Nick Osness (on left) playing Bill Price, September 4, 1965. This was round 2 in the Junior Division of the 11th Annual Iowa Open in Cedar Rapids. This photo was taken by John Osness and was sent to me over 25 years later! I am pondering my 22nd move, and I went on to win six moves later. Note that we Juniors were not always required to play with clocks! (Incidentally, the wood chess set in the photo is the same chess set I have been using for well over forty years. It has seen action on two continents, has been played by novices and masters alike, and has survived thousands of speed games - with the scars to prove it!)
Dan Harger (left foreground) playing blitz with Tom Mabee. The person standing and reading is Clem Ellis, and, unless I am mistaken, the person sitting with his head in his hands is Syl Scorza. This was taken at the 12th Iowa Open in Cedar Rapids, Labor Day weekend, 1966, in the lobby of the Montrose Hotel where the Iowa Open was held during the 1960's. The main playing hall is in through the door on the right. Tom Mabee, incidentally, was the winner of this 1966 tournament.
John Osness (left) between rounds working out the pairings, helped by Bob Meline and Glen Proechel. Back in those days all pairings were done manually.
Dan Harger (standing) playing blitz with Lee Cranberg, January 1967.
12th Iowa Open, Cedar Rapids, Round 4, September 4, 1966. Junior Division in foreground. Marc Witte (left) and Bob Day (right) are battling it out on the table on the right. In middle foreground are Gary Gregory (left) vs. Craig Scammon (right). On the far left Karl Anderson is holding his head while pondering a move against opponent Bob Peterson.
Between rounds.
Dan Harger (left) playing unidentified opponent in offhand game at the 4th Iowa North-Central tournament in Marshalltown, January 1967.
Dan Harger clowning around in his hotel room, January 1967.

The following is an article about my chess friend Clem Ellis that appeared in a Mabel, Minnesota newspaper in 1976:

Clem Ellis Retires After 21 Years At M-C School

by Peter Dahlen

A lot of people know Clem Ellis. Educator and counselor, he taught and advised many students in his 21 years at Mabel-Canton. He’s well-known and well-liked and he’s retiring.

Ellis is 65 with the history to prove his age.

Born in Olmsted county and reared in Chatfield, he attended country school and graduated from Chatfield high school at 16. At the early age of 20, he had his bachelor of science degree in social studies from St. Mary’s College of Winona and he was also without a job in his field.

The depression era began and Ellis was lucky enough to be an oil station manager in Chatfield till 1938. Before teaching, Ellis was co-owner of Wabasha’s city club cafe, owner of a country store in Weaver, a postmaster, drafted into the Navy and then owner of another grocery store in St. Charles.

The year was only 1947, when he landed his first teaching job in Kellogg, Minn. A year later, he received his Master’s degree in school administration from the University of Minnesota, and soon afterward, he was in Wisconsin high schools either teaching or acting as supervising principal.

Ellis came back to Minnesota in 1955. For 11 years, he was the principal at Canton high school and after the consolidation with Mabel, he became counselor.

Ellis was the academic, personal and vocational counselor at M-C. Without a doubt, he enjoys counseling work. With a great interest in people, Ellis would rather talk person to person than shake hands with a 100 people. He still intends to continue in counseling, as a volunteer worker. But retirement means much more to him.

He’s thinking about returning to school taking up geology or archeology. He also wants to travel, play more golf and chess by mail, continue his political activism, buy himself a new easy-chair, order his new automobile and clean his mobile home.

Now divorced and living alone, Ellis enjoys small town life, where talking to your neighbor is easy and waving hello an unconscious habit. He has 8 children scattered from Georgia to Minnesota and 17 grandchildren to brag about.

Clement Leo Ellis has always been a “free spirit,” in some ways, a fighting “free spirit.” Two of his greatest concerns were uniting teachers and changing the public attitude towards mental health. Several times, he won.

Still, many people will only remember his friendly wide smile, his personable and deliberate style and his down to earth conversation and humor. That’s Clem Ellis.

Iowa Chess Obituaries

The following public data was extracted from the Social Security Death Index.

JOHN OSNESS, born 31 Mar 1917, died 18 Jan 1999, last residence Waterloo, Black Hawk, IA.

Dan Reynolds, born 20 Oct 1934, died Nov 1976.

Willis Vanderburg, born 17 Dec 1902, died Mar 1983, last residence Shell Rock, Butler, IA.

Clement L Ellis, born 05 Sep 1910, died 15 Sep 1997, last residence La Crosse, La Crosse, WI.

Arthur Crew, born 09 Nov 1875, died Dec 1972, last residence Cedar Rapids, Linn, IA.

Julius Weingart, born 13 Jul 1881, died Mar 1968, last residence Des Moines, Polk, IA.

Richard A. Nassif, born 02 Nov 1942, died 01 Apr 2006, last residence Hiawatha, Linn, IA.

John L. Penquite, born 02 Mar 1935, died 18 Feb 2007, last residence Des Moines, Polk, IA.

Russell S. Schultze, born 06 Nov 1924, died Jan 1992, last residence Moline, Rock Island, IL.

Herschal S. Julian, born 20 Oct 1914, died 20 Jan 1992, last residence Mesa, Maricopa, AZ.

Harvey J. Krebill, born 18 Feb 1902, died 12 Oct 2003, last residence Fort Madison, Lee, IA.

Fred Knowles, born 19 May 1888, died Feb 1973, last residence Fort Dodge, Webster, IA.

Somner Sorenson, born 31 Mar 1928, died 30 Jul 1993, last residence Moorhead, Clay, MN.

Copyright 2005-2010 by Bill Price
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