Reuben Fine

A Comprehensive Record of an American Chess Career, 1929–1951


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About the Book

American Grandmaster Reuben Fine grew up in the East Bronx in an impoverished Russian-Jewish family, learning to play chess from an uncle at the age of eight. During his high school years, his stake winnings and coins earned from playing at a Coney Island concession helped support his family. After graduating from college, he decided to become a professional player. Though his active international career was brief, his accomplishment and talent are unmistakably significant. This comprehensive collection of 659 of Reuben Fine’s tournament and match games is presented chronologically, in context, and with annotations from contemporary sources. More than 180 other games and game fragments (rapid transit, correspondence, exhibition, blitz, and others) are also included. The work also includes a biography of Fine, and notes aspects of his career that merit further study: his contribution to endgame and middlegame theory, his methods and style of play, and his exhibition play. Fine’s career results, brief biographical data about his opponents, a comprehensive bibliography that includes his contributions to journals, and indexes of players and of openings complete the work.

(Errata list for the 2004 hardcover edition is available.)

About the Author(s)

Former field archaeologist Aidan Woodger compiles chess books in his spare time. He lives in Halifax, West Yorks, United Kingdom.

Bibliographic Details

Aidan Woodger

Format: softcover (8.5 x 11)

Pages: 400

Bibliographic Info: 15 photos, diagrams, tables, appendices, bibliography, indexes

Copyright Date: 2018 [2004]

pISBN: 978-1-4766-7532-9

Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      vii
Introduction      1

Introduction      5
Early Years      5
A Spell in Europe      6
Annus Mirabilis—1938      7
Back to College and Domestic Chess      7
A Chess Amateur      8
Appreciations and Assessments      9

Junior Master in the New York Clubs, 1929–1932      11
United States Open Champion and the Pasadena International, 1932–1933      23
The International Team Tournament at Folkestone, 1933      31
Pushing to the Forefront of American Chess, 1933–1934      39
More International Experience, 1934-1935      57
Open Champion Once More      66
The Warsaw Olympiad and Łódź, 1935      72
The Grandmaster Title, 1935–1936      82
The First United States Championship Tournament, 1936      87
A Return to Europe, 1936–1937      98
Swedish Punch, 1937      132
A Trip to Soviet Russia, 1937      143
Sharing the Honours with Keres, 1937      151
A Drop in Form, 1937      163
The Stockholm Team Tournament, 1937      174
More Poor Form and a World Championship, 1937–1938      180
The Second United States Championship Tournament, 1938      190
The Great A.V.R.O “Candidates” Tournament, 1938      201
U.S Open Champion Again, 1939–1941      215
U.S Speed Champion, 1942–1945      259
International Tournaments and Matches, 1945–1951      281
Fine as a Correspondence Chess Player      312
Simultaneous Exhibition Games and Miscellany      316

Tournaments      341
Individual Matches      342
International Team Tournaments (Olympiads; Others)      343
New York Metropolitan Chess League      343
Miscellaneous Match Games      344
Correspondence Games      344
U.S Speed Championships      345

1. Biographical Data about Fine’s Opponents      347
2. Time Controls and Rates of Play      356
3. Fine’s Notebooks at the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C      357
4. Results of the A.V.R.O Participants During the 1930s      358
5. Historical Elo Ratings and U.S.C.F Ratings      361
6. Fine as Author      361
7. Further Research Possibilities      364
8. Fine on Blindfold play      365

Tournament Books      369
United States Chess Federation Yearbooks      370
Soviet Chess Yearbooks      370
Biographical Games Collections      370
General works      371
Periodicals      372

Openings Index—Descriptive (to game numbers)      373
Openings Index—MCO (to game numbers)      375
Players Index (to game numbers)      378
Annotators Index (to game numbers)      381
Sources Index (to game numbers)      383
General Index (to page numbers)      384

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “Four stars”—Chess Horizons
  • “Beautiful, clothbound volume written by [a] meticulous researcher and published by a company which obviously cares about quality”—Winnipeg Free Press
  • “The overall quality of the games is high. The roster of Fine’s opponents is a ‘Who’s Who’ of American and international chess of the time. Of the serious games, the great majority are annotated, often in considerable detail…extensive research to find annotations not just from Fine’s and other easy-to-find works, but from many sources. This is one of the few books we have seen with an ‘Annotator’s Index’…the notes are handled quite well, Woodger often harmoniously blending multiple annotators in one game, making intelligent cross-references between sources, and judiciously adding his own computer-assisted comments, which our own spot-checking found to be quite accurate…Woodger has done fine work to add significantly to the canon of an important player…the history is competently written and well researched…wealth of archival data…physically the book is up to McFarland’s usual high standard…we like this book a great deal…an impressive work, presenting in great detail the career of an important chess master who played many outstanding games. We recommend it very highly”—
  • “A solid contribution to the story of an age in American chess…the chess historian and the diehard chess aficionado will want to add this title to their library…money well spent”—
  • “The author has managed to dig up around 882 Fine games all pleasantly chronological ordered and well analysed with contemporary sources…wonderful”—
  • “Beautifully produced…valuable historical volume”—British Chess Magazine
  • “Beautiful…most comprehensive collection of Fine’s work to date…a most useful collection of Fine’s games which deserves to be included in every chessplayers’ library…a very nice present…very fine publication…a super present for any keen chess player”—Merseyside Chess Magazine
  • “World-class…interesting and inportant…not only is the content outstanding, the production is attractive as well…intriguing…well researched…important…highly recommend[ed]”—Chess Today
  • “Painstakingly compiled…Woodger did great research…comprehensive…marvelously produced”—The Washington Post
  • “Tremendous…splendid…adds tremendously to our knowledge…plenty of incredible stuff. Like all McFarland & Company, Inc., books this work on Reuben Fine is handsomely produced and designed to last forever…very easy on the eye while offering the reader pages filled with content…highly recommended”—IM John Donaldson (