Chess Trivia

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Rabinovich, Ilya (1891-1942)
Russian player of GM strength. Tied for first place in the 1934 USSR championship. Died of malnutrition during the siege of Leningrad.

Rachels, Stuart (1970- )
Became a Master at the age of 11 years, 10 months in 1981. He learned the game a few weeks prior to his 9th birthday, taught by his older brother. He won the 1982 $1,000 Aspis Prize after winning the U.S. Junior High School Championship and the U.S. Junior Open Championship. He has participated in a record seven U.S. Junior Championships. He tied for first place in the 1989 U.S. Championship, despite being the lowest rated player.

Racknitz, Freiherr Joseph Friederich von
In 1789 von Racknitz built an Automaton similar to Kemplen's The Turk to demonstrate that such a machine could be operated by a hidden player. He published his work in a book entitled 'Ueber den Schachspieler des Herrn von Kempelen und dessen Nachbildung.' He did not guess how an was hidden in The Turk since his Automaton could conceal someone lass then 4 feet tall.

Radio Match
The 1945 USA-USSR Radio Chess Match was the first international sports event since the outbreak of World War II. It was also the first international chess match played by radio. It marked the debut of the USSR in international sport. Never before had a team representing the USSR played another country in any form of sport. Mayor LaGuardia made the opening move for the U.S. Ambassador Averill Harriman officiated the match in Moscow. The first shortwave radio match in the US occurred between Ed Lasker in Chicago and Norman Whitaker in Washington, D.C. in 1920.

Raging Rooks
Chess team at Adam Clayton Powell Junior High School in Harlem. They tied for first place at the US Junior High School Chess Championship in Dearborn, MI in 1991. When they returned to New York, Bob Guccione, publisher of Penthouse, threw a party for them in his Upper East Side townhouse.

The first organization to adopt a numerical rating system was the Correspondence Chess League of America in 1933. The first USCF rating list appeared in the November 20, 1950 issue of CHESS LIFE. Ken Harkness rated 2,306 players from events from 1921 to 1950. Rueben Fine led the lsit with a 2817 rating, followed by Reshevsky at 2770. Masters were anyone over 2300, experts anyone over 2100. The first British Grading List was published in 1954 and had 49 players listed.

Ragozin, Vyacheslav (1908-1962)
In 1944 Ragozin trained with Botvinnik for the USSR Championship. They trainded with a radio going full blast in the room to get accustom to a possibly noisy tournament hall. Ragozin ended up in 14th place out of 17 and blamed his results on the unusual quietness of the tournament hall!

Reggio Emilia
In 1991-92 the first Category 18 tournament and the strongest ever held (average rating was 2676) occurred in Reggio Emilia, Italy. It was won by Viswanathan Anand.

Reinfeld, Fred (1910-1964)
Fred Reinfeld wrote 260 books on chess, coins, geology, and outer space. He wrote over 100 books on chess alone. He won the US Intercollegiate Chess Championship, the New York State Championship (1931, 1933), the Marshall Chess Club championship, and the Manhattan Chess Club championship.

Religion and chess
Chess was condemned and forbidden by the Eastern Orthodox Church in 1093. The Church stamped out chess in Russia as a relic of heathenism. In 1125 John Zonares, a former captain of the Byzantine imperial guard, became a monk and issued a directive banning chess as a kind of debauchery. In 1128 Saint Bernard of Clairvaux forbade the Order of the Knights Templars of playing chess. In 1195 the rabbi Maimonides included chess among the forbidden games. He declared chessplayers to be unworthy of credence in the courts of law. In 1208 Odo Sully, Bishop of Paris, decreed that chess be banned from the clergy. In 1240 chess was forbidden to the clergy and monastic orders by the Worcester Synod of England. In 1254 King Louis IX, under influence of the Church, issued an edict forbidding chess as a useless and boring game. In 1260 King Henry III instructed the clergy to leave chess alone "on pain of durance vile." In 1291 John Peckman, Archbishop of Cantebury, thretened to put the prior and canons of Norfolk on a diet of bread and water unless they desisted from playing chess. In 1299 the Clemintine Kormch was written containing a series of directions and advice on conduct of priests at ordination. It included forbidding chess play. In 1310 chess was forbidden to the clergy in Germany in the decree from the Council of Trier. In 1322 the Jewish rabbi Kalonymos ben Kalonymos condemned chess in his Eben Bohan. In 1329 chess was banned by the clergy in the Synod of Wurzburg in Germany. In 1375 King Charles V (Charles the Wise) of France prohibited chess in France. In 1380 William of Wykeham, founder of Oxford and Winchester College, included chess among the noxious, inordinate, and unhonest games forbidden to scholars. In 1390 John I of Aragon forbade chess. In 1392 Charles VI (Charles the Well-Beloved) decreed that chess be banned. Soon after, he became insane. In 1405 Johann Huss, famed Bohemian religious reformer, sought repentance for loss of self-control at the chess table. In 1416 the Jews of Forli bound themselves not to play any game of chance for 10 years. Exceptions were made for chess. In 1420 Werner von Orseln, the Grand Master of the Teutonic Order, abandoned the prohibition of chess on the grounds that chess was a proper amusement for a knight. In 1467 Charles the Bold forbade dice or cards but allowed chess to be played on suitable occasions. In 1495 Pedro Arbues, Dominican member of the Inquisition, ordered victims of persecutions to stand in as figures in a game of living chess. The game was played by two blind monks. Each time the captured piece was taken, the person representing that piece was put to death. By 1500 chess became a recognized pastime for Jews on the Sabbath and other festivals. In 1549 the Protohierarch Sylvester wrote his Domostroi (Houshold Government). In his chapter on evil living, he stated that those who play chess shall all dwell in hell together, and shall be accursed on earth. In 1551 Ivan IV of Russia banned chess and labelled it a pastime of Hellenic devilry. In Moscow the leading clerics compiled the Stoglav Collection which included the prohibition of chess. In the mid 15th century Saint Teresa, a Spanish conventical reformer, mentioned chess in her religious writings. She used chess to illustrate her meditations about ethics and faith. The Church authorities in Spain proclaimed her patron of chessplayers. In 1570 a church manuscript dealt with the ecclesiastical punishment imposed on chessplayers. The punishment was as follows: "If any of the clergy play chess, he shall be dismissed from his office. If a clerk or layman play, he shall do public penance for two years, and make 200 obeiances each day, because the game is derived from the lawless Chaldeans, the priests of idols. It is a temptation of Satan. After the plague of Cremona in 1575, all games were considered primary evils and the cause of all troubles. All games, except chess, were prohibited for a year. In the late 16th century a Russian book on regulations was published forbidding chess. Clergymen associated the game with witchcraft and heresy. In 1649 the Czar Alexei found some players playing the forbidden game of chess. He had them whipped and imprisoned. The Puritans greatly disliked the game and discouraged chess play.

Reshevsky, Samuel (1911-1992)
Born Schmul Rzeszewski in Russian Poland, Sammy Reshevsky came to the United States in 1920. He learned chess at 4 and was giving exhibitions at 5. As a 9-year old, his first American simultaneous exhibition was with 20 officers and cadets at the Military Academy at West Point. He won 19 games and drew one. He toured the country and played over 1,500 games as a 9-year old in simultaneous exhibitions and only lost 8 games. In his early years he did not go to school and his parents ended up in Manhattan Children's Court on charges of improper guardianship. His benefactor was Julius Rosenwald, founder of Sears & Roebuck. He won the U.S. Championship seven times. His first U.S. Championship win was in 1936. His last U.S. Championship win was 1971. In 1981, at the age of 70, he tied for 3rd place in the U.S. Championship. In 1984, at the age of 72, he took first place in a grandmaster tournament in Reykjavik, Iceland. When he died in 1992 of a heart attack he had played 11 of the 13 world champions. He played in 21 U.S. Championships, from 1936 to 1981.

Reti, Richard (1889-1929)
Reti played in both the Hungarian and Czechoslovakian national championship in the same year. He was hit by a street car and taken to a hospital to heal. While in the hospital he contracted scarlet fever, which killed him.

Revolutionary War
On Christmas night, 1776, George Washington crossed the Delaware River at Trenton, capturing 1,000 Hessian mercenaries under the command of Colonel Rahl. This surprise plan might have backfired, had it not been for chess. A loyalist near the American camp knew of the plan and sent his son with a note to warn Colonel Rahl earlier that day. However, the colonel was so engrossed in a game of chess, that he simply put the note into his pocket unread. After the battle, the note was discovered, still unread, in the mortally wounded colonel's pocket.

Rhode Island College
Only school in the United States to offer scholarships to strong chessplayers.

Rice, Isaac (1850-1915)
Inventor of the unsound Rice Gambit. He spent $50,000 subsidizing Rice Gambit events. He was a millionaire, president of the first company to make rubber tires, organized the first taxi service in New York, and one of the earliest developers of the submarine. He was the founder of General Dynamics.

Richardson, Keith (1942- )
Awarded the title of International Grandmaster of Correspondence Chess in 1975, becoming the first British player to be awarded the title of Grandmaster for chessplaying.

Robinson, Sir Robert
Won the 1947 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Served as the President of the Royal Society and President of the British Chess Federation in 1950.

Roget, Peter Mark (1779-1869)
Author of ROGET'S THESAURUS and devised the first pocket chess set in 1845.

In 1986 ROLLING STONE Magazine included a section titled Glamour Couples of the Year. The top choices were 'Fergie and Andy, John and Tatum, Daniloff and Zakharov, Gorby and Raisa, and Karpov and Kasparov.'

In 1949 the championship of Romania had 105,000 initial entrants. It was finally won by Balanel.

Rosenfeld, Christine
First US correspondence international woman master (1990).

Rossolimo, Nicolas (1910-1975)
Born in Kiev of Greek parents who moved to France, winning the Paris championship ten times, then to the U.S. where he won the U.S. Open in 1955 (a new Buick). He made a record of Russian folk songs, earned a brown belt in judo, and was a taxi driver in Paris and New York City. He played on three U.S. Olympic teams and was on the French Olympic team in 1972. He died in Greenwich village after falling down a flight of stairs.

Rou, Lewis
First known American chess author (1734).

Round Robin
The first round robin chess tournament in which a player played every other player was the London International in 1862. In this event, drawn games had to be replayed until there was a winner.

Royal Game
The first reference to chess as the "Royal Game" appeared in the Reson and Sensuallyte by John Lydgate in 1425.

Rubinstein, Akiba (1882-1961)
Chess master who claimed he studied chess six hours a day, 300 days a year. Another 60 days he spent playing in chess tournaments. The remaining five days he rested. He never ate in public and would not shake hands for fear of germs. He was so paranoid that if a stranger came to his door, he would jump out the window. In 1912 he won five consecutive strong tournaments in one year (Vilna, San Sebastian, Breslau, Pistyan, and Warsaw), a record which has never been surpassed. During World War I, Like Lasker, he invested all his money in German War bonds. He beat Capablanca, Alekhine, and Emanuel Lasker the first time he played them in tournament play. In 1911 at San Sebastian he complained of a fly which kept settling on his forhead and breaking his concentration. After he won the tournament, the tournament director, Jacques Mieses, took him to a leading psycho-neurologist at Munich. The doctor examined Rubinstein and said, "My friend, you are mad. But what does it matter? You are a chess master!" Rubinstein imagined noises in the night: knockings on the walls. He once burst in the room next door and tried to stangle Richard Reti, believing he was the source of these strange noises. He spent fours years hiding in a sanatorium in Belgium during the Nazi occupation. He defeated Alekhine, Lasker, and Capablanca the first time he ever played them. He was the youngest of 12 children.

Rudge, Mary (1845-?)
Winner of the first international women's tourney (1897).

Rueb, Alexander (1882-1959)
Dutch lawyer who became first President of FIDE (1924-1949). He owned one of the largest chess libraries in the world until destroyed by bombs in 1945.

In 1290 Lombard lawyers formulated a rule to govern chess play when players from differnet countries met. The rule stated: "The game of chess ought to observe the custom of the place in which it is played." Prior to 1853 the rules were to draw for color as well as the first move at the start of the game. Thereafter, the players had the same color pieces throughout the session. One could have the Black pieces and move first. Black was considered to be the lucky chess color. In 1853 George Walker suggested that the players who draw White should have the first move in order to compensate. The first international codification of rules occurred in 1929.

A Latin poem written by the monk Froumund vonn Tegernsee in 1030 is the first written reference of chess in German literature.

Russ, William (1833-1866)
Leading American compiler of chess problems in the 19th century. He adopted an 11-year old girl and proposed to her when she turned 21. When he rejected him, he shot her four times in the head, then shot himself twice. She survived, he did not. His chess book, published posthumously, was entitled AMERICAN CHESS NUTS.

Chess was first introduced in Russia in 820 A.D. The first All-Russian Chess Federation was formed in 1914 with 65 members.

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