California Chess Reporter 1974-1976by Guthrie McClain, Robert E Burger
Chess historians and collectors consider the California Chess Reporter the gold standard for California chess magazines. There have been over a hundred chess periodicals to have graced California chess during the last one hundred years, but only one has combined all the pertinent information that a chess historian looks for: who played in what tournament, club or league, when and where it was played, and, of course, the game scores. The match results, club results, league results, tournament cross tables, and game scores that appeared every month for both Northern and Southern California answered all of these criteria and more. The Reporter had very balanced reporting; there were first hand accounts from tournaments, articles on opening and endgame analysis, problems (yes, Virginia, in those days there really were players who liked to solve them), and even an occasional fiction story (Zeno the rat was terrific!) The off-set process that the Reporter adopted created very readable chess diagrams and excellent photos.
During the Reporter's great twenty-five year run, it covered the 1952 Hollywood International, the 1954 Second Pan-American Chess Congress in Hollywood, the 1955 United States Open in San Diego, the 1961 United States Open in San Francisco, the 1963 Piatigorsky Cup in Los Angeles, the 1971 United States Open at Ventura, the 1974 Eagle Rock International, as well as assorted Lone Pine, American Open and Paul Masson Tournaments. Bobby Fischer fans will find the coverage of the 1957 United States Junior Championship in San Francisco, the 1961 Fischer vs. Reshevsky Match played in New York and Los Angeles, the 1966 Piatigorsky Cup in Santa Monica, and commentaries on his 1964 Simultaneous Exhibition tour fascinating as well.
During Fischer's run for the World Championship, CSCF membership increased dramatically, so in July of 1971, Guthrie's need for more help was answered when Robert Burger became co-Editor. The Associate Editors, Gordon Barrett (LA), Dr. Mark Eudey (Berkeley), Neil Austin (Sacramento), and Irving Rivise (LA), were still helping out. A Games Editor position had even been created; ably filled by the eclectic Jude Acers. After Fischer won the World Championship, California chess membership exploded and continued to increase until 1975. Of course, when Fischer abdicated, the membership slowly started declining.
In 1976, a number of new league leaders decided to break away from the CSCF, effectively splitting up the state. After the breakup of the state organization Guthrie decided to call it quits.
The magazine fulfilled its mission statement and gave us continuous, statewide coverage for twenty-five years. Reading the CCR is like taking a trip through time; starting with the early 1950's chess club scene and ending in the 1970's post-Fischer world of endless weekend chess tournaments. The California Chess Reporter published nearly 200 issues packed with chess lore that now, thanks to Ishi Press, will live forever.
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