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One of the last interviews of A. Denker
Arnold Sheldon Denker
by Jude Acers
January 2, 2005 Fort Lauderdale , Florida USA: Legendary CHESS grandmaster ARNOLD S. DENKER DIES of brain cancer at his home at age 90. Jude Acers comments: "when an old man dies a library vanishes"....the colossal dean of American chess is gone... a human chess history encyclopedia (and golden gloves boxer!) A.S. Denker personally met ALL WORLD CHESS CHAMPIONS 1894-2004...HE SCORED VERSUS FIVE WORLD CHESS CHAMPIONS INCLUDING BOTVINNIK AND FISCHER....defeated world top-five players R. Fine and S. Reshevsky with his fabulous and theory working - ferocious attacking style...won the incredible 1944 US championship via an electrifying win versus super grandmaster Reuben Fine, scoring 15.5 points out of 17 possible .... a US world chess team player in live and radio matches versus the USSR ....Arnold Sheldon Denker is forever remembered for his annual youth chess tourneys "THE DENKER" to generations of high school chess players (it was his idea alone, period)....and above all for his 'BOBBY FISCHER AND OTHER CHESSPLAYERS I HAVE KNOWN' chess world penned with L. Parr.
Mr. Denker was a close associate/friend and late evening pub crawler with of A. Alekhine, world chess champion in prewar Berlin... Mr. Denker later identified the pro-Nazi Alekhine handwritten letter-articles, speaking German fluently as well, supporting the world wide ban of Alekhine but regretted it later ("I should have stuck with a friend and tried to learn the circumstances" ...confirmed this to me personally in a Ft. Lauderdale bus station 1977.... Mr. Denker's immortal game versus R. Fine has proven absolutely sound despite ridiculous criticism of his gambit by Fischer "missing button for nothing" ..his win versus Fine later providing main line big money theory and proven absolutely winning by computers and human professional play in subsequent decades. Fischer was, stated simply, dead wrong. Mr. Denker's chess "feel" saw instantly over the board what Fischer never saw at all with unlimited time for analysis. Denker was a giant, the last of US chess mountains of the prewar era. Only A. Lilienthal of Hungary and E. Paoli (Italy) survive as the last men standing ("The last of the Mohicans" - Kasparov.)
JUDE ACERS REMEMBERS: EYEWITNESS
International chess grandmaster Arnold S. Denker, Fort Lauderdale, Florida USA Greyhound bus station...final interview with the 1944 U.S. Chess champion (New York- 15.5 points out of 17 possible!) who defeated R. Fine in their classic individual encounter.... Victories later versus S. Reshevsky, I.A. Horowitz, I. Kashdan..scored versus 5 world chess champions including Botvinnik and Fischer.....founder of most successful national youth chess event in American history -"the Denker" high school annual shootout .... final word for word quotes in July 16, 1977... "Jude, the bulletin says you are giving 16 events in Florida.. Why not 40? .... I am for everything to ballyhoo chess..it changed my life...chess is something to get excited about."
Denker on the future of chess / crooks in the US Chess federation: "The welfare of US chessplayers must be the main issue if chess is to advance. It has to pay to be a great player. Because I had just retired as a successful businessman people wanted me to inspect the US chess federation books. There was then no question that the US chess federation was run by crooks and thieves...they simply stole with phony contracts, took money for years of service and the like...all the time while leaving players destitute...even Fischer was playing for peanuts while living in near poverty in New York ..But remember you still need a strong US Chess Federation to represent the players for the future..."
A.S. DENKER REMEMBERS BOBBY FISCHER
"Bobby calls at all hours year after year...he is quite alone, just wants to be entertained." FISCHER IN NEW YORK... "He was a small child ..ten ..eleven, always around the Manhattan / Marshall chess clubs...Believe me Jude I had absolutely no idea what was coming in 600 days...He would pull on my pants leg, "Mr. Denker...Mr. Denker, let's go play chess. Wanna play chess?" Suddenly he would win maybe 30 rapid games in a row against well known players there....that was an indicator this was going to be special.
DENKER ON THE GREATEST CHESS GRANDMASTER OF ALL TIME
I KNEW AND PLAYED ALMOST ALL OF THE WORLD CHESS CHAMPIONS .. LASKER OVER DINNER, Smyslov, Botvinnik, Euwe, Alekhine, Fischer..MET CAPABLANCA, KARPOV...ALL THE GREAT PLAYERS personally....Admittedly it awfully difficult to compare different generations. In the end, its going to be difficult to top Bobby. He was the strongest ever IN MY OPINION. The debate will go on forever but of course I have a great advantage. I saw up close and personal all the world champions for a hundred years. I was there..."
FINAL DENKER REMARKS
ON A. ALEKHINE / WORLD CHESS CHAMPION - only player ever to defeat Capablanca in match play.... "I Knew Alekhine well and drank with him all over the world...naturally there comes a time when you are jolted out of your limited chess world by a player's greatness. For me it was walking into the chess club while Alekhine was playing five lower echelon masters simultaneously BLINDFOLDED...beating them easily. When I saw that I knew he was world class plus. That did it for me forever...Nobody studied chess like Alexander. I remember he carried a notebook with him everywhere, writing analysis in it in bars. He was particularly interested in how to win with a queen and extra pawn versus the queen."
ON ALEKHINE'S PRO NAZI "chess journalism" - "I was the unfortunate witness, to verify that Alekhine's own handwriting penned those infamous articles. I knew both German and his handwriting. He wrote them. I told Albert Horowitz to go with a flat statement in Chess Review and also endorsed a world wide ban of Alekhine.... Here I made a grave error. Alekhine had been my friend. You do not desert a friend. I should have stuck with him as he was dying in Lisbon and try to find the facts, the pressures of war on him. Nowadays I agree with Larry Evans who wrote in Chess Life that you have to be awfully careful about banning people in chess...people change, have horrendous mental problems sometimes..war time duress. We are all sinners and you can take that to the bank. Holier than thou does not work!" "Can you imagine Jude?..just this. It is a bar in Berlin, Germany, closing in the wee hours with just Alekhine and me left in the thirties....tipping one glass after another around the bar chess board...He is unable to even walk back to his hotel safely...So I actually lifted him over my shoulder to get him up the stairs...the whole world of chess on my shoulder- imagine!....Make no mistake..Alekhine loved chess more than anyone ever...he was also anxious to put on a good show, a good lecture and appearance all over the globe. I even helped him with his tuxedo and corset before public appearances. There was nothing like Alekhine ever."
Here are two of GM Denker's games for you to enjoy:
Denker,A - Fischer,R [E60]
USA-ch New York (12), 1957
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nf3 Bg7 4.g3 0-0 5.Bg2 d6 6.0-0 Nc6 7.d5 Na5 8.Nfd2 c5 9.a3 Nd7 10.Ra2 Qc7 11.Qc2 Ne5 12.b4 cxb4 13.axb4 Naxc4 14.Na3 b5 15.Nxb5 Qb6 16.Nxc4 Qxb5 17.Nxe5 Bxe5 18.Bh6 Re8 19.Qc6 Bd7 20.Qxb5 Bxb5 21.Rc1 a6 22.Bf1 f5 23.h4 Kf7 24.Rc7 Rec8 25.Rac2 Rxc7 26.Rxc7 Rb8 27.Bg5 Bf6 28.Bxf6 Kxf6 29.f4 Ba4 30.Rc4 Bb3 31.Rd4 Rc8 32.Kf2 Rc2 33.Bg2 Bc4 34.Bf3 Bb5 35.Ke1 Rb2 36.Kf2 Kf7 37.h5 Kf6 38.hxg6 hxg6 39.g4 fxg4 40.Bxg4 Rc2 41.Ke3 g5 42.fxg5+ Kxg5 43.Bf3 Rc3+ 44.Kd2 Rc4 45.Rxc4 Bxc4 46.Kc3 Bb5 47.Kd4 Kf4 48.Bh5 Kg3 49.e4 1/2-1/2
Denker,A - Reshevsky,S [E94]
USA-ch New York (8), 1959
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Be2 0-0 6.Nf3 c6 7.0-0 e5 8.d5 cxd5 9.cxd5 Nbd7 10.Nd2 a5 11.Nc4 Nc5 12.f3 Ne8 13.Be3 b6 14.Na4 Rb8 15.Nxc5 dxc5 16.a4 Nd6 17.Nxd6 Qxd6 18.g4 f5 19.b3 Bd7 20.Qd2 f4 21.Bf2 h5 22.gxh5 gxh5 23.Kh1 Bf6 24.Rg1+ Kh7 25.Bd3 Be7 26.Rac1 h4 27.Qb2 h3 28.Be1 Rbe8 29.Qe2 Rg8 30.Bc3 Rxg1+ 31.Rxg1 Rg8 32.Rxg8 Kxg8 33.Bc4 Kf8 34.Qb2 Bf6 35.Qa1 Qe7 36.Qg1 Qh7 37.d6 Qg7 38.Qxg7+ Kxg7 39.Kg1 Kg6 40.Kf1 Bg7 41.Ke2 Kf6 42.Be1 Kg5 43.Bc3 Kf6 44.Be1 Bh6 45.Bb5 Bxb5+ 46.axb5 Bg5 47.Bxa5 Ke6 48.Bxb6 Kxd6 49.Kd3 Bh4 50.Kc4 Bf2 51.b4 Ke6 52.Bxc5 Bg3 53.Bg1 Kd6 54.b6 Be1 55.Kb5 1-0
Jude Acers final interview with Grandmaster A. Denker:
THE DAY CAPABLANCA DIED
...................Jude, I was there. I was at the chess club the day the great Cuban passed. It was to my left. There was a giant commotion. I heard "help...help me with my coat" ..Jose was surrounded by a crew of Wall Street admirers, as always...with flowers in their buttonholes.. THE RIGHT PEOPLE A CHESS GRANDMASTER SHOULD KNOW, ABSOLUTELY MUST KNOW ...he was not disdaining toward the little fellow, the businessman or chess amateur who happened to be quite wealthy to boot... Over their heads I had seen him touch the pieces moments ago...seized now by a fatal coronary attack, lapsed into a coma and lowered onto a table...then gently to the floor for the emergency people just arriving....I had just heard him say his eternal admonition 'ALWAYS PLAY THE NATURAL MOVE' as he liked at the critical moment of a game...in both Spanish and English rapid fire with a "ha-ha- ha" added in staccato fashion. Just one more thing. His hand would do a quick wave movement, maybe with a finger hastily extended for emphasis with "ALWAYS PLAY THE NATURAL MOVE!"...Jude as you get older your mind plays tricks on you, sometimes delightfully so...I flash upon the last strange memory of Capablanca's still hand as he died, remembering him waving it with a smile in life. ...Do you know that the widow returned for many years, exact calendar date and time and place where he died? To the minute, sitting quietly for a few hours dressed in black.
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Thanks for sharing this, nima_tal,
Was it published somewhere or from an e-mail message from Jude Acers?
By the way, I've always wondered how one pronounces Jude Acers last name. I've read it many time, but never heard anyone say it. Anyone know?
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The interview is from here:
And I dont really know how Jude Acers is pronounced since I have only read the name on the net!