Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Hugh Edward Myers (1930-2008), RIP

Hugh E. Myers, a chess original if the term means anything at all, died three days before Christmas, only a month short of his seventy-ninth birthday. I'm surprised that he lived so long, for as I knew him in the 1980s he was invariably in poor health. I first became aware of Hugh and his unorthodox openings and original opinions (or was that original openings and unorthodox opinions) after I came across the original (1973) edition of his book, The Nimzovich Defense, which I found in, of all places, Rudi Schmaus's bookshop in Heidelberg. That would have been about 1978 or '79. Schmaus was the publisher of the Das Moderne Blackmar-Diemer Gambit series, which included a reprint of Diemer's original Vom Ersten Zug an auf Matt! as well as two books by Freidl and one by Studier. At the time Freidl's Band 2 was due out shortly, and I would drive over to Heidelberg now and then to check on it (or really just to browse through a collection of chess books). A few years ago I decided I was through with this foolish game and sold my copy of that book. Shortsighted, I know. But I digress. In his Nimzovich book Hugh included a game or two that transposed into a BDG. That was enough impetus for me to get in touch with him and subscribe to his The Myers Openings Bulletin. Later, when Charles Szasz and I started a little publication for Blackmar-Diemer Gambit aficionados, Hugh was very supportive, and over the years we kept in touch with an occasional letter or note. I never had the pleasure of meeting him face-to-face, but now and then he had a comment on something I published, and he wrote a short piece for at least one issue of BDG WORLD.
Hugh's best known game is his 1956 win over William Lombardy in the Manhattan Chess Club semifinals, which was annotated by Hans Kmoch in Chess Review, March 1957, p. 89. One of several things I like about this game is the sequence with the Knight sac at f6, leaving the White pawn there with Black defenseless on the black squares. It is a recurring theme in many BDG games. You can play through this game and several others at the Chessbase site here. Myers,Hugh Edward - Lombardy,William James [A11] Manhattan CC-ch sf-D 5657 New York (5), 1956 1.g3 Nf6 2.Bg2 d5 3.Nf3 Bf5 4.c4 c6 5.cxd5 cxd5 6.Qb3 Bc8 7.0-0 e6 8.Nc3 Nc6 9.d4 Bd6 10.Rd1 h6 11.a3 Na5 12.Qc2 Bd7 13.b4 Nc4 14.e4 dxe4 15.Nxe4 Rc8 16.Ne5 Bxe5 17.dxe5 Nd5 18.Qe2 0-0 19.Qh5 Qc7
20.Rxd5!! exd5 21.Nf6+ gxf6 22.exf6 Nd6 23.Bxh6 Bf5 24.Bxd5 Qc2 25.Bxf8 Rxf8 26.Qh6 Ne8 27.Re1 Bg6 28.Rxe8 Qd1+ 29.Kg2 Qxd5+ 30.f3 Qd2+ 31.Qxd2 Rxe8 32.Qh6
Myers: "It was hard to breathe; people were packed around our table, standing on chairs. My opponent sat and stared at this position for five minutes, until his flag fell. He left without saying anything. I call that resigns." You said it, Hugh. We'll miss you. More pages with additional info: