365 Selected Chess Endings

by Norman T. Whitaker

365 Selected Chess Endgames, One for Each Day of the Year
365 Ausgewahlte Endspiele, Eines Fur jeden Tag Im Jahr

365 Selected Chess Endings
by Norman T. Whitaker


Publisher: Ishi Press
ISBN: 0923891845
Product Dimensions: 6 x 9 inches
310 pages

365 Selected Chess Endings

Introduction to 365 Selected Chess Endings by Hartleb and Norman T. Whitaker

I am in the process of re-printing the book 365 Selected Chess Endgames, One for Each Day of the Year by Norman T. Whitaker and Glenn E. Hartleb, ISBN 0-923891-84-6. It is a bi-lingual book. The title in German is 365 Ausgewahlte Endspiele, Eines Fur jeden Tag Im Jahr .

What is especially remarkable about this book is that, in spite of having been co-authored by a famous International Chess Master, Norman T. Whitaker, almost nobody has ever heard of it. I have asked around among collectors of chess books and only one person, Grandmaster William Lombardy, has ever heard of or seen this book. Lombardy knew about the book the same way that I did. Whitaker had given him a copy.

It is certainly a useful book, worthy of study. The endgames come from a variety of sources. Some were played over-the-board in grandmaster tournaments. Others are compositions. Only a few were composed by Whitaker or Hartleb. The rest are by major composers such as Grigoriev and Triotzky.

One good thing is that, unlike other collections in which the problems are so difficult that nobody could ever solve them, many of these endgames can be solved by normal humans. Even I was able to solve a few of them.

Only a few are easy to solve, however. There is obviously a program to set aside a few hours every day to study one of the end games. The answers are in the back. The answers are in German algebraic notation, which is a minor inconvenience that most readers will be able to get past without much difficulty. One need only remember that S stands for knight, T for rook, L for bishop and D for queen.

As to why such a useful and important work is not better known, the answer obviously lies in the fact that Hartleb was killed and Whitaker seriously injured in a car accident shortly after publication. Also, the press run must have been small. Otherwise, more would have reached the market place.

Whitaker published one of his own games in the introduction. His opponent was Alfonso Ferriz, a master who was many times Champion of Mexico. The game was played in Mexico City in 1959.

White (Whitaker) had a king on h2, rooks on e4 and e6 and pawns on g2 and a4. Black (Ferriz) had a king on d3, a queen on f2, a knight on f5 and pawns on c6 and h5.

In this position, Black played Nd4, threatening Nf3+ followed by checkmate. Whitaker responded by 44. Rxd4+ Qxd4 45. Rxc6 and claimed a draw, saying that he can get his rook to f3 and then he has a fortress situation in which the black king cannot penetrate to give checkmate. Whitaker reported, "Neither black nor the spectators believed it possible."

I do not believe it possible either. I think Black had a win there. It is just that I have not been able to find it (and I have not tried hard either).

I met Norman T. Whitaker at my first big-time chess tournament, the 1956 Eastern States Open in Washington DC. Whitaker was the director. I did not know it at the time, but I have since learned from the biography of Whitaker, "Shady Side: The life and crimes of Norman Tweed Whitaker, Chessmaster" by John Samuel Hilbert ISBN 0-939433-57-5, page245, that this tournament was an important come- back for Whitaker. Whitaker had just settled his court case against the United States Chess Federation two days earlier. The court case arose over the fact that the USCF had kicked Whitaker out, not because of the Lindbergh kidnapping, but rather because of a more important reason, that Whitaker had said bad things about Montgomery Major, the Editor of Chess Life magazine.

My picture is in Hilbert's book in two places: pages 211 and 246. In the picture on page 246, I am the kid sitting on the floor on the lower right hand corner. This picture is incorrectly identified as being from the 1957 New Western Open in Milwaukee. It is actually from the 1956 Eastern States Open in Washington DC.

I created a big sensation in that tournament because I had just turned 12 years old and I checkmated a well known player named Arthur Abbott in 15 moves in the first round. I lived in Lynchburg Virginia and nobody had heard of me and this accomplishment got my picture on the front page of the Washington Post the next morning.

However, my 15 minutes of fame lasted exactly that long, because I lost all the rest of my games in the tournament and finished dead last.

During the tournament, Whitaker wore his prison stripes for one of the rounds. He was certainly not hiding the fact that he had served time. Indeed, he often said that he was from "Shady Side" Maryland. He did not really live in Shady Side. He just liked to use that name so that everybody would know that he was a shady character.

An announcement was made before one of the rounds of the tournament that Whitaker had settled his suit against the USCF and was back in as a member in good standing. I never found out what that was about until Hilbert's book came out 44 years later.

Perhaps because Whitaker had been kicked out of the USCF, this tournament was not advertised in Chess Life magazine. I had found out about it because I had received a mailing. Most likely, Whitaker had obtained my address because I had played in the 1956 North Carolina Open in Southport NC and in the 1956 Virginia Championship in Charlottesville. However, the lack of publicity was what made this tournament so strong. The tournament offered a phenomenal prize fund, including a $300 first prize. This huge first prize by the standards of that time brought all the big names down from New York City to play. It was probably the strongest tournament held in the United States that year. Because of the lack of publicity, only the top players who had heard about the $300 first prize played. Patzers did not come. The tournament was won by Hans Berliner. Fischer, Lombardy, Rossolimo and Feuerstein tied for second.

After that, I often saw Whitaker in tournaments in North Carolina. I lived in Lynchburg, Virginia, but the club in Lynchburg folded in 1959 after Captain Abernathy and all the other old geezers who played every week died. I was the last champion of the Lynchburg Chess Club. I won the championship at age 14. There was little chess activity in Virginia at that time, except for the annual state championship, except that I did once play in the Virginia Open Championship in Newport News, directed by Claude Bloodgood!!!

Every year, the North Carolina 30-30 was held in Raleigh. Whitaker and Hartleb played there almost every year. Sometimes, I would play without even my parents knowing about it. I would leave home and get out on the road early in the morning. I would hitchhike 152 miles to Raleigh, play in the six round one day tournament, and then hitchhike back to Lynchburg, arriving back late at night and making up some story as to where I had been.

In one of those tournaments, I played Glenn Hartleb. I no longer have the score sheet. What I remember about the game is I was black in a Benoni type position. Hartleb had pawns on c4 and d5. I had pawns on c5, d6 and e6. I played exd5 assuming that he would play cxd5. Instead, he thought for a long time and played Qd1xd5. I was shocked, as I had not thought of that possibility and I lost quickly.

In one of these North Carolina 30-30 events(perhaps the same one), I was pared against a player named Davis who was Champion of the State of Georgia. I had white. In those tournaments, we played 30 moves in 30 minutes and then, if the game was not finished, a committee of strong players would come around and adjudicate the games. In my game against Davis, nothing much had happened in the opening and few pieces had been exchanged. However, after 30 moves, I did have a small advantage. Whitaker, being the strongest player, was on the Committee. When the committee came around to my game, Whitaker looked at it for about 15 seconds and then adjudicated the game a win for me!

Whitaker and the rest of the committee moved on to the next game. Davis was not happy. He analyzed the game with me and showed to my satisfaction that he had adequate defenses to my attacks. At least, I could not demonstrate a win. Davis then went to Whitaker and started pestering him, claiming that the game should be adjudicated a draw. Whitaker just kept waving him away, saying that it was ridiculous.

I have often wondered whether Whitaker gave me a win as a favor, or was the adjudication proper. Actually, since I really did have an advantage, although a small one, perhaps I really did have a win with absolute best play by both sides. However, Davis was a better player than I was and, if the game had been played out, he probably would have won.

In the 1961 Carolinas Open in Fayetteville NC, Whitaker lost his first round game to Dr. Albert Warshawer, an 1800 player. Coming from Virginia, my father and I arrived late for the tournament and had lunch with Whitaker. He was not happy about the loss. The game was later published in the Carolina Gambit, the magazine of the North Carolina Chess Association, but it is not in Dr. Hilbert's book. Hilbert is apparently not aware of this publication. By the way, I am now on the Executive Board of the United States Chess Federation and the board has just voted to give Dr. Hilbert the Distinguished Service Award primarily because of this book.

Later in the tournament, when I was not around, Whitaker offered my father to drive me to the 1961 US Open Chess Championship in San Francisco. I had already played in the 1959 US Open Championship in Omaha Nebraska, in the 1960 US Open in St. Louis and in the 1958 US Junior in Homestead Florida. My father knew that I would want to play in the 1961 US Open in San Francisco, so he immediately agreed to let me go.

However, when my father told me about this, I told him that I did not want to go. The invitation was declined.

My father was surprised. I never told him the reason. The reason was that I was familiar and every other chess player in America was familiar with the book "The FBI Story" by Don Whitehead, with a forward by J. Edgar Hoover. On pages 94-96 of this book is described the famous scam in which Gaston B. Means convinced a wealthy heiress named Evalyn Walsh McLean that he was in contact with the Lindbergh Kidnappers and he could get the Lindburgh baby back upon payment of $100,000 in ransom money plus $4,000 for expenses.

Even though I knew that Whitaker had nothing to do with the Lindbergh kidnapping, it was nevertheless a fact that he was a career criminal and had spent many years in prison, principally for auto theft.

In 1932, Whitaker had gained fame during the Lindbergh Kidnapping. A former FBI Agent named Gaston B. Means had concocted a scheme to swindle $104,000 from a wealthy heiress by claiming to be in contact with the kidnappers. Means intended to use Whitaker as the bagman to pick up her money, but both were arrested and convicted. According to Shady Side: The Life and Crimes of Norman Tweed Whitaker, Chess Master, by John Samuel Hilbert, page 121, what Whitaker was really convicted of was "attempted" extortion. He or Means had claimed that the Lindbergh kidnappers had refused $49,500 of the ransom money paid by Mrs. McLean because the serial numbers on the money had been published. Therefore, they demanded replacement money in the amount of $35,000, in exchange for which he promised to return the original $49,500 plus the baby. That was when the FBI was finally called in. Whitaker never got any of the money and, when asked what happened to the money, Whitaker replied, "I do not know and I wish I did". Whitaker got out in just 18 months, but was soon arrested again. He served 15 years at several prisons, including Alcatraz, where he befriended the notorious Al Capone. They had a falling out in 1936 when Capone refused to join in Whitaker's prison strike, but reconciled and became friends again later on.

The book by Dr. Hilbert contains a major discovery that changes the entire story. The "FBI Story" by Don Whitehead says that Whitaker was given the code name, "The Fox". However, Dr. Hilbert's book suggest that Mrs. McLean knew his identity but was mistaken about his name. She knew that he was a famous international chess master, but thought that he was another International Chess Master named Albert Fox. Thus, Mrs. McLean called him "The Fox" because that was what she thought his real name was. Probably, if this case were tried today, Whitaker would beat the charges.

What really made me decide not to go with Whitaker and Hartleb to San Francisco was the length of the trip. It involved a 3,000 mile auto trip from Virginia to San Francisco and then back and a 12 round US Open played over 14 days. This trip would take at least three weeks and probably longer. In addition, I was beginning to wonder whether Whitaker and Hartleb might be homosexual. They were, after all, two men traveling all over the US in Whitaker's Volkswagen Beetle playing in chess tournaments, with no woman ever around. I had to wonder whether it would be a good idea to share hotel rooms with them.

I will never know the answer because on this trip that I would have taken, there was a horrific auto accident in which Hartleb was killed and Whitaker was seriously injured.

I saw Whitaker once after that. I played in the 1962 North Carolina Open in Charlotte NC (or possibly it was the Queen City Open as I played in both tournaments that year and both were played in Charlotte). In the last round, I got into a major time pressure dispute with Peter Gamm. I got in the same dispute in both tournaments with the same player. In one tournament, my flag fell but he did not have a complete score sheet. In the other tournament, his flag fell but I did not have a complete score sheet. There was a lot of yelling and screaming both times and I do not know how the director ruled. However, I resolved never to get in another time pressure dispute and from then on, from that day to this, I have never been involved in a dispute in a tournament chess game.

I asked Whitaker to give me a ride home in his Volkswagen. He said that he would give me a ride, but he was traveling to Washington DC by way of Richmond, Virginia, not by way of Lynchburg or Roanoke. I told him that I would be happy if he could take me to Petersburg, Virginia and then I could hitchhike home to Lynchburg.

On the trip, he told me about the car accident. He said that after the US Open in San Francisco, as they were driving back, they were crossing Arkansas. Whitaker and Hartleb had been driving all the way and both were tired. They had a 16-year-old boy in the car with them. As I had been 16 years old, that could have been me. I never found out the name of the boy.

Whitaker said that while he was asleep, Hartleb, being tired too, decided to let the boy drive. The boy did not have a drivers license. Shortly after Hartleb put the boy behind the steering wheel, the boy drove into a ditch and crashed. Hartleb, in the right front seat, was killed immediately. Whitaker, asleep in the back seat, was seriously injured. The boy who had been driving escaped uninjured.

Whitaker, who was in crutches, said that he was maimed for life and would never walk again. He reserved his worst remarks for the doctor in Arkansas who had treated him. He said that the doctor was a quack.

After Whitaker left me off in Petersburg, I hitchhiked home to Lynchburg. The following month, I enrolled in the University of California at Berkeley and hitchhiked 3000 miles across the country to attend college there. I hitchhiked more than 30,000 miles over a period of several years, coming home to Lynchburg most summers and going back to Berkeley in the Fall.

I never saw Whitaker again but from then until his death died on May 20, 1975 at age 85 Whitaker remained active in chess. His prognosis that he would never walk normally again proved not to be true as many players since have reported him walking, although with a cane.

This story keeps coming up again in unpleasant ways. In the 1963-1964 school year at the University of California at Berkeley, I allowed Tom Dorsch to rent a room in my apartment at 2119 Carleton Street in Berkeley. I told him the story about how Whitaker and Hartleb had invited me to travel with them from Virginia to the 1961 US Open in San Francisco, but I had been afraid to go with them on such a long trip because I feared that they might be homosexual. I do not know what perverted reason Tom Dorsch has for doing this, but he has turned the story around to make it that I was Whitaker's Toy Boy or something like that. I want to state categorically that this was absolutely not true. I never went anywhere with Whitaker. I never spent the night in a hotel room with Whitaker. The only time I was ever even alone with Whitaker was in 1962 when he drove me from Charlotte North Carolina to Petersburg Virginia, giving me a part-way ride back to Lynchburg. By the way, I like girls.

Nevertheless, Tom Dorsch brings this up every time I run for election, which includes right now.

As to the question of whether Whitaker really was homosexual, I can see from reading Dr. Hilbert's book that Whitaker had a devoted wife, so he certainly must have fooled her. Beatrice Ussing Whitaker (1906-1944) was an exceptionally devoted woman. She was his constant companion when he traveled the world to play in chess tournaments. During the long years when Whitaker was in prison, she remained devoted to him and wrote him often.

Unfortunately, she got an especially horrific case of cancer and suffered horribly until she died at age 38.

When Whitaker gave me a copy of this book, 365 Selected Endings, he told me that Hartleb wanted to write another book, but that Whitaker did not want to do so, because writing a book is a lot of work and there is little money to be made from it.

As to the book Whitaker gave me, my mother and I have been involved in litigation with my brother Creighton since 1986. In 1994, my brother sold my mother's house at 917 Old Trents Ferry Road in Lynchburg and had all the contents of the house deposited in a trash dump. This included all my chess books. The owner of the Haunted House Book Store in the Fort Hill section of Lynchburg heard about all these chess books in the landfill and went to the dump and recovered them. By the time I found out about this, all the good books had been sold as used books in his store.

Recently, when I decided to reprint Whitaker's book, I called him to see if he knew who had bought it. He did not know.

I searched the Internet for months and could not find this book for sale anywhere. Finally, I found a used book dealer in Los Angeles who had the book. I called him and he said that the book had been found in the estate of a Latvian man who had died in 2006. I bought the book.

I have been trying ever since to find out the name of that Latvian man, without success.

Last week, a friend told me that he had found Whitaker's book on sale at a used bookstore in Virginia! I think that this might turn out to be the very book that Whitaker gave me. He said that he had ordered the book and was waiting to receive it.

I am waiting to find out if this is true.

Sam Sloan June 1, 2007

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