Kindred’s Special: Our Northern Neighbor Canada Has a Rich History of Chess Personalities

This is a true story of Frank Anderson.  It is a story of a beginning out of a father’s hope to make a life worth living for his crippled son of fifteen.  It is the history of Canada; it is a history of belief in overcoming severe physical disabilities.

A stranger walked into the office of Mr. Freeman:  “My name is Anderson,” said he, “I have been advised that you would be able to help me.  My problem concerns my son Frank.  He is now fifteen and for five years he has been confined to bed, hardly able to move, with a severe attack of arthritis.  We are desperate and have tried everything. He seems quite discouraged and has no ambition to carry on his schooling.  We recently gave him a chess set and this has aroused his interest.  What do you suggest?”

Mr. Freeman arranged some games by correspondence with other patients in hospitals and small towns, and then entered him in a tournament with other beginners.

Sometime later, on one of his visits to a Veterans Hospital, Mr. Freeman was checking with a paraplegic patient who had also entered a correspondence tournament where young Frank was also participating.  Examination of the game showed that Frank was no ordinary beginner.

Mr. Freeman and Mr. Anderson senior decided to use chess as an incentive to help Frank catch up with his studies.  It worked.  In no time was he catching up with his scholastic studies.  His first efforts to get out of the house was on crutches to visit a chess club where he met two of Canada’s strongest players, R. E. Martin and Charles Crompton who took charge of his chess development. Frank’s health improved and he had ambition to make up for lost time.

Frank made rapid progress, winning the 1947 Toronto Championship at age nineteen.  This followed with a trip to the US Junior in Oakland, Tennessee with five other juniors.  He tied for lst place with Larry Evans, a future Grandmaster.

Frank did not forget the help Mr. Freeman gave him and others.  A letter dated May 31, 1955:

I understand that you are trying to enlist aid in your promotion of chess amongst the youngsters of Canada.  Perhaps the details of how chess helped me will aid interested people to appreciate the importance of this work.  I taught chess for five years until university studies forced me to give it up.  I saw twenty or thirty eager children come week after week–to first of all enjoy themselves, but without realizing it–learn some of life’s most valuable lessons at an early age.  I believe that playing chess leads one to habits of mind that once cultivated are invaluable–logic, patience, and perseverance.

Because chess was interfering with his university studies, Mr. Freeman encouraged him to put a hold on chess until he completed his degree.  He got it in Mathematics and Physics. Eventually he became successful in business, married and became a US citizen.

Frank no longer needed crutches and in 1951 he finished 2nd in the Canadian Championship.  In 1953 he tied for lst with Abe Yanofsky; in 1955 he took lst all by himself.

The Olympiads of 1954 and 1958 were his greatest achievements, scoring gold medals on board 2 for Canada 1954  (+13-2=2) and 1958 (+9-1=3).  He would have earned the GM title except for becoming ill from medicine that was prescribed in error.  The failure to show up for the final game cost him the title and it would have been given him even if he had played and lost.  Years later attempts were made to be granted the Grandmaster Title but the Russians blocked it.

IM Lawrence Day wrote an obit when Frank Anderson died on September 18, 1980 at his home in San Diego, California, having become a US citizen from lung cancer.

Frank Anderson was disabled his whole life, just getting to the Toronto Chess Club, up three flights of stairs, was an accomplishment using crutches.

That behind the scenes Soviet shenanigans ruined his Grandmaster title at the Olympiads in Munich is fairly well understood now.  He only played in three international events, and had two Olympiad gold medals on second board to show for it.  Quite a career for a disabled competitor.

I was spell-bound by this story of Frank Anderson.  The chess world no doubt hardly remembers him as all seem to get lost in the time clock of history.  But what I see in Frank Anderson is that of a true blue fighter who, with help from Mr. Freeman and his family, refused to give up.  That is a sign of a true champion.  That is a sign of a leader.  That is a sign of greatness where integrity and good character proved him to not be handicapped at all.  He overcame!!  His life enriched chess and all he met and knew.

Lets take a look at how Frank plays the game.

White:  Abe Yanofsky  vs.  Black:  Frank Anderson   Opening:  Ruy Lopez

1. e4  e5  2. Nf3  Nc6  3.  Bb5  a6  4.  Ba4  Nf6  5.  O-O  N:e4  6.  d4  b5  7. Bb3  d5  8. d:e5  Be6  9. Qe2  Nc5  10. Rd1  Be7  11. Be3  N:b3  12. a:b3  Qc8  13. Bg5  B:g5  14. N:g5  O-O  15.  c4  Ne7  16.  c:d5  B:d5  17.  Qc2  g6  18. f3  h6  19. Nc3.

In answer to 19. Ne4 intended was …Qe6!

19. … c6  20. Nge4  Qe6  21. Nf6+  Kg7  22. Re1.

White avoids exchanging on d5 to keep an active position and lessen drawing chances.

22. … B:b3  23.  Qc1  b4  24.  Ng4!  Nf5  25. Ne4  Qc4  26. Qf4  Best.

If 26. Nc5  Q:c1 27. Re:c1  Nd4! gives Black good endgame winning chances.

26. … Qd4+ 27. Kh1  Rfe8  28. Qc1  h5  29. Ngf6  Rh8!!

This aesthetic beauty point seems to be the turning point of the game.

30. Nc5  h4!  31. h3  Bc4  32. Nce4  Ng3+  33. N:g3  h:g3  34. Ne4

Black has a mating attack on 34. Re4  Qf2  35. Ng4  R:h3+  36. g:h3  g2+  37. Kh2 g1(Q) checkmate.

34. … Bd5

White is in zugwang now.

35. N:g3  R:h3+  36. g:h3  B:f3+  White resigns. (0-1).




2 Responses to “Kindred’s Special: Our Northern Neighbor Canada Has a Rich History of Chess Personalities”

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