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1903 - 2000 George Koltanowski

George Koltanowski, the greatest showman and promoter that chess has ever known, is dead at age 96. He died of congestive heart failure in San Francisco on February 5, 2000. George Koltanowski is survived by his wife Leah, age 93.

Koltanowski will not be remembered as a player but as an exhibitor, writer, promoter and showman. Possessed with an incredibly powerful memory, Koltanowski would give exhibitions, playing several games blindfold simultaneously. Strangely, what wowed the spectators the most was not that he would win all the games, even though blindfolded, but that after the games were over, he would recite the complete moves of the games without looking at the board, something which any competent master can do.

Many of Koltanowski's relatives died in the Holocaust. Koltanowski survived because he happened to be on a chess tour of South America and was in Guatemala when the war broke out. In 1940, the United States Consul in Cuba saw Koltanowski giving a chess exhibition in Havana and decided to grant him a US visa.

Koltanowski met his wife Leah on a blind date in New York in 1944. They settled in San Francisco in 1947. Koltanowski became the chess columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle, which carried his chess column every day for the next 52 years until his death. Koltanowski wrote the only daily newspaper chess column in the world. He published an estimated 19,000 columns.

In the 1960s, he played a newspaper game against grandmaster Paul Keres. Following a system similar to that adopted in the Kasparov vs. Rest of the World Match, readers would vote on moves and send them into the Chronicle. Koltanowski would select the move actually played, and would award points and prizes to his readers for their selections. However, after about only 25 moves, Keres abruptly stopped the game and declared Keres the winner by adjudication. Koltanowski disagreed and showed analysis which seemed to give him at least an even game. I suspect that Keres of Estonia was ordered by his Soviet handlers to stop playing.

Koltanowski had his own organization, the Chess Friends of Northern California, which resisted the USCF rating system and dominated Northern California Chess through the mid-1960s. Koltanowski later decided "if you cant beat 'em, join 'em." He won election as President of the United States Chess Federation in 1974. He also directed every US Open from 1947 until the late 1970s.

Chess career

Born in Antwerp, Belgium on September 17, 1903, George Koltanowski got his first big break in chess at age 21, when he visited an international tournament in Merano, planning to play in one of the reserve sections.

The organizers were apparently confused or mixed up about his identity and asked him to play in the grandmaster section, to replace an invited player who had not shown up.

Koltanowski gladly accepted. He finished near the bottom but drew Grandmaster Tarrasch and gained valuable experience.

He thereafter played in at least 25 international tournaments. However, Koltanowski became better known for touring and giving simultaneous exhibitions and blindfold displays.

 Based upon his results during the period 1932-1937, Professor Elo gave Koltanowski a rating of 2450 in "The Rating of Chess Players." Koltanowski was awarded the International Master Title in 1950 when the title was first officially established and was awarded an Honorary Grandmaster title in 1988. However, Koltanowski's record as a tournament player was not especially distinguished. He showed up for the 1946 US Open in Pittsburgh, but was eliminated in the preliminary section and did not qualify for the finals. This was to be his last tournament.

In those years, the US Open was played in round robin preliminary and final sections. However, the next year, Koltanowski returned, not as a player but as the director. He introduced the Swiss System. He directed the 1947 US Open in Corpus Christi, Texas, using the Swiss System for the first time ever in a US Open chess event.

After that, he transversed the country, holding Swiss System tournaments everywhere. Before long, the Swiss System was adopted as the standard for all chess tournaments in America.

Koltanowski thereafter toured the United States tirelessly for years, running chess tournaments and giving simultaneous exhibitions everywhere. After his failure in the 1946 US Open in Pittsburgh, he never played tournament chess again, except that he did play two games as a member of the US Olympic Team in 1952 in Helsinki, getting a draw with Soviet Grandmaster Kotov, one of the strongest players in the world, and a draw with Hungarian International Master Tibor Florian, in a game which Koltanowski appeared to be winning.

Blindfold chess

World record

Koltanowski set the world's blindfold record on September 20, 1937 in Edinburgh by playing 34 chess games simultaneously while blindfolded. This made headline news around the world. His record still stands in the "Guinness Book of Records."

Later, both Najdorf and Flesch claimed to have broken that record, but their efforts were not properly monitored the way that Koltanowski's was.

Imagery of Chess

from the Imagery of Chess brochure

It says George Koltanowski....will play blindfolded 5 simultaneous games against:
Alfred Barr, Jr.
Max Ernst
Fredrick Kiesler
Julien Levy
Dorothea Tanning
Dr. Gregory Zilboorg
-That's 6 people!

Here's the ones who actually played:
Alfred Barr, Jr.
Max Ernst
Frederick Kiesler
Julien Levy
Dorothea Tanning
Xanti Schawinsky
Vittorio Rieti

Chess Review (January 1945) claimed:
On the evening of January 6th, blindfold master George Koltanowski
gave an exhibition of his skill at the Levy Gallery. His teller, who called
out the moves, was Marcel Duchamp - the artist who created a
sensation many years ago by his "Nude Descending a Staircase."
Duchamp stopped painting when he took up chess and is now one of
the leading spirits in the "art applied to chess" movement. Most of
Koltanowski's seven opponents were the artists whose works hung on
the walls or stood on pedestals in the exhibition room. The players were
seated at boards on which four reproductions of the Max Ernst chess-
men and other modern styles were arranged.
The blindfold champion surveyed the scene with interest, examined the
peculiar pieces with which his opponents were to play, then declared
with feeling: "This must be the first exhibition in which the blindfold
player has the advantage."

The caption in the photo above (from Between Lives: An artist and Her World by Dorothea Tanning) mistakenly gives "1944" as the year of the blindfold exhibition.

Dorothea Tanning named the seven chess players.
"There, one evening (January 6, 1945) in the Julien Levy Gallery a small invited public watched seven chessboards manned by seven intrepid players: Julien himself; Fredrick Kiesler, avant-garde architect and dreamer; Alfred Barr, the director of the Museum of Modern Art, Xanti Schawinsky, chess whiz; Vittorio Rieti, composer dear to Balanchine; Max Ernst; and me, Dorothea, all braced to take on blindfolded chess master George Koltanowski, Marcel Duchamp called out the moves. (For the record: everyone lost except Kiesler, who managed a draw.)"
-Between Lives: An artist and Her World by Dorothea Tanning. pp. 90-92

George Koltanowski was also a refugee from the the war in Europe who was in South America when the Nazis invaded Belgium, his home. He and Duchamp had formed the Greenwich Village Chess Club in 1942.

Frederick Kiesler, George Koltanowski (facing away), Alfred Barr, Jr. (playing on an Ernst strategic board with an Ernst set)

Duchamp, moving for Koltanowski (facing away); Alfred Barr, Jr. using an Ernst set; Xanti Schawinsky using a Bauhaus set.


Koltanowski wrote many books. His best known work is "Adventures of a Chess Master" published by David McKay in 1955. In it, he recounts primarily his tours giving blindfold simultaneous exhibitions.

Perhaps Koltanowski's most remarkable accomplishment was that he made his living entirely from chess. He wrote books on the Colle System, which he sold by mail order. He taught a system which would enable even rank beginners to get out of the opening with a playable game. This saved his students the trouble of memorizing vast amounts of chess opening theory. However, he never played this opening himself against strong opponents.


George (Georges) Koltanowski was born to a Jewish family on September 17, 1903 at No. 42, Loos Straat in Antwerp (Anvers), Belgium. His father was a diamond cutter and diamond broker.

In 1914, the Germans invaded Belgium. His whole family left Antwerp and they walked 12 hours to Holland with all of their belongings in a cart. They later left for London. George got a splinter in his foot which led to blood poisoning. He had to remain in bed for two years and had 14 operations. It was this period that Koltanowski developed his memory. He later applied it to blindfold chess.

In 1917, the Koltanowski family moved back to Antwerp.

In 1919, at the age of 14, he learned the game of chess while watching his father play his older brother. He had 6 brothers and 1 sister. When he learned chess, it took him 10 days to finally beat his father and brothers.

His father encouraged Koltanowski to play chess. His father took George down to the diamond merchants place to play chess. George was able to beat everyone he played chess with in Antwerp.

In 1920, he joined the Antwerp chess club. Players included Emanuel Sapira, Dunkelblum, Censer, Perlmutter, and Schernetzky.

In 1921, he was the champion of Antwerp.

In March, 1921, he played a chess game against the first opponent who played him blindfolded, Branco Tchabritch of Serbia. The game was drawn in 32 moves. It was played in Ghent, Belgium.

In April, 1921, he played his first blindfold game, against his two brothers Jack and Harry. George won both games.

In May, 1921, the Antwerp Chess Club (Le Cercle des Echecs d'Anvers) organized a blindfold tournament. Koltanowski tried to play three games (against Emanuel Sapira, Dunkelblum, and Autfenne), but lost all his games and could not play a blindfold game. The rest of the chess club members teased him about this. So Koltanowski decided to do something about it. He went home and cut a board in four sections. He studied the four smaller boards, and then knew the whole board. After two weeks of studying how to play blindfold chess, he returned to the chess club and beat 6 players blindfolded in three hours.

In 1921, he played Fred Lazard, a strong French player, in a match in Antwerp. Koltanowski won with 3 wins, 1 loss, and 1 draw.

In November, 1921, he played in the 1st Belgium championship, held in Brussels. The event was won by N. Borouchowitch. Colle took 2nd, followed by Horowitz. Koltanowski took 4th.

In 1922, he was able to play 16 games blindfolded.

In March, 1922, he and Emanuel Sapira played against Alekhine in a simultaneous display at the Antwerp Chess Club and lost. The next day, Koltanowski played Alekhine in another display given by Alekhine, and Koltanowski drew.

In July-August, he played in the 15th British Chess Federation Congress and took 11th place.

In September, 1922, he took 2nd in the 2nd Belgium championship, behind Edgar Colle.

In 1923, he gave an 8-game blindfold exhibition at Antwerp.

In 1923, he was the champion of his chess club, the Cercle Maccabi, in Antwerp. His club won the club championship of Belgium in 1923, with Koltanowski playing Board 1. His club won the club championship of Belgium in 1923, 1925, 1926, and 1927.

In May, 1923, he won the 3rd championship of Belgium, played in Ghent (Gand). Colle and Sapira tied for 2nd-3rd.

In 1923-1924, he was conscripted in the Belgium army. His platoon was part of the Belgium Hospital Service.

In February, 1924, he played in his first International Masters chess tournament in Merano (Meran), Italy. Koltanowski had planned to play in one of the reserve sections, but the organizers asked him to play in the masters' section to replace an invited player who had not shown up. The event was won by Ernest Gruenfeld. Koltanowski took 11th place, drawing with Tarrasch.

In June, 1924, he played for Belgium on Board 1 against Max Euwe, Board 1 for Holland. He lost his match. The event was held in Brussels. Holland won the event.

In July, 1924, he played at the Chess Olympiad in Paris. He took 4th-7th in the Consolation Cup. He took 2nd in Qualification Group 2. Koltanowski played Board 2 for Belgium, behind Colle. He was involved in the original formation of FIDE, the World Chess Federation. Belgium took 9th place.

In 1924, he played 20 games blindfolded in Namur, Belgium.

Koltanowski did not play in the 1924 Belgium championship, held in September in Brussels, because he was away in the Belgium army. Edgar Colle won it that year.

Colle had won the 5th Belgium Championship in 1925. Koltanowski did not participate because of Belgium army commitments.

In October, 1925, Koltanowski played Board 2, behind Colle in a team match against Holland, played in The Hague. He won his game against A. Olland. The match was drawn with the score of 5-5.

In November, 1925, he played a match with Edgar Colle. He lost the match with 0 wins, 4 losses, and 3 draws.

In September, 1926, he took 9th place at Spa. Saemish and Sir George Thomas won the event.

In November, 1926, Koltanowski played Board 1 for Belgium in a match against Holland, played in Brussels. He lost to Max Euwe. Holland won the match by the score of 7-3.

In 1926-27, he played in the 7th Christmas Congress in Hastings and took 1st place in the Premier Reserves section. The Premier Section was won by Tartakower.

In July, 1927, he scored 8.5 points (won 4, drew 9, lost 2) in the first offical chess olympiad, the London Team Tournament (Championship of Nations). He played Board 1 for Belgium. Belgium tied for 14th-15th place.

In September, 1927, he won the 6th championship of Belgium, held in Ghent.

In July-August, 1928, he scored 9.5 points (won 7, drew 5, lost 4) at the 2nd Chess Olympiad in The Hague. He played Board 2 for Belgium, behind Emmanuel Sapira.

In 1928-29, he took 4th in the Reserve Section at the 9th Christmas Congress in Hastings.

In February, 1929, he took 2nd, behind Colle, in the 7th Belgium Championship.

In 1929, he played a 10-board blindfolded exhibition in Antwerp.

In July-August, 1929, he played at Ramsgate. He took 4th-5th place. Capablanca won the event.

He did not participate in the 8th Belgium Championship, held in December, 1929. That event was won by Edgar Colle.

In January, 1930, he took 5th-6th at Antwerp. Salo Flohr won the event.

In March, 1930, he won a masters tournament in Brussels.

In September, 1930, he won the 9th championship of Belgium, held in Verviers.

On May 10, 1931, he played 30 opponents blindfolded in Antwerp, winning 20 and drawing 10. The exhibition took 10.5 hours. The players were drawn from the chess clubs in Antwerp. He broke Richard Reti's record of 29 games blindfolded, played in Sao Paulo in 1925. This record was broken in 1933 when Alekhine played 32 games blindfolded in Chicago.

In 1931, he abandoned his diamond cutting career to become a full time chess professional.

In 1931, he played in an international tournament in Antwerp.

He did not participate in the 10th Belgium championship, held in September, 1931. That event was won by Marcel Barzin.

He was the top Belgium player after Edgar Colle died on April 20, 1932. Colle was born in 1897 and was only 35 when he died.

In February, 1932, he took 7th at the London Congress Masters Tournament. Koltanowski was to play in the Premier Reserves tournament, but was promoted to play in the Masters tournament when Edgar Colle was invited, but had to withdraw at a late stage due to illness. The event was won by Alekhine, who also won the most brilliant game of the tournament in his win against Koltanowski.

In March, 1932, he won a masters tournament in Antwerp, ahead of Flohr.

In August, 1932, he won the Major Open at the 25th British Chess Federation in London. He finished 8-1, with 3 draws, half a point ahead of Vera Menchik.

In 1932, Koltanowski was one of the top 40 players in the world.

From October 1932 to September 1933, he edited CHESS WORLD in Antwerp, Belgium. This was the first English-language magazine published in a non-English-speaking country.

In 1932, he played 20 boards blindfolded in Hampstead.

In 1932, he played 160 boards simultaneously at Antwerp. He won 136, drew 18, and lost 6.

In 1932-33, he took 4th place in the 13th Annual Christmas Congress Premier Reserves Tournament in Hastings. The Premier Section was won by Salo Flohr.

In January, 1933, he took 2nd at a tournament in Antwerp, behind Lajor Steiner.

In 1933, Alekhine broke Koltanowski's blindfold record of 30 players when Alekhine played 32 players blindfolded at the World's Fair in Chicago. Alekhine won 19, drew 9, and lost 4. The exhibition lasted over 12 hours.

In February, 1934, he played 6 boards blindfolded in a tandem exhibition with Alexander Alekhine at Antwerp. Each board had 4 of the strongest players from each chess club in Belgium, for a total of 24 players. In 5 hours, they won 3, drew 2, and lost one. It was the first time in the history of chess that two masters played a tandem blindfold exhibition without any kind of consultation. Koltanowski said that the strain of such an exhibition was "an inquisition of the brain."

In May-June, 1934, he took 3rd-4th (tied with Tartakower) at Sitges, Spain, near Barcelona. The event was won by Andreas Lilienthal, followed by Dr. Rey, champion of Spain. Spielman was 5th.

In June, 1934, he tied for 1st with Andreas Lilienthal and Xavier Tartakower in a tournament in the Barcelona International.

In July, 1934, he played 10 opponents blindfolded in Barcelona. Koltanowski spent a year in Barcelona as a chess teacher and trainer.

In February, 1935, he played an 8-board simul at Breda, Netherlands.

In June, 1935, he tied for 1st with Salo Flohr in a tournament in Barcelona.

In June, 1935, he took 2nd at Rosas, a small fishing village near the French border. The event was won by Flohr.

In July, 1935, he tied for 1st with Kahn at Mollet.

In 1935, he was a chess coach and trainer at the Madrid Athletic Club. He left after the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War.

In 1935-36, he took 4th place at the 16th Christmas Congress in Hastings, behind Fine, Flohr, and Tartakower. Koltanowski won 3, drew 5, and lost 1 (to Flohr). The event was held at the St. Leonard's Chess Club.

In 1936, he played an 8-board blindfold simul in Antwerp. Each board had two consulting players.

In April, 1936, he tied for 1st (with Adrian Conde of Mexico) in the Premier Reserves A section at the second annual international Congress at Margate, England. The Premiere section was won by Flohr, ahead of Capablanca.

In 1936, he won the championship of Belgium, held in Ghent. He had won in 1923, 1927, and 1930. This was his last Belgium Championship.

In 1936-37, he played in the Premier Tournament of the 17th Annual Hastings Christmas Congress. Arthur Reynolds, who was one of the English competitors, withdraw and his place was taken by Koltanowski, who was promoted from the Premier Reserves event. Alexander Alekhine won the event, followed by Fine. Koltanowski took 8th out of 10, and drew with Alekhine. Koltanowski won 1, lost 4, and drew 4. The event was held at the St. Leonards Chess Club.

In January, 1937, he took 4th at Birmingham, England. Erich Eliskasas and Lodewijk Prins took 1st-2nd, followed by William Winter.

In April, 1937, he took 7th at the Ostend Masters Tournament(4.5-4.5). That event was won by Keres, Fine, and Grob. He defeated Grob and drew against Keres. The tournament was held at the Kursaal Casino. This was the first tournament that two scoresheets with carbon paper between the two were used.

In 1937, he played 21 boards blindfolded in Bath, England. He won 14 and drew 7.

In May, 1937, he went to Dublin, Ireland to train for the 34-board simultaneous exhibition to be played in Edinburgh.

On September 20, 1937, he played 34 boards blindfolded at the Stockbridge Chess Club in Edinburgh. He won 24, drew 10, and lost none in 13.5 hours with time out only for meals. One of the players was the champion of Scotland. Ten other countries were represented. Koltanowski was paid 1,000 pounds for his effort (equivalent to $19,000 in today's currency).

In 1937 he tied in a match with Henri Grob in Zurich. He won 1, lost 1, and drew 2.

In October-November, 1937, he gave 26 10-board blindfold exhibitions in 26 days in 26 different cities in Switzerland.

In 1937-38, he played in the Hastings Premier Reserves section. The Premier section was won by Reshevsky.

In April,1938, he played in the Margate Premier Reserves B section. That section was won by Salo Landau.

In April 1938, he played a 12-board blindfolded simul at Bussum, Netherlands.

In July, 1938, he gave a 10-board blindfolded simul in Dunkerque.

In September, 1938, Koltanowski left Europe for America. He first sailed to Canada and gave a 15-board simultaneous exhibition in Quebec. He won 14, and lost 1.

On September 16, 1938, he gave his first blindfold exhibition in Canada in Montreal. He played 6 blindfold games, winning 5 and losing 1. In Toronto, he played 16 boards blindfolded. He won 10, lost 2, and drew 4.

From September through October, 1928, he gave blindfold exhibitions in Quebec, Toronto, Winnipeg, Milwaukee, Chicago, Peoria, Detroit, Buffalo, and New York.

On October 31, 1938, he gave his first American blindfold exhibition at the Marshall Chess Club in New York. On hand were former world champion Emanuel Lasker, Frank Marshall, Al Horowitz, and Isaac Kashdan. He played 10 boards blindfolded, winning 7, losing 1, and drawing 2.

In December, 1938, he gave an exhibition at the Faculty Club of Columbia University.

In February, 1939, he played 12 boards blindfolded, each board having two consultants. He won 5, drew 6, and lost 1 (to R. Chauvenet and R. Dawson).

In March, 1939, he was touring Cuba and giving chess exhibitions. In Havana, he played 8 boards blindfolded.

On March 23, 1939, he gave a 5-board blindfold exhibition in Guatemala City.

In April, 1939, he gave a 30-board exhibition in San Salvador.

In June, 1939, he gave 9 exhibitions in Mexico City.

In the summer of 1939, he was in Milwaukee involved in youth chess.

He was supposed to have played for Belgium in the 1939 Chess Olympiad in Buenos Aires, but the Belgium team did not participate.

In early November, 1939, Koltanowski drew two games against Charles Bagby in a match played in San Francisco.

In late November, 1939, Koltanowski played in the California State Championship in Los Angeles. The winner was Philip Woliston, age 19, followed by Harry Borochow and Herman Steiner. Koltanowski took 4th place. Koltanowski scores 4.5-3.5. There were 9 players.

In late January, 1940, he took 2nd at a Havana tournament. The event was won by Isaac Kashdan. Koltanowski scored 6.5-2.5.

In February, 1940, he took 1st at Santiago de Cuba, Cuba.

In March, 1940, he was allowed to immigrate to the United States because a chess-playing U.S. consul in Cuba had been amazed by Koltanowski's chess abilities when he gave an exhibition in Havana.

In April, 1940, he gave a blindfold exhibition in Boston.

In the summer of 1940, he moved to Milwaukee and taught chess in Milwaukee's public playgrounds. Kids who drew or beat him won a bicycle.

In September, 1940, he gave exhibitions in Pennsylvania, Boston, Massachusetts, Portland, Maine, and Wilmington, Delaware.

In October, 1940, he played 10 opponents blindfolded in Detroit.

In December, 1940, he gave a blindfold exhibition in Ventor City, New Jersey.

By the end of 1940, he signed up 886 new members to the US Chess Federation (USCF). He was voted life member to the USCF.

In February, 1941, he gave a blindfold exhibition in Dallas.

In August, 1941, he took 2nd at the Great Lakes Tournament in Milwaukee, behind Erich Marchland.

In October, 1941, he gave a blindfold exhibition at the Washington Chess Divan in Washington, D.C.

In November, 1941, he gave a blindfold exhibition in Sacramento.

In December, 1941, he gave an 8-board blindfold exhibition in New Orleans.

In March, 1942, he gave a simultaneous exhibition in Dallas. He explained the "Swiss System" to J.C. Thompson, President of the Texas Chess Association. The Swiss System was then used by Thompson in the 1942 Southwest Open, played in Corpus Christi in September, 1942. That event was a 7-round Swiss event, won by Bela Rozsa. There were 27 players.

In April, 1942, he gave an 8-board blindfold exhibition in Austin, Texas.

In October, 1942, he gave a 6-board blindfold exhibition in Cleveland. He won all his games.

In November, 1942, he gave an 8-board blindfold exhibition in Denver.

In January, 1943, he gave a blindfold exhibition in Jamestown, New York.

On January 30, 1943, he gave an 8-board blindfold exhibition in Bronxville, New York, winning 6, losing 1 (to Alfred Pierce), and drawing 1 (to Rosser Reeves). He also performed his Knight's Tour.

In February, 1943, he gave blindfold exhibitions at the Bronx Physicians Chess Club and at the New World Chess Club in New York.

In March, 1943, he gave a 6-board blindfold exhibition at the Manhattan Chess Club. He won 4 and drew 2.

In 1943, he played 35 boards simultaneously in Portland, Oregon. The organizer thought he was going to play all 35 boards blindfolded. Koltanowski convinced him otherwise.

In September, 1943, he introduced the Swiss System in Pittsburgh at the 5th Annual Pennsylvania State Chess Federation Championship. The 6-round event was won by Tom Gutekunst. There were 31 players. Koltanowski played most of the participants in a simultaneous exhibition at the start of the tournament.

In October, 1943, Miguel Najdorf broke Koltanowski's blindfold record by playing 40 games blindfolded in Rosario, Argentina. He won 36, lost 3, and drew 1. Each board had 2 players, so he played 80 opponents. It took over 17 hours to complete.

In 1943, he was employed as a diamond cutter in Manhattan on 36th Street.

In 1944, George Koltanowski met Leah Greenberg of Springfield, Massachusetts on a blind date in New York.

In August, 1944, he was to give a blindfold exhibition at the IBM Country Club in Eudicott, New York during the New York State Chess Championship. The event was called off because the U.S. government told IBM to cancel all conventions to reduce the burden on traveling facilities.

On January 6, 1945, he played 7 artists blindfolded at the Levy Art Gallery in New York. Marcel Duchamp was his teller who called out the moves.

In January, 1945, he played 8 opponents blindfolded at the Washington Chess Divan in Washington, D.C.

In October, 1945, he gave a blindfold exhibition in Akron, Ohio.

In December, 1945, he gave a blindfold exhibition in Hollywood, California.

In January, 1946, he gave over a dozen blindfold exhibitions in Texas.

In February, 1946, he gave an 8-board blindfold exhibition in Chicago.

In March, 1946, he had completed over 90 blindfold exhibitions in three months around the country.

In April, 1946, he gave 4 blindfold exhibitions at 8 games each in Puerto Rico.

In June, 1946, he won a small tournament in Cuba.

In July, 1946, he played in the 47th U.S. Open in Pittsburgh, but was eliminated in the preliminary section and did not qualify for the finals. He then withdrew from the tournament. It was his first chess tournament in the USA. The Open was won by Herman Steiner. There were 58 players.

In 1946, George Koltanowski married Leah Greenberg. It was his second marriage. The best man was Milton Finkelstein. Koltanowski then moved to South Dakota.

In September, 1946, he was directing the South Dakota State Championship.

In October, 1946, he played 8 opponents blindfolded in Vancouver, British Columbia. He won 3, drew 3, and lost 2 in 5 hours.

In November, 1946, he gave a blindfold exhibition in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

In December, 1946, he gave exhibitions in Columbia, South America.

In January, 1947, he gave a blindfold exhibition in Buffalo, New York.

In March, 1947, he gave an 8-board blindfold exhibition in Milwaukee.

In April, 1947, he was master of ceremonies at the British Columbia vs. Washington State annual match (won by Washington).

In 1947, he moved from New York to Santa Rosa, California.

In May, 1947, he began writing a chess column for the San Francisco Chronicle.

In June, 1947, he gave an 8-board blindfold exhibition at Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

In July, 1947, he was director of the Milwaukee summer playground chess program.

In August, 1947, he directed the U.S. Open in Corpus Christi, Texas. He used the Swiss system for the first time in a U.S. Open chess event. There were 87 players. Isaac Kashdan won and received $1,000 as first prize.

In November, 1947, he began editing the CALIFORNIA CHESS NEWS (later to become CHESS DIGEST).

In May, 1948, he played Board 1 for the North in the North-South California match, held in Atascadero. He drew his game as white with Herman Steiner.

In September, 1948, he directed the California State Championship, held in Atascadero. James Cross, age 18, won the event. It was the first California Swiss system event. There were 36 players.

In October, 1948, he played 8 simultaneous blindfold games at the Orange Chess Club.

In 1949, he was writing a chess column, called Chess Chats, for the Sunday edition of The Press Democrat in Santa Rosa.

In 1949, he helped in the formation of the California State Chess Federation.

In May, 1949, he played Board 1 for the North in the North-South California match, held in Atascadero. He drew his game as black with Herman Steiner.

In August, 1949, he played 55 games, winning 48 and drawing 7 in an exhibition in Sonoma.

In October, 1949, he played 24 boards in Los Angeles, winning 21 and drawing 3 (to Nancy Roos, Morris Gordon, and George Croy).

On December 4, 1949, he played 271 games simultaneously in 12 hours at the Marines Memorial Club in San Francisco. He won 251, drew 17, and lost 3. He faced 37 players at a time. The event was sponsored by the San Francisco Chronicle (the Chronicle Chess Festival). There were over 2,000 spectators.

In 1950, he was awarded the title of International Master by FIDE.

In 1951, he played 50 games of 10-seconds-a-move blindfold chess, winning 43, drawing 5, and losing 2 in 9 hours of play in San Francisco.

In 1952, he played two games for the USA team in Helsinki as First Reserve. He drew with Soviet Grandmaster Alexander Kotov and Hungarian International Master Tibor Florian.

On March 5, 1952, he played a blindfold game against Humphrey Bogart in San Francisco. Koltanowski won in 42 moves.

In January, 1953, he played 12 opponents blindfolded in an exhibition in Vancouver, British Columbia. He won 9 and drew three. He was able to recall every move made after the exhibition, which took 5.5 hours.

In March, 1953, he gave an 8-board blindfold exhibition in Brussels.

In 1953, he beat Grob in a match in Zurich. He won 2 and drew 3.

In February, 1955, he played 12 opponents blindfolded in Vancouver, British Columbia. Koltanowski was 51 at the time.

On May 22, 1955, he played 110 games simultaneously in Los Angeles. He won 89, drew 17, and lost 4. It took over 12 hours.

In 1956, he gave a simultaneous exhibition in New Orleans. One of the participants was Jude Acers.

In April, 1957, he gave simultaneous exhibitions in Toronto. He played 58 players, winning 55, losing 1, and drawing 2.

In 1957, he brought the U.S. Junior Championship to San Francisco. The tournament was won by Bobby Fischer. Koltanowski directed the event.

In 1958 and 1959, he gave a simultaneous exhibition in Denver.

In July-August, 1959, he directed the 60th US Open in Omaha, Nebraska. The winner was Arthur Bisguier.

In November, 1959, he conducted a 30-board simul in Dayton, Ohio, winning all 30 games.

In 1960, he was awarded the title of International Arbiter by FIDE.

On December 13, 1960, he played 56 games blindfolded at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco at the rate of 10 seconds a move. He won 50 and drew 6 in 9 hours.

In 1962, he played 110 opponents simultaneously in Los Angeles.

In 1966, he played 26 players simultaneously in North Hollywood, California.

In October, 1966, he gave blindfold chess exhibitions in Hawaii.

In 1967, he was the host of "Koltanowski on Chess." It was a series of half-hour television broadcasts about chess produced by KQED. It was the first such program of its kind.

In 1968, he was co-captain, along with Ed Edmondson, of the USA team at the 18th Chess Olympiad in Lugano.

In 1969, he directed the US Open, held in Lincoln, Nebraska.

In 1969, he directed the Nevada State Open in Sparks, Nevada. Before the event started, he played a chess game with Tina the elephant.

In 1970, he was co-captain, along with Ed Edmondson, of the USA team at the Siegen Chess Olympiad.

In 1972, he played 100 boards simultaneously, winning 97 and drawing 3.

In 1972, he traveled to the Chess Olympiad in Skopje, Yugoslavia.

In 1972, he was elected vice president of the USCF. He served for 9 years on the USCF policy board.

In November-December, 1972, he organized and directed the Church's Fried Chicken International tournament in San Antonio.

In 1974, he directed the Canadian Open in Montreal. It was the first time he made use of a computer for pairings.

In 1974, FIDE awarded George Koltanowski its Gold Medal to commemorate his work in having helped to found FIDE and to pay tribute to his continuing service to chess worldwide.

In 1975, he was President of the United States Chess Federation. He served as President until 1978.

In February, 1979, he played 4 games blindfolded in San Francisco and won them all. He was 75 years old.

In 1979, the first USCF Koltanowski Award went to Bill Church, Jacqueline Piatigorsky, and Louis Statham.

In 1979, George Koltanowski received the USCF Distinguished Service Award.

In October, 1980, he visited Dayton, Ohio. He lectured on chess and gave one of his famous knight tours. I participated in this as president of the Ohio Chess Association, and put my social security number on the square d4. A few weeks later, I wrote him a letter to thank him for his exhibition at the Dayton Chess Club. I included a P.S. - What was on d4? He called me at 7 am (4 am his time) and was able to recall my social security number on d4. Koltanowski donated a Boris Chess Computer to the Dayton Chess Club as a gift.

In 1981, he created the first Cal Chess Scholastic Championship.

In 1982, he was made an Honorary Member of FIDE.

In 1983, at the age of 80, he did a 3-board, 192 square knight's tour.

In 1986, he was one of the original inductees in the U.S. Chess Hall of Fame.

In 1988, he was awarded an honorary Grandmaster title by FIDE.

On February 5, 2000, Koltanowski died in San Francisco of congestive heart failure at the age of 96. He lived at 1200 Gought Street, Apt D-3 in San Francisco for over 40 years. He was buried in New York.

He wrote a chess column for the San Francisco Chronicle for 52 uninterrupted years (1947 to 1999). He wrote 19,980 chess columns.

He wrote 18 chess books in four languages. He wrote Hastings 1935-1936 (C. Seither, 1936), En Passant (Edinburgh, 1937), My Castles in Spain, Practical Chess (Kolty Publishing Company, 1947), Koltanowski's Chess Annual (REA Associates, 1955), Adventures of a Chess Master (McKay, 1955), Chess Chats (Press Democrat, 1960), TV Chess (KQED, 1968), 100 Shortcuts to Chess Victory (Weibel Champagne Vineyards, 1969), Colle System (Chess Digest, 1972), With the Chess Masters (Falcon Publishers, 1972), Vegas Fun Chess (Las Vegas Chess Association, 1972), San Antonio 1972, Practical Play of the Max Lange (Chess Digest, 1973),Checkmate! (Doubleday, 1978 and Chess Enterprises 1998), Chessnicdotes (Chess Enterprises, 1978), Chessnicdotes II (1981), In the Dark (Chess Enterprises, 1985), Blindfold Chess Genius (American Chess Equipment, 1990), and Checkmate Strategies (Chess Enterprises, 1999).

On December 23, 2005, Leah Koltanowski died, 10 days after her 99th birthday.

Koltanowski was fluent in 8 languages.

He was a Life Director of the USCF.

Based upon Koltanowski's results from 1932 to 1937, Professor Arpad Elo gave him a rating of 2450.

At one time, he was playing about 200 chess games by correspondence at once.

He directed the U.S. Open 16 times.

He directed the National Open 8 times.

He served as Team Captain to the US in the Chess Olympics 4 times.

One of Koltanowski's favorite sayings was "Pawns are like buttons. Lose too many and your pants fall down."

He invented a variant of chess called Las Vegas Dice Chess.

He was an avid stamp collector.