|Larry Melvyn Evans, American chess player and journalist, was born on March 23, 1932. He has been called one of the all-time greats of American chess.|
He was born in Manhattan and learnt much about the game by playing for ten cents an hour on 42nd Street in New York City. He was a rising young star and by the age of eighteen he had won a New York State championship as well as a gold medal in the Dubrovnik Chess Olympiad of 1950.
Evans tied with Arthur Bisguier for first place in the U.S. Junior Championship of 1949 and two years later he won his first U.S. Championship ahead of Samuel Reshevsky. He went on to win the national championship another three times - in 1962, 1968 and 1980, the latter in a tie with Walter Browne and Larry Christiansen.
Titles quickly followed and Evans was awarded an International Master title by FIDE in 1952. In 1956 the U.S. State Department appointed him a "chess ambassador" and he became a Grandmaster in 1957.
Evans performed well in many U.S. events during the 1960s and 1970s but his trips abroad to international tournaments were infrequent and less successful. He won the U.S. Open Championship in 1951, 1952, 1954 (he tied with Arturo Pomar but won the title on the tie-break) and tied with Walter Browne in 1971. In addition he won the first Lone Pine tournament in 1971 and represented the U.S. in seven Chess Olympiads over twenty years, picking up one gold and one silver for his play and one team silver in 1966.
His best results on foreign soil included a first in the 1975 Portimao International in Portugal and a second equal behind Jan Donner in Venice, 1967. However his first, and what subsequently proved to be his only, crack at the World Chess Championship title ended in a disappointing 14th place in the Amsterdam Interzonal of 1964.
He never entered the world championship cycle again and concentrated his efforts on assisting his fellow American Bobby Fischer in his quest for the world title. Evans tutored his friend from 1968-72 and guided Fischer to his capturing of the world title in the famous match against Boris Spassky in 1972.
Evans had always been interested in writing as well as playing and before the age of eighteen he had already published David Bronstein´s Best Games of Chess, 1944-1949 and the Vienna International Tournament, 1922. Today he is credited with having written or co-written over fifty books on chess, some of which are classics of the genre. In 1958 his New Ideas in Chess proved very influential on the chess players of the 1950s and 1960s and it has been a consistent seller over the years.
Other well received books include Modern Chess Brilliancies (1970), What´s The Best Move (1973) and Test Your Chess I.Q. (2001). He revised the tenth edition of Modern Chess Openings (1965), co-authored with editor Walter Korn. At the time, many players considered it to be "the Chessplayer´s Bible", and it is now a collector´s item. He also made a significant contribution to Fischer´s My Sixty Memorable Games (1969) and had urged the future World Champion to publish when he had initially been reluctant to do so.
During the 1960s Evans developed a very successful career in chess journalism and helped found the American Chess Quarterly which ran from 1961-65. He was an editor of Chess Digest during the 60s and 70s and he still writes regularly for Chess Life - the official publication of the United States Chess Federation (USCF). His popular question and answer column is read by more than 250,000 readers every month and has been running for over thirty years as of 2005. His weekly chess column, Evans on Chess, has appeared in more than fifty separate newspapers throughout the United States.
Evans has also commentated on some of the biggest matches for Time magazine and ABC´s Wide World of Sports, including the 1972 Fischer versus Spassky match, the 1993 PCA world title battle between Gary Kasparov and Nigel Short and the Braingames world chess championship match between Vladimir Kramnik and Gary Kasparov in 2000.
At his peak in October 1968 he was rated 2631 but, despite being a child prodigy, he was subsequently overshadowed by the genius of Fischer. His contributions to chess writing and journalism though have earned him many awards but none was more deserved than the USCF´s Chess Journalist of the Year award that he picked up in 2000. He was inducted into the US Chess Hall of Fame in 1994.