Publisher: Ishi Press
Author: Robert Burger
Year of Publication: 2009 (2nd)
Notation Type: Descriptive (DN)
Lone Pine 1975 was the first ever truly Grandmaster Swiss event. Today, with many grandmaster Swiss events taking place every year, such as the Aeroflot Open, the Reykjavik Open, and many others, not to mention the World Open, bringing together 22 grandmasters to play in a Swiss tournament does not seem that remarkable. Even the title, Grandmaster Chess, seems to be a bit hackneyed with so many grandmaster events being played today. Back when this tournament was played, there were only 90, and 39 of them were locked up in the Soviet Union and could not easily get out.
Thus, for Louis Statham to bring 22 grandmasters to play a chess tournament in the remote desert town of Lone Pine was an amazing event. In addition, of the 22 grandmasters, only 4 were American: Evans, Benko, Reshevsky and Browne. Most of the rest traveled from Europe to play. Louis Statham was able to accomplish this by providing transportation and accommodation to the players. Knowing that they could not lose money, they took advantage of this opportunity to see America.
There were political considerations too. Statham hoped to get some Soviets to play. However, this proved to be politically impossible. This was a time of maximum tension between the USA and the USSR. Not only was the War in Vietnam and the nuclear arms race at its peak, but the chess politics situation was tense too. Fischer was scheduled to defend his World Chess Championship title against Karpov in 1975. However, Fischer had demands which the Soviets refused to meet and eventually Fischer forfeited the title.