Samuel Reshevsky Biography

Samuel Reshevsky, a Polish-American chess grandmaster, was not only a formidable player but also a talented writer and professional accountant. Recognized as a chess prodigy from a young age, his parents brought him to America to showcase his skills. Despite taking a break to complete his education, Reshevsky continued to excel in chess, competing at a professional level while working as an accountant. His illustrious career spanned across the globe, defeating seven world champions, including the renowned Bobby Fischer, and earning the title of international grandmaster. With eight victories in the ‘U.S. Chess Championship’ and a playing career that extended into his 70s, Reshevsky’s durability and exceptional tactics made him a memorable player. However, his slow opening moves became a notorious trait, costing him valuable time in crucial games and unsettling his opponents. Many speculate that this flaw ultimately prevented him from claiming the world championship title.

Quick Facts

  • Also Known As: Samuel Herman Reshevsky, Szmul Rzeszewski
  • Died At Age: 80
  • Family: father: Jacob
  • Born Country: Poland
  • Chess Players
  • American Men
  • Died on: April 4, 1992
  • Place of death: New York, New York, United States
  • Cause of Death: Heart Attack
  • More Facts
  • Education: University Of Chicago

Childhood & Early Life

Samuel Reshevsky was born on November 26, 1911, in Ozorkow, Poland, to Jacob Reshevsky and Shaindel Reshevsky. His father was a textile merchant and his parents belonged to the Orthodox Jewish community. He reportedly had five siblings.

At the age of four, Reshevsky was discovered as a child chess prodigy. By the age of eight, he had started competing against and defeating professional chess players. In November 1920, his parents shifted to the U.S. and started to take him around to exhibit his chess skills. During his early years in the U.S., he played over a thousand games, by means of which his parents earned a living.

At the age of nine, Reshevsky played and won 19 games against noted officers of ‘West Point’, a military school. In 1922, he became the youngest competitor in a prominent tournament like ‘New York Masters’. Much of his early life in the U.S. was spent on the road, away from any formal education, which landed his parents in court. But the matter was quickly resolved with the intervention of a wealthy sponsor, who agreed to support his career if he completed his education.

From 1924 to 1931, Reshevsky was away from professional chess while he attained his education. But he continued to attend a few chess events during this time. In 1931, he won his first ‘US Open Chess Championship’ at Tulsa, Oklahoma. In 1934, he earned an accounting degree from ‘University of Chicago’ and was declared the joint winner of ‘US Open Chess Championship alongside Reuben Fine.


After graduation, Samuel Reshevsky moved to New York City and started working as a professional accountant while also participating in chess tournaments. In 1935, he began his international chess playing career when he participated in a championship tournament in England, where he beat the world champion, Jose Raul Capablanca. From then onwards till the 1960s, he was always in the lead for the ‘World Championship’, but never won the title.

From 1936 onwards, Reshevsky competed in and won first or subsequent positions in many international competitions, including the ‘US Chess Championship’. However, during the Cold War, he was reportedly not permitted by American authorities to participate in the ‘Candidates Tournament’ held in Budapest. In 1953, in Zurich, his closest shot at becoming the ‘World Champion’ vanished when the ‘KGB’ and several Soviet grandmasters colluded to prevent him from winning the title at any cost.

In his later career, Reshevsky had a fierce rivalry with another popular chess player, Bobby Fischer. He played against and vanquished seven world champions during his career, including Alexander Alekhine, Vasily Smyslov, Lasker, Jose Raul Capablanca, and Bobby Fischer. He also wrote many books on chess and was a chess columnist for several illustrious publications.

In 1984, Reshevsky won the ‘Reykjavik Open’ at the age of 72, defeating several grandmasters in the process. He continued to actively compete in chess tournaments until his death. He wrote several books on chess throughout his career.

Awards & Achievements

Samuel Reshevsky has been the winner of the ‘US Chess Championship’ for many years, including 1936, 1938, 1940-42, 1946, and 1969. He also won the ‘Pan-American Champion’ title and was honored with the ‘International Grandmaster’ title of the ‘World Chess Federation’. He holds several records for the ‘US Chess Championship’.

Family & Personal Life

Samuel Reshevsky married Norma Mindick and had three children with her. He spent the majority of his life in New York City and suburban New York, where he resided with his family. He passed away on April 4, 1992, at the age of 80, in New York City, United States.


At birth, Samuel Reshevsky was named Szmul Rzeszewski. He arranged his chess schedule in such a way that he would not have to play on the Jewish Sabbath due to his Orthodox Judaism beliefs.

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