Home » Lisa Lane, Chess Champion Whose Reign Was Meteoric, Dies at 90

Lisa Lane, Chess Champion Whose Reign Was Meteoric, Dies at 90

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Lisa Lane, an early star of American chess who was a two-time United States girls’s champion and the primary chess participant to seem on the duvet of Sports activities Illustrated, died on Feb. 28 at her dwelling in Carmel, N.Y., in Putnam County. She was 90.

Her demise was confirmed by the city clerk’s workplace in close by Kent, N.Y., which registered her demise.

Ms. Lane was a late bloomer in chess. She was in her first yr at Temple College in Philadelphia when she noticed college students taking part in the sport in a lounge. She instantly started taking part in as usually as she might.

Inside two years, she had gained america girls’s championship.

The win catapulted her into the limelight, partly due to her late begin and meteoric rise in a sport that often takes years to grasp, and partly due to her youth and look. Wherever she went, individuals commented on her appears to be like as a lot as on her chess means, if no more so.

In Might 1961, she appeared on the tv sport present “What’s My Line?” on which 4 panelists requested her questions, making an attempt to guess her occupation. After they failed to find that she was knowledgeable chess participant and the ladies’s nationwide champion, one panelist, the author and Broadway director Abe Burrows, commented, “As a result of she is so fairly, we dominated out something mental.”

A Sports activities Illustrated cowl profile in 1961 cemented her stature within the sport, as did tv appearances and articles about her in nationwide publications.

For Ms. Lane, movie star was a combined bag. The publicity helped her increase funds for journeys to tournaments by way of sponsorships and enabled her to carry exhibitions by which individuals would pay to play her.

However individuals usually centered extra on her picture than on her means. The Sports activities Illustrated article described her as “a really severe younger lady, however superbly severe, or critically stunning.” A profile in The American Weekly, a Sunday newspaper complement, concluded, “She’ll beat you honest and sq. or rattle your composure with a flutter of eyelids.”

Ms. Lane was not blissful that girls in chess made significantly much less cash than males.

On the 1966 United States girls’s championship, she tied with Gisela Kahn Gresser, making them co-champions. The overall prize fund for the event was $600. Weeks earlier, america Championship, by which solely males competed, had a prize fund of $6,000.

Ms. Lane tried to get the opposite feminine opponents to hitch her in a protest to hunt extra money, however none had been . She rounded up some sympathetic male supporters, they usually picketed the ladies’s championship with indicators studying, “One Man Is Price Ten Ladies?” and “What Good Is a King With no Queen?”

The protest was principally ignored, and protection of the championship and her victory centered totally on her love life.

Ms. Lane had had sufficient. She stop aggressive chess.

Marianne Elizabeth Lane was born on April 25, 1933, in Philadelphia. She was known as Lisa as a result of it was brief for Elizabeth.

Within the Sports activities Illustrated profile, Ms. Lane mentioned she had by no means recognized her father, a leather-based glazer who was hooked on horse racing. By the point she was a yr and a half previous, he had disappeared from her life.

Her mom labored two jobs to help Lisa and her older sister, Evelyn, however it was not straightforward, and the household was poor. Over time, the ladies boarded with many households and often modified faculties.

Regardless of the disruptions, Lisa was initially a great scholar. However as she grew older, issues modified. Sports activities Illustrated recounted {that a} steering counselor had visited her mom whereas Lisa was attending Roxborough Excessive College in Philadelphia as a result of her academics had been mystified by her actions: She was intentionally placing down the mistaken solutions on exams — maybe, the steering counselor reasoned, as a result of she thought she can be extra standard if she gave the impression to be dumb.

Lisa dropped out of college and held quite a lot of jobs. She began relationship an older man. However she felt misplaced amongst his mates and determined to return to highschool. She enrolled at Temple College, principally taking remedial lessons.

Not lengthy after she discovered chess, she unintentionally struck and killed a lady who had stepped in entrance of her automotive. She was not discovered at fault, nor was she charged, however she quickly left school and used what little cash she needed to open a poetry store in central Philadelphia with a buddy. The store was not busy, so she spent most of her time in espresso outlets the place chess gamers congregated.

A kind of gamers, Arnold Chertkof, took her to the Franklin Mercantile Chess Membership, the place she was launched to Attilio Di Camillo, one of many nation’s high gamers. He started tutoring her, and shortly she was finding out and taking part in chess for as much as 12 hours a day.

At some point in late 1957, Mr. Di Camillo and Mr. Chertkof invited Ms. Lane to New York Metropolis, the place Mr. Di Camillo was going to play in america Championship. She closed up the poetry store and by no means went again.

In New York, she noticed Bobby Fischer, at 14, win his first United States Championship (beating Mr. Di Camillo alongside the way in which). Afterward, Mr. Di Camillo informed her that if she labored exhausting, she might win america girls’s championship in two years. He was proper: She gained the 1959 title.

9 days later, she married Walter Wealthy, who labored in promoting. The wedding led to divorce lower than two years later.

Shortly after that, Ms. Lane moved to an condominium in Greenwich Village. She finally opened her personal chess store, the Queen’s Pawn Chess Emporium, on Sheridan Sq., and ran it for a number of years.

Ms. Lane turned mates with Mr. Fischer, who would typically go to her condominium and play chess there. He was dismissive of ladies in chess, nonetheless — they had been “all fish,” he mentioned, a pejorative time period for a nasty participant. However, he added, “Lisa, you may say, is the very best of the American fish.” (He appeared on Sports activities Illustrated’s cowl in 1972.)

As United States champion, Ms. Lane certified for the 1961 candidates’ event in Yugoslavia to pick out a challenger for the ladies’s world championship. She completed tied for thirteenth. She additionally performed within the 1964 event, ending twelfth.

After the 1961 event, Ms. Lane entered a event in Hastings, England, however had a horrible begin and withdrew, confessing that she was homesick and, much more, that she was lovesick: She had fallen for Neil Hickey, the author of the American Weekly profile about her.

The confession drew media consideration. The New York Occasions revealed an article with the headline “Lisa Lane, Chess Participant, Quits Tourney As a result of She’s in Love.”

The couple married in 1969 and settled in Carmel, the place they opened a pure meals retailer.

She was survived by Mr. Hickey, who was a longtime reporter for TV Information and died final week. They’d no kids. Full details about survivors was not instantly accessible.

On the peak of her fame, Ms. Lane made it clear that she thought she merited extra monetary reward. “I’m a very powerful American chess participant,” she informed The Occasions in 1961. “Folks shall be drawn to the sport by a younger, fairly lady. That’s why chess ought to help me. I’m bringing it publicity, and finally, cash.”

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