Hollywood’s Chess Master

There is a TV Guide special edition of “American Icons” for sale at a price of $9.99 focusing on “100 Years of Our Nation’s Greatest Actor.” The choice of TV Guide is Humphrey Bogart. This point is debatable. Many consider Ronald Raygun the best actor of all-time simply because of the fact that of all the actors to have played the President of the U.S. he was the best at acting like a President. For my money the greatest was John Wilkes Booth, for obvious reasons. The one thing everyone seems to agree on is that Humphrey Bogart was “Hollywood’s Chess Master.” He is considered to be the strongest players of the Royal game among those in the know in the movie making industry. The magazine quotes Pete Tamburro, “…of Chess Life, the official magazine of the U.S. Chess Federation,” who says, “In the 1940s, chess was extraordinarily popular in Hollywood, and Bogart was one of the best players.”
The author of the article, James Ellis, continues, “For Bogart, chess was a constant companion throughout the course of his life. And it wasn’t just the game-it was a way of putting food on the table when he was down and out in New York.”
“He used to hustle for money,” Tamburro says. Bogart’s playing style could easily belong to one of the crafty and cunning private eyes from his noir films. “No matter how good you think you’re playing, he’s going to swindle you somehow,” Tamburro says. “It’d be like playing Rick in his cafe.” One of the pictures in the magazine is of Humphrey as Richard Blaine in his cafe, Rick’s Café Américain, looking at a chess board with Peter Lorre, as Ugarte, looking at Rick while lighting a cigarette.
I have lost count of the number of times I have watched the movie. Humphrey would have to be on my short list of favorite actors, but how much is because of my awareness of his fondness for the Royal game I cannot say. I can still watch it, but can no longer watch the two other movies on my top three list, “Cool Hand Luke,” and “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” because they are too depressing.
There are pictures of some postcards Bogart used in correspondence games “…with friends around the world, including GIs serving overseas in World War II.” There is a picture of the July, 1945 Chess Review with Bogie and Lauren Bacall on the cover, as well as Bogart’s chess set, a small wooden, well worn, board and over sized wooden pieces.
“More than just an avid player, Bogart threw himself into organizing tournaments to promote the sport. He served as a tournament director for the United States Chess federation and, with the help of other celebrity chess fans such as Basil Rathbone, sponsored the Los Angeles Pan American Chess Conference in 1945.”
“They were creative people, and creative people are fascinated by the game and its competitive nature,” Tamburro says.
The era of Bogie and Bacall is a relic of the past. How long before the Royal game is thought of in the same way?
“Key Largo”
Wrapped around each other
Trying so hard to stay warm
That first cold winter together
Lying in each others arms
Watching those old movies
Falling in love so desperately
Honey, I was your hero
And you were my leading lady

We had it all
Just like Bogie and Bacall
Starring in our old late, late show
Sailing away to Key Largo

Here’s lookin’ at you kid
Missing all the things we did
We can find it once again, I know
Just like they did in Key Largo

Honey, can’t you remember
We played all the parts
That sweet scene of surrender
When you gave me your heart
Please say you will
Play it again
‘Cause I love you still
Baby, this can’t be the end

We had it all
(We had it all)
Just like Bogie and Bacall
Starring in our old late, late show
Sailing away to Key Largo

Here’s lookin’ at you kid
(Here’s lookin’ at you kid)
Missing all the things we did
We can find it once again, I know
Just like they did in Key Largo

We had it all
(We had it all)
Just like Bogie and Bacall
Starring in our old late, late show
Sailing away to Key Largo

BERTIE HIGGINS- “KEY LARGO” (W/ LYRICS) – YouTube

“Released as a single in September 1981, the song became Higgins’ only Top 40 hit in the United States in early 1982, when it peaked at #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The song spent 17 weeks in the Top 40 and was certified Gold by the RIAA.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Key_Largo_%28song%29

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2 thoughts on “Hollywood’s Chess Master

  1. Chesster Chess says:

    Creativity is a perversely difficult thing to study-Dr. Steven Pinker
    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/19/science/researching-the-brain-of-writers.html?hpw&rref=science&_r=0

  2. […] Read more here: Hollywood’s Chess Master […]

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