Most people never knew that the late legendary performer Bobby Darin was a huge chess fan. He was organizing the 1st annual Bobby Darin International Chess Classic (sanctioned by FIDE and USCF) with the biggest prize funds to date for top 16 players in the world. Unfortunately, because of his death, this prestigious event was canceled. Below was the actual announcement back in 1973!
Chess Life and Review Magazine
Bobby Darin International Chess Classic
Plans have been finalized for the first annual Bobby Darin International Chess Classic, to be conducted under the auspices of the International Chess Federation (FIDE) and the USCF. This all-Grandmaster event will be held in Los Angeles, starting in late October and running for three and one-half weeks.The Darin Classic will have the biggest purse — $25,000 — in the history of tournament chess. Scaled gradually from $5,000 first prize through $1,000 for tenth place (that’s bigger than the first prize in many tournaments!), distribution of the purse is especially attractive and equitable. Even last place wins $300 — and, of course, all of the players’ travel and stay expenses are underwritten by the sponsor. Sixteen Grandmasters from ten countries are expected to compete for this bonanza.
Actor-singer Bobby Darin, currently in Los Angeles doing his weekly Friday night Bobby Darin Show for NBC television expressed his delight at being able to sponsor a tournament of such high caliber and international standing. “Along with millions of other people, I had my personal interest in chess reawakened last year via the Fischer-Spassky Match. I have found my own involvement in the world of chess to be an extremely rewarding experience, and I hope that this tournament will add to the popularity of the game in this country as well as help to raise the dollar value of all tournament purses to a level more commensurate with the skill and accomplishments of the participants,” Darin said.
The Darin Classic will be the first sixteen-man Grandmaster tournament ever held in the Western Hemisphere, and surely it will be one of the greatest events in the history of chess. In all likelihood, Bobby Fischer’s 1975 challenger for the World Championship will be in the tournament, since the strongest players in the world are expected to compete.
From the USA, five of the following should be in: U.S. Champion Robert Byrne, Samuel Reshevsky (seven times U.S. Champion), Paul Benko, Walter Brown, Larry Evans, Lubomir Kavalek, and William Lombardy (the last five listed alphabetically).
The USSR Chess Federation is being invited to send two (possibly three) from the following list: Former World Champions Boris Spassky, Tigran Petrosian, Mikhail Tal, Vassily Smyslov; or Anatoly Karpov, the Soviet’s strongest hope for the future.
The five highest-rated players in the world from countries other than the USA and the USSR have been invited. They are Lajos Portisch of Hungary, Bent Larsen of Denmark, Vlastimil Hort of Czechoslovakia, Robert Huebner of Germany, and Svetozar Gligoric of Yugoslavia. Other possibilities include Anderson of Sweden, Ljubojevic of Yugoslavia, and Mecking of Brazil. These three — together with Brown, Huebner, and Karpov — are at the crest of the youth wave currently flowing into Grandmaster chess. Looking at the tremendous mix of experience and youth expected in the Darin Classic, it’s too conservative to say only that Fischer’s 1975 challenger will be playing. Why not the next World Champion?
Grandmaster Isaac Kashdan, who is an International Referee of FIDE, will be Tournament Director. Invitations are being extended on behalf of Bobby Darin by the USCF office, which has been closely involved in all preparations for the tournament. We will keep you regularly informed of developments in connection with this great first annual Bobby Darin International Chess Classic.
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– GM Susan Polgar