Sarah's Chess Journal
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The History and The Culture of Chess
February 28, 2004
I was involved in an online discussion about women and chess. The name "Lisa Lane" surfaced in reference to the infamous remark made by a young Bobby Fischer when he learned that she called him "probably the greatest chess player alive" :
I knew Lisa Lane was a former US Women's Chess Champion, and I knew of Fischer's remark since I had made a short web page on Fischer a while back. But what I knew was very limited so I tried to find something out more.
A picture from Sam Sloan's site.
(Notice 14 yr.old Sloan in the background)
As I've mentioned in a previous posting, there seems to be very little respect for the US Women's Chess Championship as reflected in the lack of information available. All my searching on the web turned up very little, but what little I found, I'll put there.
Lisa Lane was 21 when she won the title for the first time in 1959. This means she was probably born around 1938 in the midst of the depression. She remained the champion seemingly unopposed until 1962 when Gisela Kahn Gresser* took the title. She would win the title once more as co-champion with Gresser in 1966.
While she owned the title, it seems she was popular with the media.
She made the cover of Sports Illustrated
- August 7, 1961 Volume 15, Issue 6.
She appeared as a guest on a popular T.V. show called "What's My Line."
During the Hastings Christmas Congress, what year I can't say, she quit in the middle and went home. The media reported her explaining that she was homesick and in love.
She was in love with Neil Hickey.
Neil Hickey is editor-at-large of The Columbia Journalism Review. The former naval officer was TV Guide's New York Bureau Chief for 25 years. A graduate of Loyola, Hickey he won the Everett C. Parker Award for Lifetime Achievement for his writings on telecommunications in 1995.
Bobby Fischer supposedly refused to play in a tournament because a woman was playing. That woman was Lisa Lane.
Bobby Fischer collaborated in writing his well-known Chessworld article in which he named whom he considered the 10 greast players of all time. His collaborator was Neil Hickey.
Besides Lisa Lane, Bobby Fischer is the only other chess player to grace the cover of Sport's Illustrated - though she beat him by 11 years.
Bobby Fischer and Lisa Lane where both taught/coached by US Chess Hall of Famer, John (Jack) W. Collins (who died December 2, 2001).
Fischer and Lane seem somehow linked and star-crossed.
I couldn't confirm it, but one source claimed she had opened a a chess club in New York City in 1964 called the Queen Pawn. (Maybe it should be the Queen's Pawn, which would make more sense to me)
Since 1971 she's owned a natural food business in Putnam County, NY located at 69 Gleneida Ave., Carmel, called Amber Waves of Grain. According to the internet, it's still in operation.
"I hate anyone who beats me."
A quote I've seen at several places attributed to Lisa Lane
Gisela Kahn Gresser was the first woman in the United States to gain a master title. She was also the first American woman to be inducted into the U.S. Chess Hall of Fame. She was US Women's Chess Champion 1944, co-champion with Mona M. Karff in 1948, 1954, co-champion with Nancy Roos in 1955, co-champion with Sonja Graf in 1957, 1962, 1965, co-champion with Lisa Lane in 1966, 1967 and 1969 (at age 63).
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