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Stories

We asked David Brummer to share some recollections about the Coral Gables Chess Club and South Florida Chess in general. The following may or not be 100% accurate but it's probably pretty darn close! Contact David if you spot any inaccuracies or have your own stories to add. Enjoy!.

Murray Cohen was a real estate attorney who had an office in the Gables. He was also a hypermodern Chess fanatic who organized the first chess club at the youth Center in the 1940's right after the war. The club met on Monday nights and I don't believe he ever missed a meeting. Even when he was sick and had to walk up the stairs with an Oxygen tank in 1 hand and a Chess set in the other, no elevator in those days. We were just a bunch of stupid kids who never helped him once, as far as I know never even offered and he never asked. When he walked into the club adorned in an elegant suit and tie, we were dressed... well... pretty much the way we dress now...His favorite line was "Gentlemen ...and I include everyone"... When I think of those days I want to kick myself for being so insensitive.

He was an excellent player who almost always opened with the same first and second move, both knights to the 3rd rank as White and Both Knights to the 6th Rank as black. On his Chess board he had painted a strange series of numbers which he never explained but we finally decided was a secret code which told him how to play the game properly, needless to say this was our best guess. He organized at least 2 tournaments a year which ran Fri thru Sun and had a decent prize fund for the time.

His crowning glory had to be his arrangement for a young Bobby Fischer to visit the youth center in the early 50's and play an exhibition, to the best of my knowledge young Bobby didn't lose a game although he may have drawn 1 or 2. unfortunately none of the game scores were saved. I didn't play Bobby because I was 1 year too late to the party! Mr. Cohen left a lasting impression on all of us. Frank Rose another strong player at the time was playing a game at his bedside in the hospital when Murray suffered a major heart attack and died. I always felt that Frank must have blamed himself as he never came to the Chess club again after his death.  

Dr Armando Bucelo was taught Chess by former World champion Jose Raul Capablanca himself. Dr. Bucelo taught all of his Chess children the endgame as Capa had before him. Dr. Bucelo's son studied law and made a great success of himself. He is a multimillionaire who worked for the city of Coral Gables as one of their top Attorneys and was then appointed to the head of the New York Stock Exchange enforcement board under President George Bush.

Dr, Juan Gonzalez was the Champion of Cuba for many years and won the US Speed Chess Championship in the mid 40's. Later he beat several Russian Grandmasters including Matulovich one of the top players from the Soviet Block. Dr. G or "Juanito" came to the US to escape Fidel. He was the last of a dying breed, a doctor who made house calls! "Dr. G" mentored Edwardo Celorio who was undoubtedly the strongest player ever to come from South Florida.  

Eduardo Celorio was a tremendous positional player who would suck you into an attack. I could never seem to overcome Eduardo as he would beat me by giving me enough attacking rope and then at a certain point I would be unable to find a plan!  I would run short of time and inevitably blunder in time pressure. He holds a tremendous plus score against me and has won the Florida State Championship about 8 times. He told me that when I drew him in a tournament game after about 5 consecutive losses he felt his Chess career was over!, You can imagine what that comment did for my self esteem. On a brighter note (at least from my point of view) Eduardo could not beat Dr. Gonzalez, who beat him unmercifully over a great period of time and a great number of games. To complete the circle (and to the best of my knowledge) Dr, Gonzales never beat me in a tournament game and I have an overwhelming advantage in score against him! Go Figure.

Carlos Martinez, Bobby Piachenza, Bobby Foutch were all strong players and are, to the best of my knowledge deceased. Leroy Collins and David Brummer (me) still attend the club and Henry Garcia drops in from time to time. Luis Busquets also played at the club. I believe Luis's son is a professional Poker player and plays on late night NBC TV quite often but spells his name Busquet.

Lastly, Gus Otten(sp) won both the Florida State Chess and Checker championships in the early 40's. Go ahead top that one!


This is only a partial rendering of the history of South Florida Chess marred by lapses of memory with the passing of time. Please contact me if you see a mistake or have your own stories to share.