The Fabulous 70s: Leslie Braun!

Leslie Braun (1936-1998)!

Leslie Braun was a big gangly guy who was the Marshall Chess Club Manager in the 1970s and 1980s.  One time he kicked out Maxim Dlugy from that venerable club on West 10th Street in Manhattan in the early 1980s for excessive loudness and I was caught up in that maelstrom and also booted.  He was a friendly enough fellow (just didn’t like people horsing around at the Marshall) and would have been a good circus clown with his expressiveness and gesturing.

Here’s a miniature from the 1977 World Open in which I tangled with this unique fellow.

For historical interest, at the time my rating was 2212 and his was 2232.

[Event “World Open”]
[Site “Philadelphia, PA”]
[Date “1977.07.04”]
[Round “9”]
[White “Ginsburg, Mark”]
[Black “Braun, Leslie”]
[Result “1-0”]
[ECO “B87”]
[Annotator “Ginsburg,Mark”]
[SourceDate “2007.04.24”]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Bc4 e6 7. Bb3 b5 8. f4

I had not played the Sozin before or since.  “Making things up” was very much in vogue pre-computer.

8…Qc7 8… b4 9. Na4 Nxe4 is a line.  The text is a good move.

9. O-O  Be7 10. f5 e5 11. Nde2 Bb7 12. Ng3

Black has a strong move here.

12…Nbd7 Surprisingly strong is 12… h5 !! 13. Nd5 Bxd5 14. Bxd5 h4 15. Bxa8? (15. Be3 Nc6 16. Ne2 Ng4 17. Qd2 h3 18. g3 Rb8 keeps things equal equal) 15… Qa7+ 16. Rf2 hxg3 17. hxg3 d5!! and black wins.

13. Bg5 Nb6 Again strong was 13… h5 and black is fine.

14. Nh5 Nxh5 15. Bxf7+ (!) Safe and good was 15. Qxh5 Bxg5 16. Qxg5 f6 17. Qh5+ Ke7 18. Be6 Raf8 19. Rf2 Bc8 20. a4! and white is comfortably better.  The text move should be a draw, thus it is not a good move due to the stronger alternative.  Still, it pays off illogically in the game.   The “refutation” where black can make a draw is actually a very tough variation to find and I present it as a tactical puzzle in the alternatives to move 17B.

15… Kxf7 16. Qxh5+ Kg8 17. f6

Decision Time

17…gxf6?? Losing.  A case of sacrificial shock? 17… Bxf6 and now the further sacrifice 18. Rxf6 is defused by 18… gxf6 (18…b4?? 19. Bh6!! wins) 19. Bxf6 Qf7! 20. Qg4+ Qg6 21. Qe6+ Qf7 22. Qg4+ Qg6 {Perpetual check draw.}

As a tactical quiz for the readers, obviously Braun was scared of 17…Bxf6 18. Bxf6 gxf6 19. Rxf6. Qg7 20. Rf3! idea Rg3 winning.  What was the flaw in his thinking?


18. Rf3 ! Now white wins via direct attack as the rook threatens to switch to g3.  A brutal finale.

18…h6 Everything lost, i.e. 18… d5 19. Bh6 Bc5+ 20. Kh1 Qg7 21. Bxg7 Kxg7 22. Rg3+.

19. Qg6+ Kf8 20. Bxf6 Bxf6 21. Rxf6+ Ke7 22. Qg7+ {Black Resigns.} 1-0

Leslie died intestate in January 1998 (see Ron Young comment).   1998 was also my last year living in New York City; I was about to try out the Bay Area in August.   I had been in NYC most of the time since 1981.  End of an era!

Being intestate or being an outright pauper has been an occupational hazard of chess players for centuries (both World Wars have seen some famous players dying of starvation, and young Korchnoi had to pick through the ruins of post-siege Leningrad).  Braun’s body lay unclaimed for a while and kudos to IM Walter Shipman for taking care of the matter.

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2 Responses to “The Fabulous 70s: Leslie Braun!”

  1. Ron Young Says:

    I believe Braun owned his own house in Queens. His income can’t have been too much but neither were his expenses. There may have been no one and no ready cash to take care of things funerarily, but he probably wasn’t very concerned about that.

  2. Ron Young Says:

    He was born in 1936 and died in January of 1998. He won his last tournament game vs. Richard Murphy in the Marshall slow Thursday Night tourney then failed to show for a couple of games the next week.

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