Mastery knows no age. Genius can occur in anyone, and of course, always presents itself when a child is very young. In 1920, one such genius, Samuel Reshevsky was busy mastering chess masters in France. Reshevsky learned chess when he was just 4 years old. He became known as a child chess prodigy and was playing simultaneous games of chess against adults when he was 6 years of age. At age 8 he was playing chess against strong players. Following the events of World War 1, Reshevsky immigrated to the United States. As a 9 year old, his first American simultaneous exhibition was with 20 officers and cadets at the Military Academy at West Point. He won 19 games and drew one. He toured the country and played over 1,500 games as a 9 year old in simultaneous exhibitions and only lost 8 games. In his early years he did not go to school and his parents ended up in Manhattan Children’s Court on charges of improper guardianship. In reality, little Samuel probably could have taught the teachers, so missing some of his education was not detrimental to him in any way.
Reshevsky was a tough and forceful player who was superb at positional play, but could also play brilliant tactical chess when warranted. He often used huge amounts of time in the opening, a dangerous tactic which sometimes forced him to play the rest of the game in a very short amount of time. That sometimes unsettled Reshevsky’s opponents, but at other times resulted in blunders on his part. Reshevsky’s inadequate study of the opening and his related tendency to fall into time-pressure may have been the reasons that, despite his great talent, he never became world champion; he himself acknowledged this in his book on chess upsets.
Reshevsky never became a truly professional chess player. He gave up competitive chess for seven years, from 1924 to 1931, to complete his secondary education. He graduated from the University of Chicago in 1934 with a degree in accounting, and supported himself and his family by working as an accountant. Not everyone could leave off and then pick up their education and never miss a beat. Of course, when you have genius level intelligence, I guess that isn’t a problem.
Most of us have gone through a time in our lives when we hated our name. We wonder why our parents would have considered such an awful name for their child. It doesn’t matter what the name is either. It could be the cutest name on earth, and it’s owner would probably at one point or another, hate it. As an early teenager, I thought my name was too strange. I suppose I was at an age where it seemed important to blend in with the crowd, and an unusual name simply didn’t do that for me. I often thought I might like to be named Carrie, and yet, I never took that or any other nickname. I guess deep inside, I didn’t really dislike my name at all, but was rather at a self conscious age, and the name seemed as good a scapegoat as any. These days, I love my name, and I wouldn’t want any other.
My mom had told me that she was ok with her first name, Collene, even though most people mispronounced it and called her Colleen, which is not her name at all. Collene is pronounced with a short o sound, while Colleen is pronounce with a long o sound. This was not the name she disliked, however. Mom disliked her middle name, which is Ione. I never could understand why that name bothered her at all, because she didn’t have to tell anyone what it was, so what was the problem. Then again, I suppose that if Ione had been my middle name, I might have felt the same way in those awkward teenaged years. Mom eventually got over her dislike of her middle name, I guess, because she doesn’t mention it anymore. People usually grow up and decide that those little things don’t really make that much difference anyway.
My Great Aunt Mina Schumacher, however hated her name all of her life. She was baptized Minna Albertina Schumacher, and I guess Albertina didn’t bother her, or maybe it was simply that she told no one what her middle name was, if it did. At that time, like often happens today, people added “ie” to the end of a child’s name and so, Minna became Minnie. Most people thought it was a very pretty name for a little girl, but Mina did not agree. Maybe it made her feel like she was always considered a little girl, and she wanted to be grown up. Whatever the reason, she hated it, and when she became an accountant, she decided that the name Minnie had to go. Her solution was to drop the “nie” from her nickname, and go, simply by Min. Her sisters Bertha and Elsa, and most of Mina’s friends decided that name suited her better than any other, and for them, she was Min from that time on. Mina’s husband, John Spare, who was going by his middle name, Clark when they met, liked the name Minnie, and called her that for some time, but gave in to her need for a more grown up name when they married. Later, when John became head of the Engineering Department of the State Highway Department in Bismarck, North Dakota, the need for a more dignified name arose, so Mina dropped one “n” from her baptismal name and became Mina.
According to Mina’s sister, my Great Aunt Bertha, children should simply be called “Hey” until they are old enough to decide on a name they really like. I suppose that would be a possibility, and I’m sure she was just joking, but it could also be very confusing, since there could be entire classrooms of children going by the same name. Just think how confusing it would be as the teacher called on her students. I suppose one could say that using the last name would solve all that, but then again, since classrooms back then had all the grades in the same class, including brothers and sisters, that would still be problematic. Having three Hey Smiths in the class would be very confusing. I guess that is why it is your parent’s choice as to your name, whether you hate your name or not.