He was one of the strongest chess players in the world from the mid s until his retirement from chess in Fine's best result was his equal first in the AVRO chess tournament , one of the strongest tournaments of all time.
After the death of world champion Alexander Alekhine in , Fine was one of six players invited to compete for the World Championship in He declined the invitation, however, and virtually retired from serious competition around that time, although he did play a few events until Fine won five medals four gold in three chess Olympiads.
Fine won the U. Open Chess Championship all seven times he entered , , , , , , He was the author of several chess books that are still popular today, including important books on the endgame , opening , and middlegame.
An uncle taught him chess when he was eight. Fine began chess as a young teenager at the famous Manhattan Chess Club , where he hustled for nickels, until he was asked to stop; he used the money to help feed his family. He was asked to stop, and did, moving to the rival Marshall Chess Club in New York City, stomping grounds for many famous grandmasters , such as Bobby Fischer later on. Fine's first significant master-level event was the New York Young Masters tournament, which was won by Arthur Dake.
He narrowly lost a stakes match to fellow young New York master Arnold Denker. At 17, Fine won his first of seven U. Fine graduated from City College of New York in , at the age of 18; he was a successful student there. Fine then decided to try the life of a chess professional for a few years. Fine repeated as champion at the U. He defeated Al Horowitz in a match at New York by 6—3. Fine shared 1st—2nd at the U.
Fine won his fourth straight U.
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Although Fine was active and very successful in U. Championship , usually placing behind his great American rival, Samuel Reshevsky. The U. Championship was organized in a round-robin format during that era. When in Frank Marshall voluntarily gave up the American Championship title he had held since , the result was the first modern U.
Championship tournament. Championship, New York City , a tied 3rd—4th, as Reshevsky won. In the U. Then in the U. Not being national champion seriously hurt Fine's prospects for making a career from chess.
However, Fine's international tournament record in the s was superior to Reshevsky's. By the end of , Fine had won a string of strong European international tournaments, and was one of the most successful players in the world. The year was Fine's most successful. Those two victories make Fine one of a very select group of foreigners to have won on Russian soil. Fine then defeated Stahlberg by 5—3 in a match held at Gothenburg This was one of the most famous tournaments of the 20th century.
It was organized with the hope that the winner of AVRO, a double round-robin tournament , would be the next challenger to world champion Alexander Alekhine. Since Alekhine won the title in , he had been avoiding a rematch with his predecessor, Capablanca, whom many considered the strongest possible challenger.
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Fine won both of his games against Alekhine. Fine got out to a tremendous start, scoring five wins and a draw in his first six games, but then lost in round seven to Keres, and this wound up as the decisive game for the tournament victor, providing his tiebreak. As World War II interrupted any prospects for a world championship match, Fine turned to chess writing.
In , Fine became the first grandmaster-class player to edit the classic opening guide Modern Chess Openings. His work on the sixth edition of the book led to a significant increase in sales.
In he wrote Basic Chess Endings , a compendium of endgame analysis which, some 70 years later, is still considered one of the best works on this subject. His book was the most comprehensive on the subject written to that time, included significant original work by Fine, and received worldwide acclaim.
His The Ideas Behind the Chess Openings , though now out of date, is still useful for grasping the underlying ideas of many standard chess openings ; it was revised in Fine played a few serious American events during World War II, with international chess at a virtual standstill, and continued his successes with dominant scores.
He won the U. Open at St. Fine won the Washington, D. As the World War ended in early September , Fine was 30 years of age, and working on his doctorate in psychology. Alekhine was the first champion to die as title-holder, creating an unprecedented problem. As co-winner in the AVRO tournament, Fine was invited to participate, but he declined, for reasons that are the subject of speculation even today.
Fine had played a third match against Herman Steiner at Los Angeles , winning 5—1; this match was training for his potential world championship appearance. Publicly, Fine stated that he could not interrupt work on his doctoral dissertation in psychology. Negotiations over the tournament had been protracted, and for a long time it was unclear whether this World Championship event would in fact take place.
Fine wrote that he didn't want to spend many months preparing and then see the tournament cancelled. However, it has also been suggested that Fine declined to play because he suspected there would be collaboration among the three Soviet participants to ensure that one of them won the championship. In the August issue of Chess Life , for example, GM Larry Evans gave his recollection that "Fine told me he didn't want to waste three months of his life watching Russians throw games to each other.
Unfortunately for the Western masters the Soviet political organization was stronger than that of the West.
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Chess Federation was a meaningless paper organization, generally antagonistic to the needs of its masters. The Dutch Chess Federation did not choose to act. The FIDE was impotent. The result was a rescheduling of the tournament for the following year, with the vital difference that now half was to be played in Holland, half in the U. Dissatisfied with this arrangement and the general tenor of the event, I withdrew.
Edward Winter discusses the evidence further in a Chessbase column.
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Once Fine completed his doctorate, he did play some more competitive chess. Fine drew a match against Najdorf at 4—4 at New York He participated for the U. Fine was seeded into the Candidates Tournament at Budapest , but declined his invitation; this tournament was the first to select an official challenger to the World Champion under the auspices of FIDE , the World Chess Federation.
Fine had a relatively short career in top-level chess, but scored well against top players. Internationally, Fine faced the best of his time, and usually more than held his own, with three exceptions. Although FIDE , the World Chess Federation, did not formally introduce chess ratings for international play until , it is nevertheless possible to retrospectively rate players' performances from before that time.
The site chessmetrics. Fine was inducted into the U. Chess Hall of Fame in , the charter class.
He continued his successful chess writing career for many years after he retired from competition. Fine earned a bachelor's degree from the City College of New York in Navy , analyzing the probability of German U-boats surfacing at certain points in the Atlantic Ocean.
Fine also worked as a translator. He served as a university professor, and wrote many successful books on psychology.
After receiving his doctorate in psychology from the University of Southern California , Fine abandoned professional chess to concentrate on his new profession. Fine continued playing chess casually throughout his life including several friendly games played in against Bobby Fischer , one of which is included in Fischer's My 60 Memorable Games. In he wrote an article, "Psychoanalytic Observations on Chess and Chess Masters", for a psychological journal.
Later, Fine turned the article into a book, The Psychology of the Chess Player , in which he provided insights steeped in Freudian theory.
Fine is not the first person to have examined the mind as it relates to chess: Alfred Binet , the inventor of the IQ test , had studied the mental functionality of good chess players, and found that they often had enhanced mental traits, such as a good memory. He went on to publish A History of Psychoanalysis and a number of other books on psychology. A great chess player, Manhattan's Reuben Fine, has popularized a psychology of chess studded with phallic symbols, spattered with anal-sadistic impulses and imbued with latent homosexuality.
When Fine switched his major interest from chess to psychoanalysis, the result was a loss for chess—and a draw, at best, for psychoanalysis. Many psychologists, some Freudians included, now believe that the sexual symbolism in chess is vastly overdrawn.
As did many psychoanalysts of his day, Fine believed that homosexuality is mutable through conversion therapy , and his opinions on the subject were cited in legal battles over homosexuality, including the legislative battle over same-sex marriage in Hawaii.
Fine married five times, all but one ending in divorce. He had two biological children and one stepson. There are conflicting accounts of his first marriage.
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The New York Times first mentions a marriage to Emma Thea Keesing — , whom he met in the Netherlands, married in September ,  and divorced in The New York County registrar lists a marriage certificate for Charlotte Margoshes on October 8, ,  but the marriage was very short. Fine married again in , to Sonya Lebeaux, in They had two children together, a son, Benjamin, and a daughter.
His last marriage, to Marcia Fine, lasted to his death in