It was out of a desire to be closer to his brother, Harry, who was 16 years older, that Mr. Feuerstein learned chess when he was 14; he had seen his brother playing with friends.
He became enthralled with the game. He quickly organized a chess club at William Howard Taft High School and began challenging other schools to matches. After graduating in 1953, he went to Baruch College in Manhattan, where he received a degree in business. All the while he competed in local tournaments whenever he could.
It was a golden age for the game in the United States, particularly in New York City, which fostered a generation of future stars. Among them were William Lombardy, who won the world junior championship in 1957 with the only perfect score in the tournament’s history; the Byrne brothers, one of whom, Robert, later became a contender for the world championship and the chess columnist for The New York Times; and Bobby Fischer, the most prodigious talent of all.
Mr. Feuerstein might have been lost or overwhelmed in such company, but he held his own.
At the 1956 United States Junior Championship, he took third, behind Mr. Fischer. He then edged Mr. Fischer for the United States Junior Blitz Championship, in which each player had five minutes for the entire game.
The third Rosenwald tournament, played in October 1956 at the Manhattan Chess Club, is usually remembered because of Mr. Fischer’s remarkable win against Donald Byrne, Robert’s younger brother. But Mr. Fischer finished in a tie for eighth, while Mr. Feuerstein was third — just behind Arthur Bisguier, another New York prodigy, who had won the United States Championship two years earlier.
Then, in the 1957-58 championship, Mr. Feuerstein tied for sixth with Arnold Denker, a former champion, and Edmar Mednis, a future grandmaster. Mr. Fischer, who was then only 14, won the championship, beating Mr. Feuerstein in the process for the first and only time. Over his career, Mr. Feuerstein had a record of one win, one loss and three draws with Mr. Fischer.
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