Grandmaster, Priest, Fischer Coach William Lombardy (1937-2017) Dies

Grandmaster William Lombardy died in Martinez, California the morning of October 13, 2017, of a heart attack. He won the World Junior Championship in 1957 with a perfect 11-0 score, shared first in three US Opens and represented the US chess team in numerous team competitions. Lombardy was also an ordained priest and had degrees in Philosophy, Ethics and Educational Psychology.
The August 1960 cover of Chess Review: Jerry Spann, Raymond Weinstein and William Lombardy heading to the world student team championship in Leningrad.
IM John Donaldson told US Chess, "The word legend is over used, but Bill Lombardy really was an American chess legend. The only player to win the World Junior Championship with a perfect score, he led the United States to first place in the 1960 World Student Team Championship. Lombardy won six individual and team medals in seven Olympiads and played a key role in Bobby Fischer's development." Well known for coaching Bobby Fischer during the 1972 World Championship in Reykjavik, Iceland, Lombardy was memorably portrayed by Peter Sarsgaard in the major motion picture "Pawn Sacrifice."
William Lombardy, played by Sarsgaard (left) and Bobby Fischer, played by Tobey Maguire
IM Anthony Saidy, team-mate of Lombardy, recalled to US Chess Bill's jocular nature. During skittles, Bill would say, 'Strong moves!' slyly mocking one's attacking attempts. "Just imagine if Bill had 1) not detoured into the priesthood 2) had a trainer/coach to correct habitual severe time pressure and make him an opening expert and 3) had financial security." In recent years, Lombardy struggled with financial issues, and the New York Times covered his two year long eviction battle in 2016, after which he left New York, ultimately ending up in the Bay Area.  Lombardy was featured in an article by Eric Vigil for US Chess in February of this year, when he visited the Port of Burlington Open.  "I made GM Lombardy a coffee, and he sat down at the fair trade marketplace of The Loft where he proceeded to hold court. Players would go down and chat. GM Lombardy signed whatever was placed in front of him, told stories and answered questions about Bobby Fischer, and went over the games of any player who had guts enough to approach him. Well, once the first player did, then everyone started doing it. Dr. Connie Pieper came up to me while her 11 year old sons, Justin and Eric, were having one of their games analyzed by GM Lombardy. She was amazed and asked, 'Is that really GM Lombardy? Is it the same one that coached the 11-year-old Bobby Fischer and is now explaining my son’s chess game move by move?' I could only look back at her and smile, “'Yes it sure is.'”
William Lombardy was honored at the 2017 US Open in Norfolk, Photo Jim Doyle
Reporting for, FM Mike Klein points out the many parallels between Lombardy and Fischer, starting with their respective 11-0 sweeps in the US Junior and US Chess Championships: "That 11/11 further aligns him with his compatriot and confidant, Fischer, who several years later would also score the only perfect score (also 11/11) in U.S. Championship history. Lombardy and Fischer both share the middle name "James" and both had the same early teacher, Jack Collins. The duo were also both good in their early years at fantastic offerings of the queen." Play through some of Lombardy's games below (including some queen sacrifices) and look for more updates on this story on US Chess and in Chess Life Magazine, including further memories of Bill from the chess community.

[Event "54th US Open"]
[Site "Milwaukee, WI USA"]
[Date "1953.08.21"]
[White "William James Lombardy"]
[Black "Norman Tweed Whitaker"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "D09"]
[PlyCount "139"]
[EventDate "1953.??.??"]

1. d4 d5 2. c4 e5 3. dxe5 d4 4. Nf3 Nc6 5. g3 Be6 6. Nbd2 Bb4 7. Qc2 Qd7 8. a3
Bxd2+ 9. Bxd2 O-O-O 10. b4 Bg4 11. Bg2 d3 12. Qxd3 Qe6 13. Qc3 Bxf3 14. Bxf3
Nd4 15. Be3 Qxe5 16. Bxd4 Qxd4 17. Qxd4 Rxd4 18. c5 Ne7 19. Rd1 Rhd8 20. Rxd4
Rxd4 21. O-O Rc4 22. Rd1 a5 23. Rb1 Rc3 24. bxa5 c6 25. a6 bxa6 26. Rb6 Rxc5
27. Rxa6 Kb7 28. Ra4 Kb6 29. Ra8 h5 30. Rf8 Rf5 31. Re8 Ng6 32. Rg8 Ne5 33. Be4
Rf6 34. Rxg7 Nc4 35. a4 Nb2 36. Bc2 Ka5 37. Bb3 c5 38. Bxf7 c4 39. Bxc4 Nxc4
40. Rg5+ Kxa4 41. Rxh5 Kb3 42. Rd5 Nb6 43. Rd1 Kc2 44. Rd8 Nc4 45. Rc8 Kc3 46.
f3 Kd4 47. Kf2 Nd6 48. e3+ Kd5 49. Rc2 Ne4+ 50. Kg2 Ng5 51. Rd2+ Ke6 52. f4 Ne4
53. Rd4 Nc5 54. g4 Kf7 55. h4 Ne6 56. Rc4 Nf8 57. Kg3 Ra6 58. f5 Ra1 59. g5 Re1
60. Rc7+ Kg8 61. Re7 Nh7 62. Kg4 Nf8 63. g6 Rg1+ 64. Kh5 Rf1 65. e4 Rg1 66. Kh6
Rg4 67. h5 Rg1 68. e5 Rg2 69. e6 Rg1 70. Rg7+ 1-0


[Event "WchT U26 04th"]
[Site "Reykjavik"]
[Date "1957.07.11"]
[White "William James Lombardy"]
[Black "Pal Benko"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "E80"]
[PlyCount "80"]
[EventDate "1957.??.??"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. f3 O-O 6. Bg5 c5 7. d5 Nbd7 8. Nge2
a6 9. a4 Re8 10. Qd2 Qa5 11. Ra3 Ne5 12. Nc1 e6 13. f4 Ned7 14. dxe6 fxe6 15.
Bd3 d5 16. e5 d4 17. Ne4 Qxd2+ 18. Nxd2 Ng4 19. O-O Ne3 20. Re1 h6 21. Bf6 Nxf6
22. exf6 Bxf6 23. Bxg6 Rf8 24. Be4 Bd8 25. Raxe3 dxe3 26. Rxe3 Bf6 27. Rg3+ Kf7
28. Nd3 Bd4+ 29. Kf1 Bd7 30. Nf3 Ke7 31. b4 Bc6 32. Bxc6 bxc6 33. Rh3 Bg7 34.
bxc5 Rad8 35. Ke2 a5 36. Nfe5 Bxe5 37. Nxe5 Rxf4 38. Ng6+ Kf6 39. Nxf4 Rd4 40.
Nd3 Rxc4 1-0


[Event "World Junior Championship"]
[Site "Toronto CAN"]
[Date "1957.08.05"]
[White "Mathias Gerusel"]
[Black "William James Lombardy"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "E33"]
[PlyCount "36"]
[EventDate "1957.08.03"]

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Qc2 Nc6 5. Nf3 d5 6. a3 Bxc3+ 7. Qxc3 Ne4 8.
Qc2 e5 9. dxe5 Bf5 10. Qa4 O-O 11. Be3 d4 12. Rd1 dxe3 13. Rxd8 exf2+ 14. Kd1
Rfxd8+ 15. Kc1 a6 16. Qb3 Nc5 17. Qc3 Na5 18. e4 Nab3+ 0-1


[Event "US Championship"]
[Site "New York, NY USA"]
[Date "1972.04.24"]
[White "William James Lombardy"]
[Black "Arthur Feuerstein"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "B90"]
[WhiteElo "2520"]
[BlackElo "2395"]
[PlyCount "71"]
[EventDate "1972.04.23"]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be3 e6 7. Be2 Bd7 8. O-O
Nc6 9. f4 Qc7 10. Kh1 Be7 11. Qe1 h5 12. Bf3 Ng4 13. Bg1 g5 14. Nxc6 bxc6 15.
Qd2 Qa5 16. e5 dxe5 17. Rad1 Nf6 18. fxg5 Nd5 19. Nxd5 Qxd2 20. Nc7+ Kd8 21.
Nxa8 Qxc2 22. Nb6 e4 23. Rxd7+ Ke8 24. Bd1 Qxb2 25. Bb3 e3 26. Bxe3 Qe2 27. Rf3
Qe1+ 28. Bg1 Bc5 29. Rd1 Qe5 30. Nd7 Qxg5 31. Nf6+ Kf8 32. Bxc5+ Kg7 33. Rg3
Qxg3 34. hxg3 Kxf6 35. Bd4+ e5 36. Rf1+ 1-0

Also see obituaries on chessbase,, Kevin Spraggett's blog, and soon in the New York Times. Also find details on a Memorial blitz tournament set for the Marshall Chess Club, November 28. 

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