Today, Sunday, September 1, 1996, I spent 45 minutes, from 4:15 PM until 5:00 PM, talking to International Chess Master Raymond Weinstein at his home overlooking Manhattan.
I had been searching for Raymond Weinstein off and on for the past 18 years, ever since I had a dream in 1978 that I broke him out of jail and entered him into a chess tournament, which he won.
Raymond A. Weinstein was born on April 25, 1941 in Brooklyn, New York. He won the 1958 US Junior Championship in Homestead, Florida. Weinstein played a total of five times in the US Championship. The greatest achievement of Raymond Weinstein came in the 1960-1961 US Championship. There, Weinstein finished third behind Fischer and Lombardy. As this was a zonal year, this result qualified Weinstein to play in the World Interzonal tournament. This result also gave Weinstein the automatic International Master title. Weinstein defeated Lombardy, Reshevsky, Bisguier and Robert Byrne in this tournament. The results of this tournament were Fischer 9-2, Lombardy 7-4, Raymond Weinstein 6 1/2 - 4 1/2, Bisguier, Reshevsky, Sherwin and Kalme 6-5, Benko, Berliner, Robert Byrne and Saidy 4 1/2 - 6 1/2, Seidman 2 1/2 - 8 1/2.
I knew Raymond Weinstein during the early stages of his chess career. I played in the 1958 US Junior in Homestead, Florida, which he won, in the 1959 US Open in Omaha and in the 1960 US Open in Saint Louis, where he also did well. I watched Raymond Weinstein defeat Larry Remlinger in the 1958 US Junior, I watched Weinstein defeat Benko in the last round of the 1959 US Open in Omaha, and I watched Weinstein lose an even rook and pawn endgame against Charles Kalme in the last round of the approximately 1960 National Capital Open in Washington, DC.
Raymond Weinstein is not to be confused with International Master Norman Weinstein (no relation), who is about 15 years younger.
The Raymond Weinstein I saw today was not recognizable as the skinny kid I knew 36-38 years ago. He is obese, weighing at least 250 pounds. He looked sluggish and dull. Nobody could have imagined the brilliance and promise which he once had. He did not physically resemble the kid I knew, either. Back then, he wore incredibly thick glasses. He still wears glasses now, but not so thick as before. He occasionally rubbed the side or underneath of his nose. I seem to recall him having that tic when he played chess. Otherwise, if the attendant had not told me that this was Raymond Weinstein, born 4/25/1941, I would not have believed that this was really him.
The entire 45 minutes was spent with me trying to talk to him. He did not say even one word while I was sitting with him. I told him that I had watched him defeat Remlinger and Benko. There was no sign of recognition on his face. He stared blankly at me the entire time. Occasionally, his eyes drooped a bit and seemed almost to close. Yet, he never actually took his eyes off of me.
I recounted all the details of his chess career, details which hardly anybody other than myself would even remember. I also told him that I personally know Kasparov, Karpov, Fischer, Anand and most of the other of the world's top grandmasters. There was no recognition that he even knew what I was talking about. Yet, I am sure that he did know what I was talking about.
There were also long periods of silence. When I could not think of anything else to say, I just sat there for up to five minutes, hoping that he would say or do something, anything. Nevertheless, he just sat there, staring at me blankly.
When 5:00 PM came, which was the end of visiting hours, he got up and went to the attendant and told her rather heatedly that he wanted to go back to his ward.
After he had left, the attendant told me that I had been his first visitor in many years. She said that when she had told him that somebody had come to see him, he had replied that nobody ever comes to see him. It had taken her some convincing to get him to come down. The attendant was under the impression that Raymond Weinstein has no family at all. She was surprised when I told her that I know one of his relatives. Apparently, he does not receive or send any mail.
I am aware that I am going to be criticized for doing this, but I feel that Raymond Weinstein is an important historical figure in chess and that the chess world has the right to know where he is and how he is doing. So, here is the address of Raymond Weinstein:
Raymond A. Weinstein
Kirby Forensic Psychiatric Center
Ward's Island, New York 10035-6095
The telephone number of his team leader is (212) 427-9003, ext. 3581.
Now that I have seen him face to face, I can understand why there has been absolute secrecy as to the whereabouts of Raymond Weinstein for the past more than 30 years. I do not recommend that anybody, other than old friends whom he actually knows and remembers, should go to see him. However, here is how to get there: Take the M35 bus at the corner of Lexington Avenue and 125th street in New York City, get off at the first stop on Ward's Island, which is the Adolph Meyer Building, continue walking down the road along side the barbed wire fence with razor wire on top, until reaching the last building on the left hand side. That is the Kirby Forensic Psychiatric Center.
Visiting hours are from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Saturday and Sunday.
It is apparent to me, based upon what I saw, that Raymond Weinstein will never get out and will be institutionalized for the rest of his life. He seems simply incapable of functioning in the outside world. I find it strange that a human brain of such brilliance could become so twisted as to produce this.
Raymond A. Weinstein unquestionably would have become one of the world's strongest grandmasters of chess, had this not happened to him. Here is an example of his play at age 18:
[Event "Rosenwald Memorial, US Championship"] [Site "USA"] [Date "1959.12.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Fischer, Robert J"] [Black "Weinstein, Raymond A"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "B11"] 1. e4 c6 2. Nc3 d5 3. Nf3 Bg4 4. h3 Bxf3 5. Qxf3 Nf6 6. d3 e6 7. g3 Be7 8. Bg2 dxe4 9. dxe4 e5 10. O-O Nbd7 11. Nd1 O-O 12. Ne3 g6 13. Rd1 Qc7 14. Ng4 h5 15. Nxf6+ Nxf6 16. Bg5 Nh7 17. Bh6 Rfd8 18. Bf1 Bg5 19. Bxg5 Nxg5 20. Qe3 Qe7 21. h4 Ne6 22. Bc4 b5 23. Bxe6 Qxe6 24. Qc5 Qc4 25. Qxc4 bxc4 26. b3 Rd4 27. Rxd4 exd4 28. Kf1 Re8 29. f3 Re5 30. Rd1 c5 31. c3 dxc3 32. Rc1 f5 33. exf5 Rxf5 34. Rxc3 cxb3 35. Rxb3 c4 36. Ra3 Rc5 37. Ke2 c3 38. Kd1 c2+ 39. Kc1 a5 40. Rb3 Kg7 41. Rb7+ Kf6 42. Rb6+ Kg7 43. g4 1/2-1/2
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