[Home]Schuster, Harrison

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Born in Miami, Florida. His MC-playing career has never been among the greatest distinction: barely qualifying for the level of International Master, he has never won a Grandmaster-level tournament or been in the top hundred of the world rankings. Nevertheless, he has a claim to fame as the person who exposed one of the greatest loopholes in the Quetta '78 ruleset.

The only occasion on which he took part in the World Championships was at the boycott-blighted tournament of 1980 in Moscow, which the entire American team pulled out of, in sympathy with the Olympic boycott of that year. Schuster – who had, in fact, been selected for the lowly position of third substitute to the US "B" team in the Team competition – immediately applied to enter the singles tournament as an individual: when the US authorities banned him from competing under their name, and extended the ban for several years, he immediately applied for emigration to Cuba. Cuban MC being in the dire state that it then was, his papers were rushed through, and he competed in the championships under the Cuban banner. It was in the first-round match against Stannard – himself a player who would never at the time have gotten near the world championships if higher-ranking players had not pulled out – that Schuster unveiled his demonstration, that the Quetta '78 ruleset contained the possibility of an open 'null strand' – one which was both open, thus having to be represented on the scoresheet, and closed so that no play was possible in it. The demonstration of what has since been ironically called Schuster's Punctuation Loop (even though not a Loop as such) was, more than anything else, what killed off the ruleset in question – after winning him the match.

It was to be Schuster's one and only moment of fame (or, to be more accurate, notoriety.) He had pretty much burned his bridges with the American MC federation, not to mention their government: he has since permanently settled in Cuba, with a wife and two children, and accepted a post in the Cuban MC Federation as a coach of the Havana Junior Academy – a post which, as it has turned out, has suited his skills considerably more than playing the game ever did. Several of the graduates from the Academy have since gone on to represent Cuba, and in Carlos Queiroz we have now seen the first Cuban to reach Grandmaster rank (albeit by being a consistent quarter-finalist in major tournaments rather than winning anything.)


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Last edited June 6, 2009 5:43 pm by Simons Mith (diff)