Passing of George Kramer


March 1, 2024
Chess History

It is with great sadness that I inform our members of the passing of SM George Kramer.  His emails always made me chuckle as his address was gmkramer, and he wasn’t giving himself a promotion; his middle name was Mortimer.  I didn’t have the pleasure of knowing George well.  I interviewed him for my Byrne book research and would have loved to have interviewed him more, but we never quite managed to hook up.

Kramer started playing primarily in Queen’s Chess Club and then went to the Manhattan Chess Club around 1944 when he began playing for the Brooklyn Tech team.  That team, led by Robert Byrne, also had Donald on it, and they did pretty well. The competition came from the Bronx Science team, led by Arthur Bisguier and Walter Shipman.  While still in school, Kramer won the 1945 New York State Championship by a half point over Robert Byrne.  The event was a 10-player round robin, and he beat   in the last round. One day, he mentioned this to me over the phone, commenting, “I still remember that one!” 

Krammer played in a few U.S. Championships but had such a tough time in 1962 that he didn’t play after that.  It wasn’t the opponents; it was the schedule.  He would work as a Ph.D. chemist for Exxon, get off work, rush to New York by train, play the round, run back home, and do it all again the next day!

In 1973, he won his second Manhattan Chess Club Championship (his first was in 1952 with a crushing +11-1=2 result, beating Donald Byrne in the critical game).  This championship led to a four-game match with Marshall Champion Sal Matera.  The games received much coverage, with at least one appearing in Robert Byrne’s New York Times column. People could also follow the match on TV thanks to Shelby Lyman’s analysis of the games for PBS.

George continued to play but slowly played less and less.  His last event was the 101st US Open in 2000.  He finished tied for 19th with the likes of Hikaru Nakamura and had a 6.5 – 2.5 score.   Though he didn’t play competitive chess in the last two decades, he was an avid painter and continued to play bridge for much of that time.

For two US Chess posts about George, please see George Kramer (1929 – 2024) | US and Wednesday Workout: George Kramer (1929-2024) | US .  One can go to Home – George Kramer ( through the former link for more information about him. 

The first game is Kramer’s win in a simul over Fine in 1944. It is his first significant victory. The second game is one of his many victories from his performance in the 1950 Dobrovnik Olympiad, where the United States finished fourth (+11=4, but board points determined the winner of the event, not match points, where, with 26, the US would have won gold). Kramer tied for third with a +5=5-2 result.

[Event “Simul, 42b”]
[Site “New York, NY USA”]
[Date “1944.02.21”]
[EventDate “1944.02.21”]
[Round “?”]
[Result “0-1”]
[White “Reuben Fine”]
[Black “George Kramer”]
[ECO “A16”]
[WhiteElo “?”]
[BlackElo “?”]
[Source “Chess Review, February 1944, p. 4.”]
[PlyCount “58”]

1.c4 Nf6 2.Nc3 d5 3.cxd5 Nxd5 4.Nf3 Nc6 5.e4 Nxc3 6.bxc3 e5 7.Bc4 Bd6 8.O-O O-O 9.h3 Qe7 10.Qe2 Bd7 11.d4 h6 12.Bd2 Kh8 13.Rab1 Rab8 14.Bd5 f5 15.exf5 Rxf5 16.Qe4 Qf6 17.Nh4 exd4 18.Bxc6 Re8 19.Qxd4 Bxc6 20.Nxf5 Qxf5 21.Rbe1 Rf8 22.c4 Bxg2 23.Kxg2 Qf3+ 24.Kg1 Qxh3 25.Re5 Rf6 26.Bg5 Rg6 27.f4 Qg3+ 28.Kh1 Bxe5 29.Qxe5 hxg5 0-1

[Event “Dubrovnik olm”]
[Site “Dubrovnik YUG”]
[Date “1950.08.24”]
[EventDate “?”]
[Round “4”]
[Result “0-1”]
[White “Moises A Kupferstich”]
[Black “George Mortimer Kramer”]
[ECO “C14”]
[WhiteElo “?”]
[BlackElo “?”]
[PlyCount “84”]

1.d4 d5 2.Nc3 e6 3.e4 Nf6 4.Bg5 Be7 5.e5 Nfd7 6.Bxe7 Qxe7 7.Qd2 O-O 8. Nd1 c5 9.c3 f6 10.f4 cxd4 11.cxd4 fxe5 12.fxe5 Qh4+ 13.Nf2 Nc6 14.Nf3 Rxf3 15.gxf3 Qxd4 16.Qxd4 Nxd4 17.O-O-O Nxf3 18.Nd3 Ndxe5 19.Nxe5 Nxe5 20. Be2 Bd7 21.Kd2 Kf7 22.Rc1 Ke7 23.Rhg1 g6 24.Rgf1 Nc6 25.Rc3 e5 26.Rcf3 Bf5 27.Rg3 Rb8 28.Ra3 Kd6 29.h3 e4 30.Rg3 Ke5 31.h4 Nd4 32.Bd1 Ne6 33. Ra3 a6 34.Ra5 Rc8 35.b4 Nd4 36.Rc5 Rxc5 37.bxc5 Ne6 38.c6 bxc6 39.Be2 a5 40.Rc1 c5 41.Rc3 d4 42.Ra3 d3 0-1