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Simonson was born into a wealthy family. His father Leo was a successful wigmaker to the Manhattan rich and the theatre and movie businesses. His mother Irene was from the family that owned the Illinois Watch Case Co. in Elgin, Illinois. {{Clarify|date=August 2014}}. Simonson showed precocious skill with chess, soon after learning the game. At New York 1933, he scored 7/10 to tie for 2nd-3rd places, behind only winner [[Reuben Fine]]. This earned him selection to the United States chess [[Olympiad]] team at age 18. In the Olympiad, at Folkestone 1933, he played on the first reserve board and scored 3/6, as the Americans won the team gold medals. Simonson's teammates were Fine, [[Isaac Kashdan]], [[Arthur Dake]], and [[Frank Marshall (chess player)|Frank Marshall]], who all eventually became [[Grandmaster (chess)|Grandmaster]]s.
 
Simonson was born into a wealthy family. His father Leo was a successful wigmaker to the Manhattan rich and the theatre and movie businesses. His mother Irene was from the family that owned the Illinois Watch Case Co. in Elgin, Illinois. {{Clarify|date=August 2014}}. Simonson showed precocious skill with chess, soon after learning the game. At New York 1933, he scored 7/10 to tie for 2nd-3rd places, behind only winner [[Reuben Fine]]. This earned him selection to the United States chess [[Olympiad]] team at age 18. In the Olympiad, at Folkestone 1933, he played on the first reserve board and scored 3/6, as the Americans won the team gold medals. Simonson's teammates were Fine, [[Isaac Kashdan]], [[Arthur Dake]], and [[Frank Marshall (chess player)|Frank Marshall]], who all eventually became [[Grandmaster (chess)|Grandmaster]]s.
   
In the 17th Championship of the Marshall Chess Club, 1933–34, Simonson scored 7/11 to finish 6th. In the 1935 U.S. Open at Milwaukee, he scored 5.5/10 to tie for 4th-6th places.
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In the 17th Championship of the Marshall Chess Club, 1933–34, Simonson scored 7/11 to finish 6th. In the 1935 U.S. Open at Milwaukee, he scored 5.5/10 to tie for 4th-6th places.
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In the first modern [[U.S. Chess Championship]], New York City 1936, Simonson placed second with 11/15, behind only winner [[Samuel Reshevsky]]. He scored 11/16 in the 1938 United States Championship at New York, to finish third, behind Reshevsky and Fine. In the United States Championship of 1940, again at New York, he tied for 4th-5th places, with 10/16, behind Reshevsky, Fine, and Isaac Kashdan. However, in the 1951 U.S. Championship in New York, Simonson finished tied for 11th-12th, with only 3.5/11. His total in four U.S. Championships was 35.5/58, for 61.2 per cent.
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In the first modern [[U.S. Chess Championship]], New York City 1936, Simonson placed second with 11/15, behind only winner [[Samuel Reshevsky]]. He scored 11/16 in the 1938 United States Championship at New York, to finish third, behind Reshevsky and Fine. In the United States Championship of 1940, again at New York, he tied for 4th-5th places, with 10/16, behind Reshevsky, Fine, and Isaac Kashdan. However, in the 1951 U.S. Championship in New York, Simonson finished tied for 11th-12th, with only 3.5/11. His total in four U.S. Championships was 35.5/58, for 61.2 per cent.
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Simonson defeated Reshevsky in a Metropolitan League team match in 1950, at a time when Reshevsky was among the world's top five players. Simonson was ranked sixth in the country on the very first official rating list, issued in 1950, from the [[United States Chess Federation]].
 
Simonson defeated Reshevsky in a Metropolitan League team match in 1950, at a time when Reshevsky was among the world's top five players. Simonson was ranked sixth in the country on the very first official rating list, issued in 1950, from the [[United States Chess Federation]].
   

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