USA Chess genius mysteriously disappears at age 19

You've hardly heard of chess player Peter Winston, who beat a three-time US champion at 14 and was considered one of the most talented players in the 70s. At the age of 19, he disappeared under mysterious circumstances and has not yet been found. The disappearance of Peter is a milestone in the history of American chess, of which historians, politicians and journalists write decades later. 

Since childhood, Peter was considered a genius, and there was a reason:
• at 18 months, he learned the alphabet by looking at the volumes of the Britannica, and soon he was able to read;
• by the age of three, Peter understood fractional numbers. As contemporaries recall, he could immediately tell what week his birthday would fall in any year;
• at the age of 5, Winston spoke to the elementary class with a detailed analysis of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, information about which he collected from newspapers and TV shows.
In 1964, The Saturday Evening Post published an article about Peter Winston (right next to Thomas Pynchon's story), a 6-year-old genius boy who went to Sands Point, a school for the gifted on Long Island.


It is not known exactly when Peter learned to play chess. Most likely, his father taught him. Winston Jr. wore the chessboard to school and during recess he replayed the games of famous grandmasters, and also organized tournaments among students.

During the game, Peter seemed to go into a trance: nothing could distract him. Usually he won, but if he lost, he immediately became morose and could even fall into a rage or hysteria.
Winston's skill grew quite quickly: at the age of ten, he won several tournaments, and Chess Life wrote an article about his talents. In 1972, the boy managed to play with the three-time US champion Walter Sean Brown: the 14-year-old Winston won in 37 moves, which shocked the experienced grandmaster.
Everything indicated that a beautiful career was ahead, but Winston was hampered by mental problems: from the age of 12, he suffered from depersonalization, loss of self-feeling and other mental problems.
In 1976, Winston suffered a nervous breakdown and was admitted to the hospital for several weeks. He was diagnosed with schizophrenia and was prescribed large doses of drugs. However, later the diagnosis was changed to "manic depressive disorder." For the next two years, Winston was regularly taken to the hospital.
Due to the treatment, Winston was distracted, unable to collect his thoughts and generally could not think as before. Of course, this was reflected in his chess game: Peter was still participating in tournaments, but his results were much worse. Deeply upset by failure, Winston kept repeating: the drugs prescribed by the doctors had killed the chess player in him.
On a January evening in 1978, Hertan received a call from his friend Peter Winston. He insisted that Charles come to his house as soon as possible, but did not give the reason. Hertan explained to his friend that he could not come right away, because he was in another city, but he would definitely visit him as soon as he returned. About a week later, Charles came to Peter and found his home in a terrible state, there was dirt everywhere and cockroaches were running around on the floor.
When Charles asked why Peter called him so insistently, the chess player replied that he was going to the races and wanted Hertan to keep him company. “He begged me to go with him. To be honest, he didn't look very good. I could not refuse him in such a situation,” Hertan recalled.
At the racetrack, Peter and Charles spent about an hour. Winston bet and lost, and Hertan just watched. When Charles got tired of the races, he asked his friend to go home, but Peter refused. For some unknown reason, he flew into a rage and ran away. This was the last time Charles Hertan saw his friend.
Later, Peter appeared on the doorstep of Charles’ house. He was surprised by the visit, but invited the chess player to dine with him and his family.
During lunch, the owners of the house noticed Peter's strange behaviour: he looked at one point and muttered something about a trip to Texas to Walter Korn, the author of a famous chess book. Charles secretly called his mother, saying that the guy was acting strange. But she did not have time to come for her son: he quickly said goodbye to his friend and his family and left the house. Nobody ever saw him again.
Peter Winston at one point simply disappeared, dissolved, ceased to exist. And it looked like as if no one was trying to find him.
A few days after his disappearance, a snowstorm of unprecedented proportions broke out in New York, which was later called the "Great Blizzard of 1978". And this storm apparently erased the last traces of Winston, whose fate is still unknown.
Winston's profile is still available on the FIDE website. He occupies 17752 position in the world rankings.