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Thursday, October 19, 2017

American National Chess Congress of 1913

     In 1913 the Manhattan Chess Club, managed by Hartwig Cassell and Hermann Helms hosted and sponsored the American National Chess Congress. This event was one of three prominent tournaments held in New York that year, the others being the Rice Chess Club Tournament and a Quadrangular (1-Marshall 2-Duras 3-Chajes 4-Jaffe). Note that this event is not be confused with the “Second American Chess Congress” which was held in 1871. The American Chess Congresses were a series of nine tournaments held from 1857 to 1923 and were the predecessor to the current US Championship.

     In the American National Chess Congress the top six players qualified for spots in the upcoming tournament in Havana. There was a tie for 5ht-6th places between Oscar Chajes and James H. Stapfer, but for unknown reasons Stapfer did not go to Havana. The unheralded Stapfer was born February 8, 1877 in Switzerland and at some point moved to the United States where he died at the age of 82 in 1959.
     The Havana event was a double round event between the top five finishers in this tournament plus Cubans Rafael Blanco Estera and Juan Corzo. Marshall edged Capa for first by a half point.

     In this event Capablanca won his first ten in a row before losing to Jaffe in round 11 and the a round 12 draw Chajes meant Marshall was only 1/2-point behind for their last round showdown. Capablanca, with White, played the Exchange French and Marshall soon soon had to agree to a draw giving Capa first place.

1) Capablanca 11.0-2.0
2) Marshall 10.5-2.5
3) Jaffe 9.5-3.5
4) Janowski 9.0-4.0
5-6) Chajes and Stapfer 8.0-5.0
7) Kupchik 6.5-6.5
8-9) Tennenwurzel and Whitaker 5.5-7.5
10-11) Rubinstein and Kline 4.5-8.5
12) Morrison 4.0-9.0
13) Liebenstein 2.5-10.5
14) Zapoleon 2.0-11.0
     This tournament also featured a third Rubinstein, Solomon. This fellow though is not to be confused with Akiba's son, Salomon (Samy)Rubinstein, (born March 19, 1927 - died June, 2002, 75 years old). Solomon was born in Poland in 1868 and moved to San Francisco around 1915 where he managed a Chess, Checker and Whist Club. He died on November 27, 1931 in Los Angeles. According to Chessmetrics his highest ever rating was 2414.
     Another interesting player in this tournament was the tailender Louis Zapoleon who was born in Grodno, Russia (today Belarus) on December 21, 1886 and dies at the age of 83 on December 27, 1969.
Chess table ad in 1913 American Chess Bulletin
     He was the 5th of 7 children of an optician. The family came to US in 1891 and settled in Dayton, Ohio where they rented a house for the optical practice. Louis went to elementary school and educated as an economist at Dayton University. He was employed in the US Department of Agriculture (Washington, 1909-1916), US Tariff Commission (Washington, 1917-1925) Stanford University Food Research Institute (Palo Alto California, 1925-1935 which included a trip to Denmark in 1925 and two years in Europe 1933-1935), US Security and Exchange Commission (Washington, 1935-1941), and the US War Production Board (1942-1945). He authored books on agricultural economy and also left behind the Louis B. Zapoleon Memorial Scholarship fund which is today administered through the Cincinnati Scholarship Foundation.
     He was married in 1937 to Marguerite Wykoff (1907-2003), who had studied economics in London, did graduate work in Switzerland, and attended the New School for Social Research in New York. She worked for the Deptartments of Education and Labor, as well as the Pentagon. After World War II they purchased 354 acres of land on Sideling Hill near Berkeley Springs, West Virginia where they built a cabin and spent weekends and summers. They retired arouns 1955 to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where he suffered from a stroke in 1960 and died of heart problems in 1969. They had no children.
     Zapoleon played in the Dayton Chess Club and was one of Ohio's strongest players at the time. In 1910 he defeated Frank Marshall in his simultaneous in the Washington Chess and Whist Club. After joining the Capital City Chess and Checkers Club he won the club tournament four times: 1912, 1915 and two more times). All this qualified him to play in the American National tournament. Although he finished last he did draw with Marshall and defeated Jaffe. His last appearance was probably in 1926 when Emanuel Lasker held a simul in the Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club in San Francisco where Zapoleon was the adjudicator.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Reuben Fine's Theme Song

     Rueben Fine seemed to be plagued by bad luck. In his personal life he was married and divorced three times and in his chess career he tied for first place with Paul Keres in the prestigious 1938 AVRO tournament in the Netherlands, but Keres placed first on tiebreaks. The tournament was organized with the hope that the winner would be the next challenger to Alekhine. Fine, who got off to a tremendous start, won both of his games against Alekhine, but then lost in round seven to Keres and this wound up as the decisive game because it gave Keres the superior tiebreaks.
     After World War Two ended Fine was invited to participate in the tournament to determine the successor to Alekhine who had died, but he declined for reasons that are the subject of speculation even today.
     His luck was no better in the U.S. Champioships. Once when asked why Fine never won the U.S. Championship, Samuel Reshevsky replied, "Because I was playing." But, even when Reshevsky wasn't playing Fine's luck was no better. In the 1944 Championship Fine scored 14.5-2.5, but finished a half point behind Arnold Denker who played the tournament of his life to capture the Championship. Fine's only loss was to Denker
     Fine's U.S. Championship woes began in the first Championship in 1936 when he only managed to tie for 3rd-4th with George Treysman behind Reshevsky and Albert Simonson. Fine suffered only one defeat...against Simonson, who's only previous claim to fame was a mediocre performance on one of the U.S. Olympiad teams, but in this event had the best result of his career.
     The second Championship was held in 1938 and Fine's luck wasn't any better. Fine had made a name for himself in Europe where he lived much of 1937-1938. After tying for third place with Reshevsky at the Nottingham tournament in 1936, he had finished first at Moscow, Ostend, Margate and Stockholm in 1937 and then tied for first prize ahead of all the world's best players at the AVRO super-tournament. Also in 1937 he had been selected by world champion Max Euwe to be his second in Euwe's title defense against Alekhine.
     Thus, in the 1938 U.S. Championship Fine, Reshevsky and Kashdan were the favorites. Reshevsky soon assumed the lead, but Fine stayed close all the way to the end even though he lost two games to Reshevsky's none. Fine lost to Anthony Santasiere, but it was likely his loss to school teacher Milton Hanauer that cost him the tournament. In that game Fine came within one move of winning, but made a disasterous blunder. Hanauer, who finished tied for 12th-14th out of 17, had a horrible position and one move by Fine would have forced the win, but Fine overlooked a simple refutation to what appeared to be a Hanauer threat and so selected another move instead.  The ending looked to be about equal, but Fine's subsequent play was weak in that it allowed Hanauer too much play.  Hanauer went on to win and so Fine lost a very valuable point to an also-ran.
     The third Championship was even worse. It was the last to bring Fine, Reshevsky and Isaac Kashdan together and even though all three remained active they never again all competed in the same title event. Reshevsky described the 1940 Championship as a personal duel between him and Fine and their last round game against each other was the big story as it determined first. Fine had lost only one game, to the super-solid Abraham Kupchik, but then piled up 10 wins and four draws. Going into the last round Reshevsky had a half point lead, so all he need was a draw to gain the title.
     Fine, playing white, began with a psychologically good choice of opening: he played the 4.Ng5 variation in the Two Knight's Defense and Reshevsky was virtually forced to sacrifice a Pawn. This put Reshevsky in a situation where he had to play a sharp position when he would have preferred a quiet one.
     By move 16 Fine was a bit better developed and had excellent prospects in the form of the two Bs and superior P-structure. At the same time, Reshevsky had a N out of play but his other pieces were active. Then on move 17 psychology began working against Fine. By exchanging pieces he could have gotten excellent winning chances, but at the same time it would have created Bs of opposite color and given Reshevsky drawing chances which Fine wanted to avoid. So, instead he made a promising but unnecessary exchange sacrifice. It looked like it was going to be successful because on his 21st move Reshevsky played a move that brought him to the brink of defeat. Indeed, Fine's next move demonstrated that Reshevsky was near defeat and by move 25 he was desperate. Two moves later Fine needed only to play 27.Rf4 and the U.S. Championship was his.
     However, Fine saw a move involving three forcing moves followed by the killer and played his B to f4 instead of his R. Reshevsky later said a miracle had happened. All went according to Fine's plan until they reached move 30. That's when Fine realized to his horror that Reshevsky had a refutation to his intended move and there was nothing better than to play an alternative that only lead to a draw. Once again, a single move had cost his the title.
     Here is Fine's depressing loss to Hanauer.

Els Euwe

Els with her father
  Elisabeth Maria (Els) Euwe,
the eldest daughter of Max Euwe, died in the Leendert Meath House in Bilthoven, The Netherlands, at the age of 85 on May 12, 2012.

     She was around 75 when she began to suffer from dementia and her son, Machgiel Bakker, found it unbearable to see how his sweet, funny mother's mental capacity was deteriorating. That's when he decided to make her listen to music from her youth. There had been a kind of music therapy in her nursing home and someone had tried letting the patients hit drums, but Bakker observed that when his mother hit the drums there was no emotional effect. However, when he came up with the idea of letting his mother listen to songs from her youth, she seemed to remember them. This lead him to develop Radio Remember, an online station for elderly people with dementia. The station plays music that can be linked to the elderly's institution or home and consists of a wide variety of music genres, popular in the 1945-1965. The service is available by annual subscription.
     Oddly enough though, she remembered her connection with chess. When the young nurses who knew nothing about chess would pronounce her name incorrectly she would always correct them with, "My name is Euwe!" There were a few patients in the home that played chess and she would remind them who she was and point to her father's pictures on her bedside table.
     When Max Euwe became world champion in 1935, Els was eight years old and she first heard of her father's defeat of Alekhine on the morning of December 16, 1935 when she woke up and asked Euwe, "Father have you won?" Her memories of the victory included stacks of letters, telegrams, flowers and the phone ringing continuously. Journalists, cameramen, family members, acquaintances, neighborhood residents, everyone came by and filled the house. She remembered that while it was all very special, she still had to go to school the next day.
     Euwe had two other daughters. Caroline (July 27, 1928 - November 3, 2001) who was married in 1956 to Johan Christiaan Lammers a journalist, mayor and commissioner of the Queen. Two daughters were born from this marriage and they were divorced in 1966.
     The youngest daughter, Fietie, learned to play chess, but did not enjoy it. She told a journalist during the unveiling of her father's statue on May 7, 2004 at the Max Euweplein in Amsterdam, "He was a good teacher, and had a lot of patience with us," but added that she was not interested in the game.
     After the death of her father in 1981, Els with her two sisters, were often invited to attend the many ceremonies organized in honor of her father such as a stamp of Euwe in 2001 and an exhibition of the Amsterdam Historical Museum about the heroes of Amsterdam.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Friday, October 13, 2017

Battle of Brothers

   The USCF organized its first U.S. Junior Open in July, 1946 at the Lawson YMCA in Chicago and the winner that year was 16-year-old Larry Friedman, the 1945 Junior Champion of the city of Cleveland, Ohio. The previous year Friedman finished in 4th place in the Ohio State Championship while a sophomore at Shaw High School in Cleveland.  Friedman also won the Junior Open in 1947, held in Cleveland. On July 31, 1950, Friedman appeared on the first USCF rating list at 2284. After that he quit chess until he popped up and took 1st place as the top New Jersey resident in the New Jersey Open (though the event was actually won by Tibor Weinberger) only to disappear again.
     In July 1948, Arthur Bisguier won the 3rd annual U.S. Junior Championship Tournament, held in Oak Ridge, Tennessee on tiebreaks over Frank Anderson of Toronto. Bisguier also won it in 1949 on tiebreaks over Larry Evans and James Cross when it was held in Fort Worth, Texas.
     The Byrne brothers were both students of Brooklyn chess coach and master John W. Collins.  Donald is most famous for his loss to Bobby Fischer in the the Game of the Century.  He won the U.S. Open Championship in 1953 in Milwaukee and around that time was the second-highest rated player in the U.S. behind Reshevsky, against whom Byrne had a winning record. Besides being a good chess player, though he rarely competed in tournaments, he was repeatedly selected to be Captain by his teammates because of his interpersonal acumen and his generous, helpful nature. Byrne was very popular with the Penn State chess team players. In the late 1950s, he contracted lupus, an auto-immune disease that led to the demise of his kidneys and made him allergic to the sun. He was known around campus for his very wide-brimmed brown Stetson hat. He would frequently tell stories about his chess exploits, often turning red from laughter time.
     George Kramer was a very strong master and won the 1951-52 Manhattan Chess Club championship and the state of New Jersey championship in 1964, 1967 and 1969. He also participated in a number of U.S. Championships. For more on Walter Shipman, see his obituary HERE.
     But, before they were all well known, in 1949 the five of them participated in a double round Junior Masters Tournament at the Manhattan Chess Club with the following results:

1) Robert Byrne 5-3
2) Donald Byrne 4.5-3.5
3) Arthur Bisguier 4-4
4) George Kramer 3.5-4.5
5) Walter Shipman 3-5
     Robert's only loss was to his brother and while Donald lost two games...to Bisguier and his brother.

     After this event, the brothers also did well in the club's weekly rapid transit tournament with Donald scoring 14-1 in the field of 16 players when he drew with Walter Shipman and Larry Evans. Evans finished second with a 13-2 score while Robert Byrne finished third. Arthur Bisguier finished fourth and Herman Helms was fifth.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

1950 US vs. Yugoslavia Radio Match

Yugoslav Master B. Rabar
I am revisiting this match because I posted on it back in July, but have deleted that post because there was some confusion over the game scores and results, but I think I have everything cleared up now, having found some additional information.

     After World War II radio matches were popular because they provided a relatively inexpensive method of arranging long-distance competition at a time when many countries were still recovering economically and travel was expensive and restricted. There had been the famous USSR - USA match in 1945 and 1946 saw matches USSR vs Great Britain and Australia vs France. In 1947 there was Australia vs Canada and in 1949 Argentina clashed with Spain.
     One long forgotten match was held in 1950 when Yugoslavia defeated the United States. As usual the match was played using teletype machines and short wave radio transmission between New York and Belgrade.  The match took place between Saturday, February 11th and Tuesday, February 14th. Moves were transmitted using the Uedemann code. The code was invented by Chicago player Louis Uedemann (1854–1912). His name is often misspelled as “Udemann.” He developed a code that was later refined by D. A. Gringmuth, of St. Petersburg, a leading Russian problem composer, and adapted for use with telegraphs for cable matches. Gringmuth's notation was first used in the telegraphic match between London and St Petersburg in November 1886.
     The time control was 50 moves per 2 hours, but the mechanics of transmission caused delays which slowed the progress of the match. The Radio Corporation of America, a leading manufacturer and supplier of radio components in the US, provided the American radio transmission equipment. Hans Kmoch was the match referee and the American team played in an office in The Chanin Building in Manhattan. The Yugoslav team played out of the Kolarech University Hall in Belgrade. The Yugoslav's held a grand opening ceremony complete with with the Belgrade Radio Symphony Orchestra serenading a hall packed with dignitaries including the US Ambassador and veteran GM Milan Vidmar, who served as the American representative.
     In Europe the Yugoslavs were generally considered second only to the Soviets. In post-war international matches they defeated the Swiss team, the Austrians, the Dutch, the Hungarians and the Czechs. They were enthusiastic about meeting the American team because it would be the first meeting since the end of the war.
     The match was important politically for the Yugoslavs for reasons of national prestige and as a representative of Socialist culture. Of their top players only 18-year old Andrija Fuderer, who shared 4th in the Yugoslav championship, was not on the team while the 16-year old Ivkov was. 
    The Yugoslav team was lead by Svetozar Gligoric, Yugoslavia's 1949 champion who was regarded as one of the strongest players in Europe. In 1947 he had defeated Vassily Smyslov at Warsaw and drawn with Isaac Boleslavsky, two of the ranking Soviet masters and in 1949 he had defeated Gideon Stahlberg in a twelve-game match. At the time Glogoric was journalist on the staff of Borba, the official newspaper of the Yugoslav Communist party. Second board was Vasya Pirc, a Professor of Modern Languages.  At board 3 was Petar Trifunovich a journalist and Yugoslavia's champion in 1945, 1946 and he had tied for first place with Gligoric in 1947.
     The other Yugoslav players were journalist Braslov Rabar, Milan Vidmar, an engineer and a son of the famous Yugoslav player of the same name, Stojan Puc, a clerk, Bora Milic, student, Bora Kostich, who at the age of 63 was the oldest member of the team.  The team was rounded out by Alexander Matanovich, a student and Boraslav Ivkov, a 16-year-old high school student.
     The American team had problems before the match even started.  It lost Kashdan who was to play third board when a week before the match was to begin he was hospitalized with a perforated ulcer. His place was taken by Bisguier. The U.S. team also lost Herman Steiner the day before the match. Steiner had agreed to play then refused because he was in a snit over not being assigned Board 1. He did have a nebulous claim to Board 1 because he was the reigning U.S. champion, having won the Championship at South Fallsburg, New York in 1948. Although he finished ahead of Kashdan, the only Grandmaster playing, it was in a relatively weak field. Steiner was awarded his IM title in 1950 and went on to captain the U.S. Olympic team at Dubrovnik later that year. Olaf Ulvestad was brought in as a last minute replacement rushing to New York from Cleveland. Unfortunately, he was rusty, having played little competitive chess in the previous year.
    Not that it would have made any difference in the outcome of the match but the U.S. cause wasn't helped by the result of the second Matanovic - Pinkus game.  Pinkus had lost a difficult N and P ending in the first game and in the second game the following position was reached after Matanovic's 24.Qh4:

By playing 24...Rh8 the position would have offered both sides chances. According to headline from a New York Times article Pinkus forfeited, so I assume that he must have lost on time.  Still, with a time limit of 50 moves in two hours it's hard to believe that he was in time pressure because the position is not all that complicated.

     First brilliancy prize was awarded to Denker for his win over Rabar. Playing over the game failed to disclose any  tactical brilliancy though Denker did score a fine positional win. Denker is well known, but few will know much about his opponent even though we see his contribution to chess almost every time we see a published game.
     IM Braslav Rabar (September 27, 1919 – December 6, 1973) was Yugoslav champion in 1951 and in 1953 he tied for first but lost the playoff match. He played for Yugoslavia in three chess Olympiads (1950, 1952, 1954), winning a total of five medals. Rabar was a co-inventor of the classification systems for the Chess Informant publications and he was one of the editors of the monthly chess magazine Sahovski Glasnik.
     Much more interesting was Bisguier's win over Ivkov which was awarded the second brilliancy prize although it was also a positional crush, not a tactical brilliancy.   Bisguier wrote that he took great pleasure in winning this game because Ivkov had a reputation of being a fine positional player.  Even though he was only 16-years old, Ivkov had earned his National Master title the year before by sharing 4th–7th places in the Yugoslav Championship and at Bled in 1950, which featured some of the best players in the world, he shared 5th–6th places. In 1951 he won the first World Junior Championship.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

U.S. Patents 2,208,137 and 2,410,746 by Adele Raettig

   The two gizmos shown are for an angle divider and a magnetically operated switch.
     The patent for the angle divider was applied for on October 26, 1939 and issued on July 16, 1940.  The divider was an instrument used for dividing angles of various degrees into any number of predetermined parts. The problem was that most angle dividers were complicated and made it difficult for an average person to use, but this contraption was simple to use and inexpensive in construction.
    The other thing is a magnetically operated switch. A patent for the device was filed on September 2, 1942 and issued on November 5, 1946.  According to the patent this device relates to a switch and refers more particularly to a magnetically operated selective switch used for energizing or otherwise influencing any one of several circuits. An object of the  invention was the provision of an effectively operating circuit controller or switch of simple, compact and sturdy construction, which was inexpensive to manufacture and which could be conveniently utilized for the purpose of closing any one of a comparatively large number of circuits. Another object was the utilization of a permanent magnet for the purpose of actuating selectively any one of several levers used for establishing an electrical connection between a number of terminals. Who knows what it was used for or if it was ever actually used in anything?  The inventor of both was Adele S. Raettig of Hoboken, New Jersey.
Adele Raettig

    Getting a patent does not always mean the inventor is going to make money because you can get a U.S. patent even if your invention is worthless and has no commercial value. Also, getting a patent does not stop someone from infringing on your idea. It is up to the patent holder to take the infringer to court if, after you warn him, he persists in infringing.
    A fellow named Robert W. Kearns invented the intermittent windshield wiper which he claimed was stolen by automakers, spent twenty years in court and finally was awarded millions, but legal fees got most of it and Kearns was still nearly broke; the lawsuits had consumed him, his wife left him and he was once committed to a psychiatric hospital.
    When Frank Marshall finally stepped aside as U.S. Champion in 1936 organizers of the first modern championship tournament had planned for a substantial number of entries to be split into preliminary round robins that would select eight qualifiers for the 16-player finals. The eight qualifiers would meet eight seeded players (Reshevsky, Fine, Dake, Kashdan, Kupchik, Steiner, Horowitz and Kevitz). The problem was there were so few advance entries for the preliminaries that the organizers had to drop the registration fee from $10 to $5. In today's currency that's about $175 to $88. In 1936 you could buy a car for $580 and gasoline was $0.19 a gallon. Bread cost $0.08 a loaf and a gallon of milk cost $0.47. With the average annual salary being $1,500 that $10 entry fee was pretty hefty.
    Eventually 48 players, including Adele Raettig, the only woman, entered. All games, preliminaries and finals, were held in New York. Eleven of the finalists were from New York and most of the high-placing non-qualifiers were also from the New York City area. The few strong out-of-towners included Californian Herman Steiner, Illinois state champion Samuel Factor, Harold Morton from Boston and New England champion Weaver Adams.
    Adele Raettig (September, 1889 – August, 1972) graduated from what was then the State Normal School at Montclair, New Jersey. Today the school is Montclair State University. She was a school teacher in Hoboken and later attended Columbia University. Although she never fared especially well in Women's Championships, she was nevertheless a strong player who successfully competed against men and occasionally defeated recognized masters.
    The following game was played in 1943 in a match in which the Intercollegiate Chess League took on non-student opponents. In this match five college clubs were matched against teams from seven different commercial teams and the commercial teams were leading by 6.5-5.5. The match's most exciting game was on board 2 between Sol Rubinow of the CCNY team and Nelson J. Hogenauer of the Hanover National Bank team and President of the Commercial League.  Their game was adjudicated as a draw by Frank Marshall. But, the deciding game was between Miss Raettig, who served as manager for the champion Chase National Bank team, on board 10 where she defeated R. McGrath of Rutgers. The game shows just how bad some of us amateurs are at playing endings!