History of the MI Chess Room

On these pages we would like to present a series of articles written by MI Chess Director IM John Donaldson, who is a world-renowned expert in the field of chess history. This is his first essay with more to come.

Before the Fire 1854-1906

Part One-The Early Years  of the Mechanics’ Institute  Chess Room

The Mechanics' Institute building houses the oldest chess club in the United States. It was organized in 1854 when San Francisco was a frontier community. The first meeting of the Mechanics' Institute was held on December 11, 1854 and  The Institute was incorporated on April 24, 1855 and this is considered its founding date.

The early years of the Chess Room are not well documented but chess was played during the Gold Rush. The great Pierre Saint- Amant, one of the top players in the world in the 1840s, was  French Consul in San Francisco from 1851-52. It appears he left the Bay Area before the founding of the Mechanics’, so the honors for the first world class player to visit San Francisco go to Johann Zukertort who spent nearly a month in the City in July of 1884.

There are conflicting accounts of Zukertort’s sojourn in San Francisco. The British Chess Magazine of 1884 (p.351) wrote the following about the world championship contender’s tour of the United States:

”From the Mormons’ City he went to San Francisco, where he gave during July three blindfold exhibitions. On the first occasion he had seven opponents, defeating six and losing to one.  The second time twelve declared war against him, but nine of them were vanquished, two only, Messrs. Redding and Welsh, being victorious, and the other game ending in a drawn battle. The third séance with eleven opponents was a complete triumph for the unseeing player, who defeated them all. His last contest at Frisco of which we have any account was a match of five games with Mr. Redding, , Mr. Zukertort backing himself at the odds of five to one every game, on the condition that his adversary took the first move in each game and played the Evans Gambit. The defending player proved successful in every partie, and thus won his bet.”

A slightly different version of the visit to San Francisco is given in the October 1884 issue of  The Chess Monthly, an English magazine edited by Zukertort and Leopold Hoffer:

“Zukertort arrived on the second of July in San Francisco, the centre and terminus of the western world. After a rest of a few days and a loyal observance of the fourth of July, the daily Chess contest began. Chess play is greatly cultivated in San Francisco and although the Golden City does not possess a Chess club, its amateurs have ample accommodation in a large hall of the Mechanics’ Institute, also in a room at the Mercantile Library and at the Bohemian Club. Zukertort played at the Mechanics’ Institute a great number of single games, even and at odds; the simultaneous contests were also held at the place, but the blindfold séance took place on the 8th at the Irving Hall, when the single player encountered twelve opponents, and after eight hours play won nine games, lost two and drew one. San Francisco, although up to now hardly known in Chess history, may boast of  a very large number of fair players. The strongest of them is Mr. J. Redding, a young lawyer, who contested a little match on even terms, the condition being, Mr. Redding to have the first move and play five times the Evans Gambit, Zukertort to bet 25 to 5. The latter won five games, but especially in the first and second, it was a hard tussle. Next to Mr. Redding we must mention Mr. Heineman, who played a number of games with Staunton, Dr. Marshall, whose standard of play varies more than of any player we met, Mr. Jefferson, late champion of Tennessee, Mr. Selim Franklin, well known at the late Westminster Chess Club and at Simpson’s Divan, and Mr. Critcher, a rising young player of great promise."

The two accounts leave one a little unclear as to exactly how many regular and blindfold simuls Zukertort actually gave in San Francisco during from July 2 to 25. The Chess Monthly  has a footnote dealing with this issue: “ Notwithstanding the different reports in American and English Chess columns and periodicals, Mr. Zukertort feels certain that he gave only one blindfold performance in San Francisco.”

The following game has been preserved from Zukertort’s 1884 visit. Two years later he lost a bitterly contested match for the World Championship with Wilhelm Steinitz and in 1888 he passed away at the age of  45.

Vienna Opening

Played at the Chess Room of the Mechanics’ Institute, on July 21st, 1884

White: J.H. Zukertort   Black: Selim Franklin

1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.f4 Nc6 4.fxe5 Nxe5 5.d4 Ng6 6.e5 Ng8 7.Nf3 d6 8.Bd3 dxe5 9.dxe5 Bc5 10.Bg5 Be7 11.Be3 Bg4 12.O-O Nxe5 13.Nxe5! Bxd1 14.Raxd1Bd6 15.Nxf7 Qe7 16.Bb5+ c6 17.Nxd6+ Qxd6 18.Rxd6 cxb5 19.Nxb5 Rc8 20.Bg5, and White won

Before the Fire 1854-1906

Part Two - 1895 Cable Matches, San Francisco versus Victoria and Vancouver

In our ongoing look at the Mechanic's past we examine the cable matches the MI contested with two British Columbia cities in 1895. Many of you may be familiar with the pictures in the Chess Room showing a cable match in progess. That match was played against Los Angeles in the 1920s, not Vancouver or Victoria. A big thank you to Canadian chess historian Stephen Wright for permission to reprint the following article which appears on his website http://members.aol.com/stphwrg/homepage.html . Thanks also to Stephen Brandwein who dug up the San Francisco Chronicle articles at the SF Public Library.

A Tale of Three Cities: the 1895 Pacific Cable Matches
by Stephen Wright

San Francisco vs. Victoria

"The year was 1895.
The chess world was buzzing about the international cable match between the Manhattan Chess Club and a team in London, England, which took place on March 9. One interested observer was Mr. W. Christie, manager of the C.P.R. Telegraph Co. in Victoria, B.C. Deciding that this would be an excellent way to advertise his company, he offered the Victoria Chess Club free use of the telegraph for a match with San Francisco players. After negotiations an agreement was reached to play a two-game match, with a team of players in consultation on each board; the match subsequently took place on the night of 31 May - 1 June 1895.

The Players:
Foremost among the Victoria team were two Englishmen, Thomas H. Piper (1857-1938) and James R. Hunnex (1854-1938); their arrival from London in 1894 had led to an upswing in the fortunes of the Victoria Chess Club. Piper had once beaten the English champion Joseph Blackburne, and could fairly claim to be the strongest player on the West coast; in 1896 he defeated Joseph Babson, the former president of the Montr?al Chess Club, in a match by the score of 7-2. Hunnex played in a few events in 1895 but thereafter seems to have retired from competitive chess, although he was an honorary Vice-president of the B.C. Chess Federation in 1916. Three of the other Victoria players were from the same family: Peter J.A. Schwengers (1844?-1898) and his sons Conrad (1874-1954) and Bernhard (1880-1946). Peter Schwengers had emigrated to Victoria from Prussia in 1887, and had scored a victory over Louis Paulsen at D?sseldorf 1863. Neither of his sons had much impact on the chess world, but Bernhard later became Canadian singles tennis champion in 1911-1912. Originally from Sweden, Aaron Gonnason (1865-1938) was a prominent personage in Victoria chess circles for many years. He donated at least two trophies bearing his name, one for the Victoria city championship (which he himself won in 1922), the other for an intercity provincial team championship. And the last member of the team was English-born Dr. Griffith Hands (1837?-1924), a class 2 player at the Victoria club. The San Francisco players were all members of the Mechanics' Institute; the best known was sometime San Francisco and State champion Dr. Walter R. Lovegrove (1869-1956).

The San Franciscans regarded their city as the chess centre of the Pacific and assumed that the unknown Canadians would put up scant resistance. This over-confident view was expounded by the San Francisco Chronicle: "Lovegrove or Quiroga may strike terror into the heart of the north by some brilliant combination beyond the scope of the ordinary mortal, but within the reach of genius." By contrast, the Victorians were quietly confident in their English stars: "It is safe to predict that Victoria will not take second honors in the match, and though our American cousins are jubilant over an anticipated easy triumph, a surprise may be in store for them." One of the players remarked that "I'm not afraid of San Francisco, but of the man from New York," a reference to Wilhelm Steinitz and his recently published Modern Chess Instruction Part 2, accessible to the San Francisco players but apparently not yet available in Victoria - even a hundred years ago players were concerned about keeping up with the latest theory!

The games (all annotations first published in the Province newspaper).

International Telegraph Match

San Francisco (W.R. Lovegrove, A.S. Howe, V.Q. Quiroga) - Victoria (T.H. Piper, Dr. Hands, C. and B. Schwengers)

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 Be7 5.Bxf6 Bxf6 6.e5 Be7 7.Qg4 O-O 8.Bd3 c5 9.Qh3 h6 10.Nf3
Better was 10.f4 followed by O-O-O.

10...Nc6 11.dxc5 Bxc5 12.O-O
Against the spirit of the opening, which calls for O-O-O and a rapid advance of the King's pawns.

Closing an important diagonal and freeing Black's game.

13.a3 a6 14.b4
Objectionable on general principles, as it leaves the Queen's side weak.

14...Ba7 15.Rae1 Bd7 16.Re2 Rc8
Giving Black a clear superiority. Compare the previous note.

17.Nb1 b5
Paralysing White's Queen's side.

18.Kh1 Ne7 19.Ng1
Imitating his Grace of York, who "marched his army up a hill, then marched it down again."


A forcible reply to White's last move; the two bishops threaten to rake the board.

20.f4 d4 21.Qh4
A tacit confession of failure in the attack.

21...Nd5 22.Qxd8 Rfxd8 23.Nd2 Ne3
The most potent square the knight could occupy.

24.Rc1 g5
Which rudely shoves the White egg off the wall. Vain were now the efforts of "all the King's horses and all the King's men."

25.fxg5 hxg5 26.Nh3 g4
Tempting the White knight to enter the Cretan maze at g5, whence he would never emerge.

27.Nf4 Kf7 28.Nf1 Nd5 29.Nxd5 Bxd5 30.Kg1 Rc3 31.Ra1 Be4 32.a4 Bxd3 33.cxd3 Rd7 34.axb5 axb5 35.Ng3
Threatening Nxf5.

35...Ke7 36.Rea2 Bb8 37.Ne2 Rxd3 38.Nf4 Re3 39.Rd2 Bxe5 40.Nd3 Bd6 41.Ra6 e5 42.g3 e4
White gracefully resigned. The Bradford attack has, it is true,been played in first-class tournaments, but the continuation selected by White at their 10th move was decidely inferior; besides quod licet jovi, non licet bovi. 0-1

International Telegraph Match
Victoria (J.R. Hunnex, P. Schwengers, A. Gonnason - San Francisco (R. Kendrick, Dr. Marshall, G. Hallwegan, E. Yerworth

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6
If Black takes the offered pawn he cannot maintain it as in the King's gambit, e.g., 2...dxc4 3.e3 b5 4.a4 c6 5.axb5 cxb5 6.Qf3, winning a piece.

3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Nf3 Nc6
This is a violation of the basic principle of the close game, which enjoins an advance of the c-pawn before playing the knight.

5.e3 Be7 6.Be2
We prefer 6.c5; if Black attempts to break the chain of pawns by 6...b6, White answers 7.Bb5 Bd7 8.Qa4 Nb8 9.c6 Bc8 10.Ne5, and White has a splendidly developed game. He should castle Kingside and attempt to break through on the Queenside.

6...b6 7.O-O
The last move of the Black allies gave White the chance to open a strong attack, herewith: 7.cxd5 exd5 8.Bb5 Bd7 9.Qa4 Nb8 10.Ne5 [The published score gives 10. Kt to Kt, which I assume is a misprint; 10.Ne5 seems more to the point - SW] Bxb5 11.Qxb5+, with a powerful attack.

7...O-O 8.b3 Bb7 9.Bb2 a6 10.Rc1 Rc8 11.Bd3 Bd6 12.cxd5 exd5 13.Bf5 Ra8 14.Ne2 Ne7 15.Bd3 Ne4 16.Bxe4

Two bishops are stronger than two knights or than bishop and knight, therefore we disapprove of this exchange and would advise 16.Nd2, and if 16...f5 17.f3 with the superior game; but if Black plays 16...Nf5 17.Nxe4 dxe4 18.Bb1 Qh4 19.Ng3 we like White's game.

16...dxe4 17.Nd2 Ng6 18.Nc4 f5 19.Nxd6 Qxd6 20.g3 Rad8 21.Qc2 Rd7 22.Rfd1 Rfd8 23.Nc3 Ne7 24.Qe2 Qh6 25.Rd2 Nc6 26.Rcd1 Kh8 27.a3 Rd6 28.Nb1 Ne7 29.Nc3 Nd5 30.Nxd5 Bxd5 31.Rc1 c6 32.Rc3 b5 33.Rc5 Qg5 34.Qd1 Rh6 35.Qc2 Qg4 36.f4
Black threatened 36...f4, f3 and Qh3; if however White plays 37.exf4, then 37...Qh3.

36...exf3 37.Rf2 Re6 38.Qc3 Rde8 39.Rxd5 cxd5 40.Rc2 f4 41.exf4 Re1+ 42.Kf2 R1e2+ 0-1
Piper cited the lack of adequate preparation time and the absence of several of Victoria's stronger players as reasons for the defeat on board 2, but no doubt a major factor was sheer fatigue; despite a theoretical time limit of ten minutes a move, the games started at 6:30 on a Friday evening and did not end until 6:44 and 7:15 respectively the following Saturday morning!

San Francisco vs. Vancouver

The San Francisco players were eager for a rematch at the earliest opportunity, but this was not possible for the Victorians due to the holiday season. Into the breach stepped Vancouver, where the original match had been followed with great interest. Not to be outdone by their Island neighbours, players from Vancouver arranged to play a similar match with San Francisco, which took place on the night of 14-15 June 1895. Unfortunately the Vancouver players were considerably weaker than their Victoria counterparts; this, coupled with the fact that the San Francisco players were unlikely to underestimate their opposition a second time, led to easy victory for the Americans in both games.

International Telegraph Match

San Francisco (R. Kendrick, J.D. Redding, Franklin) - Vancouver (Hoffer, Crickmay, Hooper, Dr. Bell-Irving)

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 exd5 4.Nf3 Nf6 5.Bd3 Bd6 6.O-O O-O 7.b3 b6 8.Bg5 Be7 9.Re1 Nbd7 10.Bb5 Re8 11.Bc6 Rb8 12.Bxf6 Bxf6 13.Rxe8+ Qxe8 14.Nc3 Bb7 15.Bxb7 Rxb7 16.Nxd5 Bd8 17.Qd3 c6 18.Re1 Qf8 19.Qa6 Rb8 20.Qxa7 cxd5 21. Qxd7 Bf6 22.Qxd5 h6 23.a4 Qb4 24.Qe4 Rd8 25.Rd1 Kf8 26.h3 Re8 27.Qh7 Qc3 28.d5 Be5 29.d6 Bxd6 30.Rxd6 Qc7 31.Rd1 f6 32.Nh4 1-0

As Piper wrote in the Province: "We do not think the game calls for notes. The student cannot fail to be struck with the very superior skill of the White practitioners."

International Telegraph Match
Vancouver (Keith, M. Smith, Proctor, Grant) - San Francisco (W.R. Lovegove, A.S. Howe, V.Q. Quiroga"]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Bc4 Bc5 5.O-O d6 6.c3 Bg4 7.Be2
Cook's Synopsis gives 7.Qb3 Bxf3 8.Bxf7+ Kf8 9.Bxg8 Rxg8 10.gxf3 g5 11.Qd5 Qd7 12.b4 Bb6 13.Bb2 d3 and Black is considered to have the better game.

7...dxc3 8.Nxc3 Nge7 9.Ng5 Bxe2 10.Nxe2 h6 11.Nf3 O-O 12.b3 f5 13.Ng3
Why not Bb2 and Qd3, and develop the Queen rook, whose fate reminds us of "dejected Marianne's at the moated grange."

13...fxe4 14.Nxe4 Bb6 15.Ng3 Qd7 16.h3 Rf7 17.a3 Raf8 18.Kh2 Ng6 19.Ra2 Nf4 20.Bxf4 Rxf4 21.Re2 Nd4 22.Nxd4 Bxd4 23.f3 Qf7 24.Rfe1 Be5 25.Re4 c6 26.Rxe5 dxe5 27.Rxe5 Re8 28.Re4 Rfxe4 29.Nxe4 Qc7+ 30.Kh1 Rd8 31.Qc2 Qd7 32.Qc4+ Qd5 33.Qb4 b6 34.Qe7 Qd7 35.Qh4 Qd1+ 36.Kh2 Rf8 37.Qe7 Qxb3 38.Qxa7 c5 39.Qa6 Rd8 40.Qa7 Qe6 41.Qa4 Qe5+ 42.Kh1 b5 43.Qc2 c4 44.Qc1 Kh8 45.Kg1 Rd3 0-1

Jubilant at their victory, the San Franciscans wanted more than ever to rectify their initial setback, and sent a belligerent telegram to Victoria: "You ought never to let it remain a tie. Either be the Star Club or else surrender. Lovegrove says he would like to have another whack at Piper, but will have to wait till Victoria has trained up for the Stars of the West." Piper responded in tongue in cheek fashion: "Stars of the West is good, and we 'pale our ineffectual fire.' We acknowledge ourselves to be but, as it were, a rushlight burning dimly in the presence of a luminary emitting an utterly dazzling and overpowering effulgence." Eventually arrangements were made for a rematch on three boards to be played 1 November 1895, but at the last minute San Francisco found the date unacceptable and the match was postponed indefinitely. Regrettably, as far as I can tell the rematch never did take place.

Before the Fire 1854-1906

Part Three - Early Club Champions

The best record of early club championships is Guthrie McClain's account in the July 1981 issue of Chess Life which we reprint here. McClain credits a manuscript by Dr. H.J. Ralston, co-founder of the California Chess Reporter, as his primary source. The first mention of a local championship is in The Argonaut column The Chess Player, a tournament at the Mechanics' Institute in 1885 won by J. Waldstein, with N.J. Manson 2nd and Fritz Peipers 3rd. A second tournament in 1885 was won by H. Heinemann, who won eight straight games and ended it right there.

Local tournaments continued, but records are practically non-existant since the closing of The Chess Player in 1888 - until 1920, when a San Francisco Chronicle column began. At that time the strongest players, and frequent club champions, were Elmer W. Gruer of Oakland and Adolph J. Fink, both of them also California champions on several occasions.

Local Champions
By the 1890s, there were regular club championships at the Mechanics' Institute. Gold medals were awarded to the winners. A list of club champions appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle of November 1905.

1894-5               Walter R. Lovegrove
1895                  George Thompson
1896 May           Walter S. Franklin
1896 Oct.           Oscar Samuels
1897                  Oscar Samuels
1898                  Walter R. Lovegrove
1898                  J.J. Dolan
1901                  Valentine Huber
1902                  Hobart K. Eels
1903                  Nathaniel J. Manson
1904                  Wallace E. Nevill
1905                  Arthur B. Stamer

The following article which appeared in the San Francisco Call of April 28, 1896, can be added to the original work by Ralston and McClain and was uncovered by Sibylle Zemitis.


Walter S. Franklin Carries Off the First Prize Gold Medal - Close of the Big Tourney - G. Thompson Succeeds in Securing Second Place After an Exciting Contest

The handicap tournament which has been in progress for some time at the Mechanics' Institute was concluded yesterday. There were thirty-two contestants divided into four classes as follows:

First class scratch - H.O. Chase, Thomas D. Condon, F.H. Curtis, J.M. Durkin, S. Epstein, W.S. Franklin, J. Hirsch, Thomas Martin, E.L. McClure, E. Nevill, Richard Ott, Oscar Samuels, Rudolf Stein, G.R. Thompson.

Second class, at odds of pawn and move - Fred Burnett, JR. Chicton, E.A. Cutting, H. Epstein, R.J. Harding, A. Schuman, C.W. Spalding, George Walker.

Third class, at odds of pawn and two moves - J. Boxall, R.F. McLeod, John Newman, Charles Muller, C. Thomas, J.M. Torres.

Fourth class, at odds of knight - George Burnett, I. Denton, C.L. Miel, A.D. Reynolds.

Dr. Benjamin Marshall, the nestor and patron of chess on the Pacific Coast, and Messrs. H. Hyneman, D. L. Lyons, Joseph Sullivan and Joseph Waldstein acted as judges, and Richard Ott as secretary. The tournament has been conducted under the rules as given in Steinitz's Modern Chess Instructor.

Time limit: Twenty moves per hour. Winners of first two games in each round to remain, losers to drop out entirely. Draws not to count. Following were

the results:

Winners of first round - Messrs. Boxall, Chase, Chilton, Condon, Cutting, Denton. H. Epstein, Franklin, McCluire, McLeod, Ott, Samuels, Stein and Thompson.

Winners of second round - Messrs. Boxall, Condon, Denton, Franklin, McClure, McLeod, Ott and Thompson.

Winners of third round - Messrs. Denton, Franklin and Thompson.

Winners of fourth round - Messrs. Franklin and Thompson.

Winner of fifth and final round - Walter S. Franklin, who consequently obtained first prize, a gold medal, and G.R. Thompson, second prize, a silver medal.

The contest has been an exciting one throughout, and when it finally settled down to between Franklin and Thompson the incidents occurring in the chessroom during the past week will long be remembered. C.R. Thompson has an international reputation, while Walter Franklin is not yet 18 years of age, and two years ago knew nothing about the game.

Walter Franklin is the son of Joseph Franklin, the well-known merchant on Battery Street. He was born in this City, attended the public schools, and is now a student of Cooper's Medical College. The moves were taught him by his father and by Oscar Samuels, another of the youthful champions of the Mechanics' Institute.

Franklin-Thompson [C11]
San Francisco (MI Championship) 1896

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.f4 c5 6.dxc5 Nxc5 7.b4 Ncd7 8.a3 Qh4+ 9.g3 Qd8 10.Bg2 f6 11.exf6 Nxf6 12.Nf3 Qb6 13.Qe2 Nc6 14.Bb2 Be7 15.Na4 Qc7 16.c4 0–0 17.Ng5 Kh8 18.0–0 Re8 19.Bxf6 Bxf6 20.Rac1 Bxg5 21.cxd5 Nd4 22.Qe4 Qd7 23.Nc5 Qxd5 24.Qd3 Nf3+ 25.Rxf3 Bf6 26.Qxd5 exd5 27.Rd3 b6 28.Bxd5 Bf5 29.Bxa8 Bxd3 30.Nxd3 Rxa8 31.Ne5 Kg8 32.Kf2 Re8 33.Re1 Bxe5 34.fxe5 Kf7 35.Kf3 Ke6 36.Ke4 Rc8 37.Rd1 Rc4+ 38.Rd4 Rc2 39.Rd6+ Ke7 40.Kd5 Rxh2 41.Kc6 g5 42.Rd7+ Ke6 43.Rxa7 Kxe5 44.Kxb6 Kf5 45.Rc7 Kg4 46.Rc3 h5 47.a4 Rg2 48.a5 Rxg3 49.Rxg3+ Kxg3 50.a6 h4 51.a7 g4 52.a8Q h3 53.Kc5 Kh2 54.Qa2+ Kh1 55.Qb1+ Kg2 56.Qc2+ Kf3 57.Qd1+ Kg3 58.Qe1+ Kf3 59.Qf1+ Kg3 60.Qg1+ Kf3 61.b5 g3 62.b6 h2 63.Qh1+ Kg4 64.Qg2 1–0

Mechanics’ Institute Club Championship 1898

The Mechanics' Institute, San Francisco,  chess tournament was finished in November. Dr. Lovegrove and Mr. Chilton tied for first and second places , and will play a deciding game. The scores in full read:

1-2. Chilton          11 ½ -½

1-2. Lovegrove 11 ½ -½

3. Samuels           8-4

4. Ott          7 ½ -4 ½

5-6. Neville     6 ½ -5 ½

5-6. Eppinger 6 ½ -5 ½

7. Durkin     5-7

8. Torres     4 ½ -7 ½

9. Denton    4-8

10-11.Spaulding 3-9

10-11.Mitchell 3-9

12. Cutting          2-10

13. Fairweather …-12  *

* Fairweather’s score is given as shown with nothing in the win column, but player’s scores for numbers 1-12 come out even.

American Chess Magazine  December 1898

Seattle vs. San Francisco May 1899

The following article was discovered by Chess Director Donaldson during a visit to the J.G. White Collection in Cleveland. It  features several prominent names including Dr. Lovegrove, one of the top San Francisco players for several decades, and W.A. Dickey. The latter is the subject of a monograph by MI member Robert Moore entitled W.A. Dickey: Alaska's First Champion. Dickey is perhaps best known for rediscovering, naming and estimating within 300 feet the height of Mt. McKinley, the highest mountain in North America.

"A match by telegraph was played in May between the leaders of chess of San Francisco and Seattle, which proved a most interesting contest.

Seven games were played, with the result that San Francisco won three games, drew three and lost one.  J. M. Babson was the fortunate Seattleite to have a victory fall on his shoulders.  He played a very brilliant game.  The result of the match was not as disappointing to Seattle as figures would indicate.  San Francisco is supposed to be much stronger in chess.

Table No. 1 - J. M. Babson, Seattle, defeated W. J. Manson.  San Francisco, in a King's Gambit Declined . Manson resigned on the fifty-first move.  Babson's attack was very brilliant and sustained throughout the entire play.

Table No. 2 - C. B. Bagley, Seattle, played a draw with Rodney Kendrick of  San Francisco, who is well known on Puget Sound.  The game was a Queen's Gambit Declined.

Table No. 3 - A. M. Cadien, Seattle, was defeated by Oscar Samuels, San Francisco in a Ruy Lopez opening.  Mr. Cadien resigned on the fifty-eighth move.

Table No. 4 - W. A. Dickey, Seattle, was defeated by W. R. Lovegrove, San Francisco, in a Ruy Lopez game.

Table No. 5 - Frank Steele, Seattle, and A.  J. Kuh, San Francisco, played a draw in a Sicilian Defense.  Steele had much the better of the ending.

Table No. 6 - J. W. Fitts, George Linder and Dr. C. W. Baldwin in consultation against Marshall, Cowdrey and Dolan of San Francisco, in consultation.  The Seattle contingent resigned.  The game was called a French Defense.

Table No. 7 - R. W. Barto, A. C. King and E. Lerch, Seattle, played a draw with Yerworth, Lyons and Mitchell, San Francisco.  The game was a Queen's Gambit Declined."

American Chess Magazine, July 1899

After the Fire

Part One - The Rebuilding

The 1906 earthquake destroyed the Mechanics' Institute, but it didn't take long for chess activity to spring up.  The Mechanics' Institute erected a temporary building at Grove and Polk Streets, where it had bought a block of land in 1881 on which now stands the Civic Auditorium.   The Institute's Office opened on May 23, 1906, construction was begun on June 4th, and after many trials of delayed materials and a scarcity of construction workers, the new building opened its doors in August, about four months after the fire.

During May, in response to the requests of many members, a chess room was provided in the building.  By July 1910, the new nine-story building at 57 Post Street was completed which means the following account from the San Francisco Chronicle of January 12, 1909, was about an event held at the temporary facility. Incidentally the Chess Room was housed on the 3rd floor of 57 Post Street until it was moved to its present location in 1923 when the Library needed room to expand.

Dr. Henry Epsteen Wins Big Chess Tournament - Only Gold Medal Winners to Compete -

Games at Mechanics'-Mercantile Library Arouse Great Interest

Dr. Henry Epsteen of this city is the winner of the gold medal in the chess tournament held under the management of the Mechanics'-Mercantile Library.  Dr. Epsteen won 14 of his games, lost 1 and 1 resulted in a draw.  M.Farragut was the winner of the silver medal and G. Legler the bronze medal. Arrangements for a tournament in which only winners of gold medals of previous tournaments will be permitted to compete are being made by the Mechanics'-Mercantile Library.  Such a tournament would arouse the interest of all chess players on the Pacific coast as several of the most brilliant chess players in the United States can be found in San Francisco.

The final score of the 17 contestants follows:

Dr. Epsteen    +14-1=1

M. Farragut    +12-3=1

G. Legler        +12-4=1

Rosenblat      +12-4=0

Simon            +11-5=0

Fink                +10-4=2

Ford               +10-6=0

Palmer            +9-7=0

Sternberg       +8-9=0

Harding          +7-9=0

Bergman        +7-9=0

Spaulding      +6-10=0

Dr. Seager     +6-9=1

Suttin             +4-12=0

Bamberger   +1-15=0

Rawling         +1-15=0

The MI recently acquired a reprint of the 1909 American Chess Bulletin which provided the following information.

"The Mechanics' Institute Chess and Checker Club of San Francisco, which flourished before the earthquake, has been reorganized, with J. J.  Dolan as president, J. L. Jaunet as secretary and treasurer, and Messrs. A. B. Stamer, L. A. Rosenblatt, H. Jones and Dr. G. Gere as other members of the executive committee.  The annual tournament for the gold medal was duly revived, and in a field of eighteen players, Dr. Henry Epstein proved the winner, with A. Ferragut and Dr. Legler, second and third respectively.  The brilliancy prize was won by Lawrence A. Rosenblatt for his game against Dr. Sternberg, on the award of Dr. W. R. Lovegrove".

ACB 1909, p 138

Telegraph Match - San Francisco versus Portland  October 12, 1921

Earlier Newsletters covered San Francisco's matches by telegraph against Vancouver and Victoria from the

1890s, as well as touching upon the LA-SF rivalry which lasted from 1913-1925, before transforming into the

annual face to face Northern California-Southern California battles. These were not the only long distance

competitions held at the MI which also faced Chicago, Portland and Seattle.

The following account from the American Chess Bulletin (Page 192, November 1921) covers a victory over a

northern neighbor with a rich chess tradition.

San Francisco 9½ - Portland 2½

The team of the Mechanics' Institute Chess, representing San Francisco, earned another splendid victory

in the intercity match by telegraph with Portland, Oregon, on October 12, wining to the tune of 9½ - 2½ . It

was considered the strongest side that had ever played for the Golden Gate and the Oregonians knew they had been in a real fight when all was over.

Portland did have the consolation of the following victory over the well-known problem composer A.J. Fink.

A.J. Fink - O. Goldman

French Winawer [C15]

San Francisco-Portland (Telegraph Match) 1921

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Bd3 c5 5.a3 cxd4 6.axb4 dxc3 7.bxc3 dxe4 8.Bxe4 Qxd1+ 9.Kxd1 Nf6 10.Bf3

0-0 11.Be3 Rd8+ 12.Kc1 a6 13.Kb2 e5 14.Bb6 Re8 15.Rd1 e4 16.Be2 Be6 17.h4 Nbd7 18.Bd4 Rac8

19.Nh3 Bc4 20.Rhe1 Bxe2 21.Rxe2 h6 22.Nf4 Ne5 23.f3 Nc4+ 24.Kb3 exf3 25.Rxe8+ Nxe8 26.Nd5 Kf8

27.Bc5+ Ned6 28.gxf3 Ke8 29.Rd4 b5 30.Nf4 Nf5 31.Rd5 Nxh4 32.Nh5 f6 33.Nxg7+ Kf7 34.Rd7+ Kg6 35.f4

Rc6 36.Ne8 Nf5 37.Bd4 h5 38.Bxf6 Rxf6 39.Nxf6 Kxf6 40.Ra7 h4 41.Rxa6+ Nfd6 42.Ra8 Kf5 43.Ka2 Kxf4

44.Kb1 Ne4 45.Kc1 h3 46.Kd1 h2 0-1

The California Chess Reporter Obituary.

A.J.Fink (1890-1956)

A.J.Fink was born on July 19, 1890 and died on December 15, 1956, at the age of 66 in San Francisco. An internationally-known problem composer, Fink had more than a thousand problems published during his lifetime and won on the order of one hundred prizes. His first problem was published in 1908; and between that date and 1922 he published more than 300 problems, of which approximately 40 were prize-winners.

Fink was one of the top over-the-board chessplayers at the Mechanics' Institute until his recent illness. During the last three or four years he was necessarily inactive because of the effects of a cerebral hemorrage. He was a Life Master of the United States Chess Federation. He first won the Master title in the Chicago Masters' Tournament of 1922; the requirements was to score 40% against a strong field which included Frank Marshall, Isaac Kashdan, Edward Lasker and Carlos Torre. Fink scored 42%.

Fink won the California State Championship three times (1922, 1928,1929) and was a co-champion once (1945, with Herman Steiner). Twice he was second to S.Mlotkowski, who then was residing in Los Angeles.

In 1923 when the Western Chess Association tournament was played in San Francisco, Fink was fourth behind Mlotkowski, N.T.Whitaker (the two tied for first) and S.Factor of Chicago, but ahead of other Californians.

In 1925 Fink was second with a score of 6.5-1.5, behind Mlotkowski, who won the title with 7.5-.5.

In 1926 Fink tied with Elmer W.Gruer of Oakland but lost the play-off; in 1928 he tied with Henry Gross of San Francisco and won the play-off. Fink was invited to the international tournament at Pasadena, 1932, where finished last, but with the creditable score of 3-8 against Alexander Alekhine, Isaac Kashdan, Arthur Dake, Sammy Reshevsky, Herman Steiner, Harry Borochow, J.Bernstein, Samuel Factor, Reuben Fine, Fred Reinfeld and J.J. Araiza.

Adolph was a collector of stray bits af analytical chess positions. There was nothing he liked better than to find a missed opportunity in someone's published game, and we wish we possessed a tenth of the remarkable collection of problem-like moves he presented almost daily to his fellow-members of the Mechanics' Institute, for they would make a book. He also was available for consultation on anybody's post-mortem - in which he delighted in defending so-called "lost positions" and reviving attacks which had supposedly gone astray.

An endgame wizard as most problemists are, Fink served as adjudication expert for all Northern California team matches and tournaments for many years. "Send it to Fink" was the way to settle the argument - in Sacramento and San Luis Obispo as well as in San Francisco. He never required payment and, as far as we know, he never made a mistake in his decisions.

Fink was kind to the California Chess Reporter. When we started out we were repeatedly balked in our search for chess diagram type. Fink quietly waylaid us one day in the Mechanics' Institute, a small but heavy box held out in his hand. "I heard you were looking for chess characters," he said, "here is a set you can have." He had saved the type from the days when he was problem editor of E.J.Clarke's chess column in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Visits by World Champions to the MI

This past century the MI has hosted many World Champions including Lasker (1902 and 1926), Capablanca (1916), Alekhine (1924 and 1929), Euwe (1947!?), Fischer (1964), Smyslov (1976), Petrosian (1978), Spassky (??) and Karpov (1999). The MI Chess Room is currently working on a project to preserve it's history. Any games, recollections or photos from simuls by World Champions at the MI would be most appreciated. Does anyone know the exact year that Euwe visited? Spassky was a guest at the Paul Masson tournament in the late 1970s/early 80s. Did he ever actually visit the MI?

On March 20, 1976 Former World Champion Vassily Smyslov faced strong opposition when he visited  the MI immediately after the 1976 Lone Pine tournament. Facing 30 boards, he scored won 18, lost 3 (Victor Baja, Randy Fong, and Jay Whitehead - all teenagers at  the time!), and drew 9 (Russell Bartoli, Gary Berry, Mike Dyslin, Pam Ford, Barry Kraft, Charles Moore, Rodney Phillips, Peter Stevens, and Ted Zwerdling) in an exhibition lasting 4 hours. Can anyone add to this?

Jose Raul Capablanca
We continue our look at visits by world champions to the Mechanics'. Thanks to Steve Brandwein for digging into the Chess Room's past.

"Capablanca At The Golden Gate By E.J. Clarke When Jose R. Capablanca stepped off the Shasta Limited at Oakland on Monday evening, April 10, and boarded the ferry for the city by the Golden Gate, he made history personally, as it was his first visit to the Golden Gate. It may have been a matter of clairvoyant knowledge that he was soon to make chess history in San Francisco, but of course, that was hidden from the sight of the normal-visioned committee of chess players from the Mechanics'Institute who met the world famous Cuban and escorted him across the bay and to his hotel in San Francisco. The following evening the youthful master made his bow at the Institute, when he faced thirty-two opponents, among whom were the best players of the bay cities (and, of course, some who just moved the pieces around with their hands). When Capablanca vanquished his final opponent shortly after midnight, the score stood: Capablanca, won 29, drawn 3. Messrs. Hallwegen, Chilton and Fink were the three who saved the Institute from a whitewash. Chilton, perhaps, had a win, but he thought any old thing would do. It didn't and the Cuban got away with a draw.

Wednesday afternoon Capablanca and Dr. Lovegrove sat down to an exhibition game, the latter offered his favorite Ruy Lopez, with which he defeated World Champion Lasker several years ago. But he skill of the Pan-American champion was too much for the local expert, and the latter resigned after forty-eight moves. In the evening Capablanca showed his skill at ten-second chess, playing two games apiece with the following and winning every game: Messrs. Stamer, Fink, W.Smith, De Long, Professor Ryder, Hallwegen and Gruer. Thus he played fourteen games in forty-five minutes, an average of about game in three minutes, not counting delay in putting in a fresh opponent. This was probably Capablanca's most impressive exhibition, and providing the liveliest entertainment for the spectators. It was a matter of observation that the master never faltered, never was at a loss for a plausible continuation, and never, so far as could be noticed, made a move solely because of call of time. His play apparently was the result of a plan and possessed coherence and objectivity. Neither were the Institute players on wholly unfamiliar ground, as the lightening game is quite a favorite here. A.B. Stamer defeated Marshall at five-second chess on the occasion of his last visit to the coast.

At the conclusion of play the international master played against two teams in consultation at thirty moves an hour. Thus, Capablanca in reality made his moves at the rate of sixty moves an hour. At board No.1, E.J. Clarke, A.J. Fink and Bernardo Smith had charge of the White pieces, assisted by Dr. Haber, Judge De Long, W. Smith and others. Capablanca defended with the French and turned it into a McCutcheon. The allies resigned on their thirty-eighth move. At Board No. 2, the master was pitted against Club Champion E.W. Gruer, B. Forsberg, the young Finnish expert, recently from the Czar's domain, where he was secretary of the Abo Chess Club, Professor A.W. Ryder, a former Harvard University star, now at the University of California, and several other lesser stars also threw the weight of their advice in the White side of the balance, all, however, to no purpose, as Capablanca forced their surrender in thirty seven moves of a Queen's Pawn opening.

That concluded Capablanca's engagement in San Francisco. Thus he played all told, 49 games, winning 46, while 3 were drawn. Except for the charm of Capablanca's personality, his entire lack of the "swelled head," and his gentlemanly, courteous bearing, it would have been a far more bitter pill for the Institute players to swallow. During the history of the Mechanics' Institute it has entertained Zukertort, Lasker, Pillsbury, Marshall and several lesser lights of the chess world, but never before has a master been able to get away without the loss of several games during blindfold, simultaneous exhibitions or rapid chess. American Chess Bulletin, May-June 1916"

Jose Capablanca - A.J. Fink

San Francisco (simul) 1916

Queen's Gambit [D07]

1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.c4 e6 4.Nc3 Be7 5.Bf4 Nf6 6.e3 a6 7.Rc1 0-0 8.Bd3 dxc4 9.Bxc4 Na5 10.Bd3 c5 11.dxc5 Bxc5 12.0-0 Nc6 13.Ne4 Be7 14.Qc2 Nb4 15.Nxf6 gxf6 16.Bxh7 Kg7 17.Qb1 f5 18.Rfd1 Qe8 19.Bxf5 exf5 20.Nd4 Nd5 21.Nxf5+ Bxf5 22.Qxf5 Nxf4 23.Qxf4 Rh8 24.Rc7 Rd8 25.Rxd8 Qxd8 26.Qg4 Bg5 27.Rxb7 Rh4 28.Qf3 Be7 29.b3 Rh6 30.g3 Qd6 31.h4 Rf6 32.Qg4+ Rg6 33.Qf4 Qd1 34.Kg2 Bxh4 35.Qf3 Qxf3 36.Kxf3 Bf6 37.Rb6 Bc3 38.Rxg6 Kxg6 39.Kg4 Kf6 40.f4 Ke6 41.e4 f6 42.Kf3 a5 43.Ke3 Be1 44.g4 Kd6 45.g5 fxg5 46.fxg5 Ke5 47.g6 1/2-1/2

Jose Capablanca - G. Hallwegen

San Francisco (simul) 1916

Irregular [C00]

1.e4 e6 2.d4 g6 3.Nf3 Bg7 4.Bd3 Ne7 5.Bg5 d6 6.Qd2 Nd7 7.0-0 0-0 8.Bh6 Nf6 9.Bxg7 Kxg7 10.Nc3 Nc6 11.e5 Nd7 12.Qf4 d5 13.Ne2 Ne7 14.Ng3 c6 15.Qg5 Ng8 16.Qg4 Qe7 17.Ng5 Re8 18.f4 Nf8 19.f5 exf5 20.Bxf5 Nh6 21.Qh4 Bxf5 22.Nxf5 Nxf5 23.Qf4 Ne6 24.Nxe6 Qxe6 25.Rf3 h5 26.Raf1 Qe7 27.h3 Rf8 28.g4 hxg4 29.hxg4 Nh6 30.Kg2 Qe6 31.Qf6 Kg8 32.Rg3 Nxg4 33.Qxe6 fxe6 34.Rxg4 Kg7 35.Rh1 Rh8 36.Rxh8 Rxh8 37.b4 Rf8 1/2-1/2

Emanuel Lasker
World Champion Emanuel Lasker visited the Mechanics' on two occasions. In 1902 he gave a small simul and lost a well-known game for stakes against the strong San Francisco amateur Dr. Walter Romaine Lovegrove. Walter R. Lovegrove - Emanuel Lasker

San Francisco (Stakes Games) 1902

Ruy Lopez Open Variation [C82]

( Notes by IM Imre Konig )


In meeting over the board the greatest tactician of all time, Dr. Lovegrove holds his own -- even after having drifted into an inferior position.

1...e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Nxe4 6.d4 b5 7.Bb3 d5 8.dxe5 Be6 9.c3 Bc5 10.Nbd2 0-0 11.Qe2 Nxd2 12.Bxd2 f6 13.Rad1

With the threat of 14 exf6 Bxf6 15 Bg5 Qf7 16 Rxe6.

13... Nxe5 14.Nxe5 fxe5 15.Qxe5 Qd6 16.Qxd6 Bxd6 17.Rfe1 Kf7

On 17...Rae8 18. Rxe6 Rxe6 19.Bxd5 wins. Black could have met the threats with 17...Bf7, but with 18.Bg5 White would have obtained the initiative. With the text, a typical Lasker move, Black gets the upper hand. 18.Be3 c6 19.Bc2 Rae8 20.a4 Bg4 21.f3 Bd7

Not 21...Rxe3 22.Rxe3 Bc5 23.Rd4 Bxd4 24.cxd4, for then Black's pawn majority would be immobile.

22.Kf2 Re7 23.axb5 axb5 24.Bg5 Rxe1 25.Rxe1 b4 26.Bd2 Rb8 27.Bc1 Be7

With the threat of ...Bf6. White's position looks hopeless. If 28.Bxh7, then 28...Bf6 would follow. However White finds a saving manuever.

28.Bf4 Ra8 29.Be5 Bf6 30.Bxf6 Kxf6 31.Ke3 Ra2 32.cxb4 Rxb2 33.Bxh7!

The point of ther combination initiated with the 28th move. The locked-in Bishop will be a dangerous prisoner. 33...g6 34.h4 Rxb4 35.g4 Kg7 36.Kf2 Rb7 37.Re7+ Kf6 38.Re1 Bc8 39.Re8 Bxg4 40.Bxg6

Showing excellent judgment, White allows Black two united passed pawns rather than choosing the variation 40.fxg4 Rxh7 41.Rc8 Rxh4 42.Rxc6+ Kg5 which would have caused him more difficulties.

40... Bd7 41.Rg8 Be6 42.Re8 c5 43.h5 c4 44.h6 Kxg6 45.Rxe6+ Kf5 46.Re8 Rh7 47.Ke3 Rxh6 48.Kd4 Rd6 49.Rf8+ Kg5 50.Ke5 d4?!

Black should have been satisfied with a draw. The text-move loses in all variations, but Dr. Lasker can scarcely be blamed for not seeing the problem-like ending which now ensues.

51.Kxd6 d3 52.Ke5 d2 53.Rg8+ Kh4

If 53...Kh5 54.Kf5 Kh6 55.Kf6 Kf7 56.Rg7+ Kh8 ( 57...Kh6 58.Rg2) 57.Rd7 f3=20 58.Kg6 wins.

54.Kf4 Kh3 55.Rd8 c3 56.Ke3 1-0

California Chess Reporter , August 1956, pages 11-12.

Lasker scored eight wins, one draw and two losses in his 11 board simul.

Emanuel Lasker - N. Manson Scotch [C45]

San Francisco (simul) 1902

1.e4 e5 2.d4 exd4 3.Nf3 Nc6 4.Nxd4 Qh4 5.Nc3 Bb4 6.Nf3 Qxe4+ 7.Be2 Nf6 8.0-0 Bxc3 9.bxc3 0-0 10.Bd3 Qg4 11.h3 Qh5 12.Rb1 a6 13.Bg5 d6 14.Re1 Ne5 15.Bxf6 gxf6 16.Be2 Qh6 17.Rb4 Kh8 18.Qc1 Qxc1 19.Rxc1 Rg8 20.Kf1 b5 21.Rf4 Kg7=20 22.Nd4 Be6 23.Re4 Bxa2 24.f4 Bd5 25.Re3 Nc4 26.Re7 Bxg2+!

Lasker overlooked this shot that clinches the win for Manson . Does anyone know anything about Manson? 27.Kf2 c5 28.Ne6+ Kh8 29.Rxf7 Bd5 30.Bg4 Rxg4 31.hxg4 Bxe6 32.Rxf6 Bxg4 33.Rh1 h5 34.Kg3 Kg7 0-1

Lasker's second visit came 24 years later, after he had relinquished the crown to Capablanca. On March 22, 1926 J.F. Smyth of Oakland was the only winner against Dr. Lasker at the Mechanics' Institute Chess Club, where play stopped at 12:30 am. The judges adjudicated a win on the 48th move. Draws conceded by Dr. Lasker were credited to W.P. Barlow, H.J. Ralston, and Arthur Feldman. Adjudicated draws went to A.J. Fink and E.W. Gruer, both former state champions; E.O. Fawcett, Hugo Legler and H.O. Sjoberg. The adjudicators were Bernardo Smith, captain of the M.C.C. team, and L.B. Zapoleon, formerly of Washington D.C. American Chess Bulletin, page 51, 1926

The Mechanics' is trying to preserve its chess history and the Newsletter will be printing some of the results. If you have any information (games, photos, anecdotes, newspaper clippings, etc.) pertaining to visits by Vassily Smyslov and Tigran Petrosian to the M.I. please contact John Donaldson.

Alexander Alekhine 1924 and 1929
Alexander Alekhine visited the Mechanics' Institute twice. His first trip to San Francisco came in 1924, a few years before he was to become world champion. Statistics published in the American Chess Bulletin have Alekhine giving a simul on February 27, scoring 23 wins, 4 losses and 5 draws on 32 boards. No games seem to have surfaced from this exhibition, but A.A. chose to include the following exhibition game in his book, On the Road to the World Championship.

W. Lovegrove and E.W. Gruer - A. Alekhine

San Francisco (exhibition game) 1924

Ruy Lopez [C78]

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Bc5 6.c3 Ba7 7.d4 Nxe4 8.d5 Ne7 9.Bc2 f5 10.Nxe5 d6 11.Nf3 0-0 12.c4 Ng6 13.Nbd2 Nf6! 14.Nb3 Ne5 15.Nbd4 Ne4 16.b3 Qf6! 17.Bb2 Nxf3+ 18.gxf3 Ng5 19.f4 Bxd4! 20.Bxd4 Qxd4 21.fxg5 Qf4 22.Kh1 b5! 23.Qd3 bxc4 24.bxc4 a5! 25.a4 Ba6 26.Bb3 Rab8 27.Rac1 Rfe8 28.Rg1 Re4 29.Qg3 g6! 30.Rc3 Qd2 31.c5 f4 32.Qf3 Re1! 33.h4 Be2! 34.Qh3 Rxg1+ 35.Kxg1 Qe1+ 36.Kh2 Re8! 37.cxd6 cxd6 38.Bc4 Bxc4 0-1

Alekhine returned to the M.I. in the spring of 1929 as World Champion and his activities were well-documented by M.I. member E.J. Clarke in the San Francisco Chronicle. The clock simul on three boards went reasonably well, but A.A. received very rough treatment by club members in the simul. The exhibition held on May 11 was in fact one of the worst A.A. ever suffered, scoring 27 wins, 8 draws and 8 losses - barely over 70 percent! Not only that, Alekhine didn't race through the exhibition as it ran from 8:30 pm to 2:30 am. Clarke poses the question to Chronicle readers, "Was Alekhine off his game or is it true, as rumored, that we have an unusually strong group of chess players in San Francisco and the Bay Cities." Guthrie McClain in his account of the M.I.'s history in Chess Life in 1981 mentions the legendary hospitality of the Institute. What does he mean by "hospitality"? Legend has it that right before the simul A.A. was treated to an excellent meal with plenty of spirits.

Max Euwe
Continuing our series on World Champions at the MI we move from Alexander Alekhine to Max Euwe. The information on Dr. Euwe's visit is incomplete, but we hope to rectify this at a later date with the assistance of MI Trustee Neil Falconer who drew with the Dutch World Champion. Here is what we have so far.

Max Euwe: 1949 (!?) maybe 1947 January 22, 1949  +16, -3, =3

On January 22, at 8pm, Dr. Euwe was the guest of the Mechanics Institute Chess Club. It was a real gala affair. It took Euwe four hours to finish the show and over 200 spectators watch the battle which ensued during that time. He won 16, lost three (to Herbert Dashel, 17year old San Francisco high school boy; Robert T. Konkel,  Richmond,  and Paul Wolf, San Francisco) and drew three ) Charles Bagby, San Francisco; Neil T. Falconer, Berkeley; and Charles Svalberg, Russian Chess Club.

Max Euwe - Robert Konkel

San Francisco Simul  1949

Ruy Lopez C 90

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.c3 Na5 9.Bc2 c5 10.d4 Qc7 11.Nbd2 0-0 12.Nf1 Bd7

Since White has omitted h3, Black might want to consider 12...Bg4.

13.dxe5 dxe5 14.Ne3 Rad8 15.Nd5 Qd6 16.Nxe7+ Qxe7 17.Bg5 Nc4 18.Rb1?

18.b3 and  18.Bc1 are both superior to the text .

18...h6 19.Bc1 b4 20.Bb3 Na5 21.Bd2 Bc6 22.Qc2 c4! 23.Ba4 b3! 24.axb3 cxb3

25.Bxb3 Bxe4 26.Rxe4 Nxe4 27.Bxf7+ Qxf7 28.Qxe4 Rxd2 29.Nxd2 Qxf2+ 30.Kh1

Qxd2 31.Qxe5 Qxb2 0-1

Source: California Chess News ???

Frank Marshall at the Mechanics' Institute (1913 and 1915)

The MI has a long tradition of hosting famous players from around the world. MI Chess Room staff member Steve Brandwein recently unearthed two visits by the American Champion Frank Marshall not too long after the Institute opened its new quarters. San Francisco had no regular chess column until the 1920s, but the Call, Chronicle and Examiner did write up special events. Often the details in local papers didn't quite tally with the accounts rendered in the American Chess Bulletin, the only national chess magazine at the time.

"Brilliant Play of Chess Master
Champion Marshall Meets Thirty-one Players at Once

"Playing up to his great reputation for brilliance and combinations, Frank J. Marshall, champion chess player of America, met 31 players in a simultaneous exhibition at the Mechanics’ Institute Tuesday Night. A count of boards at the conclusion of play showed that the visiting master had won 25, lost 1, while five games were drawn. The performance was witnessed by a large gallery, who filled the large library room of the Institute. Unfortunately, a lack of boards and pieces prevented a record number of simultaneous games for this city.

Marshall fully lived up to his reputation, and time and again evoked the unstinted praise of the spectators as he evolved a brilliant mating combination or else cleverly frustrated a well laid plan for his destruction.

A feature of the exhibition was the participation of a 9 year old devotee of Caissa, Miss Marie Silvius, at board No. 20, who secured a well played draw.

Bernardo Smith, a member of the Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club, was the single player to defeat the master. Those drawing beside Miss Silvius were George Hallwegen, A.J. Fink, E.J. Clarke and Mr. Haring.

Marshall will repeat his performance on Thursday evening at the Mechanics’ Institute, when every effort will be made to surpass the record of 57 boards simultaneously, which Marshall recently played at Pittsburgh, PA. Players desiring to meet the champion are requested by the committee to bring their own boards and men."

San Francisco Examiner July 8, 1913

Marshall in the Far West
Under the caption of “Veni, Vidi, Vici - Marshall,” the San Francisco Call , in its issue of July 6, prints the following account of the United States champion’s doings while at the Golden Gate:

"Frank J. Marshall is no longer a stranger to San Francisco chess players. If perchance he should return to the coast next year he will be greeted by friends who, previous to his four-day visit as the guest of the Mechanics’ Institute, were of necessity his admirers only.

The American champion arrived here last Tuesday morning. Although somewhat fatigued by the railroad journey from Portland, Marshall gave a brilliant exhibition of his skill at simultaneous play at the Institute Tuesday evening, when he met by a strong field of thirty-one players. The master won 25, 6 were drawn and B. Smith alone succeeded in vanquishing the visitor. The performance attracted about 300 spectators.

Wednesday afternoon Marshall played two exhibition games simultaneously against Professor A.W. Ryder and E.W. Gruer in consultation at board No. 1, wile at board 2 he was opposed by A.B. Stamer and A.J. Fink. The allies at board No. 1, defending against Marshall’s pet Danish attack, held the expert

to a well-played forty-move draw. Messrs. Stamer and Fink, with the white pieces, were met by Marshall’s favorite Petroff. This game was also declared drawn, although the master had probably a winning advantage.

Thursday evening Marshall repeated his simultaneous peformance, playing against thirty-eight opponents, winning 27, with 5 drawn and 6 lost.

Friday the visitor entertained with some rapid transit chess at five and ten seconds per move. A.B. Stamer succeeded in putting one over on the champion during the five-second seance.

American Chess Bulletin 1913, page 177

Marshall visits MI February 27 and 28, 1915

"Quite the best showing was made against Marshall at San Francisco, where no less than eight “nicked” his escutcheon, so the report goes, to the tune of a win apiece. There were also four drawn games. The winners were Dr. W.R. Lovegrove, Dr. Henry Epsteen, R.C. Stephenson, S.C. Chandler, J. Drouillard, F.Sternberg, B. Smith and F.C. de Long. The drawn games were scored by F.W. Huber, G. Branch, A. Epsteen and E.W. Gruer and E.J. Clarke in consultation. Marshall also gave a “private” performance against fifteen opponents, making

a score of 13 wins and 2 losses.

An exhibition game between Marshall and Dr. W. R. Lovegrove, at twenty games an hour, at the Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club, resulted in a draw after a great battle lasting 81 moves. A similar game with E.W. Gruer, the new club champion, at twenty-five moves an hour, was scored by Gruer in consequence of Marshall’s capturing a “hot” pawn. Taken altogether, the Golden Gate gave the champion a warm reception. A trip to the Exposition grounds was not the least interesting  portion of the programme."

American Chess Bulletin 1915, page 75

Marshall,F - Lovegrove,W [C51]

Simultaneous  San Francisco, 27.02.1915

1.e4 e5 2.d4 exd4 3.Nf3 Nc6 4.Bc4 Bc5 5.0-0 d6 6.b4 Bxb4 7.c3 Bc5 8.cxd4 Bb6 9.Nc3 Na5 10.Bd3 Ne7 11.Bb2 Ng6 12.Nd5 f6 13.h4 Bg4 14.Qa4+ Qd7 15.Nxb6 axb6 16.Bb5 c6 17.Be2 b5 18.Qc2 Nf4 19.e5 Nxe2+ 20.Qxe2 fxe5 21.dxe5 0-0 22.exd6 Bxf3 23.gxf3 Rae8 24.Qd3 Nc4 25.Bc3 Re6 26.Rad1 Rg6+ 27.Kh2 Rf4 28.Qxg6 Rxh4+ 29.Kg1 hxg6 30.Rd4 Rxd4 0-1

Marshall ,F - Gruer and Clarke [C44]

Consultation Game San Francisco, 27.02.1915

1.e4 e5 2.d4 exd4 3.Nf3 Nc6 4.Bc4 Bc5 5.0-0 d6 6.b4 Bb6 7.a4 a6 8.a5 Ba7 9.b5 axb5 10.Bxb5 Bg4 11.a6 Qc8 12.c3 Bxf3 13.Qxf3 Nge7 14.e5 0-0 15.exd6 cxd6 16.Bf4 Bc5 17.axb7 Qxb7 18.Rxa8 Qxa8 19.Qg3 Rd8 20.h4 Ng6 21.Bg5 f6 22.h5 fxg5 23.hxg6 h6 24.Re1 Ne5 25.cxd4 Bxd4 26.Nd2 Rf8 27.Re2 Nxg6 28.Qxd6 Nf4 29.Re4 Bc3 30.Bc6 Qd8 31.Qxd8 Rxd8 32.Nc4 Bd4 33.Ne3 Bxe3 34.Rxe3 h5 35.g3 Nh3+ 36.Kg2 g4 37.Re8+ Rxe8 38.Bxe8 h4 ½-½

Lovegrove,W - Marshall,F [C43]

Exhibition Game San Francisco, 28.02.1915

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.d4 exd4 4.e5 Ne4 5.Qxd4 d5 6.exd6 Nxd6 7.Bg5 f6 8.Bf4 Nc6 9.Qd2 Bg4 10.Nc3 Qe7+ 11.Be2 0-0-0 12.Qe3 Nf5 13.Qxe7 Bxe7 14.0-0 g5 15.Bc1 Rhe8 16.h3 Bxf3 17.Bxf3 Nfd4 18.Bxc6 bxc6 19.Rb1 Nxc2 20.Ne4 Rd4 21.f3 f5 22.Nxg5 Bc5 23.Kh1 Re2 24.f4 Rf2 25.Rg1 Rd3 26.Ne6 Bb6 27.b4 Rg3 28.Rb2 a5 29.bxa5 Ba7 30.Rd1 Rg8 31.a6 Rfxg2 32.Rd8+ Rxd8 33.Kxg2 Rg8+ 34.Kf3 Ne1+ 35.Ke2 Ng2 36.Kd3 Rg3+ 37.Kc4 Ne3+ 38.Bxe3 Rxe3 39.Nc5 Ra3 40.Re2 Bxc5 41.Kxc5 Rxa6 42.Re7 Rxa2 43.Rxh7 Ra4 44.Kxc6 Rc4+ 45.Kd5 Rxf4 46.Ke5 Rf1 47.h4 Kb7 48.h5 f4 49.Ke4 f3 50.h6 Kc6 51.Rf7 Re1+ 52.Kd3 Rh1 53.Rf6+ Kd5 54.Ke3 c5 55.Rxf3 Rxh6 56.Kd3 Rh4 57.Rf5+ Kc6 58.Kc3 Kb5 59.Rf3 Ra4 60.Kb2

Rb4+ 61.Kc3 Ra4 62.Kb2 Ra7 63.Rf8 Kb4 64.Rb8+ Kc4 65.Rb3 Rg7 66.Rh3 Rg2+ 67.Kc1 Kb4 68.Rh8 c4 69.Rh3 Ra2 70.Kb1 Re2 71.Kc1 Rf2 72.Rg3 Rh2 73.Rf3 Kc5 74.Rg3 Ra2 75.Rh3 Kb4 76.Kb1 Rg2 77.Rf3 c3 78.Rf8 Rd2 79.Kc1 Rd5 80.Kc2 Rd2+ 81.Kc1 ½-½

Kostic at the MI

The Serbian Grandmaster Boris Kostic (1887-1963) was one of the greatest travelers in chess history, circling the globe in the days before the beginning of commercial aviation. Among the places he visited was the

Mechanics' Institute in August of 1915. The American Chess Bulletin from 1915 (page 195) writes about Kostic's exploits.

"Boris Kostics and his Movements"

Boris Kostic, of Budapest, proposes to become thoroughly acquainted with chess players of the United States and especially so in the far West, where he has been since the middle of July. After leaving Chicago, early in the month, he traveled by way of St. Louis, Kansas City, Topeka, Lincoln, Omaha, Denver, Colorado Springs to California, where he stopped in turn at San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Sacramento. Wishing to visit the Yellowstone Park, the Hungarian master invested in a special tour, which took him first northerly by way of Portland, Seattle and Vancouver to Spokane, Butte and Yellowstone Park, and from there back to San Francisco by way of Salt Lake City.

He made another protracted stay at the Golden Gate and in addition to giving his usual exhibitions, he met, among others, such strong players as Dr. Lovegrove, S. Mlotkowski, N.T. Whitaker, S. Rubinstein and G. Hallwegen. All went down to defeat before the powerful play of the visitor, whose extraordinary brilliancies have captivated chess lovers wherever he went. Kostic was so well pleased with San Francisco that he prolonged his sojourn there far beyond the time originally intended. Consequently, points in the South which had been notified of his coming were disappointed at his nonappearance. His itinerary will take him though portions of Texas to New Orleans, after which he will come North again by way of Lafayette, Nashville, Memphis, Louisville, Lexington, Cincinnati and Indianapolis, and then proceed to Milwaukee, Madison, St. Paul and Minneapolis before returning to Chicago. His continental tour will be concluded with visits to Saginaw, Toledo, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Washington, Baltimore and Philadelphia."

Reshevsky at the Mechanic's Institute

The Mechanics' Institute has a long tradition of hosting Grandmasters dating back to the 1880s. Early Newsletters looked at visits by the World Champions. More recently we covered the period 1910-1919 when Frank Marshall and Bora Kostic came to the MI. Now we move to the 1920s and one of the best publicized chess events in Bay Area chess history, the visit by boy wonder Sammy Reshevsky.

Different sources give different birth dates for Sammy, some list 1909 and others 1911, but in either case he was no more than 11 when he arrived in Oakland by train on June 17, 1921, and took the ferry over to San Francisco. On June 21 he gave the first of two exhibitions at the Emporium's assembly room, scoring eleven wins and one draw 2 hours and 35 minutes. The second event was held on June 23 at the Hotel St. Francis' Italian room, with Reshevsky taking only one hour to down ten players.

Reshevsky's only draw was with Arthur Stamer, one of the top players at the MI and a future Chess Room Director. An annual tournament is held each June by the Mechanics' to honor Stamer's memory.

Ruy Lopez [C87]

S. Reshevsky - A. Stamer

San Francisco (simul)  June 21,1921

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0–0 d6 6.c3 Be7 7.Re1 0–0 8.d4 b5 9.Bc2 h6 10.h3 Nh7 11.Nbd2 Bg5 12.Nf1 Bxc1 13.Rxc1 Qf6 14.Ng3 Ng5 15.Re3 Ne7 16.dxe5 dxe5 17.Qf1 Ng6 18.Nh5 Nxf3+ 19.Rxf3 Qg5 20.Ng3 Be6 21.Nf5 Nf4 22.Kh2 Bxf5 23.exf5 Rad8 24.Rd1 Rxd1 25.Bxd1 e4 26.Re3 Qxf5 27.Bc2 Re8 28.f3 Nd3 29.Qe2 Nc1 30.Rxe4 Rxe4 31.Qxe4 Qxe4 32.fxe4 Nxa2 33.Kg3 a5 34.Kf4 b4 35.c4 Nc1 36.Ke3 b3 37.Kd2 bxc2 38.Kxc1 Kf8 39.Kxc2 Ke7 40.c5 Ke6 41.Kc3 Ke5 42.Kd3 h5 43.g3 f6 44.Ke3 c6 45.Kd3 h4 46.gxh4 Kf4 47.b3 Kf3 48.Kd4 Kf4 49.Kd3 Kg3 50.Kd4 Kxh3 51.e5 fxe5+ 52.Kxe5 Kxh4 53.Kd6 g5 54.Kxc6 g4 55.Kb5 g3 56.c6 g2 57.c7 g1Q 58.c8Q Qe1 59.Qd8+ Kg4 60.Qxa5 Qe8+ ½–½

Italian Game [C55]

S. Reshevsky - W. Tevis

San Francisco (simul) June 21,1921

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.c3 d6 5.d4 exd4 6.cxd4 Bb6 7.0–0 Nf6 8.Bb5 0–0

9.Bxc6 bxc6 10.Nc3 h6 11.Be3 Bg4 12.h3 Bxf3 13.Qxf3 Nh7 14.Qe2 Kh8 15.Rad1 f6

16.f4 d5 17.e5 f5 18.Qf3 Qe7 19.Ne2 Rf7 20.Kh1 Raf8 21.g4 fxg4 22.hxg4 Ng5

23.Qg2 Ne4 24.Nc3 Nxc3 25.bxc3 g6 26.Qh2 Rh7 27.f5 gxf5 28.gxf5 Ba5 29.e6 Qd6

30.Bf4 Qe7 31.Be5+ Kg8 32.Rg1+ 1–0

Thirty-five years later Reshevsky gave a clock exhibition (45/2) at the MI scoring 5 wins, one loss and one draw against a field made up of Experts and Masters.

Reshevsky's opponent in the following game, former US Senior Open Champion Neil Falconer, had this to say about his famous opponent. "He was one of the smallest men I have ever seen - but he was all steel wire

and blazing tenacity: one of the toughest tenacious chess players of all time."

Sicilian [B56]

N. Falconer - Reshevsky,S

San Francisco (clock simul) February 11, 1956

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Nc6 6.h3 e5 7.Nf3 Be7 8.Be2 0–0 9.Bg5 Be6 10.Qd2 Qb6 11.0–0 Rfd8 12.Bxf6 Bxf6 13.Nd5 Bxd5 14.exd5 Ne7 15.c4 Ng6 16.Bd3 Nf4 17.Bc2 Rac8 18.Rac1 g6 19.b3 a5 20.g3 Nh5 21.Kg2 a4 22.Ng5 axb3 23.axb3 Ra8 24.Ra1 Rxa1 25.Rxa1 e4 26.Re1 e3! 0-1

The following game, from a different Reshevsky clock simul, was played

against the well known bridge and chess master Roy Hoppe.

English [A24]

R. Hoppe - S. Reshevsky

San Francisco (clock simul) 1961

1.c4 Nf6 2.Nc3 g6 3.Nf3 Bg7 4.g3 0–0 5.Bg2 d6 6.0–0 e5 7.d3 Nbd7 8.Rb1 a5 9.a3 Re8 10.b4 axb4 11.axb4 Nf8 12.Nd2 Ne6 13.b5 Nc5 14.Nde4 Nfxe4 15.Nxe4 Ne6 16.Nc3 f5 17.Nd5 Bd7 18.e3 c6 19.bxc6 bxc6 20.Nb4 Qc7 21.Bd2 Ra3 22.Ra1 Rea8 23.Rxa3 Rxa3 24.Qc1 Ra7 25.Qc2 h5 26.Rb1 Kh7 27.Rb2 e4 28.Ra2 exd3 29.Nxd3 c5 30.Rxa7 Qxa7 31.Bc3 Qa4 32.Qxa4 Bxa4 33.Bxg7 Kxg7 34.Kf1 Be8 35.Ke2 Kf6 36.f4 g5 37.fxg5+ Kxg5 38.Nf4 Bf7 39.Bd5 Nd8 40.Bxf7 Nxf7 41.e4 fxe4 42.Ke3 Ne5 43.Kxe4 Nxc4 44.Kd5 Nd2 45.Kxd6 c4 46.Kc5 c3 47.Kb4 c2 48.Ne2


San Francisco - Los Angeles Telegraph Matches

Earlier issues dealt with San Francisco's matches with Vancouver and Victoria in the 1890s. Now we start to take a look at the famous series with Los Angeles that started in 1913 and ran into the mid-1920s when it metamorphisized into the face to face North-South matches with the advent of the automobile. Those of you who have visited the MI Chess Room may recognize some of the names of the players in the 1915 event from some of the photographs that are displayed in the Chess Room.

San Francisco, 9 1/2; Los Angeles, 5 1/2, September 1915

Labor Day was utilized by the Mechanics' Institute Chess Club of San Francisco and the Los Angeles Chess and Checker Club for the purpose of holding another telegraphic match, which, after the adjudication of three unfinished games, ended in favor of San Francisco by 9 1/2 to 5 1/2, thereby reversing the result of the last encounter between these two clubs.  E. W. Gruer acted as team captain for San Francisco, while E.R. Perry performed a like office for Los Angeles.  The match went off smoothly, except for complaint from both sides concerning the slowness to which certain of the players were prone.

There was no timing system and play went on under an agreement to keep the games "speeded up" within fifteen or twenty moves an hour.  This proved unsatisfactory.  Such a match cannot be expeditiously handled without the aid of timing clocks, which have always been called into use in telegraphic matches in the East and in the cable matches. Clocks having been installed, it remains only to a point efficient referees or umpires, who will conscientiously watch these clocks and see to it that they are set promptly in motion the moment moves received over the wire have been made on the boards.

Los Angeles found the increase in the size of the teams to fifteen boards too much of a handicap, for, at the last seven boards, San Francisco won outright no less than six games.  The struggle on the first eight boards was by Los Angeles.  Boris Kostic, present during the match, was invited to act as

referee, but declined.  Professor Levy, of the University of California, represented Los Angeles at San Francisco.  It is probable that the next match will again be played on ten boards. The summary of the match is appended:

Bds.   San Francisco          Los Angeles         Bds.  San Francisco    Los Angeles

1.  Gruer............1/2             Mlotkowski.......1/2      9     Stamer........1  Greer...........0

2.  Rubinstein*...1/2          W.S.Waterman 1/2     10   W. Smith......1 Geldert..........0

3.  Hallwegen.......0               Perry................1      11 Dickinson.......1   Anderson... 0

4.  Fink*.............1/2            Woodward........1/2    12 Haber.............1    Moore.........0

5.  Clarke...........1/2          C.W.Waterman 1/2     13 Stephenson...1 Burnett...........0

6.  Nevill.............1/2            Peterson..........1/2    14 Bergman.........1    McAnslor....0

7.  B. Smith........1/2          L'Hommede.......1/2   15    Ford..............0 McMurray......1

8.  Drouillard*......1/2         Lewis................1/2    16

Total .........9 1/2           Total .........5 1/2

*Unfinished and subsequently declared drawn. Mechanics' Institute had the

white pieces on the odd-numbered boards.

Source: The American Chess Bulletin 1915

The 1930's

Everyone remembers the excellent results that George Koltanowski achieved while playing in Europe in the early 1930s, but if you ask most players about his chess career in the United States they think of him as a world champion blindfold player, a fantastic promoter, tournament director and journalist. Few know that he did play for a while after his move to the Bay Area. I.A. Horowitz's Chess Review recounts Kolti's activities in 1939.

Bagby- Koltanowski Match

Charles Bagby played a two game match with George Koltanowski prior to the latter’s participation in the California Championship. The result was a 1-1 tie.
Charles Bagby- George Koltanowski [D95]

San Francisco 9/11/1939
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nf3 Bg7 4.Nc3 d5 5.e3 0–0 6.Qb3 e6 7.Be2 Nc6 8.cxd5 exd5 9.0–0 Ne7 10.Rd1 c6 11.Bd2 Nf5 12.Rac1 Nd6 13.Ne5 Nd7 14.Nxd7 Bxd7 15.Na4 Re8 16.Bb4 Bc8 17.Nc5 Bf8 18.a4 Ne4 19.Nxe4 Bxb4 20.Qxb4 Rxe4 21.Bf3 Re7 22.Qc5 Be6 23.b4 a6 24.Ra1 a5 25.Rdb1 axb4 26.a5 Bf5 27.Rxb4 Bd3 28.Rb6 Ra6 29.g3 Rd7 30.Bg2 Qa8 31.Qc3 Bb5 32.Bf1 Bxf1 33.Kxf1 Rxb6 34.axb6 Qc8 35.Ra7 f5 36.Qc5 Kf7 37.Qa5 Qe8 38.Ra8 Rd8 39.Rxd8 Qxd8 40.Qa7 Qc8 41.Qa5 ½–½

1939 California State Championship

Philip Wolliston, 19-year-old Los Angeles youth, scored a smashing victory in his conquest of the California State Championship tournament which concluded November 23rd. Losing only one of his eight games, he outranked a field which included Harry Borochow, state titlist since 1930. Herman Steiner of the 1931 American international team, and George Koltanowski, better known for his exploits san voir.

Wolliston, youngest competitor in the field of nine, and the youngest state champion ever to win El Dorado’s   crown, has made an auspicious entry in this, his first important tournament.

1. Wolliston 7-1

2-3. Borochow and Steiner 6

4. Koltanowski  4 ½

5. Kovacs 4

6. Fink 3

7. Patterson 2 ½

8. Bazad 2

9. Gibbs 0

Phillip Wolliston spent his high school years in Seattle before relocating to Los Angeles. He is featured in game 80 of Reshevsky's Best Games of Chess (Reshevsky on Chess) , a losing effort from the 1940 US Championship. He is not listed in Gaige's Chess Personalia. Does anyone know what happened to him?

The 1939 Bagby-Fink Match

A.J. Fink was one of the strongest players in California in the 1920s and 1930s, winning the state championship and playing in the famous Pasadena 1932 tournament. By the late 1930s his supremacy at the MI was being challenged by Charles Bagby and a match was arranged which proved to be inconclusive

The May 1939 issue of Chess Review reports that two of the MI players, Charles Bagby and A.J. Fink, drew a ten game match 5-5. Neither player was ever ahead by more than a game and Fink won the last to force the tie.

Here is one of the games from the match:

Charles Bagby - A.J. Fink

Queen’s Gambit D57

San Francisco 4.26.1939

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.c4 Bb4+ 4.Bd2 Be7 5.Nc3 d5 6.Bg5 0–0 7.e3 h6 8.Bh4 Ne4 9.Bxe7 Qxe7 10.cxd5 Nxc3 11.bxc3 exd5 12.Qb3 c6 13.Bd3 Nd7 14.0–0 Re8 15.c4 dxc4 16.Bxc4 Nb6 17.Bd3 Be6 18.Qb2 Bd5 19.a4 Nc4 20.Qc2 Bxf3 21.gxf3 Nd6 22.Kh1 Qf6 23.Be2 Nf5 24.Rab1 Re7 25.Rg1 Rae8 26.Rg4 Nh4 27.Rbg1 g6 28.f4 Qf5 29.Qxf5 Nxf5 30.Bd3 Kh7 31.h4 Ng7 32.h5 Nxh5 33.f5 gxf5 34.Bxf5+ Kh8 35.Rh4 Ng7 36.Rxh6+ Kg8 37.Bd3 Rd7 38.Rh7 f6 39.Rh6 1–0

A portrait of Bagby greets you as you walk into the MI and a photo of Fink (with Capablanca) is located in the director's office.

Ernest  J. Clarke of  San Francisco (1877-1948)

As part of our ongoing look at Bay Area Chess history we feature this obituary of MI Chess Room stalwart E.J. Clarke. His column in the San Francisco Chronicle in the 1920s is an invaluable source of information for MI Chess Room activities during this period.

"In the death of Ernest J. Clarke of San Francisco on December 16, at the age of 71, chess circles on the West Coast suffered an irreparable loss. He had been ill about six weeks.  Several years ago he had retired from business, but later resumed work as linotype operator for the San Francisco Call-Bulletin, with which he was connected altogether 31 years.  Earlier, he had been with the San Francisco Chronicle, for which he also conducted a weekly chess column.

In this connection it is of interest to mention that he preceded Dr. Emanuel Lasker as chess editor of the New York Evening Post.  The latter took over about the time when, late in 1904, he started Lasker’s Chess Magazine, in the conduct of which the world champion enjoyed the advice and cooperation of the newspaperman.

At that time, Mr. Clarke was living in Brooklyn and was a close associate of Frank J. Marshall, also a Brooklyn resident at that time.  Associated with Mr. Clarke in the conduct of the Chronicle chess department was A. J. Fink, noted Californian expert and problem composer.

Born in Rochester, NY, November 17, 1877, Mr. Clarke moved to San Francisco in 1908.  There he joined the Mechanics Institute Chess club and in the course of time became one of its most valued members, in fact, he was regarded as one of the greatest and most dependable leaders in its activities.

In addition to being a chess editor and organizer, he was recognized as on of the strongest players on the Coast.  He was Pacific Coast champion from 1911 to 1913 and, in the first California State championship tournament of 1928, he shared third and fourth prizes with Harry Borochow, below E. W. Gruer, who made a clean score, and S. Mlotkowski.  He was fond of classical music and a student of Shakespeare and French literature.

During 1901, Mr. Clark married Hattie Hutchinson of New York. Their children, who survive, are Mrs. Erwin Berndt of San Francisco; Lincoln of Woodside, Calif.; and Walter, of San Francisco.  He remarried in 1934 to Mrs. Celia Jolly of Kentucky.  Three sisters are living in Oakland and one brother, in San Jose."

(The Bulletin is indebted for most of this information to Mr. Carl J. Bergman of San Francisco).

American Chess Bulletin 1948

Arthur Dake visits the Mechanics' Institute in 1937

The late Portland Grandmaster Arthur Dake had a long association with the Mechanics' Institute stretching from his participation in a simul against Alekhine in 1929 to his attendance at an IM norm event named in his honor in 1999. During this 70(!) year relationship he gave several exhibitions at the MI. The American Chess Bulletin of 1937 reports that in June of that year he gave a 24 board simul at the MI scoring 18 wins, 2 losses and 4 draws. The winners were Carroll Capps and H.R. Durham with Wallace Smith, C.Woskoff, N. Preo and S. Ruys drawing. The ACB notes that this was considered to have been one of the most successful occasions at the club in several years. The following day Dake beat the team of Carl Bergman and Ernest Clarke in an exhibition game.

San Francisco-East Bay Match 1949

From the May 1949 California Chess News, a short-lived predecessor of the California Chess Reporter, put out by George Koltanowski.

"Mechanics' Institute

by Clark Jonas

The Chess Committee of the Mechanics' Institute recently planned an Open tournament that should be started when you receive this issue. The Open Tournament will be followed by the Major Club Championship.

In order to keep activity in the Mechanics' this will be followed by a Queen's Gambit Accepted Tournament (This way one may "brush up" on the accepted gambit which is not often played).

On the 12th of March, fifty-two players from the Bay Area gathered at the Mechanics' Chess Club for their periodic chess match. Full score follows:

San Francisco  East Bay

Bagby 1 Barlow 0

Fink 1 Capps 0

Donnelly 1/2 - Branch 1/2

Pafnutieff 0 - Konkel 1/2

Svalberg 0- Falconer 1

Gross 1/2 - Preo 1/2

Ralston 1/2 - Ruys 1/2

Pruner 1/2 - McClain 1/2

Boyette 1/2 - Meyer 1/2

Dudley 1/2 - Sedlack 1/2

Wolf 0 - Stamer 1

Pedersen 1 Christensen 0

Jonas 0 Wilson 1

Maxwell 0 Ledgerwood 1

Kondrashoff 0 Austin 1

Abella 0 Bean 1

Rothe 0 Lynch 1

Russell 0 Neilson 1

Leeds 1 Hiatt 0

Keil 1/2 - Cuneo 1/2

Shinkin 0 - Trenbarth 1

Harrison 0 - Freeman 1

Bendit 1 - Gonzalez 0

Radaikin 0 - McCarthy 1

Carlson 0 - Willows 1

Stevens 1 - Fredgren

9 1/2 - 16 1/2

Games from 1913

The noted chess book collector and data base maven Andy Ansel of Walnut Creek passes on three games from the Mechanics' past which were preserved in the pages of the American Chess Bulletin.

Stamer,A - Fink,A

San Francisco Mechanics Prize Winner, 1913

1.e4 e5 2.d4 exd4 3.Nf3 Nc6 4.Bc4 Bc5 5.0-0 d6 6.b4 Bb6 7.a4 Nxb4 8.c3 Nc6 9.cxd4 Bg4 10.Qb3 Na5 11.Bxf7+ Kf8 12.Qa2 Bxf3 13.Bxg8 Rxg8 14.gxf3 Bxd4 15.Bb2 Qg5+ 16.Kh1 Nc6 17.Qb3 Qf6 18.Qxb7 Rb8 19.Qxc6 Qxf3+ 20.Kg1 Rxb2 0-1

ACB 1913, page 252

Fink,A - Hallwegen,G

San Francisco Mechanics Prize Winner, 1913

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.d3 h6 5.Be3 Bb4+ 6.Nc3 d6 7.0-0 Bxc3 8.bxc3 0-0 9.Rb1 Ne7 10.Nd2 Ng4 11.Qf3 Ng6 12.h3 Nf6 13.Qg3 Kh7 14.Qf3 c6 15.Bb3 Qd7 16.Qe2 Nf4 17.Bxf4 exf4 18.Nc4 b5 19.Nd2 Re8 20.Rfe1 g6 21.Qf3 Nh5 22.g4 fxg3 23.fxg3 Qxh3 24.Qxf7+ Ng7 25.Re2 Bg4 26.Re3 Re5 27.Rf1 a5 28.a3 a4 29.Ba2 Rae8 30.Qf6 Rh5 31.Kf2 Rf5+ 0-1

ACB 1913, page 252.

Clark,E - Hallwegen,G

San Francisco Mechanics Prize Winner, 1913

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 Be7 5.Nf3 Nbd7 6.e3 c6 7.Rc1 dxc4 8.Bxc4 Nd5 9.Bxe7 Qxe7 10.0-0 0-0 11.Ne2 a6 12.e4 N5f6 13.e5 Nd5 14.Bd3 f5 15.Qd2 h6 16.g3 Qf7 17.Nh4 Ne7 18.Ng2 Re8 19.Nef4 Nf8 20.Ne3 g5 21.Nfg2 b5 22.Be2 Bb7 23.f4 g4 24.Rfd1 Nd7 25.Nh4 h5 26.Bf1 Nb6 27.Bg2 Rac8 28.Rc5 Red8 29.b3 Nbd5 30.Bxd5 Nxd5 31.Nxd5 Rxd5 32.Rxd5 cxd5 33.Rc1 Qd7 34.Ng2 Kf7 35.Ne1 Rc6 36.Nd3 Qc7 37.Rxc6 Qxc6 38.Nc5 Bc8 39.h3 Ke7 40.hxg4 hxg4 41.Qh2 Kd8 42.Qh4+ Kc7 43.Qe7+ Kb6 44.b4 Qc7 45.Qf8 Ka7 46.Qd6 Qb6 47.Kf2 a5 48.a3 axb4 49.axb4 Qb8 50.Qd8 Ka8 51.Qa5+ Qa7 52.Ke3 Qxa5 53.bxa5 Kb8 54.Kd3 b4 55.Kc2 Kc7 56.Kb3 Kc6 57.Kxb4 and wins. 1-0

ACB 1913, page 252.

The 1930 MI Championship

Andy Ansel has dug up two games from the 1930 Mechanics' Institute Championship which first appeared in The Gambit, a St.Louis based magazine which ran for about ten years in the 1920s and 30s.

Bagby- Lamb

1930 MI Championship

1.d4 e5 2.dxe5 Nc6 3.Nf3 Qe7 4.Nc3 Nxe5 5.e4 c6 6.Be2 Nf6 7.O-O Nxf3+ 8.Bxf3 Qe5 9.Be3 Bc5 10.Bxc5 Qxc5 11.e5 Ng8 12.Ne4 Qe7 13.Nd6+ Kd8 14.Qd4 Nh6 15.Rad1 f6 16.Rfe1 Nf7 17.Nxf7+ Qxf7 18.e6 1-0

Lamb - Tippin

1930 MI Championship

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d3 Nc6 4.Nc3 d5 5.exd5 exd5 6.d4 Nf6 7.Bg5 cxd4 8.Nxd4 Be7 9.Bb5 Qd6 10.Qd2 O-O 11.Bf4 Qd7 12.O-O Bb4 13.Nde2 a6 14.Bxc6 bxc6 15.a3 Bc5 16.Ng3 Re8 17.h3 Ba7 18.Rfe1 Bb7 19.Be5 Re6 20.Nf5 Ne4 21.Nxe4 Rxe5 22.Nf6+ gxf6 23.Rxe5 Kh8 24.Qh6 1-0

News From 1946

"Playing in the strongest championship field mustered in the last few years by the Mechanics' Institute Chess Club of San Francisco, Carroll Capps walked off with first prize by scoring 10-2. He was closely followed by V. Pafnutieff 9 1/2 - 2 1/2 and A.J. Fink 9-3."

Chess Review, August-September 1946, p.12

"In the following tournament report we see MI Trustee Neil Falconer near the top of the standings in the 1946 California State Championship. A.J. Fink won, this time scoring 8 1/2 - 3 1/2 in a good field. Other leading scores were: V. Pafnutieff 7 1/2; N. Falconer 7 and R. Konkel 6."

Chess Review  December 1946

MI - Log Cabin Match

E. Forry Laucks unquestionably qualified as one of the great characters of American chess in the 1930s through 1960s. The founder of the Log Cabin Chess Club based in West Orange, New Jersey, Laucks loved to barnstorm around the world.  The Log Cabin traveled to such far flung places as Cuba (With a young Bobby Fischer) and Alaska.  During these trips members remembered the golden rule: Don't let Forry drive!  An animated conversationalist, Laucks was known to look his listener in the back seat in the eye while driving down the road.  This resulted in a few nicks and scrapes, but Forry was ready to handle the situation.  If his car was undrivable, he would simply leave it by the roadside, flag a ride and go into town and buy a new one.  It didn't hurt that Lauck's father had left him a sizable inheritance.  The initial "E" undoubtedly stood for eccentric.

The summer of 1955, after the US Open in Long Beach, the Log Cabin hit the road and traveled all the way up to Alaska.  Along the way, they played a match with the Mechanics' Institute.

       Log Cabin                            Mechanics'

J. Sherwin          1/2                   W. Addison          1/2

T. Miller                  0                    J. Schmitt               1

E. Heefner             0                     N. Falconer           1

V. Pupols              0                    C. Capps           1

L. Coplin             1/2                    E. Pruner             1/2

R. Houghton        0                      R. Currie               1

F. Laucks              0                      C. Bagby              1

   Total                    1                                                      6

Ranking Systems Appear

We tend to think of Chess Life and USCF ratings as having been around forever but in fact both only go back around 50 years or so. Chess Life started as a newspaper in 1946 and didn't adopt a magazine format until around 1960. The rating system started in the early 1950s, but was so slow, that many area around the country developed there own regional rankings. Some of these hung around for a long time with Northwest Ratings only disappearing in the 1980s!

Here are the top Bay Area players as of May 1, 1951, on the Northern California Chess Ratings system.

International Master George Koltanowski

National Master A.J. Fink

Masters: Charles Bagby, Leslie Boyette, Carroll Capps, Neil Falconer, J.B. Gee, Henry Gross, Wade Hendricks, W.G. McClain, Vladimir "Walter" Pafnutieff, Earl Pruner and H.J. Ralston

Veteran Master

71-year-old National Master Eugene Levin of San Jose has been an active Bay Area player for many years, but he first developed as a chess player in the Los Angeles. An article by Jim Cross in the January 1950 issue of George Koltanowski's short-lived Chess Digest tells the story.

At the age of nineteen Eugene Levin is already one of the strongest players in the Southland area. He has a swashbuckling style of play, preferring wide-open positions which provide a full range for his first-class ability with combinations. Often reviving "worn-out" opening lines, with surprising success, Eugene has terminated many a game with a sharp, well-calculated tactical onslaught.

Having learned the game at the age of six from his father, Jacob Levin, he didn't start studying the game seriously until 1944. His first tournament victory came in  '45 when he won first prize in the Scholastic Division of the famous Pan American Tournament. In 1946 he won the State Junior Championship and a trip to Chicago where he competed in the National Junior Championship and added another trophy to his shelf by winning first prize in the Consolation Division. Right after that he traveled to Pittsburgh along with Herman Steiner and myself to play in the US Open Tournament where he played excellent chess against some of the strongest players in the country.  Eugene was a member of the victorious Metropolitan Team Champions in 1948, the Hollywood Chess Group, and still plays one of the top boards in all of their matches.  At present he is President and Club Champion of the UCLA Chess Club where he has done much to further the cause of chess by promoting matches with other school and local clubs.


The following appreciation was written by Dr. "Bip" Ralston who was instrumental in helping to get the California Chess Reporter started.

Dr. W.R. Lovegrove by Dr. H.J. Ralston

Dr. Walter Romaine Lovegrove, emeritus master of the United States, died in San Francisco on July 18, 1956, He was 86 years old.

For over 60 years Dr. Lovegrove was one of San Francisco's leading players. Born October 24, 1869, he learned the game of chess at the age of 16 by studying the article on chess in the Encyclopedia Britannica. During the period 1886-1890 he strengthened his game by playing at the Mechanics' Institute Chess Club in San Francisco, finally becoming so strong that in one tournament he gave odds to all the other contestants, yet still won the tournament.

Dr. Lovegrove was the winner of the final Pillsbury National Correspondence Tournament. In 1891 he won a match from Joseph Redding, who claimed the championship of the Pacific Coast, by a score of 7-1. Max Judd, who was prominent in national chess circles, visited San Francisco about the same time, and Dr. Lovegrove won six out of seven games in casual play. The American champion, J.W. Showalter, also visited San Francisco, and although he had the edge over Dr. Lovegrove in casual play, lost no less than 12 games to him out of about 30 played.

In 1893 Dr. Lovegrove visited Los Angeles, where he met and conquered Simon Lipshutz by a score of 3 1/2 - 1/2. The American Championship was in a rather foggy state in those days, but technically, the present writer believes, Lipshutz was still the champion, by virtue of his decisive win over Showalter, in their match of 1892. However, one must admit that Dr. Lovegrove's victory over Lipshutz must be weighed with caution because of the very uncertain nature of the champion's health. Lipshutz was a chronic sufferer from tuberculosis, which caused his premature death at the age of 42.

Dr. Lovegrove beat Van Vliet in London, 1912, in the only game played; he beat Taubenhaus in Paris in the same year, 10-1. In Vienna, 1922, playing as usual for a dollar a game, he won one and lost one to Dr. Tartakover - who said he did not care to play Lovegrove any more because he couldn't make a living that way. In 1902 he played Dr. Emanuel Lasker a stake game in San Francisco; the champion of the world tried to win a drawn game, and lost. Again in 1904, an exhibition game was won by Dr. Lovegrove against the American Champion, Harry Pillsbury. Pillsbury grabbed a pawn, allowing Dr. Lovegrove to obtain a crushing kingside attack."

California Chess Reporter 1956

Lasker at the MI (December 1902)

Many Newsletters ago, World Champion Emmanuel Lasker's December 1902 visit to the MI, including his famous lost to Dr. Lovegrove, were written up. The impression was that Lasker was just in town for a few days. Now, indefatigable researcher Steve Brandwein has unearthed a great deal more about Lasker's visit, which in fact lasted almost two weeks. The pages of the San Francisco Chronicle report that during Lasker's stay he was a regular at the MI (then located a few feet east at 31 Post and only a three story building), but also gave simuls at the Western Addition Chess, Checker and Whist Club and the SF Whist and Chess Club. The fruits of Steve's research will appear in the next few Newsletters.

Lasker's Blindfold Simul at the MI (December 27)

Champion Lasker yesterday afternoon at the Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club, played five blindfold chess games, winning four and losing one. The players who opposed him were T.D. Black, Dr. B. Marshall, Harvey Dana, Richard Ott and J.J. Dolan. The game the champion lost was won by Dr. B. Marshall, the well-known local player. In his game with Dolan, Dr. Lasker, after the twenty-third move, announced mate in four moves.

Considering that he does not claim to be a great blindfold player this remarkable man nevertheless gave a splendid exhibition, and demonstrated to a large crowd that he is a genius.

Friday night (December 26) last Champion Lasker in a simultaneous exhibition at the Western Addition Chess, Checker and Whist Club, faced the largest number and the strongest combination of chess players since opening up his engagement here. He had twenty-two-players arrayed against him and after the smoke of battle had cleared away he had defeated sixteen, drawn four and lost two. George Halwegan and I. Schonfeld won from the champion and Dr. W.R. Lovegrove, Oscar Samuels, E.V. Gage and Dr. Franklin drew. Halwegan, who has been away from the city for some time, showed that he can still put up a good game. Schoenfeld, the other player to win from Lasker, is a member of the Western Addition Chess Club, and formerly played on the University of California chess team.

The following are the players who took part against Lasker : C.W. Moores, Dr. W.R. Lovegrove, E.V. Gage, L.S. Schoenfeld, D.C. deLong, M.Ettinger, G.R. Thompson, G.P. Woodward, Dr. B. Marshall, Dr. J.D. McKee, Oscar Samuels, Dr. W.S. Franklin, Mr. Winter, E.E. Perley, L. Woodworth, N.J. Manson, M.J. Kuhl, J. Firebaugh, L.S. Adams, Gilbert Griffith and George Halwegan. A large crowd watched the contest which lasted until after midnight.

Lasker,E - Schoenfeld,L [D35]

Simul San Francisco, 26.12.1902

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e3 Nc6 5.f4 Bb4 6.Bd3 h6 7.Nf3 Ne7 8.0–0 Bxc3 9.bxc3 c6 10.Ba3 Nf5 11.Qe2 dxc4 12.Bxc4 Ne4 13.Qd3 Ned6 14.Bb3 Nb5 15.Bb2 0–0 16.Bc2 Nbd6 17.g4 b5 18.gxf5 exf5 19.Ba3 Re8 20.Ne5 Ne4 21.Qe2 Be6 22.Bxe4 fxe4 23.f5 Qg5+ 24.Qg2 Qxe3+ 25.Kh1 Bd5 26.Rae1 Qxc3 27.Ng4 Qxa3 28.Nf6+ Kh8 29.Rg1 Rg8 30.Nxd5 cxd5 31.Rgf1 Rac8 32.Rf4 Rc1 33.Qf1 Rgc8 34.Kg2 R8c2+ 35.Rf2 Rxf2+ 36.Qxf2 Rxe1 37.Qxe1 Qf3+ 38.Kg1 e3 39.Qh4 e2 0–1

Chess in San Francisco in 1888

San Francisco, May 21, 1888

By G.H. D. Gossip

Sir: On the 18th of last month I left Sydney, per steamship "Alameda", reaching this city on the 12th, where I first set foot on my native soil after an absence of over forty years, and I have played here more games of chess in a week than I contested during the last six months in Sydney. There are two leading Chess resorts here, viz: the Mercantile Library and the Mechanics' Institute (in Post Street), which have large and commodious rooms for the accommodation of chess players - twice as large as any chess club or chess room in Australia. In fact nearly everything here is on a grander, more civilized and cosmopolitan scale than in Great Britain, although the streets of Adelaide and Melbourne are wider than those of San Francisco. The last named chess resort (MI) is crowded with chessplayers every afternoon, both rooms being open daily, Sundays included. I met here M. Montgomery - a French amateur - with whom I had the pleasure of playing in days gone by at the Cafe de la Regence, more than twenty years ago. Mr. Piper, one of the Vizayanagaram Tourney prizewinners, formerly of Greenwich and Sydney, is also here.

…Of five games played over the board played over the board on even terms between Messrs. Zukertort and Redding, the former won 3 and lost 2, and Mr. Redding also defeated him in his blindfold exhibition. Besides being a strong chess player and an enthusiast, Mr. Redding is also a splendid billiard player (the best, I believe, in "Frisco") and an accomplished musician. The other strong players here are Dr. Marshall, who won 2 out of 5 games of Baron Heydebrand Von Der Lasa, lately and Mr. Heinemann. Of 28 games I have played here I have won 19, drawn 2 and lost 7. I was fortunate enough to win a considerable majority of games of Dr. Marshall, and to make even games with Dr. Heinemann, but have been so far worsted by Mr. Redding, having lost five and only won three games of him. Curiously enough, although there are many more chess players in San Francisco than in Sydney or Melbourne, there is not a single chess column in any San Francisco newspaper. Formerly there was one in the "Argonaut" but it has long since been discontinued. A tournament, however, among the leading players, is to be started this week.

The International Chess Magazine  June 1888, page 170-171

Redding, J - Gossip, G [C47]

San Francisco, 1888

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nc3 Nc6 4.d4 exd4 5.Nxd4 Bb4 6.Nxc6 bxc6 7.Bd3 d5 8.exd5 cxd5 9.0-0 Bxc3 10.bxc3 0-0 11.Bg5 h6 12.Bh4 Qd6 13.Re1 Bd7 14.Bg3 Qc5 15.Qd2 Rfe8 16.h3 Re6 17.Be5 Rae8 18.Bd4 Qa3 19.Rxe6 Rxe6 20.Qf4 Ne8 21.Qf5 Nf6 22.Bxf6 gxf6 23.Qh7+ Kf8 24.Qxh6+ Ke7 25.Qd2 Qb2 26.Rd1 Qxa2 27.c4 a5 28.Bf5 Re5 29.Bxd7 Kxd7 30.cxd5 Kd6 31.Qf4 Ke7 32.c4 Qb3 33.Qd2 Qa3 34.Qd4 Kd6 35.Ra1 Qb4 36.Kf1 a4 37.f4 The International Chess Magazine August 1888, page 251. 1-0

Redding, J - Gossip, G [C55]

San Francisco, 1888

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nc3 Nc6 4.Bc4 Nxe4 5.Bxf7+ Kxf7 6.Nxe4 d5 7.Neg5+ Kg8 8.d4 h6 9.Nh3 Bxh3 10.gxh3 exd4 11.Nxd4 Qd7 12.Nxc6 Re8+ 13.Be3 bxc6 14.Qf3 Bc5 15.0-0 Bxe3 16.fxe3 Qe6 17.Rae1 Kh7 18.Qf5+ Qxf5 19.Rxf5 Re7 20.c3 Rhe8 21.Kf2 Re4 22.Rf7 R4e7 23.Rxe7 Rxe7 24.Rg1 Re4 25.Rg4 g5 26.Kf3 Re8 27.Ra4 Rf8+ 28.Ke2 Rb8 29.b3 Rb7 30.Ra6 c5 31.Rc6 c4 32.b4 a5 33.a3 axb4 34.axb4 Ra7 35.e4 dxe4 36.Rxc4 Ra2+ 37.Ke3 Rxh2 38.Rxc7+ Kg6 39.Kxe4 Rxh3 40.b5 Rh1 41.b6 Rb1 42.Rc6+ Kg7 43.c4 h5 44.c5 g4 45.Rc7+ Kg6 46.b7 g3 47.Rc6+ Kg7 48.Rc7+ [48.Rb6] 48...Kg6 49.Kf3 Rb3+ 50.Kg2 Kg5 51.c6 h4 52.Rg7+ Kf4 53.Kh3 Rb1 54.Rf7+ The International Chess Magazine, July 1888, page 217-18. 1-0

MI Chess History Mystery

The two giants of early Mechanics History, NMs Walter Lovegrove and A.J. Fink, must have played many times, but surprisingly enough not a single game between the two players is to be found in the comprehensive Cal Chess database (www.chessdryad.com), which has recently been edited by Sam Sloan.

The following game appears in George Koltanowski's Chess Chats without a date. This book was published in 1950, but the game would appear to have been played much earlier as Lovegrove, who died in 1956 (the same year as Fink), played little the last few decades of his life. Can anybody pin down a date for this game?

Lovegrove - Fink

San Francisco ???

1.d4 f5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 Be7 5.Nf3 0-0 6.e3 b6 7.Bd3 Bb7 8.Rc1 Kh8 9.Bf4

Nh5 10.0-0 Nxf4 11.exf4 g5 12.fxg5 Bxg5 13.Nxg5 Qxg5 14.f3 Nc6 15.f4 Qf6 16.d5 Ne7 17.Be2 Rg8 18.Kh1 Rg7 19.Bf3 Rag8 20.Ne2 exd5 21.cxd5 Nxd5 22.Bxd5 Rxg2 23.Bxg2 Rxg2  0-1

MI member Frank Ruys submits the following game played in a simul against Grandmaster-to-be Arthur Dake. Frank, who  was a 16-year-old, just starting his chess career when this game was played, notes that Dake could have won early and that he (F.R.) had chances to win later on.

Dake - Ruys

San Francisco (simul) 1937

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e6 6.Ndb5 d6 7.Bf4 a6 8.Nxd6+ Bxd6 9.Bxd6 Bd7 10.e5 Ng8 11.Qg4 g6 12.Ne4 Qa5+ 13.c3 Nxe5 14.Qg5

14.Qf4 Nc6 15.Bc7 Qd5 16.Nd6+ wins- Ruys.

14...Nc6 15.Nf6+ Nxf6 16.Qxf6 Rg8 17.Be2 Qd5 18.Rd1 Qf5 19.Qxf5 gxf5 20.Bf3 0-0-0 21.0-0 e5 22.Bd5 Rg7 23.Rfe1 f6 24.f4 e4 25.Rd2 Re8 26.Re3 Nd8 27.c4 Bc6 28.Bb4 Ne6 29.Bd6 Nc7 30.Bxc7 Kxc7 31.Bxc6 bxc6 32.Rg3 Rxg3 33.hxg3 Rd8

33...e3! 34.Re2 Kd6 35.b4 (35.Kf1 Kc5 36.Re1 a5 37.b3 Kb4 38.Rc1 Ka3 39.Rc2 Rg8) 35...c5 36.a3 Re4  winning - Ruys.

34.Rxd8 Kxd8 35.Kf2 Ke7 36.Ke3 h5 37.c5 a5 38.Kd4 Ke6 39.Kc4 Ke7 40.a3 Kd7 41.Kd4 Ke6 42.a4 e3 43.Kxe3 Kd5 44.Kd3 Kxc5 45.Kc3 Kd5 46.Kd3 Kc5 ½-½


To the Editor, "British Chess Magazine."

Dear Sir, - You and readers of the "B.C.M." have no doubt read about the anonymous donor giving 30,000 dollars to erect an enclosure in New York Central Park to enable chess fans to play regardless of rain and cold. A leading New York newspaper devoted a long column, printing the photo of the "home of chess," and as a clever contrast a peculiar pair, a young negro boy playing an old man whose face somehow indicated that there was nothing else left to him, but chess. Whether it was on purpose or accidental, it conveyed to me the idea of the universality of chess beyond all boundaries, irrespective of countries. I have previously had the opportunity of observing chess-players of all nationalities, when I was taking part in the chess olympics at Prague, 1931, Warsaw, 1935, and Munich, 1936. It was a still greater thrill when I undertook to visit the country of sunshine as California might be called.

I believe for many of us (like myself) California has a unique appeal. To the romantic mind Los Angeles conveys the movie stars with its "Hollywood," which is a district incorporated into the town. The soul of Hollywood chess is Herman Steiner, who runs the Hollywood Chess Club. At the back of his house there is a fine building which accommodates the club. The chess room itself is made spectacular by the photos hanging round the walls. There we see most of the famous actors and actresses photographed "playing chess." Though I may say on good authority that except for Humphrey Bogart none of them excels at the game, but by the expressions on their faces and their posture they convey to the onlooker the "real chess fan." Perhaps chess masters should not only try to learn chess, but learn to act in order to be more successful.

The club is made up of a mixture of all nationalities. I once heard Alistair Cooke say in his "American Commentary" that most of the newcomers to Los Angeles came with the secret idea of settling down in the "movies," but were stranded in all kinds of curious professions. Though he mentioned some peculiar ways of making one's living, he did not mention "chess professional." And if Herman Steiner is called one even by himself, this does not convey the right notion. The work he puts in to keep up the activity of the club, the difficulties that must be overcome to organize mere1y a simultaneous display or a tournament cannot be understood by one who is not familiar with the structure of the city. It is spread out, with inadequate bus service. It is not adequate because it is not a commercial success, since nearly everybody in Los Angeles seems to have a car. I cannot forget the feeling of loneliness when I walked in the street under the blazing sun to find myself by myself, and only the passing cars indicated that the town was not "dead." Because an American, even if he wants to buy a stamp ten yards away, uses his car. But possessing a car is not considered a sign of wealth, and in the evenings the quiet residential district where Steiner lives is swarming with cars.

When I arrived in Los Angeles the County Championship was in progress and I was surprised by the high level of chess, since, like many Europeans, I thought that the Americans have no flair for the game. Their enthusiasm is unbounded. I once overheard Steiner reproaching a player for having turned up late when his opponent had to come 100 miles away. The conquest of distances is here the main problem. I used to think in European distances and only later realized that the State of California is one thousand miles long, just one state and not the biggest one. To organize a tournament or even a simultaneous display means drawing players from a radius of 150 miles. When one considers that one has to keep up a car and a club as well, one will understand that besides being an idealist, one has to be a rich man to be a chess professional in Los Angeles.

Even the smaller towns have chess clubs, and it was in Long Beach, twenty-two miles from Los Angeles, where I gave my first simultaneous exhibition. I was going down with the idea of having a "walk over" but I met with stiff opposition. This small town of 60,000 inhabitants has a fine club. It has a room provided for it by the municipal authorities. This it shares with the draught players.

Women's chess is well represented in Los Angeles. Mrs. Stevenson (formerly Sonja Graf) is here, though not active. Also here is Mrs. Nancy Roos, former Belgian Lady Chess Champion. The most interesting woman player is Mrs. G. Piatigorsky, who is of French extraction. She took up chess only one-and-half years ago and her grasp of the game is great. A pupil of Steiner, she embarrasses one with her questions on intricate opening problems, and I had to study the Richter Attack to be able to answer them. The game below, played in the County Championship, will give a good example of her intrinsic play.

The continuous sunshine deceives one's sense about time, and seasons seem to be non-existent. Except for the falling leaves and the cool evenings, one would hardly perceive that it was winter.

Only a short distance away, 500 miles means a casual trip in America, is San Francisco. The ten-hours' travel on the coast is most impressive, the train winding along its way in the mountains, and forming a semicircle so that one can see the two locomotives and the tail of the train at the same time. On the left the Pacific Ocean glitters. San Francisco itself is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen. One may imagine how impressive is an immense one-span bridge painted red, under which ocean-going steamers pass by and in the distance the islands and mountains of California showing up. This is the famous "Golden Gate Bridge." San Francisco is the most cosmopolitan city in the USA, one out of six is said to be foreign born. The largest chess club is situated in the "Mechanics' Institute." (An English idea; it was once established as a king of working men's club, I remember having visited one in Nottingham.) It is one of the oldest if not the oldest chess club in the USA, supposed to have been founded in 1855. Here chess fans battle from 10 a.m. till 10 p.m.-to see twenty to thirty players is not unusual. They run a perpetual tournament with a kind of ladder system, but with an involved point system, to make up for the differences in the player's strength. The main organizers in Northern California are Guthrie McClain, Neil T.Austin, and Dr. H. J. Ralston. The latter is editor of the California Chess Reporter, the official organ of the California State Chess Organization. George Koltanowski has set up an organization of his own called "The Chess Friends of Northern California Inc.," a corporation for promoting chess. in the names of towns like San Jose, Modesto, Sacramento. On Sunday afternoon, going by car to Modesto (about sixty miles from San Francisco), I was able to watch the final of the Central California Chess League matches, where about eighty players participated.

Though there are many chess clubs one curious thing should be mentioned: open air chess. In MacArthur Park, in Los Angeles, and in Golden Gate Park, in San Francisco, there is great chess activity until sunset. Unlike players in New York, they have no enclosure.

I expected to have lots of rain when I arrived in San Francisco but a spell of six weeks sunshine waited for me. They say it is unprecedented in the history of the city. By the time this letter is printed I hope all my English friends, too, will be enjoying sunshine more than it is appreciated here, because in England they do not take it for granted.

Best regards to all my chess friends in England and to you.

Yours truly, Imre König.

April 1953

California Chess Congress 1858- Part One

The names of Englishmen Kenneth Whyld and Edward Winter are well-known as two of the world's great chess historians, but America also has some of the finest in the field. Jeremy Gaige of Philadelphia is indisputably the best chess archivist and John Hilbert of Buffalo one of the greatest researchers. The latter has produced a series of outstanding works including books devoted to Shipley, Napier and Whitaker, to name but a few. Recently he has unearthed a find that Kerry Lawless calls one of the best articles he has ever seen on the history of chess in California. We thank Mr. Hilbert for his permission to run this important piece in the Newsletter.

California Chess, 1858 - 1859

by John S. Hilbert

"Interest in chess spread rapidly across the United States following Paul Morphy’s sensational victory at New York 1857, followed by his triumphant European tour. New chessplayers and new clubs sprang up across the land, and the clubs already in existence gained greatly by the Morphy boom. California was no different. In its May 1858 issue The Chess Monthly, edited by Morphy and Daniel W. Fiske, reported that the chess bug had indeed hit the West Coast, and that a California Chess Congress inspired by Morphy and New York 1857 was being planned. Curiously enough, while The Chess Monthly detailed the course of the event, it did not provide any games from the tournaments. That detail was left to the pages of Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, which published five games from the top tournament. Coverage of the Congress on the East Coast was of course delayed by the lengthy distances such news had to travel.

Three San Francisco chess clubs joined together to host the Congress: the Mechanics' Institute, the German Chess Club of San Francisco, and the Pioneer Chess Club. A committee of management was formed to take charge of the event, its members being Selim Franklin (President of the Congress), W. Schleiden, D.S. Roberts, Wm. R. Wheaton, Geo. Pen Johnston, Willard B. Farwell, Thomas Bryne, B.F. Voorhies, Edward Jones, Charles Mayne, M. Eilas, and H.R. Bacon. Entrance was fixed at five dollars, and players were to be divided into classes according to ability. A problem tourney was to be held as well, although that event does not appear to have materialized.

The California Chess Congress began on Monday evening, March 22, 1858, at the Hall in Hunt’s Building, San Francisco. Congress President Franklin opened the proceedings with a short address, and play began with eight players in the First Class, twenty-six in the First Division of the Second Class (who would have received knight odds from First Class Players) and twelve in the Second Division of Second Class (who would have received rook odds from First Class Players). Players were paired within classes. The First Class Tournament saw the following pairings for play:

Selim Franklin vs. Charles Sutro

Edward Jones vs. E. Justh

Daniel S. Roberts vs. Wilhelm Schleiden

John Shaw vs. Philip Kalkman

Play at the Congress began on Tuesday, March 23, and continued each day until midnight. The twenty-three games simultaneously in progress drew large crowds of spectators, including members of the bar, judges, clergymen, physicians, merchants and literary men, although "men of all ages and conditions" were present to witness the historic event as well.

The event was modeled after New York 1857, with the eight players engaging in a knockout tournament, the player winning three games eliminating his opponent from play. In the first round Edward Jones defeated E. Justh 3-1, while Selim Franklin, one of the tournament’s fa-vorites, handled Charles Sutro easily, 3-0. The Chess Monthly for June 1858 added that "Mr. President Franklin’s second encounter with Mr. Sutro, which took place on Thursday the 25th, is spoken of as resulting in one of the finest games ever played in California," although neither then nor later was the game published in the journal. John Shaw also ran the table on his oppo-nent, finishing 3-0. Among the games between these two gentlemen was the following:

Kalkman - Shaw [C52]

California Chess Congress

First Class Tournament, Rd. 1

March 1858

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.b4 Bxb4 5.c3 Ba5 6.0–0 Nf6 7.d4 0–0 8.Ba3 d6 9.dxe5 Nxe4 10.exd6 Nxd6 11.Bb3 Qf6 12.Bb2 Bg4 13.Qd3 Bxf3 14.gxf3 Ne5 15.Qe2 Nxf3+ 16.Kh1 Rae8 17.c4 Qf4 0–1

Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, July 10, 1858

Daniel S. Roberts, who prior to moving to California had been elected President of the Brooklyn Chess Club, in 1856, was considered another of the favorites in the event. He had been required to move to California just before play began at New York 1857, and his presence on the West coast and his chess connections back east were largely responsible for coverage of the California Chess Congress making its way to The Chess Monthly and Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper. Indeed, as reported, Roberts was at the time of the California Congress still president of the Brooklyn organization. Roberts defeated his first round opponent, Wilhelm Schleiden, of San Francisco, by a score of 3-1. Two of the games from this match have survived.

Schleiden - Roberts [C44]

California Chess Congress

First Class Tournament, Rd. 1

March 1858

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Bc4 Bc5 5.0–0 d6 6.Ng5 Ne5 7.Bb3 h6 8.f4 hxg5 9.fxe5 Be6 10.Bxe6 fxe6 11.Qg4 Qd7 12.Bxg5 dxe5 13.Nd2 Nh6 14.Qh4 Be7 15.Qh5+ Kd8 16.Bxh6 Rxh6 17.Qxe5 Bf6 18.Qc5 Qd6 19.Qxd6+ cxd6 20.Nc4 Kd7 21.Rad1 Rc8 22.b3 b5 23.Na3 a6 24.Rf3 Rc5 25.h3 d5 26.exd5 Rxd5 27.g4 a5 28.Re1 e5 29.Rd3 Bh4 30.Re2 Kd6 31.c4 dxc3 32.Rxc3 Re6 33.Nc2 Rc5 34.Rd3+ Ke7 35.Ne3 Bf6 36.Nf5+ Kf8 37.Re4 Rc1+ 38.Kf2 Rc2+ 39.Re2 Rec6 40.Rde3 a4 41.h4 g6 42.g5 gxf5 43.gxf6 e4 44.Kg3 Kf7 45.Kf4 Kxf6 46.h5 Rxe2 47.Rxe2 Rc3 48.Rf2 Rh3 49.Rf1 Rxh5 50.Rc1 Rh4+ 51.Kg3 Rg4+ 52.Kf2 Rg7 53.Rc5 Rb7 and Black won after several more moves. 0–1

Frank Leslie’s Illustrated News, June 26, 1858

Schleiden - Roberts [D30]

California Chess Congress

First Class Tournament, Rd. 1

March 1858

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.a3 Nf6 4.e3 c5 5.Nc3 Nc6 6.f4 b6 7.Nf3 Bb7 8.Be2 cxd4 9.exd4 Bd6 10.0–0 0–0 11.b4 Rc8 12.c5 Bb8 13.Ne5 bxc5 14.bxc5 Nxe5 15.fxe5 Ne4 16.Bb2 f5 17.Rf3 g5 18.Rh3 g4 19.Bxg4 fxg4 20.Qxg4+ Kh8 21.Nxe4 dxe4 22.Qxe6 Rc6 23.Qg4 Rc7 24.d5 Rg8 25.e6+ Rcg7 26.Qxe4 1–0

Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, July 10, 1858

According to The Chess Monthly for June 1858, "Rain and unpleasant weather occasionally reduced the number of persons in attendance, but on the fair days sometimes nearly two hundred people were to be seen in the Hall at once."

Pairings for the second round of the First Class Tournament were as follows:

Selim Franklin vs. Daniel S. Roberts

John Shaw vs. Edward Jones

This round, which began on Saturday, March 27, 1858, brought together the tournament’s two favorites, Franklin and Roberts. The former was "some years ago, a well-known frequenter" of chess circles in California, and his meeting with Roberts was hard fought. The first game ended in a draw, and although Franklin took the second and third games, the fourth was drawn and the fifth went to Roberts. The second week of play had seen the tournament move from Hunt’s Hall to the rooms of San Francisco’s Pioneer Club, with public play ceasing on the evening of Saturday, April 3, 1858. Interested readers of The Chess Monthly following the progress of the Congress had to wait until the July number to learn the conclusion of the event, which in fact did not conclude until May Day of that year.

Although the only two games from the Second Round of the First Class Tournament that have survived were won by Roberts, who no doubt sent the games back East for publication, Franklin emerged the winner of their second round match. The final score is unknown, although clearly, given the games that follow, it was 3-2, with at least 2 draws.

Franklin - Roberts [A34]

California Chess Congress

First Class Tournament, Rd. 2

March 1858

1.c4 c5 2.Nc3 e6 3.e3 Nf6 4.Nf3 Be7 5.b3 b6 6.Bb2 Bb7 7.Rc1 Bxf3 8.Qxf3 Nc6 9.Qe2 0–0 10.g3 d5 11.Bg2 Rc8 12.cxd5 exd5 13.d3 d4 14.Ne4 Nxe4 15.Bxe4 Bf6 16.0–0 g6 17.Kg2 Bg7 18.Bxc6 Rxc6 19.e4 f5 20.f3 Re6 21.b4 cxb4 22.Rc4 a5 23.Rfc1 Qd6 24.Qc2 Rd8 25.Rc6 Qxc6 26.Qxc6 Rxc6 27.Rxc6 fxe4 28.fxe4 Rb8 29.Kf3 Rf8+ 30.Ke2 Rf6 31.Rc8+ Rf8 32.Rc6 Rf6 33.Rc7 Rd6 34.Kf3 Rf6+ 35.Kg4 Rf2 36.Rxg7+ Kxg7 37.Bxd4+ Rf6 38.Bxf6+ Kxf6 39.Kf4 a4 40.d4 b3 41.e5+ Ke7 42.axb3 a3 43.d5 a2 44.d6+ Ke6 0–1

Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, August 21, 1858

Roberts - Franklin [D30]

California Chess Congress

First Class Tournament, Rd. 2

March 1858

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.e3 Nf6 4.Nf3 a6 5.a3 Nc6 6.Nc3 Be7 7.cxd5 exd5 8.h3 Be6 9.Bd3 h6 10.b4 b5 11.Bb2 Bd6 12.Rc1 Ne7 13.Qc2 c6 14.Ne5 Rc8 15.f4 g6 16.Qf2 Nh5 17.g4 Ng7 18.Ne2 f5 19.Qh4 Bxe5 20.dxe5 g5 21.fxg5 Ng6 22.Qf2 hxg5 23.Bxf5 0–0 24.Ng3 Qc7 25.Bxe6+ Nxe6 26.Qc2 Nxe5 27.Bxe5 Qxe5 28.Nf5 Ng7 29.Qc3 Qxc3+ 30.Rxc3 Nxf5 31.gxf5 Rxf5 32.Rf1 Rxf1+ 33.Kxf1 Rf8+ 34.Kg2 Rf6 35.Kg3 Kf7 36.Kg4 Kg6 37.Rc5 Re6 38.Rc3 Re4+ 39.Kf3 Rc4 40.Rd3 Kf5 41.Rb3 Ke5 42.Rd3 Re4 43.Rc3 Kd6 44.Rd3 c5 45.bxc5+ Kxc5 46.Rd1 Kc4 47.Rc1+ Kb3 48.Rc6 Ra4 49.Rg6 Kxa3 50.Rxg5 b4 51.Rxd5 b3 52.e4 b2 53.Rd1 Ka2 54.Kf4 Rb4 55.Re1 b1Q 56.Rxb1 Kxb1 1–0

Frank Leslie’s Illustrated News, December 25, 1858

Unfortunately, with Roberts’s elimination from the tournament, his interest in supplying games to Frank Leslie’s Illustrated News appears to have ended. What is known, though, from The Chess Monthly for July 1858 is that Edward Jones defeated John Shaw, and that Franklin eliminated Jones in the final round, to win the first prize "of a costly gold watch." Second prize, earned by Jones, was "an inlaid rosewood chess-table." The final night of the Congress, after prizes were awarded in all three sections, "the evening was concluded by a social festival." All in all, the California Chess Congress of 1858 was considered a wonderful success.

As it turned out, The Chess Monthly added a little more regarding happenings in the far distant west. Franklin, "the winner of the first or grand prize, is a gentleman well-known for his powers as a player and for the warm interest he has so long taken in the game. He has been challenged by Mr. John Shaw to a match of twenty-one games, and as the present champion of Pacific chess we presume he will accept the challenge. The games, proceedings, etc., are to be published in a pamphlet, whose appearance we shall gladly hail as the first production of the chess-press west of the Rocky Mountains. One of the consequences of the Tournament had been the formation of a new and enlarged club, in the capital of California, under the name of ‘Cosmopolitan.’ Its influence will of course be felt in many other directions. We congratulate the chess lovers of the Golden State upon the entire success of their first general assemblage."

California Chess 1859 - Part Two

Unfortunately, the remaining pages of The Chess Monthly, not only for 1858, but for 1859 and 1860, too, are silent as to California chess. Whether such a match between Franklin and Shaw ever took place, or whether a pamphlet about the California Chess Congress ever appeared, is unknown. For the record, though, Daniel S. Roberts continued to send some of his games later in 1858 and into 1859, which were published in Frank Leslie’s Illustrated News. None of the following games were identified as taking place at the California Chess Congress, but are given here for those interested to peruse:

Roberts - Franklin [C31]

California, 1859

1.e4 e5 2.f4 d5 3.exd5 e4 4.Nc3 Nf6 5.d3 Bb4 6.Bd2 e3 7.Bxe3 0–0 8.Bd2 Re8+ 9.Be2 Bc5 10.Na4 Bxg1 11.Rxg1 Nxd5 12.Nc3 Bg4 13.Ne4 Bxe2 14.Qxe2 f5 15.0–0–0 fxe4 16.dxe4 Nb6 17.Bc3 Qe7 18.e5 Nc6 19.g4 Kh8 20.b3 Qa3+ 21.Kb1 Nb4 22.Bxb4 Qxb4 23.f5 Na4 24.Rg3 Nc3+ 25.Rxc3 Qxc3 26.e6 Rad8 27.Rxd8 Rxd8 28.e7 Re8 29.g5 Qc5 1–0

Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, April 30, 1859

Franklin - Roberts [C01]

California, 1859

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 exd5 4.Be3 Nf6 5.Bd3 Be6 6.h3 c6 7.Nf3 h6 8.a3 Bd6 9.Nbd2 Nbd7 10.b4 b5 11.c3 Nb6 12.Rc1 Qc7 13.Qe2 0–0–0 14.Nb3 Rde8 15.Nc5 g5 16.a4 Bxc5 17.bxc5 Nxa4 18.Ne5 Nxc5 19.Bxb5 cxb5 20.dxc5 Qxe5 21.Qxb5 Qc7 22.c6 Bf5 23.0–0 Rxe3 and resigns, the last move being a blunder. 1–0

Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, April 30, 1859

Roberts - Franklin [B40]

California, 1859

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.c3 d5 4.exd5 exd5 5.Bb5+ Nc6 6.d4 a6 7.Bxc6+ bxc6 8.Be3 c4 9.0–0 Nf6 10.Ne5 Qc7 11.Nd2 Bd6 12.f4 0–0 13.h3 Ne4 14.Nxe4 dxe4 15.Nxc4 f5 16.Nxd6 Qxd6 17.c4 Be6 18.b3 Rad8 19.Qd2 Qa3 20.Qc3 a5 21.c5 Rb8 22.Bd2 Rb5 23.Qc1 Qxc1 24.Rfxc1 Rd8 25.Bc3 h6 26.Rc2 Kf7 27.Rb1 Rdb8 28.Kf2 g5 29.Ke3 Kg6 30.Rcb2 Bd5 31.b4 a4 32.a3 Rf8 33.Rh1 Rb7 34.Bd2 Re7 35.Rf1 Bc4 36.Rc1 Bd5 37.Kf2 Rfe8 38.Rc3 Declared a drawn game. This was done to prevent Black taking all the next day to consider on his move. ½–½

Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, April 30, 1859

Roberts - Franklin [C01]

California, 1859

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 exd5 4.Nf3 Nf6 5.c4 Be7 6.Be2 0–0 7.0–0 Nc6 8.Nc3 Be6 9.c5 a6 10.a3 Ne4 11.Ne1 f5 12.f3 Nxc3 13.bxc3 f4 14.Nd3 g5 15.Nb4 Rf6 16.Bd3 Qe8 17.Nxc6 bxc6 18.Qc2 Qh5 19.h3 Raf8 20.Ra2 Rh6 21.Qe2 g4 22.fxg4 Qg5 23.Qe5 Qxe5 24.dxe5 Bxc5+ 25.Kh2 Be3 26.Bxe3 fxe3 27.Rxf8+ Kxf8 28.Kg3 d4 29.Rc2 c5 30.cxd4 cxd4 31.Rxc7 Ke8 32.g5 Rg6 33.Bxg6+ hxg6 34.Kf3 Bd5+ 35.Ke2 Bxg2 36.Rc4 Ke7 37.Rxd4 Ke6 38.h4 Kxe5 39.Kxe3 Bc6 40.Rc4 Bd7 41.Rc5+ Kd6 42.Kd4 Bh3 43.Rc3 Bg4 44.Rb3 Kc6 45.Ke5 Kc5 46.Kf6 Bh5 47.Rb8 a5 48.Rh8 a4 49.Rxh5 gxh5 1–0

Frank Les-lie’s Illustrated Newspaper, May 14, 1859

Franklin - Roberts [B01]

California, 1859

1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Nf6 3.c4 c6 4.dxc6 Nxc6 5.Nf3 e5 6.a3 Bd6 7.Be2 e4 8.Ng5 h6 9.Nh3 Bxh3 10.gxh3 Qc7 11.d4 exd3 12.Bxd3 0–0–0 13.Nc3 a6 14.Be3 Bxh2 15.Qc2 Bf4 16.0–0–0 Bxe3+ 17.fxe3 Ne5 18.Nd5 Nxd3+ 19.Rxd3 Nxd5 20.cxd5 Qxc2+ 21.Kxc2 Rhe8 22.Rg1 g5 23.Rf1 Re5 24.e4 Rd7 25.Rd4 h5 26.Kd3 g4 27.Rf5 Rxf5 28.exf5 gxh3 29.Ke4 Re7+ 30.Kf3 Re5 31.Kf4 h2 32.Rd1 Rxd5 33.Rh1 Rd2 34.Kg5 Kd8 35.Kf6 Ke8 36.Re1+ Kf8 37.b4 Rd6+ 38.Kg5 Rd3 39.Rh1 Rh3 40.Kf6 Kg8 41.a4 b6 42.b5 a5 43.Ke7 Rf3 44.f6 Rf2 45.Rc1 Re2+ 46.Kd7 Kh7 47.Rh1 Kg6 48.Kc7 Re6 49.Rxh2 Rxf6 50.Rg2+ Kh6 51.Rc2 h4 52.Rc6 Kg5 53.Kxb6 h3 54.Kxa5 Rxc6 55.bxc6 h2 56.c7 h1Q 57.c8Q Qe1+ 58.Kb5 Qb1+ 59.Ka5 f5 60.Qg8+ Kf4 ½–½

Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, May 14, 1859

Franklin - Roberts [D40]

California, 1859

1.c4 c5 2.Nc3 e6 3.e3 Nf6 4.Nf3 Nc6 5.a3 d5 6.d4 b6 7.cxd5 exd5 8.Bb5 Bb7 9.0–0 a6 10.Ba4 b5 11.Bc2 c4 12.e4 dxe4 13.Nxe4 Nxe4 14.Bxe4 Be7 15.Bd2 0–0 16.d5 Nb8 17.d6 Bxe4 18.dxe7 Qxe7 19.Bb4 Qd7 20.Bxf8 Kxf8 21.Ne5 Qxd1 22.Raxd1 f6 23.f3 Bf5 24.Rd8+ Ke7 25.Nc6+ Nxc6 26.Rxa8 a5 27.g4 Bd3 28.Re1+ Kd6 29.Kf2 b4 30.axb4 axb4 31.Ke3 Ne5 32.Ra7 Bc2 33.Re2 Bd3 34.Rd2 g5 35.b3 Kc5 36.bxc4 Bxc4 37.Ra5+ Kb6 38.Rxe5 fxe5 39.Ke4 b3 40.Kxe5 Kb5 41.Kd4 Bf7 42.Kc3 Ka4 43.Kb2 h5 44.Rd7 Be8 45.Rd4+ Kb5 46.Rd5+ Kc6 47.Rxg5 hxg4 48.fxg4 Kd6 49.h4 Bf7 50.h5 Ke6 51.Kxb3 Kf6+ And thus drew the game through an extraordinary oversight of the usually extra cautious Mr. Franklin. ½–½

Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, May 14, 1859

Roberts - Franklin [C60]

California, 1859

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Bd6 4.c3 a6 5.Ba4 b5 6.Bb3 Na5 7.Bc2 Ne7 8.0–0 0–0 9.d4 exd4 10.e5 Bxe5 11.Nxe5 d6 12.Nf3 dxc3 13.Nxc3 Bb7 14.Nd4 Qd7 15.Re1 Ng6 16.Bf5 Qd8 17.Qh5 c5 18.Bg5 Qb6 19.Nf3 Rfe8 20.Be4 Nc4 21.b3 Nce5 22.Nxe5 Rxe5 23.Bxb7 Qxb7 24.Rxe5 Nxe5 25.Qe2 f6 26.Bh4 Rd8 27.Bg3 c4 28.Bxe5 fxe5 29.bxc4 Qc6 30.Nd5 Re8 31.Rc1 a5 32.Ne3 b4 33.Qd3 Kh8 34.Qd5 Qc7 35.c5 dxc5 36.Rxc5 Qe7 37.Rxa5 h6 38.h3 Qf6 39.Ng4 Qf4 40.Qf3 Qc1+ 41.Kh2 Qc7 42.Qd5 e4+ 43.g3 Rf8 44.Ra8 Qe7 45.Rxf8+ Qxf8 46.Qxe4 h5 47.Qf4 Qxf4 48.gxf4 hxg4 1–0

Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, May 28, 1859

As a kind of footnote to the above collection of games, attached here is one game by a Cali-for-nian that was found in the pages of The Chess Monthly, and that game, as the explanation of-fered with it suggests, was in fact played in Boston: "We owe this game," Fiske wrote, "to the kindness of the President of the Boston Club. We publish it with great pleasure, as a speci-men of the chess-play of the distinguished explorer and savan. It is one of a match played three or four months since and will amply repay the attention of the reader."

Boston Amateur - Colonel John Charles Fremont [C53]

Boston 1859

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.c3 Qe7 5.0–0 d6 6.h3 Nf6 7.d3 0–0 8.Be3 Bxe3 9.fxe3 Be6 10.Bb3 Na5 11.Nbd2 c6 12.Qe2 d5 13.Nxe5 Bxh3 14.Nxc6 bxc6 15.gxh3 dxe4 16.d4 Kh8 17.Bc2 Nb7 18.Rf4 Nd6 19.Qg2 Rae8 20.Raf1 Nd5 21.Qf2 Nxf4 22.Qxf4 f5 23.Rf2 Rf6 24.Rg2 Rg6 25.Rxg6 hxg6 26.Bb3 Rf8 27.h4 Qf6 28.c4 Nf7 29.c5 g5 30.hxg5 Nxg5 31.Qh4+ Nh7 32.Qh3 Qg5+ 33.Kf1 Rf6 34.Ke2 Rh6 35.Qf1 Nf6 36.Nc4 Ng4 37.Qf4 Rh2+ 38.Kd1 Nf2+ 39.Kc1 Nd3+ 0–1

The Chess Monthly, May 1858, pp.150–51

John Charles Fremont (1813-1890), as general reference sources commonly note, had in 1838 helped map the upper Mississippi and Missouri rivers. Fremont would later lead government survey expeditions to map much of the area between the Mississippi River valley and the Pa-cific Ocean. A major in the Mexican War, he helped conquer California and was appointed military governor. The gold rush brought him great fortune, and he was elected one of Califor-nia’s first United States sena-tors, serving in 1850 and 1851. In 1856, Fremont was the Republi-can Party’s first presidential candidate, losing the election that year to James Buchanan. Long after the game above was played, Fremont lost his fortune in railroad ventures, and served as governor of the Arizona Territory from 1878-1883.

The Morphy chess boom, though, didn’t last. Chess in the United States lost many of its gains in the years following Morphy’s earliest and grandest successes. By March 13, 1861, a corre-spondent in California could write The Chess Monthly as follows:

"During the latter part of 1858 and the beginning of 1859, while Mr. Morphy was pursing his unparalleled successes, the chess fever reached its height in San Francisco. Several chess clubs were formed, a grand Tournament was held, and all classes of the community were seized with a rage for playing chess. Since then the interest in our game has somewhat declined, and there is now no regular club in the city. The Mercantile Library Association, however, has a large and beautiful chess room for the accommodation of its members, furnished with sixteen tables, where daily and nightly may be found a collection of players of all grades of force, from the tyro, whose chess acquirements extend only to a knowledge of the moves, to such veterans as Mr. Roberts, formerly President of the Brooklyn Chess Club, or Judge Jones, formerly of New Orleans. The first named gentleman is, perhaps, the strongest player here, although there are some five or six others, to whom he can yield no odds, and who sometimes give him a close contest for the superiority."

"A few months since, Mr. Salem [sic] Franklin, the winner of the first prize in the Tournament of 1858, and who is now residing in Victoria, V.I., paid us a visit. During his stay here he was daily at the Chess Room, and contested a number of games with our strongest players, the re-sult giving him a slight advantage over all excepting Mr. Roberts, with whom the score was about even. Mr. Franklin’s style is cautious and defensive. His motto seems to be ‘slow and sure.’ Indeed, his somewhat excessive slowness at times, furnishes his vanquished antagonists with an excuse, which certain great match-players have not hesitated to make use of when smarting under defeat."

"A player like Morphy would be a godsend to our chess circle. There are men here, I am per-suaded, who, could they have practice with a real first rate player, would eventually occupy no mean place in the chess world. We live in hopes that some stray chess knight of established fame will one day drop in upon us, astonishing our best men with his brilliant combinations, and exciting a generous rivalry which may result in developing the latent chess talent now awaiting the hand of the master to call it forth."

The writer of this epistle signed himself only "J.S.L.," in the fashion so irritating to chess histo-rians of another day. A "J. Levinson" had played in the First Division of the Second Class at the California Chess Congress of 1858, but there is no way to tell if Levinson and J.S.L. were one in the same. In any event, the writer had no way of knowing that his own letter detailing the decline of chess in the Golden State would find its parallel thousands of miles away. The letter appears in the last issue of The Chess Monthly, which was released in May 1861, a few short weeks after the fall of Fort Sumter called the nation to a larger cause. Not long thereafter, in Sep-tember 1861, the chess column in Frank Leslie’s Illustrated News ceased as well, no doubt also a victim to declining interest in chess and the conflagration tearing the country apart. It would only be following the con-clusion of the Civil War that most men’s interest in chess would return to the regional and na-tional stage, and the progress of chess in California, as else-where, would eventually continue with renewed vigor.

© 2003   John S. Hilbert  All Rights Reserved

Chess at the Mechanics' 1885

Noted chess historian John Hilbert, the author of  tremendous works on Shipley, Napier and Whitaker to mention but a few, has uncovered an interesting addition to the first volume of the MI Chess History (see below #6).

Manson,N - Peipers,F [C30]

Mechancis Institute Tournament, 1885

Played between Messrs. N.J. Manson and Fritz Peipers, in the recent tournament at Mechanics' Institute.

1.e4 e5 2.f4 Bc5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Nf3 d6 5.Na4 Nxe4 6.Nxc5 Nxc5 7.b4 Ncd7 8.Bc4 0-0 9.0-0 Qf6 10.Bb2 Qxf4 11.Nxe5 Qe4 12.Bxf7+ Kh8 13.Nxd7 Bxd7 14.Qh5 Nc6 15.Bxg7+ Kxg7 16.Qg5+ Qg6 17.Bxg6 hxg6 18.d4 Bf5 19.c3 Rae8 20.g4 Bd3 21.Rxf8 Rxf8 22.Re1 a6 23.h4 Rf7 24.h5 Kh7 25.Re8 Rf1+ 26.Kg2 Rf7 27.hxg6+ Bxg6 28.Qh4+ Bh5 29.Qxh5+ Kg7 30.Qg5+ Kh7 31.Qg8+ Kh6 32.Qxf7 1-0

St. Louis Globe-Democrat, May 2, 1885

This appears to be a game taken from the tournament you mention in "The First Hundred Years" at p.33, where you write "The first mention of a local championship is in The Argonaut column The Chess Player, a tournament at the Mechanics' Institute in 1885 won by J. Waldstein, with N.J. Manson 2nd and Fritz Peipers 3rd."