Mechanics' Institute Chess Room Newsletter

by John Donaldson


 
Gens Una Sumus!

Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club Newsletter #836
July 20, 2018

I know of only two chess players who played better in the last hour of play than in the opening and middlegame—those are Karpov and Carlsen.

Alexander Beliavsky—interview (requires signin)

The 18th Charles Bagby Memorial G/40 will be held this Saturday at the Mechanics’ Institute.

1) Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club News

FIDE Master Ezra Chambers won the 130-player Summer Tuesday Night Marathon with a 8–0 score. International Master Elliott Winslow was second at 6½, a half point ahead of a large group of players including National Master Russell Wong, Experts Natalya Tsodikova and Isiah Kim, Class A player James Wonsever and Class B player John Harris.

Congratulations to Kristian Clemens and Ethan Boldi who crossed 2000 for the first time and to David Askin and Ella Papenek who regained their Expert titles. Natalya Tsodikova fell one point short (2199) of regaining her master rating.

The big rating gainers for players with established ratings were:

John Harris (+95)
Nicholas Reed (+80)
Shiva Bhattacharjee (+62)
Jon Cendejas (+51)


From round 8 of the Summer Tuesday Night Marathon:
White to move (Chambers–Wong after 12...a5)Black to move (Chambers–Wong after 15 O-O)
Black to move (Papanek–Tsodikova after 23 hxg3)White to move (Argo–Kim after 22...Rfe8)
White to move (Cohee–Robertson after 22...Kh7)White to move (Doyle–Marcus after 14...g5)
Black to move (Tobiason–Karp after 21 Bd2)For the solutions, see the game scores for round 8.

U.S. Champion Sam Shankland will play in one of the strongest round robin tournaments of the year in Danzhou, China, from July 27 to August 3. The eight-player round robin boasts an average rating of 2729 FIDE.

The contestants in order of rating on July 17, 2018, are

Yu Yangyi (China) 2760
Duda (Poland) 2745
Wei Yi (China) 2735
Shankland (USA) 2727
Le Quang Liem (Vietnam) 2727
Vidit (India) 2715
Bu Xiangzhi (China) 2712
Fedoseev (Russia) 2707


Thanks to Adam Murray and Walter Brown for their generous donations of chess books to the MI library.


National Master Rochelle Wu of Davis has 2½ points from 5 rounds in the 2018 US Junior Girls’ Championship being held at the St. Louis Chess Club. Rochelle, who recently turned 12, is the youngest girl in the competition.


We reported in the last MI Newsletter that former Mechanics’ member Jeremy Silman is one of the best-selling chess authors in the United States. Add current MI Trustee and Grandmaster Patrick Wolff (The Complete Idiot's Guide to Chess) and former MI Chess Director FIDE Master Jim Eade (Chess for Dummies) to the list of top-sellers.

We recently asked them for their sales figures and both responded.

Grandmaster Patrick Wolff:
“This is a good question. It’s a bit tricky because I would have to dig into my records and I’m not sure how far back they go. I can get the sales of the most recent edition, but there have been three editions and I only have sales of the most recent, third edition.

“The 3rd edition has sold about 44,000 copies. This 3rd edition has been around the longest, because the last time I updated it was 2005 and the 1st edition was published in 1997. But at the same time, sales of the 3rd edition have really trailed off after the first few years, so I don’t think the 3rd edition sold that much more than the 1st and the 2nd even though it has been in print for many more years.

“So as a first approximation, I would multiple 44,000 x 3 = 132,000, then subtract 10–20% to get a range of 105,000–120,000 copies sold cumulatively. That’s a rough estimate and it could be off by a fair amount in either direction, but at least it gives you a decent range to work with.”

FIDE Master James Eade:
“Three different publishers have owned the title and each of them sold hundreds of thousands of copies. I think it is close to a million, just domestically, one way or another. I don’t have numbers for Canada or the UK. It is still selling for the current publisher, Wiley, but probable only around 20,000/year now. I usually say it is second only to Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess.”

Add in Irving Chernev, co-author of an Invitation to Chess and writer of the classic Logical Chess Move by Move, who made his home in San Francisco the last decade of his life, and you have four of the best-selling authors in the United States having lived or living in the Bay Area.

2) George Barnes, Early Minnesota Champion

George Barnes was born in Duluth on August 4, 1902. Although he would live most of his adult life in Minnesota, he grew up in Chicago and it was there he learned to play chess. He credits an uncle with teaching him the game, and one newspaper account wrote that this relative played in one of the Anglo-American cable matches for the British side. (Those matches were played from 1896–1911, but no one with the name Barnes played for either side. It could be his uncle had a different last name or played in one of the collegiate matches between the two countries, which are not as well documented.)

Barnes attended Hyde Park, one of the elite high schools in Chicago, and it was there he enjoyed his first success in chess, as his team won the city championship in 1920. This success was written about in Edward Lasker’s chess column in one of the Chicago papers, likely the first time Barnes had a game published.

His teammates, two of whom would become lifelong friends and make significant contributions to chess in the United States, were Elbert Wagner, Jr., Donald Mudridge and Andrews (no first game given). There is a picture of the four, taken at the American Chess Federation Congress held in Chicago in 1937. (The caption says “at the Western in 1938 in Chicago”, but the Western Chess Federation had become the American Chess Federation in 1935 and the 1937 event was held in Chicago, the 1938 event in Boston).

Donald Henry Mugridge (1905–1964) was a prominent-enough player that when he died Chess Review (January 1965, p. 13–14) wrote a tribute to him and published a condensation of a talk he gave on Frank Marshall at the Washington Chess Divan.

Although Mugridge was born in Chicago, he left with his family for Southern California in 1921, and it was there he first gained national attention at the age of 16 when he beat and drew the young Sammy Reshevsky in simuls. Barnes writes his friend’s win attracted the attention of newspaper reporters, as Mugridge was quite small for his age. As Sammy was quoted at the time, “I lost to a boy!”

Mugridge would later develop into a strong master: at different times he was the Harvard Chess Club champion, the Massachusetts State champion, the Washington D.C. champion, and the Washington Chess Divan champion. He played in the finals of the American Chess Federation Championships several times in the second half of the 1930s.

Mugridge served as the chess columnist for the Washington Star and wrote for Chess Review, but he was never a chess professional. A graduate of the University of Southern California and the Harvard Graduate School, he joined the staff of the Library of Congress in 1933. His principal specialty was American history and his main work, editing and contributing to the monumental Guide to the Study of the United States of America.

Even more important to American chess, but as an administrator rather than player, was Elbert Addison Wagner, Jr. (1904–1970). Barnes’ archive has many games played between the two in 1920-21, some recorded in a small notebook.

Wagner never made an impact as a player, but provided invaluable service in helping the United States Chess Federation come into existence, counseling officials of both the National and American Chess Federations during their negotiations which lead to the birth of the U.S.C.F. in 1939. It helped that Wagner was a prominent lawyer who eventually ended up as the Chief Clerk of the District Court of Chicago, a position he held from 1962 until his passing.

When the first President of the U.S.C.F., George Sturgis, died suddenly in 1944, Wagner assumed his duties serving in the top position of the organization until the summer of 1949. His over five years as President is a one term record that will not be beaten, as after his service a rule was adopted limiting individuals to a term of no more than three years.

Wagner, like Mugridge, contributed to the game as a journalist, editing a chess column in the Chicago Sun, contributing to the Illinois State Chess Association Monthly Bulletin (which ran from 1934 to 1938) and writing the U.S.C.F. Newsletter in the early to mid-1940s.

Wagner appears to have gradually retired from the chess world in the 1950s. Harold Winston, like Wagner a former U.S.C.F. President, moved to Chicago in the late 1960s to attend the University of Chicago, but never met Wagner. There is a short obituary for Wagner in Chess Life & Review (1971, p. 148) and an earlier bio when he assumed the U.S.C.F. Presidency in the American Chess Bulletin (1944, p. 126).

George Barnes graduated from Hyde Park High School in 1921 and later that year began his studies at the University of Michigan. During the next four years he was the best player on campus and developed into a strong player. The highlight of his time in Ann Arbor was acting as Emanuel Lasker’s chauffeur during the latter’s visit in 1924. Shortly afterward Barnes defeated Lasker in a simul in Detroit.

Barnes took a position in advertising, working for General Mills in Minneapolis, and over the next few decades advanced to increasingly higher-level positions. This strong economic base, and Barnes’ generosity, led him to become a major patron of Minnesota chess for over four decades, contributing considerable time and money (particularly for the 1932 Western Chess Association Championship and the 1958 U.S. Open).

Barnes was the dominant Minnesota player for two decades from the early 1930s until the early 1950s, winning eleven state championships, a record exceeded only by Curt Brasket’s 16 titles. His achievements were not just local. He scored three draws and only one loss against Sammy Reshevsky in four Western Chess Association Championships in the first half of the 1930s, and drew with Isaac Kashdan in the 1938 American Federation Championship. His best tournament result was the 1932 Western Chess Association Championship. Juggling duties as chief organizer and as a player, Barnes still finished at fifty percent, good for fifth place in the ten player field, which included future U.S.C.F. Chess Hall of Famers Reuben Fine, Sammy Reshevsky, Fred Reinfeld and Herman Steiner.

During much of Barnes’ chess career club play was paramount. He was a regular for the Minneapolis side in its matches with Winnipeg starting in the mid-1930s, where he played several times against Canada’s chess prodigy Daniel Abraham Yanofsky. He also participated in the multi-team matches held in Green Bay between 1938 and 1941, which attracted players from Chicago and Milwaukee, as well as Minneapolis.

Barnes retired to Arkansas and continued to play actively until his death in 1977. Chess Life & Review did not mention his passing, but Chess Life (May 20, 1947, p.2) covers his earlier accomplishments.

3) Frank Marshall 1917 (Part Five)

April 29
New York Master Speed Tournament Marshall Winner in Chess Tourney. U. S. Champion Takes Chief Prize Ahead of Janowski. Divan Dinner Success.

One of the most interesting chess contests of the season formed part of the program of the second annual celebration at Marshall's Chess Divan, 118 West Forty-ninth street, Manhattan, Saturday night, when, after five hours of play between eight of the leading experts in the United States, playing under a time limit of 20 seconds for a move, Frank J. Marshall emerged as winner of the first prize with a total score of 5 1/2 points. David Janowski of Paris was placed second with 5 points, and Oscar Chajes, former Western champion, third with 4 1/2. Marshall's total was made up of four wins and three drawn games against Janowski, Chajes and Beynon. Janowski lost one game to Chajes and drew two with Marshall and Black of Brooklyn, who, with a rook against a knight and rook, succeeded in holding his own in a long drawn-out ending.

Roy T. Black represented Brooklyn in the competition and, besides drawing with Janowski, won from Beynon and Hodges, but lost the remaining four games. The large playing room of the Divan was filled with visitors, who welcomed the opportunity to watch masters pitted against each other in tournament play. Leon Redlick acted as referee, Henry Koehler was time keeper and H. H. Hartshorne the official scorer. The final scores were the following:

Marshall, 5½; Janowski, 5; Chajes, 4½; Jaffe, 4; Bernstein and Hodges, 3; Black, 2½; Beynon, ½.

Chess Diners Patriotic

Owing to the unexpected length of the tournament, the simultaneous exhibition by Marshall was omitted from the program. Nearly a hundred guests, including Mrs. F. J. Marshall and Mrs. R. T. Black, participated in the annual dinner held in the banquet hall of the Café Français, J. C. Fireman acting most acceptably as toast master. Patriotic music opened the proceedings and nearly every nationality responded when called upon for speeches. When the list of Allies had become exhausted, Chairman Fireman called upon Oscar Chajes and Henry Koehler as representatives of Austria and Germany, respectively, but both promptly proclaimed themselves American citizens.

The true spirit of international brotherhood reigned supreme throughout the proceedings. Marshall and Hodges, present and former U. S. champions, spoke for their native land, and Janowski, in responding in behalf of France, referred to his internment at the Mannheim international congress and his subsequent escape to Switzerland. The French campion praised highly the hospitality he had experienced in this country.

Hudson Maxim was to have made an address but was prevented from coming at the last moment. The famous Brooklynite sent his regrets, together with fifty copies of his book "Defenseless America", for free distribution. Roy Black was asked to speak for an "alien city outside the U. S.," and he came back strong in a witty address. On motion of Chairman Fireman, an honorary membership in Marshall's Chess Divan was conferred upon H. Helms of the Brooklyn Chess Club. Among those who spoke were the following:

F. J. Marshall, D. Janowski, Leon Redlick, J, Sturrock, Dr. H. Siff, A. B. Hodges, O. Chajes, Henry Koehler, H. Helms, Dr. L. A. Ball, R. T. Black, Otto Deck, T. K. Sturges, A. J. Gordon, J. H. Morse, H. M. Hartshorne and Dr. W. W. Carter. Others present were Dr. F. C. St. John, Alfred Schroeder, J. Bernstein, Charles Jaffe, Professor J. Blen, John Hagan, Edward Pollock and A. Salzberger.

Brooklyn Eagle, 30 Apr 1917, p. 4*

QGD Tarrasch D32
Jacob Bernstein–Marshall
Played at 20 sec/move

1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 c5 4. cxd5 exd5 5. Nf3 Nc6 6. e3 Nf6 7. Be2 Bd6 8. O-O O-O 9. b3 Bg4 10. Bb2 cxd4 11. exd4 Rc8 12. Rc1 Bf4 13. Rb1 Re8 14. h3 Bh5 15. Nh2 Bg6 16. Bd3 Qd6 17. Nf3 Ne4 18. Nb5 Qf6 19. Bxe4 Bxe4 20. Ra1 Bb8 21. Re1 Qf4 22. Ne5 Nxe5 23. dxe5 Qg5 24. f3 Rc2 25. Re2 Rxb2 26. fxe4 Rxe2 27. Qxe2 Qxe5 28. Rd1 a6 29. Nd4 Ba7 30. Qd2 dxe4 31. Kh1 Rd8 32. Nf5 Rxd2 33. Rxd2 Qa1+ 0-1

Brooklyn Eagle, 3 May 1917, p. 3; American Chess Bulletin, 5–6/1917, p. 111; Soltis, Frank Marshall—United States Champion, p. 249

4) Beliavsky on Botvinnik

I think he was the greatest investigator of chess. He knew how to properly formulate its laws. He knew how to formulate a law for himself that would function in all cases, something few chess players were capable of. The majority are talented people who have ideas that are, perhaps, more beautiful than Botvinnik’s were. But Botvinnik was better than everyone else at formulating fundamental laws, and he was also better at applying them in practice.

Botvinnik was above all a theoretician of pawn chains. He had a great ability to formulate the laws of positions where pawn chains form a particular structure.

Alexander Beliavsky interviewed by Yury Vasiliev for ChessPro, translated by Colin McGourty. Full interview (in Russian).

5) Tulsa 1931—Two Champions to Clash in Today's Chess Contests; Reshevsky is Hard Pressed

N.T. Whitaker, Washington D.C. attorney and 1930 amateur chess champion of the United States, climbed into the lead of the 1931 tournament now in progress at the Hotel Tulsa, and put Sammy Reshevsky, the 20-year-old chess wizard from Chicago, in a position where he must win his match at 7:30 tonight with Whitaker to win the national crown.

Until Saturday, Reshevsky had been the leader of the tournament and was favored to edge out Whitaker. But Saturday was another day was another day. First came G. S. Barnes, newcomer to national play from Minneapolis. In a hard game, he earned a tie with Reshevsky.

Then came Dan Rundell, a farmer living a dozen miles from Norton, Kansas, who has played before only with his brother Fred, a truck farmer living on the edge of town and with a traveling oculist who hits Norton once a month. But the Rundells play chess of high quality. Dan has been a troublesome opponent for everyone and Saturday he drew with Reshevsky, while Fred, playing in the Majors tournament, was leading the dozen contestants in that group.

The tournament has been rapidly pointing toward the Whitaker–Reshevsky match which is now scheduled for 7:30 tonight. Sam Factor, the small smart St. Louis chessman, is the third contender. Factor has drawn games with both Whitaker and Sammy.

The last time Whitaker and Sammy mixed was four years ago, when Whitaker won.

Reshevsky defeated Whitaker to finish first with 7½ from 9. The loss dropped Whitaker into a two-way tie for second with Samuel Factor at 7, while James Allan Anderson of St. Louis was fourth with 5½.

The farmer from Newton, Kansas, Dan Rundell, was fifth with 5 points.

The final standings can be found in the November 1931 (page 170) issue of the American Chess Bulletin (copied by Gino Di Felice in Chess Results 1931–1935 but with a few mistakes creeping in. Dan Rundell is referred to as G.E. Rundell of Kansas City. We believe the newspaper account, corroborated by the definite article on Tulsa 1931 by the late Frank Berry (Oklahoma Chess Bulletin, June 2000 (pages 15–25) and G.S. Barnes remembrances, is correct.

6) John Collins, on his 1991 Induction to the US Chess Hall of Fame

John Collins was inducted into the U.S. Chess Hall of Fame at the 1991 U.S. Open in Los Angeles. In the following letter he expresses his gratitude at being inducted and mentions some of the chess giants he crossed paths with, in a career that stretched from the 1930s to the 1990s.



(Source: Collins Collection, Lily Library)

William Lombardy, in his book Understanding Chess ,writes on page 29 about Collins: In his will he left he left me not a dime after having waited on him, Ethel and cousin Clara hand and foot for nearly 45 years! But that begins a much longer story.

There are two responses to Lombardy’s charge. The first is the relationship between Lombardy and Collins, Ethel and Clara was hardly a one-way street. Frank Brady, who knew all parties, mentioned to your editor in May 2017 that Ethel and Clara often fed Lombardy during his frequent visits to the Collins’ home over several decades, and that Clara was especially fond of Bill when he was growing up, and often gave him presents.

The other point is what made Lombardy think Collins had any money in his estate. Both Collins and his sister were individuals of modest means, so it is unlikely they ever had more money than enough to live on. They had plenty of friends who helped them, and why Lombardy thought he should be singled out for a bequest is unclear.

One possibility is Lombardy may have thought Collins came into a windfall. This could have been through the death of Louis Wolff, who is thanked repeatedly in My Seven Chess Prodigies for his generosity. Collins writes there that Wolff, who was well-to-do, would regularly buy groceries for get-togethers at the Hawthorne Chess Club, and even contributed to the purchase of new wheelchairs for J.C. A copy of Wolff’s will, which can be found in the University of Indiana’s Lilly Library, where John Collins’ papers are housed, mentions that Collins received $10,000 from the Wolff estate, one of many individuals that received bequests.



Louis Wolff and John Collins at the latter’s apartment in Stuyvesant Town circa 1966 (Photo: Beth Cassidy)

Ironically Collins did have one major asset, his chess archive. Filled with much original Fischer source material, it fetched a pretty penny when it was sold after J.C. died. Collins understandably did not want to part with his treasures during his lifetime, much as Lombardy did not want to sell his, preferring to live a hand-to-mouth existence the last few years of his life.



7) This is the end

Here is another amazing study. As usual, every piece is important.

White to move

Show solution



 

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