Out of the Blind Spot: More on Fritz Peipers
by Neil Brennen
"Perhaps someone in the San Francisco area could rescue the good Professor Peipers from the blind spot of history that he now occupies." So I wrote in my brief article "The Blind Spot" on the nineteenth century chessplayer Fritz Peipers, a member of the Mechanics' Institute Chess Club, in the September 2003 California Chess Journal, adding that "very little is known about Peipers, a fate he shares with many strong amateurs of the time."
Fortunately, chess historians have been busy attempting to uncover more about this forgotten minor master from San Francisco. This article summarizes all that has been recovered about Fritz Peipers to date.
The chess column of the San Francisco Chronicle, of April 21, 1894, states that Peipers was born in Germany. Geneological data found on the Internet offers 1844 as the date of his birth. Peipers first learned chess at the Conservatory in Cologne, "where he early showed an ability to excel." When he came to the United States is unknown, as is when he began to teach music and adopted the courtesy title of "Professor".
The earliest known game by Peipers was published in Brentano's Chess Monthly in August of 1881. The introduction to the game states it was one of four games played "simultaneously and without sight of the boards by Professor Fritz Peipers, of San Francisco, against four amateurs of that city." Peipers won all four games.
F. Peipers - Mr.__ C44
In the last issue of Brentano's published, Peipers' earliest dated chess problem appeared, a simple mate in two.
White: King b5, Rook c5, Bishops d3 and g5, Knight d5
The next reference to Peipers is from reports of a Mechanic's Institute's chess tournament in 1885. According to historian John Donaldson, writing in the Mechanic's Institute Newsletter #36, the tournament was "won by J. Waldstein, with N.J. Manson 2nd and Fritz Peipers 3rd." Chess historian John Hilbert provided the following loss by Peipers from the tournament, which appeared in Mechanic's Institute Newsletter #132
N. Manson - F. Peipers [C30]
St. Louis Globe-Democrat, May 2, 1885
During the 1880s Peipers was seemingly collecting the scalps of major players. The April 1894 article referred to above mentioned several wins against Zuckertort during the Polish master's visit to San Francisco in 1884. Other prominent masters allegedly defeated by Peipers include Von Scheve, Showalter, and Gossip. Peipers also traveled extensively, and allegedly defeated the Mexican players Rivas, Diaz, and Perez. The article claimed Peipers was "one of the leading chess problemists of the United States". The "alleged" and "claimed" in the sentences above are there for a reason; since a search of the major chess publications from 1881-1894 yielded a single chess problem, as opposed to dozens for leading American problemists such as Shinkman, Loyd, and Carpenter, it's probable the results of his over-the board play are likewise exaggerated. Neither the press reports on Zuckertort's 1884 visit nor Gossip's letter to the International Chess Magazine in 1888 mention Professor Peipers.
While the newspaper profile did contain what might be politely called a "stretcher" or two about Peipers' ability, it did have an offhand game against a "Mr. Bert, of this city, which will give an idea of the former's play." The date of the game and the circumstances of its play were not provided by the newspaper.
Fritz Peipers - Bert
San Francisco Chronicle, April 21, 1894
"Some years" before 1894 Peipers had left the Bay Area and moved to Los Angeles. A genelogical source on the Internet shows Fritz Peipers dying there in 1918. We conclude with a mate in three problem from Peipers' Los Angeles residency, taken from the American Chess Magazine of 1898.
White: King a8, Rooks f6 and h3, Bishops a1 and c8, Knight d7, pawns e3 and h2 Black: King h5, Knights b2 and h4, pawn a3
© 2005 Neil Brennen. All rights reserved.
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