CALIFORNIA CHESS JOURNAL (Vol. 1 No. 15) December 1987
OUT OF THE PAST IN CALIFORNIA CHESS
By Guthrie McClain
(Editor, The California Chess Reporter, 1951 - 1976)
The Night I met Alekhine (see also October issue)
Alexander Alekhine, chess champion of the world, gave a simultaneous
exhibition on Saturday night, May 11, 1929. Alekhine is considered one of
the very best - perhaps THE BEST - chessplayers of all time, and in 1929 he
was at the peak of his career. But that night at the Chess Room of the
Mechanics' Institute in San Francisco he took a thumping at the hands of the
cream of the crop of S.F. Bay Area Chess.
The champion began the 43 boards at 8:00 P.M. and by the
time he finished the last grueling game it was 2:30 the next morning.
He lost 8 games and drew 8, and he pulled out many a lost game in order to
do that well. At one time I counted Alekhine's "lost" games:
There were no less than twenty games where he had a poor position or was
behind in material.
Dmitri Vedensky (Berkeley)
A.J. Fink (State Champion)
E.W. Gruer (Oakland ex-champ)
Arthur B. Stamer
Dr. A. Epsteen
Dr. W.R. Lovegrove
Prof. G.E.K. Branch (Berkeley)
Joseph Drouillard (Oakland)
Leo Christianson (16)
Charles Bagby had the distinction of playing the best game against the
champion, according to Alekhine. The shortest game and the first to be
finished was that against young Arthur Dake of Portland (Dake, who is now
the West Coast's senior Grandmaster, rashly played move-on-move with
Alekhine)- the last was Dr. Henry Abelson's game.
According to E.J. Clarke's column in the Sunday Chronicle
on May 19, 1929, the S.F. Bay area did much better than other areas in the
Champion's 1929 tour.
Some time after this exhibition, Dr. Alekhine was asked
what city in the United States gave him the stiffest opposition. He is
reported to have answered "San Francisco, at a place called the Mechanics'
Alexander Alekhine's 1929 Tour