CALIFORNIA CHESS JOURNAL (Vol. 2 No. 2) February/March 1988


By Guthrie McClain
(Editor, The California Chess Reporter, 1951 - 1976)

A.J. Fink 1890-1956

   Adolph J. Fink of San Francisco was an internationally-known problem composer. During his lifetime he had more than one thousand chess problems published and won approximately one hundred prizes. He was also one of the top over-the-board chessplayers at the Mechanics' Institute for many years. He won the California State Chess Championship in 1922, 1928, and 1929, tied for first in 1945, and finished in second place in 1923, 1925, 1926 and 1948 (tied).

   In 1923 the Western Chess Association tournament was held in San Francisco; it was agreed that the top player from California would be declared the State Champion, and Stasch Mlotkowski of Los Angeles tied for first place with Norman T. Whitaker of Washington, D.C. Fink was fourth, behind Samuel Factor of Chicago, with a score of 7-4. * In 1932, when Pasadena held an international chess tournament, the same rule was in effect. Fink scored 3-8, a creditable score against players like Alekhine, Kasdan, Dake, Reshevsky, Fine, Factor and so forth, but he finished in last place.

   On December 19, 1918, the Good Companion Chess Problem Club, International, meeting in Philadelphia, published a greeting to the British Chess Problem Society on the occasion of its founding. A.J. Fink, just returning from France as a Captain U.S. Army, signed this proclamation as Vice-President of the club. When the Good Companions met officially in Chicago on October 25-26, 1986, almost sixty-eight years later, they decided to publish the proceedings in a Commemorative dedicated to the memory of A.J. Fink. Accordingly, sixteen members of The Good Companions provided an assortment of problems, and they were published, together with an account of the proceedings of the "First Congress of the Good Companions Society" by the Mechanics' Institute.

   A.J. Fink was an end-game expert, as most problemists are. He served as adjudication expert for all tournaments and team matches for many years. "Send it to Fink" was the way to settle the argument - whether in Sacramento or Eureka or San Francisco. He never required payment and, as far as we know, never made a mistake in his decisions.

   He was a loyal team player who would go wherever his team had scheduled a match. He was a little spoiled, however, as were most of the players in the Mechanics' Institute Chess Club, by the use of the clubrooms at 57 Post Street for most of their games. One day my secretary announced, "There's a chessplayer who wants to see you." I told her to send the chessplayer in. It was Fink. "You live in Oakland, don't you?" he asked. "The team has a match in Oakland next Saturday and I want to know how to get there." I suppressed my laughter while I explained that every day about twenty thousand people cross the Bay to and from work, either by train or ferryboat, bus, or automobile, and that I didn't see any problem. "I don't mean that kind of trip," he explained. "I want to go over there early, get settled in a hotel, and see something of the town. I'll have a lady with me, and we will stay over the day after the match and have a good dinner somewhere. Tell me, McClain - are there any hotels in Oakland?" I was able to reassure Fink on these scores, and he went ahead and played in the team match. I never learned however, how Fink's Safari to Oakland came out.

The following game was published in the column The Chess Player, by Dr. H. J. Ralston, in The Argonaut for February 8, 1952. It was played in a team match between Mechanics' Institute and the Oakland Chess Club on December 15, 1951.

White: A.J. Fink
Black: Roger Smook
Sicilian Defense

1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 Nc6
3. d4 cd4
4. Nxd4 Nf6
5. Nc3 d6
6. Bc4 e6
7. 0-0 a6
8. Be3 Qc7
9. Bb3 Be7
10. Qf3 0-0
11. Rad1 Rd8
12. h3 Bd7
13. Qg3 b5
14. a3 Nc8
15. Bg5 Bxg5
16. Qxg5 Rab8
17. Rfe1 Na5
18. Rd3 Nc4
19. Rf3 Qc5
20. Qc7 Nf6 (A)
21. Rxf6 gf6
22. e5 f5
23. Bxc4 bc4
24. Ne4! fe4
25. Rxe4 Qxe5
26. Rxe5 de5
27. Nf3 h6
28. Nxe5 Be8
29. Ng4 Rd5
30. Nf6+ 1 : 0 (B)
A) If 20 ... Ne5 21. Rxf7 Nxf7 22. Bxc6 Bxe6 23. Nxc6 ... B) For if Kg7 31. Nxd5 ed5 32. Qe5+

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