THE CALIFORNIA CHESS REPORTER
(Vol. VI No. 5) December 1956
We record with deep regret the death in San Francisco on December 15, 1956,
of A.J. Fink. Mr. Fink was a life member of the Mechanics' Institute and the
Postal Employees, California State Champion three times, and a noted problem
composer. Our condolences to the members of his family.
by DR. H. J. RALSTON
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 hemorrhage.
He was a Life Master of the United States Chess Federation. He first won
the Master title in the Chicago Master's Tournament of 1922; the requirement
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 co-champion once (1945, with Herman Steiner). Twice he was second to
S.Mlotkowski, then residing in Los Angeles. In 1923 when the highest
California player in the Western Chess Association tournament was played in
San Francisco, Fink was fourth behind Mlotkowski, N.T.Whitaker
(tied for first) of Washington, D.C., and S.Factor of Chicago, but ahead
of the other Californians; in 1925 Fink was second with a score of
6 1/2-1 1/2, behind Mlotkowski, who won the title, 7 1/2-1/2. 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 he finished
last (!) with the creditable score of 3-8 against Alexander Alekhine, Isaac
Kashdan, Arthur Dake, Sammy Reshevsky, Herman Steiner, Harry Borochow,
J.Berstein, Samuel Factor, Reuben Fine, Fred Reinfeld and J.J.Araiza.
Adolph was a collector of stray bits of 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
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
consult- ation on anybody's post-mortems - in which he delighted in
defending so-called "lost positions" and reviving attacks which had
supposedly gone astray.
An end-game expert 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