(Vol. VI No. 5) December 1956

A.J.Fink 1890-1956

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.

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 Francisco Chronicle.

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