Chess Digest (Formerly CALIFORNIA CHESS NEWS), Vol. 3 - No. 10, October 1950

A master amateur


San Francisco

For sixty years, Dr. W. R. Lovegrove of San Francisco has been one of our strongest players.

Born October 24, 1869, he learned the game of chess at the age of sixteen, by studying the article on chess in the Encyclopedia Britannica. During the period 1886-1890 he strengthened his game by playing at the Mechanics' Institute in San Francisco, finally becoming so strong that in one tournament he gave odds to all the other contestants, yet still won.

He was the winner of the final Pillsbury National Correspondence tournament. In 1891 he won a match from Joseph Redding, who claimed the championship of the Pacific Coast, by a score of 7-1. Max Judd, who had been prominent in national chess circles, visited San Francisco about the same time, and Dr. Lovegrove won six games out of seven from him in casual play. Showalter also visited San Francisco, and although he had the edge over Dr. Lovegrove in casual play, lost no less than twelve games to him.

In 1893 Dr. Lovegrove visited Los Angeles, where he met and conquered Lipschutz by a score of 3 1/2-1/2. In 1912, he played Van Vliet in London for a schilling a game, and won the only game played. Vienna, 1922, was the site of two games with the well-known master Dr. Tartakower. The master told Dr. Lovegrove he would pay him sixty thousand kronen if Dr. Lovegrove won, and would expect to receive forty thousand kronen if he won.

The first game lasted four hours, with Dr. Lovegrove the winner. Dr. Tartakower insisted on paying, which is highly unusual in play between masters and amateurs. So Dr. Lovegrove finally, but reluctantly, took the dollar. Next day they played even, and the master won his dollar back. He did not care to play Dr. Lovegrove any more, remarking that he couldn't make a living that way.

Paris, 1912, found Dr. Lovegrove beating Taubenhaus 10-1, for, theoretically, a dollar a game. One day in San Francisco, in 1913, Dr. Lovegrove met and defeated Kostich 4-0, again winning four imaginary dollars. Next day, Kostich won back some real dollars.

Dr. Lovegrove's greatest achievements were against the world champion, Dr. Emanuel Lasker, the American champion, Harry Pillsbury. In 1903 Dr. Lasker visited San Francisco on tour, and an exhibition game with clocks was arranged. Dr. Lovegrove defeated the great master, who was liberal in his praise of the local player. (We shall give this game in a later issue of "Chess Digest.")

Dr. Lovegrove's game with Pillsbury, played in 1904 in San Francisco, was also an individual exhibition game, played with clocks. Dr. Lovegrove won with a ferocious king-side attack. Unlike Dr. Lasker, Pillsbury was very much upset over losing. He could not believe that a mere amateur would be able to beat him.

The present writer is not alone in holding the opinion that Dr. Lovegrove, in his prime, was the strongest amateur in the world.

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