Mechanics' Institute Chess Newsletter: 1930-1939

ELMER W. GRUER DIES (The Chess Reporter, August 1931)

The passing of E. W. Gruer at Oakland on July 16 leaves a gap in the Chess world that will not be easily filled. Before illness took its tragic toll he was both the ablest and the most popular player, for rare personal qualities endeared him to a host of friends. At University where he was graduated in 1912, he captained his Chess team. He won the championship of the Mechanics Institute, San Francisco, many times, and the championship of the State three times, 1921, 1926 and 1927. He was almost as expert at bridge as at Chess. A scientist by profession, he devoted his life to X-Ray work and was cut off in what should have been his prime. The funeral in Oakland was attended by many co-workers and clubmates.

E.J. CLARKE PICKS UP NORSE SAGA TO END San Francisco Expert Tells of Dake's Exhibitions After Air Flight (The Chess Reporter, December, 1931)

If your touring chess master fails to show up for his engagement at the chess club-well, it may be awkward for the committee, but explanations can be made. However, when said master is to appear in the auditorium of the largest store in town and has been advertised for a week in advance-well, he just HAS to be on hand! That's just how the situation stands, October 14, with Arthur Dake giving an exhibition that evening at the Beverly Hills Chess Club and scheduled to appear at the Emporium, in San Francisco, the next day at 2 p. m. So it happens---- Arthur Dake's probably the first chess master to fly to an exhibition! Thanks to the commendable energy shown by our good friend G. S. G. Patterson, Arthur hopped a United Air Transport liner at Burbank, and after three hours of ideal flying weather landed safely at Alameda Airport, and arrived in San Francisco an hour before his exhibition at the Emporium. Dake was advertised to play fifteen leading experts of the Bay region, including Henry Gross, runner-up with Tippin to Borochow in the State tourney. However, Heinie failed to show up. Perhaps he had not fully recovered from the shock of his thrilling adventure the Sunday previous when he was taken for a ride in his own car and finally turned the tables on his captors by a courageous coup. But that's another story- Dake was duly snapped by news cameramen, and felicitously introduced by Fred Christianson in front of a crowd estimated at between 400 and 500. He defeated eleven of the sharps, drew with D. Vedesnky and G. Engel, and lost to Johnny Tippin and Fred Byron. Seventeen players face Dake Saturday evening, October 17, in a hastily arranged simultaneous exhibition. After a happy foreword by Captain Harry Braig of the executive committee, the young master gave a beautiful example of the real spirit of simultaneous, moving rapidly from board to board and making his moves almost instantly. In a short two hours he had concluded his performance. He won 13 games, drew three, and lost but one-to Professor Gerald E. K. Branch, president of the newly organized Oakland Chess Club. "What a change!" was the comment of the regulars. They recalled how he came to the Institute in 1928, a rather unsophisticated country youth, and was sadly beaten by Alekhine in about 13 seconds' play! Now a chessmaster of world-wide repute both in Europe and America, and giving an exhibition at the Mechanics, more spectacular than anything since Capablanca visited there in 1917. Dake's future development and career will not be a matter of indifference to the Mechanics Institute Chess Club.

(The Chess Reporter, December, 1931)

With two victories apiece and no losses Mechanic's Institute of San Francisco and Castle Chess Club of Oakland lead the first annual inter-Club Northern California Chess League tournament which began on January 21 and will be completed the last week of April. The summary March 4:

   Team:   Won  -  Lost

  • Castle C. C.    2 - 0
  • Mechanic's    2 - 0
  • UC Berkeley    1.5 - .5
  • Russian C.C    .5 - 1.5
  • Black Knights    .0 - 2
  • Oakland C.C    0 - 2

(The Chess Reporter, April, 1933)

As we go to press Mechanics Institute by score of 4 to 0 leads the first annual tourney of the Northern California Chess League. Castle Chess Club their closest rival still has a chance to pass them in the decisive match twixt the two leaders the close of the month. University of California and Russian C.C. have also done well, following the order named. Score in the Northern California Chess League, with but the one (and decisive) match twixt Mechanics' and Castle remaining to be played this week-end:

   Team:   Won  -  Lost

  • Mechanic's   4 - 0
  • Castle C. C   3.5 - .5
  • UC Berkeley   3 - 2
  • Russian C.C   2.5 - 2.5
  • Black Knights   1 - 4
  • Oakland C.C   0 - 5

The institution of the new League, now completing its first season, has brought about a decided Chess revival at the Golden Gate. Whereas last year the Northern faces were able to muster but 19 playing boards at the annual North-South even in San Luis Obispo over Memorial Day, both North Captain Christensen and League Manager Barlow now ask a 25-board match, indicating faith in their ability to muster a strong and numerous array. The annual Castle vs. University of California Faculty match on March 16 resulted in a victory for Castle C.C 4 to 3. Two 25-Board matches in the North mark great activity preparatory to the marshaling for San Luis Obispo. In the first of these Oakland defeated Berkeley 14 to 11, and in the second to be held May 6 at the Mechanics Institute, East Bay will contest with San Francisco the palm of district superiority. Castle Chess Club's second team has defeated Hayward High School, U.C. Reserves, University of San Francisco Varsity, and Berkeley Y.M.C.A. Hayward High School on May 20 plays a telegraph match vs. "Poly" High School, Los Angeles for the "prep" championship.

(The Chess Reporter, April, 1931)

San Francisco, April 15

For the initial number of THE CHESS REPORTER, it would be pleasing to report chess enthusiasm here as around the 212 degree mark, but just at present things are rather quiet. That, no doubt, is but a temporary condition, and we shall soon sail out of our chessic doldrums into real activity. At the Mechanics' Institute, 57 Post St., the annual major and minor tournaments will soon be under way. Recently Charles L. Bagby has been giving exhibitions of blindfold chess on Saturday evenings. Beginning wit three games simultaneously, Bagby worked up to ten games and made a very creditable score. I know of no one in California who has equaled that number. Over in Oakland the active Castle Chess Club is keeping the sacred flame on Caissa's altar burning brightly. It happens that nearly all the members of the Castle are also members of the Mechanic's Institute Chess Club. But as they devote their time to playing outre bay, and but rarely visit the Institute, this may account for the lethargy at the M.I.C.C. Another active chess club in the transbay city is the Oakland Chess Club at 419 Tenth St., which George Keyes has brought from a small group of enthusiasts to an organization with a membership of fifty, including the checkers section. Johnny Tippin is the present champion. Hugp Legler, well known as inventor of Neo-Chess, recently retired from the U.S. Weather Bureau Service, is now residing in Oakland and has joined the club. In conclusion, I would ask the support of Northern California chess players for THE CHESS REPORTER. Happily, the chess fraternity of Northern and Southern California, while keen rivals in telegraphic and crossboard matches, has never been guilty of silly sectionalism, and, although published in the South, THE CHESS REPORTER will be a magazine devoted to chess activities of all California. As such I urge former correspondents and readers of The Chronicle Chess column in Northern California to subscribe to THE CHESS REPORTER.
Fraternally, E.J. CLARKE

Mechanics Nose Oakland; Rout Black Knights
(The Chess Reporter, December, 1931)

Two interesting matches were contested at the Mechanics Institute in San Francisco last month, the major team nosing out Greater Oakland on November 5 by 4 to 3 and the second team beating Black Knight C.C team November 14 by 6.5 to .5. The fighting qualities of newly reorganized Oaklanders were shown by four stoutly fought draws as well as Johnny Tippin's Ruy Lopez victory vs. Fink on No. 1 board. Summary: Fink, 0;Tippin,1 Clarke, .5; Dr. Branch, .5. Stamer, .5; Vedensky, .5. Rosenblatt, .5; Thompson, .5. Adams, 1; Drouillard, 0. Silvius, .5; Nahl, .5. Henderson, 1; McClain, 0. Dr. A. Epsteen led the Mechanics' second team that in mid-month routed the Black Knights on all board save the fourth, on which W. Barling their secretary got a draw with Dr. Scroggs. Rather worth noting was the Epsteen victory over F. Byron at Board 1. (Mr. Byron holds the distinction of defeating Dake at the Emporium simultaneous and drawing with him at the M.I.C.C.) The subjoined position shows the good Doctor (playing White) about to trade of his queen for Rook and two bishops.

(Image is not available)


The game went: 1...Bxe5 2.Bxf5 Bxc3 3.Bxe6+ Kh8 4.Bxc3 Re8 5.cxd5 cxd5 6.Bxd5 Rxe3 7.Bc4 b5 8.Bd4 Re8 9.Bf1 h5 10.Bf2 a5 11.Rd7 h4 12.Rcc7 hxg3 13.hxg3 Rg8 14.Bd4 resigns.

San Francisco beats Trans-bay,
Score, 14.5 to 10.5
(The Chess Reporter, June, 1931)

The largest chess match ever held on the Pacific Coast was playing April 18, at the Mechanics Institute. San Francisco met the East Bay Cities (Oakland & Berkeley) in a 25 board encounter. This match had been carefully planned in advance by the two captains-Ernest J. Clarke of San Francisco and Fred N. Christenson of the East Bay. As a result thereof it attracted a good deal of attention. Visitors flocked to the Mechanics Institute, not only from San Francisco Bay Region, but from other cities, such as Modesto, Bakersfield, etc. At 7:45 the teams were ready to play. By this time the chess room was packed with one of the largest crowds of chess enthusiasts ever seen at the Institute. Captain Clarke said a few words in behalf of the Chess Reporter, urging the players to subscribe to this magazine. Captain Christensen spoke briefly about the match and thanked East Bay players for the splendid support given by them in organizing the East Bay Team. Immediately after these announcements play began on all 25 boards. Shimkin, manager of the University of California Chess Club, was the first to draw blood, by defeating Powell of San Francisco in 8 moves. Then Tippin and Bagby agreed on a draw. The East Bay won the next 4 games, which gave them a lead of 5.5-.5. But now it was San Francisco's turn. The next 6 games were won by her, making the score 6.5-5.5 in favor of San Francisco. The East Bay countered by winning the following 3 games. San Francisco followed suit and won 3 games after that. The 19th game, Pafnutiff-Paul, was a draw. The score at this point was 10-9 in San Francisco's favor. The teams won another game each. At this point the East Bay was beaten. San Francisco had an advantage on all 4 remaining boards, and accordingly won the next 3 games. With the score 14-10 Christensen, with a piece up for 2 pawns, offered Buttenweiser a draw, which the latter accepted. Final Score: 14.5-10.5 in favor of San Francisco.

San Francisco Lost to East Bay 13-12

(The Chess Reporter, June, 1933)
North's first League season spelled all-around success to the matadors east side of the Bay,---not only did Castle beat out Mechanics' half a point in the sectional match at 25 boards on May 6 East Bay defeated San Francisco by 13 to 12. 'Twas so close, however, that two hardly fought, incompleted games had to be sent to the adjudicators in order to tell which side won, and when these-Vedensky vs. Clarke and Branch vs. Smith-were both declared draws by Messrs. Fink and Lamb, the final result in favor of the Bay cities was established. Victories for East Bay were scored by Messrs. Christense, McClain, Willson, Smolakov, Wilson, Allen, Eudey, Jacobs, Capps whilst San Francisco chalked up wins of Dr. Henry Epsteen, Woskoff, Henderson, Boyette, McKenziem. Dr. A. Epsteen, Dobrovolsky and Mardigian. Some notable draws were Tippin vs. Pafnutieff. Barlow vs. Byron, Meyer vs. Prokoodin, Robinson vs. Kneass, van Melle vs. Bagby. Golden Gate suffered form the old trouble of not being able to get certain top-notchers in the fray. Where the cause of this is a business engagement on the day and date, it would be a simple matter by captains' agreement to have game played in advance on a date convenient to both the players. Just before the big Match, Manager Bourgeault of Roos Brothers presented the Roos Northern California Chess League trophy cup to Castle Chess Club, winner of the initial tournament. It has been donated as a perpetual Cup, going into the possession of the winner of the season from year to year. Best individual scores in the League were made by Dimitry N. Vedensky, Castle, F. N. Christensen, Castle, W.H. Smith, Mechanics, and M.O. Meyer, University, each of whom combined a .900 percentage.

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