History of the MI Chess Room
by IM John Donaldson
Before the Fire 1854-1906
Part One-The Early Years of the Mechanics' Institute Chess Room
The Mechanics' Institute building houses the oldest chess club in the United States. It was organized in 1854 when San Francisco was a frontier community. The first meeting of the Mechanics' Institute was held on December 11, 1854 and The Institute was incorporated on April 24, 1855 and this is considered its founding date.
The early years of the Chess Room are not well documented but chess was played during the Gold Rush. The great Pierre Saint- Amant, one of the top players in the world in the 1840s, was French Consul in San Francisco from 1851-52. It appears he left the Bay Area before the founding of the Mechanics', so the honors for the first world class player to visit San Francisco go to Johann Zukertort who spent nearly a month in the City in July of 1884.
There are conflicting accounts of Zukertort's sojourn in San Francisco. The British Chess Magazine of 1884 (p.351) wrote the following about the world championship contender's tour of the United States:
..."From the Mormons' City he went to San Francisco, where he gave during July three blindfold exhibitions. On the first occasion he had seven opponents, defeating six and losing to one. The second time twelve declared war against him, but nine of them were vanquished, two only, Messrs. Redding and Welsh, being victorious, and the other game ending in a drawn battle. The third séance with eleven opponents was a complete triumph for the unseeing player, who defeated them all. His last contest at Frisco of which we have any account was a match of five games with Mr. Redding, , Mr. Zukertort backing himself at the odds of five to one every game, on the condition that his adversary took the first move in each game and played the Evans Gambit. The defending player proved successful in every partie, and thus won his bet."
A slightly different version of the visit to San Francisco is given in the October 1884 issue of The Chess Monthly, an English magazine edited by Zukertort and Leopold Hoffer:
"Zukertort arrived on the second of July in San Francisco, the centre and terminus of the western world. After a rest of a few days and a loyal observance of the fourth of July, the daily Chess contest began. Chess play is greatly cultivated in San Francisco and although the Golden City does not possess a Chess club, its amateurs have ample accommodation in a large hall of the Mechanics' Institute, also in a room at the Mercantile Library and at the Bohemian Club. Zukertort played at the Mechanics' Institute a great number of single games, even and at odds; the simultaneous contests were also held at the place, but the blindfold séance took place on the 8th at the Irving Hall, when the single player encountered twelve opponents, and after eight hours play won nine games, lost two and drew one. San Francisco, although up to now hardly known in Chess history, may boast of a very large number of fair players. The strongest of them is Mr. J. Redding, a young lawyer, who contested a little match on even terms, the condition being, Mr. Redding to have the first move and play five times the Evans Gambit, Zukertort to bet 25 to 5. The latter won five games, but especially in the first and second, it was a hard tussle. Next to Mr. Redding we must mention Mr. Heineman, who played a number of games with Staunton, Dr. Marshall, whose standard of play varies more than of any player we met, Mr. Jefferson, late champion of Tennessee, Mr. Selim Franklin, well known at the late Westminster Chess Club and at Simpson's Divan, and Mr. Critcher, a rising young player of great promise."
The two accounts leave one a little unclear as to exactly how many regular and blindfold simuls Zukertort actually gave in San Francisco during from July 2 to 25. The Chess Monthly has a footnote dealing with this issue: " Notwithstanding the different reports in American and English Chess columns and periodicals, Mr. Zukertort feels certain that he gave only one blindfold performance in San Francisco."
The following game has been preserved from Zukertort's 1884 visit. Two years later he lost a bitterly contested match for the World Championship with Wilhelm Steinitz and in 1888 he passed away at the age of 45.
Played at the Chess Room of the Mechanics' Institute, on July 21st, 1884
White: J.H. Zukertort Black: Selim Franklin
1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.f4 Nc6 4.fxe5 Nxe5 5.d4 Ng6 6.e5 Ng8 7.Nc3 d6 8.Bd3 dxe5 9.dxe5 Bc5 10.Bg5 Be7 11.Be3 Bg4 12.O-O Nxe5 13.Nxe5! Bxd1 14.Raxd1Bd6 15.Nxf7 Qe7 16.Bb5+ c6 17.Nxd6+ Qxd6 18.Rxd6 cxb5 19.Nxb5 Rc8 20.Bg5, and White won
Part Two - 1895 Cable Matches, San Francisco versus Victoria and Vancouver
In our ongoing look at the Mechanic's past we examine the cable matches the MI contested with two British Columbia cities in 1895. Many of you may be familiar with the pictures in the Chess Room showing a cable match in progess. That match was played against Los Angeles in the 1920s, not Vancouver or Victoria. A big thank you to Canadian chess historian Stephen Wright for permission to reprint the following article which appears on his website. Thanks also to Stephen Brandwein who dug up the San Francisco Chronicle articles at the SF Public Library.
A Tale of Three Cities: the 1895 Pacific Cable Matches
by Stephen Wright
San Francisco vs. Victoria The year was 1895.
The chess world was buzzing about the international cable match between the Manhattan Chess Club and a team in London, England, which took place on March 9. One interested observer was Mr. W. Christie, manager of the C.P.R. Telegraph Co. in Victoria, B.C. Deciding that this would be an excellent way to advertise his company, he offered the Victoria Chess Club free use of the telegraph for a match with San Francisco players. After negotiations an agreement was reached to play a two-game match, with a team of players in consultation on each board; the match subsequently took place on the night of 31 May - 1 June 1895.
Foremost among the Victoria team were two Englishmen, Thomas H. Piper (1857-1938) and James R. Hunnex (1854-1938); their arrival from London in 1894 had led to an upswing in the fortunes of the Victoria Chess Club. Piper had once beaten the English champion Joseph Blackburne, and could fairly claim to be the strongest player on the West coast; in 1896 he defeated Joseph Babson, the former president of the Montr?al Chess Club, in a match by the score of 7-2. Hunnex played in a few events in 1895 but thereafter seems to have retired from competitive chess, although he was an honorary Vice-president of the B.C. Chess Federation in 1916. Three of the other Victoria players were from the same family: Peter J.A. Schwengers (1844?-1898) and his sons Conrad (1874-1954) and Bernhard (1880-1946). Peter Schwengers had emigrated to Victoria from Prussia in 1887, and had scored a victory over Louis Paulsen at Dusseldorf 1863. Neither of his sons had much impact on the chess world, but Bernhard later became Canadian singles tennis champion in 1911-1912. Originally from Sweden, Aaron Gonnason (1865-1938) was a prominent personage in Victoria chess circles for many years. He donated at least two trophies bearing his name, one for the Victoria city championship (which he himself won in 1922), the other for an intercity provincial team championship. And the last member of the team was English-born Dr. Griffith Hands (1837?-1924), a class 2 player at the Victoria club. The San Francisco players were all members of the Mechanics' Institute; the best known was sometime San Francisco and State champion Dr. Walter R. Lovegrove (1869-1956).
The San Franciscans regarded their city as the chess centre of the Pacific and assumed that the unknown Canadians would put up scant resistance. This over-confident view was expounded by the San Francisco Chronicle: "Lovegrove or Quiroga may strike terror into the heart of the north by some brilliant combination beyond the scope of the ordinary mortal, but within the reach of genius." By contrast, the Victorians were quietly confident in their English stars: "It is safe to predict that Victoria will not take second honors in the match, and though our American cousins are jubilant over an anticipated easy triumph, a surprise may be in store for them." One of the players remarked that "I'm not afraid of San Francisco, but of the man from New York," a reference to Wilhelm Steinitz and his recently published Modern Chess Instruction Part 2, accessible to the San Francisco players but apparently not yet available in Victoria - even a hundred years ago players were concerned about keeping up with the latest theory!
The games (all annotations first published in the Province newspaper).
International Telegraph Match
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 Be7 5.Bxf6 Bxf6 6.e5 Be7 7.Qg4 O-O 8.Bd3 c5 9.Qh3 h6 10.Nf3
10...Nc6 11.dxc5 Bxc5 12.O-O
13.a3 a6 14.b4
14...Ba7 15.Rae1 Bd7 16.Re2 Rc8
18.Kh1 Ne7 19.Ng1
20.f4 d4 21.Qh4
21...Nd5 22.Qxd8 Rfxd8 23.Nd2 Ne3
25.fxg5 hxg5 26.Nh3 g4
27.Nf4 Kf7 28.Nf1 Nd5 29.Nxd5 Bxd5 30.Kg1 Rc3 31.Ra1 Be4 32.a4 Bxd3 33.cxd3 Rd7 34.axb5 axb5 35.Ng3
35...Ke7 36.Rea2 Bb8 37.Ne2 Rxd3 38.Nf4 Re3 39.Rd2 Bxe5 40.Nd3 Bd6 41.Ra6 e5 42.g3 e4
International Telegraph Match
1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6
3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Nf3 Nc6
5.e3 Be7 6.Be2
7...O-O 8.b3 Bb7 9.Bb2 a6 10.Rc1 Rc8 11.Bd3 Bd6 12.cxd5 exd5 13.Bf5 Ra8 14.Ne2 Ne7 15.Bd3 Ne4 16.Bxe4
16...dxe4 17.Nd2 Ng6 18.Nc4 f5 19.Nxd6 Qxd6 20.g3 Rad8 21.Qc2 Rd7 22.Rfd1 Rfd8 23.Nc3 Ne7 24.Qe2 Qh6 25.Rd2 Nc6 26.Rcd1 Kh8 27.a3 Rd6 28.Nb1 Ne7 29.Nc3 Nd5 30.Nxd5 Bxd5 31.Rc1 c6 32.Rc3 b5 33.Rc5 Qg5 34.Qd1 Rh6 35.Qc2 Qg4 36.f4
36...exf3 37.Rf2 Re6 38.Qc3 Rde8 39.Rxd5 cxd5 40.Rc2 f4 41.exf4 Re1+ 42.Kf2 R1e2+ 0-1
San Francisco vs. Vancouver
The San Francisco players were eager for a rematch at the earliest opportunity, but this was not possible for the Victorians due to the holiday season. Into the breach stepped Vancouver, where the original match had been followed with great interest. Not to be outdone by their Island neighbours, players from Vancouver arranged to play a similar match with San Francisco, which took place on the night of 14-15 June 1895. Unfortunately the Vancouver players were considerably weaker than their Victoria counterparts; this, coupled with the fact that the San Francisco players were unlikely to underestimate their opposition a second time, led to easy victory for the Americans in both games.
International Telegraph Match
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.exd5 exd5 4.Nf3 Nf6 5.Bd3 Bd6 6.O-O O-O 7.b3 b6 8.Bg5 Be7 9.Re1 Nbd7 10.Bb5 Re8 11.Bc6 Rb8 12.Bxf6 Bxf6 13.Rxe8+ Qxe8 14.Nc3 Bb7 15.Bxb7 Rxb7 16.Nxd5 Bd8 17.Qd3 c6 18.Re1 Qf8 19.Qa6 Rb8 20.Qxa7 cxd5 21. Qxd7 Bf6 22.Qxd5 h6 23.a4 Qb4 24.Qe4 Rd8 25.Rd1 Kf8 26.h3 Re8 27.Qh7 Qc3 28.d5 Be5 29.d6 Bxd6 30.Rxd6 Qc7 31.Rd1 f6 32.Nh4 1-0
As Piper wrote in the Province: "We do not think the game calls for notes. The student cannot fail to be struck with the very superior skill of the White practitioners."
International Telegraph Match
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Bc4 Bc5 5.O-O d6 6.c3 Bg4 7.Be2
7...dxc3 8.Nxc3 Nge7 9.Ng5 Bxe2 10.Nxe2 h6 11.Nf3 O-O 12.b3 f5 13.Ng3
13...fxe4 14.Nxe4 Bb6 15.Ng3 Qd7 16.h3 Rf7 17.a3 Raf8 18.Kh2 Ng6 19.Ra2 Nf4 20.Bxf4 Rxf4 21.Re2 Nd4 22.Nxd4 Bxd4 23.f3 Qf7 24.Rfe1 Be5 25.Re4 c6 26.Rxe5 dxe5 27.Rxe5 Re8 28.Re4 Rfxe4 29.Nxe4 Qc7+ 30.Kh1 Rd8 31.Qc2 Qd7 32.Qc4+ Qd5 33.Qb4 b6 34.Qe7 Qd7 35.Qh4 Qd1+ 36.Kh2 Rf8 37.Qe7 Qxb3 38.Qxa7 c5 39.Qa6 Rd8 40.Qa7 Qe6 41.Qa4 Qe5+ 42.Kh1 b5 43.Qc2 c4 44.Qc1 Kh8 45.Kg1 Rd3 0-1
Part Three - Early Club Champions
The best record of early club championships is Guthrie McClain's account in the July 1981 issue of Chess Life which we reprint here. McClain credits a manuscript by Dr. H.J. Ralston, co-founder of the California Chess Reporter, as his primary source. The first mention of a local championship is in The Argonaut column The Chess Player, a tournament at the Mechanics' Institute in 1885 won by J. Waldstein, with N.J. Manson 2nd and Fritz Peipers 3rd. A second tournament in 1885 was won by H. Heinemann, who won eight straight games and ended it right there.
By the 1890s, there were regular club championships at the Mechanics' Institute. Gold medals were awarded to the winners. A list of club champions appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle of November 1905.
The following article which appeared in the San Francisco Call of April 28, 1896, can be added to the original work by Ralston and McClain and was uncovered by Sibylle Zemitis.
WON HONORS IN CHESS
Walter S. Franklin Carries Off the First Prize Gold Medal - Close of the Big Tourney - G. Thompson Succeeds in Securing Second Place After an Exciting Contest
The handicap tournament which has been in progress for some time at the Mechanics' Institute was concluded yesterday. There were thirty-two contestants divided into four classes as follows:
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e5 Nfd7 5.f4 c5 6.dxc5 Nxc5 7.b4 Ncd7 8.a3 Qh4+ 9.g3 Qd8 10.Bg2 f6 11.exf6 Nxf6 12.Nf3 Qb6 13.Qe2 Nc6 14.Bb2 Be7 15.Na4 Qc7 16.c4 0-0 17.Ng5 Kh8 18.0-0 Re8 19.Bxf6 Bxf6 20.Rac1 Bxg5 21.cxd5 Nd4 22.Qe4 Qd7 23.Nc5 Qxd5 24.Qd3 Nf3+ 25.Rxf3 Bf6 26.Qxd5 exd5 27.Rd3 b6 28.Bxd5 Bf5 29.Bxa8 Bxd3 30.Nxd3 Rxa8 31.Ne5 Kg8 32.Kf2 Re8 33.Re1 Bxe5 34.fxe5 Kf7 35.Kf3 Ke6 36.Ke4 Rc8 37.Rd1 Rc4+ 38.Rd4 Rc2 39.Rd6+ Ke7 40.Kd5 Rxh2 41.Kc6 g5 42.Rd7+ Ke6 43.Rxa7 Kxe5 44.Kxb6 Kf5 45.Rc7 Kg4 46.Rc3 h5 47.a4 Rg2 48.a5 Rxg3 49.Rxg3+ Kxg3 50.a6 h4 51.a7 g4 52.a8Q h3 53.Kc5 Kh2 54.Qa2+ Kh1 55.Qb1+ Kg2 56.Qc2+ Kf3 57.Qd1+ Kg3 58.Qe1+ Kf3 59.Qf1+ Kg3 60.Qg1+ Kf3 61.b5 g3 62.b6 h2 63.Qh1+ Kg4 64.Qg2 1-0
Mechanics' Institute Club Championship 1898
The Mechanics' Institute, San Francisco, chess tournament was finished in November. Dr. Lovegrove and Mr. Chilton tied for first and second places , and will play a deciding game. The scores in full read:
1-2. Chilton 11 ½ -½
* Fairweather's score is given as shown with nothing in the win column, but player's scores for numbers 1-12 come out even.
American Chess Magazine December 1898
Seattle vs. San Francisco May 1899
The following article was discovered by Chess Director Donaldson during a visit to the J.G. White Collection in Cleveland. It features several prominent names including Dr. Lovegrove, one of the top San Francisco players for several decades, and W.A. Dickey. The latter is the subject of a monograph by MI member Robert Moore entitled W.A. Dickey: Alaska's First Champion. Dickey is perhaps best known for rediscovering, naming and estimating within 300 feet the height of Mt. McKinley, the highest mountain in North America.
"A match by telegraph was played in May between the leaders of chess of San Francisco and Seattle, which proved a most interesting contest.
Table No. 1 - J. M. Babson, Seattle, defeated W. J. Manson. San Francisco, in a King's Gambit Declined . Manson resigned on the fifty-first move. Babson's attack was very brilliant and sustained throughout the entire play.
American Chess Magazine, July 1899
After the Fire
Part One - The Rebuilding
The 1906 earthquake destroyed the Mechanics' Institute, but it didn't take long for chess activity to spring up. The Mechanics' Institute erected a temporary building at Grove and Polk Streets, where it had bought a block of land in 1881 on which now stands the Civic Auditorium. The Institute's Office opened on May 23, 1906, construction was begun on June 4th, and after many trials of delayed materials and a scarcity of construction workers, the new building opened its doors in August, about four months after the fire.
Dr. Henry Epsteen of this city is the winner of the gold medal in the chess tournament held under the management of the Mechanics'-Mercantile Library. Dr. Epsteen won 14 of his games, lost 1 and 1 resulted in a draw. M.Farragut was the winner of the silver medal and G. Legler the bronze medal. Arrangements for a tournament in which only winners of gold medals of previous tournaments will be permitted to compete are being made by the Mechanics'-Mercantile Library. Such a tournament would arouse the interest of all chess players on the Pacific coast as several of the most brilliant chess players in the United States can be found in San Francisco.
The final score of the 17 contestants follows:
Dr. Epsteen +14-1=1
The MI recently acquired a reprint of the 1909 American Chess
Bulletin which provided the following information.
ACB 1909, p 138
Telegraph Match - San Francisco versus Portland October 12, 1921
Earlier Newsletters covered San Francisco's matches by telegraph against Vancouver and Victoria from the 1890s, as well as touching upon the LA-SF rivalry which lasted from 1913-1925, before transforming into the annual face to face Northern California-Southern California battles. These were not the only long distance competitions held at the MI which also faced Chicago, Portland and Seattle.
The following account from the American Chess Bulletin (Page 192, November 1921) covers a victory over a northern neighbor with a rich chess tradition.
San Francisco 9½ - Portland 2½
The team of the Mechanics' Institute Chess, representing San Francisco, earned another splendid victory in the intercity match by telegraph with Portland, Oregon, on October 12, wining to the tune of 9½ - 2½ . It was considered the strongest side that had ever played for the Golden Gate and the Oregonians knew they had been in a real fight when all was over. Portland did have the consolation of the following victory over the well-known problem composer A.J. Fink.
A.J. Fink - O. Goldman
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Bd3 c5 5.a3 cxd4 6.axb4 dxc3 7.bxc3 dxe4 8.Bxe4 Qxd1+ 9.Kxd1 Nf6 10.Bf3 0-0 11.Be3 Rd8+ 12.Kc1 a6 13.Kb2 e5 14.Bb6 Re8 15.Rd1 e4 16.Be2 Be6 17.h4 Nbd7 18.Bd4 Rac8 19.Nh3 Bc4 20.Rhe1 Bxe2 21.Rxe2 h6 22.Nf4 Ne5 23.f3 Nc4+ 24.Kb3 exf3 25.Rxe8+ Nxe8 26.Nd5 Kf8 27.Bc5+ Ned6 28.gxf3 Ke8 29.Rd4 b5 30.Nf4 Nf5 31.Rd5 Nxh4 32.Nh5 f6 33.Nxg7+ Kf7 34.Rd7+ Kg6 35.f4 Rc6 36.Ne8 Nf5 37.Bd4 h5 38.Bxf6 Rxf6 39.Nxf6 Kxf6 40.Ra7 h4 41.Rxa6+ Nfd6 42.Ra8 Kf5 43.Ka2 Kxf4 44.Kb1 Ne4 45.Kc1 h3 46.Kd1 h2 0-1
The California Chess Reporter Obituary. A.J.Fink (1890-1956)
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 hemorrage. He was a Life Master of the United States Chess Federation. He first won the Master title in the Chicago Masters' Tournament of 1922; the requirements 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 a co-champion once (1945, with Herman Steiner). Twice he was second to S.Mlotkowski, who then was residing in Los Angeles. In 1923 when the Western Chess Association tournament was played in San Francisco, Fink was fourth behind Mlotkowski, N.T.Whitaker (the two tied for first) and S.Factor of Chicago, but ahead of other Californians. In 1925 Fink was second with a score of 6.5-1.5, behind Mlotkowski, who won the title with 7.5-.5. 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 finished last, but with the creditable score of 3-8 against Alexander Alekhine, Isaac Kashdan, Arthur Dake, Sammy Reshevsky, Herman Steiner, Harry Borochow, J.Bernstein, Samuel Factor, Reuben Fine, Fred Reinfeld and J.J. Araiza. Adolph was a collector of stray bits af 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 collection of 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 consultation on anybody's post-mortem - in which he delighted in defending so-called "lost positions" and reviving attacks which had supposedly gone astray. An endgame wizard 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.
Visits by World Champions to the MI
This past century the MI has hosted many World Champions including Lasker (1902 and 1926), Capablanca (1916), Alekhine (1924 and 1929), Euwe (1947!?), Fischer (1964), Smyslov (1976), Petrosian (1978), Spassky (??) and Karpov (1999). The MI Chess Room is currently working on a project to preserve it's history. Any games, recollections or photos from simuls by World Champions at the MI would be most appreciated. Does anyone know the exact year that Euwe visited? Spassky was a guest at the Paul Masson tournament in the late 1970s/early 80s. Did he ever actually visit the MI? On March 20, 1976 Former World Champion Vassily Smyslov faced strong opposition when he visited the MI immediately after the 1976 Lone Pine tournament. Facing 30 boards, he scored won 18, lost 3 (Victor Baja, Randy Fong, and Jay Whitehead - all teenagers at the time!), and drew 9 (Russell Bartoli, Gary Berry, Mike Dyslin, Pam Ford, Barry Kraft, Charles Moore, Rodney Phillips, Peter Stevens, and Ted Zwerdling) in an exhibition lasting 4 hours. Can anyone add to this?
Jose Raul Capablanca
We continue our look at visits by world champions to the Mechanics'. Thanks to Steve Brandwein for digging into the Chess Room's past. "Capablanca At The Golden Gate By E.J. Clarke When Jose R. Capablanca stepped off the Shasta Limited at Oakland on Monday evening, April 10, and boarded the ferry for the city by the Golden Gate, he made history personally, as it was his first visit to the Golden Gate. It may have been a matter of clairvoyant knowledge that he was soon to make chess history in San Francisco, but of course, that was hidden from the sight of the normal-visioned committee of chess players from the Mechanics'Institute who met the world famous Cuban and escorted him across the bay and to his hotel in San Francisco. The following evening the youthful master made his bow at the Institute, when he faced thirty-two opponents, among whom were the best players of the bay cities (and, of course, some who just moved the pieces around with their hands). When Capablanca vanquished his final opponent shortly after midnight, the score stood: Capablanca, won 29, drawn 3. Messrs. Hallwegen, Chilton and Fink were the three who saved the Institute from a whitewash. Chilton, perhaps, had a win, but he thought any old thing would do. It didn't and the Cuban got away with a draw. Wednesday afternoon Capablanca and Dr. Lovegrove sat down to an exhibition game, the latter offered his favorite Ruy Lopez, with which he defeated World Champion Lasker several years ago. But he skill of the Pan-American champion was too much for the local expert, and the latter resigned after forty-eight moves. In the evening Capablanca showed his skill at ten-second chess, playing two games apiece with the following and winning every game: Messrs. Stamer, Fink, W.Smith, De Long, Professor Ryder, Hallwegen and Gruer. Thus he played fourteen games in forty-five minutes, an average of about game in three minutes, not counting delay in putting in a fresh opponent. This was probably Capablanca's most impressive exhibition, and providing the liveliest entertainment for the spectators. It was a matter of observation that the master never faltered, never was at a loss for a plausible continuation, and never, so far as could be noticed, made a move solely because of call of time. His play apparently was the result of a plan and possessed coherence and objectivity. Neither were the Institute players on wholly unfamiliar ground, as the lightening game is quite a favorite here. A.B. Stamer defeated Marshall at five-second chess on the occasion of his last visit to the coast. At the conclusion of play the international master played against two teams in consultation at thirty moves an hour. Thus, Capablanca in reality made his moves at the rate of sixty moves an hour. At board No.1, E.J. Clarke, A.J. Fink and Bernardo Smith had charge of the White pieces, assisted by Dr. Haber, Judge De Long, W. Smith and others. Capablanca defended with the French and turned it into a McCutcheon. The allies resigned on their thirty-eighth move. At Board No. 2, the master was pitted against Club Champion E.W. Gruer, B. Forsberg, the young Finnish expert, recently from the Czar's domain, where he was secretary of the Abo Chess Club, Professor A.W. Ryder, a former Harvard University star, now at the University of California, and several other lesser stars also threw the weight of their advice in the White side of the balance, all, however, to no purpose, as Capablanca forced their surrender in thirty seven moves of a Queen's Pawn opening. That concluded Capablanca's engagement in San Francisco. Thus he played all told, 49 games, winning 46, while 3 were drawn. Except for the charm of Capablanca's personality, his entire lack of the "swelled head," and his gentlemanly, courteous bearing, it would have been a far more bitter pill for the Institute players to swallow. During the history of the Mechanics' Institute it has entertained Zukertort, Lasker, Pillsbury, Marshall and several lesser lights of the chess world, but never before has a master been able to get away without the loss of several games during blindfold, simultaneous exhibitions or rapid chess. American Chess Bulletin, May-June 1916"
Jose Capablanca - A.J. Fink
Jose Capablanca - G. Hallwegen
World Champion Emanuel Lasker visited the Mechanics' on two occasions. In 1902 he gave a small simul and lost a well-known game for stakes against the strong San Francisco amateur Dr. Walter Romaine Lovegrove.
Walter R. Lovegrove - Emanuel Lasker
San Francisco (Stakes Games) 1902
1.e4 In meeting over the board the greatest tactician of all time, Dr. Lovegrove holds his own -- even after having drifted into an inferior position. 1...e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Nxe4 6.d4 b5 7.Bb3 d5 8.dxe5 Be6 9.c3 Bc5 10.Nbd2 0-0 11.Qe2 Nxd2 12.Bxd2 f6 13.Rad1 With the threat of 14 exf6 Bxf6 15 Bg5 Qf7 16 Rxe6. 13... Nxe5 14.Nxe5 fxe5 15.Qxe5 Qd6 16.Qxd6 Bxd6 17.Rfe1 Kf7 On 17...Rae8 18. Rxe6 Rxe6 19.Bxd5 wins. Black could have met the threats with 17...Bf7, but with 18.Bg5 White would have obtained the initiative. With the text, a typical Lasker move, Black gets the upper hand. 18.Be3 c6 19.Bc2 Rae8 20.a4 Bg4 21.f3 Bd7 Not 21...Rxe3 22.Rxe3 Bc5 23.Rd4 Bxd4 24.cxd4, for then Black's pawn majority would be immobile. 22.Kf2 Re7 23.axb5 axb5 24.Bg5 Rxe1 25.Rxe1 b4 26.Bd2 Rb8 27.Bc1 Be7 With the threat of ...Bf6. White's position looks hopeless. If 28.Bxh7, then 28...Bf6 would follow. However White finds a saving manuever. 28.Bf4 Ra8 29.Be5 Bf6 30.Bxf6 Kxf6 31.Ke3 Ra2 32.cxb4 Rxb2 33.Bxh7! The point of ther combination initiated with the 28th move. The locked-in Bishop will be a dangerous prisoner. 33...g6 34.h4 Rxb4 35.g4 Kg7 36.Kf2 Rb7 37.Re7+ Kf6 38.Re1 Bc8 39.Re8 Bxg4 40.Bxg6 Showing excellent judgment, White allows Black two united passed pawns rather than choosing the variation 40.fxg4 Rxh7 41.Rc8 Rxh4 42.Rxc6+ Kg5 which would have caused him more difficulties. 40... Bd7 41.Rg8 Be6 42.Re8 c5 43.h5 c4 44.h6 Kxg6 45.Rxe6+ Kf5 46.Re8 Rh7 47.Ke3 Rxh6 48.Kd4 Rd6 49.Rf8+ Kg5 50.Ke5 d4?! Black should have been satisfied with a draw. The text-move loses in all variations, but Dr. Lasker can scarcely be blamed for not seeing the problem-like ending which now ensues. 51.Kxd6 d3 52.Ke5 d2 53.Rg8+ Kh4 If 53...Kh5 54.Kf5 Kh6 55.Kf6 Kf7 56.Rg7+ Kh8 ( 57...Kh6 58.Rg2) 57.Rd7 f3=20 58.Kg6 wins. 54.Kf4 Kh3 55.Rd8 c3 56.Ke3 1-0
California Chess Reporter , August 1956, pages 11-12. Lasker scored eight wins, one draw and two losses in his 11 board simul.
Emanuel Lasker - N. Manson Scotch [C45] San Francisco (simul) 1902 1.e4 e5 2.d4 exd4 3.Nf3 Nc6 4.Nxd4 Qh4 5.Nc3 Bb4 6.Nf3 Qxe4+ 7.Be2 Nf6 8.0-0 Bxc3 9.bxc3 0-0 10.Bd3 Qg4 11.h3 Qh5 12.Rb1 a6 13.Bg5 d6 14.Re1 Ne5 15.Bxf6 gxf6 16.Be2 Qh6 17.Rb4 Kh8 18.Qc1 Qxc1 19.Rxc1 Rg8 20.Kf1 b5 21.Rf4 Kg7=20 22.Nd4 Be6 23.Re4 Bxa2 24.f4 Bd5 25.Re3 Nc4 26.Re7 Bxg2+! Lasker overlooked this shot that clinches the win for Manson . Does anyone know anything about Manson? 27.Kf2 c5 28.Ne6+ Kh8 29.Rxf7 Bd5 30.Bg4 Rxg4 31.hxg4 Bxe6 32.Rxf6 Bxg4 33.Rh1 h5 34.Kg3 Kg7 0-1 Lasker's second visit came 24 years later, after he had relinquished the crown to Capablanca. On March 22, 1926 J.F. Smyth of Oakland was the only winner against Dr. Lasker at the Mechanics' Institute Chess Club, where play stopped at 12:30 am. The judges adjudicated a win on the 48th move. Draws conceded by Dr. Lasker were credited to W.P. Barlow, H.J. Ralston, and Arthur Feldman. Adjudicated draws went to A.J. Fink and E.W. Gruer, both former state champions; E.O. Fawcett, Hugo Legler and H.O. Sjoberg. The adjudicators were Bernardo Smith, captain of the M.C.C. team, and L.B. Zapoleon, formerly of Washington D.C. American Chess Bulletin, page 51, 1926 The Mechanics' is trying to preserve its chess history and the Newsletter will be printing some of the results. If you have any information (games, photos, anecdotes, newspaper clippings, etc.) pertaining to visits by Vassily Smyslov and Tigran Petrosian to the M.I. please contact John Donaldson.
Alexander Alekhine 1924 and 1929
Alexander Alekhine visited the Mechanics' Institute twice. His first trip to San Francisco came in 1924, a few years before he was to become world champion. Statistics published in the American Chess Bulletin have Alekhine giving a simul on February 27, scoring 23 wins, 4 losses and 5 draws on 32 boards. No games seem to have surfaced from this exhibition, but A.A. chose to include the following exhibition game in his book, On the Road to the World Championship.
Continuing our series on World Champions at the MI we move from Alexander Alekhine to Max Euwe. The information on Dr. Euwe's visit is incomplete, but we hope to rectify this at a later date with the assistance of MI Trustee Neil Falconer who drew with the Dutch World Champion. Here is what we have so far. Max Euwe: 1949 (!?) maybe 1947 January 22, 1949 +16, -3, =3 On January 22, at 8pm, Dr. Euwe was the guest of the Mechanics Institute Chess Club. It was a real gala affair. It took Euwe four hours to finish the show and over 200 spectators watch the battle which ensued during that time. He won 16, lost three (to Herbert Dashel, 17year old San Francisco high school boy; Robert T. Konkel, Richmond, and Paul Wolf, San Francisco) and drew three ) Charles Bagby, San Francisco; Neil T. Falconer, Berkeley; and Charles Svalberg, Russian Chess Club.
Max Euwe - Robert Konkel
Source: California Chess News ???
Frank Marshall at the Mechanics' Institute (1913 and 1915)
The MI has a long tradition of hosting famous players from around the world. MI Chess Room staff member Steve Brandwein recently unearthed two visits by the American Champion Frank Marshall not too long after the Institute opened its new quarters. San Francisco had no regular chess column until the 1920s, but the Call, Chronicle and Examiner did write up special events. Often the details in local papers didn't quite tally with the accounts rendered in the American Chess Bulletin, the only national chess magazine at the time.
"Brilliant Play of Chess Master Champion Marshall Meets Thirty-one Players at Once
"Playing up to his great reputation for brilliance and combinations, Frank J. Marshall, champion chess player of America, met 31 players in a simultaneous exhibition at the Mechanics' Institute Tuesday Night. A count of boards at the conclusion of play showed that the visiting master had won 25, lost 1, while five games were drawn. The performance was witnessed by a large gallery, who filled the large library room of the Institute. Unfortunately, a lack of boards and pieces prevented a record number of simultaneous games for this city.
Marshall fully lived up to his reputation, and time and again evoked the unstinted praise of the spectators as he evolved a brilliant mating combination or else cleverly frustrated a well laid plan for his destruction.
A feature of the exhibition was the participation of a 9 year old devotee of Caissa, Miss Marie Silvius, at board No. 20, who secured a well played draw.
Bernardo Smith, a member of the Mechanics' Institute Chess Club, was the single player to defeat the master. Those drawing beside Miss Silvius were George Hallwegen, A.J. Fink, E.J. Clarke and Mr. Haring.
Marshall will repeat his performance on Thursday evening at the Mechanics' Institute, when every effort will be made to surpass the record of 57 boards simultaneously, which Marshall recently played at Pittsburgh, PA. Players desiring to meet the champion are requested by the committee to bring their own boards and men."
Marshall in the Far West
Under the caption of "Veni, Vidi, Vici - Marshall," the San Francisco Call, in its issue of July 6, prints the following account of the United States champion's doings while at the Golden Gate:
American Chess Bulletin 1913, page 177
Marshall visits MI February 27 and 28, 1915
"Quite the best showing was made against Marshall at San Francisco, where no less than eight "nicked" his escutcheon, so the report goes, to the tune of a win apiece. There were also four drawn games. The winners were Dr. W.R. Lovegrove, Dr. Henry Epsteen, R.C. Stephenson, S.C. Chandler, J. Drouillard, F.Sternberg, B. Smith and F.C. de Long. The drawn games were scored by F.W. Huber, G. Branch, A. Epsteen and E.W. Gruer and E.J. Clarke in consultation. Marshall also gave a "private" performance against fifteen opponents, making a score of 13 wins and 2 losses. An exhibition game between Marshall and Dr. W. R. Lovegrove, at twenty games an hour, at the Mechanics' Institute Chess Club, resulted in a draw after a great battle lasting 81 moves. A similar game with E.W. Gruer, the new club champion, at twenty-five moves an hour, was scored by Gruer in consequence of Marshall's capturing a "hot" pawn. Taken altogether, the Golden Gate gave the champion a warm reception. A trip to the Exposition grounds was not the least interesting portion of the programme." American Chess Bulletin 1915, page 75
Marshall,F - Lovegrove,W [C51]
Marshall ,F - Gruer and Clarke [C44]
Lovegrove,W - Marshall,F [C43]
Kostic at the MI
The Serbian Grandmaster Boris Kostic (1887-1963) was one of the greatest travelers in chess history, circling the globe in the days before the beginning of commercial aviation. Among the places he visited was the Mechanics' Institute in August of 1915. The American Chess Bulletin from 1915 (page 195) writes about Kostic's exploits.
"Boris Kostics and his Movements"
Boris Kostic, of Budapest, proposes to become thoroughly acquainted with chess players of the United States and especially so in the far West, where he has been since the middle of July. After leaving Chicago, early in the month, he traveled by way of St. Louis, Kansas City, Topeka, Lincoln, Omaha, Denver, Colorado Springs to California, where he stopped in turn at San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Sacramento. Wishing to visit the Yellowstone Park, the Hungarian master invested in a special tour, which took him first northerly by way of Portland, Seattle and Vancouver to Spokane, Butte and Yellowstone Park, and from there back to San Francisco by way of Salt Lake City. He made another protracted stay at the Golden Gate and in addition to giving his usual exhibitions, he met, among others, such strong players as Dr. Lovegrove, S. Mlotkowski, N.T. Whitaker, S. Rubinstein and G. Hallwegen. All went down to defeat before the powerful play of the visitor, whose extraordinary brilliancies have captivated chess lovers wherever he went. Kostic was so well pleased with San Francisco that he prolonged his sojourn there far beyond the time originally intended. Consequently, points in the South which had been notified of his coming were disappointed at his nonappearance. His itinerary will take him though portions of Texas to New Orleans, after which he will come North again by way of Lafayette, Nashville, Memphis, Louisville, Lexington, Cincinnati and Indianapolis, and then proceed to Milwaukee, Madison, St. Paul and Minneapolis before returning to Chicago. His continental tour will be concluded with visits to Saginaw, Toledo, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Washington, Baltimore and Philadelphia."
Reshevsky at the Mechanic's Institute
The Mechanics' Institute has a long tradition of hosting Grandmasters dating back to the 1880s. Early Newsletters looked at visits by the World Champions. More recently we covered the period 1910-1919 when Frank Marshall and Bora Kostic came to the MI. Now we move to the 1920s and one of the best publicized chess events in Bay Area chess history, the visit by boy wonder Sammy Reshevsky.
Different sources give different birth dates for Sammy, some list 1909 and others 1911, but in either case he was no more than 11 when he arrived in Oakland by train on June 17, 1921, and took the ferry over to San Francisco. On June 21 he gave the first of two exhibitions at the Emporium's assembly room, scoring eleven wins and one draw 2 hours and 35 minutes. The second event was held on June 23 at the Hotel St. Francis' Italian room, with Reshevsky taking only one hour to down ten players.
Ruy Lopez [C87]
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 d6 6.c3 Be7 7.Re1 0-0 8.d4 b5 9.Bc2 h6 10.h3 Nh7 11.Nbd2 Bg5 12.Nf1 Bxc1 13.Rxc1 Qf6 14.Ng3 Ng5 15.Re3 Ne7 16.dxe5 dxe5 17.Qf1 Ng6 18.Nh5 Nxf3+ 19.Rxf3 Qg5 20.Ng3 Be6 21.Nf5 Nf4 22.Kh2 Bxf5 23.exf5 Rad8 24.Rd1 Rxd1 25.Bxd1 e4 26.Re3 Qxf5 27.Bc2 Re8 28.f3 Nd3 29.Qe2 Nc1 30.Rxe4 Rxe4 31.Qxe4 Qxe4 32.fxe4 Nxa2 33.Kg3 a5 34.Kf4 b4 35.c4 Nc1 36.Ke3 b3 37.Kd2 bxc2 38.Kxc1 Kf8 39.Kxc2 Ke7 40.c5 Ke6 41.Kc3 Ke5 42.Kd3 h5 43.g3 f6 44.Ke3 c6 45.Kd3 h4 46.gxh4 Kf4 47.b3 Kf3 48.Kd4 Kf4 49.Kd3 Kg3 50.Kd4 Kxh3 51.e5 fxe5+ 52.Kxe5 Kxh4 53.Kd6 g5 54.Kxc6 g4 55.Kb5 g3 56.c6 g2 57.c7 g1Q 58.c8Q Qe1 59.Qd8+ Kg4 60.Qxa5 Qe8+ ½-½
Italian Game [C55]
Thirty-five years later Reshevsky gave a clock exhibition (45/2) at the MI scoring 5 wins, one loss and one draw against a field made up of Experts and Masters. Reshevsky's opponent in the following game, former US Senior Open Champion Neil Falconer, had this to say about his famous opponent. "He was one of the smallest men I have ever seen - but he was all steel wire and blazing tenacity: one of the toughest tenacious chess players of all time."
The following game, from a different Reshevsky clock simul, was played against the well known bridge and chess master Roy Hoppe.
San Francisco - Los Angeles Telegraph Matches
Earlier issues dealt with San Francisco's matches with Vancouver and Victoria in the 1890s. Now we start to take a look at the famous series with Los Angeles that started in 1913 and ran into the mid-1920s when it metamorphisized into the face to face North-South matches with the advent of the automobile. Those of you who have visited the MI Chess Room may recognize some of the names of the players in the 1915 event from some of the photographs that are displayed in the Chess Room.
San Francisco, 9 1/2; Los Angeles, 5 1/2, September 1915
Labor Day was utilized by the Mechanics' Institute Chess Club of San Francisco and the Los Angeles Chess and Checker Club for the purpose of holding another telegraphic match, which, after the adjudication of three unfinished games, ended in favor of San Francisco by 9 1/2 to 5 1/2, thereby reversing the result of the last encounter between these two clubs. E. W. Gruer acted as team captain for San Francisco, while E.R. Perry performed a like office for Los Angeles. The match went off smoothly, except for complaint from both sides concerning the slowness to which certain of the players were prone. There was no timing system and play went on under an agreement to keep the games "speeded up" within fifteen or twenty moves an hour. This proved unsatisfactory. Such a match cannot be expeditiously handled without the aid of timing clocks, which have always been called into use in telegraphic matches in the East and in the cable matches. Clocks having been installed, it remains only to a point efficient referees or umpires, who will conscientiously watch these clocks and see to it that they are set promptly in motion the moment moves received over the wire have been made on the boards. Los Angeles found the increase in the size of the teams to fifteen boards too much of a handicap, for, at the last seven boards, San Francisco won outright no less than six games. The struggle on the first eight boards was by Los Angeles. Boris Kostic, present during the match, was invited to act as referee, but declined. Professor Levy, of the University of California, represented Los Angeles at San Francisco. It is probable that the next match will again be played on ten boards. The summary of the match is appended:
*Unfinished and subsequently declared drawn. Mechanics' Institute had the white pieces on the odd-numbered boards.
Source: The American Chess Bulletin 1915
Everyone remembers the excellent results that George Koltanowski achieved while playing in Europe in the early 1930s, but if you ask most players about his chess career in the United States they think of him as a world champion blindfold player, a fantastic promoter, tournament director and journalist. Few know that he did play for a while after his move to the Bay Area. I.A. Horowitz's Chess Review recounts Kolti's activities in 1939.
Bagby- Koltanowski Match
Charles Bagby played a two game match with George Koltanowski prior to the latter's participation in the California Championship. The result was a 1-1 tie.
Charles Bagby - George Koltanowski [D95]
1939 California State Championship
Philip Wolliston, 19-year-old Los Angeles youth, scored a smashing victory in his conquest of the California State Championship tournament which concluded November 23rd. Losing only one of his eight games, he outranked a field which included Harry Borochow, state titlist since 1930. Herman Steiner of the 1931 American international team, and George Koltanowski, better known for his exploits san voir.
Phillip Wolliston spent his high school years in Seattle before relocating to Los Angeles. He is featured in game 80 of Reshevsky's Best Games of Chess (Reshevsky on Chess) , a losing effort from the 1940 US Championship. He is not listed in Gaige's Chess Personalia. Does anyone know what happened to him?
The 1939 Bagby-Fink Match
A.J. Fink was one of the strongest players in California in the 1920s and 1930s, winning the state championship and playing in the famous Pasadena 1932 tournament. By the late 1930s his supremacy at the MI was being challenged by Charles Bagby and a match was arranged which proved to be inconclusive
Queen's Gambit D57
A portrait of Bagby greets you as you walk into the MI and a photo of Fink (with Capablanca) is located in the director's office.
Ernest J. Clarke of San Francisco (1877-1948)
As part of our ongoing look at Bay Area Chess history we feature this obituary of MI Chess Room stalwart E.J. Clarke. His column in the San Francisco Chronicle in the 1920s is an invaluable source of information for MI Chess Room activities during this period.
Arthur Dake visits the Mechanics' Institute in 1937
The late Portland Grandmaster Arthur Dake had a long association with the Mechanics' Institute stretching from his participation in a simul against Alekhine in 1929 to his attendance at an IM norm event named in his honor in 1999. During this 70(!) year relationship he gave several exhibitions at the MI. The American Chess Bulletin of 1937 reports that in June of that year he gave a 24 board simul at the MI scoring 18 wins, 2 losses and 4 draws. The winners were Carroll Capps and H.R. Durham with Wallace Smith, C.Woskoff, N. Preo and S. Ruys drawing. The ACB notes that this was considered to have been one of the most successful occasions at the club in several years. The following day Dake beat the team of Carl Bergman and Ernest Clarke in an exhibition game.
San Francisco-East Bay Match 1949
From the May 1949 California Chess News, a short-lived predecessor of the California Chess Reporter, put out by George Koltanowski.
The Chess Committee of the Mechanics' Institute recently planned an Open tournament that should be started when you receive this issue. The Open Tournament will be followed by the Major Club Championship. In order to keep activity in the Mechanics' this will be followed by a Queen's Gambit Accepted Tournament (This way one may "brush up" on the accepted gambit which is not often played). On the 12th of March, fifty-two players from the Bay Area gathered at the Mechanics' Chess Club for their periodic chess match. Full score follows:
San Francisco East Bay
Games from 1913
The noted chess book collector and data base maven Andy Ansel of Walnut Creek passes on three games from the Mechanics' past which were preserved in the pages of the American Chess Bulletin.
Stamer,A - Fink,A
Fink,A - Hallwegen,G
Clark,E - Hallwegen,G
The 1930 MI Championship
Andy Ansel has dug up two games from the 1930 Mechanics' Institute Championship which first appeared in The Gambit, a St.Louis based magazine which ran for about ten years in the 1920s and 30s.
Bagby - Lamb
Lamb - Tippin
News From 1946
"Playing in the strongest championship field mustered in the last few years by the Mechanics' Institute Chess Club of San Francisco, Carroll Capps walked off with first prize by scoring 10-2. He was closely followed by V. Pafnutieff 9 1/2 - 2 1/2 and A.J. Fink 9-3."
"In the following tournament report we see MI Trustee Neil Falconer near the top of the standings in the 1946 California State Championship. A.J. Fink won, this time scoring 8 1/2 - 3 1/2 in a good field. Other leading scores were: V. Pafnutieff 7 1/2; N. Falconer 7 and R. Konkel 6."
MI - Log Cabin Match
E. Forry Laucks unquestionably qualified as one of the great characters of American chess in the 1930s through 1960s. The founder of the Log Cabin Chess Club based in West Orange, New Jersey, Laucks loved to barnstorm around the world. The Log Cabin traveled to such far flung places as Cuba (With a young Bobby Fischer) and Alaska. During these trips members remembered the golden rule: Don't let Forry drive! An animated conversationalist, Laucks was known to look his listener in the back seat in the eye while driving down the road. This resulted in a few nicks and scrapes, but Forry was ready to handle the situation. If his car was undrivable, he would simply leave it by the roadside, flag a ride and go into town and buy a new one. It didn't hurt that Lauck's father had left him a sizable inheritance. The initial "E" undoubtedly stood for eccentric.
Ranking Systems Appear
The following appreciation was written by Dr. "Bip" Ralston who was instrumental in helping to get the California Chess Reporter started.
Dr. W.R. Lovegrove by Dr. H.J. Ralston
California Chess Reporter 1956
Lasker at the MI (December 1902)
Many Newsletters ago, World Champion Emmanuel Lasker's December 1902 visit to the MI, including his famous lost to Dr. Lovegrove, were written up. The impression was that Lasker was just in town for a few days. Now, indefatigable researcher Steve Brandwein has unearthed a great deal more about Lasker's visit, which in fact lasted almost two weeks. The pages of the San Francisco Chronicle report that during Lasker's stay he was a regular at the MI (then located a few feet east at 31 Post and only a three story building), but also gave simuls at the Western Addition Chess, Checker and Whist Club and the SF Whist and Chess Club. The fruits of Steve's research will appear in the next few Newsletters.
Lasker's Blindfold Simul at the MI (December 27)
Champion Lasker yesterday afternoon at the Mechanics' Institute Chess Club, played five blindfold chess games, winning four and losing one. The players who opposed him were T.D. Black, Dr. B. Marshall, Harvey Dana, Richard Ott and J.J. Dolan. The game the champion lost was won by Dr. B. Marshall, the well-known local player. In his game with Dolan, Dr. Lasker, after the twenty-third move, announced mate in four moves.
Considering that he does not claim to be a great blindfold player this remarkable man nevertheless gave a splendid exhibition, and demonstrated to a large crowd that he is a genius.
Friday night (December 26) last Champion Lasker in a simultaneous exhibition at the Western Addition Chess, Checker and Whist Club, faced the largest number and the strongest combination of chess players since opening up his engagement here. He had twenty-two-players arrayed against him and after the smoke of battle had cleared away he had defeated sixteen, drawn four and lost two. George Halwegan and I. Schonfeld won from the champion and Dr. W.R. Lovegrove, Oscar Samuels, E.V. Gage and Dr. Franklin drew. Halwegan, who has been away from the city for some time, showed that he can still put up a good game. Schoenfeld, the other player to win from Lasker, is a member of the Western Addition Chess Club, and formerly played on the University of California chess team.
The following are the players who took part against Lasker : C.W. Moores, Dr. W.R. Lovegrove, E.V. Gage, L.S. Schoenfeld, D.C. deLong, M.Ettinger, G.R. Thompson, G.P. Woodward, Dr. B. Marshall, Dr. J.D. McKee, Oscar Samuels, Dr. W.S. Franklin, Mr. Winter, E.E. Perley, L. Woodworth, N.J. Manson, M.J. Kuhl, J. Firebaugh, L.S. Adams, Gilbert Griffith and George Halwegan. A large crowd watched the contest which lasted until after midnight.
Lasker,E - Schoenfeld,L [D35]
Chess in San Francisco in 1888
San Francisco, May 21, 1888
By G.H. D. Gossip
Sir: On the 18th of last month I left Sydney, per steamship "Alameda,", reaching this city on the 12th, where I first set foot on my native soil after an absence of over forty years, and I have played here more games of chess in a week than I contested during the last six months in Sydney. There are two leading Chess resorts here, viz: the Mercantile Library and the Mechanics' Institute (in Post Street), which have large and commodious rooms for the accommodation of chess players - twice as large as any chess club or chess room in Australia. In fact nearly everything here is on a grander, more civilized and cosmopolitan scale than in Great Britain, although the streets of Adelaide and Melbourne are wider than those of San Francisco. The last named chess resort (MI) is crowded with chessplayers every afternoon, both rooms being open daily, Sundays included. I met here M. Montgomery - a French amateur - with whom I had the pleasure of playing in days gone by at the Cafe de la Regence, more than twenty years ago. Mr. Piper, one of the Vizayanagaram Tourney prizewinners, formerly of Greenwich and Sydney, is also here.
... Of five games played over the board played over the board on even terms between Messrs. Zukertort and Redding, the former won 3 and lost 2, and Mr. Redding also defeated him in his blindfold exhibition. Besides being a strong chess player and an enthusiast, Mr. Redding is also a splendid billiard player (the best, I believe, in "Frisco") and an accomplished musician. The other strong players here are Dr. Marshall, who won 2 out of 5 games of Baron Heydebrand Von Der Lasa, lately and Mr. Heinemann. Of 28 games I have played here I have won 19, drawn 2 and lost 7. I was fortunate enough to win a considerable majority of games of Dr. Marshall, and to make even games with Dr. Heinemann, but have been so far worsted by Mr. Redding, having lost five and only won three games of him. Curiously enough, although there are many more chess players in San Francisco than in Sydney or Melbourne, there is not a single chess column in any San Francisco newspaper. Formerly there was one in the "Argonaut" but it has long since been discontinued. A tournament, however, among the leading players, is to be started this week.
The International Chess Magazine June 1888, page 170-171
Redding, J - Gossip, G [C47]
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nc3 Nc6 4.d4 exd4 5.Nxd4 Bb4 6.Nxc6 bxc6 7.Bd3 d5 8.exd5 cxd5 9.0-0 Bxc3 10.bxc3 0-0 11.Bg5 h6 12.Bh4 Qd6 13.Re1 Bd7 14.Bg3 Qc5 15.Qd2 Rfe8 16.h3 Re6 17.Be5 Rae8 18.Bd4 Qa3 19.Rxe6 Rxe6 20.Qf4 Ne8 21.Qf5 Nf6 22.Bxf6 gxf6 23.Qh7+ Kf8 24.Qxh6+ Ke7 25.Qd2 Qb2 26.Rd1 Qxa2 27.c4 a5 28.Bf5 Re5 29.Bxd7 Kxd7 30.cxd5 Kd6 31.Qf4 Ke7 32.c4 Qb3 33.Qd2 Qa3 34.Qd4 Kd6 35.Ra1 Qb4 36.Kf1 a4 37.f4 The International Chess Magazine August 1888, page 251. 1-0
Redding, J - Gossip, G [C55]
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nc3 Nc6 4.Bc4 Nxe4 5.Bxf7+ Kxf7 6.Nxe4 d5 7.Neg5+ Kg8 8.d4 h6 9.Nh3 Bxh3 10.gxh3 exd4 11.Nxd4 Qd7 12.Nxc6 Re8+ 13.Be3 bxc6 14.Qf3 Bc5 15.0-0 Bxe3 16.fxe3 Qe6 17.Rae1 Kh7 18.Qf5+ Qxf5 19.Rxf5 Re7 20.c3 Rhe8 21.Kf2 Re4 22.Rf7 R4e7 23.Rxe7 Rxe7 24.Rg1 Re4 25.Rg4 g5 26.Kf3 Re8 27.Ra4 Rf8+ 28.Ke2 Rb8 29.b3 Rb7 30.Ra6 c5 31.Rc6 c4 32.b4 a5 33.a3 axb4 34.axb4 Ra7 35.e4 dxe4 36.Rxc4 Ra2+ 37.Ke3 Rxh2 38.Rxc7+ Kg6 39.Kxe4 Rxh3 40.b5 Rh1 41.b6 Rb1 42.Rc6+ Kg7 43.c4 h5 44.c5 g4 45.Rc7+ Kg6 46.b7 g3 47.Rc6+ Kg7 48.Rc7+ [48.Rb6] 48...Kg6 49.Kf3 Rb3+ 50.Kg2 Kg5 51.c6 h4 52.Rg7+ Kf4 53.Kh3 Rb1 54.Rf7+ The International Chess Magazine, July 1888, page 217-18. 1-0
MI Chess History Mystery
The two giants of early Mechanics History, NMs Walter Lovegrove and A.J. Fink, must have played many times, but surprisingly enough not a single game between the two players is to be found in the comprehensive Cal Chess database (www.chessdryad.com), which has recently been edited by Sam Sloan.
Lovegrove - Fink
MI member Frank Ruys submits the following game played in a simul against Grandmaster-to-be Arthur Dake. Frank, who was a 16-year-old, just starting his chess career when this game was played, notes that Dake could have won early and that he (F.R.) had chances to win later on.
Dake - Ruys
Return to Article Index