SILENT KNIGHTS of the CHESSBOARD
By Juan F. Font & Emil S. Ladner 1979
SILENT KNIGHTS OF THE PAST
Samuel William Bean
Sam Bean was a truly remarkable person - remarkable for his success in business as well as in chess; remarkable in his overcoming the double handicap of deafness and blindness; remarkable in his philosophy of life, summed up in his own words: "The time to be happy is now, the place to be happy is here, and the way to be happy is to make others so."
It had been Emil's special privilege to have known Sam and to have played against him. From him we learned a great deal, not about just chess, but life. His jest for living has made his life a pattern for all of us who knew him.
Sam was born in Redwood City, California, March 5, 1896. As told by Sam himself, his affliction came about as follows: "I was watching some boys on a playground when I was thirteen. One of the boys picked up a rock and threw it, only playing. It hit me on the head, causing intense inflammation and destroyed the optic and auditory nerves."
After his accident his family enrolled Sam at the California School for the Deaf and Blind in Berkeley. It was there that he met his future wife and to whom two sons, Samuel, Jr. and Earl Ray, were born.
Sam became a salesman and with his wife traveled extensively all over the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. He was also skilled in cabinet-making, stringing tennis rackets, and other skills. He could speak well and read Braille. Others communicated with him by tracing their message in the palm of his hand or by employing the manual alphabet with his hand. Among his achievements is a little volume of poetry, "Light in Darkness," which expresses his philosophy of life.
At chess Sam became an expert player and won club and county championships. He also played in North vs. South matches and in tournaments for the blind of the world. Naturally he used a specially constructed board so that he could feel the pieces. Since he had to play slowly, his opponent usually set up another board for his own use while Sam was busy wandering all over his own board. Sam won most of his games and was quick to congratulate anyone who defeated him.
Many of Sam's games and poems have been translated into Braille by his good friend, H.S. Lansing. Since Sam did not keep scores of his games, we were able to obtain some from Mr. Lansing for publication in this book.
Sam passed away in 1952 at the age of fifty-six after living forty-three years of his life in darkness and soundlessness with never a discouraging word nor without a smile. Hail to thee, Sir Samuel Bean, Valiant Knight! Thou art above effacement in death as thou wert above reproach in life.
After this game Sam was heard to chuckle, "I skinned the wolf." Woolfe was one of the best players in Northern California and furnished the notes for the game:
White: C. Woolfe Black: Sam Bean
1. P-K4 P-K4 2. N-QB3 N-KB3 3. P-B4 P-Q3 4. N-KB3 N-QB3 5. B-QB4 P-KR3 6. P-Q4 PxQP 7. NxP NxN 8. QxN B-K2 9. B-K3 0-0 10. 0-0-0 P-QR3 11. P-KR3 P-QN4 12. B-Q5 P-B4! 13. Q-Q2 R-N1 14. P-K5? NxB 15. NxN PxP 16. PxP B-K3 17. NxBch QxN 18. Q-Q6 QxQ 19. RxQ P-QR4 20. BxP KR-QB1 21. B-K3? BxQRP! 22. KR-Q1 B-QN6 23. KR-Q2 P-R5 24. K-Q1 B-K3 25. B-QN6 K-R2 26. B-R5 R-QR1 27. B-N4 R-QB5 28. P-B3 R-K5 29. R-K2 RxR 30. KxR R-K1! (a) 31. K-B3 B-QB5 32. K-B4 P-N4ch (b) 33. K-K4 B-B8! 34. R-Q2 K-N3 35. R-KB2 P-B4ch! 36. K-Q5 B-B5ch 37. K-Q6 R-K3ch 38. K-B7 (c) RxP (d) 39. B-Q6 R-K5 40. B-B5 P-R4 41. B-Q6 P-B5 42. B-B5 R-K7! 43. RxR (e) BxR 44. P-KN3 (f) P-B6! 45. B-Q4 K-B4 46. B-B2 K-K5 47. K-N6 (g) B-B5 48. K-B6 K-Q6 49. K-B5 K-K7 50. B-Q4 P-B7 51. BxP KxB White resigns
a. From here on Black played like a machine.
Here is the game in which Sam beat the Sacramento City Champion in a chess league match at Board One. Notes are by H. S. Lansing:
White: R.E. Russell Black: Sam Bean
1. P-K4 P-K4 2. N-KB3 N-QB3 3. B-N5 P-QR3 4. B-R4 N-B3 5. 0-0 P-QN4 6. B-N3 B-K2 7. R-K1 P-Q3 8. P-QB3 0-0 9. P-KR3 N-QR4 10. B-B2 P-QB4 11. P-Q4 BPxP 12. PxP Q-B2 13. N-QB3? B-N2 14. B-N5 QR-B1 15. QR-B1 N-B5 16. Q-K2 NxNP 17. B-N3 N-B5 18. N-Q5 NxN 19. PxN P-B3! 20. B-KR4 BxP 21. N-Q2 B-B2! (a) 22. P-KB4 KR-K1 23. BPxP QPxP 24. B-N3 B-QN5 25. KR-Q1 BxN 26. RxB Q-N3 27. Q-N4 R-B2 28. R(2)-QB2 R(2)-K2 29. B-B2 Q-N2 30. PxP RxP 31. Q-B3? B-Q4 32. BxN PxB 33. Q-KN3 R-N4 34. Resigns (b)
a. There are eight pieces attacking and defending the Knight, which Sam must hold. His reply allows the pawn also to move up to defend, and if needed, in two moves Sam could have added still another piece the KR. What a battle at this point.
Here is the tale of a chess player with a poetic name who lived in a city with a romantic name - he hitherto had been unknown, unhonored, and unsung - Lorenzo Campi of Santa Rosa, California.
Lorenzo the Magnificent was born in a humble cabin in the year 1906. He won fame as an all-around athlete at the California School for the Deaf. After having left school, Lorenzo kept up his interest in sports by deer hunting, fishing, and sailing his cabin cruiser.
Chess held little interest for him until he visited his cousins in South America in 1929. He became an ardent spectator at the various national and international tournaments that were then progressing in Artentina. He marveled at the prowess of such chess masters as Alekhine, Capablanca, Emanuel Lasker, Reshevsky, Tartakower, Marshall, and many others. The genial Lasker gave Lorenzo some useful pointers on the game.
Inspired by such glimpses and contact, Campi took on chess with fervor. Upon his return home he took an active part in match and tournaments at the Santa Rosa Chess Club and realized on of his ambitions by winning the club championship in 1951.
Alas, Caissa, the goddess of chess, claimed him and he departed from this mortal clime at the age of fifty.
Leandro A. Maldonado
Herewith we submit the saga of Leandro A. Maldonado of Berkeley, California, who possessed through experience a chess lore the envy of many another player. His favorite axiom was "Rather to put myself in action than read chess books."
Leandro was born in the territory of Arizona. In 1899 he attended St. Joseph School for the Deaf which had just been opened in Oakland. After four years there he entered the Mr. Airy School to take up articulation and lip-reading. At this school he learned how to play chess, and it became one of his chief recreations.
After graduation he entered his father's exporting and importing business in San Francisco as an accountant. He became a partner in the firm with the position of secretary-treasurer. However, the 1918 revolution in Mexico forced the firm into bankruptcy.
Leandro took up floor laying and soon became very skilled at it. After several years of this hard work, he decided to take up less strenuous labor. Until his retirement he was a valued cost accountant for the huge naval base in Alameda.
Throughout his adult life, Leandro played chess whenever the opportunity arose. He was a frequent visitor and player at he famous Mechanics' Institute in San Francisco. His games against strong players built up his skill until he became a formidable foe to face across the chessboard.
In 1938, Leandro defeated Carroll Capps, a master player of the San Francisco Bay Area, in a simultaneous match. This time Mr. Capps took off his cap to Leandro:
King's Gambit Declined
White: Carroll Capps Black: Leandro Maldonado
1. P-K4 P-K4 2. P-KB4 B-B4 3. N-KB3 P-Q3 4. PxP PxP 5. P-B3 N-QB3 6. P-QN4 B-N3 7. B-N5 N-B3 (a) 8. NxP 0-0 9. NxN PxN 10. BxP NxP! 11. P-Q4 (b) Q-B3 12. BxN Q-R5ch (c) 13. K-Q2 QxB 14. Q-B3 Q-R5 15. P-N3 (d) Q-N4ch 16. Q-K3 Q-Q4 17. R-K1 B-N5 18. K-B2 P-QR4 19. PxP RxP 20. B-R3 P-QB4 21. PxP RxB 22. NxR BxP 23. Q-K5 B-B4ch 24. K-N2 Q-N2ch 25. K-B1 BxNch 26. K-Q2 R-Q1ch 27. K-K3 R-Q6ch 28. K-B2 Q-B6ch 29. K-N1 R-Q7 (e) 30. Q-N8ch B-KB1 31. Resigns
a. Black chooses to disregard the attack and set up his development.
During tournaments of the Berkeley Chess Club for the Deaf, Leandro and Emil have faced each other at least a hundred times. If scores had been kept of each game, they would be a feast for chess fans. However, we found the following game in our files which serves to portray Maldonado at his best:
White: Leandro Maldonado Black: Emil Ladner
1. P-K4 P-QB4 2. N-QB3 P-Q3 3. P-Q3 N-KB3 4. N-B3 P-K3 5. B-K2 B-K2 (a) 6. 0-0 0-0 7. N-K1 P-QR3 8. P-B4 Q-B2 9. N-B3 N-Q2 (b) 10. Q-K1 N-K1 11. Q-N3 B-B3 (c) 12. Q-R3 Q-Q1 13. B-Q2 P-QN4 (d) 14. P-R3 B-N2 15. QR-N1 Q-K2 16. P-KN4 (e) B-Q5ch 17. K-R1 P-B3 18. P-N5 P-B4 (f) 19. P-N6 P-R3 20. N-N5 N/1-B3 (g) 21. N-B7 PxP 22. P-B5 (h) P-K6ch 23. B-B3 BxBch 24. RxB (i) PxB 25. PxP N-K4 (j) 26. RxN! (k) QxR? 27. N-Q5 Resigns (l)
Notes by Black:
Moral: Look out for Indian givers.
Leandro is no longer with us but his spirit lives on!
SILENT KNIGHTS OF THE PRESENT
Profile of a Chessmaster by Juan F. Font
Once upon a time, about fifty-five years ago, a boy stopped in front of a store in the small city where he lived. He was fascinated by a special sale advertised in the window display which offered chessmen for only twenty-five cents a set. To the ten-year old this was a bargain even if he did not know anything about the game. That is how Emil Stephen Ladner, the present chess editor of "Checkmate" in The Deaf American (formerly The Silent Worker), was introduced to the Royal Game. After buying one of the sets and learning how to play, he found to his dismay that there was no one in the neighborhood or even in the bosom of his family who could play chess. This glaring fault Emil soon got around by teaching the game to his friends, and in time he had plenty of opponents with whom to match wits.
Emil was born in San Jose, California, March 13, 1912, which explains why number thirteen has no terrors for him. He became thirteen on a Friday, too. At about the age of four he had an attack of scarlet fever causing the deafness which was to send him to St. Joseph School for the Deaf, The California School for the Deaf, and Gallaudet College (Class of 1935.) Later he earned the B.A. degree in Education at the University of Calfornia (Berkeley) and the M.A. in Administration and Supervision at California State University at Northridge.
He taught the California School for the Deaf until his retirement in 1970. He then became Executive Director of the Registry of Interpreters and ended his active career as Vocational Guidance Consultant on Deafness, a job that calls for no set hours nor pressure.
Emil has been active in local, state, and national organizations of the deaf. But he had time to enjoy playing for the Oakland Chess Club and the Berkeley Chess Club in tournaments and matches with other clubs. At one time he was fortunate enough to capture first place in the Berkeley Chess Club. He also was a long time member of the Berkeley Chess Club of the Deaf and his duels with Leandro Maldonado were many and dramatic. He also played against Sam Bean and managed to win a game or two from this deaf-blind wizard.
Among his chess feats are the championship of Gallaudet College for four straight years; ten times champion of the California Association of the Deaf; three times winner of the Golden Naddy at conventions of the National Association of the Deaf; two draws by mail with George Koltanowski; champion of the Berkeley Chess Club for the Deaf whenever he managed to defeat Maldonado.
His Patient "widow" Mary teamed with him in duplicate bridge and also overlooked his absences due to golf, bowling, and other activities. She herself is an artist in her own right and has made jewelry, macramé objects, and other works of art. Their four children grew up in an atmosphere of activity and excitement. All four are or have been teachers, and there are four grandchildren to spoil.
Leandro Maldonado was tough to beat in the Berkeley Chess Club for the Deaf games. Here Ladner managed to catch Maldonado taking a siesta:
White: Ladner Black: Maldonado
1. P-Q4 N-KB3 2. P-QB4 P-K3 3. B-N5 P-B3 4. N-KB3 P-Q4 5. P-K3 B-K2 6. B-Q3 PxP 7. BxP N-K5 8. BxB QxB 9. 0-0 P-KB4 10. Q-B2 0-0 11. N-Q2 N-Q3 12. B-N3 K-R1 13. N-K5 N-Q2 14. P-B4 N-B3 15. Q-B5! Q-Q1 16. B-B2 N-Q4 17. QR-K1 P-QR4 18. P-QR3 P-R5 19. B-Q3 R-R4 20. Q-B2 Q-N3? (a) 21. N/2-B4 NxN 22. NxN NxKP 23. NxQ NxQ 24. BxN R-N4 25. NxB (b) RxP 26. RxP RxB 27. R/1-K1! Resigns (c)
a. One of Black's rare blunders.
The following game was played at the Hayward Chess Festival back in the fifties. Emil's opponent was a very strong player in local chess circles, so the win was welcome and rewarded Emil with first place:
White: Ladner Black: B. Zeiler
1. P-K4 P-QB4 2. N-KB3 P-Q3 (a) 3. P-Q4 PxP 4. NxP N-KB3 5. N-QB3 P-KN3 6. B-K2 (b) N-B3 7. 0-0 B-N2 8. B-KB5 0-0 9. Q-Q2 N-KN5 (c) 10. NxN PxN 11. BxN BxB 12. B-R6 Q-R4 13. BxB KxB 14. P-B3 B-K3 15. P-QR3 P-QB4 16. Q-N5 P-KR3 (d) 17. QxKP Q-N3 18. N-R4 Q-B3 19. P-QN3 P-N4 (e) 20. P-K5! (f) PxP 21. QxBP QxQ 22. NxQ B-B4 23. P-B3 QR-B1 24. P-QN4 KR-Q1 25. KR-Q1 K-B3 26. QR-B1 P-N5 27. K-B2 P-KR4 28. RxR RxR 29. K-K3 PxP 30. PxP P-R5 31. K-K2 P-R6 32. R-KN1 R-K1 33. R-N3 R-QB1 34. N-K4ch (g) K-K3 35. N-B5ch K-Q4 36. R-N5 B-N3 37. P-B4 K-B5 38. RxP KxP 39. R-K3 ch K-B5 40. RxP P-R4 41. N-N7! (h) R-K1 ch 42. K-Q2 K-Q5 43. NxP R-K5? 44. R-Q3 mate (i)
a. With this modern text, Black signifies his intention of playing the Dragon Variation. In the old text, 2...N-QB3; 3. P-Q4, PxP; NxP, N-B3; 5. N-QB3, P-q3, White can prevent this with 6. B-KN5, the Richter Attack.
Lament of a Loser
I'm the man nobody knows;
No tales are told about me;
Alone I walk down the road of life;
For me there's only - Death!
Of chess I've played a thousand games;
P.S. Not very good verse but it could be worse.
Imagine a human dynamo and a "hell of an engineer" from Iowa State! That defines indefatigable Einer Rosenkjar of Encino, California. In spite of his many activities in various organizations of the deaf, Einer has managed to play chess. From personal experience in many an over-the-board game, we can declare that he was always a daring and dangerous opponent with a lighting calculator in place of a brain. Lucky for us that he sometimes blew a fuse.
Einer learned to play chess at the Iowa School. But he did not play much at Gallaudet College and at Iowa State where he earned his engineering degree. After Einer moved to California in 1932, Foster Gilbert got him interested, and thereafter Einer took active participation. He played postal chess in the Chess Review and in the National Tournaments of the Deaf. Twice he won the Los Angeles City hall Chess Club championship, and in 1948 was co-champion with Emil Ladner in the tournament of the California Association of the Deaf. He had been one of the mainstays of the Los Angeles Chess Club for the Deaf and won the championship almost every time.
He retired as Senior Structural Engineering Associate in May, 1974 after thirty-three years of drafting, designing, and directing plans for bridges, retaining walls, tunnels, and other structures in the city of Los Angeles. During the earthquake of 1971 while other structures collapsed, Einer's remained intact. On the side, he did structural engineering work on the building for the California Home of the Aged Deaf.
Einer had been president of the California Association of the Deaf, and for twenty years was Western Grand Vice-President of the National Fraternal Society of the Deaf. He is now enshrined in its Hall of Fame. He was also active in numerous local organizations.
Einer and Helen, who passed away several years ago, produced two fine sons. Don works for the City of Los Angeles and Dick is a Computer Analyst. Iva, Einer's present wife, keeps their new condominium in tiptop shape and is active in social organizations.
Einer engineered his way to victory over a fellow engineer in the Los Angeles City Employees' Tournament:
White: Rosenkjar Black: M. Kroman
1. P-Q4 N-KB3 2. P-QB4 P-Q4 3. N-QB3 P-K3 4. B-N5 B-K2 5. P-K3 0-0 6. N-B3 QN-Q2 7. B-K2 P-QR3 8. P-QR3 PxP 9. BxP P-N4 10. B-Q3 P-R3 11. B-R4 P-B4 12. PxP NxP 13. B-B2 Q-N3 14. 0-0 B-N2 15. Q-K2 KR-K1 16. P-QN4 N/4-Q2 17. B/4-N3 N-Q4 18. NxN BxN 19. KR-Q1 B-KB3 20. R-N1 QR-Q1 21. QR-B1 B-N7 22. B-R7 KxB 23. QxB R-QB1 24. R-Q3 RxR 25. QxR Q-N2 26. R-B3 Q-N3 (a) 27. N-K5 NxN 28. BxN P-B3 29. B-Q4 Q-N2 30. R-B7! Q-R1 31. BxP R-KN1 32. Q-B2 K-R1 33. Q-N6 Resigns (b)
a. If instead BxN?, R-B7!
THE BERKELEY CHESS CLUB FOR THE DEAF
This club has had a long and distinguished history which merits inclusion in our book. The club was founded around 1920 with a good crop of players: James W. Howson, Leandro Maldonado, Douglas Tilden, Adolph Struck, Henry Franck, Paul Bough, E.E. Vinson, and Monroe Jacobs. They met regularly and competed against other clubs.
Then for a time it became inactive until the mid-thirties. At one time or another these players were members in addition to the original ones: Alfred Skogen, Henry Bruns, Lester Naftaly, Louis Ruggeri, Harry Jacobs, Leo Jacobs, Felix Kowalewski, Olaf Kvien, Oliver Johnson, Frank Horton, Bernard Bragg, Harold Ramger, George Fromm, Floyd McDowell, B.B. Burnes, and Emil Ladner. The club was not exclusive and admitted hearing members. Dr. Irving Fusfeld, Myron Leenhouts, Arthur Willis, and Erwin Marshall were some we can recall.
Today the Club no longer functions due to the ravages of death, retirement, or changes of location of the members. We hope a phoenix is rising in the form of the Silent Knights, a new club composed of the younger generation.
Records were poorly kept, but we know that Maldonado won the club championship at least eight times, Willis three times, and Ladner four times.
© Juan F. Font & Emil S. Ladner 1979
Return to Article Index