Call Chess Editor's Swan Song

by E. J. Clarke

San Francisco Call, Sunday, August 31, 1913


On February 2, this year, we made our bow to the Pacific coast chess public. And now, in the last number of The Sunday Call, we take occasion to thank the followers of the royal game in this locality for their interest and loyal support. During this period a successful problems solving contest was carried out. Among the problems printed in the competition were several by A. J. Fink which received the enthusiastic praise of those qualified to judge. Seventy-two diagrammed problems have been printed absolutely without error, except by the irony of fate, a "little black pawn" was omitted in problem No. 1. Accuracy has been our watchword, and few and far between have been the misprints in the record of games printed. Readers of this column have been duly apprised of all news of interest in the chess world. Considerable attention has been given to end games, etc. In short, an up to date, live column has been maintained, as was promised in the initial number. As to the future of the column, well, our friends can get next Sunday's Chronicle???

To all our loyal friends we would therefore say, in the words of Brutus to Cassius:

And, whether we shall meet again, I know not. Therefore, and everlasting farewell take: Forever and forever, farewell, Cassius! If we do meet again, why, we shall smile; If not, why, then, this parting was well made.

To which I might add that "we shall smile" if this is the last column, and we do not meet again.

Recent results of games in the pending Northern California vs. Southern California Correspondence Match are: W. M. Dickinson (N. C.) lost both games to Fred Pelouze (S. C.); L. W. Palmer (S. C.) has won one game from C. A. Haufe (N. C.); N. H. Greenway (N. C.) and C. J. Gibbs (S. C.) have drawn one game. Hallwegen, captain of the northern team, forced the resignation of C. H. Wipple (S. C.) in one game, while O. E. Frazier, captain of the southerners, has likewise won a game from H. E. Church (N. C.). Contestants are requested to forward score of games to the respective captains as soon as completed. If this column is discontinued, results and scores of meritorious games will be printed in the American Chess Bulletin. The prizes offered by The Call Chess Editor will be awarded at close of match. Officials of correspondence, match, and addresses are: George Hallwegen, 57 Post street (Mechanics' Institute, third floor), San Francisco; O. E. Frazier, 426 North Burlington avenue, Los Angeles, and Dr. H. Epsteen, San Rafael, referee.

Sportsmanship at Havana

Premising that Americans are in the habit of expecting good sportsmanship, no matter what game is played, and that to be considered a good sportsman a defeated man should keep his mouth shut unless he can say some kindly thing of his victor, Edward P Sharp, chess editor of the Nebraska State Journal , administers a deserved rebuke to the tactics of Capablanca during and since the recent Havana chess tourney. Sharp continues:

Ever since the Havana tournament we have been waiting in vain for some older and more experienced editor to stand on his toes and call to heaven to witness the disgraceful and unsportsmanlike conduct of some of the masters taking part in that affair. The silence is doubtless due to a broad but misplaced charity which does a mighty good job of "overlooking" on account of "artistic temperament." Artistic temperament is not considered by the men who write the sporting page. What happens when a jockey is caught pulling his mount? What would happen if a Wood, a Johnson or a Mathewson should "let down" in his play to help a rival and openly boast of doing it? What should have happened when the chess editors of the country read the report. "Previous to the beginning of play Capablanca had addressed Kupchik, telling him that he should play very slowly indeed, for in case Janowski should get a drawing or losing position against Marshall he would be unable to share in first and second prizes with Marshall, even if he should beat Kupchik, and he would therefore not make any exertions at all to bring about the downfall of this young player?" No wonder Marshall absented himself from the room when he later found Capablanca stalling. Less culpable, perhaps, but in decidedly poor taste was the action of Janowski in refusing to resign his game against Marshall, but let Marshall know, through President Paredes that he had given up the fight. Then, after Marshall had won the tourney. what kind of sportsmanship was it for Janowski to get "on a chair, addressing the crowd as follows, 'I did all in my power to help Capablanca. I promised to beat Marshall today, and I succeeded. I could do no more.' " But the crowning touch to the Havana tournament is the appearance of the Havana Congress Book under the name of Capablanca. On a par with the conduct of a man who mentions a good woman's name in a slurring manner is the following, translated from Torneo International de Ajerez (Havana Congress Book):

Page 10 (by "J. C. P.")--"Jaffe played beneath his reputation, whether it was because in some cases he could not and in others he would not."

Page 20 (Marshall vs. Jaffe)--"We make no comment on this game because we have the intimate conviction that Black made no effort whatever to win, and the role of the commentator is disheartening, pointing out the weakness of this or that move, when the first one is based upon the desire not to vanquish one of the contestants."

Page 72 (Jaffe vs. Marshall)--"This game like the first between these two masters, doesn't need any comment because it is apparent that Jaffe did nothing to win, and the manner in which he lost it is sufficiently significant for us to throw over the lapses of the game a merciful veil."

("Merciful veil!" Oh, heavens!!--Sharp.)

Good for Sharp! The "silence" is due to something else besides "misplaced charity." I know why, but I also will grab Capablanca's "merciful veil" and "throw it over the lapses" of chess editors.

Chess is a splendid game, and there is certainly room for the professional chess master. But lovers of the pastime demand a certain amount of decency along with skill in those who make their living from the game. Therefore, if the jockeying practiced at Havana, is much indulged in, it does not take a prophet to foresee an end of professional chess. To appreciate the difference between clean professional chess and the other kind, just contrast the Hastings, 1895, tourney and Havana 1912! however, like Mr. Heire, in "The League of Youth," "I say no more!"

As for Janowski, he proved himself the boor he is by his conduct at Cambridge Springs, Pa. Marshall, in a game with Janowski, after a couple of adjournments, finally had a sure win. When it came time to resume play Marshall sat down, and after a while Monsieur Janowski sent word to Marshall by a waiter that he resigned! Recall the splendid courtesy and chivalry displayed by Pillsbury in the deciding game of the great Vienna tournament of 1898 with Doctor Tarrasch. The lamented Pillsbury (idol of thousands of chess players), with the honors of first place snatched from his grasp by the German master, nevertheless retains his honor. It was at the close of two grueling rounds. Pillsbury and Tarrasch were tied for first place, with 28 1/2 to 8 1/2. A supplementary match for four games was played to break the tie. The pride of Nuremberg won the first and third games, while Pillsbury must win in order to again share the high honor of first place. The opening is faultlessly played on both sides, Pillsbury realizes it is a drawn position.

"The moment of decision is nigh. Not an eye is taken off Pillsbury, who opens a cigar case, selects a cigar, cuts off its end and then lights it carefully, drawing a heavy puff of smoke therefrom. He had gained time for the decisive, important step. With perfect elegance, with the fullest recognition of the most chivalrous form, with the most amiable smile, just brushing his hair from his forehead and casting a glance on his beautiful hand, says, half audibly, yet with a winning mellowness:

" 'Remis?' "

Doctor Tarrasch consents.

"Pillsbury rises. Thus dies a great man."

Can any one imagine that beau ideal of American chess, Paul Morphy, resigning a game via a waiter!

Mr. Sharp, kindly hand me that "merciful veil."

We have received a splendid letter from W. A. Strohmeier of this city concerning the beautiful McCracken end game printed in this column two weeks ago. "Stroh" maintains that end games and problems are a distinct advance on the game, having evolved from it. Readers of this column would be delighted to see how charmingly he proves, to his own satisfaction at least, that followers of these two branches of the game are on a distinctly higher plane than those whose joy is found in the lust of battle over the chess board. "Stroh's" essay is a classic and I only regret that space forbids its publication in its entirety. If the column is continued, I promise to run it in two installments; otherwise it must see light in the American Chess Bulletin. It is altogether too neat a piece of writing to "blush and bloom unseen."

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