Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Magnus Carlsen's last big title.

Much thanks; to the Quality chess blog for bringing this documentary to my attention. With the world championship just days away I thought I would share it with readers of this blog.!/video/73427/magnus-carlsen-39-s-last-big-title

To readers of this blog fear not, I plan to begin posting again on a regular basis soon.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Capablanca's first visit to Chicago; November 24, 1909

 Jose Raul Capablanca (1926)
DN-0081138, Chicago Daily News negatives collection
Chicago History Museum. 

I recently purchased a copy of  The Unknown Capablanca by David Hooper and Dale Brandreth, and noticed that Capablanca's first simultaneous exhibition in Chicago took place in 1909, and although Unknown Capablanca has over 200 games; most of which had not been published outside of their original publication, none were from his first exhibition in Chicago.

The Jose Raul Capablanca who made his first Chicago appearance on November 24, 1909 was no longer the child prodigy of earlier times, but a graduate of Columbia University, who had won,  his first major match, against Frank J. Marshall, quite convincingly with 8 wins, 1 lost game and 14 draws.

Herman Helms, editor of the American Chess Bulletin, agreed to organize the American tours for Capablanca, in the hopes promoting the sales of his magazine, lamentably the American Chess Bulletin would gain just four new subscribers for it's trouble. (Hooper and Brandreth; p.141)

By the time Capablanca reached Chicago , the young Cuban master had played hundreds of games during his tour. Both the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Daily News provided some coverage of Cubans arrival and stay in the "windy city".

   "Jose R. Capablanca, the young Cuban chess expert, who stepped into the front rank of the world's chess masters by his overwhelming defeat of Marshall, will give an exhibition of simultaneous chess tonight at the rooms of the Chicago Chess and Checker club in the Schiller building."
(Chicago Daily Tribune; November 24, 1909)

Both the Tribune and Daily News noted the quick pace of play by Capablanca during simultaneous exhibitions; the Daily News reporting;

   " He is a rapid player and frequently finishes these simultaneous affairs in half the time taken here. The unusual time taken by the Chicago exhibition is explained by the strength of field against him."

Capablanca's easy demeanor and winning personality made him a favorite of the Chicago chess world.

   "Capablanca made a good impression upon the Chicago chess world by his skill as a player and by his personality. In appearance he is youthful and slender. He looks and acts like a nice, quite college student, which, indeed he is, having recently graduated from Columbia university."
(Chicago Daily News; November 27, 1909)

 Thirty-one local experts faced Capablanca, the young Cuban expert won twenty-five games, lost four games, with two games ending in a draw. The winners against Capablanca being Oscar Chajes, Charles W. Phillips, F.H. Chase, and Einar Michelsen. Draws were secured by Louis Uedeman and Judge Smith.

The Tribune published one game from the exhibition, the win of F. H. Chase over the Cuban expert in it's December 5th chess column.

The Chicago Daily News printed four games from the exhibition, Capablanca's wins against Sullivan and Erdeky, and loses to Chajes and Michelsen.

   "Oscar Chajes was the first one to obtain a victory over the youthful chess master. On his sixteenth move Capablanca made a blunder, an unusual thing for him to do. Chajes took prompt advantage of his opportunity and forced a speedy ending."
(Chicago Daily News; November 27, 1909

Just over a to the year to the date Capablanca would return to the "windy city", to give another simultaneous display. Although these five games don't add much to Capablanca's legacy, they are part of Chicago chess history and Capablanca's debut in the "windy city".

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Saturday, August 3, 2013

Unknown Emanuel Lasker games?

The ex-world chess champion Dr. Emanuel Lasker was greeted by hundreds of  fans when he arrived at Chicago's Dearborn street train station on the afternoon of Saturday, February 20, 1926. The ex-champions arrival and reception was duly reported in the February 22nd edition of the Chicago Daily News.

   "That the man who held the title of chess champion of the world for twenty-six years was deeply moved by the sincerity of the ovation given him upon his first appearance in Chicago since winning the New York international and securing the runner-up position at Moscow, was evident by the glistening of his keen brown eyes and his smile of appreciation"

The reception committee was headed by Harry E. Heick representing the Chicago Chess and Checker club,
S. D. Factor, city and state champion, and "Sir Knight" (Sir S.S. Bell), chess editor of the Chicago Daily News, as well delegates of the various chess club throughout the city.

 Sir S. S. Bell (Sir Knight) and Dr. Emanuel Lasker 
 Chicago Daily News negatives collection
Chicago History Museum.

Later that evening, Lasker would give a simultaneous exhibition at the rooms of the Chicago Chess and Checker club against thirty opponents, the ex-champion won 28 games, Charles Elison and J. M. Juran were the only players who managed to draw their games against the ex-champion.

Lasker had set sail from Hamburg aboard the steamship Cleveland, and had arrived in New York on January 19th, the ex-champions tour will him take him as far west as Seattle. Chicago would twice host the ex-champion during his current tour.

On the 23rd of February, at the Hamilton club, Lasker faced thirty-two opponents, including four former Illinois state champions. The gymnasium of the Hamilton club was packed with hundreds of Chicago chess fans, who saw the ex-champion victorious at twenty-six boards, two games ended in draws and four opponents "compelled the doctor to lay down his king."

The simultaneous exhibition was followed by a dinner at the Hamilton club and speeches.

   "Sixty covers were laid at the dinner given in honor of Chicago distinguished visitor  by the chess section of the Hamilton club. Introducing Dr. Lasker as the man who had held the world's championship at chess for twenty-six consecutive years, the master of ceremonies, M.S. Kuhns, told of his own visits to Berlin, Heidelberg and other university cities of Europe where, much to his surprise, he discovered the eminent doctor was even more largely recognized  as an author, linguist, traveler and philosopher than he was as a master of chess."

    'In replying, Dr. Lasker said in part; "The old game of chess is as important, as vital as well deserving of a high position as any game in the world. the game has a mission to accomplish and that is to draw people together to a better understanding of another when they are kept asunder by geographical, political or social lines. It is an equalizer of humanity." '
Chicago Daily News; February 24,1926

Lasker's stay in Chicago ended with a simultaneous exhibition at the City Club of Chicago on February 26th, the ex-champion contested games against thirty local players. The doctor won twenty-five games, lost two games, and three draws.

   " Two of the games contested last night without sight of the board or pieces by either the exhibitor or Mr. and Mrs. T.R. Gundlach, who opposed the doctor in this event. Both their games resulted in draws."

   "Lewis J. Issacs and Donald Kirk covered themselves in glory by compelling Dr. Lasker to lay down his king. The former Illinois champion [Issacs] offered a brilliant pawn sacrifice at the thirty first move and scored a beautiful victory...."
Chicago Daily News: February 26, 1926

The Kirk game given below was annotated by the winner.

The ex-champion left Chicago to continue his tour of the country, but would return to the city  for a brief stop in April. During his first stay in Chicago, of the current tour, Lasker had won eighty one games, had had seven drawn games and forced to lay down his king six times.

The ex-champions imminent return to Chicago was announced, in the April 2nd issue of the Chicago Daily News.

   "Dr. Emanuel Lasker will return to Chicago Wednesday , April 14, as the guest of the City club, at which time he will give an exhibition of his ability at rapid play.
   On this occasion the German master will tackle ten of Chicago's expert players, using time clocks, permitting his opponents twenty moves an hour, while the former world's chess champion will be obliged to make 200 moves each hour or forfeit his games.
   The players selected to meet Dr. Lasker in this event are Factor, Hahlbohm, Isaacs, C.W. Phillips, Dr. Phillips, Sparrow, Norris, Addlemann, Margolis, and Elison." 

The April 14th, City club exhibition was to be Lasker's last public apperance in Chicago before his departure home to Berlin. A dinner, followed by a lecture by the ex-champion procceeded the simultaneous exhibition.

Chicago Daily News; April 15, 1926

The ex-champion won six games, drew three games and lost one game; under the handicap of having to make 200 moves each hour, while his opponents needed to make just 20 moves. Albert C. Margolis forced the doctor to lay down his king, while Addlemann, Norris, and Dr. Phillips managed wrestle draws from th ex-champion.

 On April 15th, Lasker left Chicago for Cleveland and New York, after which he will return home to Berlin,

Note: I a have a question  mark in the title of this post, because I am unsure if these games are in any Lasker database or in Ken Whyld's collection of Lasker games, which I don't have, but which I shall purchase.
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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

"Who is Oscar Chajes?"

"Who is  Oscar Chajes?" So begins Louis Uedemann's "For the Devotees of Chess" column in the Chicago Tribune, for September 19, 1909, Chajes had just won the championship of the Western Chess Association.

   " Mr. Chajes was born Dec. 13, 1877, at Koriz, in Austrian Silesia. There he learned to play chess from his private teacher at the age of  9 years. Only an occasional game was played, however,  and when Mr. Chajes was old enough to attend the gymnasium Leinberg in Galicia, he knew barely more than the moves. 
   With more opportunity to play fellow students he advanced rapidly. While attending university in Vienna at the age of [?] he meet many strong players in the coffee houses and soon became one of the best odd givers in these popular chess resorts of the Austrian capital."
Chicago Daily Tribune; September 19, 1909

Uedemann noted that Chajes was an expert endgame player and odds giver, and though Chajes was no opening theoretician, those opening he knew he knew well.

Oscar Chajes first came to attention of most readers of the Chicago Tribune  in 1905, with his win over Emanuel Lasker, during Lasker's simultaneous exhibition at the Chicago Chess Club that year. Annotations are by Emil Kemeny.

Chajes is reported to have settled in Chicago in 1904, once settled, he soon became a fixture and the champion of the Chicago's new West Side Chess Club.

We next catch sight of Chajes in 1907, the Tribune noting that at West Side Chess club, Chajes "is always ready to meet any visitor over the board." On November 3rd, the Tribune had news that Chajes would give a simultanoues exhibition at the West Side Chess club.

In 1908, Chajes tied for second, third, forth with Louis Uedemann, H. F. Lee for the championship of the Illinois Chess association, each player losing but one game. Charles W. Phillips won the annual tournament, traditionally held on George Washington's birthday, Phillips winning the tournament without the loss of a game,.

Later in 1908, Chajes contested a match against the Tribune's chess editor, Louis Uedemann, the winner of the match being the first player to win five games. As Uedemann reported in Tribune column of August 9th. "The result was as close as possible: Uedemann, 5; Chajes, 4; drawn, 3."

In the eleventh game of the match: "Black injures his fine position, at the twentieth move by the injudicious exchange but white later goes after a pawn which places his rook out of play and the last mistake loses."
Chicago Daily Tribune; August 2, 1908

 "An old chess adage says the man who tries to win a draw position generally loses. This proved true in the final game of the match at the Chicago Chess and checker club, when O. Chajes played for the win beyond the danger point and lost the final game and with it the match to L. Uedemann."
Chicago Daily Tribune ; August 9, 1908

January, 1909 would turn out to be a busy month for Chajes , first he would challenge Uedemann to a return match to take place in later part of February at the Chicago Chess and Checker club. At a rapid transit tournament, with 15 seconds to the move, held on the 9th at the Chicago Chess and Checker club, Chajes shared first and second place with B. A. Czaikowski . January, also saw the beginning of the preliminaries of the annual tournament of the Chicago Chess and Checker club, which also commenced on the 9th. On the 25th, Chajes gave simultaneous exhibition , the exhibition began at 8 p.m., at midnight, four games were left for adjudication. Chajes won 18 games of the twenty four contested, 3 were lost and 3 drawn.


On Monday, February 22nd, Chajes won the title of champion of the Illinois State Chess Association at it's George Washington birthday tournament, the Tribune published the following game, noting that Chajes considered it to be one his best games of the day.

On April 18, the chess column of Tribune announced that Chajes along with H.F. Lee had tied for second and third prizes in the championship tournament of the Chicago Chess and Checker club. Chajes had drawn his game with winner of the tournament John Winter.

In early August, Chajes contested several games with George H. Wolbrecht of St.Louis  during the latter's visit to Chicago. Wolbrecht , as well being the champion of St. Louis, had won the tournament of the Western Chess Association in 1906, held that year in Chicago and would win it again in 1910. The games with Wolbrecht may have served as training games for both player for the upcoming Western Chess Association tournament.

The Tenth Western Chess Association tournament took place from August 15th thru the 25th, in Excelsior, Minnesota. Chajes won the tournament with 12 1/2 points, second with 12 points Edward R. Schrader of St. Louis; third with 11 1/2 points the Chicago Tribune's chess editor, Louis Uedemann, Wolbrecht would finish in seventh place with 9 points.

December saw the start of the annual Chicago Chess and Checker club tournament, the newly minted western champion began the tournament well, losing but one game (to Uedemann) in the first four rounds, but there would be many more weeks of play to decide the championship. December also saw the first rapid transit tournament of the season, Chajes tied for second with three other player, behind the winner, John Winter.

The Tribune for February 20th reported that with only one more game to play, E. Michelsen, who's score could not be reached by another player, was the winner of Chicago Chess and Checker Club tournament. At the time of the report Chajes and John Winter were tied for second and third place.

On February 22nd, at the seventeenth annual meeting of the Illinois Chess Association Chajes won the 1910 edition of the George Washington Birthday tournament, winning the tournament without the loss of a game.

The return match between Chajes and Louis Uedemann, finally took place, after much delay, in January 1910, Chajes winning the match decisively with five wins and one loss.The final game of the match appeared in the Tribune. " A good game by white, in which black does not recover the weak 8. ...d6."

The eleventh meeting of the western Chess Association took place from August 15th to the 24th in Chicago. the defending champion, Chajes would finish in second place with 15 1/2 points, behind the winner George H. Wolbrecht of St.Louis who had 18 points.

The American Chess Bulletin organized, on short notice a National Tournament, to take place in New York City, during the month of January 1911, taking part in the tournament would be Frank Marshall, Jose Raul Capablanca, and making his debut on the national stage Chajes, along with ten other players.

Chajes (9 points) tied for third and fourth place with Charles Jaffe, behind  the winner Marshall (10 points) and Capablanca (9 1/2 points). Chajes drawing his games with both Marshall and Capablanca.

"When Oscar Chajes left Chicago for the tournament in New York with the good wishes of local players it was generally believed  he had a even chance with the eastern talent to be near the top after Capablanca and Marshall. to them the first two places were conceded. The Chicagoan's play, including drawn games with Marshall the American champion, and Capablanca, who many consider a world beater, has been of a high order."
Chicago Daily Tribune; February 5, 1911


On the strength of his showing at the New York tournament, Chajes recieved an invitation to participate in the upcoming Karlsbad tournament, from Victor Tietz, president of the Karlsbader Schach-Club. Chajes sailed  from New York aboard the Olympic on July 27 to London, on his way to Karlsbad.

The tournament was to be a month long affair, to take place from August 20th to September 24th. Chajes international debut proved to be a major disappointment for Chajes and his friends back home. Chajes finished tied for 23rd thru 26th place at the very bottom of the cross table with Jaffe, Alapin and Fahrni.

Some consolation could be had from his game with Julius Perlis, which won Chajes a brilliancy prize.

After the Karlsbad tournament, Chajes removed himself from Chicago and relocated to New York City, and just he as become part of the chess scene in Chicago, so would he become part of the fabric of the New York chess scene, though as late as 1913, The New York Times still described Chajes as the "Chicago chess player".

Oscar Chajes died on February 28,1928 at the age of 54. We take leave of Oscar Chajes, with his victory over Capablanca at the 1916 Rice Memorial tournament, it was Capablanca's last defeat prior to his undefeated stretch from 1916 to 1924.

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