Saturday, August 9, 2014

Twenty-seventh Western Chess Association Tournament.

The twenty-seventh Western Chess Association Tournament took place in the Red room of Chicago's LaSalle Hotel, from August 21 to September 2, 1926. The Western tournament was held in conjunction with a Masters tournament in which a international group of players competed for $1,800 in prizes, but for the purposes of this post we'll leave the Masters tournament for an another day.

In the Western tournament twenty-two players would  compete,they were divided into A and B sections, with the  top qualifiers from the two sections, would then meet in a final,  for the title of Western Chess Association champion.

Section A - Irving Spero, Cleveland; Paul L. Bowers, Pittsburgh; John Paul Stoner, Goulds, Fla.; Joseph Daniels, Kansas City; Herman Steiner, New York; John L. Brandner, Chicago; Leon Stolzenberg, Detroit; Byron B. Price, Ripon Wis.; B. C. Jenkins, Logansport, Ind.; Charles Elison, Chicago; and Hermann Hahlbohm, Chicago. (Stoner would withdraw after three rounds).

Section B -Elias Gordon, Chicago; R. Ballenger, Kalamazoo, Mich.; John T. Beckner, Louisville, Ky.; Albert Margolis, Chicago; John N. Buck, Bramwell, W. Va.; Orrin Frink Jr., New York; L. H. Wight, Kansas City, Mo.; Robert S. Scrivener, Memphis; John Winter, Detroit; William Widmeyer, Rolla, N. D.; Charles W. Phillips, Chicago.

Before the commencement of the tournaments, the Western Chess Association elected new officers, electing an all Chicago slate of officers. Maurice S. Kuhns, chairman of the chess section of the Hamilton club was elected president; W. E. Sparrow, chairman of the chess section of the City club was elected vice-president; A. J. Quigley, president of the Chicago Chess and Checker club was elected secretary; Samuel D. Factor, ex-Western Chess Association champion, was named financial secretary-treasurer.

(Chicago Daily News; 21 August 1926)

Unfortunately, the Chicago Tribune no longer had a chess column, but thanks to chess column of Chicago Daily News we have some the games from the Western tournament, naturally most of the press coverage was devoted to the Masters tournament, in which among others; Frank Marshall, Carlos Torre, Geza Marcozy, and Edward Lasker competed.

The schedule for the Western tournament was a grueling one, on most days two rounds were played ( play commencing at 1p.m. and 7p.m.) and on those days when just one round was played, any adjourned games needed to completed as there were no free days during the tournament.

   "The results of the first two rounds are: Steiner beat Price and Jenkins, Daniels beat Jenkins, Brandner beat Price, Stolzenberg beat Brandner, Hahlbohn beat Stoner, Gordon beat Ballenger, Beckner beat Widmeyer, Margolis beat Winter, Frink beat Wight, Phillips beat Ballenger and Scrivener and Elison drew byes."
(Chicago Daily News:  23 August 1926)

On the third day of play Robert Scrivener, the Memphis player defeated L.H. Wight of Kansas City, Mo. in just ten moves.

   " In the western open two rounds were contested yesterday, the afternoon session resulting in victories for the first-named players, Spero - Stoner; Hahlbohm - Daniels; Steiner - Elison; Brandner - Jenkins; Stolzenberg - Price; Margolis - Phillips; Buck - Widmeyer; Scrivener -  Wight.
   In the night session the winners were Stolzenberg, Elison, Steiner, Spero, Bowers, Winter, Margolis and Beckner, who scored on Jenkins, Brandner, Hahlbohm, Daniels, Stoner, Wight, Gordon and Ballenger respectively."
(Chicago Daily News; 24 August 1926)

The results of the fifth round were Bowers beat Daniels, Hahlbolm beat Brandner, Margolis beat Ballenger, Wight beat Widmeyer, Stolzenberg beat Elison and Steiner beat Spero,  The game between Scrivener and Winter was adjourned at midnight.

   "In the Western open yesterday Bowers beat Jenkins, Stoner forfeited to Price, Stolzenberg beat Daniels, Steiner beat Brandner, Winter beat Ballenger, Beckner and Scrivener drew, Margolis beat Wight, Fring [sic] beat Buck."
(Chicago Daily News; 28 August 1926)

Herman Steiner who beats J.L Brandner in the game below, would end up with the best score of all the competitors of both sections of the preliminary tournament.


From the two sections seven players qualified for the finals, from section A; Herman Steiner ( 9 1/2 points), Leon Stolzenberg (8 pts), Hermann Hahlbohm and Irving Spero (both 7 pts.); and from section B the qualifying players were John T. Beckner (8 1/2 pts.), Albert Margolis (8 pts.)and Orrin Frinck Jr.(7 1/2 pts.).

In what proved to be the decisive game of the tournament Leon Stolzenberg with the black pieces bested Herman Steiner.

Leon Stolzenberg
circa 1957
Photo Michigan Chess: December 1974

  "Leon Stolzenberg who is ... playing under the colors of the Detroit Chess club, took a commanding lead in the open section when he defeated Herman Steiner of New York city in a brilliant game, sacrificing his queen."
( Chicago Daily News; 31 August 1926)

   "Leon Stolzenberg of Detroit won the western championship tournament by drawing his final game with H. Hahlbohm of Chicago. Stolzenberg succeeds [Abraham] Kupchik, titleholder for the past year. Herman Steiner, New York, won second prize and Albert C. Margolis, Chicago, third."
(Chicago Daily News; 3 September 1926)

In time both Steiner and Margolis would become Western Association Champions, in the case of Margolis it would happen at the very next western congress, held in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Jeremy Gaige
 Chess Tournament Crosstables- 1921 - 30 

   " Frank J. Marshall, the United States champion, to whom were submitted the games entered for the two special brilliancy prizes in the recent tournament for the championship of the Western Chess Association at Chicago has announced is award, according to Samuel D. Factor, secretary of the Western Chess Association. Charles W. Phillips of Chicago is the winner of the first: known as the Kalamazoo brilliancy prize and consisting of $25 in gold pieces presented by amateurs Kalamazoo Mich. this was for the game from L. H. White [sic] of Kansas City Mo.
    Herman Steiner of New York, or winning his game from Charles F. Elison of Chicago was declared the winner of the second prize of $10 offered by R. S. Goerlich of Bethlehem Pa.."
(The Brooklyn Daily Eagle: 14 October 1926)

For more information on Leon Stolzenberg go to following link here and here. I hope to come across more games from this tournament, as I continue my research of Chicago Chess history.