Chess in 1911

By Bill Wall


In 1911, the Hungarian Chess Federation was founded.


In 1911, the first Moscow-Petrograd match was held, and won by Petrograd, with the score of 6-3


In 1911, the last cable match between the US and UK was played.  UK defeated the USA team 6-4 in the 13th cable match.  Britain, having won three matches in succession, took permanent possession of the silver Newnes Cup, offered in competition by Sir George Newnes (1851-1910) several years earlier.  


On February 24, 1911, James Mortimer (1833-1911) died in San Sebastian, Spain at the age of 77.  He was an American chess player, journalist, and playwright who spent the last 40 years of his life in Britain.  Covering Spain's first international chess tournament, San Sebastián 1911, he caught pneumonia and died.

In February 1911, Jose Capablanca was invited to San Sebastian, Spain (the strongest tournament since Nuremberg in 1896).  He sailed for Europe on the Lusitania.  San Sebastian was to be one of the strongest tournaments ever held, with all the world’s leading chess players competing except for world champion Lasker.  Capablanca’s entry was originally reserved for Emanuel Lasker.  If Lasker had shown up, Capablanca would not be invited to play.   Before the tournament, Ossip Bernstein (and Aron Nimzowitsch) protested that such an unknown player should play in this event. The entry condition was that a master had to win at least 3rd prize in two master tournaments.  An exception was made for Capablanca because of his victory over Marshall.   Capablanca then proceeded to beat Bernstein in the first round (winning the Rothschild prize for the most brilliant game of the tournament).  He later beat Nimzowitsch as well.  During the course of the tournament, Nimzowitsch was playing blitz chess and told Capablanca not to interfere, as he was not a reputed master yet.  Capablanca then challenged Nimzowitsch and anyone else in blitz chess for a side bet.  Capablanca won all his games with ease.  All the masters finally agreed that Capablanca had no equal in quick chess.

On March 1, 1911, Harry Golombek (1911-1995) was born in London.  He was British Champion in 1947 (after a play-off), 1949 and 1955.  He played on nine English Olympiad teams from 1935 to 1962. He was awarded the IM title in 1950 and an honorary GM title in 1985.


On March 1, 1911, at the age of 42, Emanuel Lasker married Martha Bamberger Cohn in Berlin and became a husband, father, and grandfather at the same time. His wife was a year older than Lasker, widowed (Emil Cohn owned  the Trautweins’s piano factory and died on Dec 18, 1909), rich, and already a grandmother. Martha had a daughter, Lotta, from her previous marriage.  Lotta later moved to Chicago.  The Laskers lived in Thyrow, an hour’s journey from Berlin where he acquired a house, a garden, and a big dog.


On March 17, 1911, Jose Capablanca won at San Sebastian, Spain, followed by Rubinstein, Vidmar, Marshall, Nimzovich, Schlechter, and Tarrasch.  Capablanca won a major international tournament at his first attempt (the last person to do that was Pillsbury when he won Hastings 1895). He won 6, drew 7, and lost 1 (to Rubinstein) ahead of Rubinstein and Schlechter.  At age 23, Capablanca was now the 2nd strongest player in the world, after Emanuel Lasker.  


On April 10, 1911, Samuel Loyd (1841-1911) died in Brooklyn at the age of 70.  He was America’s leading writer of chess problems and other puzzles.  He invented the “Fifteen Puzzle,” “Parchesi,” “The Donkey,” “The Tigers and the Men,” “Pigs in Clover,” “The Disappearing Chinaman.” (source: The McCook Tribune, June 22, 1911)

In May 1911, Alexander Alekhine won the Moscow Chess Club 3rd Handicap Tournament and the Moscow Chess Club billiard system (knockout) Tournament.

In May 1911, Alekhine played Board 1 for the Moscow Chess Club in a match against the St. Petersburg Chess Club. He drew his game with Eugene Znosko-Borovsky (1884-1954).

On May 5, 1911, Andre (Andor) Lilienthal (1911-2010) was born in Moscow.  He won the Moscow Championship in 1939.  He tied for 1st in the 1940 USSR Championship.  He was awarded the GM title in 1950.


On May 17, 1911, Alberic O’Kelly de Galway (1911-1980) was born in Brussels.  He was awarded the IM title in 1950, the GM title in 1956 and the GM in Correspondence (GMC) title in 1962, he won the 3rd World Correspondence Chess Championship (1959-1962). He won the Belgium championship 13 times (1937, 1938, 1942, 1943, 1944, 1946, 1947, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1956, 1957, and 1959).


On May 29, 1911, Wolfgang Heidenfeld (1911-1981) was born in Berlin.  He was Irish Champion in 1958, 1963, 1964, 1967, 1968 and 1972. He was South African Champion in 1939, 1945-46 (jointly), 1947 (jointly), 1949, 1951, 1955, 1957 and 1959 (jointly).


On June 8, 1911, Mikhail Yudovich (1911-1987) was born in Roslavi, Russia.  He was USSR correspondence chess champion in 1966.  He was awarded the GM in Correspondence title in 1973.


On June 14, 1911, Lev Abramov (1911-2004) was born in Warsaw.  He was awarded the IM in Correspondence (IMC) title in 1979.


On July 13, 1911, Sidney Norman Bernstein (1911-1992) was born in New York City.  He was an American chess master.  He was a participant in eight U.S. Chess Championship events (1936, 1938, 1940, 1951, 1954, 1957, 1959 and 1961).


On August 15, 1911, Povilas (Paul) Vaitonis (1911-1983) was born in Uzpaliai, Lithuania.  He won the Lithuanian championship in 1934, 1937, 1942, 1943, and 1944.  He won the Canadian championship in 1951 and 1957.  He was awarded the IM title in 1952.


On August 17, 1911, Mikhail Botvinnik (1911-1995) was born in Kuokkala (now Repino), Finland (now Russia).  He was world chess champion in 1948-1957, 1958-1960, and 1961-1963.  He won 6 USSR chess championships.  He was awarded the GM title in 1950.


On August 21, 1911, Gedeon Barcza (1911-1986) was born in Kisujszallas, Hungary.  He was awarded the IM title in 1950, the GM title in 1954 and the IMC title in 1966. He won the Hungarian Championship eight times and played on seven Hungarian Olympiad teams.


On August 25, 1911, Henry Atkins and Fred Yates tied at 8th British Chess Federation (BCF) Chess Championship in Glasgow.  Atkins won the playoff.


On August 28, 1911, the 12th Western Chess Association (US Open), held in Excelsior, Minnesota, was won by Charles Blacke.


On September 13, 1911, Frederick William Womersley (1839-1911) was murdered in his office Hastings, England.   He was 72 years old.  He won the Hastings championship in 1186, 1888, 1891, 1892, and 1902.  He had been a leading figure in Hastings chess circles and a member of the organizing committee of the Hastings, 1895 tournament. For many years he had written the local newspaper’s chess column.  He was shot by Joseph James, a 52-year-old chemist.


On September 24, 1911, Richard Teichmann won at Carlsbad, followed by Rubinstein, Schlechter, Rotlewi, Marshall, Nimzowitsch, and Vidmar.  Teichmann won his first chess tournament at Carlsbad in 1911, after 20 years of play.


On November 26, 1911, Samuel “Sammy” Herman Reshevsky (born Szmul Rzeszewski) (1911-1992) was born in Ozorkow, Poland.  He won the U.S. chess championship in 1936, 1938, 1940, 1941, 1942, 1946, 1957, and 1969.  He was awarded the GM title in 1950.