Chess in 1915

By Bill Wall


In 1915, the Marshall Chess Divan was started by Frank Marshall.  It was the forerunner to Marshall Chess Club.


In 1915, Ajeeb, a chess automaton was set up at Coney Island by James Smith and Emma Haddera.  One player lost to it and was so angry he took out a gun and shot at the torso of the automaton.  It killed its hidden operator, Sam Gonotsky, which was covered up.  In another incident with Ajeeb, a Westerner emptied his six-shooter into the automaton, hitting the operator in the shoulder.  One lady who lost to the Ajeeb automaton was so enraged that they stuck a hatpin into the automaton, stabbing its operator in the mouth.


In 1915, one of the first Hollywood silent films to depict a chess scene may have been A Fool There Was, was filmed. It was directed by Frank Powell and starred Theda Bara (1885-1955) as the Vamp, one of the first sex symbols of the early 20th century.


In January, 1915, Edward Lasker won the New York Metropolitan Chess League.


On February 12, 1915, Jose Capablanca played 65 boards and a record 84 opponents simultaneously at the Eagle auditorium in Brooklyn.  He won 48, lost 5, and drew 12 in 6 ¾ hours.  There were approximately 500 spectators at the event. (source: The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Feb 13, 1915)


On February 21, 1915, René Letelier Martner (1915-2006) was born in San Bernardo, Chile.  He was Chilean champion in 1957, 1959, 1960, 1964 and 1972. He played for Chile in the Chess Olympiads of 1939, 1950, 1956, 1960, 1964 and 1966.  He was South American sub-champion at Sao Paulo in 1937.  He was award the International Master (IM) title in 1960.


On February 23, 1915, A. Kupchik, champion of the Manhattan Chess Club, won the New York State chess championship, held in Brooklyn.  (source: The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Feb 23, 1915)


On February 24, 1915, Frank Marshal played a record 92 boards simultaneously in Portland, Oregon.  He won 78, drew 10, and lost 4.  (source: The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Feb 24, 1915)


On March 3, 1915, Kazimierz Plater (1915-2004) was born in Vilnius, Lithuania.  He won the Polish chess championship in 1949, 1956, and 1957.  He was awarded the IM title in 1950.


On March 19, 1915, Eugene Beauharnais Cook (1830-1915) died in Hoboken, NJ at the age of 84.  He was the first American composer of note.  He composed over 800 chess problems.  At one time, he had the third largest chess book collection in the world. When he died, the chess library of over 2,500 volumes was presented to the Princeton University Library. The Princeton University Library is the second largest in the U.S. for chess book collection. The White Collection at the Cleveland Public Library is the largest.


On April 17, 1915, perhaps the first occasion that chess masters were filmed occurred during the first round of the New York masters tournament.  The film included players such as Jose Capablanca and Frank Marshall and other making their moves and recording their games.  The film appeared in various theaters throughout the country in an effort to popularize chess.


On April 20, 1915, Maximilian Ujtelky (Ujteleky) (1915-1979) was born in Igló, Kingdom of Hungary.  He was a Slovak chess master and theoretician of Hungarian origin.  In 1960, he tied for 1st in the Czechoslovakian chess championship.


On May 9, 1915, Jose Capablanca won the New York Masters tournament.  Frank Marshall took 2nd.


On May 20, 1915, Erik Jakob Larsson (1915-2009) was born in Landskrona, Sweden.  He was founder of the International Correspondence Chess Association (ICCA) in 1946, and the International Correspondence Chess Federation (ICCF) in 1951.


On June 9, 1915, Ernst Åhman (1915-1981) was born in Sweden. In 1948, he won the Swedish chess championship.


On June 14, 1915, Nicolass Cortlever (1915-1995) was born in Amsterdam.  He was a Dutch chess master who owned a gemstone and marble business in Amsterdam.  He was awarded the IM title in 1950.


On August 21, 1915, the 16th Western Chess Association (US Open) was held in Excelsior, Minnesota. Jackson Showalter took 1st, followed by Norman Whitaker. 


On August 30, 1915, Hermann Albrecht (1915-1982) was born in Marburg, Germany.  He was awarded the International Judge in Composition in 1957. 


On August 31, 1915, David Vincent Hooper (1915-1998) was born in Reigate, England.  In 1944, he won the British Correspondence championship.  In 1948, he won the London championship.  He was a chess author of several chess books.


On November 2, 1915, Isaac L. Rice (1850-1915) died at the Hotel Ansonia in New York City.  He was a noted chess patron and the creator of the Rice Gambit.


On November 19, 1915 (Capablanca’s 27th birthday), Capablanca participated in a Good Companion problem-solving tournament in Philadelphia.  He solved ten two-movers in 21 minutes, taking 1st place.


On November 27, 1915, Shlomo Smiltiner (1915-2015) was born.  He was an Israeli chess master that played on the Israel Chess Olympiad team in 1956, 1958, and 1966.


In December, 1915 Alexander Alekhine won the championship of the Moscow Chess Club with 10.5 out of 11.