Chess in 1919

 By Bill Wall


In 1919, 64 magazine was founded in Russia.


In 1919, Emanuel Lasker wrote Die Philosophie des Unvollendbaren (The Philosophy of the Unattainable).  Albert Einstein expressed interest in Lasker’s work, calling the book, “a lively interest in all the problems that bedevil mankind,” and “a most original work.”


On January 9, 1919, Gustave Henschel Koehler (1860-1919) died at the age of 58..  He won Manhattan Chess Club championship in 1898 and 1905.


On January 26, 1919, James Glover Grundy (1855-1919) died in Manchester, England at the age of 63.  Grundy was thrown out of the American Chess Association for his role in colluding with Preston Ware to fix games at the 1880 American Chess congress.


On February 25, 1919,  Frideswide Beechey Rowland (1855-1919) died in Bray, Ireland.  She was a famous woman problemist and chess columnist.  She started Ireland's first chess periodical, The Four-Leaved Shamrock.


On March 2, 1919, Tibor Florian (n ée Feldmann) (1919-1990) was born in Budapest.  He was Hungarian champion in 1945. He was awarded the International Master (IM) title in 1950.


On March 9, 1919, Chantel Chaude de Silans (1919-2001) was born in Versailles, France.  She participated in the Women's World Championship in 1949-50, 1952, 1955 and 1961. She was awarded the Women’s International Master (WIM) title in 1950, and an honorary WGM title in 1990.  She was the first woman ever to play at a chess Olympiad. She was involved with the French resistance during WW2.  She was the manager of Paris' Caissa Chess Club for over 30 years.


On April 9, 1919, Emil Schallopp (1843-1919) died in Berlin, Germany at the age of 75.  He was a German chess master and author.  He was also chief stenographer (shorthand) of the Reichstag in Berlin and worked as stenographer in the Prussian House of Representatives.  He was also President of the Shorthand Association and a member of the Commissioner of Examiners.


On April 16, 1919 Roman Altschuler (1919- ) was born in Kursk, Russia.  He was awarded the International Master is Correspondence Chess (IMC) in 1967.


On May 14, 1919, Stuart Wagman (1919-2007) was born in New York.  He earned the FIDE Master (FM) title in his 60s and was a strong player even in his last years. His score of 6 from 11 in the 2006 World Senior Championship at the age of 87, was the best by an American.


On May 15, 1919, Rowena Mary Bruce (n ée Drew) (1919-1999) was born in Plymouth, England.  She was World Junior Women's Champion in 1935. She was awarded the WIM title in 1951.  She won the British Women's Championship in 1937 (as Dew), 1950 (after a play-off), 1951, 1954, 1955 (jointly), 1959, 1960, 1962, 1963, 1967 (jointly) and 1969 (jointly).


In June 1919, Alexander Alekhine was briefly imprisoned in Odessa's death cell by the Odessa Cheka, suspected of being a spy. He was charged with links with White counter-intelligence after the Russians liberated the Ukraine from German occupation. He was sentenced by a Revolutionary tribunal to be shot by a firing squad.  Some sources say that Leon Trotsky himself spared Alekhine’s life.


On June 9, 1919, Isaac Boleslavsky (1919-1977) was born in Zolotonsha, Russia.  In 1950, he tied for 1st in the Candidates’ tournament, losing the play-ff to David Bronstein.  After this near-miss, Boleslavsky played in another Candidates' tournament in 1953, and then devoted his chess ability more toward coaching and serving as a "second" to his fellow Soviet players.


On June 21, 1919, Vladimir Simagin (1919-1968) was born in Moscow.  He was  Moscow Champion in 1947 (after a play-off), 1956 (jointly) and 1959.  He was awarded the IM title in 1950, the GM title in 1962 and the IMC title in 1965. He was USSR Correspondence Champion in 1964.


In the summer of 1919, Alekhine was ready to give up chess.  He started working in a film studio intending to be an actor. He was studying at the State Studio for Cinematographic Art, Moscow's first school for film actors. He also joined the Communist Party and was secretary of the Communist Education Department.   


On August 23, 1919, Jose Capablanca won the Victory tourney at Hastings.


On August 27, 1919, the Boylston Chess Club in Boston was formed.  August Seaver was its first president.


In September, 1919, Richard Reti played 24 blindfolded in Haarlem, Holland, winning 12, losing 3, and drawing 9.   It was a new record for blindfold play. 


On September 14, 1919, Jean Taubenhaus (1850-1919) died in Paris at the age of 68. He was a Polish/French chess master.  He operated the Mephisto Automaton for a short time.


On September 28, 1919, the 20th Western Chess Association (US Open) was held in Cincinnati.  Edward Lasker took 1st place.  He defeated Jackson Showalter in the final round.  This was Lasker’s third victory, which entitled him to keep the trophy.  (source: The Cincinnati Enquirer, Sep 29, 1919)


On September 27, 1919, Braslav Rabar (1919-1973) was born in Zagreb, Yugoslavia (now Croatia).  He was awarded the IM title in 1950. He was Yugoslav Champion in 1951 and 1953 (jointly) and he played on three Yugoslav Olympiad teams (1950, 1952, 1954). He played in 13 Yugoslav championships. He is best remembered for designing the opening classification system that was used in the Chess Informant and Encyclopedia of Chess Openings. He coedited the monthly chess magazine Sahovski Glasnik.


On September 29, 1919, Kira Zvorikina (1919-2014) was born in Nikolayev, Ukraine.  She was awarded the WIM title in 1952 and the WGM title in 1977. She was Women's World Championship Challenger in 1960. She was also USSR Women's champion in 1951, 1953 and 1956. She was Belarusian women’s champion in 1960, 1973 and 1975.


On October 2, 1919, Antonio Angel Medina Garcia (1919-2003) was born in Barcelona.  Spanish ch 1944-1950, 1952, 1963.  He was Spanish champion in 1944, 1945, 1947, 1949, 1952, 1963 and 1964.  He was awarded the IM title in 1950.  


On November 22, 1919, Mary Rudge (1842-1919) died in London at the age of 77.  She won the first international women's chess tournament in London, 1897 with 18.5/19 ahead of Louisa Matilda Fagan.


On November 27, 1919, Charles Bent (1919-2004) was born in Southsea, England.  He was one of England's finest chess composers of endgame studies.


In late 1919, Alexander traveled to Kharkov, where his elder brother, Alexei, was living.  Alexander started working in the office of a military sanitarium.  He later caught typhus.


In December, 1919, Dr. Emanuel Lasker was in Berlin and wrote a letter to the officials of the Manhattan Chess Club requesting sufficient engagements for simultaneous exhibitions in America.  He was interesting in coming to the United States to live.  He had lost all his fortune in Germany.  Lasker wrote that he was busy writing a chess book “because there was nothing to do” in Germany.  He wrote that chess in Germany was shelved indefinitely and that chess would not be popular in Germany for many years.  (source: The Louisville Courier-Journal, Dec 16, 1919).


On December 2, 1919, Jose Capablanca played a team of 38 members of the House of Commons.  He won 36 and drew 2. (source: The Washington Post, Dec 7, 1919)


On December 3, 1919, Fenny Heemskerk (1919-2007) was born in Amsterdam.  She was a Women's World Championship Challenger in 1949-50 and 10 times Dutch Women's Champion. She was awarded the WIM title in 1950 and the WGM title in 1977.


On December 14, 1919, Bela Sandor (1919-1978) was born in Budapest.  He was Hugarian champion in 1953 and awarded the IM title in 1964.