Chess in 1931

 by Bill Wall


In 1931, Lazar Zalkind (1886-1945), a statistician who composed many chess problems, was arrested and sentenced to 8 years in prison as a “renegade and traitor to the working class.”  Nikolai Krylenko forced his fellow composers to denounce him in the Russian chess magazine, 64.  He was due to be released in 1938, but was given another 5-year sentence in a harsher camp.  When he was released in 1943, he was told that his son, Boris, had just died on the Belorussian front.  Lazar was still not allowed to return home.  He died of a heart attack on June 25,1945 in Komsomolsk-on-Amur, located in the Russian Far East.


In 1931, Genrikh Kasparian won the Tblisi championship and became the first Armenian master.


On February 5, 1931,  Krystina Holuj-Radzikowska (1931-2006) was born in Lvov, Russia.  She was nine times female Polish Champion (1951, 1952, 1953, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1959, 1966, and 1969). Radzikowska was awarded the WIM title in 1955 and the WGM title in 1984.


On February 12, 1931, Jose Capablanca played 200 opponents from 49 chess clubs and teams at the Seventh Regiment Armory in Manhattan.   He won 28, drew 16, and lost 6.  He was on his feet for 8 and ½ hours.  The chairman of the event was George Emlen Roosevelt.  Capablanca was introduced by former New York Governor Charles Whitman.  (source: The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Feb 13, 1931).


On February 22, 1931, Zbigniew Doda (1931-2013) was born in Poznan, Poland.  He was Polish champion in 1964 and 1967 (after a play-off).  He was awarded the IM title in 1964.


On March 23, 1931, Viktor Korchnoi (1931-   ) was born in Leningrad.  He won the Soviet Championship four times: USSR Championship (1960), USSR Championship (1962), USSR Championship (1964/65) and USSR Championship (1970). He was a candidate for the World Championship on ten occasions (1962, 1968, 1971, 1974, 1977, 1980, 1983, 1985, 1988 and 1991).  He was awarded the GM title in 1956.


On March 28, 1931, Anatoly Lein (1931- ) was born in Leningrad.  he became Moscow Champion in 1971 (after a playoff).  In 1976, he tied for 1st in the US Open.  He was awarded the IM title in 1964 and GM title in 1968.


On April 6, 1931, Brian Douthwaite (1931- ) was born in Cardiff, Wales.  He was Welsh Champion in 1958.


In May, 1931, Andors Wachs of Hungary had just checkmated his opponent at a chess club in Hungary. He then dropped his head on the table and died of a heart attack.


On May 13, 1931, Andrija Fuderer (1931-2011) was born in Subotica, Yugoslavia.  He was awarded the IM title in 1952 and the Honorary GM title in 1990.


In July, 1931, George Koltanowski established a new world record by playing 30 games simultaneously without sight of board in Antwerp.  He won 20 and drew 10.  (source: The Melbourne Age, Jul 20, 1931)


On July 16, 1931, Elmer Gruer died (1890-1931) in Oakland, California at the age of 40.  In 1915, he won the Mechanics' Institute chess championship. In 1921-22, he won the 1st California State Championship, held in San Francisco. He won the California State Championship in 1922, 1926, and 1927.


In July, 1931, the 4th Chess Olympiad was held in Prague.  USA took 1st place.   Alekhine played Board 1 for France. He won 10, lost 1, and drew 7. His loss to Mattison was his first loss in a serious chess event since winning the world championship. (source: The Winnipeg Tribune, Jul 28, 1931)


In August 1931, Hollywood screenwriter Richard Schayer (1880-1956) donated the first prize money of the 10th California State Chess Championship. It was won by Harry Borochow (1898-1993). The tournament was held at the Beverly Hills Chess Club at Wilshire Boulevard and North Beverly Drive in Beverly Hills.


On August 22, 1931, Fred Reinfeld (1910-1964) won the New York State Championship.


On August 12, 1931, Bela Berger (1931-2005) was born in Szombathely, Hungary.  He was awarded the IM title in 1954.


On September 1, 1931, Arturo Pomar-Salamanca (1931- ) was born in Palma de Mallorca, Spain.  He was Spanish Champion seven times (1946, 1950, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1962, 1966).  He was awarded the IM title in 1950 and the GM title in 1962


On September 9, 1931, Edwin Bhend (1931- ) was born in Zurich.  He was awarded the IM title in 1960.  He was Swiss champion in 1966.


On September 27, 1931, Stefan Witkowski (1931-2007) was born in Lodz.  He was Polish champion in 1959 (after a play-off).  He was awarded the IM title in 1977.


In September, 1931, Alexander Alekhine won at Bled, 5 1/2 points more than 2nd place (Efim Bogoljubov).  Alekhine scored 15 wins, 11 draws, and no losses.  Geza Maroczy (1870-1951) challenged Aron Nimzowitch (1886-1935) to a pistol duel at dawn during the chess tournament in Bled.  Earlier, the two got in an argument and when Maroczy challenged Nimzowitch to a duel, Nimzowitsch rightly refused.  Alekhine won the event.  Nimzowitsch took 3rd place.  Maroczy took 11th place.  (source: The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Oct 1, 1931)


On September 30, 1931, Milko Bobotsov (1931-2000) was born in Plovdiv, Bulgaria.  He was Bulgarian Champion in 1958.  He was awarded the IM title in 1960 and the GM title in 1961.  He was Bulgaria's first grandmaster.


On October 3, 1931, Eugene Martinovsky (1931-2000) was born in Skopje, Yugoslavia.  He was twice the Champion of Macedonia, and twice Champion of Skopje,  He co-won the Illinois championship in 1975 (with Edward W Formanek) and won it outright in 1983.  He won the Michigan championship. He won the U.S. Senior Championship twice. He was awarded the title of FIDE Master.


On October 8, 1931, Roman Toran Albero was born in Gijon, Spain.  He was Spanish champion in 1951 and 1953. He was awarded the IM title in 1954. He was FIDE vice president from 1982 until 1990.


On October 12, 1931, Samuel Reshevsky won the 32nd Western Chess Association (US Open), held in Tulsa, Oklahoma at the age of 19.  Reshevsky was a student at the University of Chicago at the time.  (source: The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Oct 15, 1931)


On October 31, 1931, Iivo Nei (1931- ) was born in Estonia.  He was Estonian champion on eight occasions - 1951, 1952, 1956, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1971 and 1974.  He was awarded the IMm title in 1964.


On November 8, 1931, Nikolai Minev (1931-  ) was born in Ruse (Ruscuk), Bulgaria.  He was Bulgarian champion in 1953 (after play-off), 1965 and 1966 (after play-off).  He was awarded the IM title in 1960.


On November 14, 1931, John Curdo (1931-   ) was born in Lynn, MA.  He is a FIDE master.  He has been among the leading players in New England for over 60 years.  He has won the Massachusetts championship 17 times.


On November 15, 1931, Rajko Bogdanovic (1931-   ) was born in Vares, Yugoslavia.  He played in the Yugoslav Championship ten times.  He was awarded the IM title in 1963.


In December, 1931, a wireless chess match was played between Sydney and Melbourne Universities.  Sydney won the match, 8-4.  The students claimed that this was the first inter-state and the first inter-university chess match ever played by wireless. (source:  Montana Butte Standard, Dec 6, 1931)


On December 2, 1931, Henri Weenik (1892-1931) died of tuberculosis at the age of 39.  He was a Dutch composer, player and author.  At Amsterdam 1930 he was 1st in a field that included Max Euwe and Rudolf Spielmann.


On December 6, 1931, Julius Finn (1871-1931) died in New York at the age of 60.  He was an accomplished amateur player who was one of the strongest players in the United States in the first decade of the twentieth century. He was New York state champion three times (1901, 1907, and 1908).  He was the second best blindfold chess player in the United States, after Harry Pillsbury.  (source: The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Dec 10, 1931)


On December 17, 1931, Dale Brandreth (1931-  ) was born in Phoenixville, PA.  He is a chess bibliophile and chess editor.


In 1931-1932, Dutch Master Daniel Noteboom (1910-1932) attended the Hastings Chess Congress, held in December-January.  The weather was so cold that he caught pneumonia at Hastings and then died a week after the tournament on January 12, 1932.


On December 19, 1931, Corvin Radovici (1931- ) was born in Calatele Clu, Romania.  He was awarded the IM title in 1968.