Chess in 1944

 by Bill Wall


In 1944, Wilhelm Orbach (1894-1944) died in the Auschwitz concentration camp.  He was a Jewish-German chess master.  He won the championship of the city of Frankfurt in 1925.


In 1944, Salo Landau (1903-1944) was gassed by the Nazis in a German concentration camp in Poland. He was sent to a forced labor camp in Graditz, Poland and died sometime between October 1943 and March 1944. His wife and daughter were sent to Auschwitz, where they were gassed and died in 1944 in an Auschwitz gas chamber.


In 1944, Nikoly Rudnev (1895-1944) died in Russia.  He was Uzbekistani champion in 1938.


In 1944, Dawid Daniuszewski (1885-1944) died in the Lodz Ghetto.  He was a Polish chess master.


In 1944, Dalomon Szapiro (1882-1944) died in the Lodz Ghetto.  He was a Polish chess master.


On January 11, 1944, Mikhail Botvinnik retained his title as Absolute Chess Champion of the USSR.


In 1944, Al Horowitz's opponent died of a heart attack in Kansas City just after Horowitz made a spectacular move.


On January 12, 1944 Vlastimil Hort was  born in Kladno, Czechoslovakia.  He won the Czechoslovak Championship six times.  He became an IM in 1962 and a GM in 1965


On Feb 3, 1944, Albert Beauregard Hodges (1861-1944) died at his home in Staten Island at the age 82.  He operated the automaton Ajeeb for awhile.  He won the US championship in 1894.  He played in 13 Anglo-American cable matches without losing a game.  He was one of the founders of the Staten Island Chess Club.  He was an accountant by profession.  (source: Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Feb 4, 1944)


On February 25, 1944, Orest Averkin (1944-2011) was born in the USSR.  He was awarded the IM in 1976.  He was Moldovan champion in 1978.


On February 27, 1944, Pfc Herbert Seidman, age 24, won the Marshall Chess Club championship, scoring 12.5-0.5.  He won the Marshall CC championship in 1942.  (source: Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Feb 28, 1944)


In March 1944, chess was banned by trans-Atlantic mail.  It was explained this was done to prevent enemy agents from employing such mediums to get code messages across the Atlantic.  Censors searched letters for discussions of chess because enemies would often hide codes in chess symbols and moves.  (source: Troy Record, Mar 31, 1944)


On March 27, 1944, Ralf Hess was born in Luxemburg.  He was awarded the IM title in 1980.


On April 6, 1944, Jude Frazer Acers was born in Long Beach, California.  He is a U.S. senior chess master. 


On April 6, 1944, Florin Gheorghiu was born in Bucharest.  He was World Junior Champion in 1963.  He has won the Romanian Championship nine times; 1960, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1973, 1977 and 1984.  He was awarded the IM title in 1963 and the GM title in 1965.


On April 12, 1944, Roberto Grau (1900-1944) died in Buenos Aires of cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 44.  He was Argentine champion in 1926, 1927, 1928, 1935, 1936 and 1939.  He won the South American championship in 1921 and 1928.  He was captain of the Argentina chess team since 1934.  He participated in 40 major national and international chess tournament since 1924, taking first place in 16.  (source:  Del Rio News Herald, April 13, 1944)


On April 16, 1944, Nikolai Shalnev was born in the Ukraine.  He was awarded the GM title in 2001.


On April 18, 1944, Albin Planinc (1944-2008) was born in Brise, Yugoslavia.  FIDE awarded him the GM title in 1972. He  suffered from mental illness and spent the last 20 years of his life in a mental institution.


On April 27, 1944, Heikki Westerinen was born in Helsinki.  He was Finnish champion in 1965, 1966, 1968 and 1970.  He was awarded the IM title in 1967 and the GM title in 1975.


On May 5, 1944, Roman Dzindzihashvili was born in Tbilisi.  He was awarded the IM title in 1970 and the GM title in 1977.  He was Israeli Champion in 1977 and US Champion in 1983 and 1989.


On May 7, 1944, Arnold S. Denker won the 5th US Championship, held in New York. (15.5-1.5).   He won 9 straight games in this event (winning 13, drawing 3, and losing none).  Gisela K. Gresser won the US women's championship with 8 straight wins.  Reshevsky did not compete in the U.S. chess championship that year because he was studying for his Certified Public Accountant (CPA) degree. (source: Brooklyn Daily Eagle, May 8, 1944)


On May 26, 1944, Luba Kristol was born in Leningrad.  She won the Women's World Championship in correspondence chess two times: between 1978 and 1984, and between 1993 and 1998. She was women's champion of Israel in 1978, 1982 (=Olga Podrazhanskaya), 1984, 1988 and 1990.


On June 3, 1944, Adolf Zinkl (1871-1944) died in Vienna.  He was an Austrian chess master.


On June 5, 1944, Mikhail Botvinnik won the 13th National USSR Chess Championship in Moscow.  Smyslov took 2nd place.  It took six months before Botvinnik received any prize money. (source: Harrisburg Telegraph, Jun 6, 1944)


On June 13, 1944, Antonio Rocha was born in Brazil.  He was Brazilian champion in 1964 and 1969.  He was awarded the IM title in 1979.


On June 26, 1944, Olga Menchik Rubery (1907-1944) died in a bombing raid.  She was a Czech-British female chess master.  She and her sister and their mother were killed in a bombing raid when a German V-1 flying bomb hit her home at 47 Gauden Road, Clapham, south London.  The bomb shelter in their garden remained intact.


On June 26, 1944, Vera Menchik Stevenson (1906-1944) died in a bombing raid.  She was 38.  She was a Czech-British female chess master.  She was Women's World Champion from 1927 until 1944.  She and her sister and their mother were killed in a bombing raid when a German V-1 flying bomb hit her home at 47 Gauden Road, Clapham, south London.  The bomb shelter in their garden remained intact. (source: The Ottawa Journal, Jun 29, 1944)


On July 1, 1944, Davorin Komljenovic was born in Yugoslavia.  He was awarded the IM title in 1984 and the GM title in 1991.


On July 4, 1944, Silvino Garcia Martinez was born in Havana.  He was Cuban Champion in 1968 (after a play-off), 1970, 1973 and 1979-80.  He was awarded the IM title in 1969 and the GM title in 1975 (the first Cuban to get the GM title).


On July 4, 1944, Albert Kapengut was born in Kazan, Tatarstan.  He won seven Belarus championships: 1962, 1968, 1969, 1970 (joint), 1976, 1977, and 1978.  In 2003, he won the New Jersey championship.


On July 14, 1944, Rani Hamid (nee Sayeda Jasimunnessa Khatun) was born in Sylhet, Bangladesh.  She was joint British Women's Champion (with Helen Milligan) in 1983, and sole champion in 1985 and 1989.  She was awarded the WIM title in 1985.


On July 23, 1944, Alexander Alekhine won at Gijon.   After the event, he gave some chess lessons to prodigy Arturo Pomar.  By that time he was severely depressed.  He said that he continued to play chess because it occupied his mind and kept him from brooding and remembering.


On August 10, 1944, Samuel Reshevsky took 1st at the 45th US Open, held in Boston.  This was the third time he had won it.


On September 5, 1944, Jorn Sloth was born in Sjorring, Denmark.  He was also joint European Junior Champion in 1963-64.  He was awarded the IMC title in 1973 and the GMC title in 1978.


On September 7, 1944, Sam Sloan was born in Richmond, Virginia.  He is an American chess player and publisher.


On September 15, 1944, Hans Ree was born in Amsterdam.  He was Dutch champion in 1967, 1969, 1971 and 1982.  He was awarded the IM title in 1968 and the GM title in 1980.


On September 25, 1944, Vitaly Tseshkovsky was born in Omsk, USSR.  He awarded the IM title in 1973 and the GM title in 1975.  He was USSR champion in 1978 (with Tal) and 1986.


On October 17, 1944,  Zvonimir Mestrovic was born in Yugoslavia.  He was awarded the IM title in 1966.


On October 25, 1944, Erik B H Bang was born in Horsens, Denmark.  He was awarded the IMC title in 1974 and the GMC title in 1979.


In November, 1944, Herman Steiner gave a large simultaneous exhibition in Los Angeles for the Russian War Relief.  It was organized by the Hollywood Chess Group.


On November 9, 1944, Frank James Marshall (1877-1944) died in Jersey City at the age of 67.  He was walking to some friend's house around 7:30 pm when he collapsed and died in the street of a heart attack.  He was United States champion from 1909-1936. (source: Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Nov 10, 1944)


On November 20, 1944, Jørgen Møller (1873-1944) died in Copenhage.  He was a Danish chess master.

In December, 1944 Alekhine was interviewed by a Spanish correspondent of the News Review. In this interview, he denied that he was a Nazi collaborator. He said he played in German chess tournaments under duress. He claimed the Nazi articles were rewritten by the Germans. He had written the articles in exchange for an exit visa from France. 


On December 29, 1944, Endre Steiner (1901-1944) died in a Nazi concentration camp near Budapest.  He was 43.  He played on 6 Hungarian Olympiad teams from 1924 – 1937.  He was a Hungarian chess master and the older brother of International Master Lajos Steiner (1903-1975).


On December 20, 1944, George Sturgis died in Boston of a heart attack at age 53 after returning from his honeymoon. He was President of the USCF.