Monday, May 12, 2014

The Dimock Theme Tournaments and The Brooklyn Daily Eagle

While assembling and analyzing the games from the Alrick H. Man Vienna Gambit Theme Tournament of 1924-1925 for an article on the event (which should go up next week), I decided to do some more searching to see if any additional games from the tournament might be found.  I began by double-checking The Brooklyn Daily Eagle (about which I wrote two years ago in "The Brooklyn Daily Eagle Archive Online") and discovered (thanks to help from researcher David Moody -- a.k.a. Phony Benoni at that the entire Eagle archive is now searchable online at the Brooklyn Newsstand (  The site is much easier to use than the Fulton History website I discussed in my earlier post.  The Brooklyn Newsstand was produced by but is free of charge; the larger site, meanwhile, charges about the same as Netflix, though they offer a 7-day free trial.  

I found no additional games from the Alrick H. Man tournament, but I did turn up information about a number of Dimock theme tournament events and located many of the chess columns I had previously examined on microfilm.  The search interface of the Brooklyn Newsstand has definitely encouraged me to return to my long-standing project to research all of the Dimock theme tournaments.  I have been told by other chess researchers, who have looked through the Eagle archives for other information, that there were a large number of Dimock theme tournaments at the Marshall Chess Club, and I therefore suspect I have only scratched the surface in my research thus far.  For instance, I have not yet identified the tournaments of 1928 or any that may have occurred in the 1930s or beyond (Harold Edwin Dimock lived until 1967 after all).  And for some tournaments I only have scant information or a passing reference.

Most of my search for theme tournament news and games has focused on the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, but this time I also searched the New York Evening Post because it once had an excellent chess column as well.  In fact, one of the Post's early columnists was Emanuel Lasker.  I had learned that Horace Ransom Bigelow took over Lasker's column around the time of the Dimock and Alrick H. Man events.  As Bigelow was often himself a participant in Dimock tournaments, it seemed likely he would have published some games.  Unfortunately, I discovered that Bigelow's first column did not appear until November 4, 1925, which was after the early tournaments that interested me most.  However, he did publish at least a couple of articles on the later Dimock events (such as this one from June 2, 1926), so I will have to look at his column some more to see if other Dimock games might be unearthed there. 

For those interested in locating Bigelow's columns in the New York Evening Post through the Fulton site: he was generally published on Wednesdays, typically in the entertainment section (often near the "Daily Cross-Word Puzzle") and under the title "The Chessboard" -- though he also published columns on other days, especially during major chess events.  He also published a chess problem with every column, numbered sequentially beginning with "Problem No. 1" in that first column.  So you can sometimes use "Problem No. X" or "Chess Problem No. X" as a search term to locate a specific column -- though, unfortunately, this does not always work due to the poor quality of some of the reproductions and the inaccurate optical character recognition (OCR) that results.  Lasker's column "Over the Chess Board" also published about the same number of problems, by the way, and will also often appear in results using this method.  Helms's chess column in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle usually appeared on Thursdays in the Sports section (section "A"), which was separately numbered and near the back of the paper, and it also featured a sequentially numbered chess problem that can sometimes help in locating specific dates.  The column was usually published on Wednesday when Thursday was a holiday (especially Thanksgiving), and Helms often ran columns on additional days during major chess events. The nice thing about the Brooklyn Newsstand site is that it only searches the Brooklyn Daily Eagle archive and makes it easy to scroll through the pages (especially with the new viewer); so I often find it easiest to simply locate the Thursday papers by searching by date (e.g.: September 29, 1921) and then scroll to the Sports section to locate Helms's column.  It helps to consult a historical calendar before you start. (I mention all of these things because I wish I had that information myself before I began researching these columns and may thus save others some trouble).

The future for armchair chess historians is looking brighter every day.  Besides the increasing number of options for researching newspaper columns, there is a growing library of free resources online, especially through Google Books.  Already quite a few volumes of the American Chess Bulletin (see ACB 13-15 1916-1918 and ACB 18 1921) and classic old books, such as Marshall's Chess Swindles, are available for free there.  If I were a retired chess player with decent eyesight, a good internet connection, and obsessive compulsive tendencies (which I expect to be in less than 20 years), I think I could keep myself busy with chess history projects for the rest of my days.

To give you some sense of what you can find in these old columns, I append the results of my research so far into the sponsored theme tournaments held at the Marshall Chess Club in the 1920s.  This is an ongoing project so there are still quite a few gaps.  As always, I welcome additions from interested or knowledgeable readers.

Greco Counter Gambit, Dimock Theme Tournament (October 1921)
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 f5 3.Bc4
Frank James Marshall, Bruno Forsberg, A.B. Hodges, and Charles Jaffe played in a double-round quadrangle tournament.  I had intended to feature these games in my Urusov Gambit website, but their theoretical value did not merit close attention.
  • September 15, 1921 (Brooklyn) (Fulton) News and Reshevsky - Duncan
  • September 29, 1921 (Brooklyn) (Fulton)
  • October 6, 1921 (Brooklyn) (Fulton)
  • October 13, 1921 (Brooklyn) (Fulton)
  • October 20, 1921 (Brooklyn) (Fulton)
  • October 27, 1921 (Brooklyn) (Fulton)
American Chess Bulletin 18 (1921): 195.
Danish Gambit, Dimock Theme Tournament (1922)
1.e4 e5 2.d4 exd4 3.c3
Frank Marshall (7.5), Marcel Duchamp (4.5), Anthony Santasiere (4.5), Horance Ransom Bigelow (2.5), and M. D. Hago (0).  Hago did not complete his schedule and forfeited some games.  Early entrant H. M. Philips withdrew.  The tournament ran from the middle of October through the middle of November and has been thoroughly documented in Vlastimil Fiala's The Chess Biography of Marcel Duchamp: Volume One (1887-1925): 69-74, which was reviewed by John S. Hilbert. Fiala notes: "no game, however, has so far been found from the tournament" (Fiala 70).   My own explorations have not changed this sad fact, which makes this (in my view) one of the great losses to chess history.  All we have are news accounts, including mentions in the New York Evening Post (October 18, 1922) and The New York Times (October 22, 1922) -- with enough news that standings for each round and the complete crosstable were reconstructed by Fiala.  But no games have ever been found. I personally searched through the microfilm of The Brooklyn Daily Eagle from this period about a decade ago but did not turn up any games either. Here are some of the first links to The Brooklyn Daily Eagle chess columns for anyone who is interested:
  • October 19, 1922 (Brooklyn) (Fulton)
  • October 26, 1922 (Brooklyn) (Fulton)
  • November 2, 1922 (Brooklyn) (Fulton)
Lasker Defense to the Evans Gambit, Dimock Theme Tournament (1923)
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.b4 Bxb4 5.c3 Ba5 6.O-O d3 7.d4 Bb6
Frank James Marshall, Anthony Santaslere, Rudolf Smirka, Bruno Forsberg, F. E. Parker, and Jacobs.  Early entrants Horace Ransom Bigelow and Erling Tholfsen withdrew. 
  • June 7, 1923 (Brooklyn) (Fulton) Evans Gambit tourney announced
  • October 25, 1923 (Brooklyn) (Fulton)
  • November 8, 1923 (Brooklyn) (Fulton)
  • November 15, 1923 (Brooklyn) (Fulton)
  • November 22, 1923 (Brooklyn) (Fulton)
  • December 27, 1923 (Brooklyn) (Fulton)

Urusov / Ponziani Gambit, Dimock Theme Tournament (1924)
1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.d4
Frank James Marshall, Carlos Torre, Anthony Santasiere, Erling Tholfsen, Rudolf Smirka, Horace Ransom Bigelow, and Bruno Forsberg.  This tournament is fully documented at my Urusov Gambit / Dimock Theme Tournament site (which I assembled from the microfilm).  It was an excellent event with theoretically significant games.  Here are links to the original scores and news available in the online archive:
  • October 2, 1924 (Brooklyn) (Fulton) Urusov first games
  • October 5, 1924 (Brooklyn) (Fulton) First round news
  • October 9, 1924 (Brooklyn) (Fulton) Urusov
  • October 16, 1924 (Brooklyn) (Fulton) Urusov news
  • October 23, 1924 (Brooklyn) (Fulton) - missing from the online record?
  • October 30, 1924 (Brooklyn) (Fulton) Urusov
  • November 6, 1924 (Brooklyn) (Fulton) Urusov
  • November 13, 1924 (Brooklyn) (Fulton) Urusov
  • November 20, 1924 (Brooklyn) (Fulton) Urusov games
  • November 26, 1924 (Brooklyn) (Fulton) Urusov
  • December 4, 1924 (Brooklyn) (Fulton)
  • December 11, 1924 (Brooklyn) (Fulton) Urusov
  • April 9, 1925 (Brooklyn) (Fulton) mention

Vienna Gambit, Alrick H. Man Theme Tournament (1924-1925)
1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.f4
Frank James Marshall, Carlos Torre, Erling Tholfsen, Horace Ransom Bigelow, Rudolf Smirka, C. E. Norwood, and G. Gustafson.  The game Torre - Norwood, which I have already annotated online, only appeared in the American Chess Bulletin. All of the games are now analyzed, offering an introduction to the Vienna Gambit (C29).

  • December 24, 1924  (Brooklyn) (Fulton) Vienna
  • January 15, 1925 (Brooklyn) (Fulton) Vienna
  • February 19, 1925 (Brooklyn) (Fulton) Vienna
  • February 26, 1925 (Brooklyn) (Fulton) Vienna
  • March 26, 1925 (Brooklyn) (Fulton) Vienna results
  • April 2, 1925 (Brooklyn) (Fulton) Vienna
Giuoco Piano, Dimock Theme Tournament (1925)
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.c4 Nf6 5.d4 exd4 6.exd4 Bb4+ 7.Nc3
Frank James Marshall, Carlos Torre, Albert S. Pinkus, C. S. Howell, Anthony Santasiere, and Herman Steiner.  This tournament might be my next project.
  • October 8, 1925 (Brooklyn) (Fulton) Dimock Giuoco
  • October 15, 1925 (Brooklyn) (Fulton) Dimock Giuoco
  • October 22, 1925 (Brooklyn) (Fulton) Dimock Giuoco
  • October 29, 1925 (Brooklyn) (Fulton) Dimock Giuoco
  • November 5, 1925 (Brooklyn) (Fulton) Dimock Giuoco - news
  • November 12, 1925 (Brooklyn) (Fulton) Dimock Giuoco
  • November 25, 1925 (Brooklyn) (Fulton) Dimock Giuoco
  • February 4, 1926 (Brooklyn) (Fulton) Dimock Giuoco - late game
Sicilian Wing Gambit, Dimock Theme Tournament (1926) 
1.e4 c5 2.b4
It appears that this tournament was combined with the next, as players of the Black pieces were allowed to choose whether they preferred to play against the Sicilian Wing Gambit with 1...c5 2.b4 or the Evans Gambit following 1...e5 etc.  A similar format, but with White choosing, was tried in 1927.

Evans Gambit, Dimock Theme Tournament (1926)
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.b4 Bxb4 5.O-O
Cordel Ruy Lopez, Dimock Theme Tournament (1926-1927)
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Bc5
Budapest Defense and Alekhine, Dimock Theme Tournament (1927)
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e5 or 1.e4 Nf6 2.e5 Nd5
Anthony Santasiere, Rudolf Smirka, Fred Reinfeld, Milton Hanauer, H. Fajans, and T. M. Croney.  White could choose to play against the Budapest or the Alekhine Defense. 
  • December 8, 1927 (Brooklyn) (Fulton) Santasiere games.
  • December 22, 1927 (Brooklyn) (Fulton) final results
English Opening, Dimock Theme Tournament (1929)
1.c4 e5
Frank James Marshall, Erling Tholfsen, Fred Reinfeld and others.
Unknown, Dimock Theme Tournament (1929)
Erling Tholfsen, Frank James Marshall, Fred Reinfeld, M. Hanauer.  I did not find additional mention of the event in November 7, November 21, or December 5 issues.


Diamondback said...

Awesome ! You are the king of chess bloggers ! Now if you tie the past into the present chess scene worldwide you will be number one !

Michael Goeller said...

Thanks for the endorsement, Diamondback, and for your enthusiasm for chess history. I try my best to focus on history that has some continuing value to chess players today--other than nostalgia. I think my interests are too much confined to the Northeast US, though, to have much of a worldwide impact.

Anonymous said...

John Donaldson offers a useful note on the 1929 tournament:

See item #4. He has reconstructed the crosstable.

Michael Goeller said...

And item #3 here gives the score of multiple games:

Would love to see other Dimock games from Reinfeld's notebooks.... Is it possible that Dimock himself preserved the games? I would have in his shoes....