Chess in 1909

By Bill Wall


In 1909, the Correspondence Chess League of Greater New York (CCLGNY) was founded by a group of correspondence players who had been conducting postal chess tournaments since 1897.  It is the oldest and largest postal chess organization in America and second oldest in the world.  


In, 1909, Jose Capablanca played 720 games in a simultaneous tour throughout North America, with 686 wins, 20 draws, and 14 losses.


In 1909, the Manhattan Chess Club organized a chess match between Frank Marshall and Jose Capablanca.  Capablanca won with 8 wins, 1 loss, and 14 draws.


In 1909, Eliza Campbell Foot (1851-1914) wrote a book on chess puzzles, becoming the first American woman chess author.


In 1909, Britain beat the USA in the 11th cable match, scoring 6-4.  On board 1, Frank Marshall defeated Joseph Henry Blackburne.


In 1909, a carved ivory chess piece (king) was found in San Sebastiano, Italy.  Its age is dated around 1100 AD.  The piece is now in the Louvre.


On January 10, 1909, John Morley Holford (1909-1997) was born in Ettingshall, West Midlands.  He was a medical officer in the Royal Navy.  In 1946, he won the South African chess championship.


On February 22, 1909, Eugene Delmar (1841-1909) died in New York City at the age of 67.  In 1874, he won the Brooklyn Chess Club championship. In 1876, he tied for 2nd place in the New York Clipper tournament. In 1879, he defeated Sam Loyd in a match in New York (+5-1=2). In 1885, he won the 7th and 8th Manhattan Chess Club championship. In 1888, he defeated Samuel Lipschutz in a match in New York (+5-3=0). In 1890, 1891, 1895, and 1897, he won the New York State Chess Association championship. He represented the USA seven times in cable matches (+2 -2 =3).


On March 12, 1909, Emanuel Lasker and Akiba Rubinstein tie for 1st at St. Petersburg, followed by Duras, Spielmann, Bernstein, and Teichmann.


On March 12, 1909, Alexander Alekhine won the All-Russian Amateur tournament in St Petersburg.


On March 21,1909, Rudolf (von) Gottschall (1823-1909) died in Leipzig, Germany at the age of 85.  He was the founder of the German Chess Federation.


On March 25, 1909, George Cunningham (1909-1993) was born in Maine.  He was a college professor in Maine.  In 1978, he was Executive Director for the United States Chess Federation (USCF).  In 1980, he was the ratings statistician for the USCF and introduced the bonus points, feedback points, and fiddle points. 


On April 19, 1909, Conel Hugh O’Donel Alexander (1909-1974) was born in Cork, Ireland.  He was awarded the IM title in 1950 and the IM in Correspondence title in 1970. he was British Champion in 1938 and 1956. During the Second World War, he worked at Bletchley Park, deciphering German Enigma codes and later for the Foreign Office. 


On May 4, 1909, Ilya Abramovich Kan (1909-1978) was born in Kuibyshev, Russia. He was awarded the IM title in 1950 and became an International Arbiter (IA) in 1956. He was joint Moscow Champion in 1936. He reached the finals of the USSR Championship on 10 occasions. He took 3rd place in the USSR Championship in 1929 and 2nd place in 1933.  He was a lawyer by profession.


On May 14, 1909, Vladimir Alatortsev (1909-1987) was born in Turki, Saratov oblast, Russian Empire.  He was awarded the IM title in 1950 and an Honorary GM title in 1983.   He was joint Leningrad Champion in 1933-34 and joint Moscow Champion in 1936 and 1937. In 1945, he won the Latvian Championship. From 1954 to 1961 he was head of the Soviet chess organization. He played in nine USSR Championships from 1931 to 1950.


On May 21, 1909, Lucijs Endzelins (1909-1981) was born in Dorpat (Tartu) Estonia.  He tied for 2nd place in the 2nd World Correspondence Chess Championship (1956-1959).  He was Australian champion in 1960.  He was awarded the title of GM in Correspondence (GMC) in 1959.


On June 4, 1909, Edward Lasker won the first East German Chess Federation Ch.

On June 7, 1909, Heinz Yosef Foerder (Joseph Porat) (1909-1996) was born in Breslau (now Wroclaw, Poland), Germany.  In 1927 he was awarded the title of German Master, being the youngest German to have ever received that title at that time. In 1928 he was included in the German Olympic Chess Team at The Hague.  In 1934 he immigrated to Palestine after the Nazis came to power. He changed his named to Yosef Porat in 1951.   He won the Palestinian Championships of 1937 and 1940 (after a play-off) and then later the Israeli Championships of 1953, 1957, 1959 and 1963. He played for Palestine in the Olympiads of 1935 in Warsaw and 1939 in Buenos Aires and then later for Israel from 1952 through to 1968, mainly playing on the first board. He was awarded the IM title in 1952. In 1964 he won the Asian zonal tournament in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.

On June 10, 1909, Otto Tennison (1834-1909) died.  Tennison served with the Union forces in the US Civil War as a Lieutenant Colonel in the 1st Kansas Infantry Regiment. When living in New Orleans in the 1890's he advocated the gambit line 1. Nf3 d5 2. e4?!, which is called the Tennison Gambit.


On June 30, 1909, Peter (Pyotr) Vasilievich Dubinin (1909-1983) was born in Nizhny, Novgorod.  He was awarded the IM title in 1950 and the GM in Correspondence (GMC) title in 1962,   He was joint USSR Correspondence Champion in 1957. In the 3rd World Correspondence Chess Championship (1959-1962), he finished 2nd.


On July 1, 1909, Ingrid Larsen (1909-1990) was born in Denmark.  She was a challenger for the Women's World Championship in 1937, 1939 and 1949-50. She awon the Danish Women's National Championship title 17 times.  No other female, has won 17 national championships.  She was awarded the WIM title in 1950.


On July 13, 1909, Baruch Harold Wood (1909-1989) was born in Sheffield.  In 1935, he founded the magazine CHESS and was its editor until 1988.  He was British correspondence champion in 1945. 


On August 2, 1909, Rudolf  Swiderski committed suicide in Leipzig at the age of 31.   He was a German chess master.  He played in eight major tournaments from 1902 to 1908 with his best results being 1st= at Coburg 1904 and 1st= at the Monte Carlo 1904 Rice Gambit theme tournament.  He took some poison, and then shot himself in the head with his revolver. He had recently been convicted of perjury in connection with a love affair and he was to face legal proceedings.  Other sources say that he had an illness extending over a period of years and was discouraged by what he deemed a hopeless operation.  He died a week after his 31st birthday.


On August 12, 1909, Adolf Olland (1867-1933) won the first official Netherlands Ch in Leiden.


On August 17, 1909, Olaf Martinius Olsen (Barda) (1909-1971) was born in Oslo, Norway.  He changed his name to Barda in 1942. Awarded the IM title in 1952 and the GMC title in 1953, he was Norwegian Champion in 1930, 1947, 1948, 1952, 1953 and 1957.


On August 20, 1909, Olga Nikolayevna Rubtsova (1909-1994) was born in Moscow.  She awarded the titles of WIM in 1950, WGM in 1976 and IMC in 1973. She was Women's World Championship Challenger in 1949-50.   She won the Women’s World Championship title in 1956 and held it to 1958. She was Women's World Correspondence Champion in 1972 and was 2nd in 1977. Her achievements also include the USSR Women's title which she won in 1927, 1931 and 1937. She is the only person to become World Champion in both over-the-board and correspondence chess.


On August 21, 1909 Henry Atkins won the 6th British championship, held in Scarborough.


On August 25, 1909, Jack Battell (1909-1985) was born in New York City. He was a former USCF Correspondence Chess Director (1969-1978).  In the 1937-38 Marshall Chess Club Championship, he scored zero wins and 11 straight losses, for the worst score in Marshall Chess Club history. In 1946 he was the highest rated postal player in the United States and won the 1946 Correspondence Chess League of America (CCLA) championship. He was co-editor of Chess Review. From 1950 to 1978, he was the leading organizer of postal chess in the United States.


On August 25, 1909, Oscar Chajes won the 10th Western Chess Association Ch (US Open) in Excelsior, Minnesota.


On September 14, 1909, Vladimir Bron was born in Nikolaev (Mykolaiv), Ukraine.  He was a Soviet chess master and problemist.  He was awarded the International Master title for chess composition in 1966 and the Grandmaster title for composition  in 1975.


On September 22, 1909, Josef Rejfir (1909-1962) was born in Prague.  He was one of the strongest Czech masters before the Second World War and played in the five Olympiads between 1928 and 1935.  He was awarded the International Master (IM) title in 1956.


On October 11, 1909, Georgy Lisitsin (1909-1972) was born in St. Petersburg.  He was Leningrad Champion in 1933-34 (jointly), 1939 and 1947 (jointly).  He took 1st place in the 1936 Trade Unions championship.  He played in 11 USSR championships between 1931 and 1956.  He was awarded the IM title in 1950.  The Lisitsin Gambit (1.Nf3 f5 2.e4) is named after him.

On November 27, 1909, Moritz Porges (1857-1909) died in Prague at the age of 52.  He was one of the strongest chess players of Vienna and Prague. 

On November 23, 1909, Frank Marshall defeated Showalter, 8.5 to 3.5, in match for the U.S. Championship in Lexington, KY.  A week later, Marshall announced his retirement from chess due to the mental strain.


On November 29, 1909, Frantisek Zita (1909-1977) was born in Prague.  He was Czech (Bohemia and Moravia) champion in 1943 and awarded the IM title in 1950.


On December 16, 1909, Milan Vidmar,Jr. was born in Weiz, Austria-Hungary.  He was awarded the IM title in 1950 and he represented Yugoslavia in the 1950 Olympiad at Dubrovnik.