Chess in 1920

 By Bill Wall

In 1920, the Belgium Chess Federation was founded.


In 1920, Georg (Gersz)  Rotlewi (1889-1920) died at the age of 31.  He was a Polish chess master.


In 1920, the first All-Russian Chess Olympiad was held in Moscow.  The competitors stopped halfway through the event, went on strike, and refused to play any more chess unless they were given more food rations and prize money.  Their demands were finally met.


In 1920, Ilyin-Genevsky started the first Russian chess column, which was written in the VSEVOBUCH (Army reservist organization) newspaper, To the New Army.


In January, 1920, Alexander Alekhine won the Moscow City Chess Championship with a perfect 11 out of 11 score. He was followed by N. Grekov, who had 8.5 out of 11. Grekov was declared the first Moscow Chess Champion because Alekhine was not a resident of Moscow.


On January 19, 1920 Ruth A. Donnelly (1920-2009) was born.  She was a USCF expert who played in several US Women’s Chess Championships.


On January 23, 1920, Jose Capablanca and Emanuel Lasker met at The Hague and signed an agreement to play a World Championship chess match in 1921.  Lasker would receive 60% of the purse, no matter what the result was, and have the privilege of deciding where the match would occur.


On January 28, 1920, Valentina  Borisenko (nee Belova) (1920-1993) was born in Cherepovets, Russia.  She was awarded the WIM title in 1950 and the WGM title in 1978.  She was Women's World Championship Challenger in 1949-50. She was USSR Women's Champion in 1945, 1955, 1957 (jointly), 1960 (jointly), and 1962.


On February 1, 1920, Adolf Albin (1848-1920) died of tuberculosis in Vienna at the age of 71.  He was a Romanian chess master.  In 1872, he authored the first chess book in Romanian, Amiculu Jocului de Schach. He played in his first international tournament at the age of 43 (Vienna 1891). He is primarily known for the Albin Counter Gambit 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e5 when he played against Emanuel Lasker at New York in 1893.


On March 20, 1920, Julio Bolbochan (1920-1996) was born in Buenos Aires. He was Argentine champion in 1946 and 1948. He was awarded the IM title in 1955 and the GM title in 1977. He played in six Olympiads from 1950-66 and qualified for three interzonals. He won a gold medal at the Dubrovnik Olympiad in 1950 on 2nd board.


On April 14, 1920, a radio match between Washington DC and Chicago was played.  It was the first recorded long distance radio chess match.  The moves in Washington DC were telephoned from the Capital City Chess Club to the United States naval laboratory wireless operator in Arlington, Virginia, and relayed to an amateur’s station in Evanston, Illinois, then relayed to the Chicago Chess Club.  Edward Lasker (1885-1981) played for Chicago and Norman Tweed Whitaker played for Washington DC.  25 moves were played in almost 3 and ½ hours.  The contest closed according to an agreed time limit.  Jose Capablanca was to adjudicate the game.


On April 23, 1920, William Crane (1851-1920) died in Stanmore, Australia at the age of 69.  He was Australian chess champion in 1888 and 1897. (source: The Sydney Morning Herald, Apr 24, 1920)


In May 1920, the first post-Revolution chess club was opened in Moscow.


On May 16, 1920, 8-year-old Samuel Rzescheswski (Reshevsky) played 20 players in Paris and won all his games. (source: The New York Times, May 18, 1920)


In June, 1920, Emanuel Lasker resigned his world chess championship title to Jose Capablanca.  He sent a letter to Capabanca in which he abandoned the title of champion in favor of Capablanca.  (source: The London Times, Jun 26, 1920)


On July 20, 1920, Lev Aronin (1920-1983) was born in Kuibyshev, Russia.  He was awarded the IM in 1950.  He was Moscow champion in 1965.


On August 7, 1920, Jacob Bernstein won the New York State Chess Association championship, held in Albany.  (source: The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Aug 8, 1920)


On August 10, 1920, Emanuel Lasker re-considered after Cuban enthusiasts raised $20,000 and agreed on a chess match with Capablanca (Lasker needed the money as he was broke).  However, Capablanca was now considered the world champion and Lasker was the challenger.   Lasker and Capablanca concluded an agreement at The Hague to play a match in Havana of 24 games.  (source: The Louisville Courier-Journal, Aug 10, 1920)


On August 13, 1920, Edmund “Ed” Edmondson (1920-1982) was born in Rochester, NY.  He was USCF President in 1963.  He was USCF executive director from 1966 to 1977.


On August 21, 1920, Richard Reti won at Goteborg, Sweden, followed by Rubinstein, Bogoljubow, Mieses, Tarrasch, and Tartakower.


On September 8, 1920, Francisco Jose Perez (1920-1999) was born in Vigo, Spain.  He was Spanish Champion in 1948, 1954 and 1960. FIDE awarded him the IM title in 1959. He played for Spain in the Chess Olympiads of 1958 and 1960 and in the 1961 European Team Championship. He was Mexican champion in 1964.


On September 11, 1920, Mijo Udovcic (1920-1984) was born in Stara Josava, Yugoslavia.  He was Yugoslav chess champion in 1963.  He was awarded the IM title in 1952 and the GM title in 1957,


On September 20, 1920, the Italian Chess Federation was founded.


On September 26, 1920, the 21st Western Chess Association (US Open), held in Memphis, was won by Edward Lasker.


On October 17, 1920, Herbert Seidman (1920-1995) was born in New York City.  He was Intercollegiate Chess Champion in 1941.  He won the New York State Championship in 1961 (jointly with Benko) and in 1971.


On October 30, 1920, Alexander Cherepkov (1920-2009) was born in Leningrad.  He was Leningrad champion in 1967, 1968 (after a play-off) and 1982 (after a play-off).  He was awarded the IM title in 1984.


On October 24, 1920, Alexander Alekhine won the first USSR championship, held in Moscow.  The event was called the All-Russian Chess Olympiad, and it began on October 1, 1920. Only 16 of the 30 players invited to the tournament showed up. After Alekhine, there followed Romanovsky, Levenfish, I. Rabinovich, Grigoriev, A. Kubbel, A. Rabinovich, Blumenfeld, Daniuszewski, Ilyin-Genevsky, Zubarev, N. Pavlov, Tselikov, Mund, D. Pavlov, and Golubev.


On November 3, 1920, 8-year-old Sammy Reshevsky (Samuel Rzeschewski), who was born on Nov 26, 1911, arrived in the United States by ship with his father, a wealthy linen merchant from Lodz, Poland.  During the voyage over on the Olympic, he played 11 opponents from the passenger list, including one blindfold game, and he won all his games in an hour.


On November 9, 1920, Reshevsky’s first American simultaneous exhibition was with 18 officers and one cadet at the Military Academy at West Point.  Reshevsky was dressed in a sailor suit.  He won 19 games and drew one (to Colonel G. Fiberger), which took 85 moves.  There were over 500 spectators at the event.  Overnight, he became the most famous chess player in the United States.  He remained the most famous until Bobby Fischer came along. (source: The Washington Post, Nov 11, 1920)


In December, 1920, the first Hastings Christmas Chess Congress was held and won by Frederick Yates.  It was a four player double round-robin of British Champions. 


On December 1, 1920, Semyon Furman (1920-1978) was born in Moscow.  He was awarded the IM title in 1954 and the GM title in 1966.  He was Leningrad Champion in 1953 and 1957 (jointly). 


On December 7, 1920, Reshevsky played Morris Schapiro, a strong player from Columbia University, in a timed clock game and won.  Schapiro went on to win the 1921 Manhattan Chess Club championship with 9 wins, 2 draws, and 0 losses.


On December 20, 1920, Horatio Caro (1862-1920) died in London at the age of 58. He published analysis of the Caro-Kann in 1886 in his chess journal Bruederschaft.