Chess in 1921

 by Bill Wall


In 1921, Alexander Alekhine introduced the Alekhine's Defense in Budapest.  He played this defense against Endre Steiner and Fritz Saemisch.


In 1921, Gyula Breyer set a new blindfold record, 25 opponents (+15=7-3).


In 1921, the French Chess Federation was founded.


On February 1, 1921, the American state department and the American consulate in Berlin refused to give a visa to world champion Emanuel Lasker and his wife for his proposed trip to the United States and Cuba to meet Capablanca.  Lasker planned on going to Cuba via New York, but the State Department refused to give Lasker a visa for any American port city because of his German background.  Lasker then made arrangements to travel via Amsterdam direct to Havana. (source: The Des Moines Register, Feb 2, 1921)


On February 26, 1921, Bozidar Kazic (1921-1996) was born in Brezine, Yugoslavia.  He was a chess Journalist and arbiter.


On February 10, 1921, Louis Levy (1921-2011) was born in New York.  He was a FIDE master.


On February 16, 1921, Jiri Fichtl (1921-2003) was born in Brno, Czechoslovakia.  Hel was awarded the International Master (IM) title in 1959 and was Czechoslovak champion in 1950 (jointly) and 1960 (after a play-off).


On February 20, 1921, Ruben (Rubin) Shocron (1921-2013) was born in Buenos Aires.  He was Argentinian sub-Champion in 1952.  He won championships in Pennsylvania, Georgia and New Mexico.


On March 15, 1921,the Lasker-Capablanca world championship match began in Havana.  The games were played on the same table that was used by Steinitz and Chigorin in their world championship match in Havana.


On March 24, 1921, Vasily Smyslov was born in Moscow.  He was awarded the Soviet Grandmaster (GM) title in 1941. He was Moscow champion in 1942, 1943, 1944/45. He shared the first place with David Bronstein in the 1949 Soviet Championship. After his success at Zurich 1953, he became the challenger in 1954, but tied the match with Botvinnik. He was Soviet champion in 1955 sharing the first place with Efim Geller. He won the Candidates Tournaments at Amsterdam in 1956. He became the 7th World Champion when he defeated Mikhail Botvinnik in 1957. His reign was short-lived as Botvinnik regained the title a year later.   He was awarded the GM title in 1950.


On April 5, 1921, over 2,000 spectators greeted 9-year-old Sammy Reshevsky in Philadelphia during his exhibition in that city.


On April 9, 1921, Stojan Puc (1921-2004) was born.  He was awarded the IM title in 1950 and an Honorary GM title in 1984.


On April 10, 1921, Robert Wade (1921-2008) was born in Dunedin, New Zealand.  He was New Zealand Champion in 1943-44 (after a play-off), 1944-45 and 1947-48.  He was British chess champion in 1952 and 1970.  He was awarded the IM title in 1950.


On April 21, 1921, Jose Capablanca defeated Emanuel Lasker (who was officially the challenger, having resigned the title in 1920), scoring 9-5 (4 wins, 0 losses, 10 draws) in Havana for the world chess championship.  Lasker resigned officially on April 27, 1921 on the grounds of ill health.  Lasker had been world champion for 27 years, 337 days.  Lasker was paid $13,000, win or lose, for the match.  Capablanca earned $12,000.  Capablanca was world champion until 1927. (source: The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, April 28, 1921)


On April 29, 1921, Alexander Alekhine was given permission to leave Russia for a visit to the West with his wife. Alekhine never returned to Russia.


On April 30, 1921, Georgy Ilivitsky (1921-1989) was born in Akmolinks (now Astana), USSR.  He took 3rd place in the 1955 USSR championship.  He was awarded the IM title in 1955.


In June 1921, Sammy Reshevsky (Rzeschewski) (1911-1992), age 9, gave a 20-board simul at the Los Angeles Athletic Club and met several Hollywood stars such as Charlie Chaplin (1899-1977) and 5-year-old Jackie Coogan (1914-1984) at the simul. Coogan and Reshevsky were wearing boxing gloves for a publicity photo when Coogan punched Reshevsky in the face, giving him a black eye. The only person to beat Reshevsky in the 20-board simul was Dr. Robert B. Griffith (1876-1937), a physician for the film industry in Hollywood.


On July 4, 1921, Gyorgy Szilagyi (1921-1992) was born in Budapest.  He was awarded the IM title in 1956 and played for Hungary at the 1956 Moscow Olympiad.


On July 19, 1921, the 8th American Chess Congress finished in Atlantic City.  It was  won by David Janowsky, followed by Norman Whitaker.


In September 1921, Jose Capablanca accepted a challenge, through a letter of acceptance, from Akiba Rubinstein for a match for the world chess championship.  Capablanca proposed that a world chess championship match should be defended yearly and he was willing to do that.  The first player with 6 victories would be the world chess champion.


On September 22, 1921, Gia Nadareishvili (1921-1991) was born in Tbilisi, Georgia.   In 1980 he was awarded from FIDE the title of Grandmaster for chess composition.


On October 13, 1921, the Western Chess Association (US Open) was held in Cleveland.  Edward Lasker took 1st place.


On October 20, 1921, Heinz Lehmann (1921-1995), was born in Konigsberg, Germany.  He was awarded the IM title in 1961 and was an Honorary GM.


On November 9, 1921, Gyula Breyer (1893-1921) died of a heart attack in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia at the age of 28.  In 1912, he won the Hungarian championship.


In November 1921, chess master Norman Whitaker (1890-1975), his brother and sister, were arrested and indicted for stealing automobiles and collecting on the insurance.  Whitaker was convicted, but escaped.  (source: Philadelphia Evening Public Ledger, Nov 26, 1921)


On December 3, 1921, Jaroslav Sajtar (1921-2003) was born in Ostrava, Czechoslovakia.  He was awarded the IM title in 1950 and an Honorary GM title in 1985.  He was FIDE Vice-President from 1956 to 1978.


In 1921, Reshevsky lost only 8 games out of some 1,500 games he played in other simultaneous exhibitions throughout the country arranged by his American manager, Max Rosenthal.  In some exhibitions, Reshevsky played up to 75 people at the same time.