Cambridge Springs

Cambridge Springs was a health resort in Pennsylvania, famous for its spas and mineral waters. It advertised that it was the town that was halfway between New York and Chicago when you took the Erie Railroad line. It is in northwestern Pennsylvania about 30 miles south of Erie, Pennsylvania.

The town was founded in the early 1800s by German and Irish families. It was first called Cambridge Township, then Cambridgeboro. In 1897 it was changed to Cambridge Springs to acknowledge the importance of the mineral springs in the area. The mineral waters were supposed to cure almost anything.

In 1903, William Douglass Rider, Jr. wanted an international chess tournament at his Rider resort hotel (constructed in 1895-97). Most of the support and funding was provided by Rider and the directors of the Erie Railroad Company. Additional support was received from chess clubs around the country in the form of subscriptions to the daily chess bulletins. Another financial backer was Professor Isaac Leopold Rice (1850-1915), a millionaire who made his fortune as a corporate lawyer. He was a chess patron who gave his name to the Rice Gambit in the King's Gambit Accepted (1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 g5 4.h4 g4 5.Ne5 Nf6 6.Bc4 d5 7.exd5 Bd6 8.O-O Bxe5 9.Re1). Another financial backer was Baron Albert de Rothschild (1844-1911) of Vienna.

 

The prize fund was $3,100 (equivalent to $74,000 in today's money. The event would be played from April 25 to May 19, 1904.

 

On April 16, 1904, eight of the strongest chess players from Europe arrived in New York by ship (S.S. Pretoria). This included current world chess champion (1894-1921) Emanuel Lasker (1868-1941) coming from Berlin, Russian champion and number two player in the world Mikhail Chigorin (1850-1908) coming from St. Petersburg, number 6 player in the world Carl Schlechter (1874-1918) coming from Vienna,Berlin champion and number 7 player in the world Richard Teichmann (1868-1925), French champion and number 8 player in the world David Janowski (1868-1927) coming from Paris, Viennese champion and number 11 player in the world Georg Marco (1863-1923) coming from Vienna, German master and number 15 player in the world Jacques Mieses (1865-1954) coming from Leipzig, and 6-time London champion Thomas Lawrence (1871-1953) coming from London.

 

Along with the European masters, the Americans had, American champion and number 3 player in the world Harry Nelson Pillsbury (1872-1906) coming from Philadelphia, New York champion and number 10 player in the world Frank Marshall (1877-1944) coming from Brooklyn, former American champion Jackson Showalter (1860-1935) coming from Kentucky, Brooklyn Chess Club champion Albert Fox (1881-1964) coming from New York, former Brooklyn champion William Napier (1881-1952) coming from Pittsburgh (he won the British championship after this tournament in 1904), former US Champion and New York State Champion Albert Hodges (1861-1944) coming from Staten Island, New England champion John Barry (1873-1940) coming from Boston, and 4-time NY State Champion Eugene Delmar (1841-1909) coming from New York.

 

Of the top 11 players on the world, only Tarrasch (#4) , Maroczy (#5), and Blackburne (#9) were missing.

 

On April 19, 1904, the European masters traveled to Washington, D.C. where they were greeted by President Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) at the White House. They then traveled to New York, toured the city, and then went on to Cambridge Springs.

 

The participants for the tournament arrived in Cambridge Springs on April 22, 1904. On April 25, 1904 the first round of one of the strongest chess tournaments ever held began at the Hotel Rider in Cambridge Springs, Pennsylvania. The Hotel Rider was a large hotel that had 500 rooms, including a bowling alley.

 

The tournament rules, adopted from the 1895 Hastings Chess Congress, forbade consultation on adjourned games. You could not even enter a room with any other player during the intermission period between 3 pm and 5 pm. No draws were allowed under 30 moves unless it was a forced draw (there were only 2 draws less than 30 moves). Play was from 10 am to 3 pm, then from 5 pm to 7 pm. The time control was 30 moves in 2.5 hours, then 15 moves each hour thereafter.

 

The rules were adopted by the players on April 24, 1904.

 

This was the first major American tournament of the 20th century.

 

World champion Lasker had not played in a chess tournament in four years. His last tournament was Paris in 1900, which he won with 14 wins, 1 draw, and 1 loss. He would not play in another chess tournament after Cambridge Springs for another 5 years (St. Petersburg 1909), which he tied for 1st with Rubinstein.

 

For the first time in chess tournament history, a daily chess bulletin was produced showing all the games from the previous day's round.

 

Cambridge Springs was the first international tournament for Barry, Fox, Hodges, and Lawrence.

 

During the tournament, a Rice Gambit consultation team event was held.

 

On May 19, 1904, Frank Marshall, age 26, won the Cambridge Springs International with 13 points out of 15 (undefeated) and winning $1,000 (equivalent to $24,000 in today's money!). He won 11 games and drew 4 (drew with Lasker, Marco, Chigorin, and Napier). This event was considered Marshall's greatest triumph.

 

Lasker and Janowski (both 35 years old) tied for 2nd-3rd with 11 out of 15. Lasker lost to Schlechter and Pillsbury in round 6. Janowski lost to Marshall, Lasker, and Fox. The players split $900.

 

Marco (age 40) took 4th place ($200) with 9 points; Showalter (age 43) took 5th place ($165) with 8.5 points; Schlechter (age 29) and Chigorin (age 53) took 6th-th place (split $135) with 7.5 points; Mieses (age 38) and Pillsbury (age 31) took 8th-9th place with 7 points; Teichmann (age 35) and Fox (age 23) took 10th-11th place with 6.5 points; Napier (age 22) and Lawrence (age 33) took 12th-13th place with 5.5 points; Hodges (age 42) and Barry (age 31) took 14th-15th place with 5 points; Delmar (age 53) took 16th (last) place with 3 wins, 3 draws, and 9 losses, for 4.5 points. Delmar was the oldest player. Napier and Fox were the youngest players.

 

Baron von Rothchild contributed $100 in brilliancy prizes. First prize ($40) went to Schlechter for his win against Lasker. Second prize ($25) went to Napier for his win against Barry. Third and fourth prizes ($35) went to Janowski for his win against Chigorin, and to Delmar for his win against Hodges.

 

This tournament was probably the strongest international tournament held on American soil.

 

This was Pillsbury's last tournament. He died 2 years later at the age of 33. Napier started dating Pillsbury's niece and later married her.

 

Out of the tournament came the opening known as the Cambridge Springs Defense (1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 Nbd7 5.e3 c6 6.Nf3 Qa5). This opening was actually introduced by Pillsbury at Nuremberg in 1896. Three games used this opening. Teichmann as Black tried it against Marshall in round 8 and lost in 58 moves, then tried it against Schlecter in round 14 and drew in 30 moves. Barry tried it against Hodges in round 11 and lost in 23 moves, so it was not successful.

 

In June 1904, the American Chess Bulletin, Volume 1, No. 1, was published by Hermann Helms and Hartwig Cassel. It included all 120 games from Cambridge Springs and was the first "book" written about the tournament.

 

Just after the tournament, Marshall's father and Showalter's father (age 94) died.

 

After the tournament, Napier went to England where he won the London championship in July-August and the first British Chess Federation championship in August-September. After this event he retired from chess.

 

After the tournament, Teichmann went to London and won the Rice Gambit tournament.

 

After the tournament, Schlecter went to Coburg, Germany and tied for 1st at Coburg (14th German Chess Association).

 

In October, 1904, Marshall won the 7th American Chess Congress in St. Louis.

 

In November 1904, Lasker decided to stay in the United States and started his own chess magazine. The magazine continued until 1909.

 

Chigorin returned to Russia and won the St Petersburg championship.

 

Rider wanted to continue holding international chess tournaments in Cambridge Springs, but he died in 1905.

 

In 1906, Harry Pillsbury died of syphillis.

 

In 1912, the Hotel Rider was sold to the Polish National Alliance College. President William Taft was on hand for the opening ceremonies of the new technical school. The building burned to the ground in 1931. Later rebuilt, the college housed the largest collection of Polish writing in the United States.

 

In 1935 Fred Reinfeld published a book on the Cambridge Springs event.

 

In 1988 the U.S. Championship was held in Cambridge Springs.

 

In 2004, the Cambridge Springs chess tournament had its Centennial celebration. GM Larry Evans gave a lecture and a simultaneous exhibition.

 

              1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6

1 Marshall    * 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1  13  $1000

2 Janowski    0 * 0 1 1 1 1 0 1 1 1 1 1 1  11  $450

3 Lasker      1 * 0 1 1 0 1 1 1 1 1 1  11  $450

4 Marco       * 1 0 1 0 1 1 1  9   $200

5 Showalter   0 * 1 1 1 0 1  8  $165

6 Schlechter  0 0 1 * 0 0 1 1 1   7  $67.50

7 Chigorin    0 0 0 0 1 * 1 0 1 1 1 0 1  7  $67.50

8 Mieses      0 0 0 1 0 0 * 1 1 1 0 1 1 0  7

9 Pillsbury   0 0 1 0 0 * 1 0 1 1  7

10 Fox        0 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 * 1 1 0 1 0 0  6

11 Teichmann  0 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 * 1 0 1 1  6

12 Lawrence   0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 * 1 0   5

13 Napier     0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 * 1 1   5

14 Barry      0 0 0 0 0 1 0 * 0 1  5

15 Hodges     0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 * 0  5

16 Delmar     0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 1 *  4