Lesser Known Chess Masters by Bill Wall


Istvan Abonyi (1886-1942), pictured here, was a Hungarian master from Budapest.  In 1922 he published analysis on the Abonyi Gambit of the Budapest Defense (1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e5 3.dxe5 Ng4 4.e4 Nxd5 5.f4 Nec6) in Deutsches Wochenschach.  He was one of the 15 founders of FIDE in 1924.


Gerald Abrahams (1907-1980) was a British lawyer (barrister), chess master and chess author.   His eight chess books include Teach Yourself Chess (1948), The Chess Mind (1952), Handbook of Chess (1960), Technique in Chess (1961), Test Your Chess (1963), Pan Book of Chess (1966), Not Only Chess (1974), and Brilliancies in Chess (1977).  He introduced the Abrahams variation (also called the Noteboom variation) of the Queen’s Gambit Declined (1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 c6 4.Nf3 dxc4 5.a4 Bb4 6.e3 b5 7.Bd2 a5) in 1925 (Allcock-Abrahams, England 1925).  In 1933 he finished in 3rd place in the British Championship.  In 1946, he defeated Viaschelav Ragozin (who later became the second World Correspondence Champion) in the Anglo-Soviet radio match, winning one game and drawing one game.  


In 1939, Weaver Adams (1901-1963) wrote a book entitled, “White to Play and Win.” After publication he played in the U.S. Open chess tournament, held in Dallas in 1940. In the finals, he was unable to win a single game as White (3 losses and a draw), but won all four of his games as Black!   He was a chicken farmer.


William Addison (1933-2008) was considered the best Go player among chess masters.   He was born in Baton Rouge, came to San Francisco in the 1950s, and was the area’s strongest player for 20 years.  He became an International Master in 1967.  In 1969, he took 2nd place in the 20th US Chess Championship (1/2 point behind Reshevsky and ahead of Benko, Lombardy, etc.) and qualified to play in the Interzonal.  He competed in the 1970 Interzonal in Palma de Mallorca, taking 18th place, and then gave up chess to work for the Bank of America in San Francisco.  He played in five U.S. championships.  His highest rating was 2595.


Hyacinth Agnel (1799-1871) was a professor (taught French) and Colonel at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and a chess problemist.  In 1845, he formed the first chess club at West Point.  Author of a chess book with perhaps the longest title.  The Book of Chess containing the Rudiments of the Game, and Elementary Analysis of the Most Popular Openings, Exemplified in Games Actually Played by the Greatest Masters; Including Staunton’s Analysis  of the King’s and Queen’s Gambits, Numerous Positions and Problems on Diagrams, Both Original and Selected; Also a Series of Chess Tales, With Illustrations Engraved From Original Designs, The Whole Extracted and Translated From the Best Sources.  The book was written in 1847 by Agnel and published in 1859 by D. Appleton and Company of New York.  The book is 509 pages long.  In 1848, he wrote Chess for Winter Evenings.   It was later called Agnel’s Book of Chess.  Agnel was on the Committee on the Chess Code during the First American Chess Congress.  He was a frequent chess opponent of General Winfield Scott.  He is buried at West Point.


Georgy Agzamov (1954-1986) was an Uzbekistan Grandmaster (1984) who was killed in 1986 when he tried to take a shortcut to go swimming in Sevastopol.  He fell off a cliff and got stuck between two rocks.  Some people heard him yell for help, but he was too deep down in the rocks.  He died before a rescue team could get to him, a few days before his 32nd birthday.  His highest rating was 2728, ranked #8 in the world.  He won Belgrade 1982, Sochi 1984, Tashkent 1984, and Calcutta 1986.


Carl Ahlhausen (1835-1892), was the librarian of the Berlin Chess Association.  His historical chess rating is 2471, ranked #44 in the world in 1889.  He was an early player of 1.g4, sometimes known as the Ahlhausen Opening (better known as Grob’s Attack).


Carl Ahues (1883-1968) was a West German International Master (1950).  He was Berlin champion in 1910 and 1924,  and German champion in 1929.  He represented Germany in the 1930 and 1931 Chess Olympiads, as well as the unofficial Chess Olympiad, held in Munich in 1936.  He was winning blitz chess tournaments in Germany in his 80s.  His Elo rating was around 2490.  His highest historical rating was 2651, ranked #11 in the world in 1931.  He is the father of Herbert Ahues, a famous chess composer.  He  died 5 days after his 85th birthday in 1968.


James Aitkin (1908-1983) was a Scottish player who won the Scottish chess championship 10 times (1935, 1952, 1953, 1955-1958, 1960, 1961, and 1965).  He was also London champion in 1950.  His highest rating was 2525.  His PhD dissertation was on the Lisbon Inquisition. 


Elena Donaldson-Akhmilovskaya (1957-2012) was a Woman Grandmaster (1977) from Tbilisi, Georgia who was the 1986 World Women's Championship challenger (losing to Maya Chiburdanidze with 1 win, 4 losses, and 9 draws).  She was equal first in the 1988 challengers, but lost the playoff to Ioseliani.  In 1988 she eloped with American International Master John Donaldson, captain of the US team, while playing in the chess Olympiad in Thessaloniki, Greece. At the time, she was the number two Soviet woman player.  The two were married at the U.S. Consulate in Greece.  She returned to the Soviet Union almost a year later to get her 7 year-old daughter.  It took three weeks to secure their exit visas.  Her mother, Lydia Akhmilovskaya, qualified several times for the USSR Women's Championship and was a top-ranked correspondence player.  She later divorced John Donaldson and married IM Georgi Orlov. 


Seymon Alapin (156-1923) was a Russian chess master and openings analyst. He was born in Vilnius, Lithuania in 1856.  He later settled in St. Petersburg, then Heidelberg, Germany.  While studying at St. Petersburg Engineering Institute, he became one of the strongest players in the city.  In 1879, he tied for first in the Best Russian Players tournament in St. Petersburg, but lost the play-off to Chigorin.  In 1880 and 1881, he lost a match against Chigorin.  In 1893, he tied for 1st place in the championship of Berlin.  In 1899, he drew a match with Schlechter in Vienna (+1-1=4).  In 1902 he was ranked #8 in the world.   In 1911, he won the championship of Munich.  Alapin’s Opening is 1.e4 e5 2.Ne2.  The Sicilian, Alapin variation is 1.e4 c5 2.c3.  Alapin’s Gambit is 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Be3.  He livened his chess writings with ficticious games between Attakinsky and Defendarov.  He was a linguist and involved in grain commodities.  He spent his later years in Heidelberg, Germany and died there in 1923.


Vladimir Alatortsev (1909-1987) was Russian International Master (1950), International Judge (1953), and honorary Grandmaster (1983).  He had been the city champion of Leningrad (1933 and Moscow (1936, 1937).  He took 2nd place in the USSR championship in 1933, behind Botvinnik.  In 1935, he drew a match with Lilienthal.  From 1931 to 1950, he played in 9 USSR championships.  In 1938 he won the Soviet Trade Union championship.  He won the Latvian championship in 1945.  From 1954 to 1961, he was head of the Soviet Chess Federation.  His highest rating was 2626.


Adolf Albin (1848-1920) was a Romanian chess master who learned the game at age 23.  In 1872 he authored the first chess book written in Romanian, Amiculu Jocului de Schach.   He played in his first international tournament at 43 (Vienna 1891).  In 1894 he took 2nd at New York, behind Steinitz, but ahead of Showalter and Pillsbury.  By 1895, his rating was 2643, ranked #15 in the world.  The Albin Counter-Gambit is 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e5.  Albin played this gambit against Emanuel Lasker in New York in 1893, but lost in 31 moves.  Lasker won the tournament (13 wins in a row) and Albin took 2nd place.  He was a professor of linguistics at the University of Vienna.   He  died of tuberculosis.


Conel Hugh O’Donel Alexander (1909-1974) was an Irish-born (Cork, Ireland) mathematician and chess International Master (1950) who won the British Championship in 1938 and 1956.  During World War II he was promoted to colonel in British Intelligence and was part of the British Government Code and Cipher Code at Bletchley Park, England, along with other English chess masters who helped break the German Enigma Code. He was prohibited from traveling to any country under Soviet control or influence during his lifetime because of his association with cryptography.  He was given the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for his wartime services.  In 1946, he won one game and lost one game against Botvinnik in the Anglo-Soviet radio match.  In 1953/54, he tied for first (with Bronstein) at Hastings.  He played on 6 English Olympiad teams between 1933 and 1958.  In the early 1960s he gave up over-the-board chess to concentrate on correspondence chess.  He was ranked #24 in the world in 1932. 


Aaron Alexandre (1766-1850) was the author of Encyclopedie des Echecs, the first book containing the collection of all opening variations then known. Published in 1837, he introduced the algebraic notation and the castling symbols O-O and O-O-O. The rules of the game were published in four languages in this book.   He also wrote Collection des Plus Beux Problems d’Echecs (The Beauties of Chess) in 1846, the first large compilation of chess problems and endgames, containing over 2,000 chess problems and solutions.  He was a Jewish rabbi from Bavaria who moved to Paris in 1793.  He was one of the operators of the automaton, the Turk.  He was a German teacher and a mechanical inventor.


Essam Ahmed Ali was born on March 31, 1964 in Egypt.  He won the Arab Championships in 1996.  In 2003, he won the Egyptian championship.  He was an Egyptian International Master and Egypt’s top player, who died on October 27, 2003, of cerebral malaria after returning from the All Africa Games tournament in Abuja, Nigeria.   The 60-year-old head of the Egyptian chess delegation, Mohammed Labib, died of the same disease the next day.   Both were incorrectly diagnosed in Egypt after becoming ill.   Both were bitten by an infected mosquito.


Johann Allgaier (1763-1823) was the author of the first chess book published in German, Neue theoretisch-praktische Anweisung zum Schachspiel.  It was published in Vienna in 1795.  He was the first operator of the Turk automaton.  He was small in stature and operated the chess automation The Turk, when it beat Napoleon Bonaparte in 1805 in Wagrum, Austria.  He served as quartermaster accountant in the Austrian Imperial army.  He acted as chess tutor to the Emperor’s sons.  He was considered the best chess player in Vienna.  He died of dropsy, the accumulation of excessive watery fluid outside the cells of the body.  The Allgaier Gambit is 1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 g5 4.Bc4 g4 5.Ng5.  Allgaier published analysis on it in 1819.


Frank Ross Anderson (1928-1980) was a three-time Canadian Champion (1953, 1955, 1958) from Toronto and International Master (1954).  In 1948 he won the U.S. Junior Championship.   In 1954 and I 1958 he won the gold medal on 2nd board in the Chess Olympiad.  He came closer to the Grandmaster title than any other player.  In 1958 he scores 84% in the Munich Olympiad.  He became ill (reaction to an incorrect prescription) and was unable to play his final round.  He missed the Grandmaster title because of this.  Even if he had played and lost, he would have made the final norm necessary for the Grandmaster title.  He had polio and was disabled his whole life.   He was a computer expert.


Jose Araiza Munoz (1900-1971) won the Mexican Chess Championship 15 times in a row, from 1924 to 1949.   In 1932 in Mexico City Araiza organized and played in the first international tournament held in Mexico, taking third place behind Alexander Alekhine and Isaac Kashdan, who both tied with an 8.5-0.5 score.  He was a Lt. Colonel in the Mexican Army.


Lev Aronin (1920-1982) was a Soviet International Master (1950).  He played in eight Soviet championships, taking 2nd in the 18th USSR Championship in 1950.  He won the Moscow Championship in 1965.  His occupation was a meteorologist.


Konstantine Aseev (1960-2004) was a Russian Grandmaster.  He was Leningrad Champion in 1985.  His peak FIDE rating was 2591.  He was the chess trainer for Maya Chiburdanidze, Nana Aleksandria, Andrei Kharlov, and Evgeny Alekseev.  He played in four USSR Championships. 


Lajos Asztalos (1889-1956) was a Hungarian player,  International Master (1950) and International Judge (1951).  He won the Hungarian championship in 1913.  After World War I, he moved to Yugoslavia and competed for that country in the Chess Olympiads of 1927 and 1931.  He returned to Hungary in 1942.  He was a professor of philosophy (PhD) and a journalist.  From 1951 to 1956 he served as President of the Hungarian Chess Federation.  


Henry Ernest Atkins (1872-1955) was a British schoolmaster who won the British Championship 9 times out of 11 appearances, 7 times in a row (1905-1911, 1924, and 1925).   Only Penrose has won it more often (10 times).  In 1950 he was awarded the International Master title at the age of 78.


Robin Ault (1941-1994) of New Jersey was the first person to win the U.S. Junior Championship three times (1959, 1960, 1961). On the basis of his performance in the Junior Championship, he was invited to play in the 1959-60 U.S. Chess Championship. At the time, there was a USCF rule that the American Junior Champion was automatically qualified for the adult title competition. He played in the 1959-60 U.S. Chess Championship and lost all 11 games. After this, the USCF no longer allowed the top junior to be invited to the U.S. Championship. Soon after, Robin Ault dropped out of chess. He became a math professor, computer software engineer, and social justice activist. Robin’s brother, Leslie Ault, was the U.S. Intercollegiate Champion. Both attended Columbia University.


Vladimir Bagirov (1936-2000) was a Russian Grandmaster (1978 at the age of 42), born in Baku, who competed in nine Soviet championships between 1960 and 1978.  His best result was 4th place in 1960.  He became a Grandmaster in 1978 at the age of 42.  In 1998 he won the 8th World Senior Chess Championship, held in Austria.  He helped train Mikhail Tal and Garry Kasparov.  In the 1970s, he moved to Latvia.  He died of a heart attack at the age of 63 while playing in a chess tournament in Finland in 2000.  He had just finished a move while in time pressure and his flag fell.  As both players moved to a separate board to reconstruct the game, he collapsed and died.


Clarence Bagley (1843-1932) was the first chess champion of Washington State (then, the Washington territory).  He was chess champion of Washington territory from 1862 to 1875.  He lived in Seattle.  He was a printer, newspaper and magazine publisher, writer, historian, and founder of the Washington State Historical Society. 


Mary Bain (1904-1972) was the 1937 and 1952 challenger to the World’s Women Championship (she was born in Hungary).  She won titles in Cuba, Sweden, Finland, and the United States.  She was U.S. women’s champion from 1951 to 1953.  She was a pupil of Frank Marshall and Geza Maroczy.  She was a Bridge expert and operated a duplicate-bridge club in New York.  She was the first American woman to represent the United States in an organized chess competition.  In 1963, she played for the United States in the Women’s Olympiad.  In 1952, she was awarded the Woman International Master title.  She married Leslie Balogh Bain, a newspaper columnist, in 1926.  They were divorced in 1948.


David Baird (1854-1913) was charter member of the chess club that eventually evolved in the Manhattan Chess Club.  In 1880, he tied for 2nd place in the minor section of the 5th American Chess Congress in New York.  In 1883, he took 2nd place in the 5th Manhattan Chess Club championship, behind Gustave Simonson.  He won the Manhattan Chess Club championship in 1888, 1890, 1891, and 1895.  In 1889, he was a participant in the 6th American Chess Congress in New York and took 11th place.  In 1895, he won the New York state championship.   He was the younger brother of John Washington Baird, another American chess master.


Edith Baird (1859-1924) was the most famous female chess composer.   She published her problems using the name “Mrs. W.J. Baird.”  She composed over 2,000 problems.  In 1902, she wrote 700 Chess Problems.  In 1907, she wrote The Twentieth Century Retractor.  She was known as the “Queen of Chess.”


John Baird (1852- ?) was a charter member of the chess club that eventually evolved in the Manhattan Chess Club.  In 1889, he participated in the 6th American Congress in New York and took 19th place out of 20.  He was an umpire for Steinitz and signed the contract for the Steinitz-Lasker world championship match.  He was the older brother of David Graham Baird.


Nikolay Bakulin (1926-1990) was Moscow champion in 1961, 1964, and 1966.  He took last place in the 32nd USSR Championship in 1964-65.

Wiktor Balcarek (1915-1998) was the Polish Champion in 1950.  He represented Poland in the 1956 Chess Olympiad. 


Witold Balcerowski (1935-2001) was Polish Junior Champion in 1952, and Polish Champion in 1962 and 1965.


Rosendo Carreon Balinas, Jr. (1941-1998) was a Philippine lawyer and Philippine’s second Grandmaster (1976) who was Asia’s best player in the 1960s.    He was born on September 10, 1941 in Manila, Philippines.  He learned how to play chess at the age of 7, but did not take up the game seriously until age 15.  Balinas was considered the strongest Asian player during the 1960s and 1970s, before Eugenio Torre and Vishy Anand.  He represented the Philippines in the Chess Olympiads of 1964, 1966, 1968, 1974, and 1976.  In 1966, he was awarded the individual Silver medal on board 3 at the 17th World Chess Olympiad in Havana, Cuba.  He scored 15.5 out of 20.  The Gold medal was awarded to Mikhail Tal.  In 1967, he held Bobby Fischer to a draw in Manila during a Meralco "Beat Bobby Fischer" match series.  In 1975, he was awarded the International Master title.  He won the Philippine chess championship 7 times.   In 1976 he won an international tournament in the USSR (Odessa, Ukraine), which gave him the GM title (2nd Filipino and Asian GM, after Torre, who became a GM in 1974).  He scored 10-4.  Balinas had a performance rating of over 2600 in this event.  In 1983, he went to Dubai to become a chess coach for Dubai.  He stayed for three years.  He then settled in the United States.  His highest ELO rating was 2517 in June 1977.   Best results: Philippine Open 1968 - 1st-2nd; Melbourne 1975 - 3rd; Manila 1975 - 6th; Odessa 1976 - 1st; Dortmund 1976 - 4th; Manchester 1979 - 3rd; Dubai 1984 - 4th.  Balinas died of liver cancer at Antipolo City, Philippines on September 24, 1998 at the age of 57.


Zoltan von Balla (1883-1945) was the first official Hungarian chess champion (Budapest, 1913).  He was Hungarian champion in 1906 and 1911.


Gideon Barcza (1911-1986) was a Hungarian professor of mathematics and Grandmaster (1954).  He won the Hungarian championship eight times.  He was editor of the chess magazine Magyar Sakkelet.  He played on seven Hungarian Olympiad teams.  The opening 1.Nf3 d5 2.g3 is called the Barcza System. 


Olaf Barda (1909-1971) was a Norwegian International Master (1952) and Correspondence Grandmaster (1953).  He won the Norwegian championship six times (1930, 1947, 1948, 1952, 1953, 1957).   He took 4th in the first World Correspondence chess championship (1950-1953).   


Curt von Bardeleben (1861-1924) was the strongest German player of the late 19th century, openings expert, and player of Grandmaster strength.  Against Steinitz, he had a losing position, so he just got up and left the playing hall without resigning and did not return.  Steinitz had to sit and watch the clock to end the game.  Bardeleben did leave a note on the table that said, “Saw it, went home,” referring to Steinitz’s combination.  Bardeleben was in the habit of leaving the tournament room, allowing his clock to run out of time, rather than resign.  He committed suicide at the age of 62 by jumping out of an upper window of his boarding house in Berlin where he lived in poverty.  He was a lawyer.


Thomas Wilson Barnes (1825-1874) was one of the strongest English players in the 1850s.   He scored more wins than anyone else against Paul Morphy, defeating him 8 times.  He went on a diet and lost 130 pounds in 10 months, causing his death in 1874.


Major Sir Richard Whieldon Barnett (1863-1930) was an Irish barrister and member of parliament in the United Kingdom House of Commons.  He participated in the 1908 Summer Olympics, placing 4th in the 1000 yard rifle competition.  He was Irish Chess Champion from 1886 to 1889.  At Oxford, he was the president of the Oxford University Chess Club.


Jack Straley Battell (1909-1985) was a former USCF correspondence chess director (1969-1978).  In the 1937-38 Marshall Chess Club Championship, he scored no wins and 11 straight losses, for the worse 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 a photographer, English teacher, riding master, and restaurant manager.   He died of complications of Alzheimer’s disease in 1985.


Georg Albert Becker (1896-1984) was an International Master (1953).  He played for Austria (1931), then Germany (1939), on their chess Olympiad team.  He was editor of Wiener Schachzeitung from 1926 to 1935.  He settled in Argentina after the outbreak of World War II.  In 1929 at Carlsbad , Becker said “I propose to open the Vera Menchik Club, whose members will be solely masters defeated by the lady world champion.”  Before the tournament at Carlsbad in which Menchik was playing, he said that he would go onstage as a ballerina if Menchik scored more than 3 points.  At Carlsbad (won by Nimzovich), she finished last with 2 wins, 2 draws (3 points) and 17 losses.  She beat Becker (the first member of the Vera Menchik Club) and Saemisch.  He was Austrian champion in 1925


Sergey Belavenets (1910-1942) was chess champion of Moscow in 1932, 1937, and 1938.  He won the Russian championship in 1934 and took 3rd in the USSR Championship in 1939.  He died in the siege of Leningrad.  His daughter, Ludmilla (born in 1940), won the 4th Women’s World Correspondence Chess Championship in 1992.


Johann Berger (1845-1933) was a chess master, author, and educator from Graz, Austria.  In 1870 he won the first major tournament in the Austro-Hungarian Empire at Graz.  In 1873 he helped create the Sonnenborn-Berger tie-breaking system (first used in 1882).  In 1886 he won the world championship chess problem-solving contest.  He played in a correspondence chess tournament sponsored by Monde Illustre from 1889 to 1992 and won it with 45 wins, 3 losses and no draws.  From 1898 to 1911 he was editor of Deutsche Schachzeitlung.  In 1890 he wrote Theorie und Praxis der Endspiele and revised it in 1922.  It was the first modern comprehensive book on practical endgames.  He also wrote Probleme, Studien und Partien 1862-1912.  He was an Austrian high school administrator and professor.


Ossip Bernstein (1882-1962) was a Russian Grandmaster (1950).  In 1903, he took 2nd (behind Chigorin) in the third Russian Championship.  In 1906, he earned a Doctorate in law at Heidelberg and became a successful financial lawyer.  In 1918 Ossip Bernstein was arrested in Odessa by the Cheka and ordered shot by a firing squad just because he was a legal advisor to bankers.  As the firing squad lined up, a superior officer asked to see the list of prisoners' names.  Discovering the name of Ossip Bernstein, he asked whether he was the famous chess master.  Not satisfied with Bernstein's affirmative reply, he made him play a game with him.  If Bernstein lost or drew, he would be shot.  Bernstein won in short order and was released.  He escaped on a British ship and settled in Paris.  Bernstein's son was President Eisenhower's official interpreter because he spoke almost every European language.  At age 74, he was still playing in international tournaments.


Louis Betbeder-Matibet (1901-1986) was a French chess master.  He took 2nd place in the 1928 and 1946 French Chess Championships.  He represented France in 7 Chess Olympiads.  He was awarded the International Arbiter title in 1967.  The moves 1.d4 d5 2.c4 dxc4 3.e4 f5 is known as the Betbeder variation.


Istvan Bilek (1932-2010) was a Hungarian Grandmaster and a three-time Hungarian Champion. In 1979 at an international tournament in Slupsk, Poland, he had a bye in the first round, drew his next 10 games in 13, 14, 12, 9, 12, 13, 17, and 9 moves, taking 5, 12, 15, 26, 7, 4, 5, 12, 18, and 5 minutes, respectively. Thus, he made only 125 moves in 109 minutes in this 11 round master event. The German chess master Berthold Suhle (1837-1904) was born in Slupsk.  When he won the Hungarian championship in 1970, he wife won the Hungarian women's championship.


Henry Edward Bird (1830-1908) was an accountant and strong amateur player from England.  He wrote six different books on chess.  He won the first brilliancy prize (a sliver cup) for his victory over James Mason, New York 1876.  he favored the opening 1.f4, now called Bird’s Opening.  He played chess at the London coffee house, Simpson’s Divan, for over 50 years, from 1846 until it closed in 1903. 


Joseph Henry Blackburne (1841-1924) was an English player of grandmaster strength.  He learned the game at age 19.  He won the British championship in 1868.  His nickname was the Black Death, given to him by a comment in the tournament book of Vienna 1873.  He was also known for his temper. After losing to Steinitz in a match, he threw him out of a window.  Luckily for Steinitz that they were on the first floor.   From 1870 to 1888 he was one of the top 5 chess players in the world.  He was once arrested as a spy because he sent chess moves in the mail and it was thought the moves were coded secrets.  He tied for first in the British Championship of 1914 at the age of 72.  During a simultaneous exhibition at Cambridge University, the students thought to gain the advantage by placing a bottle of whiskey and a glass at each end of the playing oval.  In the end he emptied both bottles and won all his games in record time.  During the temperance movement in England, he declared that whiskey drinking improved one's chess because alcohol cleared the brain and he tried to prove that theory as often as possible.  It is estimated he played 100,000 games of chess in his career.


Beniamin Blumenfeld (1884-1947) was born in Volkovisk, Russia who invented the Blumenfeld Counter Gambit (1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 e6 4.Nf3 b5). He became a student of chess psychology and received a doctorate for a thesis on the nature of blunders in chess.  He died in Moscow in 1947.


Samuel Boden (1826-1882) was an English chess player.  In 1858, Paul Morphy declared that Boden was the strongest of all English players.  Against Morphy, he won 1 game, drew 4 games, and lost 6 games.  From 1858 to 1873, he edited a chess column for The Field.  He worked for the railway company and was an amateur painter and art critic.  He died of typhoid fever.


Efim Bogoljubow (1889-1952) was a Grandmaster (1951), born in Kiev, who once spent over two hours over his 24th move against Steiner, Berlin 1928, and then chose a move that lost a piece.  In 1928 he defeated Max Euwe in a match in the Netherlands (won 3, lost 2, drew 5).  The match was for the title of FIDE champion, so Bogoljubow was the first FIDE world champion.  This was stated in the minutes of the FIDE’s 5th chess congress at The Hague in 1928.  He played Alexander Alekhine in 1929 and 1934 for the World Chess Championship and lost both matches by a wide margin.  His most famous statement was "When I'm White I win because I'm White.  When I'm Black I win because I'm Bogoljubow."  He died in Triberg, Germany after concluding a simultaneous chess exhibition.  He was USSR Champion in 1924 and 1925.  He left the USSR in 1925 and settled in Germany.  He renounced his USSR citizenship in 1926 and became a German citizen in 1927.  He was then denounced as a political renegade in the Soviet Union.  He won the German championship in 1925, 1931, 1933, and 1949. 


Feodor Bogatirchuk (1892-1984) was a Russian International Master (1954) from Kiev who emigrated from the USSR to Canada in 1949 and was the first persona non grata in Soviet chess.   In 1912, he tied for 2nd in the championship of Czarist Russia.  He was the author of the first chess book in Ukrainian in 1926.  He won the USSR championship in 1927 (tied with Pyotr Romanovsky).  He played in 6 Russian championships.  He was a medical doctor and professor of radiological anatomy.  During World War II he was head of the Ukrainian Red Cross.   He was nominated by Canada for the Grandmaster title, but the Soviet representatives to FIDE protested this title, which he never received but deserved.


Paolo Boi (1528-1598) was one of the leading players of the 16th century. In 1549 he defeated Pope Paul III (1468-1549) in a chess match. The Pope offered to make him cardinal which he refused. Pope Pius V (1504-1572) also offered to make him a cardinal. In 1574 Boi defeated Ruy Lopez de Segura (1530-1580) at the court of King Philip II (1527-1598) of Spain. The King showered him with great rewards including an official appointment in Sicily that paid 500 crowns (scudi) a year. Boi served King Philip as a military officer. In 1576 he was taken prisoner and sold as a slave to a Turk. He played chess for his master that brought in a lot of money. He later gained his freedom back. Several sources say that he was poisoned by his servant for the sake of his money in Naples in 1598. Other sources say he caught a cold when hunting and died as a result of it.


Jacobo Bolbochan (1906-1984) was a former Argentine chess champion (1932 and 1933) who became an International Master in 1965 at the age of 59.  Brother of Julio Bolbochan.


Julio Bolbochan (1920-1996) was an Argentine Grandmaster who received the title in 1977 at the age of 57.  He was Argentina champion in 1946 and 1948.   He played on 7 Argentine Chess Olympiad teams.  Brother of Jacobo Bolbochan.


Isaac Boleslavsky (1919-1977) was a Soviet International Grandmaster (1950).   He was a Candidate in 1950 (tied for first) and 1953 (10th-11th).   He was Bronstein second in 1951.  He was Smyslov’s second in 1956.  He was Petrosian’s second in 1963, 1966, and 1969.  He played in 11 USSR Championships.  His daughter married Grandmaster David Bronstein.


Igor Bondarevsky (1913-1979) was a Soviet Grandmaster (1950) and Correspondence Grandmaster (1961).  He played in the USSR championship 9 times, sharing 1st with Lilienthal in the 1940 championship.   He tied for 6th in the 1948 Saltsjobaden Interzonal, becoming a Candidate.  However, he withdrew from the Candidate’s tournament before it started.  He was Spassky’s trainer in 1961 and his second in 1966 and 1969.   He was an economist.


Eero Book (1910-1990) was a Finnish International Master (1950) and engineer.  He won the Finnish national championship six times (1931, 1934, 1935, 1936, 1945-46, and 1963) and won the Nordic Championship in 1947.  He was given the title Emeritus Grandmaster in 1984.


Henry Borochow (1898-?) was a U.S. Master Emeritus.  He won the California State Championship in 1930 and 1931.  In 1932, he took 6th in the Pasadena International Tournament (won by Alekhine).  He won the Western Championship.  He was a Vice President of the U.S. Chess Federation.


Louis-Charles Mahe de La Bourdonnais (1795-1840) was a French master and strongest chess player of his time.  He learned chess in Paris in 1814 while attending school.  He was undisputed champion of France in the 1820s.  In 1834 he played a series of matches with England’s strongest player, Alexander McDonnell, and won.  In 1836 he became editor of the world’s first chess magazine, Le Palamede.  He died in London and was buried in Kensal Green cemetery and was buried near McDonnell.


Gyula Breyer (1893-1921) was a Hungarian of Grandmaster strength, he set a new blindfold record of 25 opponents (won 15, drew 7, lost 3) in 1921 in Berlin.  He was one of the pioneering leaders of hypermodern chess.  He was the Hungarian champion in 1912.  He died of a heart attack at the age of 28.


Henry Thomas Buckle (1821-1862) was an English historian and very strong amateur chess player.  In 1848, he may have been the strongest chess player in the world.  He was the author of the unfinished 672-page History of Civilization.  He was the winner of the first modern chess tournament, the Ries Divan knockout tourney of 1849.    He studied 19 languages (he could speak seven languages and read twelve languages).  He had a library of over 22,000 books.  He died of typhoid fever in Damascus at the age of 40.  His last words were, “My book, my book.  I shall never finish my book.”


Karl Burger (1933-2000) was an International Master (with two GM norms)  who took last place in the 1969 U.S. Chess Championship, with 4 draws and  7 losses.  He was a medical doctor and a former chess teacher to Bobby Fischer at the Manhattan Chess Club.  He played chess in over 20 countries and 47 of the 50 states.  In 1993 he won the Georgia State Championship.


Amos Burn (1848-1925) was one of the world’s top ten chess players between 1886 and 1912.  He was a cotton broker and a sugar broker from Liverpool and remained an amateur chess player.  He started his international chess career at the late age of 37.  He edited a chess column in The Field from 1913 to 1925.  He was a member of the Liverpool Chess Club from 1867 to 1925, serving as its president for many years.  His nickname was Bulldog or “The Highwayman.”  In 1871, he tied for 1st in the British Championship, but lost the play-off to Wisker.  He was analyzing a chess game for his chess column when he died of a stroke.


Yelizavyeta Bykova (1911-1989) was Women’s World Champion from 1953 to 1956, and from 1958 to 1962.  From 1956 to 1958 she lost her title to Olga Rubtsova.  In 1962 she lost her title to Nona Gaprindashvili.  She was USSR Women’s champion in 1947, 1948, and 1950.  She earned the Women’s Grandmaster title in 1976. 


Donald Byrne (1930-1976) was winner of the 1953 US Open.  He was on three US Olympiad teams (1962, 1964, 1968).  He was an associate professor of English at Penn State University.  He was inducted in the US Chess Hall of Fame in 2003.  He became an International Master in 1962.    He died of lupus at the age of 45.



Ricardo Calvo (1943-2002), pictured, was a Spanish journalist, chess historian, medical doctor and International Master (1973) who was censured by FIDE for writing articles that were critical of the world chess federation.   He played for Spain in 5 chess Olympiads.  He died of cancer of the esophagus.


Florencio Campomanes (1927-2010) was the first non-European elected FIDE President (1982-1995). He undertook doctoral studies in political science at Georgetown University in the early 1950s, but gave up his career to devote his life to chess. He tied for 2nd in the New York State Chess Championship in 1954. He won the Philippine national championship in 1956 and 1960. He was the top board for the Philippines in the 1960 Chess Olympiad and represented the Philippines in 5 Chess Olympiads.


Esteban Canal (1896-1981), born in Peru, was awarded the International Grandmaster title in 1977 at the age of 81. He won the champion of Leipzig in 1916 and won the Hungarian championship in 1933. He played board 1 for Peru at the 1950 Chess Olympiad in Dubrovnik. He spent most of his life after age 26 in Venice, Italy. The chess club in Venice is named after Esteban Canal.


Ruth Cardose was born in Salvador, Brazil  on February 9, 1934.  She held the title of Woman International Master (WIM) from FIDE.    She won the South American Women’s Championship in 1966, 1969, and 1972.  She won the Brazilian Women’s Championship eight times in a row.  She played four time in the Woman’s Interzonal Championship.  She played in five World Chess Olympiads, playing first board for the Brazilian team each time.  She died on Feb 11, 2000.


Oscar Chajes was born in Brody, Russia on December 14, 1873.  In 1909 he was the winner of the US Open in Excelsior, Minnesota.  He became secretary of the Isaac L. Rice Progressive Chess Club.  In 1911, he took last place at Carlsbad.  In 1916 he defeated Capablanca in New York (round 2) in 66 moves at the Rice Memorial tournament.    Chajes took 3rd place, after Capablanca and Janowski.  Capablanca would not lose another game until the 1924 New York tournament, where he lost to Reti.  In 1917 he won the New York State championship in Rochester.  He died on February 28, 1928.


Henry Charlick was born in London on July 8, 1845.  In 1887, he won the first championship of Australia, held in Adelaide.  From 1887 to 1893, he was champion of South Australia.  In the early 1890s,  he introduced the moves 1.d4 e5, known as the Charlick Gambit or Englund Gambit.  He died on July 26, 1916.


Rudolf Charousek (1873-1900) was a chess master born in Prague and raised in Hungary.  He learned to play chess in his early teenage years.  He tied for 1st (with Chigorin) at  Budapest in 1896 and won at Berlin in 1897.  He died of tuberculosis at the age of 26.


Irving Chernev (1900-1981) was a chess master and author of 18 chess books.  He learned chess at the age of 12 from his father.  He played in the U.S. Championship in 1942 and 1944 and played in numerous New York state championships.  He first chess book (with Fred Reinfeld) that he wrote was Chess Strategy and Tactics in 1933.  He claimed he read more about chess and played over more chess games than anyone in history.  He was employed in the paper industry.  He died at the age of 81.


Andre Cheron (1895-1980) was French champion in 1926, 1927, and 1929 and one of the great endgame analysts and study composers of all time.  He played Board 1 for France in the 1927 Olympiad.  He created the longest problem solution to have all checks in it, taking 69 moves.  He was an International Master in Chess Composition (1959).


Victor Ciocaltea (1932-1983) was a Romanian chess player who became an International Master in 1957 and took 21 years to become a Grandmaster in 1978.  He won the Romanian championship 8 times during 1952-1979.


John Cochrane (1798-1878) was a Scottish master and lawyer who spent half his life in India.  He played chess in London while on vacation.   In 1815 he was a second lieutenant on the HMS Bellerophon, which transported Napoleon to his last exile on the island of Helena.  In 1822 he published his Treatise on Chess.  In 1824, just before he went to India, he suggested that the London team play 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 (Scotch Opening) in their correspondence match with Edinburgh.  In 1829 he wrote a book on the Muzio Gambit, published in India.   Cochrane is credited with the Cochrane Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nxf7).


Edgar Colle (1897-1932) was six time Belgium champion between 1922 and 1929.  He died after an operation for a gastric ulcer.  The Colle System is 1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.e3.


John (Jack) Collins (1912-2001) was a chess teacher to Bobby Fischer, Robert Byrne, William Lombardy, Donald Byrne, Sal Matera, Ray Weinstein, Lisa Lane, and Rachel Crotto.  He has won the U.S. Correspondence Chess Championship (1943), the Marshall Chess Club Championship (1953), and the New York Championship (1952).  He was the first postal chess editor of Chess Review.  He reached the finals of the first ICCF World Chess Championship in 1953.  His first house was on Hawthorne Street in Brooklyn, so he named his chess club that met at his house, the Hawthorne Chess Club.  He kept that name when he moved to 91 Lenox Road.


Moshe Czerniak (1910-1084) was an International Master (1952) and Israel’s first professional chess player.   He was born in Poland, immigrated to Palestine, lived in Argentina after World War II broke out, and finally settled in Israel in 1950.  He won the championship of Palestine in 1936 and the championship of Israel in 1955.  He won the championship of Israel in 1974 at the age of 64.