Tuesday, August 20

Rice Chess Club tournament: Summary

The last game of the Rice Chess Club Summer Masters' tournament has been completed, with Francis P. Beynon and Harold M. Phillips playing to a draw in a contest postponed from the 13th round.  The final standings are given at the close of this entry.

It proved in many ways an odd event.  The leisurely playing schedule - only two games per week - meant that the tourney was set to run for more than a month and a half.  Capablanca found this excessive, and so requested and received permission to play his games at an accelerated pace.  No one could have known at the time the the Cuban Master would make a clean score, assuring himself of first place nearly three weeks before the close of play and leaving chess aficionados both awestruck at his achievement and, perhaps, a bit disappointed that the race for top honors had ended even before July turned to August.

The late arrival of Duras presented the other side of the coin.  Surely the Czech ace has never before begun a competition with two points already in his pocket and yet four points behind the leader! Duras trailed his rivals in terms of total score until the very end of the event, when, in a flurry of adjourned and recheduled contests, he tallied 3 1/2 points from 5 games in five days to claim second place.  It could be said that the pair of world-class players in the field swept through the tourney like whirlwinds, one at the beginning and the other at the end of the event.  In fact, with Duras playing his first game on the 16th of July and Capablanca concluding his last on the 29th, the two friendly rivals were "in arms" together for less than two weeks of the tourney's seven-week run.   We note in fairness that their individual encounter, which took place on the 27th and 28th ult., proved one of the true highlights of the tournament.

Black's third-place finish, one half-point behind Duras, does him great credit; had he somehow managed to hold his  adjourned game against the Czech, second prize would have been his.  Kupchik and Chajes, who shared fourth and fifth places, reprised the Capablanca-Duras duet in a minor key, the former opening the tourney with a 5-0 mark and the latter winning five games in a row at the close.  Chajes was the only competitor - other than Capablanca, of course - to complete the event without a single draw to his name.

The others all had their moments, and each earned at least one victory over the board - even Phillips, whose official tally shows four draws and two forfeit wins, defeated Beihoff before the latter's withdrawal.  (If we may be permitted one further word on that unfortunate subject, the withdrawals of Stapfer and Beihoff rendered even more chaotic a schedule already uneven enough, and so made gauging the progress of play well-nigh impossible.  At times some competitors had played four or five games more than others, a situation much to be regretted.  It takes great strength of character to report for play round after round when one is out of form and suffers a string of defeats, especially when the exit is so easy and so near.  Let us hope that those who could not find that strength in themselves on this occasion will be able to do so in the future.)

For those desiring even more chess, we have good news to report, as the Progressive Chess Club has arranged a double-round quadrangular tournament featuring the American Champon, Frank J. Marshall, along with Duras, Chajes, and Charles Jaffe, who performed so well at the Second American National Tournament early in the year but was absent from the just-concluded Rice Club event.  That  new tourney is scheduled to start in approximately one week's time, offering yet another welcome opportunity to see some of our stalwarts in action.  We shall of course be there.

 Final standings:

13 points: Capablanca 
10 1/2 points: Duras
10 points: Black
9 points: Kupchik, Chajes
8 1/2 points: Marder
6 1/2 points: Tenenwurzel 
6 points: Adair, Bernstein
4 points: Beynon, Phillips
3 1/2 points: Grommer 
0 points (withdrawn): Stapfer, Beihoff


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