Random Posts

Play Live Blitz

YOU CAN PLAY LIVE BLITZ GAMES ON CHESSBASE FROM MY BOOK REVIEW PAGE! Just click on Play Blitz under the board.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Great Yarmouth street party in 1935
     Great Yarmouth in England is a seaside town located at the mouth of the River Yare. The town has been a seaside resort since 1760, and was one of the great English seaside towns of the 19th century. The discovery of oil in the North Sea in the 1960s led to a flourishing oil rig supply industry and today it services offshore natural gas rigs. More recently, the development of renewable energy sources, especially offshore wind power, has created opportunities for further growth. 
     That is now, but in 1935 it had been a major fishing port for hundreds of years, depending mainly on herring, but its fishing industry suffered a steep decline in the second half of the 20th century and has now all but disappeared. My understanding is that what we call sardines here in the U.S. are actually small herring.  Sardines are gross, stinking, nasty little boogers that smell and taste like fish and I assume herring are even worse. My dad ate lots of sardines on crackers, so we always had a cupboard full of them.  What I remember was that in the days before plastic garbage bags people just dumped household waste "as is" into a garbage can and the old sardine cans stunk! Did you know sardine cans are a hot collectors' item?


    In 1935 Great Yarmouth was also the venue for a gala chess event. It opened with the Mayor and his wife and the mayor's assistants putting on a tea for 150 guests. The mayor and the president of the BCF made speeches and there was a musical program. 
     The tournaments included the British Championship that was won by William Winter a full point ahead of Sir George Thomas. Winter suffered his only defeat at the hands of Thomas in their individual game, but Thomas lost to Harry Golombek and T.H. Tyler and so only finished second. Places 3-5 were shared by Reginald Michell, Harry Golombek and Alfred Lenton. 
     The British Ladies Championship was a runaway romp for Mrs. Edith Michell who scored one draw (against second place finisher Mrs. E. Holloway) and won ten.  In addition there was a Major Open attended by foreign players plus six lesser events.
     Reshevsky graduated from the University of Chicago in 1934 with a degree in accounting and had shared the 1934 US Open title with Reuben Fine and then began his international career in 1935 with a trip to England where he won the Great Yarmouth Major Open.  From there he went on to finish first at Margate ahead of Capablanca whom he defeated in their individual game. 
     It was at Great Yarmouth where Reshevsky joined the Vera Menchik Club although it was through bad luck. He lost on time in a position where he was a P ahead and may have been able to squeeze out a win.  
     There was also a curious incident in the Major Open when the game between Sonja Graf, then representing Germany, and her compatriot Sammi Fajarowicz was adjourned. 
     The adjourned position was recorded incorrectly in the sealed envelope and neither player noticed the mistake when the game, which ended in a draw, was resumed from the wrong position. 
     In the meantime spectators who had been examining the correct position had found a dead win for Graf.  Under the rules she could have demanded a replay from the correct position but instead, she elected to abide by the drawn result already reached. 

     Reshevsky's family came from a long line of ultra-orthodox Jews, including famous Rabbis and Reshevsky himself was always unwavering when in came to observance of Jewish Law even in his youth. His father, Jakob, had even once turned down a cameo appearance by his son in a Charlie Chaplin movie on account of the fact that Hollywood was an immoral place. After the death of his father in 1944, Reshevsky became even more devout. 
     And so during the first week of the Great Yarmouth tournament before round six Reshevsky informed the tournament committee that although he could play the game, he could not record it as required by the rules. The result was a steward (or Shabbat goy, a non-Jew who performs certain types of work which Jewish religious law prohibits a Jew from doing on the Sabbath) was provided to write down the moves and punch the clock. As it turned out, the steward probably wasn't needed; Reshevsky defeated B.H. Wood in 28 moves. 

1) Reshevsky 10.0-1.0 
2) Seitz 8.5-2.5 
3) Menchik 7.0-4.0 
4-5) Conde and Fajarowicz 6.5-4.5 
6) Klein 5.5-5.5 
7-8) Graf and B.H. Wood 5.0-6.0 
9-10) Butcher and Prins 4.0-7.0 
11) Ivanoff 2.5-8.5 
12) Kitto 1.5-9.5 

     In the following game Reshevsky scores a quick win as he did in several games at Great Yarmouth.   His opponent was the virtually unknown English player Francis Ernest Appleyard Kitto (February 3, 1915 – November 28, 1964, 49 years old). 
Frank Kitto
     Kitto was born in London, attended King's College in Cambridge, and by 1936 and 1937 he was playing first board for the college team. In 1937, in the Worcester Centenary Congress he won the Premier Reserves section and at Hastings, 1937-38, he played in the Premier Reserves and tied for 4th place causing the BCM to comment that he was a very promising player. 
     His style was described by words like hair raising, brutal and savage. In the 1938 BCF Congress he shared 1st place in the Major Open B with Dr, Seitz, ahead of Koenig and the Irish Champion, J. J. O'Hanlon. As a result of this tournament he qualified for the Premier Section of the 1939 BCF Congress.
     Owing to looming threat of war the British Championship was not at stake, but the Premier consisted of twelve players. It was a good experience for the 24-year old Kitto in spite of his poor performance. When war was declared during the penultimate round Euwe and Landau returned home immediately and so missed the last round.  For Kitto, chess and a career were put on hold when he became a bomber pilot in the RAF. 
     After the war he enjoyed considerable success in local events, often demolishing stronger players. His last appearance appears to have been in the WECU Congress in 1963. He died the following year at the early age of 49. 
     Kitto was something of an oddball...he was a stocky figure with a ruddy complexion and dark curly hair, seemed unaffected by cold weather, rarely wore socks and never an overcoat. After the war he became a psychologist who took in and looked after disturbed children. One writer described visiting Kitto's ramshackle home to find a hobo sitting in the hallway. He was famous for arriving late for club team matches so he had to rush his play, almost always had to borrow a pencil to record his games which he never kept. 

Monday, November 12, 2018

Would You Like An Open File With That?

     A while back I discovered and interesting game by C.J.S. Purdy in which he discussed open files and have been wanting to look at it in detail for quite some time. 
     In the introduction he wrote, “A single open file is a drawish thing...” That's because if there's just one open file the heavy pieces tend to get exchanged and any attempt to win the ensuing balanced minor piece ending is likely to be risky. Any small advantage one might have is not likely to be sufficient to overcome the inherent drawishness. You can see just how drawish a single open file can be in a King's Indian in the embedded game where even the mighty Samuel Reshevsky wasn't able to avoid the draw against a patzer named Tartajubow!!
     Purdy's advice was that player trying to win a game with one open file should try to open a second file, but he added the warning...bringing about a second Pawn exchange to open another file without damaging your position can be dangerous. Chess,com has a brief article by Natalia Pogonina HERE
     Purdy's notes to his game against Michael Woodhams in the 1967 Australian Championship are, as are all of Purdy's annotations, quite instructive. Of course, engines punched a few holes in his analysis, but it is the ideas he discussed that are important. 
     The 1967 Australian Championship was held in Brisbane and was won by Douglas G. Hamilton. Hamilton (born August 15, 1941) is an FM and Correspondence IM. He was also Australian Champion in1964-65 after winning a playoff and again in 1981-82. The 1967 Championship was a 34 player Swiss. Top finishers were: 
1) Douglas Hamilton 11.0-4.0 
2-3) Max Fuller and Michael Woodhams 10.0-5.0 
4-7) Gregory Koshnitsky, C.J.S. Purdy, William Geus and John Purdy 9.5-5.5 
8) Stanley Fell 9.0-6.0 
Games for Australian tournaments dating back to 1845 are archived at Ozbase

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Tribute To Eric Schiller

     Eric Schiller (March 20, 1955 – November 3, 2018) had an Elo rating of 2370 which made him a solid master. In addition, he was an International Arbiter and International Trainer, organized a few tournaments and reported on the Olympiads. He served as an arbiter at the FIDE World Championship 2000. Vladimir Kramnik and Garry Kasparov opted not to participate in the event, but they had both endorsed Schiller. As a chess developer, he wrote some of the reference manuals included in Chessmaster 5000 and he developed all the tutorials for Kasparov's Gambit. I well remember Kasparov's Gambit which was an underrated program that never sold well. In it Kasparov appeared on the screen and gave advice and comments during the game with a digitized voice.
     Schiller was born in New York City and graduated from the University of Chicago 1976, later teaching both there and at Wayne State University. In 1991, he earned his PhD in linguistics from the University of Chicago. After his undergraduate years, Schiller turned to music and founded a music group called the "Long Island Sound Ensemble" and studied conducting in Vienna, Salzburg and Hancock, Maine. 
     His PhD thesis was entitled "An autolexical account of subordinating serial verb phrase constructions". He was a published author in linguistics, specializing in Mon-Khmer languages. He was a co-founder of the Southeast Asian Linguistic Society and was an officer of the Chicago Linguistic Society. 
     He was probably best known as an author on a par with Fred Reinfeld for his output, but his books were much worse written that Reinfeld's who early in his career actually wrote some great books. Schiller's books were often criticized for thier slapdashery...they were riddled with spelling errors, typographical errors, factual errors and he was even accused of plagiarism. 
     In Kingpin magazine Anthony Miles reviewed Schiller's Unorthodox Chess Openings as "utter crap." While that may be true from a GM's perspective, it was written for average players and got 3 out of 5 stars in Amazon Reviews. I borrowed the book from the library and actually found it to be not "crap" but a reasonably good discussion of "crap" openings which can sometimes be fun to play. Carsten Hansen wrote of Schiller's book on the Frankenstein–Dracula Variation of the Vienna Game that it was "by far the worst book that I have ever seen." It also got 3 stars on the Amazon review. One reviewer gave it 4 stars and noted it "is primarily for entertainment, not so much analysis (there are only 30 or so very scant pages of opening analysis, followed by a poorly organized database dump of lightly annotated games. But for amusement purposes you won't be disappointed." 
     Highly respected International Master John L. Watson co-written three books with Schiller and considered some of Schiller's books to be well suited to its amateur audience. Of the books Watson co-authored he noted, "these books are explicitly aimed at the developing student, not the advanced player, and I think they both do a particularly good job of gently guiding an inexperienced player through a new opening...While Schiller probably deserves some of the criticism he gets, a consequence of writing too many books too quickly, he should also get credit when he does a good job." 
     International Master Jeremy Silman wrote of Watson and Schiller's The Big Book of Busts, "I am forced to swallow my bigoted view of Schiller's work (or does this just validate my opinion of Watson?) and admit that this is a great book." 
     Schiller won the Illinois Junior Championship in 1974 and played for the University of Chicago team several times at the Pan American Intercollegiate Team Championship. He was the Hawaii action and blitz champion for 1988/89. He was an organizer of the Hawaii International chess festivals 1994–98 including 1998 US Open and was California Champion in 1995.  
     Later that year, he appeared as a chess advisor for the rock band Phish on their "Chess Tour" where they played an ongoing game of two chess moves per tour stop and some band vs. audience partial games as part of their stage performance. 
     Since 2008, Schiller experienced some health setbacks including having his right hand and foot amputated due to complications from diabetes. Nonetheless, he remained active and ambulatory with the aid of a walker and taught chess at several elementary schools in and near Mountain View, California in affiliation with Bay Area Chess, where he lived in the last years of his life. He offered chess tutoring over the Internet via videoconferencing. He died on November 3, 2018 from complications of cardiovascular disease. 

Friday, November 9, 2018

Eric Schiller Has Passed Away

I just learned that Eric Schiller passed away on Saturaday at the young age of 63. Obituary

Constant Ferdinand Burille

     Burille was born on August 30, 1866 and passed away in Boston in October of 1914. It's not certain where Burille was was born, once source says Boston while another claims he was born in Paris. 
     During his career he faced most of the best masters in the country at one time or another and was considered to be the best player in New England for a number of years. As late as 1891 he was able to give Pillsbury odds of Pawn and move. Writing in Wonders and Curiosities of Chess, Irving Chernev claimed that Burille once solved 62 chess problems in one hour. 
     Burille was a member of a group of Boston chess players and theoreticians who formed a chess association they called the Mandarins of the Yellow Buttons. In order to join, a prospective member must have been an amateur chess player and must have beaten a recognized master, i.e. a professional international champion, in an even game of chess. 
     The club met on Saturday afternoon for chess and spent the evening dining together and discussing chess. The members included Franklin K. Young, F. H. Harlow, Dr. E.M. Harris, C. F. Howard, Major O.E. Michaelis, General W. C. Paine, Dr. Horace Richardson, Charles B. Snow, Henry Nathan Stone and Preston Ware.  Members later formed the Deschapelles Club of Boston where chess and whist was played.  The club's most prominent member was the 18-year old Pillsbury. 
     Burille finished 15th at New York City 1889 (the 6th American Chess Congress won by Mikhail Chigorin and Max Weiss). He beat F.K. Young (13.5–1.5) in a match in 1888, and lost to Harry N. Pillsbury (3–7) in 1892 (Burille gave odds of pawn and move). He also played in cable chess matches New York vs. London in 1896 (won a game against Henry Bird) and 1897 (lost a game to Henry Atkins). 
     Burille, also a checkers master, spent time as one of the operators of Ajeeb, a chess-playing automaton and during that time he played over 900 games of chess, losing only three and he never lost a single checkers game. 
     A skilled telegraph operator, Burille once used telegaphy to pull a joke on Pillsbury who was playing a game against an opponent to whom he had given Rook odds. Pillsbury's opponent was also a telegraph operator and Burille quietly tapped out suggested moves. As a result, Pillsbury lost several games and when he finally called it a night and observed that his opponent had never played that well before that's when he discovered he had actually been playing Burille at Rook odds. 
     A noted tacticain, Franklin K. Young gave a number of games by Burille in his book The Grand Tactics of Chess
     Although he only finished 15eth (out of 20) in the double-round 6th American Chess Congress with a score of 15-23, he scored wins over Chigorin and Gunsberg. 
     The sixth American Chess Congress was held in New York in 1889 and was a 20-man double round-robin tournament making it one of the longest tournaments in history. 
     The event was won by Mikhail Chigorin and Max Weiss. Both finished with a score of 29, but Chigorin defeated Weiss in their individual game and drew one...sort of. 
     The time limit was 15 moves per hour and an unusual feature was that if the second game was drawn, it didn't count and a third game was required with colors determined by lot. There were 48 draws in the second half of the tournament, so 48 additional games had to be played. 
     In the two regular games played betweem Chigorin and Weiss, both games were drawn, meaning they had to play a third game which was won by Chigorin. As a result, the tournament crosstable shows a draw and a win for Chigorin. 
     In order to determine a winner, Chigorin and Weiss played a match that was tied after four games. At that point both players stated they didn't want to continue the match, they just wanted to go home. The organizers reluctantly agreed and split the prize money. 
     The tournament was financed through the sale of 500 tournament books with subscribers paying $10 in advance and the money would be used for cash prizes and to pay Steinitz for annotating the games. In order to make sure subscribers got their money's worth, after the 500 books were printed the plates were destroyed which would make the books collector's items.  It also meant the tournament was not so well known.
     As a result of Lipschutz' sixth place finish, which was the best for an American player, his supporters in the Eastern US tried to push his claim to being US Champion but his claim was not accepted and George H. MacKenzie was still regarded as the US champion. 
     After MacKenzie's death there was some dispute as to who the US champion was. Mackenzie died in April 1891 and, later that year, Max Judd proposed he, Jackson Showalter and Lipschutz contest a triangular match for the championship. Lipschutz withdrew so Judd and Showalter played a match which was won by Judd. 
     A claim by Walter Penn Shipley that Lipschutz became US Champion as a result of being the top-scoring American at the Sixth American Chess Congress is refuted in a biography of Lipschutz. 
     Lipschutz was not officially recognized as US Champion until 1892 when he decisively defeated Jackson W. Showalter in a match +7 -1 =1. 
     Showalter played two other matches which apparently were not for the US Championship. In 1894 he defeated Albert Hodges in match play and then lost another match to Hodges in 1895. Some consider this to have been a single match with a break while others consider it to have been two separate matches. Overall, Hodges scored +11 -10 =5.  In 1895 Showalter defeated Lipschutz in a return match, scoring +7 -4 =3. 
     In 1897 Showalter lost the title to Pillsbury who held it until his death in 1906. After Pillsbury's death Frank Marshall, who was acknowledged to be the best US player, was generally regarded as champion, but in 1909 there arose considerable debate over the issue. 
     In 1908 Marshal had played a match with Capablanca and got wiped out, scoring one win and losing eight. As a result, Capablanca proclaimed himself to be American champion! 
     Marshall countered that because Capa wasn't an American citizen he could not be the champion and so Marshall himself was the Champ. At this point Walter Penn Shipley put forth the argument that neither Capa nor Marshall was the US Champion...it was Showalter. 
     His reasoning was that since Showalter had held the title he had never declined a challenge and until he did so, nobody could claim the championship. Shipley pointed out that while Marshall was the best US player and Capa defeated him, it was self-evident that a non-citizen could not be champion.
     Additionally, since Hodges had challenged and defeated Showalter, Hodges gained the title, but when Showalter issued a challenge for a rematch, Hodges declined and let the title revert back to Showalter. 
     Pillsbury then challenged and defeated Showalter to gain the title and upon Pillsbury's death, the title reverted back to Showalter. And, because the championship could not be decided in any way except through match play, Marshall had never challenged Showalter. Hence, Marshall was never champion and so Capa's claim to be th US champion was spurious. 
     The result of the debate was that Marshall challenged Showalter to a match that took place in late 1909. Marshall won by a score of +7 -2 =3 and became the US Champion. 
     As for the Sixth American Congress, Wikipedia says that under rules that reigning World Champion Wilhelm Steinitz helped to develop, the winner was to be regarded as World Champion for the time being, but must be prepared to face a challenge from the second- or third-placed competitor within a month. I think the article means "World Champion Challenger," not Champion. 
     Weiss, who was hardly World Champion material, was not interested. But, in 1889 Steinitz defeated Chigorin in a match in Havana and in 1891, he defeated Gunsberg in New York City and Chigorin again, also in Havana, in 1892. 

1-2) Weiss and Chigorin 29 – 9 
3) Gunsberg 28½- 9½ 
4) Blackburne 27-11 
5) Burn 26 -12 
6) Lipschuetz 25.5-12.5 
7) Mason 22 -16 
8) Judd 20 -18 
9) Delmar 18 -20 
10) Showalter 18 -20 
11) Pollock 17.5-20.5 
12) Bird 17 -21 
13) Taubenhaus 17 -21 
14) David Baird 16 -22 
15) Burille 15 -23 
16) Hanham 14 -24 
17-18) Gossip and Martinez 13.5-25.5 
19) John Baird 7 -31 
20) MacLeod 6.5-31.5 

Thursday, November 8, 2018

William Napier – A Secret Revealed

     William Ewart Napier (January 17, 1881 - September 6, 1952) was an American chess master of English birth. His parents emigrated to the United States when he was five years old and from 1895 he lived in Brooklyn and came into contact with some of the best chess players of the country. 
     He had his first successes with simultaneous games, winning in December 1894 against Jackson W. Showalter. Napier played correspondence chess, participating in one of the Continental Correspondence Chess Association’s preliminary sections in 1894. 
     When his family moved to Brooklyn, Napier, then only thirteen, looked up the twenty-four-year-old Hermann Helms and the two began their long association with the Brooklyn Chess Club. At first many club members believed Napier, at the age of 14 in early 1895, was too young to join a men’s club.
     Although Napier visited the Brooklyn Chess Club to play against the likes of Showalter in simultaneous exhibitions, Helms first took him to the Brooklyn Young Men’s Christian Association’s Chess and Checker Club to play regularly.
     Helms was one of the club's co-founders. The club's major distinction was that it used blackboards and lectures by stong players to give lessons, something not offered by most clubs. Helms was club Secretary and his brother Charles played there as well. It was there that both Helms and Napier honed their skills. But it was at the Brooklyn CC where Napier came to be known as “Brooklyn’s Boy Wonder." 
     In 1896, at the age of 15, he crushed 19-year old Frank Marshall with the impressive score of +7 -1 =3. Later that year he won the club championship. 1897 saw him win a tournament game against ex-world champion Wilhelm Steinitz. 
     In early 1899 he went to Europe to study music and while there visited the chess clubs of London, Paris and Berlin. In 1900 he returned to the US and established himself in Pittsburgh. There he wrote the chess column for the Pittsburgh Dispatch
     In 1901, he he tied for second place with Eugene Delmar in a double-round tournament in Buffalo, New York. Pillsbury was first; the other players were Clarence Howell, Frank Marshall (who scored a miserable 2-1/2 points) and Louis Karpinski. This success encouraged him to participate in the following years in Monte Carlo and Hanover in 1902 and Cambridge Springs in 1904. In both tournaments he received brilliancy prizes: Mikhail Chigorin and Curt von Bardeleben at Hanover and against John Barry at Cambridge Springs. 
    In July 1904, he visited Great Britain and won a tournament in London ahead of such players asTeichmann, Gunsberg, Blackburne and Leonhardt. Because of his English birth he was able to participate in the British championship at Hastings in 1904. He tied for first with Henry Atkins whom he defeated in the playoff +1 -0 =3. Blackburne finished thrid a full point back. 
     In 1905 Napier drew a match against Jacques Mieses (=4 -4 =2) and lost to Teichmann (=1 -5 =4). After his loss to Teichmann, Napier withdrew from the international tournament arena. 
     He became an American citizen in 1908 and began a career at an insurance company, becoming vice president of the Scranton Insurance Company. He married Florence Gillespie (Pillsbury's niece), with whom he later had two daughters. Although he still participated in chess, he played no more important tournaments. 
     When he died at the age of 71, his chess career was nearly forgotten. Chessmetrics assigned him a high rating of 2662 in 1906 which placed him 11th in the world. His rating put him a group with players like Ossip Bernstein, Heinrich Wolf, Oldrich Duras and Amos Burn. 
     The secret? I always thought he was an English player. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Steinitz' Mental Illness

Randall Island in 1855
     Wilhelm Steinitz (May 17, 1836 – August 12, 1900) was described as a sharp-tongued and violent tempered man which some have ascribed to his having what is known as Short Man Syndrome, or Napoleon Complex; he was barely five feet tall, plus he also suffered from congenital lameness. His end was undignified and tragic.
     Although he had long and friendly relationships with many people including Ignac Kolisch, Mikhail Chigorin, Harry N. Pillsbury, Bernhard Horwitz and Amos Burn, Steinitz himself admitted that under provocation he could become abusive in published articles and wrote, "Nothing would induce me to take charge of a chess column...Because I should be so fair in dispensing blame as well as praise that I should be sure to give offense and make enemies." 
     Although he had a strong sense of honor about repaying debts, Steinitz was poor at managing his finances and died in poverty in 1900, leaving his widow to survive by running a small shop. 
     After he lost his championship title in 1894, Steinitz traveled to Russia in a bid to reclaim the championship from Lasker but was defeated. Shortly afterward he suffered a mental breakdown and was confined to a Russian sanitarium where he spent his time playing chess with any inmate up for a game. 
     By the turn of the century, his erratic behavior had become even more pronounced and the stories are that he talked on wireless telephones and played chess with God. These stories have been examined in detail by Edward Winter HERE
     The New York Times used Steinitz' case to illustrate the perils of chess: “It is not without significance that the death of Steinitz should have been due to mental disorder….His death seems to be another admonition that ‘serious chess’ is a very serious thing indeed.” 
     According to an article appearing in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle on Tuesday, August 14, 1900 Steinitz had died the previous Sunday “a maniac in the Manhattan State Hospital on Randall's Island.”  Note most sources say he died on Ward's island, but it was actually on Randall's Island.  This is likely because today the two islands are co-joined, but in Steinitz' day they were separate.
     The article noted that during the height of his fame that while many honors had been heaped upon him, they all faded away and during the last three months of his life he had been confined to a public asylum and his friends had “almost forgotten that he lived.” 
     Steinitz came to the U.S. in 1883 and when he was 63 he married a 28-year old woman. They lived in a Harlem and in February of 1900, he astonished his wife by telling he that it was electricity that governed the children's health and that bolts of electricity kept him in good health. Additionally, he informed his wife that he was in electrical communication with chess players all over the world. He sat in a rocking chair in their apartment and imagined he talked with his friends in various European capitals. 
Inmates line up for a meal on Randall's Island
     Eventually he was pronounced insane and taken to Bellvue Hospital and from there to Randall's Island on February 8, 1900. His wife had no money to pay for private treatment and the Manhattan Chess Club raised $300, or about $9,000 in today's currency and Steinitz was transferred to River Crest, a private asylum in Astoria, a section of Queens. 
All that is left of River Crest

     Today at Ditmars Boulevard and 26th Street, there’s a curious ramp leading to a dead end, with a pair of gateposts. A high school now occupies the rear of the site. The ramp and gatepost are all that remain of River Crest Sanitarium, established there in 1896. 
     The asylum’s founder was Jonathan Joseph Kindred, M.D. There is a Kindred Building on 31st Street near Ditmars, most likely named for U.S. Rep. John J. Kindred (1864-1937), a Virginia native who moved to Queens and was elected to the House of Representatives, serving from 1911-13 and 1921-29. Dr. J.J. Kindred, the physician, founded several mental hospitals in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey. He was also a practicing attorney. 
     River Crest Sanitarium had closed by 1961 and was replaced by Mater Christi High School, now St. John’s Prep. Also, 26th Street was formerly known as Kindred Street, in honor of the Virginia doctor/lawyer.
     On April 7, 1900 Steinitz was released from River Crest having been pronounced as improved, but less than a month later, for the third time, he was declared as not being of sound mind. He was then taken to the Manhattan State Hospital on Randall's Island on May 2nd and remained there until his death. 
Location of Steinitz' funeral today
     His funeral was held on Tuesday, August 14, 1900 at 132 Essex Street in New York. Today the location, which sets between a Latin American restaurant and bar, is vacant. Steiniyz was buried in Evergreens Cemetery in Brooklyn.


     Short Man Syndrome, from which it has been suggested that Steinitz suffered, is also known as Napoleon Complex which may be a misnomer. While Napoleon is widely believed to have been very short, in fact historians have calculated his height to be around 5 feet 6 inches which was average for the time period. 
     It is a condition in which a person has to deal with a feeling of inadequacy which can come from a lack of height, or their perceived lack of height. This is particularly common in men who gain a lot of confidence and status from physicality and who often gain pleasure from being able to feel physically imposing. 
     It's a form of overcompensation and is one of the ego defense mechanisms as described by Freud, the idea being that the individual could this way protect themselves from the belief that they were smaller in size. At the same time the lack of confidence regarding their height might cause them to try and distract from it by proving themselves able to ‘mix with the big boys’. 
     The stereotype is that the man suffering from it is aggressive, likely to shout and talk loudly and seek attention and be eager to prove himself. Other personality traits have also been linked it it such as risk taking behavior and jealousy. 
     Scattered around the five boroughs are a set of islands (Roosevelt Island, North Brother Island, Randall’s Island and Wards Island, Rikers Island, and Hart Island) that have all been places where the poor, sick and criminal were sent to be treated (or sometimes just confined). 
     These are the Islands of the Undesirables with the water serving as a kind of moat to keep the inhabitants isolated. Until the 1960s, Randall’s and Wards were two distinct islands, with the stretch between them known as Little Hell Gate. But even before Manhattan dumped its construction rubble to fill that gap, both islands have long histories as drop-off points for unwanted items which included orphans, people dying of smallpox, the criminally insane and juvenile delinquents. Eventually the city even built a sewer plant on the site. 
     The city bought Randall’s Island in 1835 from a farmer named Jonathan Randel. In the 19th century, the island housed an orphanage, a poorhouse, a potters field (with over 100,000 buried there), a children's hospital and, as it was actually named, an Idiot Asylum. Today the cemetery has been paved over!
     The most notorious institution of all was probably the House of Refuge, a reform school completed in 1854 and run by the Society for the Reformation of Juvenile Delinquents. 
     The House held both street urchins and hardened criminals. The children spent four hours a day in religious and secular classes and six and a half hours caning chairs and making shoes. Children who misbehaved were hung up by their thumbs. In 1887, the institution stopped using the inmates as workers and conditions improved slightly, though there were still reports of inhuman treatment by drunken officers and armed revolts by the boys. 
     The New York City Asylum for the Insane later became the world’s largest mental institution and is now the Manhattan Psychiatric Center which is still located on the island. The Kirby Forensic Psychiatric Center is also on Wards, housing the criminally insane which includes Raymond Weinstein.