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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Stasch Mlotkowski

Stasch Mlotkowski (10 March 1881, Clifton Heights, New Jersey – 16 August 1943, Gloucester City, New Jersey) was born into a Polish family in the United States. According to the American Chess Bulletin, 1904, his parents were born in Poland and in 1890 the family moved to Camden, New Jersey.
       At the beginning of his career, he tied for 9-10th at Philadelphia 1900/01. He played several cable matches for Franklin Chess Club of Pennsylvania against Chicago CC in 1904 and Manhattan CC (1904, 1905, 1906, 1907, 1908, 1909, 1910, 1911, and 1912), as well as in a cable match USA vs. England in 1909.   He won at St. Louis 1904 (U.S. Open Chess Championship).
       He finished 9th at St. Louis 1904 (the 7th American Chess Congress, won by Frank Marshall, tied for 9-10th at Philadelphia 1904, took 2nd, behind C.S. Martinez, at Philadelphia 1911, participated in the American Chess Bulletin tournament in 1914/15, tied for 3rd-4th at Atlantic City 1920 (Marshall won), took 10th at Atlantic City 1921 (the 8th American Chess Congress, won by David Janowsky), shared 1st with Norman Whitaker at San Francisco 1923 (US Open), took 8th at Detroit 1924 (US Open, Carlos Torre won), tied for 3rd-5th at Kalamazoo 1927 and took 6th at Bradley Beach 1928 (won by Abraham Kupchik).
Młotkowski was an odd character who had a serious hearing defect.  He lived in a very messy room on Mickel Street in Camden, near the historic locale of the poet Walter Whitman. He was unpredictable and could never be depended on to show up for appointments.  His room was described as “messy’ with the bed always littered with  empty bottles of ketchup and the room full of beverage containers.
       Members of the chess club would give him a lot of items of clothing in an attempt to improve his appearance, but he had a habit of not matching anything.  He might show up, for example, wearing  a green jacket, brown pants and a purple tie.
       During his games he would chain smoke cigarettes and he would often get a nervous tick then get up and walk around, returning only when he had calmed down and was able to concentrate.
       Młotkowski was a strong player and did many of the annotations in P.W. Sergeant’s book, Morphy Gleanings.
       He was friends with the infamous Norman T. Whitaker and in San Francisco in 1923 he and Whitaker shared first place in the US Open.  At that time Młotkowski lived in California, and according to one acquaintance, he had tried to marry a minor movie star. Shortly after the tournament in San Francisco, Młotkowski had to appear in Federal Court in Los Angeles where he was compelled to identify the handwriting of Whitaker. The result was Whitaker being sent to prison (again), this time for transporting a stolen car. Whitaker never held a grudge though and they remained friends.

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