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Sunday, May 24, 2015

Ventnor City 1941

    Ventnor City is a city in New Jersey and as of the 2010 United States Census, the city's population was 10,650. In the late 1930's and 1940's many invitational tournaments were held there and at one time or another most all of the strongest U.S. players participated in them.
     The third tournament ended in July, 1941 and was won by Jacob Levin of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Levin was born in Daugavpils, Latvia in 1904 but moved to the U.S. when he was only a year old. The last time he had been heard of was in 1939 when he was among the prize winners at Ventnor City, but then he had disappeared until the 1941 event. He was a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania. He had gotten married earlier in 1941 and decided to take a short vacation from his work as an attorney to participate in the 1941 event.
     Levin, who passed away on June 17, 1992, finished second behind Abe Yanofsky in 1942, tied for 5th–7th in 1943, and won again in 1944. He tied for 8th–9th in the U.S. Championship held in New York in 1942 and in the 1946 U.S. Championship, also held in New York, he finished 4th. Levin was also selected as a reserve member of the U.S. team in the ill-fated Radio Match with the Soviet Union in September 1945. Reserves didn't play; they were only available if the invited players were not available.  (You can download my pdf booklet on the match HERE.)
     Not much was expected of Levin seeing that he had been inactive for a couple of years, but to everyone's surprise he won the tournament, a very strong one, ahead of Fred Reinfeld. Reinfeld of the Marshall Chess Club was the only player to escape defeat. Albert Pinkus of the Manhattan Chess Club started off with three straight win but then only scored 0.5-3.5 and looked to out of the running, but wins in the last two rounds allowed him to tie Anthony Santasiere for 3rd and 4th. Sidney Bernstein, Ariel Mengarini and Weaver Adams had even scores to tie for 5th – 7th. Robert Durkin and Milton Hanauer took 8th-9th with 3.0-6.0 while the previous year's fourth place finisher, Jeremiah Donovan, failed to win a game and only drew four to finish last.
     In his book The Bobby Fischer I Knew Arnod Denker called Albert Pinkus (20 March 1903, New York - 4 February 1984, New York) “the Indiana Jones of chess” because in 1932 he embarked on a series of ten expeditions to the jungles of British Guiana and Venezuela to collect zoological and botanical specimens. In 1939, he returned to New York to work on Wall Street as a stockbroker and resumed his chess career.
     Sidney Bernstein (13 July 1911, New York City – 30 January 1992, New York City) was a strong master who was a frequent participant in area tournaments. He played in three of the Ventnor City tournaments: he tied for 1st in 1940, tied for 5th-7th in 1941 and tied for 3rd-6th in 1942. He tied for 1st with Reinfeld in Manhattan Chess Club Championship at New York 1942. He played in eight U.S. Championships: 1936, 1938, 1940, 1951, 1954, 1957, 1959 and 1961.

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