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Friday, July 31, 2015

Browsing the West Virginia Chess Bulletins

     While looking through some back issues of the Bulletin I came across the name of one Milton Q. Ellenby and that name rang a bell. I had seen it before in an old (I think) issue of Chess Review and I remembered Ellenby as having been from Ohio. 
     Ellenby was a frequent participant in Ohio and West Virginia tournaments during the war years, but very little about him turned up on a Google search. What I did find was that he was born on October 18, 1923 and passed away on Thursday, September 16, 2010 at the age of 86 in Skokie, Illinois. He was married to Helaine for over 53 years and had three sons: Alan, Martin and Miles. 
     Ellenby was an actuary and what is considered to be an “expert witness” as well as an author on the profession. An expert witness is a person who is permitted to testify at a trial because of special knowledge or proficiency in a particular field that is relevant to the case.
     It appears that he may have given up chess in favor of bridge because he participated in numerous World Team Championships for the game and there are frequent references to him and bridge in Google searches. 
     According to the October 1948 issue of the WV Chess Bulletin he had won the first Tri-State (West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania) Championship in 1945 at the age of 22 and in 1944 he had won the Ohio Junior Championship. At the time he was living in Dayton, Ohio. I was unable to locate any further information on him and didn't find any of his games either. 
      The Tri-State Championship was started in 1945 by Gene Collett, the WVCA Bulletin editor, Bill Byland, president of the Pennsylvania Chess Association and S. S. Keeney of the Ohio Chess Association. It was determined that the top two finishers in each state's championship would be invited to play for the Tri-State Championship. If one of the invited players could not participate, the state could find a replacement. The site of the event rotated among the three states. 
     Originally, the side events consisted of state matches, but full participation by all three states was hard to achieve. In 1949, a Junior event was started and in 1951, an Open Tournament was initiated and became part of the Tri-State festivities which were usually held on Veterans Day weekend. The Tri-State Junior Championship was a separate event until 1955. In 1955, there were not enough juniors to stage an event, so they were all entered in the Open Tournament. The highest finisher on the Open would then be declared the Junior Champion. 
     A list of the various champions is a Who's-Who of chess in the Tri-State area from 1945 to 1963. In the three tournaments one sees names like Milton Q. Ellenby, H. Landis Marks, Herman Hesse, Glen Hartleb, Saul Wachs, Tony Archipoff, Dr. Siegfried Werthammer, Charles Kalme, Charles Heising, Robert Bornholz, Jerry Fink, Richard Kause, Roger Johnson, Thomas Wozney, George Berry, Dr. Val Berzzarins, James Harkins and Lajos Szedlascek. Names from a bygone era that are mostly unknown even to modern players of the three states involved. 
     Here was an interesting little sidelight that happened in the 1947 championship played in Huntington: One player during the 1946 event had complained about the lack of chess clocks and proposed that the Association start a fund to buy clocks for the next championship. Officials investigated the possibility but discovered there were no clocks on the market! Their production had been discontinued during the war. 
    The solution was that several players made their own clocks and one produced by the brother of one of the players was said to actually resemble those sold commercially. And so, the 1948 tournament was the first state championship where clocks were used...an historic event!! 
     I did play over one interesting game from the preliminaries of the 1948 Charleston, West Virginia city championship that was annotated by Dr. Werthammer. His analysis was pretty good, but Komodo 8 and Stockfish 6 analysis showed that black's win was not so simple and white had some hidden resources. Isn't that always the case! I enjoyed playing over the game so I present it here.

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