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Sunday, February 21, 2016

Pasadena 1932, A Forgotten Tournament

Dake beating Alekhine
     The little known Pasadena International Chess Tournament of 1932 ended in another tournament win for Alekhine. 
The field: 

     Alekhine, the world champion, arrived in Pasadena after a trip of over 8000 miles that took 15 days by ship and rail from Berne, Switzerland where he had just won a tournament. He only had one serious rival, Isaac Kashdan.
     At that time Isaac Kashdan was considered the best American player. He was the winner of the Manhattan Chess Club championship and had played first board on the victorious American team at the Olympiad held in Prague in 1931. Alekhine had actually named Kashdan as one of the most likely players to succeed him as World Champion. Unfortunately Kashdan had more important things to to like earning a living as an insurance salesman to support his family. In this tournament Kashdan's second place finish came as no surprise. As a sidebar, Kashdan had been invited to the tournament in Berne, but declined so that he could participant in Pasadena. To help finance his trip to Pasadena, Kashdan set off on a cross country exhibition tour that was designed to get him in Pasadena in time for the tournament. 
     At the age of 18 Reuben Fine was the youngest player, but he had impressed everyone with recent success in winning the championship of the Marshall Chess Club and the Western Open, the tournament that was to become the U.S. Open.  
     Samuel Reshevsky was a student at the University of Chicago. Herman Steiner, then of New York, had been a three-time member of the US Olympic Team. Arthur Dake of Portland, Oregon, the strongest player ever from the west coast, had won the Marshall Chess Club championship and had been on the winning team at Prague in 1931. Jacob Bernstein of New York was a prominent player in the state and had won the state championship several times. Fred Reinfeld was a student at the City College of New York, the current New York state champion and he had also won the Intercollegiate Chess League championship. Samuel D. Factor was champion of Chicago for many years and also was a recent winner of the Western Open. Adolph J. Fink was the strongest player in San Francisco and a former state champion. Harry Borochow of Los Angeles was the current California state champion. Captain Jose Araiza was a member of the Mexican army and was the champion of Mexico many times. 
     The tournament came about because organizers in California wanted to hold an international event and at the same time attract Alekhine as part of his world tour. It was claimed that Alekhine did tours because the money, hard to come by in the depression years, was good and they played to his ego...he got to do a lot of bunny bashing in the simuls and exhibition games. 
     Originally the organizers were going to include Capablanca because after Alekhine had wrested the title from Capa the two had evaded each other. In 1929 Alekhine accepted a challenge from Bogoljubow who was an easy mark, but avoided a return match with Capa. At the same time Nimzovich was considered a potential challenger, having won a very strong event ahead of Capa in Carlsbad 1929. So, they hoped to get Capa to play as a rival to Alekhine. 
     Capablanca apparently was willing to play, but Alekhine wrote a letter to the organizers saying that if Capa played he wanted an extra $2,000! Now, in 1932 that represented about $32,000 in today's dollars and that was a whopping amount in depression times. Alekhine was no doubt worried that if Capa finished ahead of him it would result in the chess world demanding a rematch which he was not anxious to allow. In the end, due to a lack of money on the part of the organizers, Capa was out and that left Kashdan as Alekhine's strongest opponent. Remember, Fine and Reshevsky were not yet quite at that level. 
     It was also hoped that Frank Marshall would be able to arrange his affairs so that he would also be able to participate, but in the end he was not able to play either. William E. Napier, then living in Brooklyn, New York was also considered a possible participant. In addition to Araiza four Mexican players were to be selected for the side event on the basis of their results in a Mexico City tournament. Another player, John Tippin of California, was also considered a likely participant, but he also ended up not playing.  All the American players were responsible for funding their own expenses and the Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported that a fund to which readers could contribute to help the players defray their expenses had been established by the tournament organizers.
     Herman Steiner lost his first round game but then scored 3 wins and two draws, but his finish was poor. Likewise, Reshevsky lost ground towards the end, most probably because he was worn out by having to play a lot of adjournments. Harry Borochow played steady chess and maintained an even score throughout the tournament. Bernstein was unsteady, losing three games early on, but then going through the last 8 rounds without a loss. Factor had a promising start, but then lost three games in a row towards the end. Fine's result was considered a disappointment.. Reinfeld started out well, collapsed in the middle, but recovered to finish well. Araiza had a poor tournament but did manage to scare Alekhine and did well in the last three rounds which included a win over Dake. Fink only managed to avoid complete disaster by scoring a point and a half in the last two rounds. 

Final standings: 

1) Alekine - 8.5 (one loss to Dake) 
2) Kashdan - 7.5 (one loss to Alekhine) 
3-5) Dake – 6.0 (one loss to Reshevsky) 
3-5) Reshevsky (losses to Alekhine, Kashdan, Borochow and Reinfeld) 
3-5) Steiner (losses to Alekhine, Kashdan and Munoz) 
6) Borochow - 5.5 
7-9) Bernstein - 5.0 
7-9) Factor 
7-9) Fine (losses to Reshevsky, Steiner and Borochow) 
10) Reinfeld - 5.0 
11) Araiza Munoz - 3.5 
12) Fink - 3.0 
     There was also a side event that was won by Reverend Howard Ohman of Omaha, the many time Nebraska champion and a woman's tournament. Lavieve Mae Hines won the event. Perhaps the fact that Ms Hines was personally coached by Alekhine helped.  A Google search turned up nothing on her except that she was born in 1930 and was from Los Angeles.  Dale Brandreth spent 30 years trying to locate all the games from this event for his book on the tournament as according to reviews, he included some biographical information on her.  She appears to have been one of the strongest female players of her day, but "retired" shortly after the event.   
     It appears that LaVieve Hines had beaten many strong men players and she had played Alekhine in a simul and and lost.  Her results in a second was another loss, but she played better.  Finally, in a third simul game Alekhine offered her a draw. It was reported that after that Alekhine spent some time at her and her mother's estate where he gave her opening advice and some instruction.  According to Brandreth's book, Hines was pursued by one Clif Sherwood, who was chess columnist for the LA Times from 1927 to 1933  Sherwood also pursued a young French woman named Gabrielle Andrieux and was unsuccessful.  When she refused to marrry him Sherwood murdered her then committed suicide.  An article on the murder appeared in the San Jose Evening News can be read HERE.

     Here is Dake's celebrated win over Alekhine where the world champion was never in the game. Dake had played steady as a rock for most of the event, winning 6 games and drawing two, but then ran into trouble when he lost two out of his next three games. Then he met Alekhine in the tenth round when Alekhine was already assured of first place. 

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