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Saturday, February 18, 2017

The Obscure Celia Neimark

     Celia Neimark Ginsberg was born in the small town of West Austinville, Ohio on July 11, 1914 and died in Las Vegas, Nevada on May 1, 1998 at the age of 83. Visit her grave. Although it appears the town was frequently referred to as "West Austinville" by locals, it was actually "West Austintown", an unincorporated community started in 1869 when the railroad was extended to that point. A post office called West Austintown was established in 1872 and remained in operation until 1929.  
     Irving Spero, the Ohio State champion was the chess editor of the Youngstown (Ohio) Vindicator, and in 1921 planned a tournament, open to boys and girls fifteen and under and among the early entries were Celia and Fanny Neimark. It was presumed Fanny was Celia's sister, but no further information on the tournament seems to have ever surfaced. It is known that the famous chess and checker champion Newell W. Banks gave a simultanous against 21 players at the Youngstown club and he was held to a draw by Celia. About that time Sammy Rzeschewski (later Reshevsky) gave an exhibition in Cleveland, Ohio and one of his opponents was Louis Neimark, but it's not known what relation Louis was to her. 
     The seven year old Celia was a farm girl and was described by the papers of the day as being "as sturdy a specimen of a child as one would wish to see."  She was quite well known in the area and was elected to an honorary membership in the Youngstown Chess Club. 
     Spero referred to her as a chess prodigy and believed she was destined to make a mark in the chess world. On the occasion there was a picnic on her father's farm for the benefit of the Youngstown Relief Society and Celia played a simul against ten opponents. It was outdoors on a hot day and after an hour and a half her parents made her quit and the unfinished games were adjudicated. Her score was +6 -2 =2. The strength and identity of her opponents is unknown. 
     Celia also played a simul at the City Club of Cleveland against six opponents selected at random. In order to protect her from undue strain she was only allowed to play for about one hour and the games were adjudicated by Edward Lasker. She scored +3 -1 =2. 
     Her only known game is the one she played against Spero and nothing more was ever heard of her. 
     I did discover a Las Vegas company called The Star Auxiliary of Southern Nevada that was registered on December 29, 1971 with Celia Ginsberg listed as president. It was described as a domestic non-profit corporation, but I was unable to determine exactly what the purpose of the company was. It appears to have been an educational endeavor and at some point its exempt status was permanently revoked by the IRS for failure to file the required forms for 3 consecutive years. 
     It would be interesting to know what happened to her and her chess career and how she ended up in Las Vegas, but an internet search didn't turn up anything further. Another promising player lost to the realities of everyday life, I guess.

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