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Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Buffalo 1894

    There was a lot going on in the chess world in 1894. Here are some of the highlights according to Bill Wall.
     Alfred Binet had done a series of experiments to see how well chess players played when blindfolded and reached the conclusion that masters retained information differently than amateurs. James Mason published his famous The Principles of Chess.
     Emanuel Lasker almost died of a fever and a broken blood vessel in London, but his brother, Dr. Berthold Lasker saved his life.
     Charles O. Jackson, who said he was a former President of the Indiana Chess Association, advertised that the Terra Haute Chess Club was hosting a Great Masters’ Continental Chess Congress and sent fliers to players encouraging them to send him a $25 entry fee. It was a scam and it was discovered he had run fake tournaments in the past. A women's chess club that lasted until 1949 was formed with 30 members in New York, by Eliza Foote.
     The original agreement of the world championship between Lasker and Steinitz was signed. The match was for $2,000 a side and the match began in March. Lasker won. Albert Hodges defeated Showalter 5-3 and became recognized as US champion.
     Steinitz won th New York International tournament and in December, Showalter's wife, Nellie, and Harriet Worrall played a match for the women’s championship. No one was admitted to the playing room, except the referee. Worrall won after Showalter had to quit due to illness.

     There was also an unheralded double round tournament held in Buffalo, New York in August. The players were Jackson W. Showalter, Harry N. Pillsbury, Horatio Albin and George Farnsworth. The first two players are well known and need no introduction, but the other two are lesser known.
     Adolf Albin (September 14, 1848 – February 1, 1920) was a Romanian player best known for the countergambit that bears his name and for authoring the first chess book written in Romanian. He was born in Bucharest, Romania to a wealthy family. After completing his studies in Vienna, he went back to Romania, where he ran the Frothier Printing House in Bucharest. Soon he became associated with Dr. Bethel Henry Baron von Stroussberg, working as a translator for the influential railroad tycoon who was nicknamed "The King of Railways." Stroussberg's financial bankruptcy in 1875 led to Albin's exile in Vienna once again, together with his wife and 3 children. He died at age 72 in a Vienna sanatorium.
     Albin came to chess relatively late, only learning how to play in his 20s and he did not play in international events until his 40s. Albin was famous for his originality and his eccentric and dashing, aggressive playing style. He spent a brief period in New York from 1893-1895. In a tournament in New York in 1893 Albin finished second behind Emanuel Lasker and ahead of Showalter and Pillsbury. He also played in the very strong tournaments at Hastings 1895 and Nuremberg 1896. His tournament results on the whole were spotty, but they included wins over many strong players. According to Chessmetrics his best period was in 1895 when his 2643 rating ranked him number 15 in the world.
      George Farnsworth (1851 – October 17, 1896, 45 years old) is much less well known. He is probably best known for the Farnsworth Cup given by his widow for competition in class tournaments. The American Chess Magazine called Farnsworth, “one of the most active and earnest supporters” the NY State Chess Association ever had. Farnsworth, who died prematurely of a heart condition, was rated by Chessmetrics at 2541 on the September 1895 rating list, placing him at number 39 in world. His performance rating at Buffalo was 2535.

1) Showalter 4.0-2.0
2) Pillsbury 3.5-2.5
3) Albin 2.5-3.5
4) Farnsworth 2.0-4.0

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