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Friday, December 1, 2017

Ventnor City 1940

    The string of tournaments held at Ventnor City, New Jersey from 1939 to 1945 were marvelous events that featured almost all the prominent American masters of the day. Originally it was hoped that the tournaments would rival Hastings, but it wasn't to be. World War Two broke out in Europe in September of 1939 so getting foreign masters presented a problem. Then the United States entered the war after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. There was no 1946 event because of various difficulties and in 1947 it was changed from an invitational to an open event, but only 20 players showed up and that was the end of it.
     The 1939 tournament proved to be not just enjoyable because of the resort surroundings, but tournament expenses were low so the prizes were good. It so successful that the organizers wanted to make the 1940 event even better. Held from July 6-14, the second Ventnor City Invitational was even able to award prizes to the players who didn't finish in the top places.
     One innovation in this event was, for the first time in history, the use of electric clocks which were designed and manufactured by Gerald Phillips, one of the tournament officials; the clocks worked perfectly.
     Shortly before the tournament was slated to begin Fred Reinfeld and Jacob Levin withdrew citing business reasons. They were replaced by Jeremiah Donovan and L. Walter Stephens.
     The last two rounds were the most exciting. Eight players were statistically able to share first and ten of the players could share in the first four prizes. As it turned out, both Bernstein and Hanauer had to win their last rounds games to finish first. The most surprising player was Donovan who reinforced the impression he had made in the recent Marshall Chess Club Championship. In the end, Hanauer and Bernstein shared first prize and possession "of the Challenge Trophy, six months each." Frank Marshall was there award the trophy. Marshall also gave a 10 board simul, scoring +8 -0 =2.

The contestants:

Milton Hanauer (1908-1988), had a law degree but never practiced law. He had also earned a PhD. in French Literature and taught French in Haarlem. He later became a high school principal and promoter of chess in schools. He authored a few beginner books: Chess Made Simple, Chess Made Easy, Chess Streamlined, Checkers Made Simple, Chess and Chess For You and Me. As a sidebar, Chess Made Simple is still a pretty good book. See HERE.
Anthony Sanatsiere - (1904 – 1977) was among the top US players from the late 1920s into the mid 1950s. He never earned an international title in chess, and had very little international competition. In addition to chess, he wrote extensively on non-chess topics and was a middle school mathematics teacher. He wrote three novels, 13 books of essays, 14 collections of short stories, and 30 volumes of a personal journal. And, according to Arnold Denker, a lot of bad poetry. Santasiere won the 1945 US Open, four New York State championships, and six Marshall Chess Club championships. He also played in four US Championships. As a chess writer he was colorful and highly opinionated. I once had a copy of an old chess magazine in which Santasiere annotated the games from the Reshevsky-Kashdan match and he was highly critical of both players for their choice of openings. Both were criticized for failing to give chess fans Romantic chess! In the 1970s he and Larry Evans engaged in a war in print and Evans severely criticized Santasiere when he asked, "Where are the glorious games which qualify Santasiere as the darling spokesman of Romanticism?”
Olaf T. Ulvestad – see HERE
Harry Morris (1905-1966) was a president of the Mercantile Library Chess Club of Philadelphia and a four-time State Champion. He was a procurement officer in the Air Force until he retired at age 55. 
Harold Burge (1896-1979) was the New Jersey state champion in 1938 and in 1939.
Edgar T. McCormick (1914-1991) earned a mathematics degree from Princeton in 1935. He enlisted in the Army in 1941. Stationed in Iceland, he served as a cryptologist. A chess promotor, he was two-time New Jersey champion and Virginia champion once. He won the US Amateur Championship twice and at the time of his death was the reigning Amateur Champion.
Sidney Bernstein- see HERE
Weaver Adams - see HERE
Jeremiah Donovan - (Dates of birth and death unknown.  A search online yielded several people named Jeremiah F. Donovan.  The most likely candidate was born on July 24, 1921 and died at the age of 67 on January 23, 1989. He had been residing in West Palm Beach, Florida. No other information was available and it's pure speculation, but the age is about right.) was a star player, along with Herbert Seidman, on the Brooklyn College chess team when he played in this tournament. He soon enlisted in the US Army where he obtained the rank of sergeant.  Donovan was a member of the Marshall Chess Club and participated in several US Opens. A feared opponent in New York chess circles, he was especially good at blitz.
Herbert Seidman (1920-1994) won the Marshall Club Championship in early 1942 where he was undefeated. He graduated that year and also enlisted in the Army. He won the Marshall Club Championship in 1944, 1945, tied with Hanauer in 1946, and was the club champion again in 1955. Seidman also played in the 1945 US-USSR Radio Match where he lost both of his games against Ragozin. After earning his MBA degree he was employed by the American Cancer Society where he rose to the position of Vice-President of Epidemiology and Statistics. His papers on smoking-related cancer were widely published.  In 1961 Seidman was co-champion of New York with Pal Benko and won the State title in 1971.     
Philip Woliston disappeared after this tournament only to pop up again, this time known as Philip Geffe to finish second in an open tournament in Nevada. see HERE
L. Walter Stephens (1883-1948) had served as captain of the Princeton chess team and earned a MA in education from Columbia in 1915. Stephens also served as TD in many tournaments and served as secretary of the Manhattan Chess Club from 1924-1941. After his retirement, his wife replaced him from 1942-1954. Arnold Denker wasn't a fan of either of them. It was Stephens who mistakenly forfeited Denker in the 1942 US Championship when Reshevsky exceeded the time limit.  Stephens refused to change his decision even when spectators pointed out his error.  His decision allowed Reshevsky to tie with Kashdan for the title. Reshevsky went on to defeat Kashdan in a match for the championship.

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