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Monday, January 29, 2018

1918 Rye Beach Masters' Tournament

Harlow B. Daly
    Back in 1918 nine masters from the New York City area, one from Boston and one from Hartford, Connecticut met at the Rye Beach Hotel in Rye Beach, New York from July 22nd to July 26th. He tournament was for the New York State Chess Association Championship.

     For unknown reasons Black had finished his schedule early and two of the games were to be played at the Manhattan Chess Club on July 28th. Going into the final round Abraham Kupchik and Oscar Chajes were tied for first with 6.5-0.5 each, followed by Jacob Bernstein with 5-2, Roy T. Black with 5-3 and Charles Jaffe with 4-3. Fittingly enough, the last round pairings at the Manhattan Chess Club were was Kupchik vs. Chajes which was won by Kupchik thereby securing first prize. The other game was between Jaffe and Bernstein and was won by Jaffe and as a result he tied Bernstein and Black for third place.
     Kupchik was undefeated and was held to a single draw by Bernstein while Chajes lost only to Kupchik and drew with McCudden. 
     Arnold Denker described Kupchik as a “frightened little rabbit.” Denker wrote of him, Kupchik was a tiny, whisper of a man with the saddest eyes he had ever seen. Denker claimed that if chess were nothing more than an analytical science then Kupchik would likely have made it into the big time. Known to club members as “Kuppele” or “Kup” he was, according to Denker, repulsed at the idea of attacking an opponent; defensive chess was the name of the game. However, he was extremely good at 10-second per move chess. 
   He tied for first with Frank Marshall at Lake Hopatcong in 1923 and finished second behind Capablanca at Lake Hopatcong in 1926, ahead of Maroczy and Marshall. In 1935 at the Warsaw Chess Olympics, playing 3rd board, Kupchik scored an impressive +6 -0 =8. Both Kupcik and Chajes were considered as inviteee to the great New York 1924 tournament, but it was decided that neither of them would have added anything to the tournament except two extra rounds inspite of the fact that Kupchik had a superior record to at least two of the participants.

1) Kupchik 7.5-0.5
2) Chajes 6.5-1.5
3-5) Jacob Bernstein, Roy T. Black and Charles Jaffe 5-4
6) Harry Borochow 3-6
7) Harlow B. Daly 2.0
8) J.L. McCudden 1.5-6.5
9) Ring 0.5-8.5

     Daly's game against J.L. McCudden was interesting because he used the Danvers Opening. Or, as I like to call it, the Nakamura Attack because Hikaru Nakamura has been known to use it occasionally in Internet blitz games. Besides blitz, Nakamura also used it in two serious tournament games: he drew against GM Nikola Mitkov in the 2005 HB Global Chess Challenge in Minneapolis, Minnesota and against Indian GM Krishnan Sasikiran in the 2005 Sigeman Tournament in Copenhagen/Malmo, Denmark. In that game he got a playable position out of the opening but later lost. He later wrote on the Internet, "I do believe that 2.Qh5 is a playable move...”  Dutch GM Hans Ree called 2.Qh5 "a provocative but quite sensible move", and suspected it could be effective because of its shock value.
     Daly is known to have used the opening at least twice; in this game and against G.N. Cheny in the 1906 New York State Championship at Trenton Falls. He won both games, but like Nakamura, the wins probably had more to do with the strength of the player than of the opening. Contemporary British problemist W.P. Turnbull wrote, the Danvers Opening is not so bad as it looks. Still, many players would take umbrage with those assessments.
     The Danvers Opening, also known as the Queen's Attack, Queen's Excursion, Wayward Queen Attack, Patzer Opening and the Parham Attack, as far as anybody knows, made its first appearance in print in the Dubuque Chess Journal in May 1875, where it was dubbed the Kentucky Opening, perhaps in reference to a game played in Danville, Kentucky, which was published in the August issue of the same magazine. J.H. Blackburne, in Mr. Blackburne's Games at Chess referred to the Jerome Gambit (a variation of the Giuoco Piano where white plays 4.Bxf7+) as the Kentucky Opening.
Roy T. Black

     Or, it could have come from the American Chess Bulletin in 1905 where it was referred to as the Danvers Opening by E. E. Southard, a well-known psychiatrist and a strong amateur player, after the hospital where he worked.  Southard was a doctor and a specialist on mental diseases at the Danvers Insane Hospital. 
     As a point of interest, the Danvers State Hospital, also known as the State Lunatic Hospital at Danvers, Massachusetts was built in 1874, and opened in 1878, under the supervision of prominent Boston architect Nathaniel Jeremiah Bradlee, on an isolated site in rural Massachusetts. It was a multi-acre, self-contained psychiatric hospital designed and built according to the Kirkbride Plan.
     The hospital was the setting for the 2001 horror film Session 9 and was also featured in the 1958 film Home Before Dark. In the book Project 17 by Laurie Faria Stolarz, the plot involves six teens breaking into Danvers. In the video game Painkiller, one of the levels, called Asylum, is based on the central administration section. While the outside is a faithful reproduction, the inside is not. The Danvers State Hospital is believed by literary historians to have served as inspiration for the infamous Arkham sanatorium from H.P. Lovecraft's The Thing on the Doorstep. In spite of being included in the National Register of Historic Places in 1984, the majority of the building was demolished in 2007.
     The opening is also somewhat famous for having been played by t hat snoot, actor Woody Harrelson, against Garry Kasparov in a 1999 exhibition game in Prague. Harrelson achieved a draw after being assisted by several grandmasters who were in Prague attending the match between Alexei Shirov and Judith Polgar. Then in 2000, Kasparov again faced the opening as black when tennis star Boris Becker played it against him in an exhibition game in New York; Kasparov won in 17 moves.
    The opening can cause black some problems by forcing him to first defend the e-Pawn then to either play 3...g6 (virtually committing Black to fianchettoing his king bishop), 3...Qe7 (blocking the bishop), or 3...Qf6 (taking away the knight's best square).
     Daly (1883-1979), who's career spanned 75 years, played, among others, Alekhine, Dake, Koltanowski, Lasker, Marshall, Mieses, Pillsbury and Torre.

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