Random Posts

Play Live Blitz


Thursday, May 17, 2018

Adele Rivero Belcher

    Adele Rivero Belcher (1908 - 1992) is somewhat of a mysterious woman. Born in Belgium, Rivero was the name of her first husband and little is known of her life before she came to the United States.
     She was born to Flemish parents in Antwerp and went to school in Belgium and France. She said that as a child because of illness and the war the family had to keep moving. As a result she had little time for normal childhood play; she had no use for dolls and she didn't particularly like the other kids. 
     She described herself as introspective and curious about everything and always analytical and believed life held a lot of adventure and she was always looking for it. She described the time when she was little that she decided to try and fly. “I remember that once, when I was quite small, I decided to fly by means of will power alone. I took the jump as the take-off. Which turned out quite disastrously.'' 
     A sober and mature little girl, she had absolutely no sense of fear. At the age seven years old when Antwerp was being bombed she absolutely refused to go down in the cellar. "I said to them, with a child's determination. 'If I die, I'm going to die in bed."  It wasn't until 1937 that she claimed to have acquired the rudiments of fear and that was when she witnessed a burglar entering an apartment. 
     After arriving in New York she worked as a stenographer (a job that involved taking shorthand) and first began attracting attention in 1934 when she tied for second place in the first women’s tournament that was organized by Caroline Marshall at the Marshall Chess Club. After the tournament she joined the Marshall Chess Club and began playing against male players. 
     In the Marshall Club Women’s tournament held in 1936, she scored a perfect 5-0 finishing ahead of Mary Bain and Mrs. B.W. McCready. Owing to the success of those two events the Marshall announced a tournament that was to determine the American woman's champion. 
     In 1936, Rivero stated, “More American women would take up chess if there was anything in it for them...The game needs a whale of a lot of publicity just as bridge had. At the present time there are very few American women who even play a passable game.” She also complained of the lack of funding for women's chess. 
     The first Women’s Chess Championship held by the American Chess Federation was won by Rivero in 1937 and the first National Chess Federation’s Women’s Championship was won by Mona May Karff in 1938. Following the merger of the two organizations, the United States Chess Federation held its first women’s chess championship in 1940, which was won by Rivero. 
     She agreed to defend her title in 1941 in a match against Mona May Karff who won the match. The day before the match against Karff she married Donald Belcher which may explain why she lost the match so badly. 
     Prior to the match with Karff, Chess Review described Rivero: “Slim, petite Adele Rivero...plays strong, conservative chess. Inclined to be nervous, she exercises remarkable control in important games, displays great powers of stamina and concentration, nurses small advantages into the end-game.” 
     Karff scored a decisive 5-1 win and Belcher's play was weak and contained a lot of outright blunders. After the match Horowitz wrote, "Mrs. Belcher...was nervous and self-conscious, made some incredible blunders, showed every sign of being badly out of practice. After losing four straight, she came to life in the fifth game, smartly out-played her opponent, put on a real show for her many admirers, only to lapse into defeat in the sixth and final game." They split the $197 prize money, which would amount to about $3,400 these days. 
     At some point she ended up in Vermont where she went down in the Vermont chess history books when she become the first woman to win the state championship. That was in 1954. She appears to have remained active in Vermont chess up until the early 1960s. She passed away at the age of 84 in Williston, Vermont and is buried in Barre, Vermont.
     I did a post on Belcher's opponent in this game HERE. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle has some columns mentioning Donald Belcher HERE and HERE. There is mention of the Belcher - Karff match HERE.

No comments:

Post a Comment