After having exchanged email with an old Montreal friend of mine a while back, Neil Sullivan (we can be carbon- dated back to Arthur Langlois’ Alekhine Chess Club in the early 70’s), I found myself taking a look at the number of books in my chess library. I stumbled across the thin tournament booklet of Cambridge Springs 1904, squeezed in between two massive volumes . I have a rare copy , 1935, first printing, that was given to me by a dear friend from Zimbabwe many years ago.
The book was written by none other than Fred Renfeld. I would not have thought of writing of this tournament on my blog but for the precious introduction written by Fred himself:
”It may seem incongruous, in view of the endless procession of tournaments and matches, to bring out the book of a tournament which ended 31 years ago to the day. Nine of the participants of the Cambridge Springs Tournament , some of them among the greatest masters the game has had,are no longer with us. To honor the dead and at a same time to pay tribute to Frank.J.Marshall’s glorious triumph in one of the most notable tournaments in chess history, seemed to me two tasks which demanded completion….I have been somewhat handicapped in the production of this book by the shameless apathy of those from whom I had every reason to expect some interest in such a volume….” May 19, 1935
I could not resist to write a bit of this famous tournament, if only to honour the memory of the person who gave me the book!
Cambridge Springs International Chess Tournament
The very first great international chess tournament to be held in America took place at the health resort Cambridge Springs, from April 25th to May 19th 1904. The participants included the World Champion, Emanuel Lasker, who had not played in a chess tournament for 4 years. The 16 participants included many of the best in the world, 8 from Europe and 8 from the U.S
Tarrasch declined an invitation to participate because of Lasker’s presence. Maroczy was unable to accept for professional reasons. These were about the only two leading players in the world missing from the tournament.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6
1 Marshall * ½ 1 ½ 1 1 ½ 1 1 1 1 ½ 1 1 1 1 13.0
2 Lasker ½ * 1 ½ ½ 0 1 0 1 1 1 1 1 ½ 1 1 11.0
3 Janowsky 0 0 * ½ ½ 1 1 1 1 0 1 1 1 1 1 1 11.0
4 Marco ½ ½ ½ * ½ ½ 1 ½ 0 1 0 ½ 1 ½ 1 1 9.0
5 Showalter 0 ½ ½ ½ * ½ 1 1 1 ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 8.5
6 Schlechter 0 1 0 ½ ½ * 0 ½ ½ 0 ½ 1 1 ½ 1 ½ 7.5
7 Chigorin ½ 0 0 0 0 1 * ½ 1 0 1 1 ½ 1 0 1 7.5
8 Pillsbury 0 1 0 ½ 0 ½ ½ * 0 1 ½ ½ 0 1 ½ 1 7.0
9 Mieses 0 0 0 1 0 ½ 0 1 * 1 1 1 0 ½ 1 0 7.0
10 Fox 0 0 1 0 ½ 1 1 0 0 * 1 0 1 1 0 0 6.5
11 Teichmann 0 0 0 1 1 ½ 0 ½ 0 0 * 1 ½ 0 1 1 6.5
12 Napier ½ 0 0 ½ ½ 0 0 ½ 0 1 0 * 0 1 1 ½ 5.5
13 Lawrence 0 0 0 0 ½ 0 ½ 1 1 0 ½ 1 * ½ 0 ½ 5.5
14 Barry 0 ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ 0 0 ½ 0 1 0 ½ * 0 1 5.0
15 Hodges 0 0 0 0 ½ 0 1 ½ 0 1 0 0 1 1 * 0 5.0
16 Delmar 0 0 0 0 0 ½ 0 0 1 1 0 ½ ½ 0 1 * 4.5
The surprise winner of the tournament was the US Champion, Frank Marshall. He was 26 years old at the time
The tournament was held at the luxury Rider Hotel, a huge complex that included 500 rooms, and a bowling alley!
All of the European participants (including Marshall, who had just won a tournament in Monte Carlo) crossed the Atlantic in the Pretoria, travelling first class. They arrived on April 16 in New York and travelled to Cambridge Springs on April 21. The sponsors were W.D. Rider, I.L. Rice, Erie Railroad Company and subscribers to the Daily Bulletin. Baron Rothschild was also involved.
There was tremendous wealth being created in America at around the turn of the 20th century, with a few individuals having as much as 10 times the wealth of modern day Bill Gates. It is good to see that some of them had interest in chess tournaments!
Cambridge Springs was a health resort in Pennsylvania, famous for its spas and mineral waters. It advertised that it was the town that was halfway between New York and Chicago when you took the Erie Railroad line. It is in northwestern Pennsylvania about 30 miles south of Erie, Pennsylvania.
The town was founded in the early 1800s by German and Irish families. It was first called Cambridge Township, then Cambridgeboro. In 1897 it was changed to Cambridge Springs to acknowledge the importance of the mineral springs in the area. The mineral waters was supposed to cure almost anything.
In 1903 William Douglass Rider, Jr. wanted an international chess tournament at his resort hotel (constructed in 1895-97). Most of the support and funding was provided by Rider and the directors of the Eire Railroad Company. Additional support was received from chess clubs around the country in the form of subscriptions to the daily chess bulletins. Another financial backer was Professor Isaac Leopold Rice (1850-1915), a millionaire who made his fortune as a corporate lawyer. He was a chess patron who gave his name to the Rice Gambit in the King’s Gambit Accepted (1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 g5 4.h4 g4 5.Ne5 Nf6 6.Bc4 d5 7.exd5 Bd6 8.O-O Bxe5 9.Re1). Another financial backer was Baron Albert de Rothschild (1844-1911) of Vienna.
Unfortunately, while the tournament was a big success, it was never repeated since Mr. Rider died the very next year. In 1912, the Hotel Rider was sold to the Polish National Alliance College. President William Taft was on hand for the opening ceremonies of the new technical school. The building burned to the ground in 1931. Later rebuilt, the college housed the largest collection of Polish writing in the United States.
Not having played any serious chess in 4 years, Lasker lost to both Schlechter and Pillsbury in the early rounds of the tournament. From then on he had to pull up his sleeves.
Perhaps the most memorable game of the tournament was Lasker vs Napier, of which Napier said later that he was more proud of this loss than any of his victories:
Lasker E. – Napier W.
Cambridge Springs 1904.
1. e4 c5 2. Nc3 Nc6 3. Nf3 g6 4. d4 cxd4 5. Nxd4 Bg7 6. Be3 d6 7. h3 Nf6 8. g4 O-O 9. g5 Ne8 10. h4 Nc7 11. f4 e5 12. Nde2 d5 13. exd5 Nd4 14. Nxd4 Nxd5 15. Nf5 Nxc3 16. Qxd8 Rxd8 17. Ne7 Kh8 18. h5 Re8 19. Bc5 gxh5 20. Bc4? [20. bxc3 Bf8 21. Bb5 Rxe7 22. Bxe7 Bxe7 23. Rxh5]
20… exf4 [20… Ne4 21. Bxf7 Bg4 22. f5 Nxc5 23. f6 Bf8 24. g6 Red8µ] 21. Bxf7 Ne4 22. Bxe8 22…Bxb2 23. Rb1 Bc3 24. Kf1 Bg4
25. Bxh5!!! Bxh5 26. Rxh5 Ng3 27. Kg2 Nxh5 28. Rxb7 a5 29. Rb3 Bg7 30. Rh3 Ng3 31. Kf3 Ra6 32. Kxf4 Ne2 33. Kf5 Nc3 34. a3 Na4 35. Be3 Bf8 36. Bd4 Bg7 37. g6 [1:0]
I remember playing over this game while still a teenager! What impressed me the most was how Lasker got thru to the ending and was quite content with a small advantage (at least to me at the time) and converted it neatly to a win.
Lasker never wrote a book of his own games, detailing his greatest triumphs. Which is too bad for us fans, since he played so many great players and great games. What is left for us are mostly his sparce comments from chess columns from that period. What a pitty, for example, that he never analyzed his duel with Pillsbury from St. Petersburg 1895-6!
Kasparov, with the aid of a computer, analyzed it in his excellent series of world champions. Quite a remarkable game. I think that in the past, or atleast up until the Soviet chess school appeared, precise, detailed and exact analysis of chess games was not considered important enough for anybody to do it of their games. The scientific approach to chess that the Soviets heralded changed how annotated games would be modeled.
Up to then, it must have been considered sufficient for the readers to merely give general ideas and guiding thoughts of the game in question. As was explained in Lasker’s introduction to the St. Petersburg chess congress (the subject of yesterday’s blog)
The prize fund was 3,100 US dollars, equivalent to more than 100,000 dollars today! First prize was 1,000 dollars. The brilliancy prizes (a total of 100 dollars) was donated by Baron Rothschild. The first brilliancy prize (40 dollars) went to Schlechter for his win against Lasker!
The tournament rules, adopted from the 1895 Hastings Chess Congress, forbade consultation on adjourned games. You could not even enter a room with any other player during the intermission period between 3 pm and 5 pm. No draws were allowed under 30 moves unless it was a forced draw (there were only 2 draws less than 30 moves). Play was from 10 am to 3 pm, then from 5 pm to 7 pm. The time control was 30 moves in 2.5 hours, then 15 moves each hour thereafter.
Harry Pillsbury was the strongest American player since Morphy . I quote from Hannak:”And thereby hangs a tale which chess players all over the world have been enjoying for half a century. Remember Lasker’s sensational triumph over Pillsbury in the St.Petersburg Tournament of 1895-6, the game that won the brilliancy prize and turned the tables of the tournament in Lasker’s favour. Now in that game, as soon as Pillsbury had made his 7th move (which turned out to be the source of all his subsequent troubles) he felt that he should have made another move, never tried in that variation and yet-so it seemed to Pillsbury-likely to lead to a rather more advantageous line. That very night, after his shattering defeat, Pillsbury sat down for many hours, analysing his new idea and satisfying himself that indeed it would have given him the advantage. During the next weeks and months, he burned a good deal more midnight oil in the privacy of his room, analyzing his new variation so thoroughly as he knew how; but he did not tell anybody about it. Since the opening concerned was a variation of the Queen’s Gambit very popular in those days, Pillsbury had countless opportunities to give his new line the practical test; but he would not waste his great secret; he would spring that surprise on no one less than Lasker.
It had become almost an obsession with Pillsbury, yet the years rolled by and the opportunity never arose. Whenever he did play Lasker, Pillsbury either did not have the White pieces or it so happened that he could not steer the opening into that particular variation. At long last, already a doomed man and playing in what was to be his last major tournament, Pillsbury go the chance he had worked for, yearned for, and dreamed about for eight long years and four months to a day.”
Pillsbury H. – Lasker E.
1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Nf3 c5 5. Bg5 cxd4 6. Qxd4 Nc6 7. Bxf6 gxf6 8. Qh4 dxc4 9. Rd1 Bd7 10. e3 Ne5 11. Nxe5 fxe5 12. Qxc4 Qb6 13. Be2 Qxb2 14. O-O Rc8 15. Qd3 Rc7 16. Ne4 Be7 17. Nd6 Kf8 18. Nc4 Qb5 19. f4 exf4 20. Qd4 f6 21. Qxf4 Qc5 22. Ne5 Be8 23. Ng4 f5 24. Qh6 Kf7 25. Bc4 Rc6
26. Rxf5! Qxf5 27. Rf1 Qxf1 28. Kxf1 Bd7 29. Qh5 Kg8 30. Ne5 [1:0]
This was Pillsbury’s last tournament. He died 2 years later at the age of 33, of syphlis. Lasker , being a gentleman, wrote instead that he had died of ‘over exertion of the mind’.
A dashing Napier. Life must go on! He started dating Pillsbury’s niece and married her!
One last note. The opening ”Cambridge Springs Defence” dates back to this tournament, even though it had been played a bit earlier!
SPRAGGETT ON CHESS