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A St. Louis Women's Champion

from the New York Times, March 2, 1907

Women to Play for Chess Honors.
   Mrs. Charles P. Frey of Newark N. J. and Mrs. S. R. Burgess of St. Louis will begin their match for the women's chess championship of the United States in the parlor of the Hotel Martha Washington, 29 East Twenty-ninth Street, at 2:30 o'clock this afternoon.  It has been agreed to play seven games, one today and two each on Monday, Wednesday and Friday of next week, the play beginning at 10:30 in the morning.  The sessions will last four hours, the time limit being fixed at twenty moves an hour.  Drawn games will cont as half a point for each player.  Prof. Isaac L. Rice will act as the referee.  Mrs. Frey, who is the wife of the President of the New Jersey State Chess Association, won the championship tournament of the First American Women's Chess Congress held in this city last May.

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Mrs. C. P. Frey was Mary Grace Rogers who graduated from Smith College in 1884 and later married Charles P. Frey, an electrical engineer from Newark, N.J. When she died on Jan. 20, 1909, she left her husband and two sons, 10 and 12. Charles P. Frey was a chess player himself and drew a game against Marshall in a 32 board simul given at the Newark Chess Club in 1906.

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from the Oshkosh Daily Northwestern, March 15, 1907

WOMAN CHESS CHAMPION

Sketch of the Lady Who Has Earned That Honor

(special correspondence)

New York, March 16 -- Maintaining the splendid form which had during the entire week held out promise of ultimate success, Mrs. S. R. Burgess of St. Louis won the sixth game of her match with Mrs. C. P. Frey in the chess match for the women's Championship of the United States at the Hotel Martha Washington and thereby acquired the title of woman chess champion with a final score of 4½ points out of a possible 6 to her credit.  Of the half dozen games contested since a week ago yesterday, Mrs. Burgess had lost the first and drawn the fifth, winning all the others.
     No sooner had the former champion gracefully tendered her resignation after the fortieth move in yesterday's game that Mr. Charles P. Frey, husband of the defeated player and president of the New Jersey State Chess Association, formally announced his wife's rival for the high distinction of new champion, congratulating her heartily about the ability shown throughout the match.  Then followed the presentation by Mr. Frey on behalf of a well-known chess enthusiast of a beautiful souvenir wrought in gold and enamel with a chessboard in miniature draped by the American colors as an appropriate emblem of her victory.
     Mrs. Burgess learned the game of chess at the age of fourteen, having been taught by her father, a very enthusiastic player.  She then abandoned play for some time until after her marriage when she resumed practice with a younger brother who, when beaten by her one day at the rate of 15 games to 0, forwith lost interest.   It was then that the husband of Mrs. Burgess began to realize the possibilities for entertainment to be derived from chess and he undertook a serious study of it with the result that he soon became as strong and enthusiastic as his better half.
     In four tournaments held in the North St. Louis Chess Club some years ago Mrs. Burgess won first prize in three despite the fact that both men and women competed on even terms.  She is now a member of the social organization known as the West End Chess Club of St. Louis.  Mrs. Burgess is also a member of the St. Louis Chess Club.

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Comments


  • 5 years ago

    batgirl

    Dozy,

    I'd read the story too, but I wasn't aware, or I had fogotten, that it took place in Australia.

  • 5 years ago

    Dozy

    "...some of the early American women's tournaments had some funny incidents reported."

    Some of the Australian tournaments have had odd incidents, too.

    I've been trying to find a link to this one (perhaps bergil could supply it if he reads this post -- it was mentioned in the Australian Chess Chat Forum a couple of years back) but a guy, playing in an Adelaide tournament a few years ago, blamed his female opponent for his loss.  He claimed that her low-cut neckline put him off his game.  If I've got the story right, he actually tried to lodge a protest about it.

    I dunno what was the matter with the man.  Some of us, Cool ahem, would have found it inspiring.

  • 5 years ago

    batgirl

    Dozy,  actually some of the early American women's tournaments had some funny incidents reported. For instance, in one, after about an hour and a half into their game, two ladies who weren't used to tournament conditions, got tired and decided to agree to a draw (presumably after some discussion) so they could rest.  In another tournament, one woman became so distraught because she was losing that she started crying. Her opponent felt sorry for her and offered her a draw.  The lovely Adele Rivero was a nervous player and the commentator said that the difficulty of the games she played could be easily ascertained by the amount of tissue paper she shredded.


    csharp, Thanks. My original title was A Woman Champ, but because of the current St. Louis based championship, I thought to utilize the coincidence by changing the title. So, I changed it, but, as you noted, not too accurately. Possibly a bflat.
    Thanks again.

  • 5 years ago

    csharpe

    Thanks for your love of history and your efforts at educating the rest of us.  One small thing:  the title of your post should read either 'A St. Louis Woman Champion', or 'A St. Louis Women's Champion' to be gramatically correct. 

    Keep up the good work.

    csharpe

  • 5 years ago

    Dozy

    "...despite the fact that both men and women competed on even terms"

    That sort of comment is outrageous these days but when I was younger, and certainly back as early as 1907 when this game was played, the attitude was commonplace.  In the 1940s and 50s I remember cartoons about "women drivers" who, in this country at least, were thought to be inferior. God knows why.  There was one cartoon I can recall where a policeman had pulled over a woman for giving an incorrect hand signal (indicator lights were still in the future) and she said, "Oh! I'm sorry officer.  I wasn't making a turn.  I was just drying my nail polish."

    Fortunately times have changed.

    Enjoyed the game. Top attack  by Burgess.

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