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     Such a title bodes the unraveling of a mysterious plot.  There is no maudlin 007 mystery here; nevertheless there is a plot. Didn't your grade-school marm teach you that every story fact or fiction must reveal a plot?  This is a story—not the story, for who could undertake the task?—of the life of John W. Collins.
     One sunny summer noon a Bronx telephone rang. A lad of sixteen lifted the receiver and after a perfunctory "hello" heard the now familiar basso pretend° on the other end of the line. "Hello, Bill, this is Jack Collins. Nice day isn't it? Bill, would you like to come over for some iced tea and a practice game of Chess?"
     More than tea, Jack loved and loves Chess and so too the lad who was overwhelmed at the very idea of meeting such keen competition so early in his career. For about two years he had seen Jack dispatch imposing masters at the boards of the quaint, venerable Marshall Chess Club; now be too could cross swords with the champion. For this Chess novice, that was the first and only time an accomplished master had offered to give him some "practice."
     To his own, and needless to say, his opponent's surprise, the youngster achieved the only victory in a long series of practice game competitions conducted at the Collins' residence. And here was the beginning of a warm and enduring friend. ship between a future American grandmaster and a Chew master, teacher extraordinary, John W. Collins.

     The beginning for the youth was but an episode in a long beginning for Jack. At the U.S. Open in Atlanta Jack was given a reward for his labors, a life directorship of the United States Chess Federation. Among the various presentation speakers was Grandmaster Robert Byrne who noted that Jack was the armchair—how else play Chess?—coach of the United States Olympic Team.
     Anybody who was anybody in the last three decades of American Chess has met Jack in fierce but friendly Chess rivalry. Jack himself admits that the only American player he never parried, "even in a skittles game," is the old war horse, veteran Samuel Reshevsky.
     But playing is not coaching. Whom did he coach? Robert Byrne, Donald Byrne, William Lombardy, Robert Fischer, Raymond Weinstein, Sal Matera (the recent US representative at the World Junior Championships) and too many others to mention at this writing. Sal and the others not mentioned have not as yet been members of a U.S. team but their day will come.
     Born in Newburgh, New York—"Let 'em guess my age," he says modestly—he spent his earlier years in Canada where his beloved and talented father ployed his musical profession. John, Senior, played the flute and the piccolo with the famous Sousa and Pryor Bands. Like almost everyone else Jack started off with checkers. But soon he became interested in the Royal Game. He was fascinated by a movie in which the game was prominent. No one in his family ever heard of the game but certainly Jack was to compensate for that by his own prowess.
     But before we look at Jack's Chess we must first see him. First and foremost he is a self-educated man. A physical handicap resulting from birth did not prevent him from up-holding his proud ancestral heritage, a mixture of French, English and Dutch harking back to the settlement of Fort Orange in 1842. Some formal schooling, a little private tutoring and wide reading produced in the man a minor Bernard Baruch. Name a field, with the possible exception of nuclear physics, and one finds a capable, knowledgeable conversationalist. Jack chanced to remark that there is no love without a little mystery. Surely there is mystery in how he managed to store such vast science in that all-too-human frame.
     Jack has been a ray of sunshine to everyone he has met. Oscar Wilde once wrote, "To influence anyone, one must give up his soul." Generosity, cheerfulness, a guiding hand, the wisdom and knowledge that must accompany a profound sense of humanity portray, or rather, reveal the soul of JWC. His warm rays turned, fortunately, to a burning zeal for Chess, to the encouragement of youth talented and not no talented. Chess could actually be the means of giving others an appreciation for life itself.
     Jack eventually came to Brooklyn with his inestimable sister Ethel Boyd Collins many moons ago. Still not a master, he humbled himself by taking two lessons at two dollars per from the then world championship contender, Isaac Kashdan. Before that he had gleaned the rudiments of the game from octogenarian Frederick Huhn who was himself to receive Queen odds from Jack within three months.
     The disciple became the master and the master opened his home on Hawthorne Street to Chess.playing friends of every variety and strength. Thus Jack became the founder of the famous Hawthorne Chess Club.


     The name still stuck when Jack and Ethel moved over to Lenox Road. The Byrnes, Robert, 14, and Donald, 12, one day ventured over to Lenox Road, knocked on the door of the ground floor inner sanctum and dared to inquire of Jack's mother if that might be the Hawthorne Chess Club. Mother Collins was indignant that her home should be labeled Chess Club. Nevertheless . . . Jack used to play the Byrnes simultaneously; he doesn't do it anymore. Yet think of a tournament which would exclude Donald Byrne; he was too weak, they said, as commenced an early Hawthorne Championship. Needless to say, the combined efforts of Robert Byrne, Irving Rivise, and Irving Chernev could not prevent JWC from remaining the Hawthorne Champ.
     The Chess reporting of Hermann Helms is now a nostalgic memory. Helms too was a frequent visitor to the club and his journalistic objectivity compelled him to paint the portrait of a prodigious Collins. The now defunct Brooklyn Earle, The Sun, later to combine with the World Telegram, The New York Times and Helm's own American Chess Bulletin all properly jolted Jack from obscurity.
     Teaching Chess in the neighborhood did not interfere with the production of a catalog of feats. In 1943 Jack was already U.S. Correspondence Champion but that was not all. After winning several more Hawthorne Tournaments he won the Brooklyn Chess Club Championship both in 1947 and 1948. An even greater victory game with the New York State Championship in 1952 when in winning he finished ahead of Max Pavey, James Sherwin, A. E. Santasiere and International Master Frank Anderson. The Marshall Chess Club Champion-ship of 1953,54 was also his when he surpassed Sherwin, Mednis, Saidy, Santasiere and Paul Brandts. What's more, Jack was also one of the ten finalists in the World Correspondence Championship won by J. S. Purdy of Australia. To this day players of varying strengths benefit from lessons by mail given by JWC.

     As if tournament and correspondence Chess were not enough. Jack was and still is an accomplished speed player. A frequent competitor in Tuesday evening rapid transits at the Marshall Chess Club, he was accustomed to racking up tremendous scores on the way to first place. Such duffers as competed were Fine, Marshall, Edward Lasker, Sidney Bern-stein, I. A. Horowitz, Hermann Steiner, Hermann Helms (in his seventies), Hermann Helms (in his eighties and still among the prize winners), Robert and Donald Byrne, Sherwin, Evans, George Kramer, Arthur Bisguier, Walter Shipman, Eliot Hearst, William Lombardy, Bobby Fischer, Pal Henke, Raymond Weinstein, Saidy, Mednis and any other master, grand-master or international master who happened to be around. These players then shifted the scene to the Friday night rapids (ten seconds a move) at the Manhattan Chess Club where Jack on his occasional visits also finished strong. We are surely not saying that Jack beat all these players all the time but let's leave it at this: his pocket is bulging with scores of his victories.
     One builds a reputation and he begins to write; so there's Jack the author too. A long-time columnist for both Chess Review and "Chess Life," he also contributed to the "CCLA Correspondent" and" The American Chess Bulletin."  More recently, he conducts a column for "Elementary Electronics." Then, he shows a talent for Chess history; quite thorough was his "Chess Life" article "How the Openings Got Their Names." Though he has reviewed many hooks, most of us know him best for his work on the revision of the Ninth Edition of "MCO" in which connection, it is said, he played over every column no less than five times.

     For many years, almost as many as they can remember, Jack and Ethel have made their home a Chess Club and vice-versa. The decor has remained the same, an intriguing Chess motif. What else! Chess friends have been filing in and out of the Collins' home first on Hawthorne Street, later on Lenox Road and now in Stuyvesant Town in Lower Manhattan. The door, the one attached to the refrigerator too, we might add, has always been open. Warm hospitality has been extended alike to masters, connoisseurs, patters, nuts, and most of all, friends, who have whiled away the hours in frenzied glee over the Chess board, serious demonstrations of Chess art, talk about the admirable Bobby Fischer, philosophy, politics or religion, or just talk.
     As the Collins' home is opened to us we admire various Chess bric-a-brac. Along with tasteful furnishings, signs of the Royal Game are scattered over the apartment. Friends have carted in all sorts of exotic objets d'art from across the seas in token gratitude for the friendship of JWC and EBC. There are paintings by A. E. Santasiere, a Russian vase from the Byrne Brothers, a Brazilian Chess board finished in butterfly wings given by Lombardy, a Venetian decanter and goblets from Fischer, a Burmese Ivory Chess set, which belonged to William and Henry James, given by Dana Branan, a famous John Rogers statuary, "Chess", and so much more as to make the house not only wonderful but also wondrous. Then for the literary bug, Jack has, among his many other books, some 481 Chess volumes plus any number of Chess periodicals, which be would freely lend to young players to help them improve their game. Somehow young people have a way of returning books in tatters!
     We move along to the foyer where we find the "rogues gallery," sometimes known as the "hall of fame." You think of a distinguished Chess personage and he's very likely framed in the foyer, unless there was no space, in which case You'll find that missing somebody among the hundreds of other personalities who happened to be photogenic stored away in the picture box.
     Octogenarian Louis J. Wolff, lawyer, Chess master the and Capablanca played on the same team for Columbia University), and a long-time friend still comes to the house every Thursday night at 7:30 P.M. on the dot. Loading him down invariably would be a large shopping bag stuffed with fruit from far-away lands and enough ice cream for the half a dozen or more guests certain to be on hand on a particular evening. Some of these guests we've already mentioned; let's see who else came.

Harry Eestrom, whom we so greatly miss, was also among the treasured friends of the Collins'. An armchair philosopher of long standing, he would always have a part in encouraging young Chess talent to appreciate not only Chess but also the humanities. An evening wasn't an evening unless one heard the familiar ring of Harry's Brooklyn accent spouting off about the Brooklyn Dodgers or God's Country, Brooklyn of course. Clara Collins, a nurse at Memorial Hospital, has always been a delight to see whenever this writer's visit and hers coincided. She's been a great help to her cousins. Jack Straley Battell, executive editor of "Chess Review" has been a regular member and would be sure to fill everyone in on the latest national and international news. Hermann Helms also came to Lenox Road, and H. H., as be usually penned his articles, was Chess History itself. Jack, Ethel, yours truly and everyone who knew H. H. will reserve a special place in their hearts for him. There will always be more to tell about the Collins genius; as it is he has become a part of the history of U.S. Chess. We mentioned several personages, who were or still are so much a part of the Collins' household, because we felt that "JACK, 91 LENOX ROAD" could not be related without at least their honorable mention. Yet, allow us to say a brief word of just one more person. There is indeed one person in particular, though never has she been seen to play even at the game, who makes the difference in the Collins' story. Jack would certainly desire that any honor bestowed on him should therefore be shared by her.
     ETHEL, an RN presently working for a famous ophthalmologist, has been dubbed the greatest scorekeeper of all time, not so much to praise her Palmer penmanship as to acknowledge her queenly personage. She it is who has shared Jack's sorrows as well as joys, who has made us joyful by her kindness, hospitality, dedication and devotion to Jack, her devotion to Chessdom. To say any more in her praise would be warranted but also probably cause her to blush. Suffice it to say what has been said many, many times before, and God love her for that Now Ethel may return to her humble position so that she may continue her research of the family tree, without fussing further about the esteem in which all do hold her.

     New Year's Eve is New Year's Eve. There's the traditional auld lang syne, the food, the drink, the merriment too, but then, the added ingredient, five or six Chess boards net up in every room to give meaning to the gathering. And it would mean that the parties would endure long past the meteoric descent of the ball atop the Times Tower. 7 A.M. anyone? Lightning Chess was our brand.
     Along with the maestros, there was also present at these epic events a good sprinkling of minor Chess greats: Owen Almgren, Ted Dunst, Mary Bain, Mrs. Katherine Slater, Mr. Steinberg. vice-president of the Manhattan Chess Club and Mrs. Steinberg, Eugene Heil, a vice-president of the Manhattan Club, Allen and Sara Kaufman, Lisa Lane, John I. Westbrook, Burt Hochberg, Editor of Chess Life, Stuart Margulies, Bernard Zuckerman, Aben Rudy, Ed and Nancy Edmondson and many, many more.
     Why mention them at all? Because the people who surround a person help us better to focus on the person himself. After all, there is nothing stupendous about setting up five Chess boards in each room at a New Year's Eve party. The warmth of the people around in any get-together really makes the difference.

And SO . . .
     Jack, your portrait may not be complete, but to say any more might be to turn truth into fable. So we'll add a few finishing strokes by allowing you to give as some of your games. As Abraham Kupchik was heard to say, "I like your style."


Notice the game "John W. Collins vs. Hector Jurado" was an instructional game.  Here is an ad from 1944 for Collin's postal analysis:


Collins is fist listed as Postal Chess Editor in Jan. 1943

J.S. Battell Replaced him in Oct. 1943

But Collins did continue with postal chess in another fashion:



As a bonus, here is Rev. William Lombardy in 1966 receiving a check from Gordon Knight of the Peachtree Chess Club and a trophy from James R. Ballard, v.p. of the Atlanta Chess Assoc. and USCF Director for winning the Peach State Open.