Girl Prodigy


Very little was written about her except during her very brief flirtation with fame. In 1921 the big prodigious chess sensation was Sammy Rzeschewski.  But a lesser, though really not less remarkable prodigy was a little farm girl from near Youngstown, Ohio.  The only mention of her that I could find was in several 1921 issues of the American Chess Bulletin (edited by Herman Helms).

I decided to include the articles as well as the one intriguing game from the  American Bulletin.





According to the "Vindicator," of which Irving Spero, Ohio State champion, is the chess editor, a chess tournament, open to Youngstown boys and girls of fifteen and under, was planned to be held in the rooms of the Youngstown Chess and Checker Club, 339 West Federal Street, Youngstown, O. Included among the early entries were the names of Celia Neimark and Fanny Neimark, the latter, presumably, a sister of the girl prodigy. A movement is also on foot to foster a women's chess circle in the Youngstown club. When Newell W. Banks visited there, he was opposed by 21, Celia Neimark obtaining a draw.

The article above mentions Celia Neimark, our prodigy, as well as Fanny Niemark, most likely her sister. But a later article mentions a simul given by Sammy Rzeschewski in which one of his opponents was Louis Neimark, who might possiby be her brother or father:

Rzeschewski's second appearance in Cleveland was at the Globe Theater on the evening of February 3, when he had to deal with seventeen opponents, including Messrs. King, Heimlich, S. Dworkcvitz, Sig. Ravinson, Louis Neimark, Biskin, J. L. Lowenberg, Pocus, Dr. B. M. Becker, Dr. H. Tabakin, Frank Zucker, L. Garvin, N. Kochman, B. Eisner, Dr. Laufman, Henry Lapidus and S. H. Shapiro. The entire company of seventeen was obliged to submit to defeat at the hands of the boy wonder. Irving Spero, city champion, and Aaron Schwartz acted as referees.


Samuel Rzeschewski may well look to his laurels as a juvenile artist, judging from reports received concerning the doings of little Celia Neimark of West Austinville, an agricultural district about one and a half miles from Youngstown, O. This little miss is 7 years old, having celebrated her last birthday in July, and yet, although initiated into the mysteries of chess only nine months ago, she plays a capital game of which many a club member would be proud. From a health point of view she enjoys the advantage of living on a farm and she is as sturdy a specimen of a child as one would wish to see.
Likewise, Celia is not without chess advantages, for she has become quite a familiar figure In Youngstown and has already earned the distinction of being elected to honorary membership in the Youngstown Chess Club. It is not recorded that Sammy Rzeschewski was so honored at that tender age.
Irving Spero, Ohio State champion, but now a resident of Youngstown, has had several opportunities of late to meet this newest chess prodigy  and reports that she is a genuine little artist who seems destined not alone to make a mark on her own account, but to advance her sex much closer to a place in the front rank of chess influence than woman has heretofore enjoyed.
Before he was quite prepared to take Celia seriously, Spero played a hard-fought game with her and lost it. The opening was by no means a perfect specimen, but the conduct of the entire game by the 7-year-old was such as to arouse the admiration of anyone who will take the trouble to run over the score which the Ohian has furnished. Chess seems to have captured Youngstown, where, according to Spero, it is the topic of conversation even more than baseball. Its popularity is making strides especially among the younger generation, and this, of course, is directly traceable to the adventures of little Celia Neimark.
On the occasion of a picnic on her father's farm, for the benefit of the Youngstown Relief Society. Celle was invited to give an exhibition of her skill as a chess player. She played simultaneously against six opponents, making a score of five wins and one draw. The list of opponents is not available, but no matter who they were, the feat is well worth recording for the benefit of future generations.
During August she appeared at another picnic, this time under the auspices of the Cleveland Relief Society, in Cleveland. Playing outdoors under tropical conditions, Celia made the rounds of ten boards for an hour and a half until her parents called a halt. Adjudication of the unfinished positions followed, with the result that Celia emerged with a score of 6 wins, 2 draws and 2 losses.
This is not quite up to the pace set by 9-yearold Rzeschewski; nevertheless Sammy would do well to look to his infantile laurels.
Appended is the score of the game Celia Neimark contested with Irving Spero and alluded to above:




Celia Neimark at the City Club.
On the afternoon of October 7th, Celia Neimark, the seventeen-year-old [sic] daughter of a farmer living at West Austintown, a mile outside of Youngstown, startled a large gathering of the members of the City Club of Cleveland, which included most of the players in the Western tournaments, with an hour's exhibition of simultaneous play against six opponents selected at random from the membership of the City Club.
Celia is no stranger to the readers of the Bulletin, inasmuch as an article written around her tiny personality appeared in the issue for September-October.
In order that she might not be subjected to too great a strain, the seance was limited to about 65 minutes, at the conclusion of which she was only too willing to go on. However, she was prevailed upon to cease playing and consented to adjudication of all the games by Edward Lasker.
The result was that she was awarded wins in three of the games, draws in two and on one board only was she deemed to have the inferior position. Accordingly, this was adjudged to be a loss.
Winsome and quite self possessed, the little child made a deep impression on all who beheld the extraordinary performance. That in time she will develop into an expert chess player, provided she be carefully looked after, as seems to be the case, and in the end become a worthy representative of her sex in the chess arena cannot be doubted. Celia's opponents were the following:
Bds.      Opponents             Openings                        Score

1.   T. D. Beach -            Ruy Lopez  . . . . . . . . . . . .  1
2.   Dr. A. M. Chatham -  Queen's Gambit Declined .  . 1/2
3.   A. F. Bosch -            King's Bishop's . . . . . . . . . .  1/2
4.   S. Heimlich -            Irregular . . . . . . . . . . . . .  . 0
5.   G. M. McClure -        Giuoco Piano . . . . . . .. . . . 0
6.   J. S. Osterman -       Vienna . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0
Total — Celia Neimark, 4 ;  Opponents, 2.