Hollywood Chess


 When FIDE first gave official titles to players in 1950,  Herman Steiner was awarded the title of IM.

Born in Hungary in 1905, Steiner moved to NYC with his family when he was 16. When he was about 27, the former NY State champion moved to California where he became active in the Hollywood area chess scene. Almost immediately, he  founded a chess club at his home called the International Chess Club. By the 1940s the club was called the Hollywood Chess Group and boasted in excess of 100 members, many of whom were involved in some way with the movie industry. Among the better known celebrities who were connected to Steinter through their love of chess were: Humphery Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Charles Boyer, Charlie Chaplin,  Lew Ayres, John Barrymore, Jose Ferrer, Louis Hayward, Fritz Feld, Rosemary Clooney, Katharine Hepburn, Dean Martin, Louis Jourdan, John Wayne, Franchot Tone, Basil Rathbone, J. Edward Bromberg, Helmut Dantine, Frank Morgan, Nigel Bruce, Myrna Loy, Linda Darnell, Maureen O'Sullivan, Mitzi Mayfair, Josef von Sternberg, Billy Wilder, Barbara Hale, Bill Williams, Carmen Miranda,  Daun Kennedy, Jean Trent, Kathleen O'Malley and Roseanne Murray.

In 1945, Steiner and the Hollywood Chess Group, along with the L.A. Times organized and sponsored the first Pan-American tournament. It was a complicated affair, comprised of 6 separate tournaments and a Living Chess Ggame. The large purse (for its time) attracted superb players and the Hollywood support guaranteed great media coverage.  The  Pan-Am tournament was held at the Hollywood Athletic Club ( above).






Chess Review put Steiner with Bogart, Bacall and Boyer on its June-July cover, advertising the upcoming event.




The chess stars played chess and cavorted with the movie stars

   Here Reuben Fine shows actress Jane Nigh some of his moves.


Other well known chess players were in evidence:
   Seated on left: Mrs. Bain, Mrs. Henderson (actress, Mitzi Mayfair), Mrs. Harmath. Standing in back of Mrs. Bain is Mrs. von Sternberg, wife of noted director. 
   Seated on right (facing Mrs. Bain) is Miss Karff.  Miss Roos is standing behind Miss Karff.


A quiet move:  One of the highlights of Herman Steiner's career came only a month later when he participated in the ill-fated USA-USSR Radio Match in which the USA team (comprised of Fine, Reshevsky, Horowiz, Denker, Kashdan, Seidman, Pinkus, Santasiere, Kupchik and Steiner) was severely beaten by the Soviets.  Steiner provided the face-saving feat of being the only American with a plus score.