Living Speed Chess

Sep 8, 2012, 1:33 PM |

     Charles Jaffe was a strong professional player in New York chess during the first half of the 20th century. In 1907 he beat Jacques Meises 2-0 in match play, but lost to Marshall in 1909 3.5-5.5.  In 1916, he lost to Janowski by just one point (+4=4-5), but in 1917 lost to Janowski by a more decisive 6 points (+4=4-10).

Charles Jaffe
     In 1930 Jaffe had also lost a match with Isaac Kashdan, but here it is, three years later and a huge 50th birthday bash was planned months ahead of time for Charles Jaffe and announced in "Chess Review":
The Charles Jaffe Jubilee Concert, in honor of his fiftieth birthday, will-be held in the City College Auditorium, 23rd St. and Lexington Ave., New York City on Saturday evening, March 18. Quite a distinguished array of talent will be gathered there. Max Rosen, the well known violinist, will perform, and Tamara*, star of Roxy's show, will sing as part of an interesting musical program. The chess event will be a game with living pieces on the stage of the auditorium. Jaffe will be opposed by I. Kashdan in a rapid transit contest which promises to produce lots of hilarity.
     The party took place on March 18, 1933 and "Chess Review" reported on it in April:
     QUITE a time was had by all at the Charles Jaffe Jubilee Concert, held March 18th at the City College Auditorium.
. . .
     Finally the stage was set. the curtain rose. and the big match was on. On a board which filled most of the stage stood the figures, all in costume. Jaffe and Kashdan were on opposite sides. each with a pocket chess set which they used in making their moves.
     Someone had to lead the pieces to their squares, as most of them were unfamiliar with the intricacies of the chess notation.
     So a clown was there, in the proper domino jester's cap and all.  On investigation he turned out to be none other than the tall and dignified Associate Editor of this Review,  I. A. Horowitz.
     The Black Queen was the star of the show. She made almost half the moves for her side. and took full advantage of all her dramatic opportunities. though at times she descended to flirting with the opposing Knights and Bishops. Kashdan was conducting the Black pieces. and seemed to follow her movements with more than ordinary attention.
      The embarrasing moment was when Jaffe called BxPch. and Horowitz couldn't find the Pawn! The little fellow was discovered hiding under one of the Bishop's skirts and was gently motioned off.
     The White Queen was captured on her first move and walked off toward the dressing rooms rather despondently. However, she was called back a moment later as a pawn had advanced to the eighth rank, requiring her presence again.
     The game was very quick, a time limit of twenty seconds a move having been decided on. This gave the colorful throng on the stage enough to do and they made a brilliant spectacle indeed. The game was very lively and intently followed.
When it was over, the result was announced, a draw, and the players took their well-earned bows.
. . .
     Among those present were some of the most distinguished representatives of American Chess.  Mr. and Mrs. Frank J. Marshall. Harold M. Phillips and his  family. Hermann Helms. Leon Rosen, Dr. Leon Golden. and many others were observed.

The amazing 20 sec/move Living Chess game:

*  Tamara Geva, modern dance star of Roxy's Stage Show at the Radio City Music Hall. ("Roxy" was showman, Samuel "Roxy" Rothafel)