Mary, Mary Part II


Mary Weiser Bain

Part I

     When the next women's championship rolled around in 1951, Mary Bain finally won, thanks in part to a bitter 107 draw against Gresser who had the advantage of 3 pawns and a Bishop to Bain's two pawns and a Knight but had to contend with Bain's threat to evoke the 50-move rule. 

An interview with Mary Bain in the "Milwaukee Journal," April 28, 1952, called "Chess Is Not Old Man's Game; Women Can Play to Stay Young, Says Expert," gives us a bit more insight into Mrs. Bain:
Chess is more than fun for Mary Bain, however.  It is her very life.  She glows when she talks about it, her eyes  and voice soft with wonderment at its "infinite variety and richness."  Although she has lived in this country since she was 17,  when she came from Zugo, Hungary as a teen age chess prodigy, she still has a slight, appealing accent and a becoming air of uncertainty about the language.  
     She began to play chess at 15, she explains, because she liked problems and enjoyed solving them.  When she met and fell in love with an American newspaper man, Leslie Bain, he learned to play chess too.  After dinner each night they would have "just one chess game" to decide who was to wash the dishes.
     "He got to be an awfully good dish washer, " she said sweetly.
. . .
     There is no difference between a man's mind and a woman's mind, she feels.  It is unfortunate that "in this country only" men chess players never believe a woman can attain their level.  In her case this attitude had been more or less a challenge.  She is finding the exhibitions, in which she plays against a number of men, pleasantly stimulating.  For years leading chess clubs of the country would not admit women as members, but now Mrs. Bain is a member of the Marshall and Manhattan clubs, two of the top chess clubs in the country.
     She actually enjoyed chess more as a beginner than she does now because, when she plays a tournament and must make 40 moves in two hours by the clock, or perhaps move every 10 seconds, she plays "for blood," whereas a beginner can and should play for fun.
. . .

She gets many letters from strangers was well as "about 400 personal friends" and tries valiantly to answer them all.  When she is in New York she teaches chess to children and college boys and girls, because she feels it has a special benefits for the young.
     "Chess prepares children for a healthy adulthood for several reasons.  It is a problem solving game, and one in which they become so interested they do not have time for delinquency.  Chess is like a miniature battlefield and you are the general.  You must use tactics and strategy, and that appeals to all boys and girls."
     All that it takes to play chess and love it, she says, is the interest in doing something constructive.  A child learns to enjoy besting an opponent on the chess battlefield, and the mental exercise involved stands him in good stead all his life.
     She has looked forward to visiting Milwaukee because it is known as an important chess center, and is one of the few cities in which chess is taught at social centers.
     When she herself was a child and was just beginning to know the richness of combinations and the variety of the game, she visualized herself, some day, as an old, old lady, playing chess with children.
     "But I think I'll be young at 90," she says, "because chess and the children keep me that way."

In 1952, Mary Bain was also awared the WIM title.

Around the middle 1950s, Mary Bain opened a Chess Studio on 145 West 42th Street, N.Y.C.  It was used for tournaments as well as general chess.  Eventually she sold the studio to Larry Evans and Aaron Rothman.

1962 Women's Chess Championship was won by Gisela Gresser who lost no games. Lisa Lane, the defending champion, came in second; her two losses were at the hands of Gresser and 5th place Mary Bain. Bain lost only two games but had 4 draws to Lane's 1. Bain's win over Lane is shown below.

Along with Gisela Gresser, Mary Bain represented the U.S. in the 1963 Women's Chess Olympiads (Bain's only Olympiad involvement). The U.S. came in 9th place.  Whilte Gresser scored 8 pts. (+6=4-4), Bain only scored 4.5 pts. (+3=3-8).  An interesting aside: Lisa Lane publicly criticized the USCF for chosing Mary Bain, rather than herself, to participate. She claimed discrimination - "It's just because I'm young and fairly pretty. I think they just don't like me - they're jealous of me."  The official explanation was that both Bain and Gresser offered to pay their own expenses and the Mary Bain had defeated Lisa Lane in their last tournament.  Gresser expressed that she had no objections to either player.

Mary Bain was the 1965 (shared with Kathryn Slater in Puerto Rico), 1966 (in Seattle) and the 1967 U.S. Women's Open Champion (Atlanta) - NY "Times," Sep 28, 1967.

Mary Bain died on October 26, 1972.

Below are a few of Mary Bain's games throughout the years.

Mary Bain's defeat of Capablanca in a simul.  Bain wouldn't accept the win and offered Capablanca a draw, the official result-

From the Women's World Championship Candidate's Tournament, Moscow 1952-

Mary Bain beats Charles Kalme who would be the US Junior Champion the following year-

Mary Bain defeat of Lisa Lane in the 1962 U.S. Women's Chess Championship-

A lovely win against the Scottish player, Nancy Elder, i the 1963 Women's Chess Olympiads held in Yugoslavia-

61 year old Mary Bain beats John T. Westbrock, the 1965 NY State champion-


The final game is a loss by Mary Bain to the Danish master, Bent Larsen in the 1970 U.S. Open.  It was Larsen's first game in the event he eventually won. Bain was 66 at the time.