2nd American Women's Chess Congress




Young's Million Dollar Pier, Atlantic City, N. J.


Eighth American Chess Congress was held on Young's Million Dollar Pier from July 6-20, 1921.

According to the American Chess Bulletin-
Not the least significant of the achievements standing to the credit of the congress of 1921 was the participation of three ladies who dared to face the more or less fierce light of publicity, inseparable from present-day competitions, and enter the women's tournament. To the credit of the ladies be it said that every single game scheduled for them was conscientiously played as arranged. The distinction of being the winner of the first tournament of the kind since the First American Women's Chess Congress of 1906 belongs to Mrs. Natalie Nixdorff of New York, who emphasized her superiority in chess-playing skill by winning every one of her games.

In summation, the ACB added-
Three entered the women's tournament, as follows: Mrs. Natalie Nixdorff, New York; Mrs. W. I. Seaman, Staten Island, and Mrs. Arthur C. Forbes, Brooklyn. Mrs. Nixdorff went through the tournament without a defeat, making a score of 4—0. To her was awarded a gold medal offered by Edward L. Torsch of Baltimore, vice president of the United States Chess Association. Mrs. Seaman, with a score of 2—2, won the second prize, a silver medal and a book, Capablanca's "Chess Career." A gold fountain pen, presented by Dr. Arthur Eddy West, of Kalamazoo, Mich., fell to the lot of Mrs. Forbes.



Behind Mr. Helms from left to right:
Miss Thelma Helms, Mrs. W. I. Seaman, Mrs. H. Helms, Mrs. Natalie Nixdorff


Mrs. Arthur C. Forbes stands directly behind Mr. John F. Barry

In an open Rapid Transit (1 move/10sec.) tournament following the congress, Mrs. Nixdorff plaed the following game:


Let's go back a few years:

from the Ogden Standard, February 21, 1908
        New York, Feb. 20 -- Mrs. S. R. Burgess of St. Louis, holder of the women's chess championship of the United States, who is in New York on a visit, has received a challenge for a chess match with Mrs. Charles Edward Nixdorf of Cambridge, Mass.  Mrs. Nixdorf called on Mrs. Burgess who agreed to the match and play will begin this afternoon at the Martha Washington Hotel. Play will continue on succeeding days, Sunday excepted, until one player has won four points.  Mr. Nixdorf is a new comer in chess circles, but is said to be a brilliant player.

After moving to New York City, Mrs. Natalie Nixdorff finally came into her own by winning the Women's Chess Club of New York championship in 1916 and 1917.

from the New York Times, April 29, 1917
                                MRS. NIXDORFF WINS TITLE             
                              Captures Championship of Women's            
                                        Chess Club of New York
      For the second year in succession, Mrs. Natalie Nixdorff yesterday won the championship of the Women's Chess Club of New York.  Mrs. Nixdorff, who, before coming to New York, gained much experience in Boston and St. Louis, is one of the best known chess experts of her sex in North America, and, on more than one occasion has made a good showing in exhibitions against international masters.
      In the tournament just drawing to a close, she finished her schedule of fourteen games with a total score of 12½ points won to 1½ lost.  The only game the champion lost outright was with Mrs. Seamon [sic - Marjorie Seaman -sbc] of Staten Island, while Mrs. Forbes of Flatbush succeeded in drawing one of her two games.  With the winning of the championship goes the custody of the Haines Trophy.

    By 1921 Mrs. Nixdorff was getting old. I couldn't determine her birth-date but she had a son, also Charles Edward, who graduated from Harvard in 1900 and received his law degree in 1904. It would seem by that (and from her photo above) that in 1921 she was at least in her mid sixties.  Her maiden name was Meysenburg and she seemingly moved to Cambridge from St. Louis before moving to New York. There seems to be a hint, though far from conclusive, that the reason for her move to New York was her husband's death.  At any rate, by 1921, even with her outstanding win of the Ladies' Congress, her star was on its descendancy. On the other hand, Mrs. Seaman's star was just rising.

Let's go ahead a few years:

from Chess Review, March1934
Mrs. Seaman Wins Women's Chess Tournament
Mrs. William 1. Seaman of Staten Island, N. Y., won the women's tournament at the Marshall Chess Club, with a perfect score of 11-0. Mrs. Seaman thus comes into possession of the handsome tournament trophy which was donated by Miss Hazel Allen of Kew Gardens.

     Marjorie Seaman, or Mrs. William I. Seaman as she was customarily called, hailed from Boston where she was born probably in 1881. She and her husband lived in the Stapleton waterfront neighborhood of Staten Island. Mrs. Seaman was the first and, at the time, only woman member of both the Staten Island Chess Club and the Marshall Chess Club. She was also an unusually strong player.
In 1934 Caroline Marshall took it upon herself to organize a dozen local women for a chess tournament. These were women with disparate interest and abilities in the game and, while some would drop off along the wayside, many would hang on for the ride through the ensuing years. The tournament was given good publicity and, since it was hosted by the Marshall Chess Club and Frank Marshall himself acted as referee, it reached a certain level of respectability.
     Besides Mrs. William I. Seaman, the participants included Mrs. Adele Rivero of Manhattan, Mrs. B. W. McCready of Orange, N. J., Mrs. Harriet Broughton of Manhattan, Miss Adele S. Raettig of Hoboken, Miss Helen White of Manhattan, Miss Hilde Grau of Manhattan, Miss Edith Weart of Jackson Heights, Miss Vera Angus of Brooklyn, Miss Hazel Allen of Kew Gardens, Miss M. J. Smith and Mrs. Leeds.
Marjorie Seaman breezed through with a perfect 11-0 score. But close on her heels were Mrs. Broughton and Mrs. Rivero both with 9-2 scores. Mrs. B. W. McCready came in next with a 6½-4½ score. Miss Hazel Allen, who withdrew from the contest had donated the silver trophy, from that point on called the "Hazel Allen Trophy," the custody of which would remain the main prize for all the Marshall Chess Club women's  tournaments.