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Serendipity

batgirl
Apr 15, 2010, 6:12 PM 4

I'm a great believer in Serendipity.

After reading my recent article on Mugridge, my dear friend Deb sent me a couple articles from Chess Review that mentioned Mugridge.  The first one contained the following photo of Mugridge, on the right, playing Fox, on the left.
                       


The second article caught my attention because I found the topic rather fun:

Chess Review, October 1937
Mannerisms of the Masters
by Paul Hugo Little

     To the eyes of the uninitiated, chess players appear to be a queer sort.  Not dangerous, mind you, merely queer.   Certainly a man who stares  unceasingly at a board with bits of wood on it, and emits heart-rending groans and sighs from time to time, does unnerve a spectator naquainted  with chess and chess players. But to the true chess enthusiast, these sounds are an integral part of the game.
     Now, not all masters groan and sigh, so why should it be expected that they will react alike?  It isn't; and they don't.
     In thge heat of the fray, under the strain of an oncoming sacrificial combination or a winning rook and pawn ending, the master may express his  grief, chagrin, joy, hope or despair according to his temperment and his position.  This is a helpful clue to the spectators, because often they can  glance over a tournament room and tell just whose game is in the last throes.
     And yet sometimes no one can tell whether the master is expressing joy or sadness.  Winter, the English master, will sit stooped over the board  with one hand on his hip and the other propping up his chin.  Then, without warning, he will nervously search for a cigarette, abandon his search in  the middle of it (wise, since English cigarettes are bad), and seize his head in his two hands, twisting it from side to side and lowering his head  near the board so the he can have a convenient recepticle if ever his head does come off.
     And of course Alekhine still twists.  However, he contents himself with a wisp of hair, not wishing t go the whole hog (or head).  He coughs in  staccati fashion during the progress of a game, and usually not because of a cold in the thoractic region.  At Nottingham it was easy to explain the  cough when one regarded the cigarette stubs left by the Doctor after a game. (And English stubs to boot.)
     C. H. "O'Death" Alexander,  who made the best score of all the English players at Stockholm, rocks back and forth on his chair, humming  tunelessly as he rocks.  The tune is probably not  "Brittania Rules the Waves"  because C. H. O'D. has good Irish blood in his veins.  There is  another little thing about him which cannot be overlooked.  He is to date the only man ever to play in a B. C. F. Congress wearing shorts.  (C. H.  O'D., not the B. C. F. Congress!)
     Bogolyubov sits complacently in his chair,  his legs widely spread apart, and contemplates the board benignly, occasionally darting a humorous  glance at his opponent.  This gives him the aspect of a benevolent Buddha, an aspect heightened by the Buddha-like paunch which he has  developed through his cultivation of beer in its relation to the human throat.
     Capablanca purses his lips philosophically, and slides out his chair with a lithe grace that belies his forty-odd years as he walks from board to  boad to see how his colleagues are faring.
     Euwe bends over the board intently, folding his hands in his lap and flexing his arms from time to time.  A wisp of hair falls over his temple as he  bends, and sometimes he brushes it back quickly.   He too walks rapidly from board to board, since walking in part of his general training.
     Flohr frowns so anxiously that one almost fears that he will burst into tears.  But when he has reached a postition bound to yield him good  prospects, he looks up at all around him with a boyish, infectious smile.
     Fine and Reshevsky indulge in a moderate amount of swaying, and both are very intent, although Reshevsky usually manages to look more  serious.  Fine does little flourishes with his knuckles, and sometimes wields a pencil in geometric designs in the air.  Kashdan manages the most  reverentially pensive look yet seen on the face of a master, and sometimes blinks rapidly to make sure that he has two bishops and not two knights on the board.
     Botvinnik has no real mannerisms, except for his studious gaze, enhanced by his large spactacles which give him a professorial appearance.   He smiles hesitantly and is extremely modest.  He appears to be the most normal of the lot.
     Tartakover is versatile, in keeping with his scholastic accomplishments.  He sways, takes off his glasses repeatedly and rubs his eyes, looks  fixedly ahead to make sure of the move his opponent has made before he finally writes it on his scoresheet, purses his lips, puts a finger to his  brow to support his chain of thought (a motion used by Capablanca also), and often reprimands himself silently, shaking his head and moving his  lips.  In defeat he is jocular, satirical over his misfortune.
     Lasker shoots out the fierce glances of a lion, whose prototype he is over the chess board.  As he smokes his cigars, he holds them cautiously.   He does not smoke with the spendthrift ease of a man who has no cares; rather, he cherishes the cigar.
     Miss /menchik is undoubtedly the most placid of all the masters.  She sits stolidly, surveying the scene and shunning the spectators.  She is  imperturbable, unless some unlucky onlooker whispers a bit too audibly.  Then she will turn slowly around, regard the culprit, and emit a loud  "Ssssshhhh!!!"  Her rival Sonia Graf is her exact opposite, being extremely masculine in action as well as dress.  She rocks sideways, taps  nervously with a pencil or a cigarette, glances hastily from side to side.
     The American masters, coming from a country where people are always u and doing, have introduced motion into mannerisms.  Harold Morton  sits sideways, one leg crossed over the other,  and kicks the top leg to and fro.  Then suddenly he will untangle himself and seek to plunge himself  into the board, raising and lowering his head in one-two tempo to see how his opponent is reacting.  Whether his opponent reacts or not, Harold  remains mercurial.
     Jaffe glowers at his opponent from lowered eyelids and beats out a Morse code with a pencil or cigarette.  However, he taps the cigarette a bit  more lovingly than he does a pencil.
     Mugridge is a head-holder and chin-nurser par excellence.  Being of a more restful nature than Winter,  he does not seek to find out  whether his head can be screwed on or off.  Cohen waggles his foot, the while contemplating the board benignly.  But unlike Bogolyubov, his  benign look is tinged with a mild expectancy, as if waiting for his opponent to overlook mate in two.   Sometimes the opponent does, and then  Cohen is benign no more, but rather a man of action.
   Treysman folds his arms across his chest and lowers his head as if he had just heard his death sentence read.  He, too, is a foot-waggler.  But he  waggles up and down where others waggle from side to side.
     Of course there are others.  Their number is legion.  There are head-scratchers, nose-twitchers, ear-pullers, lip-biters.  And they can all be  found, not in the State Hospital for the mentally unsound, but at the chess board in a tounrnament.


Enjoyable, no?

Deb later directed me to note the author of the article, Paul Hugo Little.  The name had a familiar ring and so I googled him.  I found some interesting stuff, but Deb reminded me of a discussion we had several years ago where I gave very high praise to the author of one of two articles she had sent me.
Here's what I wrote her:
            . . . the first one was written by Fred Reinfeld, well written but,
            like Reinfeld himself, a little predictable.  The second one was very
            creatively written.  I was impressed by such writing for a chess
            magazine. it was written by a guy named Paul Hugo Little.
            I'd never heared that name before, so i did a search. . .oman

     Paul Hugo Little was a Chicago native born on February 5, 1915. During the year in which the above article was written, he graduated from Northwestern University with a B.S. degree.  His father was Israel Isaac Little, a linen merchant, his mother Ida Marie (Demont) Litwinsky. He married Helen Mary McGrew, a teacher and designer, on April 3, 1941. He died on the same day as Howard Staunton, incidentally also on Paul Morphy's birthday, June 22, 1987. Most of this information came from the Cleveland Public Library which houses Little's chess scrapbooks and manuscripts.

CPL writes of Little:  Before he became a writer, he worked as an educator, broadcaster, advertising manager, sales manager, announcer, account executive, and translator. He also taught fiction in the City Colleges of Chicago. But that really doesn't do him justice. He was a critic of fine food and wine for Hospitality Magazine (eg. Take my hotel food. Please!, January,. 1976) as well as an extremely ecclectic music critic (reviewing such diverse music as the Vienna Philharmonic in The Hyde Park Herald, June 11, 1952 and folk music in an article in Down Beat: "Seeger Helps Restore American Folk Heritage", May 30, 1956,  extolling Pete Seeger.) And according to his obituary: Mr. Little, a former advertising copywriter, began writing novels in 1963.  So, one of the most prolific writers in America didn't even start writing novels until he was 48!

One man, whose uncle was well acquainted with Little, wrote:
     The man of a 1000 pseudonyms was born Paul Hugo Litwinsky in Chicago to wealthy merchants. Little  ultimately became one of America's most prolific writers with over 700 novels and books to his credit. They are almost all porn of the poorest  literary quality. A chess expert, he has a few chess instructionals to his name, and wrote a book in 1965 titled The Procurers, a title about one of  Chicago's most notorious call-girls who had her phones unilaterally turned off by the sheriff of Cook County. Some believe this book is fiction. It is  not. My uncle, Elmer Gertz, in his day one of the U.S.'s most celebrated civil liberties and First Amendment attorneys (he won Tropic of Cancer's  first case in the U.S.), was this woman's advocate in her suit against the sheriff and, natch, got her off hook and back on the phone. I once  possessed a copy of this book that Little had inscribed to my uncle. I sold it ten years ago. It is now online and selling for $150. Geez...
    One day someone will write at length about this character, known primarily for his porn work under the pseudonym, "A. Grandamour," who,  according to my uncle (who knew him well), was a spoiled rich Jewish kid, well-educated, who turned his back on his family and background, was  thrown out of the Chicago branch of The Standard Club, the social organization for successful Jews, for conduct unbecoming, married an  Episcopalian, converted to Christianity, and then churned out so much crude erotica that he surely could not have had time to perform his connubial  responsibilities.

 

While the man above describes Little's works as "porn of the poorest  literary quality," this wasn't a consensus.  Most critics of that genre seemed to believe that Little's writing transcended the traditional quality.  For instance, www.vintagesleaze.com writes:
      Paul Hugo Little (born Paul Hugo Litwinsky) was one of the most curious figures in American letters.  To find a comparable character, one would  need to reanimate Vladimir Nabokov to invent him, for he was among other things -- a businessman, a professor, a writer, a chess champion and  a gourmet, who divided his time equally between reviewing restaurants, writing on chess strategy, and producing perhaps the most extensive  oeuvre of any erotic/pornographic writer in history.  His pseudonyms are many, Kenneth Harding, A. De Granamour, Dr. Guenter Klow, Dr. Gerda  Mundinger, Sylvia Sharon, Paula Little, Paula Minton, Hugo Paul, Myron Kosloff, Jon Parker, Olga Rich, Larry Preston, Lana Preston, to  name but a few. . . . Little's works are distinguishable for their attention to historical detail and imaginative BDSM scenarios; they are a high calibre of writing and recommended.

From Dec.1974 James Schroeder’s Dec. 1974 bulletin (Cleveland):
Mr. Little sent me the  following-
    I am the above, and, remembering how a Democratic politician once referred to Herbert Hoover as ‘that voice from the grave in Palo Alto’,  deem it advisable to acquaint contemporary chess players with my background and playing ability, so that when they read articles under my name  in this admirable Bulletin (and James Schroeder is playing me nothing for the plug), which is a model of what a chess informant should be, they  won't dismiss them as the brainwaves of an utter patzer.
    True, since 1938 I’ve played in a total of six tournaments, but I have won several CHESS REVIEW postal chess sections (Class A Rating) in the  Forties, and have met a few of the world’s best over-the-board at simuls and in friendly games. I’m still proud of my draw a Pawn down in a Rook  and Pawn ending with the late Sir George Thomas. I recall a friendly game with the last Emanuel Lasker, about eighteen years before his death,  where I held out on the Black side of a Ruy Lopez for about 60 moves, losing by Zugzwang when a Pawn down. Not bad for a duffer. I held my own  with Lewis J. Issacs, Elias Gordon, and even Samuel D. Factor (losing, but never miserably), when this trio headed Chicago chess in the Forties.
    One of the games that delights me most is the one I played against Reuben Fine on Feb. 24, 1940, in his exhibition at Chicago's Covenant Club.  He played 32 games simul [sic] and two blindfolded. I had Black in one of the blindfolded games and accepted the Queen's Gambit but soon found  myself two Pawns down without compensation. With youthful bravado (I was then 25) I attacked; Fine transposed moves and I was able to force a  draw. He was very nearly of World Title Class in those days, so this draw is something to cherish for my ego's sake. Incidentally, Fine wrote the  forward to my book THE JUVENILE DELIQUENT [i.e. DELINQUENT], published in paperback about three years ago by McFadden-Bartell. You  may still be able to order it at your bookstore. And here's the game whose moral for all you young players is- l’audace, l’audace, toujours l’audace.  In a word, have the guts to take a board against a Master at a simultaneous; ask yourself every time he makes a move why he made it; learn from  your own mistakes, but, above all, play without fear and awe. You might just win or draw. Remember how the ‘Immortal Patzer’, Walter  Grombacher, beat the mighty AI Horowitz at the US Open at Milwaukee 1953.

From the Illinois Chess Bulletin, Dec. 1971
A LITTLE BIT OF FINE IN CHICAGO HISTORY
Paul Little calls the following game his “most meritorious achievement against a grandmaster. It was played February 24, 1940, at the Covenant  Club, 10 N. Dearborn, in Chicago, as part of an exhibition of 32 simultaneous games played by Grandmaster Reuben Fine, with two additional  games in which he took white and was blindfold. I was one of the two opponents against whom he played sans voir.” A couple of months ago, by  the way, Little’s latest book, THE JUVENILE DELINQUENT, was “released by MacFadden-Bartell, with a foreword by Dr. Reuben Fine, now a  practicing psychiatrist in New York.” In Nottingham, 1936, Little accompanied that GM to report the event for the NY Times and Chess Review, an  event in which Fine took “third place tied and undefeated in one of the world's greatest chess tourneys!”

Chess Review published this game:
     Good chess played in a forthright manner by Hoit.  The defense chosen is currently the favorite, Dr. Euwe considering it to be the most critical  variation in the Nimzowitsch Defense.  On move 19 White offered a draw.  Black responded to this by courteously sacrificing his Kt - a neat  sacrifice very reminiscent of the great Marshall's "Swindles."

 

 


 

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