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Today in Chess History: Jul 12

  • #1

    Jul 12, 1573: Pietro Carrera was born in Militello, Italy.

    Jul 12, 1888: Franz Sackmann, German composer, was born in Kaiserslautern, Germany.

    Jul 12, 1941: Charles Jaffe died in Brooklyn, New York, USA.

    Jul 12, 1970: Zoltan Varga was born, Hungary.

    Jul 12, 1976: Andrey Shariyazdanov was born, Russia.

  • #2

    Charles Jaffé (Jaffe) (circa 1879?, Dubrovna, Belarus – 12 July 1941, Brooklyn, USA) was a Belarusian-American chess master, of virtually Grandmaster strength at his peak in the 1910s, when he was one of the world's top players. Jaffe was also a chess writer.

    Jaffé was born in a small town, Dubrovna, in the government of Mogilev, Belarus (then Russian Empire). Considerable doubt exists as to his precise birthdate, as raised by chess historian Edward Winter and others. Various sources list his birthdate anywhere between 1876 and 1887. Jaffe emigrated to the United States in 1896, and worked as a silk-mill merchant until he became a professional chess player in 1910.

    In 1904, he took 7th at St. Louis (7th American Congress), with 5/11, as Frank James Marshall won (CM). Jaffe defeated Jacques Mieses, ranked #17 in the world, by 2-0 in a match at New York 1907 (CM). In 1909, Jaffe took 3rd at Bath Beach, Brooklyn NY (Herbert Rosenfeld won). Also in 1909, Jaffe lost a match to Frank Marshall, ranked #7 in the world, by only 3.5-5.5 (+2 =3 -4) (CM). In 1910, Jaffe took 3rd at New York (Marshall won). In 1911, he tied for 3rd-4th at New York, with 9/12 (Marshall won) (CM). In 1911, he tied for 23rd-26th, with 8.5/25, at Carlsbad, a 26-player round-robin. Richard Teichmann won (CM); this was one of the greatest tournaments in chess history, with 17 of the world's top 25 players. In 1913, he took 3rd at New York (National), with 9.5/13, as José Raúl Capablanca won (CM). In 1913, he lost a match to Capablanca at New York by 0.5-2.5. In that same year, he won matches in New York against Mieses and Oscar Chajes.

    Also in 1913, Jaffe took 6th at Havana, with 5.5/14, as Marshall won; this event had two of the world's top ten, and five of its top 48 players (CM). In this tournament, Capablanca charged that Jaffe had intentionally lost his second cycle game to Marshall, allowing Marshall to win the tournament ahead of Capablanca, who was playing in his hometown. In the game in question, in a fairly even middlegame position, Jaffe made a gross blunder which lost a queen for a rook, and then promptly resigned. While the mistake was certainly shocking for a player of Jaffe's standard, other top players throughout chess history have occasionally made similar blunders in tournament play. For example, Capablanca himself at New York 1931 blundered in the opening, and lost a piece to Herman Steiner because of a terrible eighth move. Capablanca apparently then arranged with the Havana organizers, who also organized events in New York, to have Jaffe barred from tournaments in which Capablanca was playing. And indeed, so far as information can be confirmed, Jaffe did not ever play again in a tournament where Capablanca also participated.

    Jaffe became involved in a 1916 court battle involving the non-inclusion for publication of some of his chess analysis of the King's Gambit, Rice Gambit, but he lost the case, despite being supported by witnesses who included U.S. champion Frank Marshall. This was apparently the first American case where chess matters made it to the courts. While seemingly frivolous, this case should be viewed from the perspective of Jaffe making much of his living from writing articles on chess for Jewish periodicals, so his professional reputation was at stake.

    Jaffe was nicknamed "the Crown Prince of East Side Chess" by the poet and master Alfred Kreymborg. He often played at the Stuyvesant Chess Club, hangout of chess hustlers and interesting characters, which had many strong players, and was located on Manhattan's Lower East Side. "Jaffe was famous for his poverty", and "his style was "inimitably coffeehouse".

    In 1914, Jaffe tied for 8-10th at New York (Edward Lasker won). In 1915, Jaffe won at Utica. In 1916, Jaffe narrowly lost a match by 6-7 (+4 =4 -5) to David Janowski, who was the 15th ranked player in the world (CM). Then in 1917-1918, he again lost to Janowski, by then ranked #7, by 6-12 (+4 =4 -10) (CM). In 1918, Jaffe tied for 3rd-5th at Rye Beach, NY (Abraham Kupchik won). In 1918, he tied for 1st-2nd with Boris Kostić at New York. In 1919, he took 2nd, behind Kupchik, at Troy, NY (Quadrangular). In 1920, he took 3rd at New York (Oscar Chajes won). In 1920, he took 2nd, behind Marshall, at Atlantic City. In 1921, he took 3rd at New York (Quadrangular). In 1921, he took 3rd at Atlantic City (David Janowski won). In 1922, he took 2nd, behind Edward Lasker, in New York (CCI). In 1925, he took 3rd in Cedar Point, OH (Kupchik won). In 1926, he tied for 4-5th at Chicago (Marshall won). In 1926, he took 2nd, behind Kupchik, at New York (Quadrangular).

    In 1927, Jaffe sent a cable from New York to Alexander Alekhine in Buenos Aires, where Alekhine was playing Jose Raul Capablanca in the World Championship match. The cable contained Jaffe's analysis of a new variation in the Queen's Gambit, which Alekhine is thought to have used in the match. The victorious Alekhine, upon returning to New York, played a two-game match against Jaffe at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, without financial remuneration, as a favour to Jaffe, and won both games.

    Jaffe then left most competitive chess for a decade, except for occasional forays into Metropolitan League play in the mid-1930s, where he defeated a young Reuben Fine in 1934.. Jaffe lost a 1930 match at New York to Isaac Kashdan by 0-3; Kashdan was the top player in the United States at this time.[6] Jaffe wrote Jaffe's Chess Primer in 1937 (published by Parnassus). His health was in decline by this stage. Jaffe also published several works in Yiddish. His return to chess in later life was chronicled by the writer and chess master Alfred Kreymborg in the short story Chess Reclaims a Devotee.. Jaffe did qualify for the finals at the 1938 U.S. Open Chess Championship at Boston, where he finished tied 8-9th with 4/11, as Al Horowitz won. Jaffe's final tournament was the 1939 U.S. Open Chess Championship at New York, where he qualified for the finals, but lost all 11 of his games in that group to place 12th, as Reuben Fine won.

    Although ratings were not introduced for international chess until 1970, it is possible to retrospectively rate historical chess performances using modern algorithms. The site chessmetrics.com, which specializes in ranking results and players throughout chess history, places Jaffe as the 11th ranked player in the world in January 1917, and calculates his peak rating at 2616 in January 1910, which was 21st in the world. By modern criteria, this data clearly establishes Jaffe as a player of Grandmaster strength at his peak, although Grandmaster titles were not formally introduced until 1950 by FIDE, the World Chess Federation. However, chessmetrics.com is missing several of Jaffe's important results from its database.

    Certainly, his results in matches against Mieses, Marshall, and Janowski indicate that he was a formidable player. He did defeat Capablanca with the Black pieces, and this was a notable feat. Jaffe had the bad fortune to be reaching his peak about the time Capablanca arrived in New York; Capablanca later became world champion and was one of the all-time great players. Capablanca and Marshall dominated competitive chess in New York, and Jaffe could not overcome them.


    Interesting links:


  • #3

    Pietro Carrera, chess player, historian, priest and author, born in Sicily, in Militello, located in the Valley of Noto; here he grow up in the old colony of San Vito. He was born on July 12, 1573, he was the son of Donna Antonia Severino (mother) and Mariano Carrera, a traditional craftsman who entered the priesthood after his wife's death. During his studies in the "Seminario Diocesiano of Siracusa", he had the opportunity to visit many different sicilian cities. As a result of his travels he met Paolo Boi, the so called "The Siracusan" in the town of Palermo during 1597.

    After taking his vows, he first become the chaplain at the church of "S. Maria della Stella" and later of Francesco Branciforte's Court (the Prince of Pietraperzia and Marchese of Militello). During his stay at Branciforte's Court he become interested in chess, winning against Salvatore Albino the so called "Beneventano" and against Gerolamo Cascio. Cascio won against the famous but old Polerio. After developing a fond relationship with the Prince's wife, lady Giovanna, he composed a short poem for her in latin in exameter form regarding chess. Only fragments of this poem, the title being "The Pessopedia", remain today.

    In 1617 he wrote and published "Il Gioco degli Scacchi" ("The Game of Chess"), subdivided in eight books where "learning the rules, the odds, the endgames, the blindfold chess and a discussion about the true origins of chess in itself". This was the first book ever printed in Militello, on request of the Princes of Butera, by Giovanni Rosso from Trento; in this poem Carrera collected and elaborated in a sistematic fashion information given by previous authors. After the Prince of Branciforte's death, he moved to Messina, then to Canicattì and finally to Catania. Here in 1635, using an alias, he published the "Risposta di Valentino Vespaio contro l'apologia di Alessandro Salvio" ("Valentino Vespaio's answer against Alessandro Salvio's explanation"), where he debated the accusations and criticisms made against him from Salvio.

    Famous and esteemed, he died on September 18, 1647 in Messina.

    We remember Carrera also as the inventor of chess variant (Carrera's chess) on an 8x10 chessboard, in which there were added two new pieces called the "Champion" (a combination of the moves of the Tower and the Knight) and "Centaurus" (a combination of the Bishop and the Knight); these innovations had more fame than the ones made by Piacenza and Marinelli. It was a predecessor of Capablanca chess.

    He is not remembered as a great live player but as a Master of theory and a great source of information regarding contemporary players of his time.


  • #4

    Very interesting,I love to learn about old forgotten masers.

  • #5

    Great stuff. I shall read more,if not all!


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