Friday, September 8, 2017

The Pillsbury Rebels

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"The Pillsbury," thats what most of the Memphis Chess Club players called the rival club in town back in the mid 70s; I did check out their organization twice.  Those fellows at "The Pillsbury" were some of the best chess players of the day in Memphis.  There was no bad blood between Memphis Chess Club and Pillsbury Chess Club.  The only clash of opinions was the time the Pillsbury's Secretary, Jack Smith, wrote to the Memphis Chess Club's editor of the Mid-South Chess Advocate with a complaint about the Chess Advocate not publishing complete games.  

Most all of the members of the Pillsbury Chess Club were also members of the Memphis Chess Club.  Jack Smith, the founder of the second incarnation of the Pillsbury, gave me a large envelope one night at the Memphis Chess Club around the year 1983.  Inside the envelope was an application to become a USCF Club Tournament Director and a brochure for trophies from a local supplier.  Jack thought it was time I became more active in the Memphis Chess Club's management, in which I did as vice-president, president, and as a Local TD.  I appreciate Hunter Weaks and Jack Smith's dedication to the game.  [Blog Editor: D. Weaver]

The Opening

Chess Review, March 1955

150 N. Cooper
Tennessee: The Caissan Potpourri announces the formation of the Pillsbury Chess Club in Memphis at the apartment of Hunter Weaks, 150 North Cooper St.  The new club's president, Max F. Mueller, is hopeful of putting an end to the doldrums of Memphis Chess and invites all the city's chess lovers to join without regard to playing strength.  The first annual club championship is scheduled to begin in March. (The Cassian Potpourri was the official newsletter of the Pillsbury Chess Club, with its first edition in 1955.  Another mention of this newsletter was in the Tennessee Chess News, September 1963 featuring a reprint of a drawn simultaneous game between Samuel Reshevsky and Hunter Weaks on page 4.)

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Chess Review, September 1955

Tennessee: At the Pillsbury Chess Club in Memphis, the winner of the first club tournament was R. S. Scrivener with a score of 9 1/2 - 1 1/2.  He was awarded custody of a handsome gold-plated championship trophy.  Max F. Mueller, 9 - 2, was a good second, and Hunter Weaks, 8 1/2 - 2 1/2, finished third.  A prize for the best-played game went to Albert D. Laehder.

Tennessee Chess News, November 1967, page 35

Members of various chess clubs in Tennessee gave reports on activities. Hunter Weaks said the Pillsbury Chess Club in Memphis was only occasionally active, particularly in the Summer time.  James Wright reported for the Memphis Chess Club saying they have about 30 members, they hold the city championship annually as well as the Mid-South (Open) tourney.

published by Memphis Chess Club

Hunter (Weaks) respected quality in all things and disliked mediocrity; so it was in his attitudes about chess and the teaching of chess. He believed that young players, beginning players of any age, should have a chess environment which would provide the maximum opportunity for the full development of their potentials.  During the early 60's, he was frankly dismayed by the seeming inability of the Memphis area to produce more strong players, and he felt that much of the blame lay with the Memphis Chess Club.  In his judgment, certain members of the club were more concerned with establishing themselves as club–masters, in the literal sense, than they where with the game of chess–and were still less interested in seeing young players develop to challenge their positions.  To be precise, Hunter did not feel that anyone was consciously inhibiting the growth of chess in the club; he simply felt that interrelated personality clashes were having an adverse effect that resulted in an unpleasant and unhealthy atmosphere for chess.  After much consideration spread over many months, Hunter decided to retire from the Memphis Chess Club; he did not re-enter the club for several years, until he had cause to think the situation had improved.

During those years of absence, Hunter of course continued his study of the game and played at the unofficial club at his home.  It was at this time that the old Pillsbury Club was reborn.  There had been some speculation among players in the Memphis Chess Club as to just what and who the "Pillsbury Rebels" were.  They were simply a few players who enjoyed chess in a reasonably congenial environment.  They irritated a few Memphis players by going to the state championships in Nashville in 1966 and 1967 and winning the team competition both times; they had the nerve, it seems, to engrave the victor's plaque "Pillsbury Chess Club"–which seemed appropriate since the Memphis Chess Club did not in fact win the competitions.  Aside from its Nashville excursions, the Pillsbury Club activities consisted of matches among its members, joint studies of openings (which included the thorough dissection of members' pet lines so that all might learn a little more), doing studies and exercise in the middle game and endgame, and attention to any specific problem a member might be having with the object of helping him overcome his difficulty–though it might cost another member a point at times.  The purposes of the Pillsbury Club were to improve the play of its members, to provide a pleasant setting for companionship as well as competition, and to make certain, when all its members could make it to Nashville, that the Tennessee team plaque would be properly engraved.  Hunter was, of course, the activity director for the Pillsbury Club and, as such, demonstrated that chess clubs could indeed be fruitful endeavors.  The Pillsbury Club, incidentally, was not a closed society; the chess players in Memphis at the time were well familiar with Hunter's home.

When Hunter rejoined the Memphis Chess Club in late 1971, no one could have known that he was to die of cancer in a year and a half.

The Middle Game

Memphis Reopens Pillsbury Chess Club
by Jack Smith

Jack Smith–Right, Gary Pylant–Left
I am writing to announce the formation of a new USCF affiliate in Memphis:  The Pillsbury Chess Club.  Actually the club began under the leadership of the late Hunter Weaks and has won the Team Trophy at the Tennessee Open twice in the middle 1960's but has been inactive for a few years.

Eddie Middleton, a close friend of Mr. Weaks, and member of the first organization, will serve as Vice-President.  Gary Pylant, (President of the Southern Chess Association), will serve as President.  Charles "Rick" Herbers is Treasurer, and I am Secretary.

Included are two games from the first two rounds of the renewed Pillsbury Chess Club Championship.

Jack  E,  Smith, Memphis

Here are the two games that Jack submitted: Dedicated to the memory of Hunter Weaks, Harry N. Pillsbury, the first Pillsbury Club, and of course, Caissa.

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Pillsbury Chess Club Has Co-Champions
by Jack Smith

Eddie Middleton
The 1976 Pillsbury Chess Club Championship, a 12 man round-robin was won by Eddie Middleton and Mark Gilley with 9 1/2 points each.  Both had 8 wins, 3 draws and no losses!  Eddie, (rated) 1998–June, is also Memphis Co-Champion with Scott Mahlon Smith.  Mark Gilley, estimated rating 1999, made the championship his return to chess after being semi-retired for two years.  Third and fourth place was a tie.  Philip Morgan, 1719–April, and Scott Mahlon Smith, 1884–June, both had 7 points.  Fifth and sixth with 6 points were shared by Ron Minor, 1939–April, and Jack Smith, 1654–June, both had 4 wins, 4 draws, and 3 losses.  Seventh, with an even score of 5 1/2 was Charles "Rick" Herbers, 1596–April.  (For the cross-table and games from this event see pages #47, #51, & #67 in the September 1976 issue of the Tennessee Chess News. )

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The Pillsbury Chess Club welcomes non-local competition: please write us if you would consider staying in one of our member's homes for a weekend in order to play in small round-robins, short matches, or small Swiss systems - preferably on a reciprocal basis.  Write to: Jack Smith, Secretary, 2768 Metrie, Memphis, TN 38114

Tennessee State Championship

The existing Team Plaque was retired by the Memphis Chess Club, since no team could equal or better their record for that (ten year) period.  A new plaque will be obtained by the Memphis Chess Club with the Pillsbury Chess Club being the first to have their name engraved on it (for the Pillsbury win of 1976).

Tournament Calendar

Nov. 13-14, 1976  

Pillsbury Incentive (Memphis), 5-SS, 50/2; Ramada Inn-SE, 3896 Lamar Ave., Memphis, TN 39118. EF Masters $10, Experts $12, A $14, B $15, C, D, E, Unrated $16.  TCA membership required (3), other states OK. $$ (based on 40 entries) 130-78-52; Most improved 70-42-28.  Informant #21 to top provisional or Unrated.  Trophies to 1st and 1st most improved.  Reg. 8-8:30 AM, reds 9-2-7, 9-2, HR 18-24.  Ent: Jack Smith. . . 

Tennessee Chess News, January 1977, page 2

The Pillsbury Incentive
by Jack Smith

The Pillsbury Incentive was won by third rated Bill Orton (Arkansas) with 4 1/2 points and a performance Rating of Nearly 2100.  2nd to 3rd with 4 were Kenny Thomas and Ron Minor.  Most improved was Brent Looper of Ark., (1769), who performed at 2028!  2nd Most Improved was Morris Middleton (1611), with a performance rating of 1778.  3rd Most Improved was John Gray of MS (1553), who had a performance rating of 1667.  Top Unrated/provisional went to Edward G. Boeren of MS with 2 1/2 points and a performance rating of 1589.  The tournament mean was 1685, using the unrated performance the mean was 1680.

The experimental graduated EF was not poplar and will be dropped.  However, the most improved format was well greeted by most entries polled.  We figured the Performance Rating and subtracted the Official Rating to obtain our winners; as Unrated, Provisional and 1200 and under are already rated according to the Performance formula they were eligible.  There were suggestion that perhaps simply figuring who had gained the most points according to the Official Rating Formula might be better.  Suggestions or comments are welcomed.

Robert Sentef of Oxford, MS (2214), fell to Looper and Middleton.  His official statement was: "I shall return, and when I do. . . . ."  Robert Ilderton (2148), is a newly arrived Memphis and TCA member who we welcome to the Mid-South.  Look out come the Candidates Tournament in June!

The tournament organizers, TD, and Pillsbury Chess Club wish to thank the 21 stalwarts, who braved the experimental format, for their cooperation and support.

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Addie E. McFarland Community Center
Where to Play

Memphis: Pillsbury Chess Club, McFarland Community Center, 4983 Cottonwood Road, Tuesday, 7:30 PM; Pillsbury Chess Club gives lessons at 6:30 Tuesdays & meets some Saturdays.  Contact Gary Pylant. . .

Mississippi Chess Letter, December 1977/January 1978, page 2

March 18-19, 1978:

The North Mississippi-Pillsbury Incentive (#2), at Oxford, MS. At Student Union Building., 5SS, Time Control: 50/2, Max.  Entry: $17 (Combined USCF + EF: $27). Registration: 8-9:45 AM. Rounds: 10-3-8, 9-2.  $$(Based on 30 Entries) $140-70-36; Most Improved: &70-$35-$17.50; D, E, UNRATED: $35--$17.50; USCF Membership to top new player.  Mississippi Chess Association Membership Required, Tennessee Chess Association Membership Required of Tennessee Residents.  Advanced Entry to: Jack Smith, 815 Creekside, Memphis, TN 38117.  **This tourney is a great opportunity to improve one's rating BESIDES the financial "INCENTIVE". Let's make this a must on your CALENDAR!!!!

The Northside Sun Jackson, MS April 13, 1978 pg 38

Mid-South Chess Advocate, May 1978, page 29

Marty Appleberry
Marty Appleberry (2199) of Memphis captured first place in the North Mississippi-Pillsbury Incentive #2, played March 18-19, (1978) at Oxford, MS.  Appleberry's 4 1/2 score earned him $90.  Oxford's Joe Sentef (2184) was second with 4 points.  Sent drew with Appleberry with former Memphian Robert Williams (1803).  The most improved player was another former Memphian, Buddy Fowler (1302).  Fowler won 3 games, laying 449 points over his rating.  Second most improved was John Gray (1553) of Oxford, who scored 3 1/2, and played 161 points over his rating.  New players won in the D, E, UNR categories.  Top scorer was Mohsen Beish (3-2) of Oxford.  Tied for second were Firooz Kehavarzi of Oxford and Mike Denzin of Memphis (2-3).


Games from this event:

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Mid-South Chess Advocate, March/April 1980, page 19

Appleberry Gets Incentive

Marty Appleberry, Memphis' lone chess master, won the Pillsbury Incentive III which was held at the McFarland Community Center February 23rd.  Marty finished the tournament with two wins and a draw–half a point ahead of the eight players who tied for second place.  The Incentive III, which was sponsored by the Pillsbury Chess Club of Memphis, proved to be one of he strongest open tournaments that Memphis has seen in recent years.  The average rating of the players was 1806!


Games from this event:

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Charles Herbers
Pillsbury vs Nashville

Sid Pickard

In 1980 the annual Memphis vs Nashville match wasn't played.  To uphold the honor of West Tennessee the Pillsbury Chess Club challenged Nashville to a six game, all vs all, postal match.

The Pillsbury team has included; Jack Smith, Gary Pylant, Rick Herbers, Kenny Thomas, Scott Smith, Sid Pickard, Mac Brown, Mark Gilley, Marty Appleberry, and others.

Nashville's team has been; Pete Lahde, Kent Meadows, Mark Ishee,
Bruce Stearns, Joe Jones, Johnson Moore, Curt Jones, Gary McMurray, Peter Cairlerlio, Gerald Larsen, Brian McCarthy, and others.
Peter Lahde - Mark Ishee
Curt Jones

Games from this event: 

Below is the only completed game found published.  The tournament lasted two years through the postal mail service.

The Endgame

Scrivener Team Plaque Retired 
by Jack Smith

Among the things at stake at the 1984 Tennessee Open was the "Uncle Bob" Scrivener Memorial Team Plaque.  There were 10 slots on the plaque:  Pillsbury Chess Club had four; Nashville had two-and-a-half;  Memphis had one;  and Knoxville had one-and-a-half.  If any other team but Nashville won this year, the Plaque would be retired to the Pillsbury Chess Club next year.

This year Nashville had only four representatives – but what players they were:  McCarthy, Burnett, Moore, and Meadows!  Memphis had the maximum seven at Round 1 but were down to five by Round six.  Pillsbury fielded a team, and Memphis had a second team, but Knoxville had only two players.  It was clearly to be a Nashville versus Memphis Race.

R. Felt, John Hurt, K. Thomas
Daniel Boyd
This projection was borne out during the rounds.  For most of the tournament it was dead even, but finally Memphis won by a half point.  Thus, the team plaque was retired to the Pillsbury Chess Club.  Through the years (1976, 1978, and 1983 previously) the team included Kenny Thomas, Robert Felt, Mahlon (Scott) Smith, Jack Smith, Gary Pylant, Charles (Rick) Herbers, Sid Pickard, Marty Appleberry, Leroy Boyd and others.  The Pillsbury "boys" also have defeated Nashville's Music City Chess Club in a postal match 4 to 2 in all-vs-all two year contest.

For several regular team members this may have been the last Tennessee Open for awhile, as Thomas, Scott, Smith, and Herbers all have moving plans.  After nine years, the group's goal has finally been achieved.  What the original Pillsbury Club could not do in the late 60's and early 70's, the second incarnation has done!  BRAVO!

Gary Pylant
Scott Smith
A new team's first place will be at stake next year.  Now, who has the stamina to retire the next one?  Nashville? Memphis?  Knoxville? Cumberland County? Auburndale Alumni?  A new Pillsbury?  We'll know in a few years!  Congratulations to Memphis for their 1984 win, and to the Pillsbury for retiring the plaque.

[Just as the first Pillsbury Chess Club passed away with its founder in the 70s, and so it did with its second founder, Jack Smith.  Many of Pillsbury's living members are scattered across the country, but there are few that remain in the Mid-South area –– most are no longer active in a chess club.  Blog Editor: D. Weaver]

Thursday, September 1, 2016

A Fine Game–Reuben Fine vs. Bradford Jefferson–1934

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(Memphis) Press-Scimitar, July 19, 1934

B. B. Jefferson Sr., Memphis real estate dealer and Southern chess champion for 30 years, 
has a last game of chess at the Memphis Chess Club, Falls Building, 
before leaving tonight for Chicago, where he will compete for the national championship.

Jefferson, Chess Wizard, To Compete at Chicago

Memphis Expert First to Win U.S. Tourney 
Two Years in Succession

By Ada Gilkey
Press-Scimitar Staff Writer

Thirty-four years ago the Western Chess Association offered a sliver loving cup to the chess player winning the national championship, (Western Championship aka U. S. Open), two years in succession.

In 1913, B. B. Jefferson, of 1353 Vinton, Memphis real estate dealer, won the national at Chicago.  In 1914 he repeated his victory in Memphis and won the loving cup that crack chess players had competed for over a period of 14 years.

Tonight–just 20 years after his victory that broke the record of Western Association Play–he leaves for Chicago to participate in the association's national tournament, which begins Saturday and last 10 days.  He will represent not only Memphis, but the entire South, having held the Southern championship 30 years.

His enthusiasm over the tournament is somewhat dimmed by the fact that his friendly opponent, R. S. Scrivener, of Pacific Seaboard Airlines, the Memphis champion, has canceled his plans to participate in the tournament on account of business.

Always Invited

Until this year, the tournament has always been an invitational affair, with 12 invitations as the limit, and both Mr. Jefferson and Mr. Scrivener have been especially invited every year since 1913.

Three generations of Mr. Jefferson's family have played chess.  Mr. Jefferson was taught the game by a girl cousin in Mississippi when he was only six.  Except for the little whist and a little  duplicate bridge, which he describes as the most scientific games in cards, he has concentrated on chess ever since.

One of the biggest experiences in Mr. Jefferson's career as a chess player was refereeing the world's championship match between Dr. Emanuel Lasker, of London, and Frank J. Marshall, of New York, which was played partly here and partly in New York, about 1907.

Plays Daily

Mr. Jefferson plays chess nearly every day and he plays the Memphis champ regularly once a month or oftener.  He also plays his sister, Miss Rosa Jefferson, probably the best woman player in the South, frequently.

Mr. Jefferson is one of the most enthusiastic of the 30 members of the Memphis Chess Club, which has clubrooms in the Falls Building.  David Cummins is the president and W. H. Coon, secretary.

All state champions have been invited to compete in this year's tournament, and 32 players will actually be there.  They have come from all over the United States and Canada as well.  They will be allowed an hour for the first 20 moves, two hours for the next 20 moves.  Capital prize is $500.

The chessmen and the boards are furnished the players by the tournament committee.

Chess Like Battle

"One set is as good as another," Mr. Jefferson observes, adding, "And I'm not carrying along anything for luck."

"I like chess because it is a scientific game–the most scientific game that is played.  Playing chess is very much like engaging in battle in the army.  It is the same to the mind as athletics to the body."

Mr. Jefferson named some of the ardent chess players of past and present history, among them Napoleon Bonaparte and Joseph B. Stalin, secretary-general of the Soviet Union Communist Party.

Taught In Germany

"Chess is taught in some of the schools of Germany," Mr. Jefferson continued.  "There are over 700,000 players in Russia.  There are probably 1,000 right here in Memphis."  

While chess has never been as popular with women as with men, Mr. Jefferson is glad there will be a woman's tournament in Chicago at the same time as the men's.  He also is delighted that State Teachers College and Southwestern students have formed chess clubs.

Mr. Jefferson lives at 1353 Vinton.  He and Mr. Scrivener have been playing together, "off and on" since 1904.  Mr. Scrivener's father and grandfather played, and now his sons play too.  He won the city championship in 1905.

"I've always liked problems in mathamatics–and you can't run out of problems on a chess board," Mr. Scrivener said.  "When I was at Christian Brothers College I used to worry Brother Leopold Francis to give me additional problems.  He did–on the chess board.  And I've been working them out ever since."

Chess Review, Volume II, Number 7, July 1934, Page 112

Who's Who in Chess
by S. S. Cohen

With the steadiness that marks the seasoned veteran of master play, young Reuben Fine of New York has rapidly climbed the heights, until today,  at the age of nineteen, he is recognized as one of America's outstanding players.

First achieving prominence by winning the championship of the Marshall Chess Club, several years ago, he thereafter continued in his successful stride by winning the Western Championship, (aka U. S. Open), in 1932 and 1933, and by making a splendid record for himself as a member of the American team which retained the Hamilton-Russell trophy in international competition at Folkestone, England.  In match play he also performed well, defeating his fellow teammate, Arthur W. Dake of Portland, Oregon, and Herman Steiner, member of the 1931 victorious team.

The quality of his play entirely belies his years.  Never impetuous, always imaginative, he is capable of winning by virtue of a thorough knowledge of positional principles, and an ability to achieve and increase small and subtle advantages.

This year he has again won the championship of the Marshall Chess Club and is at present engaged in a twelve-game match with I. A. Horowitz, member of the 1931 American team, which won premier honors in the international team tournament held in Prague.  The first two games of the match were played in Philadelphia at the rooms of the Mercantile Library and the Franklin Chess Club respectively and resulted in a double win for Fine–a splendid start.  The third game was contested at the Manhattan Chess Club in New York City and ended in a draw.  Additional games are scheduled to be played at the Marshall Chess Club, the Stuyvesant Chess Club, and the Queens Chess Club.

The scores of the second and third games of this match are included in this issue, and, in a measure, illustrate Fine's resourcefulness and his style of play.

1934–Western Open

The web site provided the statistics included in the following article.

The Western Championship took place July 21 thru August 1, 1934.  There were four qualifying sections, each with eight players; Reuben Fine and Bradford Jefferson were placed in the third section along with Jose Munoz, Vladimir Grigorieff, George Barnes, Sol Friedman, Edmund Nash, and Harry Lew.  The qualifying contest was a Round Robin. Reuben Fine finished with six wins; his only loss was to Jose Muoz.  Bradford Jefferson completed the qualifier with a score of four wins,  one draw and two losses.  Mr. Jefferson lost to Reuben Fine, drew Jose Muoz, and lost to Vladimir Grigorieff.  

A consolation tournament, with two sections, Masters and Class A, were available for those who did not qualify for the overall championship event.  The Masters' consolation tournament's competitors were Milton Hanauer, Herman Hahlbohm, Bjarne Jensen, Fred Rundell, Sol Friedman, Arpad Elo, Harry Woods, Bradford Jefferson, Andrew Palmi, and W. Waggoner.  Bradford Jefferson finished the Masters nine Round Robin consolation event with three wins and  six losses.

The Western Championship section consisted of Reuben Fine, Samuel Reshevesky, Arthur Dake, Arnold Denker, George Eastman, Isaac Kashdavn  Donald MacMurray, and Jose Munoz.  At the end of the overall championship, Reuben Fine and Samuel Reshevsky drew for the Western Championship title; each finished with seven wins and a draw.  Mr. Fine's and Mr. Reshevsky's only drawn games were with each other.  

For more information on the 1934 Western Open Championship click on this link:

Leonard Dickerson has provided the annotation inside the following game from the Western Open qualifier between Reuben Fine and Bradford Jefferson, played on July 23, 1934.

Chess Review, Volume 2, Number 9, September 1934, Page 142

News Events

Western Chess Association Championship

The 35th Annual Tournament of the Western Chess Association is now a thing of the past.  But the results will not be forgotten so soon!  Fine and Reshevsky lived up to expectations and divided the first and second prizes between them.  But Kashdan's poor showing was a stunning surprise.  Perhaps he will stage a comeback at Syracuse–we wish him success.

The tournament was one of the most successful ever run.  A good deal of the credit must go to Malcolm Sims of Toronto, Canada who acted as Tournament Director and Referee–all his decisions being final.  At the conclusion of the Tournament Samuel W. Addleman and Harry E. Heick entertained all the players and officials with a banquet at the Covenant Club, Chicago.  The toastmaster was Chas. H. Leech, President of the Illinois State Chess Association, and the prizes were distributed by Lewis J. Isaacs at the conclusion of the basquet.

The leading scores:

Final Masters Tournament – Samuel Reshevsky and Reuben Fine 7 1/2-1 1/2; Arthur W. Dake 6 1/2-2 1/2; A. S. Denker 5 1/2-3 1/2.

Consolation Masters – Hanauer (N. Y.) 7-2; Hahlbohm (Chicago) 6-3; Jensen (Ind.) 6-3; Rundell (Kan.) 6-3;

Class A–S. Osher (Ill.) 6 1/2-1/2; H. Lew (Mo.) 5 1/2-1 1/2; R. Isley (Pitts.) 4 1/2-2 1/2.

The Western Chess Association announced the election of new officers as follows:

G. S. Barnes, Minneapolis, Minn., President

Chas. H. Leech, Oak Park, Ill., Vice-President.

O. A. Holt, Minneapolis, Minn., Secretary-Treasurer.

Below: Match Games of I. A. Horowitz & R. Fine