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The Players

The seven players in the Dimock Tournament were the strongest members of the Marshall Chess Club. They included the reigning U.S. Champion (Frank Marshall), the Western Open and New York State Champion (Carlos Torre), the Marshall Chess Club champion (Erling Tholfsen), and a recent New York State champion (Rudolph Smirka). No doubt they all welcomed the chance to play in such worthy company and to test themselves against a grandmaster of Marshall's caliber. Below you will find the tournament crosstable and biographies of the players.

 

Introduction
The Players
Key Moments
The Tournament
Marshall vs. Torre
The NY International
A Piece of History
Chess History Links
Acknowledgments
Games Index
 
 

The Tournament Crosstable

Dimock Theme Tournament, New York, October-November 1924
Place
Player
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
Total
1
Frank James Marshall
* *
1 0
1 1
1 1
1 1
1 1
10½
2
Carlos Torre (Repetto)
0 1
* *
1 0
1 1
1 1
½ +
9
3
Anthony Edward Santasiere
* *
0 1
1 1
1 1
½ +
07½
4
Erling Tholfsen
0 0
0 1
1 0
* *
0 0
½ 1
1 +
05½
5
Rudolph Smirka
0 0
0 0
0 0
1 1
* *
1 ½
0 ½
4
6
Horace Ransom Bigelow
0 0
0 0
0 0
0 ½
½ 0
* *
1 1
3
7
Bruno Forsberg
0 0
½ -
½ -
0 -
1 ½
0 0
* *
 2½
Code: + forfeit win; - forfeit loss; ½ drawn game. Table courtesy of Eduardo Bauza Mercere.


Biographies of the Players

Frank James Marshall
U.S. Champion, 1909-1936
(August 10, 1877-November 9, 1944)

Marshall was 47 years old in 1924 and at the height of his powers. At the major New York International Tournament in the Spring of 1924, he finished a solid fourth, behind only the three world champion contenders of the period: Em. Lasker, Capablanca, and Alekhine. He had also successfully defended his long-held U.S. title the year before against Edward Lasker, who finished much lower among the field at the New York International. There is no question, then, that he was the best American player of his time and among the strongest players in the world. An indication of his energy and love of the game is the fact that, while competing in the Dimock tourney, he gave a 26 board simultaneous exhibition at the Brooklyn Institute on Saturday, October 25, scoring a perfect 26-0. He then returned to finish the second half of the Dimock event, outpacing the young Carlos Torre by a full point and a half. In 1986, Marshall was among the first inductees into the American Chess Hall of Fame. His excellent autobiography My Fifty Years of Chess is, unfortunately, currently out of print. But Andy Soltis has written a recent biography and game collection titled Frank Marshall, United States Chess Champion: A Biography with 220 Games. And Hans Kmoch has written a nice remembrance of Marshall in his Grandmasters I Have Known. You can find more information about Marshall at my web site, The Frank James Marshall Electronic Archive and Museum, which features a near complete tournament and match record and game record and collection. You can also download a file of his games in PGN format from the Pitt Archives.

Carlos Torre (Repetto)
U.S. Open Champion, 1924
(November 23, 1905-March 19, 1978)

Torre was barely 19 years old at the time of the Dimock tournament, but he had already proven himself in several important national events in the United States. He was working hard at becoming a professional chess player in 1924, and he had great success that year, winning the New York championship in Rochester and the Western Open in Detroit (equivalent to today's U.S. Open), defeating several Grandmasters. Such a streak of victories in major national events would not be duplicated again until the arrival of Bobby Fischer. Playing in tournaments at the Marshall Chess Club in the months between 1924 and 1925 helped Torre sustain himself as a professional and make the connections that would help him on the international circuit. He was especially grateful for the friendship of Frank Marshall, who accompanied him on his European tours. In 1925, both Marshall and Torre played in Baden-Baden, Moscow, and Marienbad, where Torre had excellent tournament performances for such a young man. After only a short time competing he had already made a mark upon the game, establishing a plus score against the three competitors for the world championship at the time: Lasker, Capablanca and Alekhine. What no one could know then, however, was that his professional career would span only three short years....

Like Capablanca, with whom he was naturally compared during his rise, Torre learned chess as a young child and began competing as a teenager. His parents emigrated from Mexico to New Orleans when he was quite young (during a time of few restrictions on emigration), and there, in the home of that other great prodigy, Paul Morphy, he developed into a master player, winning the Louisiana championship in 1923. Four short years later, after great success in the United States and abroad, Torre suffered a nervous breakdown, returned to his native Mexico, and disappeared into obscurity at the age of 22. The subject of an excellent recent biography, The Life and Times of Carlos Torre (see image above) by Gabriel Valasco, Torre remains one of the mysterious "lost talents" of chess.

Valasco helped secure the aged Torre the title of grandmaster in 1977 (only a year before his death) based on his excellent results during the years 1924-1926. Torre thus became Mexico's first Grandmaster, and he remains one of its best and most fondly remembered. There is even a memorial tournament in his name. But we must all wonder what great success he might have had if he had been able to compete during the last half century of his life.

Torre's performance at the Dimock event demonstrates his talent and shows him at his speculative best. His game as White against Satasiere is arguably the most exciting of the tournament and it continues to be an important game in terms of the theory of the Urusov Gambit. You can download a file with some of his best games from the Pitt Archives in PGN format.

Anthony Edward Santasiere
(December 9, 1904-January 13, 1977)

A well known participant in New York tournaments of the 20s through the 60s, Santasiere became something of an opening theorist and authored several books, including monographs on the King's Gambit and Vienna Game. Later in his life he played 1.b4 (or 1.Nf3 Nf6 2.b4) almost exclusively as White, leading some to call the opening "Santasiere's Folly" (though "the Orangutan" has proven more popular). Santasiere was New York State Champion in 1928, 1930, 1946, and 1956, and U.S. Open Champion in 1945. He played some very good games, including his pretty queen sacrifice against E.B. Adams. You can download 150 of his games in PGN format (compiled by Dave Oppedal) from the Pitt Archives. Santasiere's books on the King's Gambit (The Romantic King's Gambit - still in print) and on Tchigorin (My Love Affair with Tchigorin) show that he remained a true romantic in his approach to the game. It is therefore quite fitting that he would play in a theme tournament to test the romantic Urusov Gambit.

Erling Tholfsen
Marshall Chess Club Champion, 1924
(January 12, 1904-December 6, 1996)

Tholfsen was the reigning Marshall Chess Club champion at the time of the Dimock event, but he is perhaps best remembered today for his famous statement: "Do whatever you can to discourage him, Mrs. Fischer." He was playing captain of the U.S. Olympiad chess team in 1928 at The Hague, where he played fourth board and held his own with 4 wins, 5 draws, and 4 losses. He also finished very well at several New York tournaments during the 20s and 30s. In his old age, Tholfsen remained a fixture of the New York chess scene, though he had given up playing competitively after the 1930s. According to an obituary by Jason Luchan, Tholfsen worked as a Spanish teacher in the New York City public schools and was very active in the labor movement for most of his life. His most memorable game was his win over Arnold Denker in the U.S. Championship tournament of 1934 (see Tholfsen-Denker, Syracuse 1934).

Rudolph Smirka
New York State Champion, 1923 and 1927
(February 12, 1887-?)

The year before the tournament, Rudolph Smirka had won the New York State Championship, a feat he would repeat in 1927. By special arrangment he was allowed to play his games on the weekends, likely due to his work schedule during the weekdays.

Horace Ransom Bigelow
Oxford University Champion
(March 6, 1898-April 18, 1980)

Horace Ransom Bigelow was described by The New York Times of 1924 as "the Oxford University star." Whatever his successes in college, however, he is best remembered today for his occasional columns in the American Chess Bulletin and for his introduction to Richard Reti's posthumous book Masters of the Chessboard (available from Dover Books). Few of his games from the Dimock event have survived, though he is described by Hermann Helms as playing "the most spectacular chess in this tournament," often sacrificing (or losing?) material early in the game only to fight back valiantly through wild complications.

Bruno Forsberg
(August 26, 1892 - February 10, 1961)

Forsberg was a frequent competitor in New York area tournaments, and he finished fifth in the New York State Championship of 1930. Near the end of the Dimock tournament, he withdrew due to illness, forfeiting three games against Torre, Santasiere, and Tholfsen which were recorded as wins for those players.

Harold Edwin Dimock
(May 8, 1884 - April 1, 1967)

Dimock, of New London, Connecticut, was a prominent chess philanthropist of the 1920s and donated the prizes for the event. He and other members of the Marshall Chess Club sponsored several theme tourneys during this period, including one on the Vienna, the Evans Gambit, and the wing gambit in the Sicilian Defense.

Key Moments>>>

 
Contact: Michael Goeller, goeller@rci.rutgers.edu
Last modified: July 15, 2002
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