The Tournament

The best historical news account of the Dimock Theme Tournament of 1924 can be found in Hermann Helms's excellent weekly chess column, which appeared every Thursday in The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Below are excerpts from Helms's columns of October through December.

October 2, 1924 November 6, 1924
October 9, 1924 November 13, 1924
October 16, 1924 November 20, 1924
October 23, 1924 November 26, 1924
October 30, 1924 December 4-11, 1924

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

Marshall and Torre Enter Restricted Chess Tourney
The Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Thursday, October 2, 1924
by Hermann Helms

After a long rest following the New York International Chess Masters tournament, in which he captured the fourth prize, greatly to the delight of American chess players in general, Frank J. Marshall, the United States champion, will go into action again tomorrow evening as one of the seven participants in the Dimock Gambit tournament, the first round of which will be played at the rooms of the Marshall Chess Club of Manhattan.

This competition will be unlike the regulation tournament in that the games will be restricted to one opening, which was suggested by Edwin Dimock of New London, Conn., a member of the club. There is very little "book play" on this line and the contestants, therefore, will be thrown largely upon their own resources. A valuable test of this particular variation is expected to result, because of the caliber of the talent engaged.

The opening moves will be the following: 1.P-K4 P-K4; 2.B-B4 Kt-KB3; 3.P-Q4.

Carlos Torre, recent winner of the New York State and Western championships, is another of the entries and his participation will lend additional significance to the tournament. E. Tholfsen, club champion; Bruno Forsberg, R. Smirka, A. E. Santasiere, and H. R. Bigelow are the other entries.

Still another first prize was won by Carlos Torre in the last weekly rapid transit tournament at the Marshall Club, in which 14 competed in two sections. After winning six straight in the peliminaries, Torre finished with a score of 7-2. He lost a game to A. E. Santasiere, who won second prize....

On Tuesday Torre visited the Bethlehem Chess Club at Bethlehem, PA, where he encountered 20 opponents, not one of whom was able to win a game. Torre won 18 and drew 2. He also contested a game against three of the members in consultation and won this too. Although he will be engaged in the Dimock Gambit and, later on, in the club championship tournament at the Marshall chess Club, Torre will make periodical trips out of town to give exhibitions of his skill at clubs desiring to engage his services.

Monday evening Torre paid a visit to the newly organized Philidor Chess Club of 139 West 49th Street in Manhattan where he vanquished the best player the club could oppose to him. The members are all Spanish-Americans....

Later in the evening Torre dropped in at the Manhattan Chess Club and was introduced to about a dozen of the members. Shortly after his arrival he was invited to participate in a rapid transit session. The youthful star promptly won two series of three games each against three strong opponents. Before long his success became noised about and it was only natural that he should become the center of interest for all those present.

Incidentally, Torre had an opportunity of shaking hands with Jose R. Capablanca, who came in while he was busily engaged in his lightning games, in the conduct of which the Cuban is without a peer. Capablanca smiled his encouragement to his fellow member of the Latin race and exchanged a few words with him in Spanish. Capablanca is scheduled to give his first simultaneous exhibition at the Franklin Chess Club of Philidelphia on October 11.

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Marshall Conquers Mexican in Chess Tournament Game
The Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Thursday, October 9, 1924
by Hermann Helms

Apparently still maintaining the form which earned for him fourth prize in the New York Chess Masters tournament last spring, Frank J. Marshall, after two rounds, holds the undisputed lead in the special tournament at the Marshall Chess Club, endowed by Edwin Dimock of New London. The United States Champion first defeated Bruno Forsberg in dashing style (see Marshall-Forsberg, Dimock Theme Tournament 1924) and, on Tuesday evening, administered a defeat to Carlos Torre (see Torre-Marshall, Dimock Theme Tournament 1924), who had previously won from A. E. Santasiere (see Torre-Santasiere, Dimock Theme Tournament 1924).

In his game with the young Mexican (see Torre-Marshall, Dimock Theme Tournament 1924), Marshall handled the black pieces and emerged from the opening practically on even terms, except that he had an isolated pawn on the king's file. On the other hand, Torre permitted his QB pawn to be doubled. Further exchanges led to a rook and pawn ending, in which Marshall made the most of his opponent's weakness on the queen's side of the board. Eventually, he brought his passed QR pawn to a threatening position. This decided the issue in his favor, Torre resigning after 31 moves.

It was only the second game that Torre had lost since he started out after the championships of the New York State and Western Chess Associations, both of which he captured. Inasmuch as the program calls for two games between each pair of players, Torre will have an opportunity of getting back at his famous rival before the tournament comes to an end. It will then be his turn to conduct the black pieces. The fact cannot be overlooked, however, that he missed a valuable half point, in view of the satisfactory development he obtained for white....

H. R. Bigelow has thus far played the most spectacular chess in this tournament. He and E. Tholfsen, club champion, agreed to a draw in their adjourned game from the first round. Tholfsen was a rook ahead at one time, but in the ending, which Bigelow brought about, the former, with two rooks opposed to a queen, had to resort to a draw through repetition of moves.

In the second round Bigelow again had the white side against Santasiere. By really brilliant play the former Oxford University champion came through with a piece to the good, only to lose it later on through sheer carelessness or brain fag. Thereupon Santasiere obtained the upper hand and when adjournment was taken he was two pawns ahead. Bigelow hoped to draw because of the presence on the board of bishops commanding squares of opposite colors.

Santasiere won last night when play was continued.

The next round will be contested tomorrow evening. Rudolph Smirka has not yet started in, but, by special arrangement, will play his games over the week-ends.

William M. Russell of Brooklyn has called attention to the interesting fact that the opening which is being tested at the Marshall Chess Club was adopted against Marshall himself on a most important occasion, namely at Cambridge Springs in 1904. It was the late Carl Schlechter, to whom Dr. Lasker yielded one of two games he lost at Cambridge Springs, who had the temerity to essay this line of play against the United States champion (see Schechter-Marshall, Cambridge Springs 1904).

In the first round of the special tournament at the Marshall Chess Club, Marshall defeated Forsberg by means of a dashing attack which brought victory in 17 moves (see Marshall-Forsberg, Dimock Theme Tournament 1924). Torre, after selecting a variation that involved giving up a pawn, sacrificed the exchange and thereby was enabled to exert a steady pressure upon Santasiere's King. In time, he recovered a Knight, after which the game was all in his favor (see Torre-Santasiere, Dimock Theme Tournament 1924).

White in fact had all the best of it in the first round, for Bigelow emerged with a drawing position against Tholfsen, notwithstanding the fact that he was a piece down throughout the greater part of a lively struggle.

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U.S. Champion Invincible in Chess Club Tournament
The Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Thursday, October 16, 1924
by Hermann Helms

So far, after four rounds, Frank J. Marshall has been invincible in the special tournament under way in the rooms of the Marshall Chess Club in Manhattan to test the validity of the variation of the King's Bishop's opening suggested by Edwin Dimock of New London, Conn., the donor of the prizes. The United States Champion, following his victories over Forsberg and Torre, added wins against Smirka (see Marshall-Smirka, Dimock Theme Tournament 1924) and Tholfsen (see Tholfsen-Marshall, Dimock Theme Tournament 1924) to his total. All of his games have been won in less than 30 moves. This savors very much of the dash and spice of the Marshall of old, whose reckless daring the European masters came to fear. To complete his schedule in the first half, Marshall has yet to meet Santasiere and Bigelow.

Carlos Torre, after his setback at the hands of Marshall in the second round, has won his games from Bigelow (see Torre-Bigelow, Dimock Theme Tournament 1924) and Tholfsen (see Tholfsen-Torre, Dimock Theme Tournament 1924). These successes have given him second place in the competition with a score of 3-1. Torre is playing true to form and it is not unlikely, should he fail to square accounts with Marshall in the return game, that he will in the end land second prize.

A.E. Santasiere comes next with a 50 percent score, having won from Bigelow and Smirka and lost to Torre and Tholfsen (see Santasiere-Tholfsen, Dimock Theme Tournament 1924). He has still to meet Marshall. Tholfsen, Bigelow, Forsberg and Smirka follow in the order named.

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U.S. Chess Champion to Play at Brooklyn Institute Club
The Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Thursday, October 23, 1924
by Hermann Helms

Making his annual visit to this boro, where for many years he made his home and which as a matter of fact sent him abroad to his first international tournament in London, Frank J. Marshall of Manhattan, the United States Chess Champion, will give an exhibition of his skill at simultaneous play before the members of the Brooklyn Institute Chess Club in the Art Room at the Brooklyn Academy of Music next Saturday evening. It is expected that about 25 players will take boards and pit their skill against that of the famous international master. Play is scheduled to begin at 8:15 p.m.

Playing against 12 members of the University Club of Manhattan, Marshall came close to making a clean sweep. L. G. Bissell, however, succeeded in drawing his game. He was presented with a copy of "Marshall's Chess Swindles."

Marshall clearly is now in his best form, for he has finished the first half of the Dimock tournament, now in progress at the rooms of the Marshall Chess Club, with a clean score of 6-0. The champion has defeated in succession such capable players as Torre, Tholfsen, Santasiere, Forsberg, Bigelow, and Smirka. Another round, however, remains to be contested. Nevertheless, with a point and a half advantage over Carlos Torre, his nearest rival, Marshall is naturally a strong favorite for first honors.

Torre has also completed his schedule. In addition to his loss to Marshall, he drew a game with Bruno Forsberg Tuesday evening. The clever young Mexican is slated for a high place at the conclusion of the tournament, even if he can hardly hope to outrank Marshall. Tholfsen, club champion, Forsberg and Santasiere are next in line with scores of 2-3 each.

Forceful tactics on the part of Marshall brought the U.S. champion, playing first White and then Black, quick and decisive victory over Smirka and Tholfsen, respectively, in the Dimock Tournament at the Marshall Chess Club. Likewise Torre lowered the colors of Bigelow in 28 moves. Santasiere and Tholfsen were well matched, but the former's slip on the 23rd move cost him a piece and the game (see Santasiere-Tholfsen, Dimock Theme Tournament 1924).

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International Tourney Cost Met Mostly by Contributions
The Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Thursday, October 30, 1924
by Hermann Helms

Only about a fourth of the cost of the New York International Chess Masters tournament came back through the sale of tickets, the very considerable balance being raised through contributions from those who desired to get the best of the world's masters together and, incidentally, advance the interests of the game throughout this country. [Helms here provides a very detailed descrription of the receipts and expenditures from New York 1924.]

Both A. E. Santasiere and H. R. Bigelow - and especially the former - showed stout resistance in their games with Frank J. Marshall in the special tournament at the Marshall Chess Club (see Marshall-Bigelow, Dimock Theme Tournament 1924). Santasiere came closer than any of the others to drawing with the United States champion, but weakened just enough toward the close to enable the international master to come through with flying colors (see Santasiere-Marshall, Dimock Theme Tournament 1924).

Although Marshall and Torre have played no more games the first half of the Dimock tournament at the Marshall Chess Club has been completed and a start made on the second half. The following results have been recorded since the last report: Smirka 1, Bigelow 0; Smirka 1, Tholfsen 0; Forsberg 1/2, Santasiere 1/2; Tholfsen 1, Bigelow 0.

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Torre in Close Game Beats Champion Marshall at Chess
The Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Thursday, November 6, 1924
by Hermann Helms

Squaring accounts for the only defeat sustained by him thus far in the Dimock tournament at the Marshall Chess Club, Carlos Torre won his return game with Frank J. Marshall after a carefully conducted encounter lasting 34 moves (see Marshall-Torre, Dimock Theme Tournament 1924). The United States champion, however, had the white side of the special variation of the King's Bishop opening that is being tested. He had the black pieces when he won the first game against the Mexican. Thus the defense has scored each time in the two meetings between the leaders.

Marshall on the other hand had won all of his other games, regardless of whether he was white or black. He still leads with a total of 7-1 as against Torre's 6-2. Torre drew two of his games with Forsberg and Santasiere, respectively.

In the game which Torre won he had a pawn plus in the opening, which Marshall regained at his 15th turn. The latter then brought about an exchange of queens, which Torre did not seek to evade. Marshall on the other hand chose to assume the offensive on the 22d move in preference to further exchanges leading to a rook and pawn ending wherein he might have had excellent drawing chances.

Torre's bishop turned out to be more useful than Marshall's knight and, in addition, the former established a passed pawn on the QR file. In the end, by clever maneuvering, Torre trapped the white knight.

A. E. Santasiere, former champion of the Marshall Club, was on his mettle when he encountered Carlos Torre in the Dimock tournament at that club, the result being a draw after 43 moves (see Santasiere-Torre, Dimock Theme Tournament 1924). Torre emerged with a pawn plus from the opening, but allowed his pawns to be broken up at the tenth move. Thereafter, Santasiere gained a little ground, but when the ending was reached, Torre had slightly the better of it. Skillful handling of the final stages enabled Santasiere, although a pawn down, to emerge on even terms with his young rival.

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Tholfsen of Brooklyn Beats Torre in Chess Tournament
The Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Thursday, November 13, 1924
by Hermann Helms

What heretofore United States Champion Marshall alone had been able to do was accomplished last night by E. Tholfsen of Brooklyn, champion of the Marshall Chess Club, when he won his return game with Carlos Torre in the Dimock Gambit tournament at that club (see Torre-Tholfsen, Dimock Theme Tournament 1924). Tholfsen had charge of the black pieces, which was the case with Marshall when he defeated Torre; also with Torre when he won from Marshall.

Throughout the opening, it was nip and tuck between the two clever young experts, but at the 19th move the tide began to turn against the state champion. Tholfsen, once he had the upper hand, maintained his grip tenaciously until he scored after 32 moves.

Marshall is somewhat behind in his schedule and his total remains at 6-1, which is best in all respects. Torre follows with 8-3 having but one more game to play. His second encounter with Smirka, like the first, also went to his credit (see Torre-Smirka). A. E. Santasiere holds third place.

At the University Club of Manhattan yesterday, Marshall played against 14 opponents siultaneously, winning all of the games, with the exception of one. Alexander P. Rogers, in an excellently conducted game, succeeded in scoring against the United States champion. Soon after the New Year, Marshall will leave on an extended tour. The Toronto chess Club has booked him for January 10.

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Marshall, Well in the Lead, Sure to Win Chess Tourney
The Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Thursday, November 20, 1924
by Hermann Helms

With a clear lead of two points and two more games to play, the position of Frank J. Marshall at the head of the field in the Dimock gambit tournament at the Marshall Chess Club is practically assured. It would be necessary for him to lose both of his remaining games for Carlos Torre to be able to tie him. The opponents Marshall has yet to meet are Santasiere and Bigelow, while Torre must reckon with Forsberg. In another week it is expected the issue will have been decided.

During the week Marshall added three points to his total by winning in succession from Forsberg, Smirka, and Tholfsen. Santasiere is the only one in a position to challenge Torre for second place and, to accomplish that, he must win three games in succession, including one from Marshall. Fourth place is still open to four of the competitors.

In his second game with Forsberg in the Dimock tournament, Marshall was held pretty closely all the way through by the Flatbush expert, but in the ending, which was most instructive, the United States Champion clearly demonstrated his supremancy (see Forsberg-Marshall, Dimock Theme Tournament 1924).

A well-timed counter-attack in his game with Carlos Torre enabled E. Tholfsen of Brooklyn to turn the tables upon his formidable young adversary in the Dimock tournament thereby emerging unexpecely from a somewhat cramped and under-developed position (see Torre-Tholfsen).

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Alexander Alekhine Enters Tournament at Baden-Baden
The Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Wednesday, November 26, 1924
by Hermann Helms
[Note: the column was published on Wednesday because the Eagle did not publish on the Thanksgiving holiday.]

Owing to the illness of Bruno Forsberg that player has been obliged to allow his three remaining games to be forfeited. Thus one point additional has been credited to each of the scores of Carlos Torre, A. E. Santasiere, and E. Tholfsen.

Torre's schedule was wound up thereby and the young Mexican assured of second place at least. There remains just a remote possibility of his being able to tie for first place. Chief honors, however, are generally conceded to United States Champion Marshall, even though he has still to play two games.

Convincing Lead at Chess Wins Prize for Marshall
The Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Thursday, December 4, 1924
by Hermann Helms

With a victory over Bigelow in the 12th round (see Bigelow-Marshall, Dimock Theme Tournament 1924), Frank J. Marshall completed his schedule in the Dimock gambit tournament at the Marshall Chess Club with a score of 10½-1½, which entitled him to the first prize. Indicating that he is still at the top of his form, the United States champion opened up a gap of 1½ points between himself and Carlos Torre, the second prize winner. Marshall's only defeat was at the hands of Torre in their second encounter. His drawn game was with A. E. Santasiere in the 11th round (see Marshall-Santasiere, Dimock Theme Tournament 1924).

Torre's score of 9-3 included defeats by Marshall and Tholfsen and a drawn game each with Santasiere and Forsberg. A. E. Santasiere, with 6½-4½, is the winner of the third prize regardless of the outcome of his remaining game with R. Smirka. When this is finished, the schedule will be complete. E. Tholfsen of Brooklyn, club champion, is the winner of fourth prize, with a score of 5½-6½.

Chess Players in Big League Gather for Meeting Tonight
The Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Thursday, December 11, 1924
by Hermann Helms

Although the four prizes in the Dimock gambit tournament at the Marshall Chess Club had already been decided, there remained one game to be played off. By winning this from Smirka, A. E. Santasiere increased his total to 7½-4½, or only 1½ points behind that of Torre (see Smirka-Santasiere, Dimock Theme Tournament 1924). According to Santasiere he consumed only 10 minutes in his last game with Smirka.

The tournament committee of the club now plans another novel competition for the purpose of testing the Vienna opening. The following moves will be compulsory: 1.P-K4, P-K4; 2.Kt-QB3, Kt-KB3; 3.P-B4. Marshall, Torre, Norwood, Santasiere, and Smirka are among those who will play.

The final standing in the tournament just completed is appended:



Marshall vs. Torre>>>

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