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Young Marshall - The early chess career 1893-1900 with collected games

Hilbert John S.

The story of Marshall`s earliest chess years is a story full of drama and, above all, struggle. Struggle in the face of setbacks. Struggle in the face of superior players. Struggle in the face of long and hard study.

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When most chessplayers think of Frank James Marshall, they think of his long, twenty-seven year reign as United States Chess Champion. They think of his astounding accomplishment at Cambridge Springs 1904, where he demolished the competition, finishing with eleven wins and four draws, a Ml two points ahead of second and third place finishers Emanuel Lasker and Dawid Janowski. And perhaps they think of his reputation for Marshall ``swindles,`` the magician grasping victory from apparent defeat. When many chess historians think of Marshall, in truth, little more comes readily to mind regarding his long chess career. Perhaps they consider his devastating loss to Lasker in their 1907 world championship match, 0-7, with 8 draws, played in a host of United States cities, from Brooklyn to Philadelphia to Washington, DC, Chicago, Memphis and back. For those who have read Marshall`s autobiographical work, My Fifty Years of Chess (or for a somewhat younger audience, raised on Dover reprints, Frank J. Marshall`s Best Games of Chess) or Andy Soltis`s Frank Marshall, United States Chess Champion, recollections of Marshall winning the minor tournament at London 1899 or his placing high in the crosstable at Paris 1900 might come to mind. When serious students of Marshall think of their subject, they might recollect the future master, though born in New York, first learned the rudiments of the game in Montreal, that he quickly became one of the strongest players in Canada, that he moved to Brooklyn and won the New York State Junior title, and that he then won the championship of the Brooklyn Chess Club. But this is hardly the whole story. And in some very important ways, the story itself, by omission and outright error, is incorrect. What rarely, if ever, comes to mind, buried as they are in the pages of long forgotten newspapers and journals, are the actual facts of Marshall`s earliest years as a chessplayer, when he was learning the game from the club level on up. Both Soltis and even Marshall himself quickly gloss through his early years in chess, anxious, it seems, to get to his greatest triumphs across the chessboard. Surely there is nothing wrong with that For their purposes. But Marshall`s early career, examined in detail, offers much to casual readers as well as dedicated chess historians alike. In later years, Marshall was known for his inconsistent tournament and match performances. Yet few know that even in his earliest battles, Marshall endured a similar path of ecstatic highs and utter lows. The story of Marshall`s earliest chess years is a story full of drama and, above all, struggle. Struggle in the face of setbacks. Struggle in the face of superior players. Struggle in the face of long and hard study. In short, the struggles each of us face, chessplayer and chess historian alike, in the course of our own lives, both on and off the board. Yet in Marshall`s case, of course, the chess victories and the failures are writ large, almost larger than life. They are here, now, for chess readers willing to take the time to learn of them. And they are here for all who wish to be entertained through observing the mystery and mastery of chess. For both abound in the early story of Frank Marshall. This book is the first systematic attempt to separate fact from myth in Marshall`s early chess life. As the reader will learn, Marshall`s own memory of his earliest days was, to say the least, suspect. Events were given in the wrong order, assigned to the wrong years, and in some cases, apparently, intentionally or not, misrepresented or ignored altogether. Soltis has told us how poor a speller and writer Marshall was. Examination of the facts of his early career suggest, too, his difficulty in grasping dates and chronology in all but the simplest terms. The true story of Marshall`s earliest chess years has, simply put, never been told. Certainly not accurately. Works that have relied on Marshall`s own words, even regarding such supposedly straightforward facts as the years in which he won early events, the titles he held at any given time, and the matches and tournaments he played in, have been to one degree or another misled. Whether one believes Marshall intentionally misled, or whether one believes he was as much the victim of his own faulty memory as others have been since, is a delicate question indeed. How each reader answers that question can now, at least, for the first time, be based on more than simply the myth of Marshall. Works on Marshall typically include a dozen or so of his early games, generally the same ones, and in most instances half of those early games are from Paris 1900, Marshall`s first great international success. This volume includes 173 Marshall games played between 1893 and 1900, when he was between the ages of sixteen and twenty-three. His chess career during this period is laid out in as much detail as possible. An essay on his early life accompanies the games, with internal references so interested readers can easily move between text and play. Extensive use of footnotes has been resorted to in the essay so as to satisfy both the casual reader, who can read through the text without reference to the notes to learn of Marshall`s life in general, and the specialist, who is invited to explore the byways, opponents, and details brought together here in the first extensive treatment of Marshall`s early career. Emphasis has been placed on those figures who loomed large in Marshall`s earliest years, and so the reader will not find here detailed discussions of many of the greats of the chessboard, such as Steinitz, Pillsbury, or Lasker, although none has, obviously, been ignored. Those figures have had more than sufficient attention devoted to them elsewhere, and greater space has been reserved here, rather, for figures perhaps minor today, such as Nicolai Jasnogrodsky and Stanley Johnston, but ones who figured large in Marshall`s life at the time. Little will be found here of stale and timeworn tales, unless to set the record straight. Much new, for another generation of chess enthusiasts to ponder. At least, that has been my intention. As with any biographical study, new information will inevitably surface, and corrections will be needed. The author encourages fellow chess historians to carefully consider the materials gathered here. One point of such a work, of course, is to lay the groundwork for further study and exploration. In that sense, this book is as much a beginning as it is an end, and the author invites others to advance study and knowledge of Marshall, his games, and his times. It is hoped this volume might serve, too, as an invitation to other chess historians to continue exploring Marshall`s middle and later years, so that a relatively complete picture of his achievements might someday be available for future students of the game. As with any research project, the help received from others has made this work better than it would have been otherwise. Dr. Vlastimil Fiala, chess historian and publisher of Publishing House Moravian Chess, suggested this volume, and helped extensively in obtaining Canadian and other source material. It is to him, in large measure, readers owe the appearance of this volume at all. International Master Richard Forster very kindly annotated half a dozen of Marshall`s games, ones especially significant in his career but ones that had so far escaped critical scrutiny. Larry Fyffe contributed extensive research involving Canadian chess columns, and wishes to thank Ellen Higgins of the Saint John Free Public Library for her assistance in obtaining Canadian newspaper microfilm. Edward Winter kindly allowed the reproduction of two photographs of Frank Marshall from his extensive collection. Others who have helped make this book better are Andy Ansel, Neil Brennen, J. Ken MacDonald, Eduardo Mercere, and Nick Pope. To all of them I owe my thanks, extended here. There remains but to say the author, and the author alone, is responsible for errors appearing in the text. John S. Hilbert, Kenmore, New York, 2002

  • Casa editrice Moravian Chess
  • Codice 4920
  • Anno 2002
  • Pagine p. 282