<30th Western Championship
St. Louis, Missouri
August 26-September 5, 1929>
In 1929, following several years of holding relatively minor events, , the Western Chess Association made a step toward restoring the former prestige of its annual tournament. The eleven-player turnout including several national figures who had contended in previous years.
The tournament was held in the Downtown Y.M.C.A. in St. Louis, Missouri, from August 26 – September 4. Rounds were held daily from 2:00 PM to 7:00 PM, with a time limit of 50 moves in 2½ hours, adjournment being played in the evening. The <St. Louis Post Dispatch> published a number of reports on the day after the round, often providing standings and a list of pairings for that day’s rounds. However, these reports are incomplete, and some important information is not given. While the general course of the play can be traced, a number of details require further research.
Chief among these is the schedule. Originally, the tournament was supposed to run for ten days (August 26-Sepember 4), but an eleven-player round robin requires eleven rounds. The newspaper reports make no mention of this detail.
Studying the reports, it would seem that players would occasionally play a second game in a day, possibly in the evenings during adjournment time. But these games are never mentioned/
In all events, it was an exciting tournament with five player fighting for first place most of the way the possibility of a multiple tie for the title right up to the very last game.
Round 1 (Monday, August 26)
Hahlbohm 1 Scrivener*
Perrine 0 Factor*
Steiner 1 Anderson*
Roesch 0 Whitaker*
Jenkines 0 Winter
Sournin - bye
Report: <St. Louis Post Dispatch>, August 27, 1929
1.0-0.0: Factor, Hahlbohm, Steiner, Whitaker Winter
The report does not specify colors, but four games survive (indicated by an asterisk (*). The exception is the Jenkines - Winter game, of which the report states: "J. winter, the champion of Detroit, fell back on the Alekhine's Defense..", which would indicate Winter had Black. However, the reporter for the <Post-Dispatch> does not seem to have been an experienced, player, so statements about technical matters cannot be taken for granted.
These leaders could not may have been much of a surprise. Whitaker and Factor were former champions, Hahlbohm had contented often, and anybody from New York like Herman Steiner bore watching. Winter, as well as Scrivener, had shown flashes in the past, but could not be expected to last. The two local champions, Anderson and Roesch, quickly fell off the pace.
Round 2 (Tuesday, August 27)
Whitaker 1 Winter*
Factor 1/2 Steiner*
Scrivener 1 Perrine*
Sournin 1/2 Hahlbohm*
Anderson 1 Roesch*
Jenkines - Bye
Source: St. Louis Post Dispatch, August 28, 1929
1.5-0.5: Factor, Hahlbohm Steiner
1.0-1.0: Anderson, Winter, Scrivener
Still very little separation among the top four.
Round 3 (Wednesday, August 28)
Scrivener 0 Anderson*
Sournin ½ Whitaker*
Hahlbohm 1 Jenkines
Perrine 0 Winter
Steiner 1 Roesch
Factor – bye
Source: <St. Louis Post Dispatch>, August 28, 1929
2.5/3: Hahlbohm, Steiner, Whitaker
2.0/3: Anderson, Winter
There was no report on the round itself. The pairings were taken from the previous report, and the results from the crosstable.
The bye began to have an impact on the standings, as Factor fell behind.
Round 4 (Thursday, August 29)
Winter 0 Steiner
Jenkines 0 Perrine
Whitaker 1 Hahlbohm*
Factor 1 Scrivener
Anderson – Scrivener
Roesch – bye
3.5/4: Steiner, Whitaker
There was no report for this round, nor were the pairings published beforehand. I have been unable to retrace the source, but they fit well with the scores and results to follow.
Whitaker’s victory over Hahlbohm was the most important result of the round, though it hardly eliminated the loser. Anderson was doing well against the bottom half of the tournament, but the real tests remain to be seen.
Round 5 (Friday, August 30)
Jenkines 0 Factor
Steiner 0 Hahlbohm
Whitaker ½ Anderson
Winter 1 Scrivener*
Roesch 0 Sournin
Perrine – bye
Source: St. Louis Post Dispatch, August 31, 1929)
3.5/5: Steiner, Anderson, Hahlbohm
0.0/5: Jenkines, Roesch
Jenkines withdrew at this point. These full standings were printed in the report.
The pattern which would characterize this tournament was becoming apparent. Whenever a player or two seamed to establish themselves in the lead, the pack would bring them back. Here, Steiner and Whitaker were victims this round, Anderson’s draw with the latter being a significant result.
Round 6 (Saturday, August 31)
Anderson 1 Jenkines (forfeit)
Factor 1/2 Whitaker*
Scrivener 1/2 Roesch
Sournin 0 Steiner
Hahlbohm 1 Perrine
Winter – bye
Extra game: Winter ½ Factor
Source: <St. Louis Post Dispatch>, September 1, 1929
The draw between Fact and Whitaker was awarded the brilliancy prize, judged by Stasch Mlotkowski. (Los Angeles Times, December 8, 1929)
4,5/6: Whitaker, Steiner, Factor, Hahlbohm, Anderson
Ye gods. At this point, Whitaker and Steiner still had their game to play, but none against the other leaders, while Factor, Hahlbohm and Anderson had played no games among themselves. Winter had yet to play Hahlbohm and Anderson, so still had his chances.
Again, the leaders faltered slightly, allowing a general catch-up. But not for lack of trying. Just play through the game. It’s hard to believe either player avoided loss, must less both of them.
The game between Winter and Factor is not mentioned in the report; however, a comparison of their published scores in round 5 and round 6 indicates they each had gained a half-point, and played six games despite each having a bye. With afternoon round, extra games could have been played in the morning or evening. The exact date needs more research, but since the <Post-Dispatch> includes the result in this round’s results I am mentioning it here.
Round 7 (Sunday, September 1)
Perrine 0 Sournin
Steiner 1 Scrivener*
Roesch 0 Factor
Winter 0 Anderson
Jenkines 0 Whitaker (forfeit)
Hahlbohm – bye
Source: <St. Louis Post Dispatch, September 2, 1929
5.5/7: Steiner, Whitaker, Anderson, Factor
Hahlbohm’s bye left him behind for the moment, while the other players retained their positions, as Winter’s loss all but killed his changes.
Round 8 (Monday, September 2)
Sournin ½ Factor
Hahlbohm 1 Anderson
Perrine 0 Whitaker*
Roesch – Winter
Steiner 1 Jenkines (forfeit)
Scrivener – Bye
Source: <St. Louis Post Dispatch>, September 3, 1929
6.5/8: Whitaker, Steiner
The remaining games were critical now. Whitaker and Steiner would face outsiders Scrivener and Perrine in round 9. Assuming those would be wins, the tournament would then come down to their final round game: win and win the tournament, draw and the photographs at the prize-giving ceremony were likely to get crowded.
Except for the complication of Hahlbohm who still had three games to play (Factor, Winter and Roesch) and could reach first place on his own. Factor (due to play Hahlbohm & Anderson) and Anderson (due to play Factor & Perrine) would need help.
You may be thinking: why did Hahlbohm and Factor have byes, while Whitaker, Steiner and Anderson did not? I don’t know. Obviously, the schedule was being constantly juggled in an effort to fit eleven rounds into ten days, but the exact mechanism was not noted and is not obvious.
Round 9 (Tuesday, September 3)
Winter ½ Hahlbohm
Whitaker 0 Scrivener
Anderson 1 Factor*
Steiner 1 Perrine
Jenkines 0 Sournin (forfeit)
Roesch – bye
Source: <St. Louis Post Dispatch>, September 4, 1929; <Cincinnati Enquirer>, September 15, 1929
6.5/9: Anderson, Whitaker
At this point matters become extremely confused, both at the tournament and for historian. The pairings given in the <Post-Dispatch> of September 3rd and the <Enquirer> indicate that Steiner was to receive a bye this round, while Perrine played Roesch. Instead, the report in the <Post-Dispatch> of the 4th starts off with Steiner’s victory over Perrine, while the standings do not include a result between Perrine and Roesch.
In any event, Steiner won the game to maintain his position, but Whitaker fell behind after a shocking loss to Scrivener. Then Factor’s chances for first were ended by Anderson’s victory. All this meant that Hahlbohm’s chances were not destroyed by his draw with Winter, thanks to his game in hand. But the other contenders had to root for Whitaker.
Round 10 (Wednesday, September 4)
Whitaker 1 Steiner*
Anderson 1 Perrine
Factor 0 Hahlbohm*
Scrivener 0 Sournin
Jenkines 0 Roesch (forfeit)
Source: <St. Louis Post Dispatch>, September 5, 1929; <Cincinnati Enquirer>, September 15, 1929.
7.5/10: Whitaker Steiner, Anderson
And Whitaker duly came through. Anderson finished off his surprising performance with a victory, while Hahlbohm suddenly had a chance if he could defeat Roesch the next day. Since Roesch had finally picked up his first win this round – by forfeit over Jenkines – this did not seem too difficult a task.
Final game (Thursday, September 5)
Hahlbohm 1 Roesch
Source: <St. Louis Post Dispatch, September 6, 1929
<”So quiet were the first moves of Roesch and Hahlbohm that few of the dozen men in the room knew the deciding contest was on.
“The chessman glided across the table. Roesch studied the board with his cheeks resting in clenched fists. Chess fans noted that he moved with deliberate confidence.
“Move followed silent move, for almost an hour. Hahlbohm moved again. Not at once, but after Roesch was busied with his plans, the musician’s glance flickered for a moment over the ring of onlookers. He saw his way. Roesch’s ‘Hindenburg Line’ had shown a gap. The White men marched on their great offensive against the Black, and in 44 moves and two hours’ play by each player—four hours in all—Hahlbohm was champion.”>
Well, some of those 1929 St. Louis idioms are a bit obscure. But you get the gist.
Games Unaccounted For
Perrine’s victory over Roesch was included in the standings with the round 10 report, though there is no indication when it was actually played. Sournin had two games outstanding at this point: the scheduled round 10 game with Scrivener, and the game with Winter. It’s possible that any of these games might have been played on the September 5th, there there is no record of that happening. Or maybe nobody noticed.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1
1 Herman H Hahlbohm X 1 1 0 1 ½ ½ 1 1 1 1 8.0
2 James Allan Anderson 0 X 0 ½ 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 7.5
3 Herman Steiner 0 1 X 0 ½ 1 1 1 1 1 1 7.5
4 Norman Tweed Whitaker 1 ½ 1 X ½ 1 ½ 0 1 1 1 7.5
5 Samuel D Factor 0 0 ½ ½ X ½ ½ 1 1 1 1 6.0
6 John Winter ½ 0 0 0 ½ X 1 1 1 1 1 6.0
7 Vladimir Sournin ½ 0 0 ½ ½ 0 X 1 1 1 1 5.5
8 Robert Scrivener 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 X 1 ½ 1 3.5
9 George Hasbroucq Perrine 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 X 1 1 2.0
10 Eugene J Roesch 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 ½ 0 X 1 1.5
11 Bertram Claude Jenkines 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 X 0.0
10: Herman H Hahlbohm
American Chess Bulletin, September-October 1929, p. 147.
Chess Results, 1921-1930 / Gino di Felice, p.252
Cincinnati Enquirer, September 15, 1929.
New York Evening Post, October 2, 1929.
Shady side : the life and crimes of Norman Tweed Whitaker, chessmaster, by John Hilbert. Yorklyn, DE : Caissa Editions, 2000. SS
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, daily reports, Ausust 25-Sepetbmer 6, 1929.
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SEE ALSO: Game Collection: US Open Tournament Index