Jack Collins Living Room Set, date unknown Photograph by Michael DeFilippo Courtesy of the World Chess Hall of Fame
An article about the John Collins collection at the Lilly Library at the University of Indiana was published inthe January 2019 issue of Chess Lifeand I am happy to present an online bonus, of interesting games that didn’t fit into the article.
In November 1931, John “Jack” Collins and a few neighbors founded the Hawthorne Chess Club, named for the street Collins lived on at the time. This first game is played a little over a year after the club started.
This game between Arnold Denker, is played six years before Denker would become U. S. Champion. Denker is representing the Manhattan Chess Club and Collins the West Side Chess Club. Collins represented the Hawthorne club throughout his life (the club met in his home so when he moved, the club moved but did not change names), he represented other clubs as well, and in 1938 was also representing the West Side club in the Met League. The Met League started in 1895 and was a league of chess clubs in New York City that competed in yearly team competitions throughout most of the twentieth century.
The 1938 ACF Congress (the fore runner to the U. S. Open) was won by Israel Albert “I. A.” Horowitz and Isaac Kashdan. In the round robin finals, Collins drew Horowitz, a player who represented the United States in several Olympiads and eight U. S. Championships (7 round robins and one match against Samuel Reshevsky.) Horowitz wrote numerous books and was the New York Times chess columnist before Robert Byrne. Finally, he started Chess Review in 1933 and was its owner and editor until 1969 when USChess bought the magazine.
In years when there was no United States Championship, which was often in the pre-Fischer era, the New York State Championship was the second strongest tournament in the country (the U.S. Open, under whatever title, was the strongest event.) Collins’ opponent in this game was Hermann Helms. Helms is best known for his writing and editing. He wrote a weekly column in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle from 1893 to 1955. Helms was also the editor of American Chess Bulletin from 1904 until he passed away at age 93, in 1963.
In 1947 Collins represented Brooklyn in the Met League and played against Kashdan who represented the Manhattan chess club. Kashdan, much like Horowitz, represented the United States in numerous international events and several United States Championships. Though he won numerous Olympiad medals, he never won the U.S. Championship outright. He was also an International Arbeiter, performing that duty in both Piatigorsky Cups.
On the back of the score sheets were the full results from that match. They are as follows, with the Manhattan club on the right. Every person on the Manhattan team played in at least one U. S. Championship.
(From that sheet of Paper with game score)
Sussman 0-1 Kevitz
Goodman ½ – ½ Denker
Collins 0 – 1 Kashdan
Grossman 0-1 Horowitz
Kielson 0-1 Bisguier
Almgren 0 – 1 Pavey
Battell ½ – ½ Pinkus
Eckstrom 0 – 1 D. Camillo
Collins was an avid correspondence player, especially early on in his career. Here is a win from the preliminaries of the first World Correspondence Chess Championships against the Belgian player R. Frutsaert. Collins made it to the finals, but finished 12th.
The following game is from the best tournament result of Collins’ career. In 1952, he won the New York State Championship ahead of Max Pavey and Anthony Santasiere, both players who had played in the United States Chess Championship. Collins scored 7.5 – 1.5, drawing 3, while Pavey and Santasiere tied for 2nd – 3rd at 6.5 – 2.5. Santasiere played in several U.S. Championships and was an active member of the Marshall chess club for over thirty years. Pavey was a former champion of New York State, 1949, and just the previous year had finished 3rd in the U. S. Championship.
This Collins – Lombardy draw is on a sheet with no other information, but played sometime after 1953 as that is when William Lombardy’s dated his first game with Collins, in Lombardy’s book Understanding Chess: My System, My Games, My Life. Lombardy was particularly strong before attending the seminary and is the only player to win the World Junior Championship with a perfect score (+11- 0 =0), which he did in 1957.
Please note that this is not meant to be an inclusive list of found games in the archive but is most of the unknown games played by Collins. The archive has several Byrne brother games that will likely appear in the Byrne brothers book that the author is writing for McFarland, and also a collection of games by Mr. Louis Wolff.
Joshua Anderson is the current president of the Chess Journalists of America and has run their awards program for the past seven seasons. As a trained historian, Joshua has deeply researched two of his passions – chess and football, authoring several historic articles and book chapters. He is currently working on a book about the Byrne Brothers for McFarland Publishing and a collection of oral histories of US Chess members for US Chess Trust / Chess Journalists of America. He has worked for Shining Knights Chess for over a decade and currently lives in Exton, PA, with his wife Brandy, their 4 rabbits, 2 turtles, and 2 cats.