Vancouver - Winnipeg Telegraph Matchs

December 13, 1924

"Vancouver won an interesting telegraph chess match, which was played on Saturday afternoon between teams representing Winnipeg and Vancouver.

The Winnipeg team was chosen from players from the various clubs in the Winnipeg and District Chess League, W.C.C. supplying four players; C.N.R. C.C., two; Y.M.C.A., two, and Icelandic C.C., two. The telegraph apparatus was installed in the club-room of the W.C.C., Fashion Craft Block. The Vancouver players were located at the Vancouver Hotel. This was the first telegraph match that has been played in this city for many years, the last match of the kind being played about 15 years ago between Winnipeg and Montreal. There were 10 boards aside, the Winnipeg team being made up as follows: R.J. Spencer, G.W. Howard, H.H. Burrell, Winnipeg C.C.; W.S. Quirk and H. Gregory, C.N.R. C.C.; P. Chiswell and A. Rheubottom, Y.M.C.A. C.C.; E. Christjansson and C. Thorlakson, Icelandic C.C., and E. Best, Winnipeg C.C.

Play commenced at 6 o'clock, Winnipeg time, Winnipeg winning the toss of the coin, and took the move at the odd number boards. Play at the outset was a trifle slow, but the game shortly speeded up. An adjournment took place at 7.30 p.m. for supper, after which play resumed until midnight.

During the evening Vancouver registered their first win on board 10, Best having put up a game defence against a Ponziani opening, of which he appeared not to be familiar. The next win came on board 9, followed soon after by the resignation of Spencer, board 1. Rheubottom, board 7, should have won his game, but apparently was menaced by too-eager spectators, but finally obtained a draw. Howard, board 2, defended with a Caro Kann and the game being even at midnight, a draw was agreed upon. Boards 3, 5 and 6 will be adjudicated by Mr. Morrison, Canadian Champion, Toronto." [Winnipeg Evening Tribune, Monday, December 15, 1924]

Vancouver 7 3 Winnipeg
1 Ewing, John M. 1 0 Spencer, R.J.
2 Yates, Bertram A. ½ ½ Howard, G.W.
3 Haines, R.C. 0 1 Burrell, Herbert H.
4 Duval, Leo M. 1 0 Quirk, W.S.
5 Butler, H. ½ ½ Gregory, H.
6 Stark, Robert G. ½ ½ Chiswell, P.
7 Jenkins, H. Martyn ½ ½ Rheubottom, A.
8 Millar, Charles F. 1 0 Christjansson, E.
9 Stevenson, Archibald 1 0 Thorlakson, C.
10 Calhoun, Frank H. 1 0 Best, E.

[The results on boards 3, 5 and 6 were adjudicated]

"The sending and receiving of 800 messages over the wire in the telegraphic match between Vancouver and Winnipeg last Saturday was an outstanding feature of the occasion and bears witness to the fine service given by Mr. George A. McLachlan, who presided at the key.

Stress of weather on the prairies added to the difficulties to be contended with, but science refused to be thwarted by either the handicap of distance or the vagaries of nature and the messages went through at the rate of two to the minute.

The score was six to one in favour of Vancouver. Out of the ten games, Ewing, Stevenson, Calhoun, Duval and Millar scored victories; Yates and Jenkins drew; and the Haines, Butler and Stark games were left for adjudication.

Nothing can alter the fact that the local team has scored a remarkably decisive victory over their Winnipeg opponents. This result is all the more gratifying when the fact is taken into consideration that Winnipeg has for over twenty years had a strong reputation as a chess centre.

Vancouver is a newcomer in the wider field and has asserted its right to a place in the sun in no uncertain fashion. To have won the Gonnason cup (the provincial club championship) and to defeat Winnipeg within a fortnight puts Vancouver on the map in the arena of Canadian chess.

A further analysis of the individual games gives rise to the following comments, in all cases the player first named having the white and the move.

  1. Spencer (Winnipeg) vs. Ewing (Vancouver) - Centre counter opening. The rival champions maintained equality of position up to the middle of the game when Spencer made a tactical error at move 15. Ewing seized the opportunity and won in masterly fashion.
  2. Yates (Vancouver) vs. Howard (Winnipeg) - Caro Kann defence. An even game up to the close of time when Yates was in a slightly superior position. A draw was agreed to.
  3. Burrell (Winnipeg) vs. Haines (Vancouver) - Ruy Lopez opening. Burrell had the better of the game throughout, and was in a decidedly superior position at the adjournment. Winnipeg claims a win. Left to adjudication. [The game was subsequently awarded to Winnipeg.]
  4. Duval (Vancouver) vs. Quirk (Winnipeg) - Bird's opening. At move ten Quirk gave up a bishop in the hope of getting home with a strong attack, but Duval forced exchanges and won out by superior strategy.
  5. Gregory (Winnipeg) vs. Butler (Vancouver) - Giuoco Piano. An even match, strongly played on both sides. At the close, however, Butler had a decided advantage. The game is left to adjudication; but superior strength plus superior position should give Butler the verdict. He had gained two pawns and should win another. [Adjudicated a draw.]
  6. Stark (Vancouver) vs. Chiswell (Winnipeg) - Queen's gambit declined. A closely-fought battle of forty-four moves' duration, when Stark would appear to have the edge on his opponent, although it would seem difficult to demonstrate a win. Referred for adjudication. [Adjudicated a draw.]
  7. Rheubottom (Winnipeg) vs. Jenkins (Vancouver) - Max Lange. This was a game with ups and downs to it. At move 9 Jenkins lost a piece. He won it back by steady effort at move 35. The game lasted 50 moves and ended in a draw, Jenkins overlooking an easy chance of winning at move 48.
  8. Millar (Vancouver) vs. Christjansson (Winnipeg) - Zukertort's opening. The best game of the lot and a masterly win for Millar. With fine chess talent he obtained the upper hand and forced his opponent to admit defeat.
  9. Thorlakson (Winnipeg) vs. Stevenson (Winnipeg) - Centre counter opening. The Winnipeg man went down to defeat in 26 moves under a powerful attack, Stevenson showing superior play throughout. This was the first win scored for Vancouver and went far towards inspiring confidence in the local camp.
  10. Calhoun (Vancouver) vs. Best (Winnipeg) - Ponziani. Calhoun, who won his game in the Gonnason Cup match at Victoria two weeks before, repeated the performance and overwhelmed his opponent by superior play. This was the only game of the match that ended in an actual mate." [Vancouver Province, Saturday, December 20, 1924]

"The final score of the chess match between Vancouver and Winnipeg was: Vancouver, 7½ points, Winnipeg, 2½ points. At the close of play on Dec. 13 seven out of the ten games played had been definitely finished with five clear wins for Vancouver and two drawn games. Three games were left for adjudication. Since then an agreement has been reached and the final result is as above. Vancouver triumphed in decisive fashion.

The Winnipeg secretary, in writing, says: "We offer no excuses. We were properly beaten and met our Waterloo. In the meantime we have gained, I trust, some valuable information regarding the chessmanship of the Vancouver Club and found out what a lot of good fellows they are."

It is but right also to mention that the Winnipeg team consisted of four from the Winnipeg Chess Club and two each from the C.N.R., Iceland and Y.M.C.A. chess clubs. The Vancouver team was made up of seven members of the Vancouver Chess Club and three from the North Vancouver Chess Club.

It is quite likely that a further contest may take place in the near future." [Vancouver Province, Saturday, January 3, 1925]

January 1, 1927

Three years later, teams from Vancouver and Winnipeg engaged in a second telegraph match on January 1st, 1927. The previous match had involved a team chosen by the Winnipeg and District Chess League; information is scant, but it appears the Vancouver team had been requesting a second match, whereas the Winnipeg League was unwilling or unable to provide one. The match went ahead on New Year's Day, 1927, but with a Winnipeg team apparently not authorized by the league. This elicited the following sharply-worded comments in the Manitoba Free Press chess column of that day:

"We cannot imagine that the private telegraph match that is scheduled to take place today will give Vancouver much satisfaction, as they have been anxious to play a Winnipeg team under the direction of the District League the same as they did two years ago. The team as drawn up to play today has only one player in it that played them before, and does not include the city champion or runners-up, and only one player amongst the first seven of the contestants in last year's Northwest tournament. Considering this, it will be poor satisfaction to win from such a team and a disgrace if it so happened that the British Columbia team should lose."

This tone is in stark contrast to the words offered by the Winnipeg secretary after the 1924 match: "We offer no excuses. We were properly beaten and met our Waterloo. In the meantime we have gained, I trust, some valuable information regarding the chessmanship of the Vancouver Club and found out what a lot of good fellows they are." In the event Vancouver was again victorious, although by a smaller percentage score:

"Members of the Vancouver Chess Club again demonstrated their prowess at the royal game when they defeated the Wednesday Night Club of Winnipeg in a telegraph team match New Year's Day. The score was 7 1/2 to 4 1/2. The twelve players representing the local club were seated in The Province sports room and were in direct telegraphic communication with the studio in which the Winnipeg team was playing. Play was continued for ten hours, after which three boards, 2, 9 and 10, were still in progress. Draws were agreed upon on boards 2 and 9, while a win was conceded Alexander on board 10. Prior to the commencement of play ex-President J.A. Murchison presented prizes to the winners of last year's tournaments.

The final summary is as follows:

1H. Butler½½Herbert H. Burrell
2R.A. Scott½½E.S. Lancashire
3Archibald Stevenson10Prof. Cross
4Charles F. Millar10J. Windmeyer
5H. Jenkins½½J.H. Irwin
6F. Calhoun10Prof. Garfinkle
7J. Nickel01Frank Atnikov
8V. Colle½½N.H. Wallbank
9A. Hammond½½A.W. Luyendyk
10J. Alexander10T.F. Speedy
11John M. Taylor½½J. Kushine
12O.A. Hawes½½F. Djecobenes
[Vancouver Daily Province, January 9, 1927]

The Vancouver team was composed entirely of members of the Vancouver Chess Club, whereas in 1924 the team had also included three players from the North Vancouver Club. Notable is Vancouver's board 11 player: this is the first appearance of Jack Taylor's name in print. (The following year he was described as "a promising young player" when he won an intermediate event at the club.) On the Winnipeg side both Burrell and Atnikov emigrated to Vancouver in later life.

[Event "Telegraph m"] [Site "?"] [Date "1927.01.01"] [Round "?"] [White "Atnikov, Frank"] [Black "Nickel "] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C50"] [PlyCount "59"] [EventDate "1927.01.01"] [EventType "team"] [EventCountry "CAN"] [SourceTitle "CCR Sept 1927"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 exd4 4. Bc4 Be7 5. O-O d6 6. h3 Ne5 7. Nxe5 dxe5 8. Qh5 g6 9. Qxe5 f6 10. Qb5+ c6 11. Qb3 Kd7 12. Rd1 c5 13. Qb5+ Kc7 14. Bf4+ Bd6 15. Qxc5+ Kd7 16. Rxd4 Ke8 17. Bxd6 Bd7 18. e5 Bc6 19. Nc3 Qb6 20. Re1 f5 21. Nd5 Qxc5 22. Nf6+ Kd8 23. Bxc5+ Kc7 24. Nxg8 Raxg8 25. Bxg8 Rxg8 26. Rd6 b6 27. Ba3 g5 28. Rf6 f4 29. Rf7+ Kc8 30. Rxh7 1-0 [Event "Telegraph m"] [Site "?"] [Date "1927.01.01"] [Round "?"] [White "Scott, R.A. ."] [Black "Lancashire, E.S.."] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "C01"] [PlyCount "68"] [EventDate "1927.01.01"] [EventType "team"] [EventCountry "CAN"] [SourceTitle "VDP 09/01/1927"] 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. exd5 exd5 5. Qd3 Qe7+ 6. Be2 c6 7. Nf3 Be6 8. Bf4 Nd7 9. Ne5 Ngf6 10. Bf3 Ng4 11. Bxg4 Bxg4 12. O-O Be6 13. Qg3 O-O-O 14. Nd3 Ba5 15. Rab1 Bb6 16. Ne2 f6 17. Bd6 Qf7 18. Qf4 g5 19. Qd2 h5 20. b4 Nb8 21. Bc5 Nd7 22. b5 cxb5 23. Rxb5 Nxc5 24. Nxc5 Bd7 25. Nxd7 Rxd7 26. f4 Qe7 27. fxg5 fxg5 28. Ng3 h4 29. Nf5 Qd8 30. Ne3 Re8 31. Rf5 a6 32. Rb3 Re4 33. c3 Bc7 34. Qd3 Qe8 1/2-1/2