Friday 21 April 2017

Herbert Jacobs: 7. Congress Man Replayed

This is a little intermezzo in the Jacobs saga.  

Back to Jacobs in Malvern 1921 

Episode 4 of this series on Herbert Jacobs covered his participation in several tournaments for the British Chess Championship, including the one at Malvern in 1921, when he finished 9th. Since publication of that episode I have stumbled on a photo-feature on the tournament in British Newspaper Archive. It must have already appeared elsewhere in the regular chess sources and history websites (though I've not found it), in which case credit to them where it is due.  

In the picture Jacobs has just played 1. e3 against Thomas. 

The Sphere August 20 1921

False news! In the game the first move was 1. e4. And Jacobs had the black pieces. The full game score is given below. It is typical Jacobs: habitual opening, fighting tenaciously every inch of the way, resourcefulness, spurning a draw by repetition, losing.

The photo-caption above refers to Jacobs' response "to the welcome offered by the local authorities on the opening of the congress". This is not the first time we have found him on such occasions in the role of spokesperson for the BCF: more on this in the last section of the post.

So, first, the full photo feature.

The Champion was F.D.Yates
Click on to enlarge

Then, the Thomas Jacobs game, played in round 8.

With thanks to Britbase - where you can see the full cross-table 

Finally, Herbert speaks. The Linlithgowshire Gazette Friday 26 August 1921, makes extensive use of John Keeble’s Congress Notes in the Malvern News to give an account of the reception and welcome for the Congress on Monday 22 August. It was presided over by the Vice-Chairman of the District Council, Mr T. C. Santler. The note below quotes from the Gazette’s generous report.

Mr Santler welcomed the BCF in a jocular manner, suggesting that his council colleagues might benefit from chess playing to “help them overcome many of the problems facing them from day to day”. Mr Herbert Jacobs responded in a similar vein. He acknowledged...
“...the warmth of Malvern’s welcome and the excellence of the arrangements [and] implored his fellow chess players to show their gratitude by exemplary behaviour, and above all things, not to be noisy. Convention is often thrown overboard when on holiday, but we do not believe that any resident will be perturbed, this week or next, by the spectacle of a gay throng of chess experts, exhilarated by the tonic qualities of the Malvern air, jazzing along College Road at 10 p.m. closing-time, and destroying the accustomed peace of Malvern’s nights with an uproarious sea-shanty or the lilt of a lively chorus beloved by the gods in a music hall. It is true that we heard cries of “Up, De Valera!” the other evening, but competitors at the Chess Congress must be blameless. Some of them, we understand, expressed a desire, soon after their arrival in Malvern, to play later than 10 o’clock. The authorities, however, firmly resolved to stick to the rules. Kings, Queens, Rooks, Bishops, and even Pawns must have a rest.”
Among the other speakers was the Vicar of Malvern: tradition had it - he said - that an Earl was murdered in church, by order of Canute, for upsetting a chess-board. “Possibly Mr Herbert Jacobs had this regrettable incident in mind when he implored the congress chess players to conduct themselves in an orderly manner.”

There was also a cricket match between the chess-players and a local Malvern club...

Malvern College today.
...but there is no report of Herbert (now 58) taking part. The BCF was 61 all out, and the Malvernians were on 54 for 8 in reply, but were allowed to rack up 141 for 9, “winning easily” – with the aid of “a fine Indian player, a nephew of the famous Ranjit-singhi....

Uncle Ranjit Singh himself, revealing his opening preparation.  
...or, to give him his correct title, the Jam Sahib of Narranga.”

Previous and subsequent episodes on Herbert Jacobs may be accessed via Lost in History     

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