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John Saunders


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Tournament: Insull Trophy, Philadelphia-London Cable Match • 6 out of 6 games
Venue: London / Philadelphia • Date: 21 March 1931Download PGN • Last Edited: Tuesday 5 July, 2022 0:05 AM

Bd London League 1931.03.21 Philadelphia
1w Mir Sultan Khan ½-½* Norman Tweed Whitaker
2b Fred Dewhirst Yates ½-½* Jacob Levin
3w Reginald Pryce Michell 1-0* Sydney Thomas Sharp
4b Victor Buerger ½-½* David G Weiner
5w William Winter 1-0 Barnie Frank Winkelman
6b Edward Guthlac Sergeant ½-½* Stasch Mlotkowski
  * adjudicated 3½-2½


Results as recorded in PW Sergeant's A Century of Chess, p365 & BCM, April 1931, p154.

[BCM, April 1931, p154-156]

The match for the "Insull" Trophy this year was played on Saturday, 21st March [1931], the London side being located by the kindness of the Committee of the Royal Automobile Club in a committee room in their building in Pall Mall. The players and tellers were roped off from the spectators, of whom there were many during the day, and the Cable Company had arranged for a cable in the adjoining room, so there was practically no delay in the sending off of messages. In fact the whole worked out with a smoothness which we generally associate with anything organised by G. R. Hardcastle, the hon. secretary of the London Chess League. He was ably backed up in this instance by F. G. Spendlove, who acted as centre teller in control of the messages, and not a single error can be recorded on our side.

The "Insull" Trophy, a large Chess Castle, was on show at the rooms. This is in the possession of London as a result of wins against Chicago in 1927*, New York, 1928*. Washington were played in 1929*, but unfortunately, owing to a mistake of a teller, there was a dispute as to the propriety of one of the English players withdrawing a move, after discovering the move wrongly decoded, and when the position was referred to the F.I.D.E., the decision was to annul the match. A further match with Washington was played in 1930 and this resulted, after adjudications, in a drawn match. Washington issued a further challenge, but three weeks from the date fixed for the match a cable was received from the organizer, N. T. Whitaker, that he could not get sufficient support either for the expenses of cabling, or for the hire of a hall, and wished to transfer the challenge to Philadelphia. This was immediately accepted by the London Chess League, on behalf of London, and the match arranged for the same date as had previously been fixed for that with Washington. (* note, these three years are given incorrectly in this BCM report, the three matches referred to being played in 1926 (Chicago), 1927 (New York) and 1928 (Washington) respectively - JS]

After complimentary telegrams the teams were exchanged and the toss was made out in Philadelphia, England winning and, therefore taking the move on the odd boards.

At the commencement of play the first thrill was on board No. 6, when Mlotkowski offered a "King’s Gambit." Sergeant refused with 2.., B—B 4 and after 3 Kt—B 3, P—Q 3 ; 4 P—B 3 played 4.., Kt—K B 3 and following 5 PxP, PxP; 6 Kt X P he was faced with the difficulty of how best to get back the Pawn and the eventual result was, that he always had slightly the worst of the game and eventually gave up a Pawn for the sake of freeing himself.

The next item of interest was the pretty gain of a Pawn by R. P. Michell in an ordinary "Queen’s Gambit Declined," which at the tenth move was exactly similar to that on board five. Here, too, just as Winter was threatening to win a Pawn in somewhat similar fashion to that of Michell his opponent overstepped the time limit and therefore, lost the game automatically. This was first blood to England.

Although the match went on from two to seven and again from eight till one a.m. on Sunday morning no further results were obtained and Philadelphia suggested that the games on boards 1 and 2 should be called draws; on board 3 a win for Michell and on board 6 a win for Mlotkowski, sending that on board 4 for adjudication. The British players on the other hand suggested that if No. 4 was to go for adjudication, they preferred the lot, as in their opinion Sultan Khan had a decided advantage in his game. In this game his opponent at an early stage offered exchange of Queens, which resulted in a Knight getting out of place and his King being prevented from castling. Sultan Khan kept up the pressure all through the game. [The report gives the final positions from all six games. I have left these out as the games scores are all available to examine - JS]

On board 2 Yates had had the better of the opening, but gave his opponent an opportunity of playing Q—K Kt 6, which disorganized the attack which he was then getting up and the best he could do was to get a level position. He was perhaps a slight advantage in that White has an isolated Pawn. R. P. Michell retains his Pawn to the good and will probably get a win or adjudication.

The position on board 4 is as shown in diagram (4). The position when Winkelman overstepped the clock was as shown in diagram (5).

It is reported by the Cable Company that a cable was sent from Philadelphia after London had closed down, accepting the suggestions of the London representatives that the games on boards 1, 2 and 4 should be called draws; on board 3 a win for London and 6 a win for Philadelphia, making the total 3½ to 2½... [this paragraph is hard to understand since earlier in the text it had been written that the London team had been claiming a win for Sultan Khan on board 1 in a position which does look totally winning for him - JS]

[BCM, May 1931, p228]

It appears from local reports which have reached us that, at the close of play, Philadelphia hoped to win two games in the recent cable-match with London—not only in Mlotkowski v. Sergeant, but also in Weiner v. Buerger; but, as our readers know, a draw was subsequently agreed in the latter game. Winkelman’s loss to Winter, on the time-limit, was a matter of 20 seconds, but he had not completed his 19th move. The claim was made by Dr. Lederer, acting as umpire for London.

1931 Philadelphia Cable Match Team

[Photo caption] Seated (l. to r.) : R. S. Goerlich, Chief Teller; N. T. Whitaker, Captain. Standing (l. to r.) : S. Mlotkowski; D. G. Wiener; Dr. N. L. Lederer, London Referee; S. T. Sharp, J. Levin, H. Morris, B. F. Winkleman [sic].

We are indebted to Norman T. Whitaker for the photograph which we give of the Washington team and the officials.

Great publicity was given to the match in The Evening Bulletin of Philadelphia, a paper which has no chess column. Stasch Mlotkowski, in sending us cuttings, is amused by the fact that he is referred to as "brilliant young Pennsylvania and California champion," when his 50th birthday was on March 10th!

Early in March Norman T. Whitaker won the championship of Pennsylvania, defeating in the final round B. F. Winkelman, and finishing with a clean score of 6 wins—2 each against Winkelman and the former State champions, D. G. Weiner (a 24-year-old University of Pennsylvania graduate) and S. T. Sharpe [sic]. Winkelman was second, with 4 wins and 2 losses. Whitaker thus regains the championship which he won before in 1929. Sharp was the 1930 winner. All four of the above-mentioned players, it will be noted, took part in the cable-match for Philadelphia.

File updated

Date Notes
13 February 2020 Initial upload. Source of results & text, BCM, April/May 1931. Source of game scores, American Chess Bulletin, April 1931, p. 84, found via the American Chess Bulletin game collection posted by 'Phony Benoni' (David Moody) on chessgames.com. My thanks to David for this excellent resource.