The Women's Championship reverted
back to using a tournament to decide the title. 1942's tournament ran
concurrent with the U. S. Chess Championship. Along with the reigning
champion, Miss N. May Karff, Mrs. Adele Belcher, Mrs. Mary Bain and Mrs. G. K.
Gresser were seeded in the tournament. A preliminary tournament was held to
determine the other challengers. Mrs. M. Harmath, Miss Raettig,
Miss M. Peters, Miss C. Fawns, Miss E. Wray and Mrs. E. Horowitz
took part in the preliminary. Of these Harmath, Fawns, Wray and Raettig
qualified. Nancy (or Nanny) Roos, one-time Woman Champion of Belgium, also was
allowed to play.
Karff won with a comfortable
margin 8-0. Belcher and Roos tied for 2nd place with 6-2.
There was a very odd unevenness
in the reporting of this event. Although Karff was rightfully highly praised
for her accomplishment, one of her games was a dead loss in which her
opponent, the low-ranked Adele Raettig, overlooked mate and lost as a result.
Without this lucky break, Karff's score would have been 7-1, a very close
contest. At the same time, Nanny Roos scored 6-2 and her play was praised as
"impressive." while Adele Belcher, who also scored 6-2 was highly criticized:
"she again showed her lack of control by blundering away a good position."
Karff's unearned win also belies Horowitz' claim that, "she disposed of her
rivals with comparative ease."
Carrie Marshall, 1942
was an off-year with very little to discuss. Here
are some tidbits from Chess Review in 1943:
Internationalist Herman Steiner (left) is largely
responsible for the growing interest in chess in Hollywood, Calif. Steiner
edits a chess column in the Los Angeles Times, actively promotes chess
activities, conducts his own chess club at 108 N. Formosa Avenue. In the
photo, Steiner is playing Mrs. Nanny Roos, formerly of New York and one-time
woman chess champion of Belgium.
U. S. Seamen learn how to play chess . . .
. . . under the expert guidance of Mrs. G. K.
Gisela K. Gresser, one of New York's leading women players, has shown
patriotic and chessic initiative by introducing chess to U.S. seamen at the
Maritime Workers Union hall. The response has been unexpectedly encouraging
and many seamen will have an interest in chess to sustain their morale on the
tedious and perilous seas of the world at war.
introduced Gisela K. Gresser as a
power to be reckoned with. In the U.S. Women's Chess Championship that ended
on May 7, 1944, Gresser outplayed her 8 opponents with only May Karff coming
within spitting distance:
|Miss K. Henschel
|Miss W. Henschel
Finishing with eight straight
victories, after defeating Miss Adele S. Raettig of Hoboken in an eventful
game lasting forty-six moves in the ninth and final round of the women's
tournament, Mrs. Gisela Kahn Gresser of this city succeeded as champion Miss
N. May Karff of Boston, second, with a score of 7-1. Mrs. Gresser won the
final game after forty-six moves.
The third prize was taken by Miss Kate Henschel with 5-3. She lost
her last game to Miss Elizabeth Wray in twenty-six moves, but her sister, Miss
Wally Henschel, won from Mrs. Stephens in eighteen. Mrs. Nancy Roos of Los
Angeles checkmated Miss Mildred Peters in fifteen moves.
Chess Start in 1938
Mrs. Gresser, a native of Detroit and later a resident of
Youngstown, Ohio, until she came to New York, in 1928, gained her first
knowledge of chess six years ago. She joined the Marshall Club in 1938 and
that year witnessed the play at a meeting of the United States Chess
Two years later, she was a competitor and finished third. In
1942 she was fourth. Most of the new champion's training was gained in special
tournaments at the Marshall Club. She benefited greatly, too, through
membership at the Manhattan Club.
In 1927 Mrs. Gresser, who is both a painter and a sculptor, was the
second woman to win the Charles Elliot Norton Fellowship at Radcliffe College
for Greek archaeological research. Her father, Julius Kahn, was one of the
organizers of the Truscan Steel Company. Her grandfather, Dr. Alexander Kohut,
was a founder of the Jewish Theological Seminary in this city and Albert Kahn,
an uncle, was a leading industrial architect.
- New York Times, May 8, 1944
Mrs. G. K. Gresser - Miss N.
was another off-year. The United
States was otherwise occupied with it's victory over the Axis Powers and it's
return to normalcy. One interesting affair was the Pan-American Chess Congress
organized by Herman Steiner in Hollywood, California from July 28 - August 12.
It was comprised of 6 different events, one of which was the women's
tournament. Mary Bain and May Karff tied for first place with a score of
7-1. Nancy Roos placed second. Among the other five contestants was the movie
star, Mitzi Mayfair (who played using her married name, Mrs. Charles
The Women's Tournament attracted a good
entry and aroused considerable interest.
LEFT: (from foreground to
background) seated on left, Mrs. Bain, Mrs. Henderson (Mitzi Mayfair), Mrs.
Harmath. Standing in back of Mrs. Bain
is Mrs. von Sternberg, wife of the noted director. Seated on right
(facing Mrs. Bain) is Miss Karff. Miss Roos is standing
behind Miss Karff. RIGHT: Linda Darnell (left)
skittles with Rosanne Murray (right). The illustrious kibitzers include
Fine, Rossetto and Kashdan. - CHESS REVIEW, October, 1945
Original source articles:
N. May Karff
Gisela Kahn Gresser