Marshall Frank James (10.08.1877 – 09.11.1944)

Marshall-Frank-JamesAmerican chess player, he was the U.S. Chess Champion from 1909–1936, and was one of the world’s strongest chess players in the early part of the 20th century.

Marshall starts to learn chess at ten then in 1894, living in Canada, he became the champion of the Montreal Chess Club. Returning to the USA in 1899 as a chess professional, he gained the title of the champion of the Brooklyn Chess Club.He shared the third-fourth place with Geza Maroczy at Paris in 1900 and was the only chess player who defeated the winner of the tournament Emanuel Lasker. He came in second in Vienna in 1903 in a Gambit tournament and performed fourth at Monte-Carlo in 1904. Having won the American Masters contest in St. Louis in 1904, he gained the title of the US Champion, but he declined it because Nelson Pillsbury did not take part in this chess event. He was the winner of three strong chess events: in 1904 in Cambridge Springs, followed by Emanuel Lasker and David Janowski, in 1906 at Nuremberg in front of Oldrich Duras and Carl Schlechter, and in 1913 at Havana followed by Jose Raul Capablanca. He played successfully in Paris in 1900, where he shared the third place with Geza Maroczy and at Monte-Carlo in 1904 when he was the third. Marshall played in more than 60 tournaments and won or shared the first-second place in Scheveningen in 1905, Nuremberg in 1906, Paris in 1907, in New York in 1911 and 1913, Budapest in 1912, Chicago in 1926, and Hastings in 1928-29. In 1911 in San Sebastian he came in fourth behind Jose Raul Capablanca, Akiba Rubinstein and Milan Vidmar, in 1915 he took the second place in New York, and in 1927 in London, he was the third behind Aron Nimzowitsch and Savielly Tartakower.

In all he played 23 matches and won 15 and drew 1, having defeated Richard Teichmann in 1902 (+2-0=3), David Janowski in 1905 (+8-5=4) and 1912 (+6-2=2), Jacques Mieses in 1908 (+5-4=1), Akiba Rubinstein in 1908 (+3-4=1), Paul Leonhardt in 1911 and Oldrich Duras in 1913 (+3-1=1), but he lost to Siebert Tarrasch in 1905 with a score =1-8=8, to Emanuel Lasker in 1908 with a score +0-8=7 and to Jose Raul Capablanca in 1909 scored +1-8=14. In 1909 he won a match with Jackson Schowalter with a score +7=3-2 and became the US Champion. In 1923 he beat Emanuel Lasker, scoring 9,5:8,5.

As a member and a captain of the U.S. team, he participated in five Olympiads between 1930 and 1937 winning four team gold medals and one individual gold in 1933 for the best individual performance on board two. Author of: Marshall’s Chess ‘Swindle’My Fifty Years of Chess (1942), containing 140 annotated games and a short autobiography. Later in 1960, it was republished as Marshall‘s Best Games of Chess.marshall_2

For his original style of play, Vidmar called Marshall the Don Quixote of chess and Tartakower called him the juggler of combinations. For his effective combinations, he was awarded few brilliancy prizes. Marshall was always more concerned to create a beautiful game than to win. A true lover of chess, it is said that he played at least one game every day of his life and always took a pocket set to bed. In 1915 with his chess-player friends, he opened a chess club “Marshall’s chess divan”, which was run by his widow Caroline until 1971 after her death. This chess club was one of the oldest and most respectable among American chess players and its members Reuben Fine, Larry Evans, Edmar Mednis, Andy Soltis were famous all over the world.