Bald-Headed vs Full-Haired Match (1891)

The New York Tribune on September 20, 1891, announced the Manhattan Chess Club had organized a curious chess contest between bald-headed members and “those blessed with full crops of hair”.  Club members were having a great deal of fun leading up to the affair, the bald participants claiming that their opposition would “not be able to touch a hair on the heads”, to which the players with full heads of hair retorted that they “will grasp their enemies where the wool is short”.

The event played out on the evening of Saturday, September 26th and involved over forty members of the club, including most of its strongest players.  The format was in the spirit of a rapid transit tournament, with most games taking less than ten minutes to play (basically taking more time to record the moves than to make them).  The teams were paired by lot, with the lone exception being a match-up between former adversaries Eugene Delmar and John S. Ryan,  who specifically requested to play one another.

Prominent members of the full-haired team included Ryan, Major Hanham, Samuel Lipschutz, August Vorrath, Gustave Simonson, Charles Devide, and Alfred Ettlinger.  The bald-headed team boasted the likes of Delmar, D.G. Baird, Philip Richardson, Dr. Fred Mintz, and Dr. Ellert Dahl.

Lipschutz in particular seemed to have fun with the occasion, refusing a proffered resignation against one of the weaker players and recklessly getting mated.  The bald-headed team had great enjoyment with the incident in proceeding to still claim the win for their side.  The bald-headed team would again harass Lipschutz after he won a game against the strong Norweigan amateur Dahl, claiming the victory on the grounds that the former had not recorded the game as stated by the rules.  It was later joked that Lipschutz would be shaved before the following year’s contest that he may instead play pranks for their side.

When all of the chess and antics were completed, the bald-headed team had achieved a victory by the score of 14 to 11.  The most serious of the games resulting in a win for Ryan over his friend and competitor Delmar.  A fully annotated account of the Lipschutz-Mintz game from the event is shared below.

GAME SOURCE: New York Tribune (Oct. 18, 1891)

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