Julius Finn

A Chess Master’s Life in America, 1871–1931


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About the Book

Julius Finn was born in Russian Poland, and came to New York in 1887 at the age of 16. From a humble start as a street peddler on the Lower East Side, Finn swiftly rose to become New York’s champion chess master and one of the country’s best blindfold chess entertainers. Finn’s chess success contributed to the rise of the chess scene in the Big Apple in the early twentieth century, and he fared equally well in business, parlaying his skills into a highly successful career. Along with a foreword by John S. Hilbert, this biography of Finn in America includes analysis of 99 of his chess games— most of them previously unknown or little studied—diagrams of game situations, and photographs.

About the Author(s)

Olimpiu G. Urcan is a Singapore-based chess historian. He contributes regularly to Edward Winter’s Chess Notes and is the author of several chess biographies published by McFarland.

Bibliographic Details

Olimpiu G. Urcan
Format: library binding (7 x 10)
Pages: 286
Bibliographic Info: 49 photos, diagrams, notes, bibliography, indexes
Copyright Date: 2010
pISBN: 978-0-7864-4283-6
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Foreword by John S. Hilbert      ix

Acknowledgments      x

Preface      xi

A Note to the Reader      xiii

Prologue      1

Part I: A Peddler’s Rise on the Lower East Side, 1871–1900

1. Coming to America, 1871 –1894      5

2. First Forays into Chess, 1895–1900      11

3. A Rising Blindfold Artist, 1898–1900      26

Part II: Among New York’s Best, 1901–1905

4. The Very Busy Year 1901      39

5. The NYSCA Midsummer Meeting, July 1902      68

6. A Manhattan Man, 1903–1905      88

7. Equitable Life Insurance Agent      105

8. More Chess in New York, July–November 1905      113

Part III: Marketing a Rich Man’s Gambit, 1903–1916

9. With Rice and His Gambit, 1903–1905      131

10. A Match with Napier, January 1906      147

11. King of New York, 1906–1907      157

12. The End of the Rice Brotherhood, 1908–1916      186

Part IV: The Last Years, 1929–1931

13. A Preëminent Chess Official, 1910–1928      215

14. A Last Game of Chess, 1929–1931      236

Epilogue      242

Appendix I: Finn’s Tournament Record      243

Appendix II: Finn’s Match Record      244

Appendix III: Finn’s Simultaneous Exhibitions Record      245

Appendix IV: Finn’s Blindfold Simultaneous Exhibitions Record      247

Chapter Notes      249

Selected Bibliography      259

Index to Finn’s Games (game numbers)      261

Index of Openings—Finn’s Games (game numbers)      262

Index of Supplementary Games and Positions (page numbers)      263

Index of Supplementary Game Openings (page numbers)      264

Index of Tables      265

Index to Illustrations      266

General Index      267

Book Reviews & Awards

“a nicely produced book…numerous original photographs”—IM John Donaldson (JeremySilman.com); “a typical McFarland masterpiece. Lovely!”—British Chess Magazine.