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Herman Steiner
H Steiner 
Number of games in database: 548
Years covered: 1924 to 1955

Overall record: +232 -167 =144 (56.0%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games in the database. 5 exhibition games, blitz/rapid, odds games, etc. are excluded from this statistic.

With the White pieces:
 Orthodox Defense (42) 
    D63 D51 D50 D52 D64
 King's Indian (31) 
    E80 E85 E60 E70 E62
 Nimzo Indian (30) 
    E30 E28 E33 E49 E31
 Queen's Pawn Game (28) 
    A46 D02 E10 E00 A40
 Slav (17) 
    D19 D18 D15 D10 D11
 Queen's Gambit Declined (15) 
    D37 D31 D30 D06 D38
With the Black pieces:
 Ruy Lopez (50) 
    C78 C61 C84 C63 C70
 Nimzo Indian (22) 
    E49 E46 E41 E23 E20
 Queen's Pawn Game (22) 
    D02 A46 D04 A45 D05
 Queen's Gambit Declined (20) 
    D31 D30 D37 D35
 Orthodox Defense (17) 
    D51 D62 D50 D64 D67
 Ruy Lopez, Closed (16) 
    C84 C86 C89 C87 C91
Repertoire Explorer

NOTABLE GAMES: [what is this?]
   H Steiner vs C Sensenig, 1945 1-0
   H Steiner vs J C Thompson, 1940 1-0
   E Paoli vs H Steiner, 1951 0-1
   H Steiner vs A Gring, 1946 1-0
   Kashdan vs H Steiner, 1942 0-1
   G Katz vs H Steiner, 1946 0-1
   H Steiner vs A Kevitz, 1936 1-0
   H Steiner vs H Fajans, 1946 1-0
   Euwe vs H Steiner, 1946 1/2-1/2
   H Steiner vs Tartakower, 1946 1/2-1/2

NOTABLE TOURNAMENTS: [what is this?]
   47th US Open (1946)
   United States Championship (1948)
   London A (1946)
   Gyor (1930)
   Reggio Emilia (1951)
   Madrid (1951)
   Hastings 1945/46 (1945)
   49th US Open (1948)
   United States Championship (1946)
   53rd US Open (1952)
   54th US Open (1953)
   Stockholm Interzonal (1952)
   Mar del Plata (1953)
   56th US Open (1955)
   Prague Olympiad (1931)

GAME COLLECTIONS: [what is this?]
   Chess Review 1946 by Phony Benoni
   American Chess Bulletin 1946 by Phony Benoni
   1946 US Open, Pittsburgh, PA by RonB52734
   US Open 1941, St. Louis by Phony Benoni
   Mexican Masters Tournament, 1934/1935 by Phony Benoni
   US Open 1940, Dallas by Phony Benoni
   New York International,1931 by Phony Benoni

Search Sacrifice Explorer for Herman Steiner
Search Google for Herman Steiner

(born Apr-15-1905, died Nov-25-1955, 50 years old) Hungary (federation/nationality United States of America)

[what is this?]

Herman Steiner was born in Dunajska Streda, then part of Hungary (and now part of Slovakia). He settled in Los Angeles in 1932. Awarded the IM title in 1950 he moved to the USA at an early age, played on 4 US Olympiad teams and was US Champion in 1948. He was equal first with Daniel Abraham Yanofsky in the 1942 US Open Championship. He took 1st place in the 1946 US Open. In 1943, he won the California Open Championship. In 1945, he won the California State Championship.

In February 1944, he was defeated 3½ to ½ by Reuben Fine in an exhibition match at Washington Chess Divan. 1

He was a leading chess organiser on the US West Coast and opened the Hollywood Chess Club. Regular visitors included Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Charles Boyer and Jose Ferrer.

The Herman Steiner Variation of the Marshall Attack in the Ruy Lopez (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.O-O Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 O-O 8.c3 d5 9.exd5 e4) is named for him.

Wikipedia article: Herman Steiner
1. Chess Review March 194 p.10

Last updated: 2021-01-28 16:46:18

 page 1 of 23; games 1-25 of 552  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Capablanca vs H Steiner 0-1441924Simul, 33bD30 Queen's Gambit Declined
2. Alekhine vs H Steiner 1-0651924Blindfold simul, 26bB27 Sicilian
3. J W Brunnemer vs H Steiner  1-0501925CC International vs Hungarian CCB02 Alekhine's Defense
4. H Steiner vs C S Howell  0-1391925Dimock Theme TournamentC54 Giuoco Piano
5. H Steiner vs R Goerlich  1-030192526th Western ChampionshipD63 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defense
6. M C Palmer vs H Steiner  1-0321925Western ChampionshipB29 Sicilian, Nimzovich-Rubinstein
7. H Steiner vs Maroczy  0-1371926Manhattan CC-chA46 Queen's Pawn Game
8. H Steiner vs C Elison 1-0411926Western ChampionshipD63 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defense
9. H Steiner vs I Spero  1-037192627th Western Championship. Prelim AD51 Queen's Gambit Declined
10. H Steiner vs John L Brandner  1-013192627th Western Championship. Prelim AD06 Queen's Gambit Declined
11. H Steiner vs L Stolzenberg  0-128192627th Western Championship. ChampionshipA84 Dutch
12. Kupchik vs H Steiner  0-1521927Manhattan CC-chA27 English, Three Knights System
13. H Steiner vs Kashdan 1-0291927Manhattan CC-chA48 King's Indian
14. Reshevsky vs H Steiner 0-14919271st NCF CongressB05 Alekhine's Defense, Modern
15. N Whitaker vs H Steiner  1-03619271st NCF CongressC01 French, Exchange
16. H Steiner vs S Mlotkowski 0-14119271st NCF CongressD51 Queen's Gambit Declined
17. H Steiner vs Kashdan 0-1491928Manhattan CC-chE11 Bogo-Indian Defense
18. H Steiner vs Rubinstein  ½-½611928ExhibitionD28 Queen's Gambit Accepted, Classical
19. H Steiner vs A Vajda  ½-½441928The Hague OlympiadE11 Bogo-Indian Defense
20. M Henneberger vs H Steiner  ½-½411928The Hague OlympiadD04 Queen's Pawn Game
21. H Steiner vs L Matibet  1-0451928The Hague OlympiadD63 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defense
22. H Steiner vs M A Blass  0-1591928The Hague OlympiadC01 French, Exchange
23. H Steiner vs Stahlberg  ½-½191928The Hague OlympiadA52 Budapest Gambit
24. H Steiner vs S Fajarowicz 1-0311928WiesbadenA51 Budapest Gambit
25. H Steiner vs G Kroone  1-0301928The Hague OlympiadE16 Queen's Indian
 page 1 of 23; games 1-25 of 552  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2) | Steiner wins | Steiner loses  

Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 3 OF 3 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Apr-15-13  Abdel Irada: <cu8sfan: <WTHarvey> I just want to say thanks for the incredible amount of work you do every day for all the players of the day! You really seem like a scarab, assiduously rolling up what great players have emitted. (-:>

Amazing. This has to be the first time I've seen someone called a dung beetle ... as a compliment.

Jun-03-14  waustad: When I read Hollywood and Steiner I wondered if he was related to the composer Max Steiner, but the latter was an only child. They were both born in the Austro-Hungarian empire, but not in the same place.
Jun-04-14  john barleycorn: When I read Hollywood and Steiner I recall the iron cross

Dec-07-14  zanzibar: <In 1947, Steiner was the chess advisor for the movie Cass Timberlane, starring Spencer Tracy and Lana Turner. Steiner told Lana Turner, “Don’t play chess. Sitting at a chess board for hours might make you fat and spoil your perfect figure.” There were several chess scenes in the movie.>

Plus lots more facts/trivial.

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: It would have been criminal to ruin Lana's perfect figure. She was the goods.
Dec-08-14  zanzibar: <Perfidious> The best collection of Lana photographs, that I've found, comes from here:

<Two-Fisted Tales of True-Life Weird Romance!>

Jul-23-15  Petrosianic: The matter has arisen in another forum.

Question: How did Herman Steiner get into the 1952 Stockholm Interzonal when he hadn't played in the 1951 Zonal? I could probably track the answer down in old CL and CR magazines, but why not be lazy and give somebody else a chance to shine all at the same time. Anybody know?

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <Petrosianic> Would USCF have been the selector for Stockholm?
Jul-23-15  Petrosianic: I don't know. I've heard that Evans didn't want to play because he thought he could make more in the US Open or some such. Ditto with Reshevsky, he didn't want to play. But the 3rd place Zonal finisher was Max Pavey. Under the rules we saw later, it would have gone to him.

Did <nobody> from the Zonal want to play? Or, did USCF give up after the top two said no, and reassign it then and there? (And if they did, what kind of hoops did they have to jump through at FIDE to allow it?)

Jul-23-15  Petrosianic: Not the answer to the question I asked, but this is interesting too. I've never heard this before:

<In 1953, the USCF awarded the 1954 U.S. Open to Hollywood after a proposal submitted by Herman Steiner. A month later, the USCF Tournament Committee rescinded that award. The reason for the change was a fundamental disagreement between the Committee and the Hollywood sponsors. The Hollywood plan was to have the Open in a number of sections. The sponsors were to raise a large prize fund so as to guarantee cash prizes and extra money for the Master Section to attract master chess players. Prizes for the other sections were to be trophies only. The plan was rejected by the USCF, and they awarded the site to New Orleans (won by Larry Evans).>

Jul-25-15  Petrosianic: Front page, Chess Life, September 20, 1952:

<76 Players Vie Southwest Open Herman Steiner, in route to the Interzonal Tournament at Stockholm, paused at Dallas long enough to win the Southwest Open...>

No dates are given for the tournament. But this is interesting, because maybe the decision to include Steiner wasn't as last second as it sounded, if Steiner had enough time to stop and play a 7 round tournament during the journey. No mention in the article of how Steiner got into the Interzonal.

Jul-25-15  Petrosianic: Checked the Chess Life reports for Evans' 1951 victory. There doesn't seem to be any mention of the Interzonal at all.

Game Collection: Stockholm Interzonal 1952

This link by Tabnus says that Evans and Pavey (the 1st and 3rd place winners from the US Championship) were in the Interzonal (Reshevsky, who finished 2nd was already in the Candidates). But Pavey and the 2nd US spot seem to have disappeared completely.

According to this, Evans, Byrne and Bisguier were already close by after the Helsinki Olympiad concluded. But Evans (the guy entitled to the spot) didn't want to play in the Interzonal. Byrne didn't either, and Bisguier wanted to, but had to get back home for military service. So, somebody gave the spot to Steiner, and pulled him halfway around the world, with enough time to stop and play in the 7-round Southwest Open along the way. (But who gave it to Steiner, and why, and did they consider offering it to Reuben Fine or Kashdan?)

Jul-25-15  Petrosianic: Chess Life, 10/5/51 says Evans is negotiating with Steiner for a title match, while Reshevsky is negotiating for his Western Hemisphere Championship Match with Najdorf.

It also says that Steiner was looking at a warm up match with Kashdan first, which didn't come off, probably because Kashdan would probably have won it, making Steiner's US Championship challenge look more anemic.

Jul-25-15  Petrosianic: USCF Ratings as published in the same issue:

2747 Reshevsky
2711 Fine
2554 Evans
2447 Kashdan
2340 Steiner

Evans beat Steiner in their title match by 10-4.

Jul-25-15  Petrosianic: CL 11/20/51: Evans accepts Steiner's bid for a title match. This will be the second and final US Title match after the tournament series started in 1936, both of them unsuccessful challenges by Steiner, who seems to have had good backers. It's a shame there haven't been more extracurricular title matches.
Jul-26-15  Petrosianic: In February 1952 there's an announcement from Montgomery Major about how important it is to have US participation in the Interzonal and other tournaments, and how the public needs to pony up for them.

But here's something very odd. CL, 7/20/52. Speaking of the Interzonal, Major writes:

<FIDE Zone 4 (the United States) is entitled to designate two players as qualified to enter this Interzonal event, since no Zonal Tournament was held in 1951>

Huh? Wasn't the 1951 US Championship the Zonal?

<But, to date, no announcement has been issued regarding what players shall be deemed worthy of representing the USA ion this most important tournament which will qualify the fortunate ranking players for participation in the next World Championship Candidates Tournament.>

This makes it sounds that Evans was never officially qualified at all, contrary to what we've read in several places.

<Since the players selected will need to finance their own expenses to this epic chess contest, it is only just that their appointments should be made public sufficiently in advance to permit them to collect funds.>

I'm starting to see how Steiner got the spot. He seemed to have more backing than most US Players.

Jul-26-15  Petrosianic: CL 8/20/52

<Representation at Stockholm in the International Tournament remains unsettled. Evans will be one representative, but a question mark remains for the other. Recent reports are that neither Robert Byrne nor Arthur Bisguier will be able to accept appointments, and the next name on the list is former U.S. Champion Herman Steiner, but it is not known whether he will accept if appointed.>

Okay, so

7/20/52: Unsettled. The US Championship wasn't a Zonal.

8/20/52: Evans is in, the other spot is unsettled. Byrne and Bisguier were the top two choices by virtue of being there (not by qualification), but both said no. Steiner is next choice

9/20/52: Steiner en route to Interzonal, stops and wins Southwest Open along the way.

The second US Spot seems to have evaporated, and no mention of Pavey.

Looks like Steiner was simply given the spot by virtue of his being willing to pay his own way to the Interzonal.

Jul-27-15  Petrosianic: FWIW, Chessmetrics lists Steiner's 10-10 score in the '52 Interzonal as his all-time best performance.
Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: <Dear Capa:

[...] Thanks for you tip about Steiner. I have only been at his club once; but if I go again, I'll have your caution in mind.>

Hmmm, what could it all mean? The letter dates from 1940. Capa hadn't played Steiner for several years:

See also:

Premium Chessgames Member
  An Englishman: Good Evening: Oddly enough, Steiner played extremely well in the 1952 Interzonal for such a low-rated player (2340 in 1951). An even score versus that level of competition looks rather well. Pity that many American players in the previous century didn't receive greater chances to improve/demonstrate their abilities.
Feb-26-16  luftforlife: <MissScarlett>:

The following entry comes from Bill Wall's "Chess Tragedies":

"On May 30, 1937, Herman Steiner (1905-1955) was on his way back to Hollywood from the annual North-South chess match when he hit a car head-on. Steiner's passenger was Dr. Robert B. Griffith (1876-1937), who played Board 2 for the South (Steiner played Board 1). Griffith died in the car crash and the driver in the other car was critically injured. Dr. Griffith was a medical doctor for the Hollywood film industry. He was the physician for Mary Pickford and Charlie Chaplin."

Here's the link:

Perhaps this was the cause for Capa's caution.

Sincerely, ~ lufty

Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: I doubt it. By coincidence, I was looking for information on the circumstances of this accident just recently. Apparently, there were three fatalities, two from the other car. What surprised me is that within a month, Steiner was back in action, winning a rapid transit event. That could be considered to be in rather poor taste.
Apr-15-16  TheFocus: Happy birthday, Hermie!!
Apr-15-16  wrap99: I think the ratings reflect an imperfect, pre-ELO system. Perhaps the ordering is correct but the rating differences seem very large to me. Would Reshevsky have beaten Kashdan as badly as the ratings would seem to indicate?

Also, 2340 is a pre-rating inflation number. Summary, the ratings are simply not comparable to modern ratings.

Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: The Los Angeles Times, June 1st, 1937, Part II, p.1:

<Miss Thelma Smith of 153 South Crescent Drive, Beverly Hills, died yesterday in a Ventura hospital of injuries received the night before in a spectacular accident on the highway south of Ventura which also took the lives of two men.

Other victims of the tragedy were Dr. Robert B. Griffith, 58-year-old Beverly Hills physician, a passenger with Miss Smith in an automobile driven by Herman Steiner, chess editor of The Times, and Fred Davalos, 28, of Fillmore, driver of the second car.

Steiner, critically injured, is in Foster Memorial Hospital in Ventura with a possible fractured skull and severe face and neck lacerations.

Funeral servies for Griffith will be conducted Thursday at 10:30 a.m. at the Wee Kirk o' the Heather, Forest Lawn Memorial Park.>

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