Tabanus: Helman, Abraham M. ("Abe") (10 December 1907 - 16 March 1952)
Born in Russia, Helman came to Winnipeg around 1926; he was involved in the retail business, as he owned a store on Main Street. Helman moved to Vancouver in the autumn of 1945 and became the proprietor of Tip Top Furniture; he died of heart failure at the relatively young age of forty-four.
It is not known when Helman learnt to play chess, but he became involved in the local chess scene soon after emigrating to Winnipeg. He was a member of the Winnipeg Jewish Chess Club, at that time the strongest club in Western Canada, and played in the Winnipeg team championships for the club. Helman won the Manitoba championship in 1933 and 1944; he participated in three Canadian championships (1931, 1933, and 1945), his best result being clear second place in 1933, just a half-point behind winner Robert Martin. In 1939 Helman was a member of the Canadian team at the Buenos Aires chess olympiad.
After moving to Vancouver in 1945 Helman was quick to join with former Winnipegers Dave Creemer and Frank Atnikov in founding the Vancouver Jewish Chess Club. Helman was the first president, played board one for the club in the interclub league, and won the club championship in three consecutive years, thus becoming the permanent holder of the Rothstein trophy. He was B.C. champion in 1947 and 1948, and was also B.C. speed chess champion in the latter year.
Helman appears to have been less active chess wise in the last few years of his life. Perhaps the arrival of Miervaldis Jursevskis in 1949 discouraged competition to some degree, or business concerns became too pressing; it is know that Helman did not play in the 1951 Canadian championship in Vancouver because of illness. Apart from his winning of the speed title in 1948 there is no particular mention of Helman's prowess at speed chess, but judging by the form of two memorials one assumes this must have been the case. After his untimely death in 1952 the Vancouver Jewish CC held a Helman Memorial Speed Tournament (won by Jack Taylor and Charlie Millar), and his friends back in Winnipeg donated the Abe Helman Memorial Trophy, to be held by the winner of the Canadian speed chess championship. This competition was first held during the 1953 Canadian championship in Winnipeg, and was fittingly won by another Abe from Winnipeg - Abe Yanofsky.