Samuel Reshevsky Biolography

Thanks to Sharon M. Levy nd Marcelle Comeau for extra
confirmation of the date and location of the picture.

6 December 1920 (USA)
        Fairbanks                                     Reshevsky

28 August 1921 (USA)

18 October 1922 (USA)
"Samuel Reshevsky, aged seven, the boy
champion chess player of the world,
visited the studio. He was to give an
exhibition at the Athletic Club, playing
chess with twenty men at the same time,
among them Dr. Griffiths, the champion
of California. He had a thin, pale, intense
little face with large eyes that stared
belligerently when he met people. I had
been warned that he was temperamental
(1899-1977) when he was making the movie, The Kid, starring Jackie Coogan. He was
met Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. on the set of Mark of Zorro."

However, this site incorrectly states the film as Mark of Zorro which is entirely wrong
as it was released in 1920.   So can I trust the June 27, 1921 date.   I believe I must.

Nelsen Spickard alias Quiz-D'Artagnan
Given that Fairbanks is still in his d'Artagnan outfit. I
suspect this is the set for "The Three Muskateers" which
was filmed at Raleigh Studios - 5300 Melrose Avenue,
Hollywood, Los Angeles.

I sat through "The Mark of Zorro (1920)," "Three
Muskateers (1921)" and "Robinhood (1922). The outfit (see
attached) Fairbanks is wearing is only seen in the 1921
movie, which confirms the possible year for the photo. I am
still trying to confirm the month.

Given that Fairbanks is still in his d'Artagnan outfit. I
suspect this is the set for "The Three Muskateers" which
was filmed at Raleigh Studios - 5300 Melrose Avenue,
Hollywood, Los Angeles. I will get back to you soon on the

Great work.  I thought it was the Musketeers - I saw
somewhere that it was taken on the set of the Mark of
Zorro but that site didn't seem as reliable.  You didn't
really sit through all three movies to answer the quiz did
you? - Q. Gen.

...I speed watched them until I saw the costume finally in
The Three Musketeers.  This saved me from watching The
Nut which was filmed between Zorro and Musketeers.

Ah finally found this site with a
chronology of Reshevsky's travels in 1921.

"Reshevsky traveled to Los Angeles after his San Francisco
exhibition. Before he gave an exhibition in Los Angeles on
June 27, he visited a movie studio and met Charlie Chaplin
Nice Work by Nelsen Spickard
Quiz #419 Results
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Answers to Quiz #419 - November 9, 2013
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Comments from Our Readers
For this week, I first thought it was two of the Kennedy boys as their father had
Hollywood affairs. JFK did get a chess set, now valued at 465K from a friend in
1962, no it was not Marilyn. there are a couple of websites that list presidents,
celebrities and famous chess players.

Chess photo: The guy on left looked familiar  and clothing of other two looked like the
1920s and the boy looked about 10 years old.

I found contest photo with search words of Douglas Fairbanks chess.
On the left is Douglas Fairbanks, child chess prodigy Samuel Reshevsky in center and
Charlie Chaplin on the right. The photo caption says 1921.

To narrow down on the other details:

Douglas Fairbanks co founded United Artists in 1919 with Charlie Chaplin and others.
Circa 1921 there were three movie releases by Fairbanks according to his filmography.
Zorro Nov. 20, 1920    Three Musketeers  Aug. 28, 1921  Robin Hood Sept. 28, 1922

Clothing clue: Musketeer vest (photo) has buttons Robin Hood vest was leather laced.
Mike Dalton
If I were a kid with a chance to meet movie stars, Id much rather see them making a
film than dealing with boring details.  Otherwise, I could meet movie stars any old

I should have known from the release date of Zorro that I had erred.  Now I’m going
with The Three Musketeers.  When I found the photo, it was identified as having
been taken in 1920.  So, if it’s not November, then it would have to be December.  
Why do I have the feeling I’m still missing the boat here?
Carol Farrant
Such an intriguing photo, I couldn't help but look for it.
Judy Pfaff
At first I thought this was the set of Mark of Zorro, but the film was already released,
as was Chaplin's The Kid. I found one site that dated this 1923, but that's way too
late. Since S.R. came to the US in Nov 1920 and Three Musketeers was released in
August of 1921, June is the most feasible month.

Woo-hoo! I considered watching them--I am one of those people that would do that
but, as you know, I'm busy combing through early Paramount movies looking for my
great grandmother. Ah, I love this period in Hollywood.
Tynan Peterson
In researching this picture, several sites state that the picture was taken on the set of
the Mark of Zorro. That did not seem logical to me as the Mark of Zorro was released
in November 1920 and Sam Reshevsky's family did not move from Poland to the US
until November 1920.  Also, all the pictures I found of Fairbanks in the Mark of Zorro
had him in a black shirt and pants.  The clothes were more fitted than what is seen in
this picture.

Sam Reshevsky was in Los Angeles in June 1921 for a 20 board game at the Athletic
Club. It is believed it was here that he met Charlie Chaplin and some other Hollywood
Stars.  The movie that was being filmed at that time period was The Three
Musketeers.  The clothing worn by Fairbanks is also more similar to what is noted in
the Three Musketeer, although in the movie, it is covered by a tunic.
Nancy Nalle-Mackenzie
It was probably taken on the set of The Three Musketeers which was being filmed at
the time at the Raleigh Studios, 5300 Melrose Avenue, Hollywood.  The chess set
pictured here looks very much like the one which appears in the opening scene of that
movie. Douglas Fairbanks is in his costume as D'Artgnan.
Margaret Paxton
This is one of those pictures that place a real challenge. Most websites come with
wrong asumptions yet the original source is not published in the www. I reached the
conclusion that the best way to know the exact room for the picture is to watch The
Three Musketeers in its entirety, but my tiny laptop is not an ideal place for it (guess
I'll have to increase my Fairbanks DVD stash).

Very interesting article! I was a child compettior myself in math, but was never good
at chess.
Ida Sanchez
I read another article where it said that Fairbanks simply put on the Robin Hood
costume for the sheer enjoyment of the boy. There are many articles again with
misinformation it would seem on the net.

HOWEVER, I think I am wrong with my guess of Robin Hood. I am now thinking
that Fairbanks was dressed as d'Artagnan from The Three Musketeers. If that is the
case then the year would be 1921.
Cynthia Costigan
I had conflicting information. One of the possibilities I found was at which says, "In 1920, the wunderkind
Samuel Reshevsky visited the set of The Mark of Zorro and kibitzed a game between
Douglas Fairbanks and Charlie Chaplin, shown above." But that wasn't the only
Joshua Kreitzer
The first question was easy.  Fairbanks and Chaplin were easily recognized.  Googling
Fairbanks, Chaplin and chess got me Reshevsky’s name and a link to the same picture
with the wrong caption.  In reading about Reshevsky and the movie, the timeline just
didn’t work.  Started looking at chess games he played in  LA in his early years and
found the Griffith game and Griffith’s connection to Chaplin.

Fun quiz!
Diane Burkett
The dead give-away for me was Douglas Fairbanks' costume.  That is NOT Don
Diego aka Zorro!  It is D'Artagnan!  Both are great movies.
Mararet Paxton
I see "Mark of Zorro" was released 27 Nov 1920 and before the June 1921 chess
kid's visit. The Three Musketeers was released in August 28, 1921... So... Not Zorro,
but rather The Three Musketeers is the correct answer based on dates, costume and
movie set. Sorry... I saw both movies listed at various locations, and should have
double checked.
Stephen P. Hall
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Grace Hertz, Jamey and Mary Turner
Team Fletcher!
1.  Douglas Fairbanks Jr, Samuel Reshevsky, Charlie Chaplin
2. Monday, June 27, 1921
3.  On the set of The Three Musketeers
where Fairbanks was playing the role of D'Artagnan.
How Ida Solved the Puzzle
Have you ever had the experience of recognizing a face but not being
able to put a name to it? It usually happens to me with Chaplin
without a mustache. After 2 days lost looking for historic chess
matches, I realized I was focused on reality instead of fantasy and
that I was dealing with a movie setting. Then I made the proper
search: "famous amateur chess players". That led me to a wikipedia
page that mentioned Chaplin, and the Eureka moment hit. Putting
Chaplin and chess in an image searching got me the picture. From
then on came more questions: when and where. Most sites were
unreliable and had mixed information about it. But finally I found a
biography of  Reshevsky in which it stated that he had met with
Chaplin and Fairbanks in June 1921 after travelling from San
Francisco to LA on the 23rd and before an exhibition he had on the

As for where, Fairbanks' haircut and mustache indicate that he was
filming The Three Musketeers, most likely on the final days, but still
in it. The bricks in the background coincide with several shots of the
movie as well. And the Robin Hood movie portrays Fairbanks with a
goat beard and shorter hair, so definitely he had not started filming it.
Chaplin did The Kid that year, but did not dress for the occasion for
the meeting with the prodigious child and the shots from that movie
differ tremendously from this one.

Ida Sanchez
Samuel Reshevsky Is Dead; Chess Grandmaster
Was 80
Published: April 07, 1992

Samuel Reshevsky, the Polish-born chess prodigy and
grandmaster who astounded the world with his feats as
a boy and dominated American chess for nearly four
decades, died on Saturday at Good Samaritan Hospital
in Suffern, N.Y. He was 80 years old and lived in
Spring Valley, N.Y.

Mr. Reshevsky, who had been semi-retired for many
years but still appeared occasionally at tournaments and
exhibitions, died of a heart attack, said Rabbi Harvey

Reshevsky arrives in the US
3 November 1920 (USA)
Note the similarities between the quiz photo (left) and a second photo showing the same
scene but with the people arranged differently.  The chess pieces are in the same
positions in both photos, so they must have been taken one a few minutes apart.  
Fairbanks and Chaplin must have been posing with the chess board, and not really
playing a game.
Additional Note
Quiz Photo
Waxman of Congregation Beth Medrosh in Monsey, N.Y., who presided at a funeral on
Sunday at Congregation Kehilath Israel in Spring Valley.

From the moment he sailed into New York Harbor on Nov. 3, 1920, an 8-year-old
prodigy in blond curls and a sailor suit, little Sammy Reshevsky was the sensation of
American chess. From that time until Jan. 7, 1958, when he was eclipsed by the
14-year-old Bobby Fischer, he was the top name in American chess.

The Enchanted Early Years

As a child, he first dazzled the capitals and courts of Europe, then amazed Americans
with triumphant coast-to-coast tours, taking on and setting down 40 to 75 opponents at
a time. He emerged as a major celebrity of the 1920's, dallying in Hollywood with
Charlie Chaplin, Jackie Coogan and other stars and enchanting millionaires by defeating
them in their living rooms.

As an adult, he won the United States Chess Championship seven times, scored
spectacular victories in international tournaments and defeated many of the world's top
players, including the fabled Jose Raoul Capablanca in 1935 and, in 1955, Mikhail
Botvinnik, who was the reigning Soviet and world champion.

It was by almost any measure a stunningly successful career. By any measure, that is,
except the one that counted most: the standard of expectation set by Mr. Reshevsky's
own precocity, with its seemingly certain promise that he would some day win the
world championship. He never did.

From the moment Mr. Fischer began his skyrocketing ascent, Mr. Reshevsky was all
but forgotten by the broad American public, which has never had room for more than
one chess hero at a time. He played with diminishing frequency and success in major
tournaments then, and made his living as an investment analyst and insurance salesman.

But in a game where a grandmaster is often past prime at 45, over the hill at 50 and into
dotage at 55, Mr. Reshevsky was a stalwart. His game was fading, but still showed
flashes of brilliance. He won his last American championship in 1971 at the age of 59.
In 1981, at 69, he was a finalist among Americans seeking to qualify for the world
championship matches. And in 1984, at 72, he tied for first place in the Reykjavik
International Tournament, his last world-class showing.

No Games on the Sabbath

Samuel Herman Rzeszewski, as his name was spelled until 1924, was born on Nov. 26,
1911, in Ozorkow, Poland, where his mother and father, a one-time linen merchant in
nearby Lodz, were Orthodox Jews. Even before learning chess, the youngster acquired
a devotion to his religion that never lapsed, and for a generation nothing in the world of
chess was as certain as the knowledge that he would not play on the Sabbath.

There was always intense interest in how the boy had come by his talent and learned
Charles Chaplin, My Autobiography, 1964
and that he seldom shook hands with anybody.
After his manager had introduced us and spoken a few words, the boy stood staring at
me in silence. I went on with my cutting, looking at strips of film.

A moment later I turned to him. 'Do you like peaches?'

'Yes,' he answered.

'Well, we have a tree full of them in the garden; you can climb up and get some--at the
same time get one for me.'

His face lit up. 'Ooh, good! Where's the tree?'

'Carl will show you,' I said, referring to my publicity man.

Fifteen minutes later he returned, elated, with several peaches. That was the beginning
of our friendship.

'Can you play chess?' he asked. I had to admit that I could not. 'I'll teach you. Come
see me play tonight. I'm playing twenty men at the same time,' he said with

I promised and said I would take him to supper afterwards.

'Good, I'll get through early.'

It was not necessary to understand chess to appreciate the drama of that evening:
twenty middle-aged men pouring over their chessboards, thrown into a dilemma by a
child of seven who looked even less than his years. To watch him walking about in the
center of the U-shaped table, going from one to another was a drama in itself.
There was something surrealistic about the scene as an audience of three hundred or
more sat in tiers on both sides of a hall, watching in silence a child pitting his brains
against serious old men. Some looked condescendingly, studying with set Mona-Lisa

The boy was amazing, yet he disturbed me, for I felt as I watched that concentrated
little face flushing red, then draining white, that he was paying a price with his health.
'Here!' A player would call, and the child would walk over, study the board a few
seconds, then abruptly make a move or call 'Checkmate!" and a murmur of laughter
would go through the audience. I saw him checkmate eight players in rapid succession,
which evoked laughter and applause.

And now he was studying the board of Dr. Griffiths. The audience was silent.
Suddenly he made a move, then turned away and saw me. His face lit up-and he
waved, indicating that he would not be long.

After checkmating several other players, he returned to Dr. Griffiths, who was still
deeply concentrating.

'Haven't you moved yet?' said the boy impatiently.'

The doctor shook his head.

'Oh, come on, hurry up!'

Griffiths smiled.

The child looked at him fiercely. 'You can't beat me! If you move this, I'll move that!'
He named in rapid succession seven or eight moves ahead. 'We'll be here all night, so
let's call it a draw.'

The doctor acquiesced."
the game. When Schmulke, as he was
known, was 5 years old, his father, a
good amateur player, showed him the
moves. A few weeks later, the boy
interrupted one of his father's games and
told him he was about to make a bad
move. Thereupon, Schmulke took over,
won the game and was on his way.
Reshevsky, Nice France, 1974

Other newspaper reports
on Reshevsky's visit to France in 1920
(most in French)

5 December 1920 (USA)
The possibilities are
that it was taken
between Thursday,
June 24 and
Monday, June 27th,
1921. Samuel  
Reshevsky played an
exhibition game in
San Francisco on
Wednesday, June
23rd. [1] The photo
was taken in Los
Angeles (see the next
answer). That's a
good 400 miles and
in today's
miles and in today's driving
conditions it's at least 5 and a half
hours drive, and over 9 hours by
bus...So that probably gets them
there either on Thursday, Friday,
Saturday, or Sunday.  He and his
family were Sabbath observant , so
travel Friday for that length trip is
not possible. That has them
travelling from SF to LA either on
Thursday or Sunday.
If they travelled on Thursday, then the studio visit could have been on
Friday.  If they traveled on Sunday, then the visit to the studio would
be on Monday. I also don't think that the studio would be opened to
work on Sunday but I don't know what labor lasws, etc… where like

Now Charlie Chaplin in his autobiography [3] is reported to have

"During the cutting of The Kid (1921 - KL) [Jackie Coogan's first
picture], Samuel Reshevsky, aged seven, the boy champion chess
player of the world, visited the studio. He was to give an exhibition
at the Athletic Club , playing chess with twenty men at the same

That was the beginning of our friendship. 'Can you play chess?' he
asked. I had to admit that I could not. 'I'll teach you. Come see me
play tonight...

"I promised and said I would take him to supper afterwards.

"It was not necessary to understand chess to appreciate the drama
of that evening...

So Chaplin states that the game was the same evening as the
encounter at the studio. We have Bill Wall's statement  that the
exhibition game was on June 27th.  That places Chaplin and
Reshevsky together on Monday, June 27th, 1921 in Los Angeles in,
at least, "the studio".  


[1] and its
reference to a news article the following day.

[2]  Reshevsky's obit in the New York Times:

[3]  Charles Chaplin, Autobiograph, originally published by Simon and
Schuster in hardback, then in paperback by Pocket Books, New
York, 1966, pp. 256-7.

[4] but he also says
that it was on the set of Zorro, which is probably incorrect for the
reasons cited.
Le Mirror
25 January 1920
Le Temps
18 May 1920
The Netherlands
February or March 1920
Samuel Reshevsky vs Bobby Fischer
1950s -1960s