Saturday, August 16, 2014

Peter Webster on Kampars, Fischer and Diemer

Peter Webster portrays the life of Nikolajs Kampars, editor of BDG Magazine, and chess players Nick Kampars met along his journey from Latvia to Wisconsin in a story that is well worth reading. He drew Bobby Fischer in a Caro-Kann Defence below.

   "This information comes from two visits to Nikolajs Kampars at his home and one with his family after his death.
   "When I met Mr. Kampars, he was living with his wife and sister in the lower portion of a Victorian-era home in Milwaukee. A brother lived nearby; I do not know if there were other living relatives. He had heart trouble and had retired from his work in a bakery.
   "In Latvia he had been a member of the judicial system. I was not able to work out which position in the United States would have been most comparable to the one he held. His father had been a police chief in Russia during the Czarist regime. One of the few things which the family had brought with them when they escaped from Latvia was an oil painting of their father in dress uniform; this was hanging on the dining room wall. He told me that once he and his brother entered the police station and found the entire staff asleep. It was the custom in those days to have waxed mustaches with the ends curling upwards, and the two boys were unable to resist the temptation to clip the ends off those mustaches!
   "When Soviet troops entered the Baltic states. thousands of people fled. For the Kampars family this was a life-or-death decision; the Soviets were under orders to eliminate anyone who might be antagonistic to the Communist regime (I have read an estimate that eleven thousand Latvians were murdered and thousands more deported to Siberia), and as the family of a Czarist police official they would have been on this list even though their father had died between the World Wars. Some Estonians were able to enter Finland, with which there was then a common border, but Lithuanians and Latvians had nowhere to go but German-controlled territory. The family was fortunate to reach a camp in Austria, which was not overrun by the Soviet armies.
   "All I learned of his chess life in Latvia is that he and his brother were given lessons by Aaron Nimzovich and that at one point he was the librarian for the national organization. The book Alekhine in Europe and Asia (Donaldson, Minev, and Seirawan) includes a simul loss by Alekhine in Riga, Latvia, against "Kampar" (see p. 98); no initial, and the final "s" is missing, but this may well have been Nick Games from a tournament held in the Austrian DP camp indicate that he was a conservative player with a classical style and opening repertoire; the gambit ideas for which he became known when he published Opening Adventures were not typical of his crossboard play. He became one of the best in Wisconsin using this classical style; before I began to play tournament chess he drew against a very young Bobby Fischer as Black in a Caro-Kann, (he also lost one to Fischer) and my records show that in the 1958 North Central Open in Milwaukee (Pal Benko headed a field of 88) he was the top Wisconsin player (4-1,2) and repeated this in the 1959 Western Open (4-1,3) (Benko again, 112 players) and 1959 North Central Open (4-0,3) (master Curt Brasket of Minnesota won ahead of future world correspondence champion Hans Berliner, 90 players, Kampars 5th). I don't know whether he ever competed outside Milwaukee. His USCF rating was Expert.
   "I do not know how Mr. Kampars became aware of the German master Emil J. Diemer. The family participated in European chess life to some extent. His sister told me that GM Savielly Tartakower wrote a poem for her! He would occasionally send the aging Diemer a little money when he could spare it; he showed me a strange letter which seemed to indicate that Mr. Diemer had some sort of mental glitch, although he noted that other letters gave no indication of problems.
   "Although I did not see a pet in the home, copies of the bulletin of the Milwaukee Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals were on the sideboard. Appropriate reading material for a gentle man and gentleman.
   "Peter Webster"

Thank you for that wonderful piece! The USCF Master Peter Webster is a long time Blackmar-Diemer Gambit player whom I mentioned in the Introduction to my BDG books. Here is a Caro-Kann Defence that Nick Kampars drew Bobby Fischer.

Robert J Fischer - Nikolajs Kampars, Milwaukee WI 1957 begins 1.e4 c6 2.Nc3 d5 3.Nf3 Bg4 4.h3 Bxf3 [4...Bh5!?] 5.Qxf3 e6 6.d4 [6.d3 d4=] 6...Nd7 7.Bd3 dxe4 8.Nxe4 Ngf6 9.0-0 Nxe4 10.Qxe4 Nf6 11.Qe3 Nd5 [11...Bd6!?] 12.Qf3 Qf6 13.Qxf6 Nxf6 14.Rd1 0-0-0 15.Be3 Nd5 16.Bg5 Be7 17.Bxe7 Nxe7 18.Be4 Nd5 19.g3 Nf6 20.Bf3 Kc7 21.Kf1 Rhe8 22.Be2 e5 23.dxe5 Rxe5 24.Bc4 Rxd1+ 25.Rxd1 Re7 26.Bb3 Ne4 27.Rd4 Nd6 28.c3 f6 29.Bc2 h6 30.Bd3 Nf7 31.f4 Rd7 32.Rxd7+ Kxd7 33.Kf2 Nd6! 34.Kf3 f5 35.Ke3 c5 [White's king is denied entry points.] 36.Be2 Ke6 37.Bd3 1/2-1/2


You may also like: King Pawn (1.e4 e5) and Queen Pawn (1.d4 d5)
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