"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 month.
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.
Basd on an idea submitted by Quizmaster Emeritus Jim Kiser.
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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.
***** 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 place.
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?
***** Such an intriguing photo, I couldn't help but look for it.
***** 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.
***** 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.
***** 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.
***** 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.
***** 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.
***** I had conflicting information. One of the possibilities I found was at italbase.tripod.com/cinema/Chaplin.htm 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 possibility.
***** 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.
***** 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.
***** 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.
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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 27th.
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.
Samuel Reshevsky Is Dead; Chess Grandmaster Was 80 By ROBERT McG. THOMAS Jr 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
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.
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 braggadocio.
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 smiles.
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!'
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.
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.  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 then.
Now Charlie Chaplin in his autobiography  is reported to have stated:
"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 time...
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".