The Mysterious Oscar Blum

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Gerard Killoran
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The Mysterious Oscar Blum

Post by Gerard Killoran » Tue Nov 15, 2016 2:26 pm

I came across this today
Belfast News-Letter - Tuesday 03 October 1933.jpg
Belfast News-Letter - Tuesday 03 October 1933.jpg (92.79 KiB) Viewed 1415 times
He was certainly a very good player. Here's his result in the tournament which accompanied the Folkestone Olympiad and where he defeated the eventual winner.
Folkestone, Hythe, Sandgate & Cheriton Herald - Saturday 24 June 1933.jpg
Folkestone, Hythe, Sandgate & Cheriton Herald - Saturday 24 June 1933.jpg (13.78 KiB) Viewed 1415 times
I wonder if he is the same Oscar Blum who is described in this historic event.

https://leninsbody.wordpress.com/2016/0 ... led-train/
A certain Dr. Oscar Blum, a member of the Social Democratic Party, wanted to come on the train. Lenin was against it, suspecting rightly or wrongly that he was a police spy. It was one of the rare occasions when Lenin offered to settle a matter by democratic vote. Accordingly, a vote was taken; eleven voted for Dr. Blum, and fourteen against. He was told that on no account would he be allowed to accompany them on the sealed train.
Later...
Siegfried Bloch, the Swiss socialist, ran up to Lenin, grasped his hand, and said, “I hope to see yon soon back again among us, comrade.” Lenin answered, “H’m, if we come back soon it won’t be a good sign for the revolution.” He settled down in a second-class compartment with Krupskaya, and he was about to take out his note pad when someone told him that Dr. Oscar Blum had calmly taken a seat in the same carriage. Lenin was incensed. He jumped up, hurled himself out of the compartment, found the doctor, and pushed him off the train.
And who wrote this...

https://archive.org/details/BlumOscarRu ... Koepfe1923

I'm sure there is more to be found out about him.

David McAlister
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Re: The Mysterious Oscar Blum

Post by David McAlister » Thu Nov 17, 2016 9:50 am

There are a number of items in Edward Winter's "Chess Notes" which refer to Blum. Coincidentally Winter also refers to Blum in the first of those items as "mysterious". The issues of unpaid hotel bills and the winning of the 1932 Championship of Paris are among the matters mentioned.

http://www.chesshistory.com/winter/wint ... ml#CN_4191
http://www.chesshistory.com/winter/wint ... ml#CN_4255
http://www.chesshistory.com/winter/wint ... ml#CN_4260
http://www.chesshistory.com/winter/wint ... ml#CN_5251

The February 1933 BCM carries a report (at page 82) on Blum's Paris 1932 victory. There was an unusual scoring system used - 3 points for a win, 2 for a draw, 1 for a loss and 0 for a game forfeited by absence. The tournament appears to be one that escaped Di Felice's researches and Gaige's Chess Tournaments Checklist for 1851-1950 also has no reference to it. The BCM only gives the top-scorers. I wonder if a French source has a crosstable.

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Gerard Killoran
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Re: The Mysterious Oscar Blum

Post by Gerard Killoran » Thu Nov 17, 2016 1:15 pm

The French History site has a page devoted to Blum but no cross-table for Paris 1932

http://heritageechecsfra.free.fr/blum.htm

This Spanish site has a cross-table for Paris 1931 where Blum came second, and more about Blum himself.

http://www.ajedrez365.com/2013/06/torne ... -1936.html

Winter wrote, 'Koltanowski wrote more extensively about ‘Dr Karl Blum of Paris (?)’ on pages 106-108 of With the Chess Masters (San Francisco, 1972), again accusing him of financial impropriety, and adding that Blum was imprisoned in Spain. ‘But after the Madrid tournament of 1936, Dr Blum disappeared from the face of the earth! Or seemed to. Some said he was in the ...’ etc., etc.'

I'd like to know what the 'etc., etc' was. If he was the same Oscar Blum who Lenin suspected was a spy then he might have been caught up in the Spanish Civil War.

Gordon Cadden
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Re: The Mysterious Oscar Blum

Post by Gordon Cadden » Thu Nov 17, 2016 4:29 pm

The 1939 Hampstead Chess Club Invitation Tournament, took place at the National Chess Centre. One M. Blum claimed to have been a member of the Hampstead Club, but I have no other record of this name. He achieved a creditable score, equal with S. Fazekas (Scotland), and Mrs Stephenson (Vera Menchik). His playing strength matches that of Dr Oscar Blum.

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Gerard Killoran
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Re: The Mysterious Oscar Blum

Post by Gerard Killoran » Thu Nov 17, 2016 5:43 pm

I'm guessing that M. Blum is short for Monsieur Blum. (I have now found this to be a Martin Blum from Hungary - is this a different person?)

Blum was indeed back in Britain in 1939 - despite his previous bad behaviour and deportation - and was active in chess.

Here was in the Premier Reserves C tournament at Margate 1939
Birmingham Daily Post - Saturday 22 April 1939.jpg
Birmingham Daily Post - Saturday 22 April 1939.jpg (15.43 KiB) Viewed 1134 times
And again
Falkirk Herald - Wednesday 04 October 1939.jpg
Falkirk Herald - Wednesday 04 October 1939.jpg (47.73 KiB) Viewed 1134 times
Then most intriguing of all, he joins the British Armed Forces
Staffordshire Advertiser - Saturday 01 November 1941.jpg
Staffordshire Advertiser - Saturday 01 November 1941.jpg (40.6 KiB) Viewed 1134 times
Which was when Golombek had already begun work at Bletchley Park. I wonder if they met.

As for Blum's shady activities (if he is indeed the same man) a Russian History Website has the following - via Google Translate.

https://translate.google.co.uk/translat ... rev=search
BLUM, OSCAR (pen name N. Rakhmetov) (p 1886). - Social-Democrat, writer, philosopher, a member of various Menshevik organ. In 1906 he was a member of the foreign aid groups R. Sotsial RP in 1908, edited by G. Plekhanov published in Riga a number Democrats "journal of scientific thought ." In 1909, prosecuted for literary works, he served his sentence in the Riga prison and after his release in 1910 he went abroad. In 1917 he unmasked as an employee of the Riga Police Department, in 1918 the revolutionary tribunal sentenced to 5 years in prison, at the end of exiled abroad.
He would have been 55 in 1941. What use would he have been to the war effort?

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