Friday, July 07, 2006


...Chess appeals to our emotions and brings us joys and sorrows.

by Bernardo Iglesias

Emil Reubens was born in a beautiful land very far away, in Yelisavetpol (Kirovabad) Russia, in 1886, on September 23 and, died in Massachusetts in Norwood Hospital in 1973, on August 29 after a brief illness. Emil Reubens was 86 years old when he died, an extraordinary man who believed that mankind could become rehabilitated through Chess. Chess is more than life and can change a person to benefit Society. He was a chess master emeritus and one of the founding member of the United States Chess Federation, a member of the Boylston Chess Club, the Brockton Chess Club and his dear Sharon Chess Club.

Reubens received his formal education at the University of Prague. In 1906 he immigrated to the United States and worked for a time in steel mills in Detroit. Eventually he moved to Boston and graduated from Boston University in 1922 with a degree in business administration. Much later, in June of 1973 he received his Master's degree in business administration, he was the oldest person in the university's history to obtain such a degree at 86.

He lived in Sharon, Mass. for many years. Emil Reubens was a U.S.C.F. life director and authored a wonderful book on chess play, entitled Chess - Trick and Treat in 1965. This book is a treasure, a precious jewel for any novice player. At the end of the book he recommends that every young player should “Join a chess club. Meet chess players of differing skill and style. Subscribe to a periodical that will keep you abreast of the important events in Chess world."

In 1964, he helped to bring the U.S. Open to Boston. He was an honorary Chairman of the Committee, along with a lot of the great chess organizers of the time: Robert Goodspeed (Brockton C.C), Harold Dondis (Johnson C.C.), Eleanor Goodspeed, Eleanor Terry, Frank Ferdinand (Harvard C.C.), James Burgess (Boylston C.C.) ,Harry Goober (Clarendon C.C.), Beverly Jarnigan and Joseph Hurvitz (Boylston C.C.). That year, the U.S.C.F. was celebrating the silver anniversary of its foundation, in which Emil Reubens had been a strong force in promoting chess in this country.

Emil had a long time interest in prison reform and was instrumental in assisting many prisoners get back into society. In his book, mentioned above, he thought that “When I was drafted into becoming a "leader" in youth clubs, I employed chess and chocolate bars to lead the youth into the paths of righteousness. There are no available data to estimate the effect of chess on juvenile delinquency, nor are there statistics to gauge the collateral effects of chocolate bars freely rewarded for chess merits."

Reubens combined a lifelong interest in better prisons, rehabilitation and parole systems with chess activities. He organized many teams of players who visited several penal institutions to play against teams of inmates, or just to play simultaneous exhibitions against the inmates. On one occasion, he took Steve Frymer, John Curdo, and R. Gleason to Norfolk Prison, delighting one inmate in particular so much that he became an active player and organizer in Norfolk area.

Emil Reubens loved the youth, kids of all ages, -- they are our future joys and sorrows in life. The second Brockton Open, on September 25 & 26, 1971 in Brockton, Mass. William Lombardy, former World Junior Champion, had agreed to participate in the selection and awarding of a special Lombardy - Reubens “best played game” trophy to some player under the age of 21 (Harry Lyman was present in this ceremony). The winner of the award trophy was won by the young John Peters. The third Brockton Open, on September 23 & 24,1972, the Lombardy-Reubens award trophy was won by John Stopa. For the Boylston C.C. member’s information, at this event Alex Slive and Andrew Anisimov, two new youngsters showed up in the chess arena. After this event, it seems that such award stopped being awarded by the Brockton Chess Club, since he became sick and died shortly. The "MASS STATE JUNIOR CHESS CHALLENGE TROPHY PRESENTED BY EMIL M. REUBENS " is a silver trophy cup at the Boylston Chess Club to preserve his memory for future generations. In 1988, William Lukowiak, treasurer of the Boylston Chess Club and long time an officer on the board of MACA, introduced a motion to the Executive Board of MACA that the winner’s name of the Junior Scholastic Champion from Massachusetts be inscribed in this trophy and that MACA will help to pay for traveling expenses to the National Championship whenever it was to be held. The MACA board turned down this motion, and denied youngsters of this State such an honor.

After his death, the Mass State Chess Association, organized a one time "the Emil Reubens Memorial" at the Massachusetts Open at the new Brockton High School in 1974. The winner of this event was John Peters.

Emil founded the Steinberg-Reubens Educational Foundation. The Boylston Chess Club Board of Directors decided that in 1986 to pay tribute to Emil Reubens and Ben Landey by naming a qualifier cycle of the B.C.C. championship qualifier in their honor, for players rated 1800 to 2199. The winners of the Reubens/Landy move on to play against the club’s masters for the club championship.

CHESS LIFE & REVIEW, 1973, v.28, #11, p. 647 CHESS LIFE, 1964, v.19, #5, p.106 CHESS HORIZONS, 1970, v.2,#2, p.2 CHESS HORIZONS1971, v.3, #5, p.2 CHESS HORIZONS, 1973, v.5, #6, p.20 CHESS HORIZONS1972, v.4, #6, p. 19 CHESS TRICK & TREAT - E. REUBENS, 1965, p.7,11,126 BOYLSTON C.C. BULLETIN, 1985, v. 1, #1, p.2 BOYLSTON C.C. BULLETIN, 1987, v.2, #2, p. 1 BOSTON GLOBE, 1973, August 30. [Edited by Robert Oresick]

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