2022 Spielvogel Memorial

2022 Champion: Scott Stewart

The 2022 Nathan Spielvogel Memorial, the first Classical event for the year, had an excellent entry of 42 players, although a good many of them did not complete the 7 rounds. Top seed was our Club Champion Ruari Coffey, ahead of Scott Stewart. These 2 players were in fact the joint defending champions from last year. The next three seeds were the veteran trio of Bas van Riel, Patrick Cook, and Kevin Perrin, ahead of a gang of ambitious and fast improving youngsters.
Round 1 went according to expectations, but Round 2 saw the first upsets when Bas van Riel could only draw against up-and-coming youngster Om O'Carroll, and Angus Blenkiron crushed Patrick Cook, finishing with an elegant Queen sacrifice for a mate. The top 2 seeds continued on their merry way in Round 3, and were joined by Angus Blenkiron on 3/3. Om O'Carroll continued to impress with a win over experienced Jamie Brotheridge, while Patrick Cook appeared lost to a fearsome attack by Peter Stickland, before he scrambled to a draw. The defending champions established their dominance in round 4 when Angus Blenkiron fell to Scott Stewart, and Ruari Coffey dispatched Om O'Carroll. Also of note was Bas van Riel's defeat by Paul Dao. Ruari Coffey took a half point bye in Round 5, but having moved (defected?) to Bendigo Chess Club, he was unable to finish the tournament. We wish him well! This left the path open to Scott Stewart who duly won against Jules Feinberg. Paul Dao was defeated by Angus Blenkiron, who kept in range. The veteran 8 times Club Champions, Patrick Cook and Bas van Riel fought an interesting draw.
In Round 6, Om O'Carroll could not stop Scott Stewart who thus guaranteed at least =1st. Angus Blenkiron kept in range with a win over Bas van Riel, Jamie Brotheridge lost to his old rival Patrick Cook, and Jules Feinberg was beaten by Paul Dao. Scott Stewart had little trouble in brushing aside Patrick Cook in Round 7 and thus won the 2022 Spielvogel Memorial with an imposing score of 7/7.
Angus Blenkiron was a well-earned 2nd with 6/7, and Paul Dao 3rd with 5/7. A swag of players finished with 4/7 in a strong and enjoyable event.

Quite amazingly the Reserve section resulted in a tie between 3 of our newer members, Peter Stickland, Julian Laffey and James Emselle. They are all rated under 1000 and scored 3.5 points each. They will share the $75 Reserve Champion prize.


From Australian Dictionary of Bibliography

Nathan Frederick Spielvogel (1874-1956), teacher, writer and historian, was born on 10 May 1874 at Ballarat, Victoria, son of Newman Frederick Spielvogel, pawnbroker, and his wife Hannah, née Cohen. Newman, an Austrian, and Hannah, a Prussian, were typical of the strong Jewish community on the Ballarat goldfields. Nathan attended Dana Street State School and trained there in 1892-95 as a pupil-teacher. He taught at several schools in the Wimmera, including Dimboola (1897, 1899-1907).

A small man, with sharply chiselled features, a wide forehead, big ears, warm eyes, a jutting chin and a beard that became golden, Spielvogel was adventurous and imaginative. In 1904 he spent his savings of £120 on a six-month journey through Egypt, Italy, Switzerland, Germany and Britain. He had begun his writing career in 1894 with a Christmas story for the Ballarat Courier, to which—with the Jewish press, the Bulletin, the Dimboola Banner and other newspapers—he contributed regularly under such pen names as 'Genung', 'Eko', 'Ato' and 'Ahaswar'. From the early 1920s he wrote a humorous piece each month for the Teachers' Journal, but was probably best known for his first book, A Gumsucker on the Tramp (1906). It sold 20,000 copies. He also published The Cocky Farmer (1914), A Gumsucker at Home (1914), Old Eko's Note-Book (1930) and a volume of poetry called Our Gum Trees (1913).

He loved a beer (not lager) and around 1908 dined every Thursday at Fasoli's café, Melbourne, with writers and artists such as E. J. Brady, Norman Lindsay, Hal Gye, C. J. Dennis and Louis Esson. Later he was close to J. K. Moir, Victor Kennedy and R. H. Croll of the Bread and Cheese Club. Croll thought him 'offensively Australian' yet proudly Jewish, a conjunction that rent Spielvogel in 1901 when his love for a Gentile conflicted with a promise to his mother not to marry out of the faith. He remained steadfast and on 6 September 1911 at the Great Synagogue, Hyde Park, Sydney, married Jessie Muriel, daughter of Henry Harris, publisher of the Hebrew Standard.

After further postings to other Victorian schools, Spielvogel returned to Ballarat to be headmaster of Dana Street in 1924-39. Inspiring, sympathetic and methodical, he was immensely popular: a phalanx of pupils usually escorted him into the grounds. As president of the revived Ballarat Historical Society (1933-56), he developed a passion for local history. He published vignettes of early Ballarat life and a popular monograph, The Affair at Eureka (1928). After retirement he was largely responsible for managing the local museum and for placing plaques and monuments at historic sites. His broadcasts and press releases increased historical awareness.

Spielvogel was president of the Ballarat Hebrew Congregation, the Mechanics' Institute, the Teachers' Institute and Dana Street Old Scholars' Association. Strongly patriotic during World War I, he became chairman of the Dads' Association in World War II. A sharp mind lay behind his lifelong interest in chess: he was secretary (1894) and president (1939) of the Ballarat club and represented Victoria in 1921 and 1925. He was instrumental in sustaining the Ballarat synagogue between 1941 and 1953 and wrote Jewish stories with a tenderness and strength that drew from Judah Waten the remark that Jewish literature in Australia began with him. Spielvogel died on 10 September 1956 at Ballarat and was buried in the old cemetery. His wife and their three sons (all of whom had married out of the faith and in his absence) survived him.