Arthur William Dake

(1910-2000)
United States – Inducted 1991

Born in Poland, Arthur Dake and his family immigrated to the United States when he was a young child. At 16, he became a merchant seaman and traveled around Asia, including Japan, China, and the Philippines. In comparison to his peers, Dake was a relative latecomer to chess; he was introduced to the game at the age of 17, when he was taught by a Russian immigrant following a boxing session at the Portland YMCA. However, he improved so quickly that by age 20, after his career as a sailor brought him to New York, he was making a name for himself in the city’s prestigious club events. During the 1930s, he competed on three champion Olympiad teams, amassing a distinguished winning percentage of 76%, and earning two individual medals: a silver in 1933 and a gold in 1935. He also would compete in several U.S. Opens, the first two U.S. Championships, and numerous other tournaments. Among his laurels is a win over Alexander Alekhine in Pasadena in 1932.

Following the 2nd U.S. Championship in 1938, Dake played only sporadically for nearly four decades, competing in U.S./USSR matches in 1946 and 1954, a radio match against Yugoslavia in 1950, Hollywood 1952, and occasional local events in the Portland area. He appeared unexpectedly to compete at Lone Pine 1975, and at 77, he scored an impressive 8-4 at the 1987 U.S. Open. He was named an honorary grandmaster in 1986 and was inducted into the U.S. Chess Hall of Fame in 1991. The “Wizard of the Pacific Coast” played chess until his death in 2000, making him one of the oldest competitive GMs in history.