Herman Steiner

Herman Steiner

(1905-1955)
United States – Inducted 2010

One of America’s top players throughout the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s, Herman Steiner immigrated to the U.S. from Hungary at age 16. He won the U.S. Open in 1942 and 1943, the London “Victory” tournament in 1946, and the U.S Championship in 1948. He would also represent the United States in four Olympiads, earning the distinction of being his team’s high scorer in the 1931 contest. In the famous 1945 U.S.-USSR Radio Match, Steiner was the saving grace of an otherwise disastrous performance by the U.S. team, being the only American with a plus score. He shifted his attention to regional competitions during the 1950s, winning the California State Championship in 1953 and 1954 and the California Open in 1954 and 1955. He passed away while defending the former title in 1955.

Despite a stellar playing career, Steiner is equally if not better known for his promotion of the game, particularly during his time on the West Coast. He became chess editor of the Los Angeles Times in 1932, a position he held until his death. He founded the Hollywood Chess Group, later known as the Steiner Chess Club. It was frequented by such mid-century stars as Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Charles Boyer, and José Ferrer, and organized events that included the 1945 Pan-American International Tournament and the Second Pan-American Chess Conference in 1954. For his combination of playing and promotional abilities, Steiner was inducted into the U.S. Chess Hall of Fame in 2010.