Early Life of Einar Michelsen, Part 1

Early Life of Einar Michelsen, Part 1

Einar Michelsen was a minor American master who immigrated to the United States from Denmark in 1905 as a 20 year old. We do not know much about his Danish life and this article is an attempt to fill the gaps.

My starting point is an article in the American Chess Bulletin 1907, p. 193:

ACB 1907 p193

There can hardly be much doubt that the article is based on Einar Michelsen’s own information. Yet, there is reason to be critical.

The first we learn is that he was born in 1885 in Odense, Denmark, and a 1901 census confirms this. He was born April 16th. Furthermore, from the census we can see that he had 2 brothers and 3 sisters, his father was Carl Johan Michelsen, a retired baker. His mother’s name was Marie Petrine Michelsen. The family lived in Kongensgade 24 in the center of Odense. We also get an idea of ​​how the family made a living, they had 3 young men living as lodgers.


His first name is spelled with a ‘j’, but this is likely a mistake as it is spelled with an ‘i’ everywhere else. The census also confirms that he was a bookshop apprentice. We even get the name of the bookstore owner, Rasmus Hansen.

The first time he appears in the the chess press was in Tidskrift för Schack no. 11 1902, where he is admitted to a Nordic correspondence tournament starting in November 1902. After this he is a frequent guest in chess magazines and newspaper columns.

American Chess Bulletin claims that he won a problem composing tournament in Berlin Illustrated Zeitung (probably Berliner Illustrirte Zeitung) at the age of 16, ie. in 1901 or 1902. It would have a been quite a sensation if such a young boy won a foreign tournament, but there is no trace of it in the Danish media. It is true, however, that he was interested in problem composition and got a number of his problems published in Wiener Schachzeitung, Deutsche SchachzeitungTidskrift för Schack, Skakbladet, Nationaltidende, Illustreret Tidende, Svenska Dagbladet and even one in Carl Schlechter’s column in Wiener Hausfrauen-Zeitung:

Wiener Hausfrauen-Zeitung 50/1904 p. 574

The header says ‘Von Michelsen aus Hjörring’ which indicates that by 1904 he had moved away from his hometown of Odense. More about that later.

Einar Michelsen’s first published game was this fragment, ‘played recently in Odense’, published in Govert Nielsen’s chess column in Nationaltidende, December 12, 1902


Chr. Eriksen – E. Michelsen, Odense 1902
1… Qf7+ 2. Kxg4 Qf5+ 3. Kxh4 Ke7 4. Rag1 Rh8+ 5. Kg3 Rg8+ 6. Ng5 Rxg5+ 7. Kh4 Qf4+ 8. Kh3 Rh5+ 9. Kg2 Qg4+ 10. Kf1 Qd1+ 11. Kg2 Rg5+ 12. Kh2 Qh5#

A double piece sacrifice followed by a quiet king move, an impressive finish by the young bookstore apprentice.

In part 2 of this series I will look at games from the Nordic correspondance tournament, follow him on his first trip abroad, and we will learn more about his move away from Odense.

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