Just two years after winning his local chess club’s tournament, Samuel Bean had his photograph in the Oakland Tribune again. This time, he was being awarded the silver loving cup as Alameda’s best chess player for the year.
Perhaps it is the novelty of thinking that someone both blind and deaf could so soundly whip every other chess player in town that landed Sam that many column inches in the Oakland newspaper. After all, newsprint comes at a premium price—especially considering the trouble brewing all around the world that year.
The February 26, 1940, article did play to that theme. The caption below his picture mentioned, “Sam Bean of Alameda has not seen for 30 years, but he was awarded the silver trophy as Alameda’s best chess player today.”
The headline to the article below his picture repeated the motif: “Blind, Deaf Alamedan Awarded Trophy as Chess Champion.”
What has now become a familiar litany of Sam’s loss of eyesight and hearing followed in the article, though the article also picked up some new notes. It mentioned Sam’s two sons, for instance. It also gives us an idea of how Sam was earning his living—after all, just like booklets of poetry, there are only so many restrung tennis rackets that one can sell.
Overall, the story repeated the themes of optimism and good cheer that have been Sam Bean’s hallmarks ever since the first newspaper articles that covered the Berkeley student so many years before.
Alameda, Feb. 26—Sam Bean, 43, 1807 Santa Clara Avenue, blind and deaf for 30 years, was today given the silver loving cup which is annually awarded Alameda’s best chess player.A rock thrown by a school mate at 14, cost one of Bean’s eyes, and infection shortly after took the other and attacked the auditory nerve, robbing him of his hearing also. This twin affliction would have downed many another, but Bean is cheerful, keeps busy endeavoring to make his own living by stringing tennis rackets, repairing chairs and making brooms. He has two sons in school, keeps in touch with the world by reading Braille books and magazines. He is a keen conversationalist, having kept his tone inflections remarkably well for one who has not heard speech for 30 years.He “hears” by having words and whole sentences spelled out on the palm of his hands which are highly sensitive and Bean usually devines [sic] a sentence from the first few words before his friends have had time to write it on his hand with their fingers.Bean was the proudest man in Alameda today, when given the silver trophy donated by W. J. Heisler, pharmacist, by Mrs. Olive Nagel, recreation department aid and past president of the Alameda Chess Club.