The mystery of Alex Bernstein

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chrisw
Posts: 3851
Joined: Tue Apr 03, 2012 2:28 pm

Re: The mystery of Alex Bernstein

Post by chrisw » Sat Jul 18, 2020 4:39 pm

Sergei S. Markoff wrote:
Sat Jul 18, 2020 2:50 pm
Some more intriguing details from here: https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-02280296/document

«Finally, the trajectory of Vladimir Bernstein (1900-1936) constitutes another singular case, described in
detail in Finzi (1936). Born in 1900 in St. Petersburg, Bernstein entered the local university when he
was 17 to specialize in mathematics and became close to Yakov Viktorovich Uspensky (1883-1947).27
born in July, so he would have been only just 17 for September start of academic year (obvs making some assumptions here, also calendar changes), that’s pretty young and September 1917 St Petersburg, one revolution already in February, the provisional govt collapsing, the war front collapsed, and a Deniken army marching on St Petersburg, total turmoil then the second revolution one month later. Curious time and place to enter university.
Taking advantage of the proximity of the border, he decided to emigrate during the winter of 1919 by
reaching Vyborg on the other side of the Gulf of Finland. Unfortunately, he was seriously wounded by
bullet before arriving there, and he never fully recovered from this injury that led to his premature death
in 1936. Arrived in France in the mid-1920s after a stay in London,
many Russian exiles in London, part of Bayswater is named after their origins. Two “types”, Jews who fled Tsarist pogroms in late 1800’s and White Russians, who fled the Bolsheviks. My best friend as a little kid was White Russian, the family ferociously anti-Jewish, the father worked in British Intelligence.

Did you find any detail of where in London? Exiles tend to orient themselves to their own tribe, so to speak.
he entered the Sorbonne and in 1930
defended a PhD on the singularities of Dirichlet series, dedicated to ‘his master Paul Montel’. The
lectures that Vladimir Bernstein presented at the Collège de France that same year on Dirichlet series
were published in 1933 in the Borel series of monographs on the theory of functions as Bernstein
(1933). The book was introduced by a very laudatory preface by Hadamard. It was in Italy, however,
that Bernstein decided to settle down (he had already published several papers in Italian journals). He
obtained Italian citizenship in 1931 and was responsible for teaching superior analysis in Milan and
analytical geometry in Pavia.»
Finally the Mussolini dictatorship. That’s quite a path through European political history, yet he seems, maybe I am guessing, just entirely absorbed in abstract maths whilst trying to stay out of trouble in difficult times.

LizRand
Posts: 4
Joined: Fri Jul 17, 2020 12:07 am
Full name: Elizabeth Rand

Re: The mystery of Alex Bernstein

Post by LizRand » Sat Jul 18, 2020 11:05 pm

Hi folks -
Nice to know people are interested!
Alex’s birthday was December 14 1930 and he died March 11 1999.
This Vladimir is my grandfather. I remember hearing the story about the bullet wound which resulted in the loss of a lung. He later died of pneumonia according to my father’s stories, I’m not sure when. I don’t remember anything about his spending time in London but I wouldn’t necessarily know. I believe that Vladimir and his wife were both alive (but unable to travel due to illness) when Vladimir’s mother (Elizabeth) and her 2nd husband (Last name Osiotinsky) fled Italy bringing my father Alex and his sister Vera to NYC I think in 1940.
I’m looking forward to reading the wiki.
Best wishes -
Liz

LizRand
Posts: 4
Joined: Fri Jul 17, 2020 12:07 am
Full name: Elizabeth Rand

Re: The mystery of Alex Bernstein

Post by LizRand » Sat Jul 18, 2020 11:06 pm

Oh and I meant to add that Alex was born in Milan so that all fits.

Sergei S. Markoff
Posts: 227
Joined: Mon Sep 12, 2011 9:27 pm
Location: Moscow, Russia
Contact:

Re: The mystery of Alex Bernstein

Post by Sergei S. Markoff » Sun Jul 19, 2020 12:29 am

LizRand wrote:
Sat Jul 18, 2020 11:06 pm
Oh and I meant to add that Alex was born in Milan so that all fits.
Thank you very much!
BTW, Alex's full name at birth was Alex, Alexander or Alexei?

Some sources claims that he was the U.S. Intercollegiate chess champion, but I'm failed to find any records on it or even exact year of this achievement. He was indeed a strong player, for example in "Machines who think" by Pamela McCorduck I've found:
Alex Bernstein, who had come up to Dartmouth from New York to talk about the chess-playing program he already had underway, remembers hearing McCarthy’s plans to begin on a chessplaying program, and listening with interest to his ideas. But when they came to play a game of chess with each other, the equivalent of mano a mano in the world of science, Bernstein won, despite the fact that he’d accepted the handicap of playing blindfold.
The Force Be With You!

LizRand
Posts: 4
Joined: Fri Jul 17, 2020 12:07 am
Full name: Elizabeth Rand

Re: The mystery of Alex Bernstein

Post by LizRand » Sun Jul 19, 2020 1:23 am

He was born Alexei and that was Americanized to Alex when he came to the US.
I don’t know about the collegiate chess title, but he did like to play chess at fundraisers when I was a child. He would play 12 simultaneous games, new players would fill in when someone lost and at least in my memory he never lost himself.

Gerd Isenberg
Posts: 2220
Joined: Wed Mar 08, 2006 7:47 pm
Location: Hattingen, Germany

Re: The mystery of Alex Bernstein

Post by Gerd Isenberg » Sun Jul 19, 2020 1:05 pm

LizRand wrote:
Sat Jul 18, 2020 11:05 pm
Hi folks -
Nice to know people are interested!
Alex’s birthday was December 14 1930 and he died March 11 1999.
This Vladimir is my grandfather. I remember hearing the story about the bullet wound which resulted in the loss of a lung. He later died of pneumonia according to my father’s stories, I’m not sure when. I don’t remember anything about his spending time in London but I wouldn’t necessarily know. I believe that Vladimir and his wife were both alive (but unable to travel due to illness) when Vladimir’s mother (Elizabeth) and her 2nd husband (Last name Osiotinsky) fled Italy bringing my father Alex and his sister Vera to NYC I think in 1940.
I’m looking forward to reading the wiki.
Best wishes -
Liz
Thanks again. If you find some errors or bad wording, please tell: proof reading.

pdg
Posts: 1
Joined: Tue Oct 20, 2020 8:15 pm
Full name: Paul Galbraith

Re: The mystery of Alex Bernstein

Post by pdg » Mon Nov 02, 2020 8:33 am

A little off tangent but also somewhat related ... does anybody know if Mr. Bernstein's chess program was preserved in any way?

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