Sakharov 1968 - Shakhmatnaya Literatura SSSR; Bibliografia (1775-1966), Moscow 1968
Sakharov 1968 - Shakhmatnaya Literatura SSSR; Bibliografia (1775-1966), Moscow 1968

by Michael Clapham

Part one: Russian Chess Literature: A brief history
Part two: Russian Chess Literature: Early Periodicals
Part three: Russian Chess Literature: Early Periodicals - continued

Below is a Table of bibliographic references from four sources for Russian chess periodicals up to 1917. The sources are as follows:

  • Sakharov 1968 - Shakhmatnaya Literatura SSSR; Bibliografia (1775-1966), Moscow 1968
  • Sakharov 2001 - Shakhmatnaya Literatura Rossii; Bibliograficheskiy Ukazatel (1775-1997), Moscow 2001
  • LN - Bibliotheca van der Linde - Niemeijeriana, The Hague 1955
  • Di Felice - Chess Periodicals; An Annotated International Bibliography, 1836-2008, Jefferson 2008

by Michael Clapham

Part one: Russian Chess Literature: A brief history
Part two: Russian Chess Literature: Early Periodicals

7. Shashechnitsa: Ezhemesyachnyĭ Zhurnal, Moscow 1891. edited by D. I. Sargin and P. P. Bobrov. Sakharov (1968) 211, Di Felice 2439, LN 6314.

Shashechnitsa was launched in July 1891, six months after the St Petersburg magazine Shakmatnyĭ Zhurnal had commenced, and for the first time, Russia had two contemporary chess journals. Although titled Shashechnitsa (Draughtsplayer), the magazine was conceived as a publication equally devoted to chess and draughts. However, chess predominated from the outset; the first issue included 38 pages of chess and 10 pages of draughts.

by Michael Clapham

Part one: Russian Chess Literature: A brief history

This second article on Russian chess literature provides information on early chess periodicals, in chronological order. Further bibliographic details can be found in Chess Literature, USSR, (1775-1966), by N. I. Sakharov, Moscow 1968, and Chess Periodicals, by Gino Di Felice, Jefferson and London 2010. The LN catalogue: Bibliotheca van der Linde-Niemeijeriana, The Hague 1955 only lists the library's holdings.

Painting depicting a scene from a Russian folk epic (bylini).
Painting depicting a scene from a Russian folk epic (bylini).

by Michael Clapham

This is the first of a series of articles tracing the history of chess literature in Russia and the Soviet Union. The information has been compiled from many sources, mainly in the English language; these are listed in the Bibliography at the end.

This is very much a work in progress, and further information may be added. My knowledge of the Russian language is non-existent and some of the sources give conflicting or incorrect information. Furthermore, Russian writers and historians generally praise highly their literary heritage while Western commentators are usually more measured in their views. I therefore invite comments on any errors or omissions so that a comprehensive and accurate account of Russian chess literature can eventually be completed.

Salomon Landau (1903-1944) vs. Count Johannes van den Bosch (1906-1994), c. 1930.
Salomon Landau (1903-1944) vs. Count Johannes van den Bosch (1906-1994), c. 1930.

by Bob van de Velde

Several years ago, Reuben Fine and Salo Landau’s Schaaksleutel (= Chess Key) was presented in the Nieuwsbrief (Newsletter) of the Max Euwe Centre (no. 76, April 2011) as an exceptional object ‘from bygone days’. It is a kind of disc made of thin cardboard, the size of an LP[1]. When this disc is turned inside a frame, which is also made of cardboard, it shows a multitude of chess opening variations, 116 in number. As far as I know, this was the first time that someone attempted to present chess opening theory in such an easy-to-use, systematic way. No wonder that MEC trained the spotlight on this copy of the second, improved edition (≥ 1936) of a quite rarely preserved instrument! Initially it couldn’t be retained in the MEC collection, but eventually the Amsterdam chess centre was able to obtain it after all.

Swinemünde 1936: Left-right, standing: Michel, Lange, von Hennig, Hahn, Richter, Ernst, Koch, Wächter. Left-right, sitting: Zollner, Eliskases.
Left-right, standing: Michel, Lange, von Hennig, Hahn, Richter, Ernst, Koch, Wächter.
Left-right, sitting: Zollner, Eliskases.

A continuation of the article by Jan Kalendovský (Swinemünde 1936 | Swinemünde 1936), including additional games,

by Alan McGowan

This event, the last of a number of training tournaments prior to the Munich Olympiad was held June 14-21 in a popular Baltic Sea resort (now Świnoujście in Poland). The town had hosted a chess event every year since 1930: international tournaments in 1930 and 1932; the 1931 German Championship; a Berlin Chess Association tournament in 1933; preliminary rounds for the German Team Championship 1934 and a zonal qualifying tournament for the 1935 German championship.

The event was held in the Dresdener Hof, a hotel located at Wilhelmstrasse 9, a few steps from the Kurhaus and the sea.

Logo Chess Scotland

by Alan McGowan

Most of our members will remember Alan McGowan from Canada as the author of the marvelous Kurt Richter book, published last year (Alan McGowan: Kurt Richter - A Chess Biography with 499 Games). However, Alan is also a renowned historian for Chess Scotland. We are most grateful that he just contributed an overview, to be shared with our community.

by Morten Lilleören

Regarding the Lewis chessman up for sale at Sotheby’s 02 July: Here is a link to the catalogue:

https://www.sothebys.com/en/buy/auction/2019/old-master-sculpture-works-of-art/attributed-to-the-lewis-chessmen-workshop-probably

[The Lewis Chessmen sold at auction for £735000: The Guardian]

I will give a few comments about the catalogue note here, but more facts and arguments about the Lewis chessmen are contained in the attached articles. These articles were originally published in 2011/12 on the websites of ChessBase and the Chess Cafe. However, the articles are now either completely or partially inaccessible. They are therefore republished. They contain lots of facts around the Lewis chessmen and their origin. The articles were a part of a polemic. Their main criticism was the lack of historiographical craftsmanship behind the notion about an Icelandic origin - claiming that the authors of the ‘theory’ took the liberty of suppressing inconvenient facts while at the same time adding fiction when regarded necessary.

Sonja Graf
Picture 1: Sonja Graf

By Michael Negele (a version from 10th February 2007; an abridged version appeared in Karl 3/2004, pp. 28-34.)

While leafing through some old issues of Schach-Echo I came across a photo (Picture 1) of a young woman whose enigmatic smile instantly aroused my curiosity. Who was this “Miss Sonja Graf” and why does Dr. Eduard Dyckhoff (Picture 2) refer to her as “the German champion” (Text A..) in Magyar Sakkvilag (April 1934, pp. 83-85) when there is hardly any mention of her in German chess magazines of that time?

This was the beginning of my extensive research which revealed some interesting facts about the eventful life of this mysterious figure.

According to some sources, Sonja Graf was born on 15th May 1912 in Munich. This date is also mentioned by Alfred Diel in “The Bavarian Chess Federation – Beginning of the Third Millennium” (2000). However, after consulting the „Chess Personalia A Biobibliography” (1987) things became more complicated. Jeremy Gaige, who has a reputation for being extremely careful, gives 16th December 1914 as Sonja’s birth date, referring to the information in her death certificate. And finally, the third birth date that I came across was 18th December 1912 – this was mentioned explicitly in a laudatory article on Sonja Graf in the short-lived Czech weekly Šachový týden (Chess Week) published on 8th April 1937 before the commencement of the Prague tournament (Text B).