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).