Peter J. Monté (†)

Peter J. Monté

The Classical Era of Modern Chess

The graduated historian Dr Peter J. Monté decided to join our association not before the publication of his magnificent work in 2014 - it was widely praised and made him famous among chess historians all over the world. And rightly so, as by this monumental book, which took him nearly 25 years of research he stands in the tradition of H.J.R. Murray and his A History of Chess. It mainly deals with the period when the game transformed from the slow medieval game into modern dynamic chess with its new rules and long-ranging pieces, it describes painstakingly all the manuscripts from Lucena to Greco, and considers all relevant literature on chess history written before, including that of our members Yuri Averbakh, Alessandro Sanvito and José Garzón. Definitely, this seminal work will still be an indispensable reference book for generations of future chess historians and experts dealing with that bygone era of chess.

(R.B., IX 2016)

You will find an introduction / summary and sample pages (PDF) at, as well as a first review by John Elburg at

In a group photo from our Amsterdam meeting 2005, i.e. from a visit to the KB Den Haag, Peter J. Monté can be spotted – standing between Rudolf Reinhardt and Bert Corneth.

Peter J. Monté's tome is the result of a meticulous and most diligent research of nearly 25 years (!) – a possibly record-breaking effort. That alone commands respect and deserves our appreciation. And the book has been scholarly written, with extraordinary care, so it is a profound, reliable and up-to-date reference work for all those working on the chess history of the 15th to 17th century – that is the most interesting period when the evolution of chess made several quantum leaps, i.e. the game experienced far-reaching changes leading from medieval chess (still a shatranj version) to modern chess. But also for all chess friends with a deeper interest in the history of our game this book is certainly a must-have. I would not recommend the work to chess players lacking that interest, the book is no light fiction which would be all too easy to read through.

No doubt the author has done a great job, though I recently also heard a slight critique from a chess friend: in large parts the work would be a very thorough juxtaposition of all the manuscripts from that a.m. period, but a connecting "thread" is somewhat missing, and the reader may not see anymore the wood for all the trees. I think that this objection is not so unjustified. On the other hand, especially the early history of chess is only fragmentarily known (and hence often subject to speculations), so a book on it will be an image of that piecemeal to a certain degree. I will leave it at that remark – maybe others will still discuss this issue in more detail.