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.
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. 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.
A king of chess literature has left us. The studied germanist and pedagogue
succumbed suddenly and unexpectedly shortly before the end of his 85th year on 2019-10-22 to a serious illness.
Dale A. Brandreth
* 17-12-1931 † 09-09-2019
An excerpt from Wayne Komer's obituary on ChessTalk.com:
Dale A. Brandreth (17-12-1931 - 09-09-2019; Hockessin, Delaware), a founding member of our association, has passed away. He was a chess writer, a collector, historian, publisher and book-dealer.
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.
Leonard Raymond Reitstein
* 06-06-1928 † 02-08-2019
We just received sad news from Cape Town. One of our founding members, Leonard Raymond Reitstein - for many years known as "Mr Chess of South Africa" - passed away on Friday. Our sympathy is with his wife Ruth and all the family members and friends.
We have some good news to share with you. The last copies of NEBEA (Nuevo Ensayo de Bibliografía Española de Ajedrez. Autores: José A. Garzón, Josep Alió & Miquel Artigas. Valencia, 2012) are currently available for purchase at a special price.
Member of CH&LS can buy both the Deluxe and Collector's edition, with an additional discount (-5%) through online shop:
During the buying process the system will ask do you have a promo code? You must then introduce CH&LS for the discount to be automatically applied.
The New Survey of Spanish Chess Bibliography (NEBEA) is an arduous work of research in which the authors cover 8 centuries of Spain’s history and culture through Spanish books and manuscripts, most of which are widely unknown, about the game of chess. It is a completely thematic bibliography, since all the Spanish chess (XIII-XX centuries) works are investigated in it, with a complete and rigorous study of each of them, and with the incorporation of original images from all of them, something of extraordinary interest, without any comparable antecedents in the vast field of the humanities. It is, in short, a work of remarkable interest for the chess scholars.
Technical summary of the book:
- Very important news about Scachs d´amor, and the books of Vicent (1495), Lucena (c. 1497), Damiano (1512-1564), Ruy López (1561), including biography of all of them
- 1001 footnotes, 664 pages
- 266 images, many never published. Numerous diagrams and photographs
- Index, tables, and Glossary
- Deluxe Edition and Collector´s Edition
José A. Garzón, Josep Alió & Miquel Artigas
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.
On the eve of the Saturday auction Adelheid Klittich-Pfankuch and our board member Dr. Karl Klittich invited the CH&LS members and guests to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the antiquarian bookshop Karl Pfankuch, founded in 1919.
Karl explained in a short speech the relation between the Klittich-Pfankuch auction house and the still existing Karl Pfankuch & Co, nowadays a renowned stamp & coin dealer.
Also Karl summarized, how our late friend Roger Klittich, a lawyer by training, had started the auction business. Just be chance, as a great number of confiscated Russian Icons had to be auctioneered for the Brunswick authorities.
Our member Georg Schweiger just provided the information about the fourth exhibition, organized by the Foundation Chess & Culture G.H.S. in the Ebersberg townhall.
For further information see the flyer (in German language). There you will also find Georg Schweiger's contact - CH&LS members are invited to visit.
by Morten Lilleören
Regarding the Lewis chessman up for sale at Sotheby’s 02 July: Here is a link to the catalogue:
[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.
Dear Member of the CH&LS,
Please appreciate the announcement of the 76th auction at Klittich-Pfankuch auction house:
Antiquariat A. Klittich-Pfankuch GmbH & Co.
the fully illustrated catalogue of the 76th auction on the 20th and 22nd June 2019 is published in the internet.
The auction of chess ephemeria, chess sets, autographs and books will be on Saturday 22nd June 2019.
Last opportunity for a preview is Friday 21st June 2019.
Yours Karl Klittich / Antiquariat A. Klittich - Pfankuch
On 3rd of June this year new tidings from Sotheby sent out a wave of excitement among chess historians and collectors: A new piece belonging to the Lewis chessmen had surfaced. Estimated price goes up to 1 mill £. Here is a link that contains both images and a film:
In the narrative following the images we are told: «A family spokesman said in a statement: "My grandfather was an antiques dealer based in Edinburgh, and in 1964 he purchased an ivory chessman from another Edinburgh dealer".» This states that none of two Scottish antique dealers in 1964 had any knowledge about the shape of the Lewis chessmen, of which 11 are to be found in the National Museum situated in the same town as they had their business. And the narrative further states: «It was catalogued in his purchase ledger that he had bought (as) an 'Antique Walrus Tusk Warrior Chessman'.» How could the dealer manage to classify it as a warrior chessman without knowledge about the Lewis chessmen? On Scottish soil, the Lewis chessmen are the only chessmen remotely similar to this piece. And why did they travel all the way to Sotheby in London for an evaluation of the figure when they were situated in Edinburgh? In fact – why did they not choose the National Museum of Scotland, which have renown expertise on medieval chessmen? I cannot imagine that two antique dealers in Scotland was unaware of the shape/existence of the Lewis chessmen, and that the whole family remained in the dark for 55 years, especially at a time when Scottish politicians campaigned in order to force the British Museum to give the chessmen to Scotland. These figures were close to front page news in Scotland. In conclusion: There are reasons to question the recent history of the chess figure.
Our member and friend Larry List recently sent us some useful information to share with our community.
He provided a catalogue essay for Takako Saito's 90th birthday (She is born in 18 February 1929.) retrospective show now at the Contemporary Art Museum in Bordeaux France. It has 400 works with one whole gallery of chess and games.
To Larry, Takako Saito is the artist who has made the most serious and extended development of chess set designs and chess - related art since Marcel Duchamp. Her chess designs can be whimsical in appearance but they deeply challenge our understanding of what a chess set can be and what are the essential concepts of this "Royal Game."
Our new member, Frank Hoffmeister, introduces himself in the members area.
Meanwhile it has a good tradition, that CCI German invites the members of the Chess History & Literature Society to their annual meetings. So Wolfgang Angerstein has sent already the preliminary information, see below.
In 2006 the KWA had already the opportunity to visit Ströbeck village:
Our member Wolfgang Pähtz informed us about an upcoming interesting event in Jena. The information is currently only available in German: Treffen der Schachmotivsammler in Jena
by Michael Negele
All of a sudden I was reminded to my old story about Susanna (Sonja) Graf-Stevenson (Schicksal eines „Fräuleinwunders“ – der Lebensweg der Sonja Graf-Stevenson | Life story of female prodigy Sonja Graf-Stevenson). A new novel, published by an Argentinian author (Ariel Magnus), but in German language, immediately reminded me to think of an update of my own research of 2007.
Through Willibald Müller who was in contact to Mrs. Joyce Graf (in Hildenborough, Kent) I received a bunch of letters by Sonja to her brother Alex Graf. In 2011 the English version of my article was translated - thanks to Vlastimil Fiala. In 2013 I had been in Buenos Aires and Juan Morgado brought me to some place where Sonja had lived (The Chess Treasures of CABA).
In 2016 I had found new material in the Rueb scrapbooks in the Royal Library in The Hague. So in 2019 it may be it is high time to get a clue what happened in Munich in 1926 ...
Michael Wiltshire, CCI Chairman, wrote us a very sad message. Nicholas Lanier, the keeper of chess-museum.com, who lived in Portugal, died on March 26th. He will soon be buried in Austria, his mother's home country.
by Michael Dombrowsky
It seems an irony of history that he of all people wrote a biography about Kurt Richter. I talk about Alan McGowan who has written the biography “Kurt Richter – A Chess Biography with 499 Games”. There are some differences between protagonist and author: The year the book comes on the market is the 50th anniversary of the day of death for Richter and the 65th birthday of the author.
And something else distinguished both: McGowan is born in Glasgow. He saw most of Scotland and the rest of Great Britain. When he was 34 years old he moved to Canada and saw a lot from North America. He still lives in Waterloo (Ontario), not far away from Toronto. Richter was born in Berlin (1900) and died in Berlin (1969). He hated it to travel. Inside Germany it was ok. But journeys over the border were very, very seldom. For playing chess Richter left Germany only three times. Once for the Chess Olympics 1931 at Prague, where he wins the bronze medal with 10,5 points out of 15 games (+7 =7 -1) at board four. The second time he played 1936 in an international tournament of Podebrady in Czechoslovakia (a small spa around 40 kilometers east of Prague), where he wins the ninth prize with 9 points out of 17 games (+5 =8 -4) behind Salo Flohr, Alexander Alekhine, Jan Foltys, Vasja Pirc, Gideon Stahlberg, Erich Eliskases, Paulin Frydman and Jiri Pelikan, but ahead of greats like Valdimirs Petrovs, Lajos Steiner or Karel Opocensky. And the third time was a match Germany – Hungary 1939 at Karlsbad, the city was after the German annexation part of the “Protectorate of Bohemia and Moldavia” and belonged for six years to Germany. Kurt Richter wins both games against Geza Füster, who immigrates after WW II to Canada.
The great cultural historian Professor Hans Holländer (1932-2017, see our obituary Memories of Hans Holländer) who produced so many fascinating essays and books on the game of chess has left us some texts from his last chess project. Austrian publishing house Sonderzahl (http://www.sonderzahl.at) has announced to publish them in April 2019 under the title Arbeit am Labyrinth. We recommend to make good use of the subscription offer and attach the information flyer (in German).
Recent book written by our former KWA-member Massimiliano [Max] De Angelis (President of CCI Italia)
The book is in English and Italian, and the preface is by the renowned Alessandro Sanvito who confirms it fills a void in our knowledge of the history of chess and is a detailed research showing a passion for the subject. It deals specifically with antique Italian non-figural chess sets, used in the 18th and 19th centuries.
The topic required careful research as these pieces are rare and unknown even to the most knowledgeable collectors. There are coloured photographs on most pages. Basically the study confirms that chess playing Italy produced its own chess sets and used them routinely.
* 09-01-1946 † 07-02-2019
Again it is my sad obligation to say "farewell" to a long-term chessfriend, but a quite silent member of our small collector's realm. When I moved to Wuppertal in 1999, Bernd Schippan was a well-known (and renowned) chessplayer of master strength in the so-called "Industriegebiet".
However, I only noticed him as an ardent collector of valuable chess literature and especially of chess autographs, after the foundation of the Ken Whyld Association. In the early years of our association, we had many email exchanges about "market evaluation" and "prices", mainly based on David DeLucia's A Few Old Friends (2003). Laterly, I was often amazed by the "bidding contests", Bernd Schippan was involved at the auctions in Brunswick.
We are now looking for persons who are willing to contribute to the Tobiblion project. We are especially looking for someone who has a keen interest in bibliography and would like to enter data on books into our system.
As a bibliografer you must obey to the rules on the classifications you are working on and must be meticolous and accurate when entering meta data and descriptions on books.
Our Tobiblion webmaster and advisory board, will facilitate instructions on rules and policies on the individual classifications. You must have your own scanner and IT equipment in order to fill the position.
Salary will be 2,- € for each fully described item, approved by the webmaster.
If you are interested, please contact the Tobiblion Webmaster at firstname.lastname@example.org