Alain Biénabe, 2008
Alain Biénabe, 2008

Recently, we have received the sad news that our long-time member Alain Biénabe is deceased on February 22th 2021 after suffering from Parkingson’s disease during 12 years.

This offers ...

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Chess, Draughts, Morris & Tables. Position in Past & Present - frontcover
Chess, Draughts, Morris & Tables. Position in Past & Present - frontcover

For chess historians it seems important, at least to me, to have a broader view on the history of the game than more or less exclusively on the sources that offer mainly chess material. We may realize that the history of chess is part of the history of mind games or mind sports, which is a much larger field of research, and no less complicated, even when we focus only on the history of the board games. The annual colloquia of the Board Games Studies are there to prove this.

Another proof is the recently published book Chess, Draughts, Morris & Tables. Position in Past & Present by the Dutch authors Arie van der Stoep, Jan de Ruiter, Wim van Mourik. As experts on the history of draughts (checkers) they are well known in Dutch draughts circles, and this background becomes clear already on the first pages, not by discussing in the first place the position of draughts and its history, but by immediately presenting the question whether draughts have been developed from chess, or … just the other way around. But this is not their main concern. Their aim is another, they try to find answers to the many questions that arise about the position of the discussed board games in the societies of the past and the present. To this end they compare the positions of the games in the different phases of history and in doing so they make use of sources from various fields of expertise, such as philology, literature, art history, sociology. Many beautiful illustrations, lavishly spread throughout the book, support this approach.

As far as we can remember, it is the first time we received a reaction on our website as such, and not a reaction from a collector, an historian or an author who wanted to add some information or was asking a question with regard to any specific topic. The email letter we received from Mrs. Bianca P. [Name and contact address are known to the editors.], we like to share with our members:

Name: Bianca P[...]
Email: biancap@[...]
Subject: KWA, chess newbies here
Message: Hi all, I hope it's okay to reach out like this but I wanted to give the Ken Whyld Association a big thumbs up from my son and I. He has a newfound obsession with chess but is a beginner (and I am totally clueless about this stuff so as he learns he is teaching me lol), your information here came in handy:

Henri Serruys -  Van Spel tot Duel. Het schaken in het jonge België - frontcover
Henri Serruys - Van Spel tot Duel. Het schaken in het jonge België - frontcover

We are delighted to announce a new publication of our Belgium long-time member Henri Serruys, who embarked on an exploration of a terra incognita of the European chess history, namely chess life in 19th century Belgium. In his Dutch language book Van Spel tot Duel (From game to duel) he reports his many discoveries that put Belgium on the map of European chess in that century.

Our Society supported the publication of the book. We draw the attention of our members to the possibility to receive a copy of the limited special edition at the same price as a standard copy.

Bob van de Velde


Steinitz headstone, 2019
Steinitz headstone, 2019

Our new member Jon Jacobs has a historical observation and a question regarding the grave of Steinitz, and hopes the members of the CH&LS, or other interested persons, could help him answer this question:

My research collaborator, IM Yury Lapshun, made an interesting discovery when examining and comparing two widely published photos of Steinitz’s grave, and a third photo that we took in 2019 when we visited the grave. The two photos that appear on the CH&LS website (Steinitz, William) and many other websites (copied below), show apparent differences in both the vertical headstone itself, and the wider, ground-level stone on which the vertical headstone rests.

We received an interesting question concerning the date of the death of Akiba Rubinstein from Mr. Philip Jurgens (Ottawa, Canada):

“[…] I noticed on your following web page: Rubinstein, Akiba K., that you give 15 March 1961 as the date of Rubinstein's death. However, below this information you present photographs of Rubinstein's grave which clearly show 14 March as his date of death. Is there an explanation for the discrepancy?”.

As our member John Donaldson, co-author of the two-volume monography on Rubinstein (The life & games of Akiva Rubinstein, 2nd ed. 2006), is an authoritative expert with regard to the great Polish chess master, I forwarded this question to him:

“[…] As far I can see, remarks of Philip Jurgens are correct. Everybody can see that discrepancy and I wonder why he seems to be the first one who draws attention to this question. Anyhow I couldn’t find an earlier discussion on Rubinstein’s day of death. Wikipedia mentions March 14th, Gaige March 15th. In the 2nd edition of your book on Rubinstein’s ‘chess life’ it seems that you didn’t pay any special attention to the day of his passing away. The picture on p. 424 shows his grave with the illegible date of 14 [-03-1961]. Do you have an explanation for these different dates?”.

Prompty I got his reply from John:

Our new member, FM Jon Jacobs from New York (US), introduces himself in the members area (You must be logged in to read).

New Member: Jon Jacobs

Vijay Pandit
Vijay Pandit

Already in April, the Indian chess historian Vijay Pandit died on the consequences of Covid-19. Vijay Pandit was (co-)author of Indian chess history and other publications on Indian chess history. On the page Chess News and Views two obituaries (Remeberin Vijay Pandit, Vijay Pandit –An Eulogy) appeared about him, whereby our honorary member Michael Negele is mentioned, who has already visited several times India.

Our member Siegfried Schönle would like to draw our attention to an interesting special exhibition of the ThULB (Thüringer Universitäts- und Landesbibliothek Jena):

Sonderausstellung der ThULB Jena zum Thema: Schach. Spiel - Sport - Wissenschaft - Kunst (in German)

Stellan Persson
Stellan Persson

On July 1st our senior member Stellan Persson celebrated his 85th birthday.

Stellan became a well-known figure to the Danish chess community during the 25 years he ran Skakhuset in Copenhagen, a classic chess shop of a type hard to find nowadays. New as well as a wealth of antiquarian books often made a visit longer than planned.

Stellan joined Malmö AS only 12 years old when his father brought him to the club. He had a talent for the game and became strong enough to win the club championship in 1955. During his active years Stellan occasionally worked as a chess journalist for various local newspapers. Even if Stellan today shares his life between Gothenburg and Mallorca, his heart is still with Malmö AS whose history he has documented in the book En gyllene epok from 2010. Another historical work by Stellan is a collection of the round tables from the Swedish Chess Congresses from 1939 to 1970.

After closing down Skakhuset in 1998 Stellan has continued dealing with chess material online and also by leading the chess book auctions of SS Manhem, the club in Gothenburg he now belongs to.


Peter Holmgren / Claes Løfgren