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).