A Chess Expedition to the Other Hemisphere

View from Stephen Street 10 to Table Mountain
View from Stephen Street 10 to Table Mountain

by Michael Negele

Dear Fellow-Members,

some of you may remember my reports on certain visits to chess places or to some of our members during the years 2003 to 2013. These travels were mostly related to business trips. So after some changes in my job position my "collection of collectors" didn't increase too much during the last couple of years. However, after my retirement a nice holiday trip to South Africa in January 2018 was combined with a visit to a long-term chess friend. By chance this opportunity led to the highest concentration of CH&LS founding members on the African continent ever since.

Manfred Mittelbach, formerly located in Hamburg, moved to Cape Town after his retirement in 2012. Every Christmas season Manfred kindly invited me to visit his wife Pauline and him in Stephen Street, Gardens, a very nice quarter of the "Mother City". So at the end of January this ideas materialized and so each morning I had a very impressive view of the Table Mountain.

Manfred and I also walked around in this - at least from my perspective - quite safe and tiny "Cape-Dutch" quarter. Also we visited the Botanical Garden and of course the National Library, where I was amazed by the number of chess problem books. This is based on a donation by the problemist McIntire, who published this (rare) booklet in Cape Town.

However, much time was also spent talking about Manfred's efforts to complete his bibliographical work on the "Chess Automaton". I was deeply impressed about all the documentation and wonderful books in this very specialized collection.

Something about the Chess Automaton
Something about the Chess Automaton

So my collecting friend was most helpful in supporting my own biographical work on Tassilo von Heydebrand und der Lasa (see the next KARL issue 1/2018).

We also discussed the "Chapais" mystery - (see Besuch an einem mystischen Ort), and the "Holy Grail" of chess collecting - the book of Francesch Vicent (Valencia 1495) (see On the Hunt for the Lost Chess Book).

The next day we visited Ruth and Leonard Reitstein in their new home in Gardens, nearly in walking distance to Manfred. Len, "Mr. Chess of South Africa" for more than 6 decades - is still in a quite got shape and discussed several topics with us. He was happy to receive my Schmidt book, however he mixed him up with Lothar Schmid who visited South Africa in 1964. Leonard Reitstein (*1928) will celebrate his 90th birthday in 6th June.

Go back