On the Hunt for the Lost Chess Book
by Michael Negele
Meeting José Antonio Garzón in Valencia, the "Cradle of Modern Chess"
It's more than a twist of fate that another business trip finally took me to Valencia, the birthplace of modern chess. Unfortunately a meeting of the Ken Whyld Association planned there had to be cancelled for May 2009, and in September 2009 I couldn't accept the invitation to the local Meeting of Chess Historians for business reasons.
The more pleasing it was that our founding member José Garzón had made an appointment with me and my colleague at the Plaza de la Virgen, in the middle of the historic city center. Probably Francesch Vicent and Juan Timoneda have offered there to the public their books on modern chess (Llibre dels jochs partitis dels schachs, Valencia 1495) and on checkers (draughts) respectively (Libro llamado Ingenio, el qual trata del Juego del Marro de punta) (see www.damasweb.com/). At that time the book dealers settled in the vestibules of the churches, certainly here in St. Catalina.
José had to wait patiently for us as we had terribly underestimated the previous march through the dry river bed of the Turia (1957 diverted from the city) to the "Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias" with its imposing modern "cathedrals" by Santiago Calatrava. There we met amongst others this gentleman, facing a great challenge in a simul in November 2009:
In the lovely Horchateria opposite St. Catalina - over a classic "Horchata" (a milky refreshment made from tigernuts - a grass) - we were able to communicate wonderfully despite all language problems. My Spanish friend had brought a lot of documents and publications, inter alia the article reproduced below from Jaque No 30/2004 dealing with the development of modern chess in Valencia.
Here too the pact was made to start jointly the search for the lost Vicent book which José Garzón had already described in his first book in 2001.
But we didn't talk about chess books only, José provided a fast overview of the historic Valencia for us as well as a quite traditional evening meal.
It remains to be hoped now that with combined efforts the mystery of the Vicent book described in The Return of Francesch Vicent - The History of the Birth and Expansion of Modern Chess (Vicent) on page 352ff. and with it particularly the possible sale to the USA in 1913 can be clarified.
A fascinating afternoon in a marvellous city, many thanks to José Garzón who has considerably contributed to this pleasure.