Photo report on our Venice meeting by Michael Negele
Caissa in La Serenissima (The Most Illustrious)
This year’s springtime meeting of the Ken Whyld Association on 23 to 25 May in Venice was certainly a unique experience for the participants (see our group photo). This city has the strangest and most wonderful townscape of the (Old) World, not only because of the numerous works of art and its more than 1200 years of history but also because of its geographic location.
The idea for this third regional KWA meeting (2006 Copenhagen; 2007 London) was born during the visit of the chess Olympiad 2006 in Turin, and it was a special pleasure for me that Alessandro Sanvito and Antonio Rosino were able to keep to their – at that time rather vague – promise. But without the active support of our young Bozen friend Luca D'Ambrosio and of the tireless Romano Bellucci who was worried about our Obliged to Tradition .... till the last day, this event wouldn’t have been so successful from my point of view.
This time really everything went well together:
The weather was incredibly kind to us: While the whole of Italy suffered from downpours you could enjoy two magnificent summer days at the east coast of the Adriatic Sea. For the first time we had succeeded in putting up all participants at the same place, the plain but very clean and quiet Casa "Cardinale Piazza" in the Palazzi Contarini-Minel (picture series 1 / 10 pictures) where the lectures and – till long after midnight – chess duels took place.
More about that later on …
- moreover a tourist information (jpg-file)
On Friday afternoon 13 participants (partly with their families) and 2 guests arrived at the venue. Miquel Artigas from Sabadell (Spain) whose sister lives in Venice gave us a great surprise by his appearance. Unfortunately Rolf Glenk had to withdraw his participation at short notice, the great Italy lover has most regretted that himself. Certainly our friend from Forchheim had already prepared a small "presentation gift" for the participants.
After a trip (missed by me) to the Isle of Murano [including a tour of the Basilica dei SS Maria e Donato with a chessboard mosaic (picture series 2 / 6 pictures – from Sunday)] Alessandro Sanvito started the official part with his lecture on the Pacioli manuscript (gallery 3 / 15 pictures) which was offered by the Aboca Museum, Sansepolcro (AR) in different (de luxe) editions as reprint and facsimile.
At least the museum had delegated for two days an employee (Paolo Cambrai; picture on the left) to our meeting who accepted all our questions, among other things about an English edition of the facsimile.
Unfortunately I was not granted to follow the first minutes of Alessandro’s talk as Luca D'Ambrosio and Romano Bellucci wanted to tell me before about the "terrible mishap" during the production of our bibliography of commemorative publications. The problem caused by carelessness of the printery (Some pages and particularly the cover had been spoiled by printer’s ink.) turned out to be less tragically though, at least a partial edition of nearly 500 faultless copies could be handed over. (See also our corresponding page Publications ....)
Now I would like to express again my extraordinary thanks to Romano Bellucci who took this failure (which he was in no way to blame for) very much to heart. The financial sacrifices alone which our friend from Venice selflessly took upon himself to make our book possible, but also for more than 25 years his nice magazine Scacchi e Scienze Applicate, show his great idealism. Many sincere thanks to a real chess friend!
After this short "excitement" I could still concentrate on Alessandro’s explanations before I could present the first independent book of the Ken Whyld Association. I am very proud of the result, and I would like to thank very much all persons involved, above all the authors Ralf Binnewirtz and Hans-Jürgen Fresen who both were not able to come to Venice, but also the translator, Johannes Fischer and his proofreader, Len Skinner as well as Egbert Meissenburg for his willing support. Many others were helpful, here I may refer to my introduction to this actually "impossible" compilation.
Just published: Obliged to Tradition ... A Bibliography of the Commemorative Publications of German Chess Clubs Founded by 1914
Harrie Grondijs made us especially happy with the next lecture as in addition to his lively explanations of Morphy’s life (and death) as well as of the situation of the Creole population in the New Orleans of the nineteenth century he presented the participants a small booklet which documented his talk. (Picture series 4 on the lecture / 11 pictures)
His fantastic book "First and Last Days of Paul Morphy" (text by Léona Queyrouze and other "Morphyana") already seems nearly sold out to me.
After that we all were "curious" about the evening meal, after all Venice is definitely regarded as a "tourist trap" – but in the "Ristorante Diana" in our quarter Cannaregio we could feel in the best of hands. (Picture series 5 / 5 pictures)
Anyhow, we were guests there three times then …
After returning to the Casa Cardinale – its "closing time" was 11 pm – still chess was played till late into the night, particularly Peter Holmgren and Luca D'Ambrosio proved to be tenacious "blitzers". But this formed only a prelude to the great KWA tournament next evening.
(Relatively) early in the morning and in bright weather we spontaneously decided on a boat trip by vaporetto (The small ferries which guarantee the local traffic in Venice.) via the whole Canale Grande along the Biennale grounds, the Arsenale (formerly the greatest shipyard of the Middle Ages which a large part of the power and influence of the Venetians was based on).
Antonio Rosino and Luca D'Ambrosio are a team which works well together as tourist guides, naturally our South Tyrol chess friend is perfectly bilingual (German/Italian). And certainly there has never been such a knowledgeable guided tour with regard to the chess historical importance of the town built on a lagoon. (Picture series 6 - Via the Canale Grande to St Mark’s Square and back to the Casa / 28 pictures.)
After the lunch-break (at Diana – where else) our traditional book market of the KWA was held, but for different reasons this led only to a considerable increase of the number of Scandinavian chess books in Italy while the Italian "treasures" remained in the country. (Later on the "true" reasons were revealed: On the one hand Antonio Rosino is "sitting" on a real treasure in the "Cannaregio", on the other hand the probably highest concentration of Italian chess literature outside Italy is found in Amsterdam ...)
Antonio’s plenary lecture (in fact two lectures) confirmed once more the great importance of Italy, but also of Venice for the evolution of modern chess – a wonderful digression through the centuries, but also through the last decades of the Italian and the Venetian chess culture.
Many marvellous pictures were shown and history(ies) told. We were all enthusiastic – a small part is provided by this picture series (series 8 / 32 pictures) – at the same time I'm offering reminiscences of certainly a highlight of Antonio’s chess life – Venice 1967. It’s true that the 25 years young local master (the picture is from 1965) turned out to play a good host and he took the red lantern in the tournament but at least he wrung a honourable draw from a top-class grandmaster.
Supposedly Antonio was not always able to concentrate himself during the games - partly played in the "leaden chambers" - due to the fantastic view of the lagoon…
The game Mark Taimanov vs Antonio Rosino ended with a draw after 77 moves: Taimanov - Rosino Venice 1967
A few more interesting illustrations from Scacchi e Scienze Applicate:
But the two following lectures held great attractions for the audience as well for partly totally unknown material was shown or reports were given on works in extensive "research projects". It is always a pleasure if collectors of chess books use their often extensive collections also for the general [chess] public or if a chess player gradually becomes a collector likewise through the historical interest in our game.
Luca D'Ambrosio is a shining example for the latter, by his interest in chess at Meran he finally found his way to the Ken Whyld Association, and with his fantastic contribution, his patience with all the enquiries and the excellent organization he has contributed very much to the success of our meeting.
We were enthusiastic about the preview of his potential book on the two Meran tournaments 1924 and 1926 (picture series 9 / 13 pictures) – just as about Peter Holmgren’s masterful report on the life, the chess creations, but also on the man Gideon Ståhlberg.
Peter Holmgren (Gallery 10 / 14 pictures and pdf-file / 3 MB)
After that an evening walk to Antonio Rosino’s home in Cannaregio [partly the former Jewish ghetto of Venice with impressing alleys and small squares, but also rio tera as it is called – filled up canals (series 11 / 7 pictures).]
Antonio and his wife Christina had kindly invited us to a casual get-together in their hospitable house – certainly the highlight of our stay. The conversation was not only about chess, but maybe this is my subjective perception which our companions wouldn’t like to share – the pictures (series 12 / 9 pictures) speak volumes, or the treasures from the library of the Italian Chess Federation housed in Rosino’s home (and from his own collection) seem to have generally found one-sided interest.
By the way we had a further guest this evening: Daniele Ruggieri, Miquel Artigas’ brother-in-law is not only a strong chess player but also a famous musician (flutist) – see Conservatorio di Musica and cultura & spettacolo.
Many thanks again to our host, but also to Ermide Sanvito for her kind assistance and to Joan Holmgren who got a wonderful bouquet of flowers, our present.
After 10.30 pm return to the Casa "Cardinale Piazza" where the first international blitz tournament of the Ken Whyld Association started with ten participants at the beginning. Then Miquel Artigas and Daniele Ruggieri fell "victim to the closing time", later on our Swedish friends Calle Erlandsson and Peter Holmgren as well as Hans Ellinger dropped out owing to lack of fitness. But the hard core was untiring as is shown by the two photos (Casa, around 1 am). I myself realized in the course of this blitz evening that I have possibly internalized too much of "Lasker" – those who see a lot can stand a lot.
I can give now a virtually smooth transition to the final round which started (unscheduled) with my presentation of the Lasker project – a short digression into the "art of improvisation" – as the connecting cable to our beamer was missing which had been in the true sense "packed" together with Antonio Rosino’s laptop ... (This morning the chess trainer Antonio had been called to his protégés in Jesolo where a junior tournament was held.)
With the help of the tireless Luca (and Christina Rosino) and the patience of my chess friends we also succeeded in taking this hurdle – here my contribution (pdf-file / 3 MB).
It was a special pleasure to me to present at the same time the small book on Lasker’s studies by Harrie Grondijs, so to speak as a "trailblazer" for our great Lasker book.
Here a few selected pages from the book:
This gives the opportunity to introduce a further permanent guest of our meeting who made a good impression by his profound questions and contributions: Francesco Gibellato from Mestre is a great Lasker expert but also a chess author, as follows from his numerous articles in Italian. Maybe this "chess researcher" will find his way to our strong Italian KWA group.
Some publications by Francesco Gibellato:
After a break three very different talks brought our event to a successful conclusion.
Jurgen Stigter presented the collection of Alvise Zichichi (1938-2003) recently purchased by him ...
[Entry in "Chicco/Porreca" on A. Zichichi (jpg-Datei)]
... while Alessandro Sanvito was in very sensitive words reminiscent of his friend of many years’ standing.
I would like to remind here of Alessandro’s great master Adriano Chicco and to express again my thanks to his "best pupil".
Obituary of Adriano Chicco by Alessandro Sanvito.
As bonus Alessandro Sanvito’s article from Scacchi e Scienze Applicate: "Gli Ex Libris Nelle Biblioteche Scacchistiche Italiane" (Ex Libris in the Italian chess libraries) - SSA, Fasc. 13, 1993:
After that the irrepressible Prof. Carlo Alberto Pagni (*1931!) presented the results of his latest "finds" (acquired with the help of Tony Gillam):
A short history of chess games by telephone - As early as 1877 chess games were for the first time played by phone, probably above all to "popularize" this new means of communication. Owing to Carlo Pagni’s superior skill as a speaker we were able to make up a lot of time; it is particularly satisfying that by this contribution Tony Gillam was at least indirectly in our midst as well. The high EURO exchange rate and his decision to invest the money better in chess books have finally prevented the intended visit from "The Chess Player" from Nottingham.
Game played in the vicinity of New York by means of the telephone. The contestants were about a mile distant from each other. Allies (Dr. White , Mr. Treadwell) vs Mr. A. Douglas.
From Turf, Field and Farm 5 October 1877 (Archives Andy Ansel)
Two articles on early correspondence chess tournaments in Italy from the pen of Carlo Alberto Pagni appeared 2006 in Scacchi e Scienze Applicate - here the first page of each contribution:
It is always a difficult situation to give the final talk – my friend Toni Preziuso let all others go ahead and presented us very impressively his Rubinstein biography project. His argumentation why at all an additional Rubinstein treatise seems to be necessary and how he intends "to interpret" it has caused a stir till long after midday – at the farewell dinner, naturally at "Diana".
Before Alessandro Sanvito had generously left it to Luca D’Ambrosio, so to the "next generation", to find the closing words for our event, he mastered this task with style.
All that remains to be written is: Arrivederci Venezia 2008 – Arriba Valéncia 2009. (Meanwhile Miquel Artigas has promised his support for a regional meeting in Spain in spring 2009.)
* * * *
From my personal communication still a later reflection by Luca D'Ambrosio:
Being an eager reader of Italian and German chess literature I had very often the impression that these two chess worlds – geographically in such close proximity – hardly know each other. Of course with the exception of a few gifted researchers. The hurdle is clearly the language: Italians are predominantly monolingual, and if anyone is familiar with a foreign language it is mostly French or English. In consequence a large part of the German chess literature, the old but also the new one is unknown to Italians.
Vice versa nearly the same applies: Who in Germany knows Italian so well to understand correctly the works of a Chicco, to give only one example.
What pleased me in Venice is that these two worlds (my worlds!) approached a little. For instance I think it’s good to show the progress of the Lasker biography in Italy, to present the commemorative publications, but also to mention vice versa what people are just working on in these parts.
Perhaps I am wrong in these thoughts, I like to be taught otherwise, but anyhow I have felt this way.