Wednesday 23 March 2016

Endpapers with a chess theme

Some further examples.

Chess: A celebration of 2000 years by Roswin Finkenzeller, Wilhelm Ziehr and Emil M. Bührer, Mackenzie Publishing Ltd., London 1990.

This lavishly illustrated book contains many beautiful chess related works of art, portraits, photographs and drawings.  The endpapers show a copperplate engraving of Duke August of Braunschweig-Luneberg playing chess, taken from Das Schach-oder Konig-Spiel (Chess or the Game of Kings) by Gustavus Selenus, Leipzig 1616.

Chess: A celebration of 2000 years endpapers

Bibliotheca Van der Linde-Niemeijeriana aucta et de novo descripta compiled by K.W. Kruijswijk, The Hague 1974.

Title page


No details are given about these endpapers (same front and rear) however, the illustration appears again, between pages 48 and 49, within the title page of Bibliothek Dr. Max Lange, Leipzig 1900. This is item 597 in the book where it states that the picture is from a German manuscript dated 1334. 

Ralf Binnewirtz of Meerbusch Germany,  has sent further details of illustrated endpapers in Bernd Ellinghoven's Edition Feenschach-phénix series of books as follows:

100 & ein Schachproblem von Siegfried Brehmer by Siegfried Brehmer and Wieland Bruch.

Der Blick Zurück: Eine Einführung in die Retroanalyse Mit einer Auswahl Eigener Aufgaben by Wolfgang Dittmann.

Front cover

Wolfgang Dittmann

Mostly Three=Movers: Collected Chess Problems 1939-1993 by R.C.O. Matthews.

R.C.O. Matthews

Subtleties on 64 Squares: Some Chess Problems by Réne J. Millour.

Réne Millour

The Chessboard Adventures of Norman Macleod by John Rice.

As in all Arts: Selected Chess Problems of Schlomo Seider by Theodor Tauber.

Photographs of the problemists, often in a landscape setting, are shown on the endpapers.   

                                      © Michael Clapham 2016 

Saturday 19 March 2016

50 Shortcuts to Chess Victory by George Koltanowski

This scarce pamphlet of 8 pages (including the covers) was given to me by John Donaldson during a visit to New York for the Ken Whyld Association Annual Meeting in 2007.

The pamphlet is primarily a publicity brochure for George Koltanowski and was issued in 1997 to celebrate his 50th year as chess editor of the San Francisco Chronicle. A considerable amount of information about Koltanowski is provided in addition to 50 very brief chess openings leading to an early win. 

These openings were probably taken from Koltanowski's earlier 100 Shortcuts to Chess Victory published, according to Andy Lusis in Chess: An annotated Bibliography 1969-1988, by Church's Fried Chicken, San Antonio 1979. However, there is also an edition published by Weibel Champagne Vineyards in 1971 currently for sale on They certainly have interesting chess book publishers in the USA.

I note, from the list of chess books written by Koltanowski on the back cover, that he wrote a book called Chess Chats. This is not recorded by Douglas Betts in his Bibliography up to 1968 but, again, online booksellers state that this is a 96 page book published by Press Democrat Printing, Santa Rosa around 1948-1950.  

                                     © Michael Clapham 2016

Thursday 17 March 2016

Thomas Long B.A., T.C.D.

Today is St. Patrick's Day so here is a short appreciation of a leading Irish chess personality of the 19th century; Thomas Long (18?? - 1907).

The following portrait is taken from the frontispiece to The British Chess Magazine for January 1884.


The date and month, but not the year, of Long's birth are recorded in Jeremy Gaige's Chess Personalia, Jefferson 1987.

Chess Personalia, page 255

Thomas Long wrote four books on the chess openings beginning with Key to the Chess Openings, published by Edward Ponsonby, Dublin 1871. 

This was followed by Positions in the Chess Openings, published by W.W.Morgan, London 1874, and was described as a Supplement to the Key to the Chess Openings.

Long's next work was Peeps at the Chess Openings, published by J.E.Wheatley & Co., Huddersfield 1886, written primarily for beginners, according to a review of the book in The British Chess Magazine 1886, page 118. His final book was Double Diagrams in the Chess Openings, published  by J.E.Wheatley & Co., Huddersfield 1894. This was again aimed at beginners and the frequent diagrams are shown in pairs, one from white's point of view and the other from Black's view.

All four of Long's books were illustrated with diagrams which had the peculiarity of printing the piece last moved sideways to `facilitate recognition for the student´. 

Diagram from Key to the Chess Openings, page 97

Thomas Long wrote the chess column in Rathmines School Magazine, Dublin 1872-1873, details of which can be found at Tim Harding's Chess Mail website.

Long was an occasional contributor to various chess periodicals including a four page article on A New Scheme of Tabular Chess Notation in The Chess Player's Magazine, 1866 pages 4-7, and a letter published in Chess World volume II, 1866 pages 250-251, regarding a proposed new move in the Evans Gambit defence. He also assisted John Watkinson as editor of The British Chess Magazine from 1881 to 1887.

Excerpt from Chess World vol. II page 250
British Chess Magazine 1887, title page

Long was chief organiser of Ireland's first chess congress held in Dublin in 1865 (according to Tim Harding in Eminent Victorian Chess Players, page 101), in which he played in the second tournament, and one of his games was published in Chess World, volume I, 1865 page 299. He was also the first president of the Irish Chess Association when it was founded in 1885. (A Century of British Chess by P. W. Sergeant, page 198)

The British Chess Magazine published a short obituary of Thomas Long in 1907, page 259, which was taken from the Weekly Irish Times of 25th May 1907.  

British Chess Magazine 1907, page 259

                                       © Michael Clapham 2016

Tuesday 15 March 2016

Catalogue Raisonnée of Works on The Game of Chess

This is brief follow up to the previous article on George Walker's bibliographical works.

The Philidorian page 217

The `notice of Chess-books´ mentioned in Walker's introduction to his Bibliographical Catalogue in The Philidorian, London 1838, was entitled Catalogue Raisonnée of Works on The Game of Chess and was included in  the Bibliographical and Retrospective Miscellany published by John Wilson, London 1830. 

Bibliographical and Retrospective Miscellany page 25

The Catalogue Raisonnée was included on pages 25-32 but this is not mentioned in the list of contents due to a duplication of the pagination from 25 to 32.

The Bibliographical and Retrospective Miscellany is available on Google books.

However, there are also other digital copies of this book which do not include the Catalogue Raisonnée.

George Walker is not mentioned as the compiler but, from the introductory remarks and notes to the various entries, there can be little doubt that Walker was the author.

There are 27 entries, some with lengthy and detailed descriptions. The entry on the Traité theorique et pratique du jeu des Echecs is 35 lines long.

The entry on the Traité des Amateurs (page 29)

The entry on the Traité des Amateurs (page 30)

The final entry is Attalus and it is not clear whether the letter `A´ had been exhausted; there are no details of works about the Automaton, of von Kempelen, for example, (these being included under `A´ in later bibliographies)

It is unfortunate that a full bibliography with  Walker's detailed comments was not published at this time. 

© Michael Clapham 2016

Sunday 13 March 2016

George Walker, chess book collector and bibliographer (Happy Birthday)

George Walker (1803-1879), whose birthday it is today, was one of the first major collectors of chess books and a pioneer of chess bibliography. Walker began collecting chess books at around the age of 25; he was obviously very proud of his library and repeatedly published bibliographical catalogues of chess works which were mainly from his own collection.

Walker's first foray into chess bibliography was in 1830 when he commenced a notice of chess books in the Bibliographical and Retrospective Miscellany. However, this was only printed as far as the letter A. Chess Texts in the English Language, printed before 1850 by Ken Whyld and Chris Ravilious, Olomouc 2003, records this at 1830:1, but does not mention Walker as the chess contributor. 

Chess Texts page 108

In 1838 Walker published The Philidorian magazine, complete in one volume, and this included, at pages 217-256, A Bibliographical Catalogue of Printed Books, and Writers, on Chess up to the Present Time.

The Philidorian, title  
In his introduction Walker states `with the exception of the catalogues by Hoeck, Clodius, and Cochrane, the collector has no data on which to found his researches; but stumbles on, purchasing in the dark; and of course frequently led to attach great value to publications comparatively worthless.´ Curiously Walker does not mention the bibliographical works of Richard Twiss in his introduction although these are listed in his catalogue.

I am not familiar with the first two authors mentioned above, but L/N* 5 records: Clodius (H.J.), Primae lineae bibliothecae lusoriae, Lipsiae, 1761. Aucta** 252 gives further details and states that 101 chess items are distributed throughout the book. 

L/N* 10 records: Höck (J.D.A.), Versuch einer Literatur des Schachspiels, Frankfurt, 1825. In: A. Reinganum, Ben-Oni. Aucta** 470 gives further details and states that this includes 268 items.

*   Bibliotheca Van der Linde-Niemeijeriana, A Catalogue of the Chess Collection in the Royal Library, The Hague 1955.
** Bibliotheca Van der Linde-Niemeijeriana aucta et de novo descripta, Volume I.  Chess: Bibliography and History, The Hague 1974.

A Treatise on the Game of Chess by John Cochrane was published in London, 1822, and includes a Catalogue of Writers on the Game of Chess at pages 355-376. There are 140 entries listing about 215 items.  

Cochrane's Treatise, title

Page from Cochrane's Catalogue

Walker states, in the introduction to his catalogue, `most of the books are, indeed, in my own possession; collected... during the last ten years.´ He outlines the scope of the catalogue and says that chess manuscripts have been excluded. There are 403 chess items listed but many of these give details of several editions; for example the single entry for Philidor's L'Analyze des Echecs records ten different editions of this work. 

Walker also lists nineteen `of the chief works on Draughts´, the earliest dated 1547. 

Bibliographical Catalogue in The Philidorian

The third edition of Walker's A New treatise on Chess included, as an Appendix, a Bibliographical Catalogue of Printed Books, and Writers, on Chess, up to 1841. This was a slightly enlarged version of the catalogue from The Philidorian and now included 420 items but no works on draughts.

In 1842 Walker contributed a series of articles to La Palamède under the title Ma bibliothèque d'échecs and a manuscript exists titled My Chess Library, London January 1842.

The fourth edition of A New Treatise on the Game of Chess (now with the additional title of The Art of Chess-Play) was published in 1846 and this included a considerably enlarged Bibliographical Catalogue. This now included 498 entries, and included over 40 new works, published since the previous catalogue, reflecting the acceleration of chess book publishing towards the middle of the 19th century. Unfortunately there is no mention of A Few Observations on A New Treatise on Chess, (see my article of 11th March).

The Art of Chess-Play, title

Around 135 of the 498 entries in the 1846 catalogue are works in the English Language, some magazine articles are listed and there are a surprising number of books on variants of chess included.

Page from the 1846 Bibliographical Catalogue

Page from the 1846 Bibliographical Catalogue

The importance and usefulness of these bibliographies is considerably enhanced by Walker's notes and comments to many of the entries. Some of these comments are complimentary:

Alexandre, A: `A monument of patient and useful industry by the author.´
Cazenove, John: `Some of the games are particularly brilliant.´
Cochrane, John: `his book deserves a place in every Chess library.´
Greco, Gioachino (by Wm. Lewis): `The best edition of Greco extant.´
Lolli: `The most classical work on chess extant.´
Nieveld,Zuilen Van: `best book ever published as to the elements of the game.´
Walker, George (Chess Studies): `a complete Encyclopædia of reference.´

Some of the comments relate to the rarity of the books:

Beale, Francis: `This book is of rare occurrence.´
Carrera, Don Pietro: `one of the rarest Chess authors.´
Cozio: `It is remarkably rare for a book of a date so modern.´
Lucena: `exceedingly rare.´
Rowbothum, James: `extremely scarce.´
Selenus, Gustavus: `This book is very rare.´
Verci, Giambatista: `Verci's volume is one of the rarest on the subject.´

While some of the comments are biting:

Echecs, Les Stratagemes des (by Montigny): `Stamma is shamefully pillaged.´
Firmas-Peries, M. Le Conte de: `trash.´
Hoverbeck, C.E.B. Freyherrn Von: `utter trash.´
Lewis, William (Oriental Chess): `Wholly taken from Trevangadacharya, who was thus saved the trouble of sending over copies for sale in England.´
Pratt, Peter:`The quaintness of Mr. Pratt's style is by no means its minor merit.´
Sarratt, J. H. `The words "translate and arrange" signify in Mr. Sarratt's vocabulary, to "mutilate and abridge."´
The Chess Player's Chronicle volume IX, 1848, page 8, stated that Walker possessed the best chess library in Europe.  His library was sold by Sotheby's of London on 14th May 1874, five years before his death. Interestingly another major chess library was sold by Sotheby's of London the following day, that of C. W. Whitman. 

The sale proceeds were disappointing, according to William Potter in The City of London Chess Magazine, June 1874 page 109. H.J.R.Murray stated, in his excellent article on Walker in the British Chess Magazine, May 1906 page 194, that `Walker collected a small and valuable library of chess books, 314 in number.´ However, 314 was the number of lots in the Sotheby auction (see Aucta 1246) and it is probable that many of these lots contained multiple items. I would need to see the Sotheby catalogue to confirm this. It is also quite possible that not all of Walker's library was included in this auction

                                     © Michael Clapham 2016

Friday 11 March 2016

A New Treatise on Chess by George Walker: the book that growed and growed.

A New Treatise on Chess by George Walker was first published by his family firm, Walker and Son, in London in 1832. The book contained [4], 80 pages.

1832 edition title page
Walker stated in his one page preface `It has been often remarked as a matter of surprise, that, while so many elaborate works on Chess, are from time to time issuing from the press, — no good compendium of small size and price, has hitherto made its appearance. Whether or no this deficiency arises from the reluctance of scientific players to publish in so unpretending a form, certain it is, that such a book has always been in great request ; — and to supply this desideratum, is the object of the present publication.´

George Walker, Westminster Papers, December 1876

The contents of the book are broadly as follows:

Pages  1-20: Six chapters on a description of the chess-men, technical terms   used at chess, remarks on and values of the pieces, instructions for beginners, laws of chess adopted by the London Chess Club, and an introductory game with explanatory notes to every move.

Pages 20-51: Discussion of the openings over 15 chapters.

Pages 51-68: Checkmates, drawn games and various endings.

Pages 69-80: 52 Critical situations and problems, many are taken from actual play and the first twelve are by George Walker. Solutions to most of these are given after each problem.

A year later in 1833 an enlarged and improved second edition was published by Sherwood, Gilbert, & Piper and the book had doubled in size to include xvi, 160 pages. 

1833 edition, detail from cover

1833 edition, title page

Walker included a dedication to Samuel Newham, a six page preface and a three page list of contents. The book is also sprinkled with references to `most of the leading practical works on Chess, of every age and tongue´ 

These included:

The famous Game of Chesse-playe by Jo. Barbier, 1640.
The Royall Game of Chesse play by Greco, 1656.
Il Giuoco Incomparabile degli Scacchi by Ponziani, 1782.
del Giuoco degli Scacchi by Carrera, 1617.
Observazioni Teorico pratiche sopra il Giuco degli Scacchi by Lolli, 1763.
The pleasaunt and wittie playe of the Cheasts renewed by Rowbothum, 1562. Libro da imparare giuocare a Scacchi by Damiano 1512. 
Also works by Lucena, Cochrane, Ercole del Rio, Ruy Lopez, Stamma, Allgaier, Bertin, Salvio, Gianutio, Cozio, etc. etc. 

It is clear from these references that Walker had a very rich chess library by the time that he was 30 years old.     

The contents of the 1833 second edition are broadly as follows:

Pages 1-27: The six introductory chapters similar to the 1832 edition with the Laws of Chess as adopted by the London and Westminster Chess Clubs.

Pages 27-112: Discussion of the openings over 16 chapters including additional chapters on Captain Evans's Opening (which was briefly mentioned in the chapter on the King's Knight's Game in the first edition)  and The Muzio Gambit (which was passed over in the 1832 edition as Walker had recently published his New Variations on the Muzio Gambit, London 1831.)

Pages 112-146:  Checkmates, drawn games and endings.

Pages 146-160: Fifty problems and ends of games, (the first fifty from the 1832 edition) with the solutions now at the end of this section.

Eight years later, in 1841, a third edition of A New Treatise on Chess was published and the book had very nearly doubled in size again, containing xvi, 296 pages. This time the book was dedicated to Augusta Ada, Countess of Lovelace. The twelve page preface is forthright and self-laudatory, but also inspirational in encouraging the popularity of the game. Walker discusses at length the rights and wrongs of taking material from other author's works and he particularly berates Sarratt for using much material from earlier works without acknowledgement.

1841 edition, title page

The sections on introductory matter, openings and endings were each, more or less, twice as long as in the 1833 edition, the section on problems was omitted and the book now included a 36 page Bibliographical Catalogue of Printed Books and Writers on Chess to 1841. This contained 420 entries, many of which listed several editions of the work referred to. This catalogue was a slightly enlarged version of the one included in Walker's Philidorian magazine in 1838 which listed 403 entries. Walker included notes to many of the entries and this is a very  interesting and useful bibliography for chess bibliophiles.  I will write about this bibliography in a separate article.

Walker evidently upset a few of his contemporaries with the publication of the third edition of his New Treatise, as a 20 page pamphlet was soon after published entitled A Few Observations on A New Treatise on Chess: By George Walker, Third Edition, by A Society of Amateurs, London 1841. This highly amusing pamphlet (which is available on Google Books) reviews Walker's book in a very sarcastic and disparaging manner and rivals the acerbic vilifications of any modern day critic. 

For example:

´Mr. Walker is well known, if we may believe his own assertions, as a very admirable, nay, the very best writer, there ever was, is, or will be, on the game of chess, draughts, cribbage, etc; it will be sufficient for us to prove that he is pre-eminent at chess, having done which, we will take his word for the others.´
Further, after commenting that the work abounds with French and Italian words and phrases ´for which no adequate English ones could be found´, the authors hoped that ´in a future edition, Mr. W. will treat us with a little Greek, if he will also give us a few Persian or Arabic words and phrases it will be rendering a great service to the chess world....´

A fourth and final edition of the work was published in 1846 with a new title; The Art of Chess-Play: A New Treatise on the Game of Chess

1846 edition, detail from cover showing the Szen Position

1846 edition, title page

The book was dedicated to the Members of the St George's Chess Club and now had a total of xx, 380 pages including an additional 56 pages on the openings and, for the first time, 27 pages on games at odds. The Bibliographical Catalogue was considerably enlarged to include 498 entries. 

1846 edition, Bibliographical Catalogue

The book concluded with a four page letter from Mr. G. Walker to the editor of Bell's Life regarding his dispute with William Lewis over how much material they had taken from each other with or without acknowledgement.

Walker's original 80 page treatise had grown, over 14 years, to 380 pages but, alas, was swept away the following year, along with all other similar works in the English language, by the appearance of Staunton's Chess-Player's Handbook.
                                         © Michael Clapham 2016