Wednesday 29 June 2016

Chess Bulletin Production Problems

The International Chess Tournaments held in Hastings in the 1970's, 1980's and 1990's regularly led to the publication of a Bulletin in which all of the games from the Premier Tournament and many of the games from the Challenger's Tournament were included. 



The cross tables, game scores, annotations, minor tournament results and other ancillary matter, included in these Bulletins, constitute a valuable record of the events. However, the problems encountered in producing these Bulletins were highlighted by this page from the edition for 1988-1989, edited by Byron Jacobs. 

Korchnoi's game is in the Bulletin but Gufeld's scoresheet proved to be indecipherable. 

                                        © Michael Clapham 2016

Thursday 23 June 2016


Many authors and publishers have shoehorned the name Fischer into their chess book titles, regardless of how much content (if any) the book has relating to Bobby Fischer. This is presumably in the hope of attracting potential readers.  The recently published The Fischer Kings Gambit by Timothy Taylor is the latest example.

Another word that frequently appears in chess book titles is Combination, no doubt, again, with the hope that this word evokes exciting and stimulating contents.

The first book that I can trace, in the English language, to include the word Combination in its main title is Elements of Combination Play in Chess, by Fred Reinfeld, Black Knight Press, New York, 1935.  

However, the word had been included in the convoluted sub-title of J.H.Sarratt's A New Treatise on the Game of Chess, published in 1821. Early 19th century chess books often had very extensive full titles.


Further examples from the 1930's to the 1950's include:

The Art of Chess Combination by Eugène Znosko-Borovsky, London, 1936

Chess Combinations and Traps by Sozin and Reinfeld, New York, 1936
The Basis of Combination in Chess by Julius Du Mont, London, 1938

The Next Move is...Studies in Chess Combinations, Cordingley, London, 1944 

1001 Brilliant Chess Sacrifices and Combinations, Reinfeld, New York, 1955
Also published as:
1001 Winning Chess Sacrifices and Combinations and 1001 Chess Sacrifices and Combinations.

Pocket Guide to Chess Combinations and Sacrifice, Edward Young (i.e. Fred Reinfeld), Baltimore, 1955. This is not recorded in Betts along with several other chess books by Edward Young.

Well known examples from the 1960's and 1970's include the following:




Familiar examples from the 1980's include:

An obvious recipe for a sure-fire best seller would be a book including both Fischer and Combination in its title, and there is such a work!

Robert Fischer: Great Chess Combinations by Aleksander Kalinin, published by Russian Chess House, Moscow, 2013. As soon as I receive my copy I will post a picture.

For details of this book see my article of 19th July 2016.

                                      © Michael Clapham 2016

Saturday 4 June 2016

Striking chess book cover

The above picture is the very striking and unusual front cover of John Grefe's book Queen's Indian Defence: Recent Developments in 4 a3, published by Players Press, Los Angeles, 1984.

back cover

John Grefe was an International Master and joint  U.S. champion in 1973 with Lubomir Kavalek. Grefe died in 2013 aged 66.

John Grefe, photo by Burt Hochberg

Grefe was a follower of the Guru Maharaj Ji, an Indian American, but he obviously also had an affinity with indigenous American Indians as there are several  illustrations of native American Indians throughout the book. 



                                     © Michael Clapham 2016

Wednesday 1 June 2016

Here's one you haven't got !

As collectors we seek the unusual and we particularly enjoy finding items that few others, if any, have acquired.  Most of us will possess some items out of the ordinary, probably rare, and possibly unique. The item doesn't have to be very old, or even particularly valuable and, quite often, the rarest items are ephemeral, with only a few having survived.

From time to time I will put forward an item from my collection which I think falls into this category and I would be interested to hear if any other collectors have the same item.

Lasker versus Steinitz 1896-97 Match for the World Chess Championship

No book has been published on the second World Chess Championship Match between Emanuel Lasker and Wilhelm Steinitz, held in Moscow from November 1896 to January 1897.

However, I have a 34 page typescript of an unpublished work, by an unknown author/compiler/translator, on this match.

The title page, which is a top typewritten copy, whereas the other pages are all carbon copies, states that the games have been copied from issues of the Deutsches Wochenschach.

There is no introductory matter, just the seventeen games with annotations by Dr. Siegbert Tarrasch. Games nine and ten also include notes by Dr. Berthold Lasker taken from the Berliner Lokal Anzeiger.

It appears that the pages were removed from the book so that they could enter the typewriter and were then stapled back into the book covers.

There are a few clues to the translator's identity;

1. The typescript is in a school composition book manufactured by S.E.& M.    Vernon Inc. of New York.  This firm apparently went out of business in the 1960's.

Inside front cover

2. Although the English has been translated from the original German, the translator admits that his command of German is `not overly penetrant´.

3. The translator had made a lifetime study of Emanuel Lasker over a period exceeding fifty years.

4. The translator appears to have been a very competent chess player as he has corrected some of Dr. Tarrasch's analysis. 

That is about all that I can tell you about the book, any information regarding the identity of the translator would be greatly appreciated. 

                                       © Michael Clapham 2016