Saturday 1 October 2016

Chess Texts printed before 1850

Chess Texts in the English Language, printed before 1850: An annotated bibliography, compiled by Ken Whyld and Chris Ravilious, Olomouc, 2003, is a comprehensive, but not exhaustive, bibliography of chess literature, and references to chess in literature, from 1475 to 1849. 

The scope of coverage is much wider than either Douglas Betts or Andy Lusis included in their later bibliographies, and a large number of the entries relate to chess articles, and references to chess, in general literature. Games compilations with chess content, such as the works by Edmond Hoyle, Charles Cotton and Richard Seymour, are also included.

In addition to the standard bibliographical details, most of the entries have additional explanatory information, and the whole work is written with the aim of being "the bibliographic equivalent of a good read"

Ken Whyld had previously published a list of Chess Texts in the English Language, printed earlier than 1850, in his Christmas Series booklet for 1999. This included 369 items. All eighteen of Whyld's Christmas Series booklets have been collected together and published as Chess Christmas by Moravian Chess, Olomouc, 2006, and this is also a good read.

The editors consulted an extraordinary number of sources, both printed and online, to trace all possible chess texts, but many casual or irrelevant references to chess were excluded. The overall stategy was to include everything of interest to chess literature collectors, and it is therefore somewhat surprising that chess articles in encyclopaedias, dictionaries and almanacs were also generally excluded. 

The main part of the book includes 671 entries in chronological order, 3 from the 15th century, 19 from the 16th century, 39 from the 17th century, 154 from the 18th century, and 456 from the first half of the 19th century. However, of these, 321 are chess related articles or references, often very brief, in general literature and journals, 110 are games compilatons with a section on chess, and 90 are later editions or reprints of previously recorded works. 

This leaves 150 works devoted wholly or mainly to chess, and by the further exclusion of satirical, allegorical or moralistic publications, books explaining the workings of the Automaton, club rules, and other items of a peripheral nature, we are left with just 108 conventional chess books. These being instructional and historical works, games and problem collections, and chess periodicals.

Below is a list of these mainstream publications, with the Chess Texts reference and brief details, up to 1818 (I will list the others later). Today's chess player would no doubt find it remarkable that, in the 16th and 17th centuries, you had to wait around 50 years for a new chess book to appear.

1475:1   Caxton (Cessole), The Game and Playe of the Chesse
1562:1   Rowbothum, The Pleasaunt and Wittie Playe of the Cheasts Renewed
1597:1   G.B., Ludus Scacchiae 
1614:1   Saul, The Famous Game of Chesse-Play
1656:1   Greco, The Royall Game of Chesse-Play
1735:1   Bertin, The Noble Game of Chess
1745:3   Stamma, The Noble Game of Chess 
1750:1   Greco, Chess Made Easy
1750:2   Philidor, Chess Analysed
1761:1   Hoyle, An Essay towards making the Game of Chess easily learned
1764:2   Lambe, The History of Chess, together with short and plain instructions
1777:4   Philidor, Analysis of the Game of Chess
1787:7   Twiss, Chess, 2 volumes
1790:8   Philidor, Analysis of the Game of Chess, 2 volumes
1797:2   Chess Made Easy
1798:2   Mehler, The game of war, or, Improved Game of Chess
1799:5   Pratt, The Theory of Chess
1801:1   Christie, An Enquiry into the Antient Greek Game
1803:6   Pratt, Studies of Chess
1804:2   Pruen, An Introduction to the History and Study of Chess
1805:1   Blagrove, The Elements of Chess
1805:5   Twiss, Miscellanies
1806:4   An Easy Introduction to the Game of Chess
1808:4   Hoyle, A Complete Treatise on the Game of Chess
1808:5   Hoyle, Mr Hoyle's game of Chess
1808:9   Sarratt, A Treatise on the Game of Chess
1813:2   Sarratt, The works of Damiano, Ruy Lopez, and Salvio
1814:7   Tiruvengadacharya Sastri, Essays on Chess
1816:2   Seward, An Introduction to the Knowledge of the Game of Chess
1817:2   Cazenove, A Selection of Curious and Entertaining Games of Chess
1817:7   Kenny, Practical Chess Grammar
1817:9   Lewis, Oriental Chess
1817:12 Montigny, Stratagems of Chess
1817:18 Sarratt, The works of Gianutio, and Gustavus Selenus 
1818:2   Check, An Easy Guide to the Game of Chess
1818:5   Kenny, Practical Chess Exercises
1818:10 Lewis, Stamma on the Game of Chess

1597:1 Ludus Scacchia, from reprint of 1810
1614:1 Saul, from 1974 facsimile reprint
1735:1 Bertin, The Noble Game of Chess
1764:2 Lambe, The History of Chess

1790:8 Philidor, Analysis of the Game of Chess
1797:2 Chess Made Easy (1815 reprint)
1804:2 Pruen

1805:5 Twiss, Miscellanies
1806:4 An Easy Introduction to the Game of Chess
1808:9 Sarratt
1813:2 Sarratt

1817:13 Montigny, Stratagems of Chess, 2nd edition


1818:5 Kenny, Practical Chess Exercises

                                      © Michael Clapham 2016

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