Friday, 13 July 2018

Notes on the End-Game by C. E. C. Tattersall

Section 22 of Betts' Chess Bibliography covers specific types of the end-game and has just three entries:

22-1 Analysis of the Chess Ending, King and Queen against King and Rook, by Euclid (Alfred Crosskill), London 1895.

22-3 Collection of Chess Studies, by A. A. Troitzky, Leeds 1937, which includes a 61 page supplement on the theory of the end-game of two knights against pawns. 

and 22-2 Notes on the End-Game. Part I. King and Pawn against King, by C. E. C. Tattersall, Leeds 1915.

Tattersall's work is a small pamphlet of 24 pages, re-printed from The British Chess Magazine  (April and May 1915),  in which he tackles this seemingly simple end-game in a very unusual manner, with the aim of calculating the mathematical probability of any legal position of K+p v K being a win or draw with best play.

Pages 4 to 14 explain in great detail the methods of play for both sides in K+p v K endings, with the help of many useful diagrams.  

On pages 15 to 24 Tattersall moves on to calculate the chances of a forced win or draw for any random legal position of K+p v K. For convenience the author has called the stronger force White and, using some clever methodology and straight forward arithmetic, he calculates that there are 330,576 such legal positions, of which White wins 76.47% with the move, but only 58.35% if Black moves first.  Black's chances of drawing nearly double with the move.

Tattersall then breaks down his analysis to show the chances of a win for various positions of the Black king, and various positions of the White pawn, with some interesting, but generally predictable, results. Black's best drawing chances arise when his king is on the 6th or 7th ranks of the centre files, and White's winning chances increase the further forward his pawn starts.  

Furthermore, a White pawn on the second rank is better situated than one on the third rank, unless it is a rook's pawn, and a pawn on the knight's file is slightly more advantageous than a pawn on any other file. 

Tattersall's calculations and statistics are fascinating to some but leave others cold, and perhaps the latter prevailed as no additional pamphlets in this series appeared, despite the hopes expressed in his Preface that others would follow dealing with further aspects of the end-game.    

Tattersall was a leading end-game expert of the period and this little known pamphlet was published four years after his well known two volume work A Thousand End-Games, Leeds 1910 and 1911. He was also an authority on fine carpets and wrote a number of books on the subject. 

                                        © Michael Clapham 2018

Sunday, 1 July 2018

The Chess World: International Chess Review

George Koltanowski, the prolific chess author and columnist, has many books to his credit (or debit) from 1927 onwards and had a 51 year spell as editor of the daily chess column in the San Francisco Chronicle. His writings were sometimes inaccurate and unreliable, and he certainly took a bashing in the Chess Notes feature article Koltanowski, mainly in respect of his later works.
His initial involvement in chess literature was with the Belgian chess magazine Het Schaakleven, first issued in October 1923 and lasting for around six months; then with the new series of that magazine which re-launched in 1931. In October 1932 he started his own periodical The Chess World: International Chess Review. The magazine was published in Antwerp, Belgium where Koltanowski was born in 1903, of Polish parentage. Interestingly the magazine was published in English, with the odd item in Dutch, and algebraic notation was used for the majority of the games. The magazines were printed in the attractive Art Deco style of the period.

Although not specifically named as editor in the first issue, Koltanowski is clearly named on the front cover of all other issues and it is curious that he is not mentioned in the entry for this magazine in Belgian chess publications; an annotated bibliography, Antwerp 2011 or the Corrigenda et Addenda issued in 2016.

Koltanowski had ambitious plans and, like many similar enterprises, he aimed to supply the "long felt want" for a first class chess magazine catering for players of all abilities. The editor aspired to produce the best chess magazine in the world and to deliver this punctually on the 1st of every month.

The publishers offered optimistic 5 year, 10 year, and even lifetime subscription rates but, as Timothy Harding notes on page 121 of his recent book British Chess Literature to 1914: "The history of chess magazines in general...shows much enthusiasm but often little staying power", and, no doubt partly due to the difficult financial climate of The Depression, The Chess World folded after eleven months during which only nine issues appeared, the last two being double numbers.  

Nevertheless a considerable amount of interesting material was packed into the 48 pages of each magazine. This included a total of 500 games, plus reports, from the leading tournaments and matches of the time, problem and end-game sections, correspondence chess, articles on the openings, news, book reviews and some lively correspondence. 

Occasional special articles by, and about, leading chess-players also appeared including: Chess... Past, Present and Future, by Rudolf Spielmann in issue No.1:

 A chat with E. D. Bogoljubow, in No. 2:

An appraisal of Capablanca's chess career, in No. 3; and Max Euwe on the achievements and style of Alekhine, in No. 4. Here is the final paragraph of the five page Capablanca article:

Issue No. 5 was a Special Hastings Number with the editor claiming that this was practically a tournament book on the 1932/33 Hastings International Congress. This number included a report by W. Winter: A Bird's eye view of the Hastings Congress, and 39 games from the Premier Tournament won by Flohr ahead of Pirc, Steiner and Sultan Khan. The only other book on this tournament was an E. G. R. Cordingley Limited Edition of just 30 copies. 

Each issue of the The Chess World, except the last, featured a full page portrait of a leading chess figure with brief biographical details. The celebrated players being Sir George Thomas, Mir Sultan Khan, Dr. M. Euwe, C. H. O'D. Alexander, Vlasimir Pirc, Miss Vera Menchik, Lajos Steiner, and J. Rejfir. 


Signs of the gathering clouds appeared with the double issue for May and June 1933 which lacked the usual editorial and included an apology from the publisher promising to catch up with news and games in future numbers. The long term subscriptions were no longer offered. The final issue for July-August 1933 was a bumper number with 64 pages and 120 games but there was no editorial, or publisher's apology, no feature portrait, or reader's letters.  There was also no mention that this would be the last copy. 

All nine issues carried large adverts for Frank Hollings' Chess Book Salon and Whiteley's, headquarters of The Empire Social Chess Club and Association


Original copies of this magazine are quite scarce but a facsimile edition was published by Moravian Chess in 2003.

                                      © Michael Clapham 2018

Monday, 11 June 2018

Two very scarce chess books

Fifty Forced Mates, A Collection of Gems, selected by E. Ravenscroft, London 1937. Betts 20-8.

This little work was printed and published by London Transport Central Buses Sports Association, Chess Section, and distributed by Frank Hollings. It is another of the many chess books published after the death of the author/compiler.

The booklet has 36 un-numbered pages and includes 50 diagrammed positions with mate imminent in up to six moves.

A page of Keys is included half way through the book with further moves of the solutions given at the end.


Feats in Chess, Containing Games and Curious Attitudes of Knight Movements by S. Rungiah Naidu (Pensioner), Secunderabad, India 1922. Betts 41-7

This curious little work of 55 pages and measuring just 16 cm. is a veritable Tardis of a chess book, opening up to reveal two enormous folding leaves. the first one, measuring 60 cm. x 51 cm. shows a chess board made up of 64 smaller chess boards, printed in red and black, depicting Curious Attitudes of Knight Movements. It is far too large to scan but I have taken the photo below:

The second folding leaf is slightly smaller at 42 cm. x 34 cm. and displays 36 further patterns of knight manoeuvres in a 6 x 6 grid.

The book begins with a simple primer of chess including Movements of the Pieces, Comparative Value of the Pieces, Chess Notation, Technical Terms and Important Laws, of which there are only seven, so presumably the unimportant laws have been omitted. The first part ends with six examples of openings and six endings or problems. These positions are on diagrams with BIG CAPITALS for Black men and small capitals for White men since chess figures for printing were not available in India at the time.  

Chapter II deals with various Feats of knight movements over the board including tracing animal and flower designs and mathematical accomplishments.

The author revelled in the critical acclaim for his book and he included three pages, plus an inserted leaf, of positive press publicity, presumably from manuscripts circulated before publication.

Friday, 11 May 2018

Kenny, Madden and Schenk

The Manual of Chess: Containing the Elementary Principles of The Game, by Charles Kenny, London 1847. Betts 10-1

One of the Manuals of Utility edited by John Timbs, this is a small beginners guide of 120 pages following the normal format of a brief history, description, technical terms, laws and general rules of the game, shallow openings, a few endings, five sample games and seven problems. The book concludes with details of four London venues where chess is played, and the two London chess clubs, and finally, a page on current chess periodicals and weekly chess columns.

Howard Staunton reviewed this book favourably in The Chess Player's Chronicle for 9th January 1847 on page 9, but this little work was almost inevitably swept aside following the publication of Staunton's own Chess-Player's Handbook in June 1847.  

An American edition of this work was published by D. Appleton & Co. in New York in the same year and Fiske commented on this as follows in his American chess bibliography in The Book of the First American Chess Congress, New York 1859:   "XVIII, this is one of several works by a well-known Chess author; the original appeared in London the preceding year; no alterations or additions whatever are made in this reprint."

 American edition of 1859

Fiske's statement is wrong on three counts; firstly, Charles Kenny authored just this one chess book (Fiske no doubt confused Charles Kenny with William Stopford Kenny who wrote Practical Chess Grammar, 1817, Practical Chess Exercises, 1818, Analysis of the Game of Chess by A. D. Philidor, 1819, and contributed to The Chess-Player, 1841.) Secondly, the London edition appeared in the same year as the New York edition, and thirdly, there are differences between the London and New York editions, the latter omits the final lists of Places where chess is played and Chess Periodicals.


Historical Remarks on the Introduction into Europe of the Game of Chess and on the Ancient Chess-men Discovered in the Isle of Lewis, by Frederic Madden, London 1832. 91 pages.

This is a modern reprint of the 1832 publication (40 copies only printed) of Madden's important paper read before the Society of Antiquaries, and originally included in volume XXIV of Archaeologia. Whyld & Ravilious 1832:6 and 1832:7. However, there is nothing to indicate where, when, and by whom this was recently reprinted.

Madden discusses, on pages 3 to 11, the introduction of chess into Europe and he says that, of the numerous writers who have treated of this game, the only treatises worth mentioning, in which the game is considered historically, are those of M. Sarasin, Dr. Hyde, M. Freret, Hon. Daines Barrington, Francis Douce, L. Dubois, Lake Allen, Singer (in his Researches into the History of Playing Cards) and Richard Twiss.

Pages 12 to 43 then give an incredibly detailed description of the ancient chess-men and draughts-men discovered in 1831 at Uig, Isle of Man, which are now known as the Lewis Chessmen.  Madden states that the hoard included 67 chess pieces (it is now known that  a total of 78 was discovered) and he describes in detail every single one of the chess pieces, interspersed with the history and etymology of the nomenclature, form and appearance of the various chess-men.

Madden then endeavours to prove, on pages 43 to 91, that the pieces were made in the middle of the twelfth century in Iceland, basing his hypothesis on the material from which they were made (walrus tusk), the costumes in which they appear, and the ancient writings of Scandinavia. His conclusions were the result of an astonishingly detailed and conscientious examination of hundreds of printed works and manuscripts in many languages, and numerous museum exhibits and other artifacts including The Bayeux Tapestry. Madden was Assistant Keeper of Manuscripts at The British Museum at the time and so had relatively easy access to research materials, nevertheless this is research of Mariana Trench proportions!


The Passionate Game; Lessons in Chess and Love, by Gustav Schenk, London 1937. Betts 43-70.

A literary work, originally published as Das leidenshaftliche Spiel: Schachbriefe an eine Freundin in Germany in 1936, in which a gentleman explains the game of chess to a lady in a series of love letters, with a happy ending.

The book has a number of attractive illustrations:

....and this copy has an intriguing inscription on the half-title:



P. S. I have just been browsing through Staunton's edition of Shakespeare in a second hand bookshop, (3 volumes, £140) which again highlights the extraordinary level of research, attention to detail and erudition of many nineteenth century authors.

                                         © Michael Clapham 2018