Saturday 3 February 2018

Chess book collecting in 2017

Another 250 books were added to the collection in 2017 and here are details of some that I have not mentioned in previous articles:

Sport in the USSR, special issue for February 1977, devoted to chess in the Soviet Union. 

This 32 page magazine was published in English, French, German, Hungarian, Russian and Spanish, and is an unashamedly propagandist pamphlet extolling the virtues and successes of Soviet chess. Only favourable aspects are reported, anything unpalatable has been expunged. So, while the then world champion, Anatoly Karpov, features prominently in this publication, there is not a single mention of Victor Korchnoi, the second strongest active player at the time and the soon-to-be challenger for the title, who had left the Soviet Union in 1976 on bad terms becoming Persona Non Grata.


Similarly, Alekhine is omitted from the article The Soviet Union's World Champions on page 21 even though he was a Soviet citizen (although living in France) right up to his world championship match with Capablanca in 1927, only becoming an enemy of the Soviet Union following alleged remarks made at a celebratory dinner in Paris in 1928. 

However, Alekhine does feature in the article All-Time Gems by I. Romanov, where he is named as the first Russian world champion.

Nevertheless, the magazine contains much of interest on the Soviet Union's chess activities, both historical and contemporary, with articles on The Botvinnik School of Chess, The Moscow University Chess Club, Age-old chess and the chess age by David Bronstein, student chess, women's chess and Russian chess history by I. Linder.

The magazine is full of impressive statistics: 

Page 3: "...more than 4,000,000 organised players of all ages regularly compete in tournaments"

Page 5: "There are 1,620 worker's chess clubs in the Soviet Union where hundreds of thousands of people spend their leisure hours"

Page 5: The chess club at the Likhachov Motor Works has 800 members.

Page 7: "Over 5,000,000 schoolchildren take part in children's and junior's competitions every year."

Page 10: "...there are 250,000 coaches and volunteer instructors in the country"

The student team has won the world title 16 times and the Soviet team has won all six of the Women's Olympiads in which it has competed, etc. etc. 

There are also some interesting circulation figures for the various chess periodicals; Shakhmaty v SSSR - 54,000, Shakhmatny Byulleten - 25,000, Šahs - 50,000 and the weekly 64 - 120,000. Further, it is claimed that chess books often have print runs of 100,000 or even 200,000 copies.

Enough of chess in the Soviet Union or I might get a knock on the door!

365 Selected endings, one for each day of the year, by Norman T. Whitaker and Glenn E. Hartleb, Heidelberg 1960. 

This compilation of compositions and endings from actual play, has parallel German and English text.  

The interesting aspect of this book to me is the Bibliography of around 300 books and articles on endings, some of which are not included in other bibliographical works. The editors claim that their list "may be the first summary of this nature." 


I visited the Isle of Wight for the first time for many years last summer and came across several interesting chess books in the second-hand book shops. I purchased the following two books:

My Best Games of Chess 1908-1923, by A. Alekhin, London 1927. A common book, but scarce with the first edition dust jacket on which Alekhin describes himself as Docteur en Droit (Doctor of Law).


Examples of Chess Master-Play (First Series). Translated from the German of Jean Dufresne, by C. T. Blanshard, New Barnet 1893.

The first of three books by Blanshard featuring recent tournament and match games. This volume includes 74 games played between 1887 and 1890 from various events including Frankfurt 1887, Bradford 1887, Sixth American Chess Congress at New York 1889, Breslau 1889 and the Steinitz v Tchigorin match in Havana 1889.

All games have notes, taken from various sources, and the index incorporates brief biographical notices (not always reliable) of many of the players. 

Finally, the advert section at the rear includes yet another 19th century chess book, published in Newcastle-on Tyne, but not recorded in Betts' Bibliography. (See here for other examples).


Chess Without Tears, by Andrew Tessler, London 1946, 

Your Move, by Andrew Tessler, London 1948.

Chess Without Tears is a booklet of 20 pages containing nine Lessons to teach  beginners the basics of the game. Your Move is an enlarged edition with a further five Lessons, and comes complete with a paper chessboard and chessmen.


                                        © Michael Clapham 2018

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