Tuesday 31 December 2019

Russian Chess Literature Part 4 - Early Periodicals - Table

Below is a Table of bibliographic references from four sources for Russian chess periodicals up to 1917. The sources are as follows:

Sakharov 1968 - Shakhmatnaya Literatura SSSR; Bibliografia (1775-1966), Moscow 1968

Sakharov 2001 - Shakhmatnaya Literatura Rossii; Bibliograficheskiy Ukazatel (1775-1997), Moscow 2001.

LN - Bibliotheca van der Linde - Niemeijeriana, The Hague 1955.

Di Felice - Chess Periodicals; An Annotated International Bibliography, 1836-2008, Jefferson 2008.

The Table has been compiled with the assistance of Karel Mokry's Tables of Corresponding Numbers  available in the excellent Collector's Corner on his chessbookshop.com website

In addition to the periodicals previously discussed, I have included some chess columns in general periodicals which will be covered in a later article.  However, I have excluded Sakharov (1968) 209; Tidskrift för Schack, 1890, which was published in Helsingfors, Sweden, as I can discern no Russian connection. I have also omitted LN 6318: Shashki, a periodical dedicated to draughts.

Happy New Year to everyone.

Tuesday 17 December 2019

Russian Chess Literature; Part 3 - Early Periodicals - continued

Meanwhile back in Moscow...

7. Shashechnitsa: Ezhemesyachnyĭ Zhurnal, Moscow 1891. edited by D. I. Sargin and P. P. Bobrov. Sakharov (1968) 211, Di Felice 2439, LN 6314.

Shashechnitsa was launched in July 1891, six months after the St Petersburg magazine Shakmatnyĭ Zhurnal had commenced, and for the first time, Russia had two contemporary chess journals. Although titled Shashechnitsa (Draughtsplayer), the magazine was conceived as a publication equally devoted to chess and draughts. However, chess predominated from the outset; the first issue included 38 pages of chess and 10 pages of draughts.

Shashechnitsa, September 1891, pages 90-91

Shashechnitsa, advert for proposed volume 2
The magazine's title proved misleading to the public and after six months the journal was renamed Shakhmatnoe Obozrenie (Chess Review) and continued with the same numbering - see next item.


8. Shakhmatnoe Obozrenie: Ezhemesyachnyĭ Zhurnal, Posvyashchennyĭ Igram v Shakhmaty i Shashki, Moscow 1892 to 1910 intermittently. Editors: initially D. I. Sargin and P. P. Bobrov, then Sargin in 1892-93 and Bobrov from 1901 to 1910. 
Sakharov (1968) 211, Di Felice 2401, LN 6315.

As the full title indicates, this continued to be dedicated to both chess and draughts, with articles, games, problems, obituaries, news and reviews on both games included.  The magazine contained contributions from many prominent chess writers from home and abroad. There were theoretical articles by S. Alapin, A. Goncharov, I. Savenkov, A. Hardin, M. Shabelsky, etc., and M. Gonyaev wrote a number of historical essays.  The editors arranged competitions for both composing and solving chess problems.

There were long gaps in publication from 1894 to 1900, and 1905 to 1908, many issues were double, treble and even quadruple numbers, and the promised final two issues for 1904 (77 and 78) never appeared. However, during the periods 1903 to 1904 and 1909 to 1910 this was the only chess periodical in Russia. This was fortunate as the magazine was able to give wide coverage to the important 3rd All Russian Tournament held in Kiev in 1903, won by Chigorin, and the outstanding Chigorin Memorial Tournament held in St. Petersburg in 1909 - equal first Emanuel Lasker and Akiba Rubinstein.  

3rd All Russian Tournament crosstable
The editors organised a number of correspondence tournaments, and the January 1904 issue includes details of Alexander Alekhine's participation in these events as a 10 and 11-year-old.

The issue covering January, February, March and April 1909 includes two fine group photographs from the St Petersburg tournament of that year:

Several people are in both photographs.

The volume for 1909 also includes an enormous folding leaf, with seven folds, stretching to nearly a metre in length. This gives the results of the games between 34 masters up to 1909.  The overall results were as follows:

Following the death of Chigorin in 1908, Znosko-Borovsky had picked up the baton of his campaign for Russian chess unity, and published a Draft Charter of All-Russian Chess and a follow-up article: On the question of the organisation of All-Russian Chess Union, in the 1909 magazine. 

The 1909 volume included a list of subscribers with around 300 names. 


9. Shakhmaty: Zhurnal, Posvyashchennyĭ Shakhmatnoĭ Igrye, St. Petersburg 1894. Sakharov (1968) 212, Di Felice 2422, LN 6316.

This fortnightly magazine appeared for 12 issues between January and July 1894. Editors noted in various sources include the publisher A. S. Suvorin, M. P. Fedorov and Mikhail Chigorin. Chigorin actually contributed most of the content and M. Shabelsky also took an active part in the magazine. 

In addition to the usual material, the matches between Chigorin and Lasker in 1893, and Lasker and Steinitz in 1894 were covered.  The magazine commenced the publication of all the games between Labourdonnais and McDonnell, but only 36 of these "brilliant rejoicing inspirations of the past" had been printed before the journal closed for financial reasons. Among the books reviewed were the works of A. Binet, who explored blindfold play from a psychological viewpoint, - see LN 3406 and LN 3407. 


10. Tygodnik Szachowy (Chess Weekly), Warsaw 1898-1899. edited by V. Dzerzhbitsky. Sakharov (1968) 213, Di Felice 2684, LN 6280.

Published in Warsaw, Poland, which, at the time was partitioned by Russia, this was the first chess periodical in the Polish language. The magazine concentrated on chess life in Poland and included theoretical and historical articles, games, problems and also literary items including poetry. Draughts players were also catered for.

Numbers 1 to 14 in 1898, and 1 to 46 in 1899 were published, the majority of which were double numbers.  


11. Shakhmaty: Ezhemesyachnyĭ Zhurnal Vykhodyashchiĭ v Odesse, Odessa 1911, edited by N. E. Laurent or Loren. Sakharov (1968) 214, Di Felice 2420, LN 6319.

This, the first chess periodical published in the Motherland outside of St. Petersburg and Moscow, was launched with the aim of informing chess amateurs about the latest events in the chess world, particularly in Russia. The magazine lasted for just two issues - July and August 1911, before ceasing due to a lack of subscribers, and of suitable contributions from prominent chess players.  Capablanca was featured in the first issue.


12. Ershte Jiddishe Shakh-Zeitung, Lodz 1913, editors G. Salwe and M. Kryshek.

Sakharov (1968) 215, Di Felice 915, LN 6282.

As the title states, this was the first Jewish chess newspaper and just three fortnightly issues were published in partitioned Poland in October 1913. 


13. Shakmatnyĭ Vestnik, Moscow 1913-1916, edited by S. P. Simson.

Sakharov (1968) 216, Di Felice 2414, LN 6320.

Ostensibly a fortnightly magazine but many issues were double numbers. Alexander Alekhine's brother Alexey was the publisher and also conducted the correspondence tournaments. The editorial staff included O. S. Bernstein and D. N. Pavlov (Games), L. B. Zalkind and V. Platov (compositions), K. I. Isakov (Russian and foreign news) and A. S. Selevnev. Alexander Alekhine also contributed and features frequently in the magazine.

The International Grandmaster Tournament at St. Petersburg in 1914 naturally featured prominently, taking up most of the space in the 1st May and 15th May 1914 magazines with further games and coverage in later issues.


The magazine did much to popularise chess in Russia and took an active role in the formation of the All Russian Chess Union in 1914. The circulation reached 1,000, but high publishing costs and the onset of the First World War forced the closure in October 1916. 

This was the final chess periodical to be published in Russia before the Great October Socialist Revolution in 1917.


14. Izvestiya Vserossiĭskago Shakhmatnago Obshchestva, 1914 and 1916. Sakharov (1968) 217, Di Felice 1187, LN 6322.

The newly formed All Russian Chess Union issued two bulletins on its progress and activities, in 1914 and 1916, containing information on the emergence of the Union, statutes, program of activities, list of members etc. 

Issue No. 1, dated 25th June 1914 with 32 pages, was published in St. Petersburg (2,000 copies), and No. 2, although dated 15th February 1917, was included as a 12-page supplement to the September 1916 issue of the Moscow magazine Shakmatnyĭ Vestnik.

The Revolution in 1917, together with the first World War, followed by civil disturbances, brought organised chess activities in Russia almost to a standstill, and it was five years before the publication of chess periodicals recommenced in 1921. 

Bibliography - additions to previous lists:

Skinner L. & Verhoeven R, Alexander Alekhine's Chess Games, 1902-1946, Jefferson 1998. 
Feenstra Kuiper Dr. P., Hundert Jahre Schachturniere, 1851-1950, Amsterdam 1964.

                                       © Michael Clapham 2019

Tuesday 10 December 2019

Russian Chess Literature; Part 2 - Early Periodicals

This second article on Russian chess literature provides information on early chess periodicals, in chronological order. Further bibliographical details can be found in Chess Literature, USSR, (1775-1966), by N. I. Sakharov, Moscow 1968, and Chess Periodicals, by Gino Di Felice, Jefferson and London 2010. The LN catalogue: Bibliotheca van der Linde-Niemeijeriana, The Hague 1955 only lists the library's holdings. 

1. Shakhmatnyĭ Listok, St Petersburg 1859 to 1863, edited by Victor Mikhailov.
Sakharov (1968) 204, Di Felice 2406, LN 6308. 

Shakhmatnyĭ Listok, 1859 title page (Moravian Chess reprint)

Shakhmatnyĭ Listok (Chess Sheet), the first Russian chess periodical, was published every month for five years from January 1859 to December 1863. The first 37 numbers were issued as a supplement to the literary and scientific journal Russkoe Slovo (Russian Word), before appearing as an independent publication from 1862 to 1863, after Russkoe Slovo had closed down.

Shakhmatnyĭ Listok, 1859, pp 8-9, courtesy of Jurgen Stigter.

The editor was the prominent chess player Victor Mikhailov (1828 - 1883) and over five years his magazine promoted chess with a wide variety of articles on contemporary events both at home and abroad, games, compositions, biographies of leading players, historical essays, etc. Petrov and Jaenisch both contributed material, and Sergey Urosov's influential Guide to the Study of Chess was serialised in the magazine from 1859 to 1861. 

Shakhmatnyĭ Listok, 1860, pp 284-285. (Moravian Chess reprint)

Shakhmatnyĭ Listok, 1861, pp 192-193. (Moravian Chess reprint)

1863 was a bumper year for the magazine with a total of 458 pages (previous years had 346, 332, 285, and 343 pages) and a full list of contents for the five volumes was included at the end of volume five. Although initially financed and published by the reputedly very wealthy G. Kushelev-Bezborodko the magazine was discontinued at the end of 1863 due to a lack of subscribers, a fate which became all too familiar for succeeding chess periodicals.  

Shakhmatnyĭ Listok, 1863, pp 450-451, Contents (Moravian Chess reprint)


2. Shakhmatnyĭ Listok, St. Petersburg 1876 to 1881, edited by Mikhail Chigorin.
Sakharov (1968) 205, Di Felice 2408, LN 6309.

It was 13 years before the next chess periodical appeared in Russia; Adams, p46 states that from 1869 to 1876 the only chess organ in the country was Shumov's column in the weekly magazine Vsemirnaya Illustratsya, although a couple of chess columns in the German language were also published in Russian magazines during this intervening period. 

The launch of Shakhmatnyĭ Listok in 1876 was one of the initiatives by Chigorin to improve the organisation and affinity of Russian chess players. He applied to the authorities in April 1876 for permission to publish his new magazine, this was granted in June and the first issue came out in September 1876. The magazine aimed to stimulate the chess communities both in the large cities and in the provinces. The contents of the first volume for 1876 (September to December) were as follows:

Chigorin used his magazine to highlight the general disorganisation of Russian chess and suggested ways to improve this, however, it was many years before his ambition for a countrywide official chess organisation came to fruition.  
Chigorin published instructional articles with courses on openings and endings, games from international tournaments, beginning with Vienna 1873, annotated by himself, items on chess history, and articles on leading players including Anderssen, Morphy, and Steinitz.

The October and November 1876 issues, (pp 55-61 & 98-103) contained a bibliography of Russian chess literature compiled by M. K. Gonyaev. This listed 30 original works by Russian authors, published both at home and abroad up to 1875, translated works, and journal articles, including over 40 articles by Jaenisch published in chess periodicals around the world. The original works include a manuscript by the Russian émigré to the USA, Serge de Stchoulepnikoff; Twenty Solutions of the Problem of the Knight's Tour, Buffalo N. J. 1865; this is currently in the Cleveland Public Library.  

This first Russian chess bibliography is not recorded in Bibliotheca Van der Linde-Niemeijeriana aucta et de novo descripta, Volume I. Chess: Bibliography and History,  The Hague 1974, although other articles by Gonyaev on chess history in Shakhmatnyĭ Listok and other magazines are listed (nos. 414 to 420).

Although assisted with contributions from I. S. Shumov,  N. I. Petrovsky, E. S. Schiffers, M. K. Gonyaev and others, the bulk of the burden fell to Chigorin who produced the magazine from his own meagre resources. The monthly magazine had a stuttering existence, there was a temporary gap from July to December 1878, and many issues were double numbers covering two months. Chigorin wrote that he needed 250 subscribers for the magazine to survive, but had only 120 in 1878. This increased to 190 in 1879 but, after five years of financial struggle, he was forced to cease publication in April 1881.

Shakhmatnyĭ Listok, 1880 pp 148-149

To my eyes this was a very well produced magazine, with a varied and useful content, and at least the equal of some Western periodicals of the time. The volume for 1880 included the following four full-page portraits:

                            Paul Morphy                                           Carl Jaenisch
                          Alexander Petrov                                    Dmitry Klark


3. Shakhmatnyĭ Zhurnal (Chess Journal), Moscow 1882, edited by A. Hellwig.
Sakharov (1968) 206, Di Felice 2416, LN -

The first chess periodical published in Moscow, this lasted for just four issues from July to October 1882. The Introduction to the first issue stated that the magazine aimed to promote chess and draughts, giving Russian readers a complete overview of chess life in Russia and abroad, with news, games and compositions. Shakhmatnyĭ Zhurnal organised the first correspondence tournament in Russia. 

This periodical is very rare, the Cleveland Public Library only has issue no. 1 and the Royal Library at The Hague has no copies.


4. Shakhmatnyĭ Vestnik (Chess Herald), St. Petersburg 1885 - 1887, edited by M. I Chigorin. Sakharov (1968) 207, Di Felice 2415, LN 6310.

Shortly after the demise of Shakhmatnyĭ Listok in April 1881, Chigorin took over the chess department in Vsemirnaya Illustratsya (Universal Illustrated), following the death of the previous editor I. S. Shumov. He conducted this chess column until 1890, however, a small piece in a weekly magazine was not sufficient for Chigorin and in 1885 he launched his new chess magazine.   

This was published by the St. Petersburg Society for Chess Amateurs and commenced in July 1885. The magazine included the usual fare, but Chigorin also arranged a problem-solving competition and a correspondence tournament. A department for draughts was also included. In keeping with Chigorin's continual crusade for a unified organisation for Russian chess players, he published a Draft Charter of the Russian Chess Union in the first issue for 1886, however, it wasn't until 1914 that the All Russian Chess Union was finally established. 

The magazine closed after 18 months in January 1887 as, once again, Chigorin's energy and enthusiasm had failed to attract sufficient subscribers.   


5. Shakhmaty: Ezhemesyachnyi Zhurnal St. Petersburg, St. Petersburg 1890, edited by N. E. Mitropolsky. Sakharov (1968) 208, Di Felice 2419, LN 6311.

Chigorin also had a hand in this magazine although the chief editor was Mitropolsky. Articles included The Chess World 1885 - 1889, Chess departments in Russian periodicals, Russian problem composers and games from Chigorin's drawn match with Gunsberg in Havana in 1890. This magazine, which also had a small section on draughts, survived for just five issues from January to May 1890. 


6. Shakhmatnyĭ Zhurnal: Ezhemesyachnoe Izdanie, St. Petersburg 1891 - 1898, 1900 - 1903, editors included P. V. Otto and A. K Makarov up to 1893 and E. S. Shiffers from 1894 to 1903. Sakharov (1968) 210, Di Felice 2417, LN 6312.

This magazine was originally aimed at chess novices and players of moderate strength, i.e. the majority of Russian chess players, but otherwise included the usual mix of chess periodical matter. Although there was a break in publication from May 1898 to December 1899, it became the longest surviving Russian chess periodical to date, running to 123 issues in 13 volumes.

The latest games of Russian and foreign chess players were given along with outstanding earlier games by Morphy, Anderssen, Zuckertort, Steinitz and Chigorin etc. Problems and studies featured prominently under the sub-editorship of N. Maksimov who organised solving tourneys with competitors from Russia and abroad. Translations of Steinitz's Modern Chess Instructor were included and from 1895 a draughts department was added. 


To be continued.

Bibliography - additions to previous list

Adams Jimmy, Mikhail Chigorin: The Creative Chess Genius, Alkmaar 2016
Di Felice Gino, Chess Periodicals, Jefferson & London 2010 
Karpov Anatoly, Shakhmaty: Entsiklopedicheskii Slovar (Chess; Encyclopedic Dictionary), Moscow 1990
Whyld Ken, Chess Columns: A List, Olomouc 2002

   © Michael Clapham 2019