Monday 30 March 2020

Soviet Chess Chronicle

Before putting the Soviet Chess Chronicle back on the shelf here are a few further items of interest:

January 1945 gave the results of a survey to find the 10 strongest players in the U.S.S.R. 


We don't often see grandmasters in their pyjamas but May 1945 page 13 included this photo:


The U.S.S.R Trade Union Team Championship was held in Moscow in December 1945. Each team of 10 had seven chess players and three checkers players and most of the country's leading chess players took part including Boleslavsky, Flohr, Sokolsky, Veresov, Panov, Smyslov, Lilienthal, Kotov, Bondarevsky, Taimanov, Ragozin, and Duz-Khotimirsky. 

January 1946 included a report on this event, several annotated games and some photographs:


After what sounds like an enthralling 1946 Moscow Championship, the somewhat surprising winner was 21-year-old David Bronstein (not yet a grandmaster),  who had lost his first-round game to Alatortsev but then won his next eight games.


April 1945 reported on the Championship of the Moscow garrison.


April 1946 also included a two-page article: In Memory of Leonid Kubbel, who had died in 1942: 

                                     © Michael Clapham 2020

Sunday 29 March 2020

The Anglo-Soviet Radio Chess Match

The final issue of Soviet Chess Chronicle for June-July 1946 was a special number covering the USSR-Great Britain Radio Match held from 19th to 22nd June 1946. The arrangements were similar to the 1945 USSR v USA match with boards one playing each other twice, boards two the same, etc. However, this time there were 12 players a side resulting in a total of 24 games.

The magazine gave five pages of information and commentary on the match followed by all of the games annotated by Alexander Konstantinopolsky (first round) and Grigory Levenfish (second Round). There are also a number of photographs from the Moscow end, and portraits of all of the players.

The British team was beaten just as comprehensively as the American team had been the year before, winning just 3 of the 24 games. 

The only publication on this match recorded in Chess Competitions, 1824-1970 is Klein and Winter's book; The Anglo-Soviet Radio Chess Match, London 1947.

                                          © Michael Clapham 2020

Saturday 28 March 2020

Soviet Chess Chronicle

Having recently praised Di Felice's bibliographical work: Chess Competitions 1824-1970, which gives details of over 5,000 publications on chess competitions, I have just discovered a couple of omissions. This is inevitable in a book of this nature.

Soviet Chess Chronicle (Betts 7-100), published by Chess Bureau of VOKS from 1943 to July 1946, was the English Language edition of Sovetskaya Shakhmatnaya Kronika. This periodical specialised in giving reports on Russian tournaments and at least two of the issues were dedicated to specific events.

The double issue 9-10 for September and October 1945 devoted 32 of its 33 pages to the USSR v USA Radio Match held from 1st to 4th September 1945. Chess Competitions records no English language publications on this event apart from a pre-match publicity release and souvenir program (2946.3 and 2946.5).

This issue of Soviet Chess Chronicle has 16 pages of commentary on the match, including the views of all 20 players, and gives all 20 games, extensively annotated by David Bronstein and Alexander Konstantinopolsky. There are also 14 photographs from both the Moscow and New York ends of the event together with portraits of all of the players.  

Next time, a special issue on the Anglo-Soviet Radio Chess Match. 

                                    © Michael Clapham 2020

Friday 27 March 2020

Sotheby's Rimington Wilson Catalogue

John Keeble contributed the following reports on this auction to the Falkirk Herald which were subsequently published in The Chess Amateur:

The Chess Amateur, March 1928, page 171

The Chess Amateur, April 1928, pages 207-208

The Chess Amateur, May 1928, page 240 

 The British Chess Magazine also reported on this sale as follows:

BCM, April 1928, Page 154

Thursday 26 March 2020

Quaritch's Rimington Wilson catalogue

The renowned chess library of J. W. Rimington Wilson was sold by Sotheby and Co., London, in February 1928, more than fifty years after his death, having been maintained and enlarged by his son R. H. Rimington Wilson during this period.  The London book-dealer Bernard Quaritch acquired a large proportion of the lots on offer and subsequently issued what is probably the most important catalogue of chess works ever offered by a bookseller.

The 96-page Catalogue has 1,657 entries with numerous manuscripts and other unique items, along with many of the rarest chess books. The great majority of these items were on sale at prices that, today, seem just buttons; almost 1,200 items were priced at under £1, including many that are now completely unobtainable.

I am not going to comment now on the endless treasures in this catalogue but I set out below the 20 most expensive chess books listed. This does not include manuscripts, runs of periodicals or non-chess items. The list is in ascending order and shows the prices in pounds, shillings and pence. Most of the prices are in guineas; 1 guinea = 1 pound and 1 shilling; the shilling being the equivalent of today's buyer's premium.

The most remarkable feature of this list is the extraordinary price of Rowbothum's work. The figure of £180 seems almost to be an error when compared to the other prices. Was a Rowbothum worth more than ten times the cost of a Damiano, Ruy Lopez or Gianutio in the 1920s?  

Although Quaritch gave a detailed entry for this book there is no mention of its rarity or exceptional value. 

The price was seemingly correct; two Rowbothums were sold at Sotheby's sale of the Rimington Wilson library, for £56 and £31. Quaritch no doubt purchased one of these and added a hefty mark-up. Another buyer at the Sotheby sale was the London bookseller Maggs Bros. and they probably purchased the other Rowbothum. The following appeared in their 428 page catalogue no. 511 issued in 1928:

John Keeble furnished a number of reports on the Sotheby sale to the Falkirk Herald and these were also published in The Chess Amateur. I will reproduce these in the next article.

The Quaritch Catalogue, which, surprisingly, is not recorded in Betts' Bibliography, has become a very collectable and expensive item itself, whereas it was originally handed out for free as this advert in The Chess Amateur for October 1929 shows:

Finally, there is one, even more expensive, book in the Quaritch Catalogue but this is not a chess work:

The eye-watering price puts the Rowbothum well and truly in the shade.

                                         © Michael Clapham 2020