Thursday 20 October 2022

Chess: An Annotated Bibliography of Works Published in the English Language 1850-1968

Chess: An Annotated Bibliography of Works Published in the English Language 1850-1968 compiled over 50 years ago by Douglas Betts has become the standard work on English language chess books for the period covered.


Douglas Betts, Chess, March 2006, page 51

Betts carried out this self-funded research during his limited spare time from 1967 to 1970 while working full time and with a young family. This was in the days before personal computers, on-line databases, word processors, printers and scanners. Details of every item were written out by hand on small cards and he typed the whole work at home on a portable typewriter using two fingers, producing the required top copy and three carbon copies. Apart from the important task of recording the ever-growing mass of chess litereature, the chief reason for undertaking this project was to fulfil the thesis requirement for Fellowship of The Library Association. 

The typescript was published by G.K. Hall of Boston Mass. in 1974, and a few hundred copies were soon acquired by libraries, collectors and dealers. Betts was unable to visist the U.S.A or other English speaking countries such as Australia, New Zealand and South Africa for his research but relied on published sources such as library catalogues and book reviews before examining as many items as possible in various libraries including The British Library and The Royal Dutch Library at The Hague. 

Betts was succesful in identifying and recording details of the great majority of the main works on chess but, in view of the limitations and constraints outlined above, it is no surprise that there are many omissions from the Bibliography, certainly in the hundreds. These omissions are frequently minor works, often small pamphlets, multi-language works, sometimes self-published or published away from the leading publishing centres. Many local periodicals and tournament reports also slipped through the net. Betts had anticipated the existence of some of these outliers in an article that he wrote for Chess, volume 70, March 2006, on pages  51 to 53, where he discusses the task that he undertook, the difficulties that he faced, and the impact of his magnum opus. Much of the information above is taken from that article.

In the next Chess Book Chats article I will start listing details of the 100 or so omissions that I am aware of, a list that is constantly growing as the more I look the more I find. These are original works not included in the Bibliography,  not unrecorded editions of works listed by Betts of which there are also numerous examples. I am not listing works of fiction with chess references (Betts Section 44), only books entirely or mainly dealing with chess. 

Betts specifically excluded compendiums of games (e.g. Hoyle), general encyclopaedias and dictionaries; pre-tournament programmes; and publications, such as rules etc., relevant only to a particular club or society.  I have followed this except for club rules etc. which I have included if the publication includes other matters of chess interest e.g. history, games, problems etc.

These lists of omissions will eventually be sorted into a handful of categories, (not the 55 Sections in Betts) and will be in printable PDF format.


No comments:

Post a Comment