Thursday 28 March 2024

Recent auctions Part 5 - Games of the Vienna Tournament 1882, and A Review of the Chess Tournament

Two more rare books from the Klittich auction held in November 2023.


Lot 1265. Games of the Vienna Tournament of 1882. A selection of the best and most brilliant games, with critical analysis by Alex. G. Sellman, together with a short account of the Tournament, edited by Sellman, Baltimore, Maryland 1882.


Courtesy of Klittich Auction House - Catalogue 85.

The only contemporary book on "The greatest contest which ever took place in Chess history" according to The Chess Monthly for July 1882 page 321; that was until the London International Tournament of 1883, which was described as "the most important Tournament which ever took place" in The Chess Monthly for July 1883, also on page 321. 

The LN catalogue and Di Felice, in his Chess Competitions, also list Internationales Schachturnier Wien 1882 dated 1882 but this is a collection of cuttings from Wiener Allgemeine Zeitung. (LN 5214, Di Felice 2333.2). Edition Olms published a comprehensive book on the event; Das II Internationale Schachmeisterturnier Wien 1882, in 1984.

From my researches I would say that this book is of greater rarity than the Philadelphia edition of Chess Made Easy discussed in the previous post and this is reflected in the price paid for this lot of €950. 

This book was already described as rare by Will. Lyons in his 1897 Catalogue No. 7 of Chess Requisites and Works on Chess, but on sale for just .75c. This was also for sale in Lyons' Catalogue No. 10 issued in 1909 at the reduced price of .50c!

I found no copies for sale after searching hundreds of dealers and auctioneers catalogues of the previous thirty years when compiling my price guide of Antiquarian and Collectable Chess Books in 2010, and I have seen no copies for sale since then. David Delucia had only one copy in his 2009 Catalogue.

Several major libraries have copies and fortunately a digital copy is available at and Google books from which the following content is gleaned.

The book has an attractive decorated cover, similar to the title page above but more ornate. The short account of the Tournament referred to in the title is indeed short. The Retrospective occupies less than a page and the preceeding Introduction is even shorter, just ten lines.

Sellman gives 42 of the approaching 300 games with light notes but there are no diagrams. A final score table and indexes of players and openings completes the book. The final score table differs slightly from the cross table in Hundert Jahre Schachturniere by Dr. P. Feenstra Kuiper, 1964, and also in Chess Results, 1747-1900 by Gino Di Felice, 2004. I think the modern records are correct.  

It was certainly a great tournament with many of the world's greatest chess players of the day. Steinitz and Winawer tied for first place ahead of Mason, Mackenzie, Zukertort, Blackburne, Englisch, Tschigorin etc. 

Additional coverage of this tournament in English can be found in the wonderful Brentano's Chess Monthly which gave 28 games, a short biography of Baron Ignatz Von Kolisch (a leading patron of the tournament), a spectators view of the tournament and portraits of some of the players, in its magazines for June, July and August-September 1882 before this most attractive of periodicals was sadly discontinued.




Lot 1231  A Review of "The Chess Tournament," by H. Staunton, Esq. with some remarks on the Attacks upon the London Chess Club contained in the Introduction to that work, by a member of the London Chess Club, printed for the author, London 1852. 26pp.


Courtesy of Klittich Auction House - Catalogue 85

The slightly confusing title has led some authorities to attribute this work to Howard Staunton; Di Felice names Staunton as the author in Chess Competitions 1161.1, and  Staunton is also indicated as the author of the present item in the Klittich catalogue, and, I have to admit, I also named Staunton as the author in my Price Guides of 2007 and 2010. 

However, this work was written and compiled by an anonymous member of the London Chess Club and is a review of Staunton's book on the 1851 Chess Tournament, followed by some remarks on comments made by Staunton in the Introduction to that work. The member is unknown but this copy (from Lowenthal's Chess Library and later Rimington Wilson's collection) has a pencil note on the title page indicating that the author was Medley. This would be George W. Medley, Secretary to the Committee of the London Chess Club set up to discuss the Tournament, and writer of several letters appended to this pamphlet. This is pretty flimsy evidence of Medley's authorship although he is a prime suspect.

The pamphlet begins with a short but positive review of Staunton's book The Chess Tournament, London 1852, concluding "We have no hesitation in pronouncing it one of the most interesting records of chess ever published". 



However, dark clouds quickly gathered, and the very next sentence reads: "Our commendations of the volume must, however, end here; and now commences the disagreeable portion of our task, which will consist of some observations we feel bound to make upon the contents of the Introduction...."  

There follows a blistering attack, written in a mixture of politeness and acrimony, over 17 pages, upon the St. George's Chess Club (which organised the event) and on Howard Staunton in particular.  The writer stokes up a head of steam with a catalogue of perceived injustices to him and the London Chess Club by Staunton's behaviour and writings over a number of years, and eventually explodes with this withering condemnation of Staunton's character as a chess-player and writer:

I won't go into the ins and outs or the rights and wrongs of this most bitter of disputes, the full details can be found in Chapters III and IV of the Introduction in The Chess Tournament on pages xxxi to li, (by the way, does this book hold the record for the highest number of Roman numeralled pages for the introductory matter?, they go on to lxci.), and also in this pamphlet which can be read online at 

Tim Harding discusses this pamphlet on pages 56 and 57 of Eminent Victorian Chess Players, published by McFarland in 2012*, and Edward Winter gives extracts from his copy in the feature article Attacks on Howard Staunton on the Chess Notes site.

The essence of this dispute seems to have been the opposition by a few members of the London Chess Club to the management of the Tournament by the St George's Chess Club, and in particular to the pivotal role played by Staunton, and his subsequent coverage of this in the Tournament book. However, it is apparent that the animosity between Staunton and the author of this pamphlet had been brewing for years and had now come to a head. 

This chess book, with zero chess content in terms of games or instruction, is nevertheless a desirable item as it rarely comes on to the market. Although several major libraries have copies, I have never before seen a copy for sale.  This copy sold for €280. 

For comparison purposes, a Damiano, second undated edition c.1524, was sold for £9,000 plus commission etc. at Forum Auctions in London today. I am not sure which is the rarer work.

(At the same London auction a second folio edition of Shakespeare sold for £82,000 hammer.)


*Harding comments in note 104 on page 358 of Eminent Victorian Chess Players: 

"As Murray pointed out in his B.C.M. article [May 1908] on Staunton, bibliographers have had some trouble with this item."

However there is no mention of this pamphlet in H.J.R. Murray's 1908 article and Harding was in fact referring to another anonymously authored pamphlet; A Few Observations on A New Treatise on Chess, by G. Walker, London 1841. This is mentioned in Murray's article on George Walker on pp 189 to 194 of the May 1906 British Chess Magazine.

More next time.






Wednesday 27 March 2024

Recent auctions part 4 - Chess Made Easy, Philadelphia edition


The 85th Klittich-Pfankuch auction held in Braunschweig in November 2023 featured some very rare English language chess books and the next few articles will discuss some of these.


Lot 952  Chess Made Easy: New and Comprehensive Rules for Playing the Game of Chess; with examples from Philidor, Cunningham, etc. etc.: to which is prefixed a pleasing account of its Origin: some interesting anecdotes of several exalted Personages who have been admirers of it; and the Morals of Chess Written by the ingenious and learned Dr. Franklin. Philadelphia 1802.


Courtesy of A. Klittich-Pfankuch catalogue 85   


"The first chess book printed in America and one of the rarest chess books to find" - David DeLucia in the Foreword to his David DeLucia Chess Library, Darien Connecticut 1997.

"This is the first chess book, although a reprint of an earlier London edition, printed in America which makes it an extremely valuable item not only for chess-book collectors but for collectors of early Americana" - DeLucia in David DeLucia's Chess Library; A Few Old Friends, (first and second editions) and valued at $1,500-$2,000 in 2007. 

Notwithstanding this apparent rarity, DeLucia possessed three copies of this Philadelphia edition in his 1997 catalogue, and five copies in his 2009 catalogue The David DeLucia Chess Library.

Chess Made Easy was first published in London in 1797, and obviously proved popular as further English editions were issued in 1798, 1800, 1803, 1806, 1808, 1812, 1815, 1817, and 1820. Several Italian editions were also published. The compiler of this little book measuring just 15cm. is unknown. For comparison purposes here is the frontis and title page of the London 1815 edition:


The American edition seems to have been unknown in Europe at least until 1859 when it appeared in the American Chess Bibliography in The Book of the First American Chess Congress by D. W. Fiske, New York 1859.  It is not recorded in any of these European chess bibliographies of the first half of the 19th century:  George Walker, London 1838, 1841 and 1846; Oettinger, Leipzig 1844; Schmid, Wien 1847. Surprisingly Walker even omits the London editions of this work. The American edition is, however, recorded in Geschichte und Literatur des Schachspiels, Zweiter Band, by Antonius van der Linde, Berlin 1874, (page 29) and in later bibliographies.

Fiske describes this book on pp 486-487 of The Book of the First American Chess Congress and states that "it is an exact copy of a book bearing the same title which was published in London, by Symonds, in 1796" (See Chess Texts page 60, by Whyld and Ravilious, regarding the date of the first printing). However, one obvious difference is in the pagination: the London editions have 72 pages while the Philadelphia edition has 97 pages, so the layout is obviously different.  

Ralph Hagedorn devotes three pages to this book (and related matter) in Benjamin Franklin and Chess in Early America, Philadelphia 1958, which includes a bibliography of American chess books up to 1859. Hagedorn states (incorrectly) that this edition of Chess Made Easy includes the first American appearance of Benjamin Franklin's Morals of Chess in book form. Fred Wilson follows this in his A Picture History of Chess, New York 1981, but as DeLucia points out in A Few Old Friends, there were several books published in America prior to 1802 which included Franklin's Morals of Chess. 


The Origin of the Game of Chess, referred to in the title, is attributed in the book to the "ingenious Frenchman" M. Favet. Hagedorn (page 49) believes this is "undoubtedly a misprint for Fréret", although Bibliotheca Van der Linde- Niemeijeriana aucta et de novo descripta (Aucta), the Hague, 1974, lists Favet as the author of this article on page 30. Nicolas Fréret, who died in 1749, gave a lecture on L'Origine du jeu des echecs to a meeting of the French Academy in 1719 and published his essay in 1729. Fréret claims, in his rambling history, that chess was invented (seemingly spontaneously) by an Indian philosopher named Sissa at the beginning of the fifth century, and relates the grains of corn story as the reward desired by Sissa; one grain for the first square of the chess-board, two for the second, four for the third, and so on, doubling always to the 64th square.

The Anecdotes of the Game of Chess are largely borrowed from Twiss. There follows The Morals of Chess by Dr. Franklin, 16 pages of instructions entitled A New and Comprehensive Treatise on the Game of Chess, then Mr. Philidor's Method of Playing, with one game and two back games, followed by Cunningham's Gambit. These games are annotated in the form of Reflections at various instructive points


Pages 52-53 of the London 1815 edition

This is a rare and valuable book and copies hardly ever appear for sale (mainly because DeLucia has cornered the market). The University Place Book Shop gave great prominence to a copy in its Catalog XXII c1939, asking $40 whereas almost all of the other 545 items were priced at less than $5.


This copy, with several defects, sold for €650, another copy sold for €600 in the 81st Klittich auction in November 2021. 


Friday 22 March 2024

Recent auctions part 3 - Steinitz and Tchigorin, and Lancashire Chess Association

Two further interesting items from the LSAK auction held in November 2023.


The Games of Steinitz and Tchigorin. Two Matches at Havana. Cable Match. London and Vienna Tournaments. Published (and compiled?) by W. W. Morgan Jun. New Barnet 1892. Morgan's Shilling Chess Library, Book 10. 74 + 4pp


This item achieved the amazing price of €825. Morgan's Shilling Chess Library consisted of 13 titles published between 1882 and 1901, although No. 9, How to Solve Chess Problems by Bernard Reynolds is a ghost and was never published. All of these are rare and almost impossible to find. This is probably because few of these fragile stapled booklets have survived. 

The series is mainly made up of games collections from tournaments or individual players but the tournament records are frequently incomplete and none of the games have any notes. 

This particular book gives the 46 games played between Steinitz and Tchigorin in the following events: Vienna 1882 2 games, London 1883 2 games, world championship match, Havana 1889 17 games, cable match 1891 2 games and world championship match, Havana 1892 23 games. The two masters were closely matched with an overall score of Steinitz 21 wins, Tchigorin 19 wins and 6 draws.


The games are given without notes but each page of moves is accompanied by two diagrams at interesting positions.


The content of these booklets can generally be found in other sources and, as mentioned above, the tournament reports are very incomplete. The attraction and value of these publications is purely because of their rarity due to the low survival rate.  Will. H. Lyons, the bookseller from Newport, Kentucky, was selling these booklets for .50c each in his catalogues around 1900. A digital copy is available at

I will write more about Morgan's Shilling Chess Library when I move on to reviewing the Klittich auction held in November 2023. 



The Lancashire Chess Association - Season 1910-11


Lancashire is a county in England incorporating the major cities of Liverpool and Manchester. The Lancashire Chess Association was incorporated in 1897 and, in common with many chess associations, issued Annual Reports/Year Books/Handbooks, containing the usual information of officers, rules, reports, statement of accounts, list of affiliated clubs, match and congress results etc. etc. plus, hopefully, a few games and problems to give the publication at least some spark of interest to the average chess player.

Most of these Annual Reports/Year Books/Handbooks were quickly discarded and, as a result, one hundred years later, the few surviving copies are of great interest to collectors. This is epitomised in the current item which, although of a parochial nature and of little interest globally, fetched €198 as a result of its limited initial circulation and very low survival rate.

These Lancashire Chess Association Annual Reports/Year Books/Handbooks are indeed rare; the Koninklijke Bibliotheek only has the Handbook for Season 1925-26. Cleveland has a batch of six; for the years 1904, 1905-6, 1908-9, 1910-11, 1914-15 and 1925-26. The British Library is bereft of these publications, and I can trace no further copies; unfortunately there are no digital copies available.


However, I have the Annual Report/Year Book/Handbook for Season 1924-25, and I can reveal that the contents of this 24 page booklet are as follows:

Title page, verso blank

Executive Council for 1924-25; the only well known names being Victor Wahltuch and Amos Burn. I also notice that the Hon. secretary was the Rev. H.C. de Barathy, author of Chess Made Clear (absent from Betts) which was printed in Kent (another English county incorporating Dover, Canterbury Cathedral etc.) c1940.

Rules of the Association. (the Annual General Meeting is held on the first Saturday in April, unless the next day be Easter Sunday, in which event... )

Council's Report 1924-25. (the Association in indebted to the indefatigable energy of.....)

Statement of Accounts (they made a small profit).

Lists of Lancashire champions from 1901 to 1924, Affiliated Clubs etc.


Also... but, you've had enough of this. Luckily there are seven games and a couple of chess studies. One of the games is a win by A.R.B. Thomas, author of Chess for the love of it and Chess Techniques, who, according to Edward Winter, "gained a dose of immortality through being quoted by Bobby Fischer in My 60 Memorable Games" (Chess Notes 4854 and feature article Fischer's Fury). (Memorable game 26)


The production of this pamphlet is very good with stiff card covers, good quality paper, clear layout and coloured diagrams. 



These Lancashire Chess Association Annual Reports/Year Books/Handbooks are not recorded in Betts' Bibliography and are also missing from Di Felice's Chess Periodicals which has a section for Annual Reports/Year Books/Handbooks.


I would like to thank Per Skjoldager for permission to use images and information from the LSAK website.  There were many other scarce and valuable works sold in the November auction and all can be viewed at The next LSAK auction is scheduled for 1st June 2024.











Wednesday 20 March 2024

Recent auctions part 2 - Transactions of the British Chess Association

 LSAK auction November 2023

The Transactions of the British Chess Association for the years 1866 and 1867; containing a report of the proceedings at the London and Dundee meetings, with a selection of the games played, and of the problems sent in for competition; edited by J Löwenthal and G.W. Medley, Longmans, Green, Reader, and Dyer, London 1868. 4 + 164 pp


This is one of the earliest chess tournament publications; prior to this only the major international tournaments at London 1851, New York 1857, London 1862 and Paris 1867 had generated full scale tournament books. The lesser events at Amsterdam 1851, Manchester 1857, Birmingham 1858, Nijmegen 1858, Cambridge 1860, Bristol 1861, and the first five West German Chess Federation Congresses at Dusseldorf 1861, 1862, 1863, 1864 and Elberfeld 1865 also had coverage in Reports, pamphlets or as part of other publications.  

In March 1866 the British Chess Association, after a few years of inactivity since the London Congress of 1862, had resolved to place itself on a permanent footing, to hold a chess congress in London every alternate year, to put up a challenge cup for the British Championship, to offer financial assistance to provincial meetings in non-congress years, and to publish a regular Book of Transactions.  

This first Transactions gave details of the Annual General Meetings of 1866, 1867 and 1868 together with lists of officers, members and subscribers etc. More importantly, it gave full reports on the congresses in London 1866, and Dundee 1867, and also gave the games of the 1866 match between Adolf Anderssen and William (Wilhelm) Steinitz, won by the latter, following which Steinitz was generally regarded as the world chess champion.

The principal objective of the London Congress of 1866 was the establishment of a Grand Challenge Cup, to be contended for by British players only, for the title of British Chess Champion. The Congress also included a Handicap Tournament open to all-comers, a Problem Tourney with a closing date of 1st January 1867, and the historic match between Anderssen and Steinitz.   

According to Di Felice in Chess Results 1747-1900 the Handicap Tournament took place in June and July while the Grand Challenge Cup was not completed until November 1866. The knockout Handicap Tournament had 15 competitors, but, unfortunately, the unseeded draw pitted the two strongest players, Steinitz and De Vere (playing level) against each other in the first round. Steinitz won this match and proceeded to win the tournament without losing a game. 

The tournament for the Grand Challenge Cup attracted only five competitors; Cecil De Vere, George Macdonnell, James Minchin, Henry Bird and John Trelawny (who withdrew after playing one match against Minchin). De Vere won every one of his nine games and thus became the first British Chess Champion. 

The Dundee Congress held in September 1867 embraced The Grand Tournament with 10 competitors which was won by Gustav Neumann (founder and editor of Neue Berliner Schachzeitung), The Scotch Tournament, contested by eight players for the title of Scottish Chess Champion, won by Dr. James Fraser, and The Handicap Tournament with 16 players and won jointly by Steinitz and Dr. Fraser. 

Here I will briefly mention that not everyone was supportive of The British Chess Association. Staunton, in particular, was a very vociferous opponent and published some extraordinarily disparaging and contemptuous articles and correspondence criticizing the Association in his Chess World magazines from 1865 to 1867, notwithstanding that Staunton was a member of the General Committee of the BCA in March 1866 and he was "in the chair" when the arrangements for the Anderssen - Steinitz match were completed. Here is The Chess World's treatment of the Dundee Congress on page 268 of volume II:



It is noticeable how little coverage was given to the match between Anderssen and Steinitz in this book. The report was confined to just one sentence, although the 14 games are given with light notes towards the end of the book.


This confirms the view that the match was of lesser significance at the time and only later came to be recognised as the starting point of Steinitz's tenure of the world chess championship.

In addition to the 14 games from the Anderssen - Steinitz match (largely played in the swashbuckling style of the Romantic Era), the book includes 37 games from the London Congress of 1866 and 45 games from Dundee 1867. (Betts states 46 but I can only count 45). All games have brief notes. The book is completed with 64 problems from the The Problem Tourney, and a Critique on Successful Problems, followed by the solutions.

The Transactions of the British Chess Association for the years 1866 and 1867 was originally distributed free of charge to subscribers to the Association and was also for sale at the price of 3s.6d.(about one sixth of a pound).  

This is a scarce book in its original form and this copy sold for €275. There is also a Moravian reprint and a digital copy is available at google books via Worldcat. A second, slimmer, volume of Transactions was published in 1869 covering the years 1868 and 1869, and this seems to be the rarer of the two volumes. No more Transactions were published.

More LSAK auction items next time.





Thursday 14 March 2024

Recent auctions - Chess Match Steinitz-Blackburne, and Steinitz-Lasker Match

The two recent chess book auctions held in November 2023 by Lund Chess Academy (LSAK - Sweden) and Antiquariat A. Klittich-Pfankuch (Braunschweig, Germany) featured many rare items. I will have a look at some of the scarce and rare English language books offered for sale.

LSAK auction November 2023

Chess Match between Messrs. Steinitz & Blackburne, written and annotated by W. Steinitz, The Field Office, London 1876. 56pp.



In his six page Introduction Steinitz explains that the match arose from a desire by various patrons of the game to see a contest between the two leading players from the Vienna International Tournament held in 1873, narrowly won by Steinitz from Blackburne after a two game play-off. The match was for £60 a side with the winner to be the first to score seven wins, and alarm clocks (alarum time pieces as Steinitz called them) were used to regulate the time limits of 30 moves in two hours followed by 15 moves in each subsequent hour.

Steinitz declared that the match excited much interest among chess players and the general public alike owing to the extensive coverage in the London daily papers. However, The Westminster Papers, (which frequently attacked Steinitz), generally ridiculed the match, denounced it as a chess farce, criticised the standard of play and dismissed the contest as of little interest to London chess players. (WP March 1876 page 215).

Steinitz won the match by seven games to nil with no draws, and he devotes 46 pages to a detailed summary and analysis of each of the seven games, enlarging on what had previously appeared in his chess columns of The Field.  

This is a rare book and a pencil note on the title page of this copy states  "not in L/N". It is true that this was not in that collection when the Bibliotheca Van der Linde-Niemeijeriana catalogue was published in 1955, but it is included in the Supplement issued in 1969. Several major libraries have copies and it is also available digitally at

This particular copy came from the Stockholms Schacksällskaps Bibliotek and is signed by Ludvik Collijn the chess patron, author and president of the Swedish Chess Association from 1917 to 1939. I am not sure how much this added to the value of the book but much of the price paid of €1,107 is on account of its rarity. Another copy sold for €950 in the previous LSAK auction in September 2023.




Steinitz & Lasker Match, with Comments, Review, and Original Notes by H. E. Bird; George Bell & Sons London 1894. [2] + 39pp. 



Two books covering this World Championship match were published in 1894; first came The Games of the Steinitz-Lasker Championship Match, by J G Cunningham, followed a few weeks later by Bird's book.  Bird expressed disappointment that he did not have the market to himself for coverage of this match and had a few digs at Cunningham's book which is, in fact, a much more complete record of the contest. 

Henry Bird was acquainted with both Steinitz and Lasker and had played matches with both, and, although at other times Bird had serious differences with Steinitz, in this book he is heavily biased towards the former world champion. So much so that he produces a Summary of the Games with his Bird's Eye View which changes the actual result of the match from Lasker 10 wins, Steinitz 5 wins, and 4 draws, to a "legitimate result in best form" of Lasker 6 wins, Steinitz 6 wins, and 7 draws.


Bird also adorned his title page with The Turning Point, a position from game 7 where he claimed that Steinitz (Black) had missed a win at move 33 beginning with the move Qg3. Steinitz went on to lose this game and the following four games leading to the loss of the match. However Bird's analysis is faulty; Kasparov discusses this intricate position in his On my Great Predecessors Part 1, and declares that the Qg3 line is unclear (Page 124).



Bird gives just the bare moves of the 19 games and his unusual approach was to give a table of Critical Points and Crucial Errors in which he aimed to show where the play could have been improved, and leaving it to the reader to examine these positions further.  Bird also gives a summary of the play in each game and he examines one position from each of the first two games offering an alternative variation at these critical points. 


A digital copy is available at but unfortunately pages 4 and 5 are duplicated while pages 6 and 7 are absent.

This book sold for €135 which was probably a bargain as previous copies have sold for between £250 and £350.

This is a scarce book but not the rarest of Bird's chess publications, That must be Bird's Chess Reviews published in 1890. This 8 page item has several references in Hans Renette's extraordinarily detailed biography of H. E. Bird published by McFarland & Company in 2016. Renette suspects that the sole surviving copy of this is in Harvard University Library. I will have to add this to my Additions to Betts which I will continue soon.


I will look at some others next week.