Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Additions to Betts' Bibliography

Further to the earlier article, here are a few of the many American publications which escaped the net.

The Commercial Chess League of New York (organized 1923), 50 Selected Games from Tournament Play, 1935 to1952.   

This 54 page publication, which is stapled into card covers, was published by The Commercial Chess League of New York, but the editor/compiler is not named. All games are given without notes, in descriptive notation, together with an index of players and teams. 

Drueke's Chess Primer, published by Wm. F. Drueke & Sons, Inc, Grand Rapids, Michigan.



Again the author is not named and this 30 page booklet is undated, but reference is made to F.I.D.E.'s 1929 Laws of Chess as translated by the British Chess Federation in 1931. 

The illustrations on the front cover, title page and page 3, all display Drueke's unique and attractive octagonal based chessmen, as do the adverts at the rear;  perhaps this booklet was issued  with Drueke's chess sets.

The book gives basic instructions for beginners, and includes Technical Terms (with some dubious definitions), The Laws of Chess, some simple Openings, one illustrative game (Morphy v the Duke of Brunswick and Count Isouard), and one problem composed by Wm. A. Shinkman. 

and just in case you haven't seen it lately:

The Cleveland Public Library lists another book published by Wm. F. Drueke, in 1917, with the title A Beginner's Book of Chess; this is also not recorded in Betts.


E. S. Lowe's Chess in 30 Minutes, published by E. S. Lowe Company Inc., New York 1955.



The verso of the title page states "Copyright 1955 by Edward Young" and this is one of several books by Young which are not recorded in Betts. Others include:

A Pocket Guide to Chess Endings, publ. I & M Ottenheimer, Baltimore 1955
Chess at a Glance, Baltimore 1955
A Pocket Guide to Chess Combinations and Sacrifices,  Baltimore 1955
A Pocket Guide to Chess Pitfalls,  Baltimore 1955
A Pocket Guide to Chess Openings, Baltimore 1955
Chess: The Way to Win, publ. Castle Books, New York 1960

In fact the only Edward Young book recorded in Betts is The Complete Chess Player, London 1960. 
Edward Young was a pseudonym for Fred Reinfeld. 

This is another beginners's book, although much more comprehensive than Drueke's Chess Primer. The 94 pages give instructions on the game in Reinfeld's typically lucid style, with many examples of play illustrated with chess-board positions. The book includes seven clearly annotated games, each teaching a different opening, and showing how to capitalise on your opponents mistakes. 

There are four pages of adverts at the rear for E. S. Lowe's chess sets.


Movagram No. 1, Lasker vs Capablanca, St Petersburg Master's Tournament 1914. Published by The Victoria Company, Bloomington, Indiana 1924.


I have already discussed this small book in the article on Chess Books featuring a single game. There is no title page, and virtually no text apart from the Note on page 2, and the light notes to the moves, stated to be by Dr. Lasker.  The Note erroneously implies that Lasker defended his world championship title by winning this game.

This 87 page book shows, with a diagram for every move, the crucial 18th round game won by Lasker. This is described as "one of the most dramatic and famous games in all chess history" by Dale Brandreth in his 1993 book on the St Petersburg Tournament.

Regarding the scarcity, or otherwise, of these items, I can find no record in any library catalogue or bibliography of the Commercial Chess League and Movagram works, but the booklets by Drueke and E. S. Lowe are very common, with any number available on the internet.

                                        © Michael Clapham 2017

Saturday, 15 April 2017

The Year-Books of Chess, 1907 to 1916 Part 3

The Year-Book of Chess, 1913, London 1914.


It was All Change Here! this year; the title page now includes "Founded by E.A.Michell", and the Preface announces that the Year-Book has changed hands and is now the exclusive property of Mr. Frank Hollings. Several improvements were planned for this and future editions, including "a tolerably complete list of all works on the game published during the twelve months". Unfortunately this did not come to pass.

Some regular features of previous editions had been omitted to make room for new material this year; namely an article on Kriegspiel by W. H. Stephens, Brilliancies, with examples of recent striking short games, and a 44 page Addendum with particulars and games from the early part of 1913.  

There is also a Review of Modern Chess Openings, second edition (revised), 1913, by R. C. Griffiths and J. H. White. This concludes:

The General Review of the Year was written by E. A. Michell and the main events from 1912 were the international tournaments at San Sebastian, Pöstyen, and Breslau, each won by Rubinstein, (jointly with Duras at Breslau). However, Michell again comments that "England is very nearly non-existent as far as International Chess is concerned" This was the final contribution from Michell who subsequently pursued his career as a concert director. 

Several other events are detailed in the 220 odd pages of tournament and match coverage including a third match between Marshall and Janowsky in Biarritz, 1912, and the Alechin v Levitzky match held in St. Petersburg, 1913. 

Here are a couple of interesting adverts at the back of the book:


The Year-Book of Chess, 1914, edited by M. W. Stephens, London 1915.

The outbreak of war in Europe was not only blamed for the late publication of this edition but, more seriously, caused a hiatus in international competition for several years. The main event in 1914 was the Grand International Masters' Tournament at St. Petersburg, for which entries were extended to include Alechin and Niemzowitsch, and where Emanuel Lasker and Capablanca met over the board for the first time. Many other tournaments and matches are reported on including the unfinished Mannheim Tournament. 

New features this year include the End-Game Section by C. E. Cecil Tattersall:

Also Periodical Chess Literature, giving details of dedicated chess periodicals and newspaper and magazine chess columns from around the world. The editor acknowledges that this first attempt at such a list is "lamentably deficient" but hoped to improve on this in future years.

There are articles on Chess Organisation in Great Britain by R. H. S. Stevenson, A Brief History of the Ponziani by W. H. Watts, The Muzio Gambit by T. Hamilton, and Kriegspiel by W. H. Stephens.
Several books are reviewed this year including two of A. C. White's Christmas Series books, and Chess Strategy by Edward Lasker, reviewed by.... Edward Lasker! 

Ed. Lasker's review continued for another two pages.

Other books reviewed include The Grand International Masters' Chess Tournament at St Petersburg, 1914, The Second Player in the Chess Openings by Colonel R. K. Teversham**, and Staunton's Chess Player's Handbook, revised and edited by E. H. Bermingham, which is slated. But the promised list of new works on chess did not appear.

** The Second Player in the Chess Openings, London 1914, is mentioned in a, tongue in cheek, remark by Michael MacDonald Ross on page 102 of Bob Meadley's must read for chess book buffs: A Letter to Bert, (A medley about chess libraries, dealers and collectors), available online.

From page 102 of A Letter to Bert

The selection of Brilliancies includes the following:

An advert for Mortimer's Chess Player's Pocket Book claims that this "has enjoyed a larger circulation than any other book on chess that has ever been published".  A wild statement not borne out by the number of surviving copies.


The Year-Book 0f Chess, 1915 and 1916, edited by W. H. Watts and A. W. Foster, London 1917.


The editor for the 1914 Year-Book had departed for military service and the joint editors for this final edition were W. H. Watts and A. W. Foster. The Problem Section had also changed hands from P. H. Williams to H. G. Hughes.

The Preface, by the joint editors, gave the usual apology for the lateness of publication and acknowledged that, in the absence of the Continental chess magazines, they had drawn heavily from the chess columns of The Field, (now conducted by Amos Burn).  The editors also welcomed the new Chess Annual for 1915, published by British Chess Magazine, viewing this as a supplementary work rather than  a rival publication.  

There were no major international tournaments during these two years and it was often difficult to  obtain information on the few events that did take place. However, the editors managed to include reports and games from the New York Masters' Tournament of 1915 and the Rice Memorial Tournament of 1916, both won by Capablanca, and 100 pages are devoted to these events.

The Leopold Trebitsch Tournaments of 1914 and 1915, both won by Schlechter,  are included, as are various tournaments amongst the Russian players interned in Germany, in which Bogoljuboff fared particularly well, winning three of the tournaments reviewed and finishing second to Flamberg in the other.   


Some Historic Blunders. W. H. Watts gives over twenty examples by famous players.

Problem Tourneys and their Methods. G. W. Chandler discusses some of the difficulties in conducting satisfactory problem tournaments.

Chess Coincidences. W. H. Watts highlights some similarities in chess problem compositions, positions reached in over-the-board play, and even whole games, citing striking similarities between Lasker-Bauer, Amsterdam 1889 (game No. 2 in Dr. Lasker's Chess Career by Fred Reinfeld), and Niemzowitsch-Tarrasch, St. Petersburg 1914. (game No. 24 in the tournament book mentioned above). Watts concludes his article with the following chess doomsday scenario:

In another chapter on Kriegspiel, Alfred W. Foster claims that "the Year-Book contains the only authoritative information on Chess Kriegspiel which has been published in the English Language."

The End-Game Section by Tattersall and the Problem Section by Hughes make their final appearance, and the adverts at the rear include these recommendations by Frank Hollings:

And so ended the ten year run of this useful and informative publication, which had often been produced under difficult circumstances, but which had provided an important record of world chess events.   

                                       © Michael Clapham 2017

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

The Year-Books of Chess, 1907 to 1916 Part 2

The Year-Book of Chess, 1910 edited by E. A. Michell, London 1910.

The Preface begins with the annual apology for the late appearance of the book (August 1910), this time blaming illness, but "I can safely promise publication for February or March" for the 1911 edition.

The General Review of the Year  relates that the only big international tournament held in 1909 was the very strong Tschigorin Memorial Tournament in St. Petersburg, which was jointly won by Emanuel Lasker and Akiba Rubinstein. This receives extensive coverage on pages 75 to 132 of the book. 

There were several important and/or interesting matches during 1909 including the three game blindfold match between Schlechter (½) and Mieses (2½), Marshall's matches against Jaffe, Capablanca and Showalter, Rubinstein v Mieses, and the two matches between Em. Lasker and Janowsky. 

Details and annotated games from all of these matches are included in the main part of the work, along with results from several lesser events including the National Russian Tournament, held alongside the St. Petersburg Congress, and which was won by the "promising young player" A. A. Alechin.

Em. Lasker and Rubinstein topped the Master's Averages for 1909 with 80.55%, while a new table this year lists the averages in B.C.F. Championship Tournaments,  1904 to 1909, headed by W. E. Napier with 77.27%, although he is one of many in the table who had competed in only one of these events.

The rest of the contents are similar to previous years with the Scores in the Chief International Tournaments updated to 1908, and the Chess Club Directory now includes chess clubs in New Zealand. 

Some interesting adverts for chess books at the back include one for all seventeen volumes of The Chess Monthly for sale at £5.5s, although originally published at £9.15s.6p, and one for back numbers of the Year-Book of Chess where the price had increased considerably from the original cost of 3/6.

The Year-Book of Chess, 1911, edited by E. A. Michell, London 1911.

There is no Preface this year, so no excuses for the late publication of this volume which was issued in June 1911.

In his General Review of the Year the editor laments the fact that no English player has made any impression in an International Tournament since Amos Burn at Ostend 1906; he also points out that no master tournament has been held in England since 1899. The editor also nominated Em. Lasker, Schlechter, Duras, Niemzovitsch, and Spielmann as the leading players of 1910.

The major tournament of the year was the Hamburg Congress in which seventeen year old Alekhin made his debut in a major international event. 38 pages are devoted to this tournament, and the two world championship matches held in 1910 between Lasker and Schlechter and Lasker and Janowsky also receive extensive coverage.

P. H. Williams' Problem Section, the Chess Club Directory and Scores in the Chief International Tournaments appear as usual, and an addition this year is the list of Winners of the German Chess Association Haupt Tournaments from 1877 to 1908. However, there are no Master's Averages this year.

The Year-Book of Chess, 1912, edited by E. A. Michell, London 1912.

Published in July 1912, with apologies, the format was again very similar to previous editions with broad coverage of the major tournaments of 1911 at San Sebastian, won by Capablanca on his international tournament debut, and Carlsbad, won by Richard Teichmann. Reports and games from several lesser events and matches are also included. The General Review of the Year gives brief details of the chess achievements of Capablanca, Teichmann, Vidmar and Yates. 

An interesting addition to the Year-Book this year was the Chess Lover's Kalendar compiled by Miss Clara Millar. This lists the birth and death dates, where known, of around 650 chess personalities from the sixteenth century onwards, and it was envisaged that in future issues brief summaries of the careers of the more famous names would be added. This does, however, have many discrepancies compared with Gaige's Chess Personalia. A previous edition of The Chess Lover's Calendar had been published by Clara Millar in 1910, see Betts 8-23, but this did not reappear in later editions of the Year-Book.

In the next article I will look at the final three volumes in this series, which incorporated several alterations in format and content following the change of ownership to Frank Hollings, and the change of editor to M. W. Stevens for 1914, and W. H. Watts and A. W. Foster for the 1915-16 edition.

                                        © Michael Clapham 2017