Monday, 11 September 2017

Fred Reinfeld's early chess books

Having taken a light-hearted dig at Fred Reinfeld's repetitive output in the last article, I will redress the balance with a look at some of his earlier books from the 1930's.

Reinfeld wrote his first chess book* at the age of 23 in collaboration with Irving Chernev, and this was published by his own Black Knight Press:

Chess Strategy and Tactics, Fifty Master Games Selected and Annotated by Fred Reinfeld and Irving Chernev, New York 1933.

The fifty games cover the period from 1870 to 1933, although the majority are from the 1920's and 1930's, and include examples from the leading players and major tournaments of that period. Each game has a short introduction and instructive annotations. There is no indication in the book regarding each author's contribution but, curiously, the copyright notice mentions Irving Chernev only.

Here are the introductions to games by Steinitz and Reti:

Five portraits are included, the frontis features Steinitz, while Capablanca and Alekhine have been put together opposite page 66, and Isaac Kashdan and Salo Flohr appear opposite page 92.


I have two copies of this book, a hardback and a ring-bound softback. The only difference between the two is an advert in the latter for Curious Chess Facts by Irving Chernev which was published by The Black Knight Press in 1937.

Reinfeld's second book, A. Alekhine vs. E. D. Bogoljubow, World's Chess Championship 1934, edited by Fred Reinfeld and Reuben Fine, was published by David McKay Company, Philadelphia in 1934. 

The 26 games of this return world championship match are annotated over 48 pages but, again, there is no indication of who wrote what, unless you can distinguish between Reinfeld's and Fine's annotational style, which I haven't attempted.

Incidentally this is one of three books in English covering this, relatively lesser, world championship match; compared with, for example, Lasker v Capablanca 1921, Capablanca v Alekhine 1927, Alekhine v Bogoljubow 1929, and Alekhine v Euwe 1935 which each had only one book devoted to them in English. In fact, only the 1937 world championship match between Euwe and Alekhine had more books written about it in English (four), prior to the Spassky v Fischer match in 1972 (over 20 and counting).

The book on the left was published by The Freeman Press, which had printed Reinfeld's first book the previous year.

Reinfeld's next six books were all published in 1935, the year that he commenced his Modern Chess Library Series with The Book of the Cambridge Springs International Tournament, 1904,  and also the Reinfeld Limited Editions Series with The Games of the Match between S. Flohr and M. Botvinnik, 1933.

Most of Reinfeld's books from these early years are difficult to find and the only book that I have from 1935 is Dr. Lasker's Chess Career: Part I, 1889-1914, Printing-Craft, London. This was another collaboration with Reuben Fine, and there were no further Parts.   

Lasker was a favourite of Reinfeld's and he spent three years researching and analysing the 75 games for this book. 

Reinfeld released three books in 1936 and four in 1937 including volume VI in his Limited Editions Series: Keres' Best Games 1932-1936.  

This was a typescript production stencilled onto the rectos only and  includes 54 games with notes and analyses taken from various sources but mostly annotated by either Reinfeld (22 games) or Keres (25).

The book also has a detailed analysis of the Moeller Attack by Keres and an Errata compiled by Sidney Bernstein. Finally, the List of Advance Subcribers has 79 names.

From page 6:

A second volume of Keres' games was published in 1938;  Keres' Best Games Part II -- 1937, featuring 53 of the 88 games played by Keres in that year including some of his losses.

I have no idea how many of these Limited Editions were printed, but the subscription list in this particular book names 52 Permanent Subscribers and 50 Other Subscribers.

Reinfeld complains in his Preface that "the previous three volumes of this series have had a rather poor reception", but later states that "the first six volumes are now out of print", presumably including one of the aforementioned three.

The Preface also gave detailed information on the next planned volume in the series, a collection of Sammy Reshevsky's best games. This promised to include "contemporary descriptions and reactions to his appearance as a child prodigy", but, alas, this volume never appeared.

A game between Keres and Fine from the Ostend tournament of 1937:

Front covers of the two Keres games collections with errors in the label for Part II:

Fred Reinfeld was also a very competent linguist and translator. Most of the annotations in these two volumes came from non-English publications and were presumably translated by Reinfeld. He is also credited as translator in the 1938 book  From My Games 1920-1937, by Dr. M. Euwe, G.Bell & Sons, London, and receives fulsome praise from Euwe in his Preface.

By the end of the decade Reinfeld had written or co-authored over 20 chess books including volumes on several important tournaments such as Cambridge Springs 1904, Margate 1935, Warsaw 1935, and Kemeri 1937, along with annotated games collections of Botvinnik, Colle, Nimzowitsch, Keres and Lasker; and all of this was achieved before the age of 30.

 * Wikipedia, sourced by Bill Wall, states that an earlier book on the Bled tournament of 1931 was co-authored with Isaac Kashdan but I cannot find this in any bibliography or library catalogue, and doubt its existence. Reinfeld did, however, annotate 16 games for Kashdan's 1933 book on the Folkestone International Chess Team Tournament.

                                         © Michael Clapham 2017

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