Chess Camouflage Publications

Edward Winter


Page 93 of David DeLucia’s Chess Library. A Few Old Friends (Darien, 2003) presents the colourful front cover of the late-1880s edition of Der praktische Schachspieler, whereas in C.N. 3156 we referred to a version which dated from the 1930s. Strange to say, we have yet to find K.G. Steinitz’s volume mentioned in any chess periodical of the time.


As regards the twentieth-century editions, Richard Forster (Winterthur, Switzerland) has discovered that there exists a Tarnschrift version, i.e. a camouflage publication. This refers to the practice, quite common in Nazi Germany, of binding prohibited or otherwise unacceptable (e.g. Communist) reading matter into an innocuous (non-political) book, to reduce the risk of detection. Mr Forster writes:

‘I eventually found a copy in the Schweizer Sozialarchiv. It is a 96-page book. Page 3 has the original chess preface, but almost all the other pages are the Tarnschrift. Pages 4-79 contain a 1933 pamphlet Der Kampf gegen Faschisierung und Militarisierung der Jugend by Vasily T. Chemodanov, and that is followed by a resolution Die Faschisierung und Militarisierung der Jugend und die Aufgabe der kommunistischen Jugendverbände (pages 80-95). Then page 96 has part of the table of contents (i.e. going as far as page 96) of the K.G. Steinitz chess book. The size of this Tarnschrift volume is about 11 cm by 7.5 cm, as opposed to 15 cm by 10.5 cm for the other 1930s editions. The front cover is yellow on red, with no blue as in the illustration in C.N. 3156.’

Our correspondent adds that the Steinitz book is listed on page 15 of Bibliographie der Tarnschriften 1933 bis 1945 by Heinz Gittig (Saur, Munich, 1996). There is also a chess book simply entitled Schach, also listed in the bibliography by H. Gittig (on pages 194-195). Mr Forster furthermore informs us:

Schach is another miniature book (12 cm tall) which had first appeared in 1914 in Leipzig, with no author specified. The actual title (as given on the title page) is Praktischer Leitfaden des Schachspiels. A revised edition (112 pages) by Reinhold Anton was published in 1950 (Gebr. Gerstenberg-Verlag, Hildesheim). The Gittig bibliography states that the Tarnschrift version of this book appeared in 1939. No author was specified, and the publisher was given as Friedrich M. Hörhold of Leipzig. Its 59 “secret” pages (out of a total of 64) were devoted to various texts from the periodical Kommunistische Internationale.’


No headway has been made yet in sorting out (i.e. dating) the various editions of K.G. Steinitz’s book Der praktische Schachspieler. Our collection contains the work in three formats (see the front covers above), all these books being undated:

I. A 224-page unindexed hardback with a colour photograph on the front cover which bears quite a resemblance to the picture of Anderssen and Morphy on page 171 of David Lawson’s book on Morphy.

II. A 224-page unindexed paperback with a monochrome cover (with, on the imprint page, the stamped reference ‘’):

III. A 212-page indexed paperback whose front cover was reproduced in C.N. 3156. Our two copies of this edition vary slightly on the imprint page. One states ‘Printed in Germany / S 28,6 / 5.4.40 / 959’, while the other has ‘Printed in Germany / S 28,3/7,5.12.31 2797’. What clues, if any, this can offer remains to be discovered.

Richard Forster informs us that the corresponding reference on the imprint page of the Tarnschrift edition is ‘Printed in Germany / s 28,3 / 7,5 12. 31 2797’.


To the Chess Notes main page.

To the Archives for other feature articles.

Copyright: Edward Winter. All rights reserved.