When contacting us by e-mail, correspondents are asked to include their name and full postal address and, when providing information, to quote exact book and magazine sources. The word ‘chess’ needs to appear in the subject-line or in the message itself.
The latest book by Stephen Fry, More Fool Me (London, 2014), has many passages about chess in the chapter featuring his 1993 diary. They relate to that year’s Kasparov v Short match and begin on page 262.
William D. Rubinstein (Melbourne, Australia) writes:
Trustworthy writers naturally resist the temptation to repeat unverified material, and especially in a domain such as chess lore which is notoriously infested with imprecision and uncertainty.
From page 220 of Total Chess by David Spanier (London, 1984):
Information is sought about the tale, which had appeared on page 92 of The World of Chess by A. Saidy and N. Lessing (New York, 1974):
With regard to the short game Rotlewi v Eljaschoff (Elyashov), St Petersburg, 1909, Javier Asturiano Molina (Murcia, Spain) wonders whether the fact that neither 13 Bxe5 nor 14 Qc1 was played suggests that it was a pre-arranged draw.
The game was referred to, in the context of symmetry, in C.N.s 1488 and 1507 (see page 258 of Chess Explorations). The former item mentioned page 17 of Chess Kaleidoscope by A. Karpov and Y. Gik (Oxford, 1981):
The book’s only other information about the game, on page 16, was that it was ‘played at the beginning of this century’.
In C.N. 1507 François Zutter (Founex, Switzerland) referred to the game’s publication on pages 353-354 of the Russian-language book on St Petersburg, 1909, which recorded that it was played in the last round of the All-Russian Hauptturnier on 27 February. The symmetry was not perfect (2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Nc3 Nf6), but the final clock-times were identical (ten minutes per player):
From pages 97-98 of the March 1934 BCM:
A small correction was published on page 181 of the April 1934 issue:
Regarding the ‘unsystematic book The Soul of Chess (in German)’ referred to in the BCM report, on pages 5-6 of Alekhine Nazi Articles (Olomouc, 2002) K. Whyld speculated that, although no such book ever appeared, ‘perhaps some of the ideas that were in Alekhine’s mind at that time appeared in the PZ [Pariser Zeitung] series’.
Some additional quotes:
Source: Bell’s Life in London and Sporting Chronicle, 22 November 1835, page 3.
Wolfgang Heidenfeld’s entry on aphorisms on page 16 of The Encyclopedia of Chess by Harry Golombek (London, 1977) included the following:
No source was supplied, and the observation has also been given without further particulars in the entries on Georg Kieninger in a number of German chess encyclopaedias:
Our latest feature article, bringing together citations noted previously, is The Soul of Chess.
This photograph from the 1951 world championship in Moscow has been sent to us by Sergey Solodukhin (Saint-Branchs, France). He believes that it was taken by his father, Nicolai, in whose archives it was found.
C.N. 3196 (see A Chess Database) mentioned the moves 1 e4 e5 2 Qh5 Nc6 3 Qxf7+, and there are many versions of the related story involving Emanuel Lasker. One ‘is-said-to’ example comes from page 90 of A History of Chess by Jerzy Giżycki (London, 1972):
Page 283 of the August 1959 CHESS had an account reproduced from a chess programme on BBC radio:
How far back can the story be traced? We recall an editorial account of a lunch with G. Koltanowski, one of the least reliable of all chess chroniclers, on page 255 of the November 1938 Chess Review:
From the inside front cover of CHESS, 18 October 1958 we quote the opening sentence of a brief notice of Instructions To Young Chess-Players by H. Golombek (London, 1958):
‘X’ is an imaginary prolific chess author (‘book-doer’ may be a better term) who decides to bring out an anthology of miniature games won by the world chess champions. A day or two’s casual clicking in his database suffices for the requisite ‘research material’ to be assembled. The book is quickly completed and, no less quickly, warmly welcomed by the review-doers.
One of the games in the compendium is a 13-move victory by Emanuel Lasker against J.E. Randel, courtesy of (i.e. unquestioningly lifted from) Mega Database 2012:
At best, ‘X’ contributes to chess knowledge by mentioning that Black missed a mate in five at move 11.
A more conscientious writer might wonder whether nothing more precise than ‘USA tour sim 1907’ is available, and whether the unusual spelling ‘Randel’ is correct. If FatBase 2000 is consulted, an exact place, New York, will be found, as well as an unwelcome complication: the loser was identified there as ‘J. Randall’.
‘X’ has long since exhausted his interest in the matter, but others may contemplate the drastic step of ascertaining what has appeared in print, whether in primary or secondary sources.
Page 61 of Emanuel Lasker Volume 3 by K. Whyld (Nottingham, 1976) named White as ‘J.E. Randall’, and two sources for the game were mentioned, without dates: the Chicago Sunday Tribune and the Chess Amateur.
Below is what was published on page 4 III (Sporting section) of the Chicago Sunday Tribune, 15 December 1907:
Something is clearly awry here, because the introductory text says that Lasker lost, whereas the game-score specifies that he won.
The Chess Amateur also has a surprise to offer. The Lasker game was one of eight bunched together, with scant information, in the ‘Brilliants and Miniatures’ column on page 271 of the June 1908 issue:
So now there is not only another name, ‘J.E. Randale’, but also the statement that he won the game.
The researcher hopeful of discovering the game-score in the American Chess Bulletin will be disappointed, although a vague passage by Thomas J. Johnston may be found hidden away on page 251 of the December 1908 issue:
Next, it is necessary to consider page 127 of K. Whyld’s second anthology on the world champion, The Collected Games of Emanuel Lasker (Nottingham, 1998):
This time it is said that Lasker was White, and Black’s name has become yet another variant, ‘J.E. Randell’.
Fortunately, the whole affair is not as intractable as it may seem. The obvious source to consult for a game played in Brooklyn is the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. That newspaper’s chess coverage systematically used the spelling ‘J.E. Randall’, and not least when reporting his victory over Lasker the day after the simultaneous exhibition (on page 18 of the 21 November 1907 edition):
‘J.E. Randall’ was also the spelling when the game-score was published on 8 December 1907 (page 10):
By now, the historian will hardly have grounds for doubting that in Brooklyn on 20 November 1907 Emanuel Lasker lost to J.E. Randall. Although remaining on the look-out for further information, he may find his attention switching to the references in the above Eagle cutting to J.E. Randall and his uncle, Captain Randall, in the hope that some biographical data can be traced.
Javier Asturiano Molina (Murcia, Spain) notes the title page of The Neo-Sveshnikov by Jeremy Silman (Moon Township, 1991):
Black to move.
Black now played 12...Rd8, but instead should he have attempted to consolidate his position with 12...g6, 13...Bg7 and 14...O-O, or, alternatively, with 12...Qd5, followed by queen’s-side castling?
Reuben Fine recommended those ‘correct’ lines on page 188 of The Middle Game in Chess (New York, 1952) when annotating the game Tarrasch v Meiser:
The game was included in Tarrasch’s Dreihundert Schachpartien. Below, for instance, is page 267 of the third edition (Gouda, 1925):
The earliest correction of Fine’s note that we can cite was by C.R. Worthing of Oxford in a letter dated 10 January 1954 on page 98 of the March 1954 CHESS:
The oversight in The Middle Game in Chess was also pointed out by H. Vaughan of Chatswood, Sydney on page 133 of Chess World, July 1960.
From page 20 of the programme for the 2002 ‘Russia versus the World’ event in Moscow:
The November 2014 world championship match between Carlsen and Anand will be taking place one month before the latter’s 45th birthday.
C.N. 1288 (see page 127 of Chess Explorations) quoted from page xvii of My Best Games of Chess 1905-1930 by S.G. Tartakower (London, 1953):
We add now that the same age was specified by Euwe in a Dutch newspaper (can a precise source be found?) quoted on pages 325-326 of the July 1961 CHESS in the context of that year’s return match between Tal and Botvinnik:
Arpad Elo’s views on age were quoted in C.N. 1330, an item reproduced on page 127 of Chess Explorations. He considered that ‘peak performance is attained around age 36’.
This is a further game from the score-books of A.G. Laing (C.N.s 8728 and 8762), and a late specimen of play at the odds of pawn and two moves. The only information about the occasion is ‘Eastman Cup’, but the chronological order suggests that the game was played in or around October 1941.
A.G. Laing – Jacques Mieses
1 e4 … 2 d4 c5 3 Qh5+ g6 4 Qxc5 e6 5 Qb5 Nf6 6 Nc3 Nc6 7 Nf3 a6 8 Qd3 Bg7 9 Be3 d5 10 exd5 exd5 11 Qd2 Bf5 12 Bd3 Ne4 13 Bxe4 dxe4 14 Ng5 Qe7 15 f3 exf3 16 Nxf3
16...Nb4 17 Rc1 Nxc2+ 18 Rxc2 Bxc2 19 O-O O-O 20 Bg5 Qd7 21 Qxc2 Bxd4+ 22 Kh1 Qg4 23 Qb3+ Kh8 24 Qxb7 Rae8 25 Rd1 Rxf3 26 Qxf3 Qxg5 27 g3 Qe5 28 Rd2 and White resigns.
Pete Klimek (Berkeley, CA, USA) notes that illegal castling was also proposed in the note to the Tarrasch v Meiser game on page 306 of Tarrasch’s Best Games of Chess by Fred Reinfeld (London, 1947):
Eduardo Ramirez (Chicago, IL, USA) has found this puzzle
by Sam Loyd in the Chicago Daily News, 22 November
For now, the remainder of the item (the solution) is omitted.
The puzzle was reproduced, under the title ‘The Chess Playing Colonel’, on page 27 of Mathematical Puzzles of Sam Loyd selected and edited by Martin Gardner (New York, 1959). The solution was on page 131.
Some comments about Max Euwe by W.A. Fairhurst on page 11 of the October 1928 Chess Amateur:
This was Fairhurst’s first note, after 1 Nf3 Nf6 2 c4 c5 3 g3, in the game Euwe v Capablanca, Bad Kissingen, 1928 (a 43-move draw).
Two games introduced with unusual words:
1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 d6 3 Bc4 Nc6 4 d4 f5 5 O-O exd4 6 Nxd4 Nxd4 7 Qxd4 c5 8 Qd1 fxe4 9 Nc3 Nf6 10 Bg5 Qe7 11 Re1 Bf5 12 Nd5 Qd8 13 f3 Be7 14 fxe4 Bd7 15 e5 Resigns.
Source: page 21 of Chess Chips by J. Paul Taylor (London, 1878).
1 e4 e6 2 d4 d5 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Bd3 Ne7 5 Nf3 O-O 6 e5 Ng6 7 O-O Bxc3 8 bxc3 b6 9 Bg5 Qe8 10 h4 Nh8 11 Bf6 g6 12 Ng5 Nd7 13 Qh5 Nxf6 14 exf6 Resigns.
Source: the annotated games column by W.N. Potter on page 239 of the Westminster Papers, 1 March 1879.
Peter Verschueren (Kudelstraat, the Netherlands) notes an advertisement for The Modern Bogo 1 d4 e6 by Dejan Antic and Branimir Maksimovic (Alkmaar, 2014) on page 107 of the 6/2014 New in Chess. ‘A complete & fresh repertoire against 1 d4’ is proposed, by means of 1...e6 2 c4 Bc4+.
‘Recommends to answer’ is, in any case, strange, and the final line has ‘opprotunities’.
Wanted: information about a matter briefly reported on page 254 of CHESS, 16 June 1956:
From page 18 of A Book of Chess by C.H.O’D. Alexander (London, 1973):
From Alexander’s writings we can quote only two other brief references to Kim:
Source: Sunday Times, magazine section, 15 February 1959, page 26.
Secondly, ‘Ernest Kim, the five-year-old champion of Tashkent’ was referred to by Alexander on page 28 of the Sunday Times, magazine section, 5 April 1959.
Kim had been mentioned on page 106 of CHESS, February 1959 (‘issued 28 January 1959’):
As shown below, page 40 of the New York Times, 22 May 1958 had reported a statement by Botvinnik that Kim had talent, followed by a comment from Fischer: ‘If Botvinnik says Kim is good, you can believe it.’
The following month, on page 46 of the 18 June 1958 edition of the New York Times, it was stated that ‘Fischer is looking forward to playing against Ernest Kim, a 5-year-old Soviet chess prodigy’:
What, if anything, happened thereafter is currently unclear, but Kim’s name did appear again on page 9 of the New York Times, 8 January 1960, in a discussion on the Soviet Union’s handling of chess prodigies:
Regarding Panov and Kim, see too the article ‘USSR Youth Program in Chess’ on page 33 of the February 1960 Chess Review.
One or two databases contain a draw between Alexander Kotov and Ernest Kim. It was supposedly played in Tashkent in 1953, even though that is the approximate year of Kim’s birth. A final mystery for now is that the FIDE website has a ‘profile’ for a player named Ernest Kim (Russia) whose year of birth is given as 1945.
What more can be discovered about the prodigy, and especially in Russian-language sources?
Concerning the value of the chess pieces, Robert John McCrary (Columbia, SC, USA) refers to an 1857 edition of Hoyle’s Games by Thomas Frère:
Dan Scoones (Port Coquitlam, BC, Canada) has found that Ernest Kim participated in the 1968-69 USSR Schools Championship. In the back-cover report in the 3/1969 issue of 64 he was described as ‘an old acquaintance of chess fans’, and it was mentioned that he received a special prize for going through the event undefeated.
Pages 131-132 of the 4/1969 issue of Shakhmaty v SSSR reported that the championship was won by Alexander Beliavsky with 7½ points from nine games, and that E. Kim of Uzbekistan finished joint fourth with six points.
Christian Sánchez (Rosario, Argentina) notes that many results can be found by searching for ‘chess’ at the website of the BBC’s Genome Project, which ‘contains the BBC listings information which the BBC printed in Radio Times between 1923 and 2009’.
From Bradley J. Willis (Edmonton, Canada):
Daniel King (London) informs us that he has been reading Portraits and Reflections by Stuart Hodgson (London and New York, 1929) and, in particular, the chapter about Capablanca on pages 73-79:
C.N. 2790 (see page 312 of Chess Facts and Fables) referred to the book, in connection with the Mason quote at the start of the Capablanca chapter. A number of errors may be noted, such as the sleep story (discussed in C.N. 5118), an imagined age difference of only two years between Capablanca and Alekhine, and a misquotation on the final page reproduced above. In the Author’s Note in My Chess Career the Cuban wrote ‘conceal’, and not ‘reveal’.
The well-known figures featured in Hodgson’s book include King George V, David Lloyd George, Winston Churchill, Henry Ford, Sir Austen Chamberlain, Benito Mussolini and Sir John Simon.
Below is the obituary of [John] Stuart Hodgson on page 5 of the Manchester Guardian, 11 May 1950.
C.N. 7837 quoted a remark by Capablanca on page 71 of A Primer of Chess (London, 1935):
Did Tarrasch ever recommend the practice in his writings,
and, in any case, who was the first to make such a
Page 263 of book two of The Middle-Game by M. Euwe and H. Kramer (London, 1965) has the following:
For ‘Woodshifter’ read ‘Woodpusher’. The relevant ‘Tales of a Woodpusher’ article by Fred M. Wren was entitled ‘It helps to sit on your hands’ and appeared on pages 28-29 of the May 1947 Chess Review. The key section:
Source: Chess Review, May 1947, page 29
In an article ‘The geek defence’ on page 9 of the Radio Times, 25-31 October 2014 Dominic Lawson refers to ‘chess – the game Goethe described as “the touchstone of the intellect”’. However, C.N. 5901 showed that there are complications with this quotation when Goethe’s writings are examined.
What is the earliest known appearance of the specific wording ‘the touchstone of the intellect’ to describe chess? An uninformative example is on page 7 of The Chess-player’s Week-end Book by R.N. Coles (London, 1950):
On 6 September 2014 a contributor to the English Chess Forum drew attention to the BCM’s poor on-line presentation of an excellent article by G.H. Diggle published by the magazine in 1955. Even today, despite a prompt from the contributor after a six-week wait, obvious repair work to the on-line version of the article is still required.
In 1955 the Editor of the BCM was Brian Reilly. His practice was to accept correction graciously.
Another locale where interesting material is interspersed with bilge is ChessBase.com, and, to mention a recent example, the ‘Discuss’ section on chess coverage in the New York Times. The underlying issues (the future of chess columns in newspapers and on-line editions thereof, the possible inter-relationship between formal columns, feature articles and other outlets, the combination or separation of news and comment, and the credentials of chess columnists) are of great importance and require serene treatment on a forum uninterrupted by precipitant submissions of the ‘here’s-my-two-cents’-worth’ variety.
In any case, chess can ill afford to lose a journalist as conscientious and fair-minded as Dylan McClain.
As reported in C.N. 74 (see Chess Jottings), page 94 of Chess by Paul Langfield (London, 1978) had the following in its Glossary:
A similar indigestible wording was on page 54:
Those who have seen the book may be unsurprised by the suggestion that White can extricate himself from the skewer by playing his queen to a square defended by a black piece.
An additional alleged kind of skewer (‘when the attacking piece is between the two defenders’) was discussed by James Eade on pages 108-109 of Chess for Dummies (Hoboken, 2011):
Most writers would call this a bishop fork.
Two definitions of ‘skewer’ from reference books:
Such definitions pass over the eventuality that the defender’s two pieces have the same value. On pages 37-38 of The Inner Game of Chess (New York, 1994) Andrew Soltis referred to the threat of the ‘Bd6 skewer’ after 36 Bf4 in Kasparov v Lutikov, Minsk, 1978:
Soltis also quoted a remark of Kasparov’s about the position, naturally without giving the source, i.e. page 3 of The Test of Time (Oxford, 1986).
As regards the origin of the term ‘skewer’, we show the full text of an article referred to in C.N. 3061:
A photograph from page 275 of CHESS, 14 April 1937:
Below is a report about Edgar Pennell on page 7 of the Lancashire Evening Post, 6 July 1937:
Further information about Pennell and George Hadfield was published on page 454 of CHESS, 14 August 1937.
On page 10 of the Times, 23 October 1976 Harry Golombek referred to Pennell’s contribution to chess in Liverpool:
Pennell was mentioned in the section on the skewer on pages 48-49 of Easy Guide to Chess by B.H. Wood (Sutton Coldfield, 1942):
Wanted: further occurrences of the chess term ‘skewer’ before publication of Wood’s book, and particularly from the 1930s. Existing C.N. items on the theme have been gathered together in our latest feature article, The Chess Skewer.
From page 6 of the first edition of B.H. Wood’s Easy Guide to Chess (Sutton Coldfield, 1942):
A sentence which stands out:
Calculated how, and by whom?
100% of statistics about the popularity of chess should be distrusted by 100% of chess writers.
The full text of Sam Loyd’s puzzle, including the answer, from the 22 November 1905 edition of the Chicago Daily News:
From Michael Clapham (Ipswich, England):
The picture was published on page 100 of that issue of the Illustrated London News, with a reference in the caption to Staunton’s chess column on page 99:
Another illustration (‘Four’) in the Staunton feature article was discussed in C.N.s 5998 and 6015. In the former item a correspondent suggested that the artist’s signature seemed to read ‘Maguille’, and in the latter we noted that the picture had appeared in the Chess Monthly in 1890.
Source: page 164 of A Century of British Chess by P.W. Sergeant (London, 1934)
Source: page 193 of Chess Monthly, March 1890
‘Pictures of Howard Staunton’ also mentions that a similar sketch, by Alexander Forrest, was published on page 70 of The Chess-player’s Week-end Book by R.N. Coles (London, 1950):
Coles’s book had illustrations by Forrest of 11 masters: Philidor, Labourdonnais, Anderssen, Lasker, Alekhine, Euwe, Botvinnik, Staunton, Steinitz, Capablanca and Morphy.
Mr Clapham now adds:
C.N. 5857 asked for information about ‘It is always too early for P-KB4’, described as a ‘maxim by a well-known foreign Master’ on page 18 of One Hundred Chess Maxims by C.D. Locock (Leeds, 1930).
From pages 18-19 of Technique in Chess by Gerald Abrahams (London, 1961):
On pages 152-155 of the July-August 1921 American Chess Bulletin Henry W. Barry wrote an ‘In Memoriam’ tribute to the problemist Joseph C. J. Wainwright. From page 155:
Wainwright’s fiction and poetry were discussed on the last two pages of an article about him in the September 1892 American Chess Monthly (pages 163-169). For example:
From page 68 of the Chess Player’s Chronicle, 1 March 1878:
Did the Hartford Times publish any of the entries?
Page 168 of the September 1892 American Chess Monthly stated with regard to Wainwright:
Source: American Chess Bulletin, July-August 1921, page 153.
Copyright: Edward Winter. All rights reserved.