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After reproducing the ‘Chess Crichton’ article on Zukertort which was discussed in our previous C.N. item, Jimmy Adams’ book Johannes Zukertort Artist of the Chessboard (Yorklyn, 1989 and Alkmaar, 2014 – respectively on pages 23-25 and 24-25) had a section entitled ‘The Zukertort Legend’. It began:
The reader may reasonably expect to be informed where exactly Ulrich Grammel published his ‘important piece of research’ on Zukertort, and it is scant help to be told, ‘in an article “Grandmasters are not gods” in the Rochade magazine’.
In connection with another book by Jimmy Adams, C.N. 10563 made an observation which could hardly seem more obvious or less controversial:
A note on page 225 of another monograph on Zukertort, Der Großmeister aus Lublin by Cezary W. Domański and Tomasz Lissowski (Berlin, 2005), shows the proper way of specifying where Ulrich Grammel’s research on Zukertort can be found:
For ease of reference, a feature article, J.H. Zukertort’s Alleged Accomplishments, has just been posted.
Marcel Klemmer (Bad Segeberg, Germany) raises the subject of a famous early photograph of Alekhine and Capablanca, of which a colourized version can be found on the Internet, and asks who the figure on the left is:
The above is the best-quality version of the photograph available to us, and readers’ assistance in identifying the figures on the far left and far right will be appreciated.
The demonstration board shows the final position in the first over-the-board encounter between the future world champions, an exhibition game played in St Petersburg on 14 December 1913; see pages 11-12 of Hooper and Brandreth’s The Unknown Capablanca. Our monograph on the Cuban had a small version of the photograph, cautiously captioned ‘St Petersburg, 1913/14’.
I. and V. Linder gave the picture in their Russian-language books on Capablanca (2005, page 183) and on Alekhine (2006, page 228), but whereas the former stated that the occasion was their first over-the-board meeting (i.e. in 1913), the latter asserted that it was their first tournament game, at St Petersburg, 1914 (an event which began in April):
When the Linders reproduced the photograph again, in 2011, on page 45 of another book on Capablanca, the date went back to 1913:
A figure standing on the right (also currently unidentified) is almost entirely visible in the version of the picture on page 38 of A.I. Sizonenko’s 1988 volume on the Cuban:
Similarly, on page 77 of a 1992 book on Alekhine by Y. Shaburov:
For bibliographical details concerning all these works, see Books about Capablanca and Alekhine.
Did the photograph appear in any Russian publications of the time, and, to reiterate our German correspondent’s enquiry, can the player on the left be positively identified?
The conclusion of an endgame study:
John Donaldson (Berkeley, CA, USA) notes that two octogenarians who have produced fine games in 2019 are Viktors Pupols (v Tiglon Bryce at the Washington State Championship in February and v Dmitry Zilberstein at the Western States Open, Reno in October) and Anthony Saidy (v Vladimir Belous at the National Open, Las Vegas in June).
Our correspondent provides these archive photographs:
John Donaldson: ‘Viktors Pupols (left) and his fellow Latvian-American master Ivars Dahlbergs at a tournament in the Pacific Northwest, late 1960s. The photograph comes from the archive of the late Alex Liepnieks.’
John Donaldson: ‘Arthur Bisguier,
Anthony Saidy and Pal Benko
Although the above photograph is undated, the newspaper headline appears to be ‘De Sapio on the Stand’, i.e. a reference to the trial of Carmine De Sapio in December 1969. That month saw the conclusion of the US Championship in New York, in which Bisguier, Saidy and Benko all participated.
Eduardo Bauzá Mercére (New York, NY, USA) sends material regarding Simagin from Shakhmaty v SSSR, 1968 (issue 10, pages 12-13, and issue 12, pages 26-27):
On page 26 Yakov Estrin reported that Simagin fell ill and died before his scheduled game against Geller:
A detail of the board position:
The position depicted occurred around move 18 in the Capablanca v Alekhine exhibition game (St Petersburg, 14 December 1913) mentioned in C.N. 11577.
From page 98 of Practical Chess Endings by Irving Chernev (New York, 1961 and London, 1962):
This is only the conclusion of J.H. Marwitz’s study. The full composition can be found on, for instance, page 85 of volume two of Comprehensive Chess Endings by Yuri Averbakh (Oxford, 1985):
The date 1937 refers to the year of the endgame study contest organized by the Tijdschrift van den Koninklijken Nederlandschen Schaakbond. The winning entries were not announced and published until the March 1939 issue (pages 86-87):
The recent death of two men of formidable intellect, Clive James and Jonathan Miller, prompts a few ruminations. Whether Miller had any particular interest in chess is unclear, but the prevalence of ineffectual criticism in the chess world and the dearth of rigorous interviewing (as mentioned in, for instance, Child of Change and Chess Thoughts) bring to mind a clever, documented remark of Miller’s which has been quoted in several of his obituaries:
Concerning Clive James, all available chess references by him are in our feature article, but a general remark is worth pondering:
That comes from page 159 of Unreliable Memoirs (London, 1980), in a description of his employment at the Sydney Morning Herald in the early 1960s:
A regular theme in Clive James’ output is that many writers, including ‘professionals’, are unfit for the task. C.N. 1079 (see Chess and the English Language) cited this description of editing work from page 33 of his follow-up volume of autobiography, Falling Towards England (London, 1985):
‘... sorting out tenses, expunging solecisms and re-allocating misplaced clauses to the stump from which they had been torn loose by the sort of non-writing writer for whom grammar is not even a mystery, merely an irrelevance.’
As regards content, it is, of course, vital to gauge accurately what readers do, and do not, need to be told, with matters seen from their standpoint. Poor writers often include information which is self-evident (or, at least, traceable via a quick Google search) while omitting information which is essential and requires elucidation by them. There should be no spoon-feeding of readers but also no off-loading of verification work onto them, or leaving them to guess what may or may not be true. With such basics accomplished, the writer’s skill comes into play at the next stage: attempting to produce prose whose flow is not impeded by the corroborative details.
Some writers have the peculiar habit of snippet-dangling, and the reference to Sydney in the above passage from Unreliable Memoirs indirectly reminds us of a small example: on page 1 of The United States Chess Championship, 1845-1996 by A. Soltis and G.H. McCormick (Jefferson, 1997) an aromatic morsel is waggled fleetingly under the reader’s nose. In a cursory list of some American chess masters’ professions, Sidney Bernstein is described as ‘a movie censor’. Nostrils atwitch, the reader hopes for some hard facts, but the book has already moved on to calling Jackson Showalter a cattle rancher. To rewind, though, what exactly is known about the assertion that Sidney Bernstein was a film censor? Where and when? Working for whom? In peacetime or in wartime, or both? Censoring what kind of films? What reliable source do the co-authors have for their tiny, if tantalizing, nibble?
When nothing is explained, everything and anything can be imagined; even, for instance, that – and stranger things have happened in chess literature – there has been a mix-up over, say, Sydney Sharp or Jacob Bernstein. Only with the rewarding discipline of real sourcing can the writer aspire to real clarity and real precision, and that is what readers deserve.
The above photograph, from page 6 of Das interessante Blatt, 20 January 1910, is in The Lasker v Schlechter Controversy (1910), but, as Michael Lorenz (Vienna) notes, a version with a full caption was published on page 59 of the February-March 1910 Wiener Schachzeitung:
From page 129 of The Chess Scene by David Levy and Stewart Reuben (London, 1974):
The unspecified source proves a disappointment: the alleged Tal remark is on page 44 of the End-October 1965 issue of CHESS, in an article by Dimitrije Bjelica. It follows a brief reference to Tal’s win against Héctor Rossetto at the 1958 Interzonal tournament in Portorož and begins, ‘“You play like Lasker”, we said to Tal ...’
There was a different wording on page 237 of Bjelica’s Grandmasters in Profile (Sarajevo, 1973): ‘They say that Lasker is going to lose in every other game, about me they say that I am going to lose in every one.’
As an addition to Charles Dickens and Chess, Ross Jackson (Raumati South, New Zealand) quotes two passages from Bleak House, in Chapters 5 and 20 respectively:
‘“Ah, cousin!” said Richard. “Strange, indeed! All this wasteful, wanton chess-playing is very strange. To see that composed court yesterday jogging on so serenely and to think of the wretchedness of the pieces on the board gave me the headache and the heartache both together. My head ached with wondering how it happened, if men were neither fools nor rascals; and my heart ached to think they could possibly be either ...”’
The feature article Jacques Mieses refers to occasional confusion between Arnold and Dirk van Foreest (and notably regarding the famous ‘Youth has triumphed’ game against Mieses). A photograph of Dirk van Foreest has been given in the article, from Een Hulde aan Jhr. Dirk van Foreest by L. Prins (Lochem, 1945), and below is the portrait of Arnold van Foreest published on page 191 of the June 1938 Tijdschrift van den Koninklijken Nederlandschen Schaakbond:
From page 13 of the Daily Mail, 14 November 1923:
This ‘news item’ about Hyram Russell Smart was reproduced on page 66 of the Chess Amateur, December 1923.
G.H. Diggle on page 4 of the BCM, January 1981:
From page 239 of the American Chess Journal, January 1879:
Given the alleged existence of ‘over 80 books in 180 editions’, it is an act of mercy that (contrary to the Wikipedia articles on, for instance, Bruce Pandolfini and Eric Schiller) the entry eschews a list and mentions only one alleged volume. However, that solitary reference, ‘Reyes del Ajedrez ISBN 84-88155-32-8’, is worthless because Bjelica had a series of books published under the generic title ‘Reyes del ajedrez’; the ISBN number given – randomly, it seems – is for the volume on Botvinnik (Madrid, 1994).
The first paragraph also affirms that Bjelica was ‘the arbiter at tournaments like Linares’. Which tournaments are ‘like Linares’ is an open question, and, in any case, no substantiation for the alleged role is provided. There is, at least, a little something on page 177 of the May 1988 BCM, in a report on the sixth ‘Ciudad de Linares’ tournament: ‘the chief arbiter was Viktor Baturinsky, helped by Dimitrije Bjelica and Diego Martinez Linares.’
Still in the first paragraph of the Wikipedia entry, we contend that ‘contends’ is far too weak a word in connection with the rifeness of misspellings and plagiarism in Bjelica’s books. It is not a contention, but the expression of an incontrovertible fact. The first of the two ‘References’ on the Wikipedia page will take the reader to Jan Timman’s description of Bjelica: ‘a gutter journalist who wrote books that were full of printing errors and plagiarisms.’
The references to ‘Black Oscars’ (with and without quotation marks) and ‘White Oscars’ (without quotation marks) appear outmoded, incomplete, unsubstantiated and irrelevant. Awards involving Bjelica need to be treated with the utmost caution. None of the ‘External links’ leads anywhere of value. The ChessBase one relates to a 2004 article with much dubious wording identical to what is still in the Wikipedia entry for Bjelica even today.
According to the first paragraph of the entry, Bjelica (a ‘FIDE Master’ with very few published games) ‘can be found in the Guinness Book of Records for playing a 312-board simul in Subotica in 1997 (score: +219 −1 =92)’, with the implication that the alleged record is still valid today. In which edition or editions of that book can such a display be found, and on whose authority was it included? We lack almost all pre-2005 editions of the Guinness work, but can confirm that Bjelica is not mentioned in any edition from 2005 to 2020.
On that unspecified day in 1997 did the ‘FIDE Master’ really dethrone Ulf Andersson, who had (although his own Wikipedia entry does not mention it) played the previous year against 310 opponents simultaneously in Älvsjö, Sweden? On that performance an illustrated, documented report was published on pages 32-33 of the January 1996 issue of Tidskrift för Schack.
A basic search in Google Books shows that Bjelica was listed by Guinness in a number of editions in the 1980s, for an earlier alleged display:
Without demurral, that claim was presented as still being a record on page 132 of The Even More Complete Chess Addict by M. Fox and R. James (London, 1993), but on what grounds? Video coverage of record attempts today often shows a Guinness adjudicator, ascetically dressed, with a pair of severe glasses, an unforgiving stopwatch, and pen menacingly poised over clip-board, but was any such invigilator present in Sarajevo during Bjelica’s alleged display? And what proof or corroboration was published in reliable Yugoslav sources of the time?
Concerning any alleged exploit by Dimitrije Bjelica there is, at the very least, fog. Nowadays, Wikipedia has some excellent chess entries, but Bjelica’s is currently one of the worst.
From page 238 of The Batsford Book of Chess Records by Y. Damsky (London, 2005), a messy work discussed in C.N. 3939:
No date (even the bare year – 1991) was given for Kurajica’s exhibition, and it is surprisingly difficult to find comprehensive information in either print or on-line sources.
William Hartston (Cambridge, England) submits the oldest specimen that we have been able to give so far, from page 237 of the March 1764 edition of the Critical Review, concerning A Poem on Chess by Guy Hawkins:
Source: page 355 of Alt om Skak by Bjørn Nielsen (Odense, 1943).
This photograph, owned by Ross Jackson (C.N.s 7727, 11563 and 11571), is one of several of Capablanca with the fencing champion Ramón Fonst (1883-1959).
In addition to ‘Fonts’ (see below), the spelling ‘Font’ is seen, as in Glorias del Tablero “Capablanca” by José A. Gelabert (Havana, 1923):
During a visit to the Biblioteca Nacional José Martí in Havana in 1986 we discovered a number of further photographs of Capablanca and Fonst:
Bohemia, 20 January 1918, page 13
The inversion of the names Alfredo de Oro (billiards) and Armando Marsans (baseball) in the original edition of our book on Capablanca was corrected in the second printing of the hardback and in the paperback.
Two further photographs from the same occasion were found in Bohemia (exact sources not currently to hand):
Page 318 of El Fígaro, 13 June 1915:
As ever, copies of better quality will be welcome. The final photograph above was reproduced in a feature in Bohemia, 31 August 1952, page 140:
The first part of the endgame discussed in Capablanca v Kalantarov:
1 Kf7 Ng5+ 2 Nxg5 fxg5
This second diagram was given on page 196 of The ChessCafe Puzzle Book by Karsten Müller (Milford, 2004), and the detailed solution on page 285 began:
Karsten Müller also pointed out those options in C.N. 2402.
José de Jesús García Ruvalcaba (San Diego, CA, USA) draws attention to pages 147 and 150 of volume five of the Encyclopedia of Chess Endings edited by A. Matanović (Belgrade, 1993):
The question is whether Karpov really made the highlighted assessment, with no mention of 3...g4.
Mr García Ruvalcaba is attempting to trace biographical information about Kalantarov and reports that a player of that name was in a crosstable of the 1920 Petrograd championship on page 2 of the 1 May 1921 issue of Листок шахматного кружка Петрогубкоммуны (Listok shakhmatnogo kruzhka Petrogubkommuny):
Yuri Kireev and Mikhail Sokolov (Moscow) send this early publication of the Alekhine v Capablanca photograph, on page 8 of the 50/1913 issue of the weekly magazine Весь мир:
C.N. 3454 (see too Chess and Hollywood) showed a small, poor-quality photograph of Capablanca at the chessboard with Finis Barton (1911-78). Now, Olimpiu G. Urcan (Singapore) has found another shot, on page 10 of Part II of the Los Angeles Times, 11 April 1933:
Can a high-quality copy of the photograph be found?
Regarding the game referred to, see Capablanca v Steiner (Living Chess).
See C.N. 11564 for the full page
The original publication of these illustrations, in Caras y Caretas, 24 September 1927, is provided by Olimpiu G. Urcan:
John Donaldson (Berkeley, CA, USA) raises the topic of players still competing strongly in their 90s. In addition to Enrico Paoli (1908-2005), he mentions Erik Karklins (1915-2017), whose career has been chronicled by Bill Feldman and by Ken Marshall.
Franz/Francisco Benkö (1910-2010) was discussed in C.N. 3445.
Michael Lorenz (Vienna) writes:
A recent addition to the Gallica website is a photograph of Alekhine watching a game between Lucienne d’Autremont and Paulette Schwartzman. Page 950 of L’Echiquier, June 1928 referred to the presence of the world champion at that year’s French ladies’ championship in Paris:
1 e4 c6 2 Nf3 d5 3 Nc3 dxe4 4 Nxe4 Bf5 5 Nc3 e6 6 d3 Bb4 7 Bd2 Nd7 8 Be2 Ngf6 9 a3 Ba5 10 d4 O-O 11 Bg5 Qc7 12 O-O Rfe8 13 Ne5 Nxe5 14 Bxf6 gxf6 15 dxe5 Rad8 16 Bd3 Qxe5 17 Re1 Qc7 18 Re3 Bxc3 19 bxc3 Bg6 20 h4 Qa5 21 g4 h5 22 Rg3 Kf8 23 Qd2 Ke7 24 f4 hxg4 25 Rxg4 Qh5 26 Rg2 Qxh4 27 Bf1 [sic] Be4 28 White resigns.
L’Echiquier, July 1928, page 970
Eduardo Bauzá Mercére (New York, NY, USA) forwards an Infobae report which mentions an exploit by Horacio Tomás Amil Meilán in his mid-90s: in 2018 he won a five-minute tournament at the Club Argentino de Ajedrez, Buenos Aires.
A further picture:
It comes from a Capablanca memorial page in the Diario de la Marina, 10 March 1942:
Vitaliy Yurchenko (Uhta, Russian Federation) sends the full article by P. Romanovsky on pages 180-182 of the 6/1959 issue of Шахматы в СССР:
Larger versions of the three pages are given in the feature article on the Capablanca v Kalantarov game.
The photograph shown in C.N. 3454 has been traced to page 2 of the North American Chess Reporter, April-May 1933. Below, courtesy of the Cleveland Public Library, is a fine copy:
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