PfeilJohn S. Hilbert

Essays in American Chess History


Essays in American Chess History has been a joy to create. Unlike larger, book length works, the essays here are self-con­tained, small or at least smaller units, each devoted to a different facet of the game that fascinates, infuriates, and forever will re­main mysterious to us all, regardless of the many advancements made in modern tech­nology. The essays may be read individu­ally as well as collectively, and offer the reader glimpses into byways of the past long neglected. They record as well, at least for me, a progression in my thinking about chess, history, and their interrelationship.

In a curious fashion this book crept up on me. For the past few years I have been writing shorter pieces concerning chess history as a kind of break from more con­suming projects, at least more consuming in length and scope. The latter projects in their preparation and execution are more like marathons. The former, more like sprints. Both require significant effort, though of a different kind and style. The shorter works here involve multiple facets of American chess history, from tournaments to players to exhibitions to corre­spondence chess. They evoke a curious spectrum, from ordinary club life to, liter­ally, murder. Diverse as such subjects are, by the time I had written most of the essays appearing in this book, I could see that certain themes had been developed, and that more of a pattern to my writing had emerged than I had ever consciously in­tended. For in every case, it has been the interrelationship of the event, be it match, tournament, or whatever, with the players involved, that has come to the fore in my writing. Bare game scores are no more chess history than is pure biography con­cerning the players, great and small, who have lived and loved the game. In truth, only when the two, the play and the man, or woman, have come together, do I feel I have in part successfully rendered some­thing of my own pleasure in the game and its past, in order to share that pleasure with others. For it is, after all, in a very basic

way, for the readers' pleasure that most authors write. As with chess, where two parties are required to create a masterpiece or a common game, two parties, writer and reader, are required in order to make suc­cessful a literary endeavor about chess and its history. I can only hope whoever reads this book derives from doing so at least some of the pleasure with which it was written. For then indeed, unlike in chess, both parties, writer and reader, can be win­ners.

The essays presented here are grouped in four sections. Section One, Studies in Time, concerns itself mostly with tourna­ments and club play. Included are a selec­tion of both new and previously published pieces. The extended essays on the murder of Major Wilson (Chapter 1) and the Washington Chess Divan championship of 1942 (Chapter 4) are entirely new, never before published pieces. Indeed, their pub­lication outside the confines of such a col­lection as this would be in at least one sense problematic, as they both are of such a length as to be suitable neither for individ­ual publication nor for publication in the more accessible journals. Of course, from my own perspective, they are perfect for just such a volume as this. ..


i Publisher's Note

ii Introduction

iv Table of Contents

Section One: Studies in Time

001 Chapter 1 Death of a Chessman:The Sad, Brutal Murder of Major William Cheever Wilson

019 Chapter 2 The Agony and the Ecstasy: Adventures in American Chess History Research

029 Chapter 3 The Franklin Chess Club Championship, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 1897-1898

065 Chapter 4 A Clash of Generations: The Washington Divan Chess Championship of 1942

095 Chapter 5 Chess in Philadelphia: 1864

117 Chapter 6 The Marshall Chess Club in the 1 950s (Written with Aristea Mengarini)

128 Chapter 7 The 1897 Franklin - Manhattan Chess Club Telegraphic Team Match

145 Chapter 8 The New York State Chess Association's Mid-Summer Meeting at Saratoga Springs 1899

165 Chapter 9 The Eighth American Chess Congress: Atlantic City 1921

Section Two: Players, Now and Then

188 Chapter 10 Polish-American Chessplayers

205 Chapter 11 Capablanca In Cleveland

212 Chapter 12 More Recovered Chess Games: Steinitz, Pillsbury, Lasker, and Capablanca

227 Chapter 13 A Player in Search of a Biographer: George Henry Mackenzie 232 Chapter 14 Napier: The Search Continues

237 Chapter 15 Norman Tweed Whitaker and the Search for Historical Perspective: A Tale Full of Genius and Devil

247 Chapter 16 Learning the Trade: Simuls, Skittles, and Rapid Transit - From the Mengarini Papers

253 Chapter 17 The Queen City: George Thornton and Early Buffalo Chess

Section Three: Essays on Correspondence Chess

262 Chapter 18 Stalking the Blue-Eyed Chess Score

265 Chapter 19 Two Generations, Generations Ago

269 Chapter 20 A Century Ago in Correspondence Chess

274 Chapter 21 Chess Columns: Now and Then

284 Chapter 22 Oh, Brother: The Duffer's Guide to Handicapping Correspondence Chess Siblings

293 Chapter 23 "To Checkmate the Kaiser": American Correspondence Chess at the Conclusion of the Great War

297 Chapter 24 Emil Kemeny and the Value of Correspondence Chess: An Historical Perspective

304 Chapter 25 Mordecai Morgan: Mystery Man of Correspondence Chess

315 Chapter 26 A Correspondence Chess Historian Meets the Computer Age

Section Four: Miscellaneous

323 Chapter 27 A Tale of One City (Review of Chess in Philadelphia)

328 Chapter 28 Conserving the Past: Chess Life as a Historical Vehicle Of Mid-Twentieth Century American Chess

337 Chapter 29 Five Suggestions for Enriching Chess History Writing

340 Chapter 30 Interview with John Hubert, by International Master Richard Forster

357 Index of Games

Article number:
Pfeilgame collections
PfeilCaissa Editions
15.7 cm
23.5 cm
0.700 kg
John S. Hilbert: Essays in American Chess History
359 pages, cloth-binding/ embossed in gold, 1st edition 2002.
nach oben - to the top  Top