|A Letter to Bert (8/8)|
A Letter to Bert (8/8)
GATHERING IN THE CHRISTMAS SERIES
I started down this road in 1965 when the late Frank Ravenscroft snared me for chess problems. He introduced me to Alain White’s great series. He gave me No.1 “Sam Loyd and his Chess Problems” It is a waterstained copy and one I’ve not used much because I have the Dover reprint. This book is the most used book in my library and is falling apart. That has saved Frank’s copy. Written on the front end paper is Frank’s Dewey decimal numbering system 794.4 and pinned onto page 10 are the dates on which he tackled some of the problems. There is no year but he solved No 5 on September 14 and he finished No 60 on January 22.
The piece of paper on which the dates are written, was a slip from one of the public companies in which Frank held shares. He wasted very little and was a recycler long before it became a modern habit. I have written of him in the Whyatt book and 20 years later I still remember him with affection. Did he know I needed a hobby? I think he did. His daughter Enid Daglish lives in Fernbank Retirement Village at St Ives. I audio taped Mrs Ravenscroft and Enid some years after Frank’s death in 1968 and I have all his letters.
He was a good poet and his correspondence with friends was mostly about stamps and chess. I have examined his scrapbooks which date from about 1948 until his death and noted 24 correspondents initials. Clearly WW was Bill Whyatt; OK was Dr O’Keefe; FH was Fred Hawes; PP was Phillip Pedler of South Australia (“One of the best” wrote Frank); RB was Rurik Bergmann, MF was Matt Fox a young friend of Frank’s as I recall. He wrote or glued in funny sayings from popular magazines. Some had a chess theme:-
Punch 8.1.1950 ;- “He should be drummed out of the Chess Problem World with Kings reversed and boards broken”. (I don’t know whom this refers to or whether Frank used poetic licence to change the subject to chess)
From Aldous Huxley’s “After Many a Year”:-“This problem was not called into being by vulgar problem-lore necessity, rather does it represent elements of pure fun and necessity. A platonic problem”.
From New Statesman 1957:-“The stalemate is the penalty for mauling without killing”.
And a Frank original from 7 August 1967:-
“Fit calm employment for advancing years,
My homely joys, sure antidote to care.
Among my life’s less fleeting souvenirs
Are problems. I compose with friends to share.
Across the board, just one tastes victory,
The loser’s pride must suffer some distress,
But with our problems, mate in two or three
Composers, solver, each enjoy success.”
Ken Whyld has written a booklet on the Christmas Series and I won’t repeat here what he has written about each book except to say that a 12 page supplement of Sam Loyd was published in 1914. I don’t have it. My copy of Sam Loyd has mauve coloured covers with gold lettering. Frank gave me the book in 1966.
No. 2 “Les Milles et un Mats Inverses”-the double volume also came from Frank. The late John Kellner, then editor of the Sunday Mirror chess column was invited to the Ravenscrofts’ home not long after Frank’s death in February 1968. Following is an extract from his letter dated 19 July 1968.
“…She (Mrs Ravenscroft) was naturally distressed but was most concerned over Frank’s chess gear and relieved when I told her that I would be most honoured to take charge of it.
Apparently Enid, their daughter, had gathered her father’s chess books and papers together and wanted to burn them because she had never been happy with the amount of time her father spent on his chess problems.
I was invited up on the following weekend to inspect the books. In spite of her recent tragic loss, Mrs Ravenscroft was in good spirits and happy when I told her that some of the books were perhaps the only copies to be found in Australia and would be treasured by any chess problemist. I had only heard of Mrs Baird’s “..Retractors” and never thought that I would ever see a copy, especially one that was so close to being burnt! Because Enid insisted that whatever I didn’t take would go on the fire, I naturally received the lot.
You can imagine how Mrs Ravenscroft felt a few days later upon reading the will in which Frank stressed that he wanted you to have his chess books, particularly as I had told her of my intention of distributing the books and magazines, that I had already copies of, at the St George Junior Chess Club.
Fortunately Mrs Ravenscroft rang me the day before and I assured her that I would pass the books on to you immediately, as they were still intact in the cartons, which I delivered that week to O’Connell St where I met your step-father and explained what had happened.
That’s when you came into the picture, Bob. I can understand your pleasure on receiving such a treasure…..”.
Dear Mrs R.- thank heavens she had been persistent. Enid and I hit it off after that close call. She often said to me how time wasting chess was and as a busy school teacher herself I can understand. Frank’s papers were lost. I’m not sure what happened to them and I did not raise it with John Kellner as I thought he would think me greedy nor did I raise it with Mrs R or Enid at some of our later visits. I believe they were burnt and even if John kept them, his library was mostly lost in a fire in that tragic double suicide around Christmas 1987. I received 25/30 books in Frank’s will.
H B Bignold of Wentworth Court Sydney was the prevous owner of “Les Milles…” and he was admitted to the Sydney Bar in 1899. A prolific author, his “Australian Chess Annual” was before its time and a priceless historical work. Historians have relied on it to guide them with further research in that 19th century era. It appeared in October 1896. He was a great chess official of the NSW Chess Association, President twice and Vice President for many years. His legal textbooks were many, a book on epigrams called “Likewise” was another facet and a book on Auction Bridge. He was President of that Association in 1927 as well as being a council member of the Millions Club.
Purdy wrote that Bignold was one of the most genial and popular personalities in the game. He left a wife and son and daughter on his passing on 24 January 1930 aged 59. There are few noted in the solution book so Frank did not use it much. Alongside No.370 is written in Frank’s hand “S.H. 13.6.55” Probably the Sun-Herald column. There is a pencilled list of 8 problems on the back end cover. It would be interesting to know when he bought this set as Frank was out of chess from about 1916 until 1946. It was signed by Bignold in a flourishing signature and his legal chambers “Wentworth Court” is below the signature. On receipt of all those books of Frank’s, one thing was clear. There were only the two volumes of “Les Milles…” but the Christmas Series whetted my appetite. This was a series worth collecting.
My chief wish in the late 1960’s was to get a copy of “Retrograde Analysis” and as this was one of the rare volumes I wrote to Guy Chandler and he kindly agreed to send out the BCPS copy for me to copy. He sent it out on March 24 1969 and it arrived 31 March and that was the day Norma and I started to handwrite each of the pages. We did it about 50/50 and I stamped the diagrams. It took us a fortnight and then it was posted back to the BCPS where it arrived safely having been sent registered mail.
Of course this wasn’t really a copy of a Christmas Series book but it was a copy of a copy and I look at it with affection today 30 years later. I suppose it was a cheap enough way (not counting labour) of putting together a copy and I wasn’t the first to do this. I have a copy of Arthur Napoleao’s “Caissana Brasileira” 1898 copied by Max Weiss in Bamberg in 1904. Now that was a fair effort and he had it properly bound to finish it off.
I had been buying books from Guy Chandler since 1966 and after getting the Christmas Series books from Frank I wrote to him and asked to be included in any further book sales of this series. It didn’t take long and the familiar blue air mail letter with that classical handwriting arrived. His 6 September 1969 letter was:- “..You mention the Alain White Christmas Series, but most of these deal with direct mates, and I don’t know which of them you would want. If you would like the offer of any of them, I would send you an air letter if and when I have some, as I do from time to time. They are readily taken, as at least six members want some of them, but I have filled wants freely in the last two or three years, so I sometimes have one or two books that are not on the wants list…”
I replied on the 10th and he must have replied almost immediately on the 16th stating that he had noted that I would like the offer of any A C White series,
“ …except Sam Loyd…” and he wrote again on 26 September offering me:-
No.3 “Problems by My Friends” for 16/-. He continued:-“Unless you write me otherwise, I propose to send them as they become available, seldom more than two or three at a time unless we are lucky enough to be left the library of some long standing member who had most of them…”.
There is little to tell about No.3. It is in good condition – some water staining on the cover but very nice contents. There are no indications of previous owners. This book contains some lovely photos of White’s friends namely C S Kipping, F Palatz, Edmond Lancel, L H Jokisch, George Hume and Reginald B Cooke.
No. 4 “A Genius of the Two Mover” On 24 October Mr Chandler wrote again offering me the last of the series published in 1936. Sad that it had come to an end but I had the end before I had the start or most of the middle. A not so good copy with cover rather soiled and few annotations inside, but a very fair second-hand copy-20/- post free. I took it. When it arrived I was rather pleased to see the BCPS Library stamp on the end covers and the No 207 on the front cover. The 207th book in the collection?
No. 5 “Running the Gauntlet” 1911. On 30 March 1970 Mr Chandler sent me this most unusual book with German text on the RHS of the first 63 explanatory pages and English text on the LHS. The problems are annotated in English. Again not a comment or name inside. The red cover was very sun faded but a good copy. 15/-
And then he really got into stride on the 4th May 1970 sending me No. 6 “Changing Fashions” 1925 for 12/6; No 7 “The Chessmen Speak” 1932 for 16/- and No 8 “Asymmetry” 1927 for 10/-.The last book had soiled covers but at last I had a name. The three books were owned by R R Jones of Pwllheli which is on the Lleyn Peninsular in Wales. A market town and resort of the Dwyfor District of Gwynedd, North Wales. It was an administrative centre and there was a large holiday camp near the town. Population about 5000. Jones had been a member of the BCPS for “fully thirty years” said the Problemist of March 1970 in commenting on his passing. That took him back to 1940. Perhaps – yes – he was living at 29, Cardiff Road Pwllheli in 1942 as he was in the Members List (Problemist June 1942) He does not appear to have been a composer in the Problemist and was not listed in the Index to 1935. Nor was he a solver in the Chess Amateur in 1930. No 6, 7 and 8 were on the shelves only 36 to go!
It was clearly going to be a long term task to make inroads at these low prices. And so I began reading old issues of CHESS, the British Journal by B H Wood where hundreds of books were for sale at much higher prices in his “Rare Book Auctions” month after month . I would love to remember where I first saw that magazine but suspect it was in Chess World and probably Easter 1970. When I saw the May-June 1970 issue there were 27 Christmas Series volumes for sale!! All on the back cover. To say I was pole-axed was about right. If I was successful with the bids I would have well over half the series in one bid. I accepted the auction prices as listed and bid for 26 of the Christmas Series plus other books. I received an air mail letter from Baruch Wood dated 26 August 1970. I had got every one of the Christmas Series bid for and he was agreeable to £20 down and £25/10/- a month later. I must have written to Mr Chandler earlier telling him that I was bidding in the CHESS auction and that future offers would best be notified rather than sent. He agreed in a letter dated 5th August.
Who could believe it? 26 volumes in one auction including some duplicates ordered for swapping and some rarities.
No 9 Roi Accule aux angles 1905 – the copy needed rebinding and was done in own case by a Sydney binder L J Cullen of Bankstown. No annotations 55/-
No 10 “Les Tours de Force sur l’Echiquier” 1906 – A Glasgow Chess Club book from the Borthwick Library. James Borthwick (1866-1932) was a Glasgow University Graduate and a stalwart of the Glasgow Chess Club. He joined the Club in 1895 and played in matches for 30 years. He was a specialist on problems and was quoted in BCM as “..always carried his pocket board in case of a sudden inspiration”. He was a teacher by profession and his library was acquired by purchasing books for sale in BCM sending money with his order. The library was offered to the Glasgow Chess Club and obviously taken up. There is a good photo of him in BCM 1932 p 395 and the text with it is mostly quoted above. He was Glasgow Club Champion in 1913 and won the Scottish Championship Cup in 1903. It was a very fine library but chess problem books in a chess club are probably not used much and so they were sold. There were no annotations in the book, just the Glasgow Chess Club stamp in red ink. 40/-
No 11 “Knights and Bishops” 1909 –previously owned by R L Halsey of 196 Wake Green Road Moseley Birmingham which address is stamped in the front of the book. On the back end papers is written “pub’d at $1.50 out of print 6/6” 60/-
No 12 ”The White Rooks” 1910 A battered old specimen with scuffs and stains. On page 113 some scribbling by a previous owners child or grandchild covers the solutions. Easy to tell why as the book was open at a Sam Loyd problem and doubtless left on the floor where little hands could copy what pa/grandpa was doing. The scribbling spilled over to page 115 – a pretty von Holzhausen miniature. 35/-
No 13 “More White Rooks” 1911 – a very good copy with some sticky tape markings on the inside covers but pristine internally. Was it ever used? 35/-
No 14 “First Steps in the Classification of Two-Movers” 1911-another good copy 25/-.
No 15 “The Theory of Pawn Promotion” 1912 – another Glasgow Chess Club Borthwick Library book. Sadly the only time it looks like it was opened is on page 45 where the club stamp has been placed. 35/-.
No 16 “White to Play “1913 - a good copy – no annotations 30/-
No 17 “Tasks & Echoes” 1915 – Amazing the difference in paper to No 16. This is a semi-gloss paper whereas No 16 was absorbent type paper so 35/-.
No 18 “The White King” 1914 – a good copy 40/-
No 19 “Chess Idylls’ 1918 – Some staining but a fairly good copy. 50/-
No 20 “Flights of Fancy in the Chess World” 1919. Alain White had a list in the back of this lovely book of Christmas Series volumes for sale. Even then some were out of print:-Roi Accule; Tours de Force; Les Mille.; Bauernam….; Dame und ein Laufer; Robert Braune. My copy has a faded cover. 40/-
No 21 “A Memorial to D J Densmore” 1920. My copy has a list of members 255 strong and all their names. The list was of members of the Good Companion Chess Problem Club at September 1 1916 and included from Australia:-A J Ansaldo, Dr J J O’Keefe, Arthur Mosely, Frank Robinson, W A Smith, Henry Tate and H J Tucker.
New Zealand had 9:-F A L Kuskop, W H Allen, O Balk, R A Cleland, L P Coombs, J H F Hamel, F Harvey, J Lang, S S Myers. There were members from 20 countries and there was a member from China – Rudolph Sze. The book contains a beautiful biographical sketch on Densmore who was Loyd’s son in law and a terrific photo of the two of them. 35/-
No 22 Alpine Chess 1921. Another lovely biographical book on Swiss problemists. My copy was owned by Frederick Forrest Lawrie Alexander (1879-1965) who for many years held important posts in the BCF, was a strong amateur and a well-known problemist. His stamp is on page 7. Presumably he stamped all his books. He was a member of the BCPS and lived at 8 Longstone Roan London during WW2. He was Vice President and President of the BCPS and being an accountant started a permanent fund that placed the Society in a strong financial position. On his play he defeated Bogoljubov and Golombek at Southsea in 1950, played for Surrey for 40 years and was 7 times champion of the Battersea Chess Club. It is an honour for me to own this book. Clearly a friend of Guy Chandler. 35/-.
No 23 “The Good Companion Two-Mover” 1922 A fine copy from the Borthwick Library of Glasgow Chess Club. A beautiful volume this one with extracts from the “Our Folder” magazine of the Good Companion Chess Problem Club. 60/-
No 24 “Echo” 1927 This amazing book is printed in three languages –Czech, German and English for the first 65 pages. The problems are annotated in Czech but around the diagrams it is easy to work out. One of the much larger volumes in the Series, it has a frontispiece photo of Alain White opposite the title page. Interesting to see White as he ages through the series via different photos. He wore well actually.A comparison with the photo in the Overbrook “To Alain White” shows that mens fashions change too. “Scarce” wrote Wood so 50/-.
No 25 “The Properties of Castling” 1928. I wouldn’t have thought it possible to write a book on castling problems but White and George Hume did it. There are three Chapters with four sub-headings per chapter and the Appendix deals with apparent Castling, Castling Tries and Thematic Keys in castling problems. Still, “Running the Gauntlet” is a book on en passant problems it has 267 pages. The castling books has 129 pages. 35/-.
No 26 “Antiform” 1929 Another large volume in German and English. This book has a complete list of the Christmas Series since the first “Chess Lyrics” in 1905. Publication information is of interest :-21 of the then 37 volumes were published in Stroud at the office of “The Chess Amateur”. In any comparison between BCM and the Amateur of this period, the publication of the Christmas Series by the good old CA needs to be included. Anyway there were 4 books published in Paris, 4 in Leeds, 2 in Potsdam, 2 in New York, 1 in Berne, 1 in Leipzig, 1 in Prague and 1 in Berlin making 37 with the last “The Golden Argosy” Antiform was “Scarce” so 60/-.
No 27 “Valves and Bi-Valves” 1930 The old firm of Alain White and George Hume in operation yet again. What a debt the problem world owes Hume also. As for White it is unpayable. My copy is pristine and looks like it’s never been used. 25/-
No 28 “An English Bohemian B G Laws” 1933 At last a tribute to the great man who carried the editorship of English Problemdom by writing the column in the Chess Monthly and BCM for decades. The tribute by Keeble makes this little volume one of my favourites and it makes me appreciate what a grand band of men the problemists were. There seemed to be a world-wide friendship amongst them all. But Keeble? Well, he was one of the very best. Here is an anecdote from the tribute where he was writing about the 19th century chess problem author John Augustus Miles:-“ ..Mr Miles passed the greater part of his life at Fakenham. He had a very obliging printer there – a man who considered it somewhat a privilege to even set up a single problem. After Mr Miles’ death the printer told me he was once knocked up at midnight. He looked out from an upper window and saw Mr Miles on his doorstep. “Come down, Miller. It’s a beauty,” said Miles. “I want you to set it up”. What happened I do not know..”
Yes, well maybe Keeble didn’t wish to publish Miller’s response? 30/-.
No 29 “Suomi” 1934 A very nice historical overview of Finnish chess problemists and Finland in general makes this more than just a collection of problems. A nice book. My copy is pristine – not a mark. 30/-.
No 30 “Conspiracy” 1935 Another very good copy –100 helpmates. 35/-
And so the feast from Baruch Wood came to an end and I had 30 of the Series, or so I thought. Wood had different ideas and next came:-
No 31 “The Chess Problem” 1926. Weenink’s famous book which was a translation from the Dutch by the author with changes suggested by Alain White and J G White providing the photos of the problem masters. This is one of the world’s great chess books and is difficult to buy. Unfortunately I have lost the price I paid for it. My copy is loose and shaken but I would not part with it. The list of problem lovers in the back by Weenink giving birth and death dates where known is a highlight and Keeble, Fr Dedrle, Otto Blathy, J R Neukomm, Martin Anderson, F Palatz, Eugene Kubble and others helped him compile it. A massive work.
I received a letter from Baruch Wood in May 1971:-“I feel a reasonable price for the 3 books sent is £4. Glad they reached you safely”. Again my letters are gone but these were the final 3 Christmas Series books I was to receive from him:-
No 32 “The White Knights” 1917 A smallish volume like the earlier ones. Nothing outstanding about it and I would think 20/- was about right.
No 33 “Bohemian Garnets” 1923 Another fine book chock full of echo problems and its finest exponent, Miroslav Havel. 30/- I would think.
No 34 “Simple Two Move Themes” 1924 All the CHESS volumes have Wood’s distinctive sticker inside the front cover. Another fine book 30/-.
There were 10 to go and I wrote to Guy Chandler telling him of my wants. But with a change of job from Brewarrina to Narromine, chess took a back seat briefly. 1973 was quiet, I tried to get the job as Problem Editor with Chess in Australia but Bernie Johnson put on Mike Winslade. He fell ill in 1974 and I asked again, this time I was successful. Lucky too as I was in a bit of a mental trough at the time.
I wrote to the US dealer Dale Brandreth on September 12 1974 and he replied:-
“…It is rather a stroke of extreme good fortune that you should write me at this time because just about a month ago I bought an extremely fine problem collection by a man, Clarence Southerland, who was formerly Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Delaware. I am enclosing lists of what I have been able to list so far. There will be a bit more, but this is the bulk of it…… I am glad Mr Sharp gave my name to you. I have dealt in chess books and magazines for about five years now, and though I do it as a side interest, I get much satisfaction and pleasure from being in touch with fellow collectors around the globe. Demand is heavy these days, so I cannot guarantee everything will be left on these lists by the time you get them, but I will try to apportion things anyway, rather than to give everything to the first to respond….”
Very fair way of dealing and I was lucky.
No 35 “Chess Lyrics” 1905 with supplement glued inside back cover. A glorious book bound by Stuarts Wilmington Book Bindery, Inc of 615 Shipley Street Wilmington Delaware. Whenever the Judge solved a problem a large pencilled ‘S’ with a circle around it appeared alongside the problem. This one has a few ‘S’s scattered through it. The most unseries like book of the Series being 498 pages thick. There is a cardboard bookmark in the shape of a straight ‘7’. It was cut from an invitation card. The pages of the book are gold leafed on the top. $17.50US
No 36 “200 Bauernumwandlung Schachaufgaben” 1907 One of the more difficult items to buy but a poor quality paper makes this volume disappointing. The cover is khaki in colour with the 1870 stamp of the publisher A Stein. The Judge has a few more liberally sprinkled ‘S’s in this volume. $6.50
No 37 “ J Juchli’s Schachprobleme” -1908 One of the rare volumes. Green cover and quite unusual for a Christmas Series volume. In German and lovely glossy paper with zebra striped end papers. A nice item. $22.50
No 38 “Ceske Melodie” 1908 Another of the German/English texts. Pospisil (1861-1916) was considered the greatest of the Bohemian composers. Born in Bestvin and died in Prague he was for some years instructor in Natural History at the people’s School of Ziskov, a suburb of Prague. A most unusual washed pink colour on the covers sets this volume apart from the usual red covered volumes. $11.50
No 39 “Memories of my Chess-Board” 1901 The first of the Chess Amateur publications from Stroud. A paperback! But the Judge had it bound in a lovely dark blue cloth by Stuart’s Bindery. It was for sale for $0.75 in 1919. This is the
“historical” book of the series. A truly lovely book and it was reviewed in the Chess Amateur of April 1910 p 212:-“All of Mr White’s chess experiences from the beginning are told, and each of his problematic contemporaries is alluded to in proper order. His remarks upon Loyd’s and Shinkman’s work will reach a warm spot in American hearts; and Mr White has been in a position to refer to his contemporaries interestingly; in as much as he has personally corresponded with all of the modern composers and has met many of them. At times during his “Memories” he intersperses examples of the work of other composers, bearing upon his own, and this idea is followed out at greater length in an Appendix to the book. Beneath the solution of his fiftieth example the author touchingly reveals the identity of “M.W.W.”, to whom nearly all of his books have been dedicated. It is his sister, who, so Mr White informs us, has been largely responsible for the success of his varied chess undertakings”.
Perhaps classing this up with “Sam Loyd and his Chess Problems” is rash but the way White uses his Catlin pocket boards as a catalyst to describe the stories is rather unique. Dark brown paperback cover inside is again unusual. $35
No 40 “Dame und ein Laufer” 1911 This too was a paperback from Veit at Leipzig. Bound by Stuart. Problems limited to Kings, Queens, Bishops and pawns. 600 of them. Quite good paper and not brittle. Another lovely item. $17
And so by the start of 1975 there were 40 sheep in the paddock! I bought very heavily during 1975 and a lot of good chess books came into my library. In April a letter came from Bill Whyatt which I gave in the Whyatt book on page 40 and with it came:-
No 41 “The Golden Argosy” 1929 The problems of William Shinkman. Opposite the title page is a list of the Christmas series 25 years on 1905 – 1929. There were now 37 volumes in the series. But what generosity from Bill Whyatt. I got further in his debt every letter. I didn’t realise then that he was shedding himself of all assets and that he was not well either financially or mentally. We shared a love of poetry and at the time Chess in Australia had a poetry competition running which was won by another dear friend Bill Morris. The second prizewinner by Len Fisher was rather good:-
“Would you a problem setter be,
Then be one in your infancy,
Your nurse will think it’s colic”.
The Shinkman book had a long birth. It started in 1911 with a collection by H Staerker of Bournemouth. This was expanded by Malcolm Sim of Toronto who was in contact with Shinkman himself. Eventually 3000 problems emerged of which 600 were included in the book. Otto Wurzburg, Shinkman’s nephew, George Hume and Joel Fridlizius checked the problems and Alain White finished his introduction with :- “..I wish to express my sincere appreciation and thanks, and I feel sure I can add the gratitude of the readers who, now and in the long future, are to enjoy the book”. How true.
In 1966 the Melbourne Library put out a Christmas Series Wants List in the ‘Australian’ newspaper chess column of 27 June and it stuck in the back of my mind. I bought three of those wants Roi Accule $14, Les Tours $20 and Les Milles $18.50 and offered them to the library in a letter dated 14/2/1975. It was to be my first contact with Ken Fraser. 24 years later we still write. But the library had filled those wants long ago and my friend George Meldrum bought them in August from me plus “The Properties of Castling”. Those three books from Clarence Southerland’s sale were a contrast. Roi Accule had belonged to the BCF having been presented to it by C E Biaggini. Les Tours was William Rice, the famous US problemists’s copy and was presented to him by Murray Marble. Les Milles was pristine.
I was still writing to Guy Chandler regularly and sent him my wants list for the Series in January 1976. There were only three and he replied on 15 January:-
“I received yours of the 5th Jany. A few days ago, but postponed mailing the Alexandre because I am expecting a copy of A C White’s Christmas Series “100 Problems by William Meredith”, and I want to send both books in one registered packet. I don’t know exactly what the Meredith will cost, because it comes in a lot we are purchasing, but this series have now become investment items, with more and more people trying to complete the set, and a negligible supply.The result is a staggering rise in prices on the Continent, and no book in the series sells at less than £5 if in reasonable condition. So it does not seem likely that there will be anything left out of the £15 you sent. Your set must be worth quite £300, as it only lacks two books, and one of those – Braune – may be considered unobtainable. In 25 years only one copy has passed through my hands….”
No 42 “100 Problems by William Meredith” 1916. So it was £5 for the book. It was marked internally at £1 and has the purchaser Harry Golombek’s signature there just below the £1 with an arrow pencilled from the price to his name. Quite amazing that the great British chessplayer should have owned it and I soon appreciated why the book was hard to buy – the book had 39 photos of composers, some quite rare. For example there is one of the NZ composer Kuskop. I’d never seen one before. Another was of Arthur Mosely of Queensland and there was a family tree of photos of the Meredith clan going back to 1799. Naturally the book was edited by ‘100 Members of the Good Companion Chess Problem Club of Philadelphia, USA’. Each member analysed one problem and each of their comments was given with the solution. As usual George Hume saw it through the Chess Amateur at Stroud.
The copy is very sun bleached and the great John G White even commented on Problem No 81. A treasured volume.
On 16 February 1984 Alex Goldstein wrote to me about his trip to Bat Yam for the problemists get-together and as well included the problems in the Guy Chandler Memorial Tournament. Chandler (1889-1980) was being honoured and Alex wanted the problem team to check them for him. I was pleased to get the request as I liked Guy Chandler. It is true that we never got to Christian names but he was a very helpful and friendly man who had sold me many problem books and had passed on many snippets of early problem lore. His review of my Whyatt book was more than I could have expected. Jim Jones and Brian Tomson checked the problems, Jim on his Scisys and Brian on his Boris computer and I solved them also. Comments were provided and the eight problems Alex had selected for honours were soon knocked into shape.
I wrote to Alex and mentioned his copies of Robert Braune and Retrograde Analysis that I had seen in 1978 and that I knew he had willed them to the BCPS. I suggested that there was no copy of Braune in Australia but that there was a copy of RA in the Fisher Library in Sydney. (This copy later went “astray” and I often wondered if my article on the library resulted in its disappearance)
Alex responded on 20 June:-“…I cannot unfortunately help you with the matter of the 2 books, but I believe that you should approach the Librarian (Mr Citeroni) now and ask for his assistance. All the books willed to the Society are usually sold afterwards so an agreement with you can only save postal fees. But my interference might be considered in bad taste-that’s how I see it..”.
I replied 12 July:-“..Regarding the two books-Braune and Retrograde Analysis I take it that you have no objection to my having first offer of them at the going price to the BCPS? If you would be good enough to state that in a letter I will then send it off to Mr Citeroni. Are you sure he is the one to contact and not R C McWilliam? But I guess he may check the books first to ensure any rare item is left in the BCPS library…”.
Alex replied 17 July:-“ ..In respect of the 2 books you are interested to retain in Australia I am willing to help in the following way: I consider that all books owned by me are now in my custody and I only have the right to use them. As these two particular books are almost never used by me I quite agree for the Society to sell them to you at a price fixed by them. Once this is completed I send the books to you. And I do not want to know who bought them and how much was paid. I just deliver them now instead of a later date. Of course, I would not part now with 90% of my books as I use them almost constantly for my studies, articles and detection of anticipation. I hope this will make you happy. Legally speaking it will be probably the first case when a dead man sold something while still being alive..”
I wrote to Robert McWilliam and he responded with a very interesting letter that showed clearly how careful the BCPS with the prices of chess books and how he decided on the prices for this deal:-
“..Thank you for your letter about the A C White books and for sending the copy of Alex Goldstein’s letter to you.
Robert Braune is by far the rarest of the series. This is probably because 500 copies are lying somewhere on the bed of the Atlantic Ocean after the ship carrying them was torpedoed and sank in 1914. I am sure dealers such as John Rather, Fred Wilson, Ken Whyld, etc would put it in their catalogues for £60 or more (Rather’s 1983-1 catalogue had “BauernamwandlungsSchachaufgaben” for £52.25 and the two volumes of “Les Milles et un Mats Inverses” for £62.75!!) and “Retrograde Analysis” for £40.45. (Ken Whyld had it for £42, I think, 2 years ago).
MY valuations for sale to the British Chess problem Society membership would be £45 for the Braune and £30 for Retrograde Analysis – provided it is in good condition as the Braune. I sold a f. good copy 2 years ago for £27.50. I hope this letter proves helpful to you and I shall look forward to hearing from you further in the matter…”.
I was pleased with the valuations –they were a little low but in the ballpark without the normal dealer markup. I replied:-“ I think your valuations from Braune and Retrograde Analysis were very fair and I am happy to close the deal now. I will save up for the draft and send it to you within the month. £75 in all.
Re the Braune I was interested to hear about the torpedoed ship. Didn’t know why it was so rare but that explains it. Alex bought it off Guy Chandler many years ago. (he did tell me but I’ve forgotten. Think it was in the early 60’s and he paid about £10/10/- but am not sure.) It has a green cover and is a large book of similar size to the Sam Loyd edition but quite thin. In fact an unimpressive book but for the fact it will complete my set. I seem to recall that Dick Ford got one not so long ago from Michael Macdonald-Ross. Yes, Michael wrote me in 1981 that he sold George Hume’s copy to Dick for £35 so there is still the odd copy around”.
Robert sent me a receipt for £75 in September and I had advised Alex all about what was going on in a letter dated 14 August. I gave him the prices, that I was happy with the valuation and would forward a receipt in due course. I also made an undertaking that the Braune would remain in Australia. I forwarded the receipt to Alex on 20 September with postage for the two books to come to me.
And in October they arrived.
No 43 “Robert Braune” 1914 And as I recalled it above was so it looked on arrival. A very nice cover-dark green and gold blocked lettering all in good condition. Inside on the front end paper was Alex Goldstein’s signature plus a name stamp and a number No 109. I guess of his collection. A nice photo of Braune but the paper is acid type, browning, small diagrams and generally verging on brittle. It is in French and was published by “Librairie De ‘La Strategie’ Paris”. Ken Whyld advised that most copies were lost with Lusitania in May 1915.
No 44 “Retrograde Analysis” 1915 No 86 in Alex’s collection. Hard bound in black cloth but very battered and falling apart. Contents very good but not an annotation anywhere just like Braune. What a pity. Originally published as a paperback.
And so it was all over. The quest began in the mid 1960’s had finished in late 1984. About 18 years.
Ken Whyld did a great job with his reprinted booklet “Alain White’s Chess problem Books” – A checklist of the Christmas Series and Overbrook Series, published under his patronage’. This booklet first printed in 1956 was scanned into Ken’s computer and with minor changes came out again in January 1997 and was originally from Ken’s “Chess Reader”. There were 66 copies of the reprint.
It is difficult to get detail on the print runs and Roi Accule has a print run of 200 according to Ken but he is not quite sure. I think that’s about right and it gives a lead on the runs of the early Christmas series. 500 of Braune were far too many as indicated by Robert McWilliam. If we recall that the great “A History of Chess” by Murray in 1913 had a first edition run of 2000 of which 1000 were pulped and then in 1962 a further print run of 1000, there just can’t be too many per volume in the series. I believe it would have gone up in the Good Companions Era and possibly higher again in the late 20’s/30’s. Say something like 200 up until say 1913-300 up until the Good Companions era and then perhaps 350 to the end.
Any ‘real’ print runs would be appreciated. Also as to what proportion of books went as gifts from White to his problem friends. Does anyone know?
There have been some brilliant reviews of the series volumes over the years and that would be an interesting chapter in itself. But some comment needs to be made about Dr J J O”Keefe’s reviews which were published in the Australasian Chess Review. Here is one from 1930 p 21+:-“ Once again Santa Clause, impersonated by A C White, has brought a precious gift to the home of every well known problemist throughout the world . For so many years have these unqiue gifts arrived with unfailing regularity, that it is to be feared some amongst us have almost come to look upon their appearance as a matter of course, and give but too little thought to the tremendous labour, and, above all, to the unparalleled and inexplicable generosity of which they are the outcome. It is not too much to say that the tremendous movement forward made by the problem art in the past twenty-five years has had its incentive, inspiration, and basis, in the magnificent series of Xmas Books donated to us by Alain C White. The thirty –sixth volume of this series, which came to hand this Christmas, is entitled “The Golden Argosy” and is a collection of nearly seven hundred problems by the world-famous American composer William Anthony Shinkman. Shinkman was born in Bohemia, but since the age of seven has lived at Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA. He commenced to compose when twenty three years of age, and within a year we find him winning first prize in a tourney conducted by the famous Dubuque Chess Journal for a set of problems, one of which was a 20-mover!
In those days, tourneys for ‘sets’ made up of problems of varying lengths were the fashion. Although the disadvantages of the system were so obvious that it has long since died out, one sometimes wonders if its occasional revival might do some good. I have in mind the curious fact that both in England and America there are scores of composers of repute who have given undoubted evidence of exceptional constructive ability, but whose names have never been seen above anything but 2-ers. Would the institution of tourneys for ‘sets’ entice some of these composers to forsake for a space the barren field of the 2-er, and induce them to exercise their technique in the immeasurably more fertile field of the 3-er at least? Unfortunately, they are so well provided for in the matter of tourneys in their own arid domain, that the answer would probably be in the negative.
Shinkman exploited practically every sphere of activity open to a composer, and excelled in each of them. Some of the world’s acknowledged gems in 2-ers, 3-ers, and 4-ers, bear the hallmark of his factory; but in multimovers, endings, retractors, helpmates, and puzzles, his genius was also displayed. He worked at such an amazing rate, that now, at the age of eighty two years, his output exceeds three thousand problems! This is truly an astounding total. Like his great confrere, Loyd, Shinkman was practically a law unto himself, and owed no allegiance to any particular school of problem thought. He had his own ideas as to what constituted a good chess problem, and expressed them so delightfully that he carried the world with him. His work is characterised by sparkle, wit, and elegance, and although his style of composition may even now have passed the heyday of its popularity, to give place to an era of complexity and profundity, his work will live as the magnificent expression of a phase in the evolution of our art.
Shinkman had many affinities with Loyd. Their ideals had much in common, and they differed merely in the scope of their expression. Whilst Loyd painted canvasses, Shinkman executed vignettes, but the work of each is so pervaded with the same keen sense of humour, wit, and quaintness, that together they almost constitute an American ‘school’.
The dozen problems here quoted will illustrate the Shinkman style.Nos 50 and 57 have become famous not only for their intrinsic merits, but for their historical associations. G E Carpenter, published about the same time a position practically identical with No 50 and Dobrusky did likewise in the case of No 57. In days when instances of unconscious imitation were still of rarity, sufficient to excite widespread comment, much ink was spilt in ‘explanations’ anent these two positions. The present volume contains a selection, made by Shinkman himself, of nearly 700 problems from his huge output. There is a most interesting preface written by Otto Wurzburg, who is a nephew of Shinkman’s, and himself a world-famous composer, and his name is bracketed with those of White and Hume as co-editor. The book is got up in the fine style of the ACW series, and is issued by the Stroud News Publishing Co of Gloucester, England. Dr J J O’Keefe”.
What an excellent review – more historical and topical of the problem world then but the comparison with Loyd seems right to me. I think the relationship between Loyd and Shinkman was put well by White in “Sam Loyd” pages 83/85 and it was nice to re-read that and see Loyd acknowledging Shinkman’s skill. Did they write to one another? It does not appear so. One can see from these pages that O’Keefe got his ‘imitation’ paragraph inspiration here. As for No 50 and 57, I can’t diagram these. The numbers in ACR were problems by others. Likewise No 50 and 57 in the Golden Argosy are 2-ers of another era. The No 50 O’Keefe writes about was published ca 1870’s and the No 50 in GA is from the 1890’s.
In the February issue of ACR problem page is ANOTHER review by O’Keefe – this time on “Antiform”, but that is for another time. Before leaving the Golden Argosy, Bill Whyatt cooked No 330 Shinkamn’s favourite double Indian with 1.Rd4. Or at least he gave the cook which is deadly. (After 1..KxR;2.Kb5 & 3.Bb6 or 1..Pg5;2.Bb6++)
It would be interesting to know what encouraged White to start the series. I have a theory that he copied Ludwig Bachmann (1856-1937), the ‘Chess Herodotus’. Bachmann produced a series of yearbooks from 1891 to 1896 and then 1897 to 1930 with each years events in one or more volumes. The total? 44. I am indebted to Ken Whyld for this information from OCC and have discussed this with him. He once had a full set of Bachmann. I doubt if the yearbooks were given away as were the Christmas Series to problem friends but that both series finished with 44 all is a coincidence that smacks of more. Did White wish to emulate Bachmann? Maybe he gave to the problem world what Bachmann gave to the chess players?
White’s obituary in BCM 1951 page 214/215 is just astounding in that one man could achieve so much. He was from a wealthy family and highly educated. I mentioned in White’s library article that ‘The White Memorial Foundation” gave thousands of acres to the State of Connecticut but we are interested here in the man, and chess problems. Here is what Sedgwick wrote in BCM:-
“..In the chess problem, the magnitude of his contribution has not been surpassed by any man, living or dead. It was his father who first awakened that rare genius that grew and spread like a fountain whose showers fell in every land that saw adherents of his hobby. An absolute mastery of his subject, whether in the role of composer, author, theoretician or critic, made him the supreme authority to whom lesser men turned naturally for guidance and understanding. In what can be a controversial subject, White bore his mantle of greatness with a modesty and self effacement that endeared him to all that knew him. He found his collection of problems in 1908 and was rewarded for this immense labour by seeing it become the dispassionate arbiter in all matters pertaining to two-movers. His forty-four books in the “Christmas Series” from 1905 to 1935 remain today a monument to a prodigious and continued act of liberality unequalled in the history of the minor arts. His literary accomplishments were here able to find beautiful expression, and now that the series can be viewed in its totality, we see that constant striving for perfection, whether coming from White himself or manifested in the work of other men under his inspiration. His second great series in the Overbrook Press add further enduring testimony to a magnificent and restless mind…”
No wonder the problem world loved him.
BOB MEADLEY AND A CHESS BOOK COLLECTION
A set of chessmen with hand carved knights and a lovely inlaid board and table owned by the Bryant family sent me down the chessic road which I still travel. I was 14.
Like many young people, collections of toy soldiers, comics and sporting items led to the literature of chess and play. It was fascinating. Here was an elderly man – Mrs Bryant’s father-a Scot, who played chess with us and all of us got fun out of it. What game was this that crossed generations?
My first book was Alexander’s “Chess” 1954 edition I think, with a photo of Mikhail Botvinnik opposite the title page. I lent this book and now it is lost. Botvinnik was world chess champion and an electrical engineer. Could one play chess, have a hobby and a work career? Botvinnik had done it – could I?
In 1955 I became an indentured electrical fitting apprentice in the NSW Railways. We were sent to various workshops around Sydney such as Elcar Chullora, Redfern, Bankstown and various electrical sub-stations and a stint at the ‘Greenhouse’ headquarters of the Railway at Wynyard. Theoretical training was at the old Railway Institute in Castlereagh Street opposite the Mark Foys building. There were snooker tables in the basement but no chess. There was a lot of chess play at Chullora with many European tradesmen in a workshop of over 1000 employees.
Cecil Purdy, the Australian chess champion, had a chess shop in Bond Street which was on the 4th floor after a very ricketty lift ride. I recall seeing a very youthful Trevor Hay and Max Fuller there in the early 1960’s. (In January 1996 I saw an older Max Fuller playing in the Australian Championships at the University of Technology.) I played a lot of chess in Hyde Park at the chess tables (now gone) and it was exciting playing against the old men. Sometimes a crowd would gather and there were lots of onlookers remarks. Enough to turn a young man’s head and mine was turned. Occasionally a good player from Koshnitsky’s Chess Academy would come over and I would find out that chess was really about forward planning. These players were usually too good but now and then I would win.
Could one learn from chess books? Alekhine’s 1908 –1923 was a revelation. He was only 16 years old in 1908 and he played like a god. Whilst those fabled cities such as St Petersburg, Vilna, Schevingen, Carlsbad and Mannheim were where I wanted to play, in the back of my mind I knew I never would . I just couldn’t understand the reasons for Alekhine’s moves even when there were long notes. Further visits to Hyde Park convinced me when I saw a penniless Frank Crowl the chess master. On that day ca 1960, in his soiled grey suit with the long pencil cigarette holder and his piercing eyes I realised. Chess mastery was only for the gifted few. The rest led a hand to mouth existence.
Was there anything then in chess problems? Could one become a gifted chess artist? John Kellner’s columns in the Sunday Mirror were inspiring. He was always able to encourage the school students and even the older players such as myself to join his ladder competitions. I was ‘Top of the Ladder’ six times between June 1963 and December 1964. The trophies were gold plated Kings, Queens, Rooks and Knights on a plastic base with one’s name inscribed on the base. The ladder solvers would travel through hell to win the ultimate prize of an inlaid board. I was just getting to the top of the heap in 1965 when a common occurrence took place; the competition collapsed as it often did in the money starved chess world. I was stunned – all that brain work and nothing. Oh well. At the same time I realised that the 50 or so electrical apprentices who had become tradesmen in the railways in 1960 had all left by 1965 except for me and another chap. They had gone to greener pastures. I could see my future in the railways by just looking at the older tradesmen –all grey – set in their ways –going through the same routine – on the same miserable salary. I must have seen this quite early as I started studying at night for the Leaving Certificate in 1956 and passed it in 1960. Chess was a terrible partner for study but I got through just in time. I closely examined the electrical engineering degree-the railway offered me some help but NO – it might have been easy for Botvinnik but it looked terribly hard to me. I gave a University education away and continued at Sydney Technical College commencing the Health and Building certificate. It was tough as there was work during the day and tech at nights. I started in 1962 at 3 nights per week and ended 1964 at 5 nights per week.
Daywork started at Elcar Chullora at 7.30am and finished at 4.00pm. It was then a drive to Sydney where tech started at 6.00pm and finished at 9.00pm. I got home about 9.30pm and dear mum had dinner waiting for me. She jollied me through the bad times and I passed scraping through in some subjects. Chess was always there threatening to break out and destroy my career. I passed - lucky.
A job in the country as an assistant health and building inspector took me to Coonabarabran – the Warrumbungle Mountains and cold winter nights. What to do? I soon found the chessplayers. They were kind but not keen. I saw a way out through chess columns. I would solve the problems and win prizes and in doing so I solved one of Frank Ravenscroft’s problems finding a slight error in it. I wrote to him and an enduring correspondence started which is described in the book “W A Whyatt’s Chess Problems”. I had joined the problem world as a solver. Frank tried hard to convert me to composition but it never stuck. Some solving was done in Koshnitsky’s Sun-Herald column and Purdy’s Telegraph column also. And then Frank sent me some old issues of “Problem” Zagreb – the great Nenad Petrovic was editor. What composers they were in Europe. Except for Frank, Bill Whyatt, Alex Goldstein and Laimons Mangalis, the rest of us were way behind.
Romance blossomed with an engagement to my wife Norma McKenzie. She worked in the Council office as did I and she has never moved a chess piece with excitement. The only time I did try to teach her, she was looking out the window. We moved to Brewarrina, a small country town 500 miles (800kms) NW of Sydney on the Barwon River. Norma had family there and along came our two children Penny (1968) and John Bradford (1971). John was named after my father and brother.
There was an aboriginal draughts player here who was the acknowledged champion – Fellie McHughes. A reformed alcoholic who had got religion and who worked on Council’s parks and gardens staff. I approached him one day, “ I believe you play draughts Fellie?”. His eyes glistened. “I sure do”, he said, “Can we have a game?”. Arrangements made I went to his home and found him playing the guitar. He was good at that also but he was very good at draughts and though I had many games with him and caught up a little overall he was the better player. In 1967 he told me that his stomach hurt and he went to Dubbo for medical examination – inoperable cancer. They brought him home to die. The hospital matron rang me one day at work and asked if I could come up and play him draughts. We played, though he was drugged so much that he moved the men backwards. We shook hands and he knew the end was near and he died in 1968 aged 47. A terrible loss for his family. Frank Ravenscroft also died that year and I took solace in chess books including those he had left me in his will. What books they were “Mrs Baird’s Twentieth century Retractors and other Novelties” being one of many. It really started my collecting hobby in earnest. A subscription to CHESS by Baruch Wood revealed his rare book auctions and “American Chess Nuts” 1868 by Cook, Henry and Gilberg was one of my first buys. It wasn’t a good copy but its provenance in the Glasgow Chess Club and the secretary’s name in the book – J M Nicol was special. There is even a note :-“Not to be removed from the Club Room” in the front. Who originally owned it? I don’t know but there is a photo between page 286/7 out of an American newspaper celebrating Dr Samuel R Calthrop’s 85th birthday. That photo is dated October 10 1915. The good doctor played in the 1857 American Championship won by Morphy. Was this the Dr’s copy?
An almost complete set of “The Chess Amateur” followed from Wood. I was on the way. This magazine was superior to BCM in its early years and on a par later. A friendship developed with the problemist John van Der Klauw from another aborted Sunday Mirror Tourney in 1968. We wrote regularly. Man landed on the moon in July 1969 and I sat out all night with my 100mm reflecting telescope waiting for the flash when Columbia went from the light to the dark and vice versa. I saw nothing.
And then “Sam Loyd and his Chess Problems” Dover edition – the book by Alain White came into my heart. I feel today this is still one of the best ever chess books. I refer to it regularly. Only a week or so ago on 19/9/1999 Ian Rogers had Sam’s famous castling 3-er (WK el, WR f1 and hl, WP g3; BK g2) in his Sun Herald column. This problem is on page 424 in the book. You can’t help but laugh at some of Sam’s high jinks. He invented the 14/15 puzzle which many stumbled over including me. Whilst researching in the Town and Country Journal of May 8 1880 I came across the puzzle’s first appearance in Australia. I have never seen the date of origin so it must be a little earlier in the USA. The Journal suggested this puzzle had the American households “by the ears” just like Rubik’s Cube did the world 100 years later.
We moved to Narromine in 1972, still our home today. In 1974 came a marvellous boost to my chess hobby. Bernie Johnson made me chess problem editor of “Chess in Australia” and, I wrote to Dale Brandreth. The column brought me into contact with all those interested in chess problems in Australia and many original problems and a few tournaments appeared in the column during my 10 years as editor. Gradually my interests in collecting deepened and many problem books came from Dale especially from the late Judge Clarence Southerland’s collection. And these led to chess history books and Fred Wilson, the genial New York chess book dealer. It was from him that one of my happiest treasures, the first few volumes of the Chess Player’s Chronicle came my way. A few really old chess books came from both dealers:- Hyde, Stamma, Salvio, Carrera and Lopez. A friendship developed with the late Dr Meindert Niemeijer, the benefactor and minder of the Royal Chess Collection in The Hague. He too, was generous and dealings with the late George Campbell of Aberdeen, Michael Macdonald-Ross, Mike Sheahan, Barrie Ellen, John Rather and Neville Ledger followed. The periodicals included BCM of which I hold most except some early years, the Chess Monthly USA is complete – the final months in microfilm, Hoffer’s Chess Monthly is complete and the Chess Amateur and I have a run of La Strategie in the 1870’s/80’s. I was also problem editor of the Tasmanian Chess Magazine for 9 years.
A book on the problemist Bill Whyatt followed in 1979 and “A Chess Miscellany”; my correspondence with the great chess historian John van Manen started in 1975 and I helped him with the Australian Chess Lore Series of which six volumes appeared. Another small booklet on Australian problemists of the 19th century was done in 1989. And now this ‘medley’ in 1999.
To answer the questions asked about my collection:- In September 1999 there are 1173 bound books, 143 bound volumes of magazines and 77 unbound volumes. There are no books before 1500AD; 3 in the 1500’s; 4 in the 1600’s; 4 in the 1700’s and 112 in the 1800’s leaving 1050 in the 1900’s. I also hold xeroxes and microfilms of many chess columns and pamphlets.
The collections major growth was in the 1970’s and over the last 10 years new purchases have averaged about 30/year. I am interested more in using the contents of the collection in research rather than adding to it. It is a working collection but there are many books that do not “work”. The periodicals are by far the most useful for research along with the chess columns from newspapers. The microfilm reels sold by the Cleveland Library which include The Field, Illustrated London News, the Era, Bell’s Life in London and the New York Clipper being fine acquisitions. I can commend them to collectors who are interested in research.
My motives for buying the collection are to have a good hobby outside work. Living in a small country town requires a good mental diversion if one is not interested in the ‘club’ or ‘sport’ life. My wife and I walk a lot for exercise and we do not go out much socially preferring research into family and local history areas.
The collection will be sold one day. It has been bought chiefly during a period when the Australian dollar was very strong and worth $1.33 US. Now it is worth $0.65. As I wrote in “A Chess Miscellany” in 1979 I still believe that collectors can acquire a good collection at a fair price. The Dutch collector Bert Corneth who started his collection in 1988 and has already passed me is a good example. Collectors must not go overboard when offered a rare book at a high price. They should trade with all the dealers, keep a price list as done by Dr Niemeijer in “Scaecvaria” and NOT be in a hurry. They should also correspond with collectors as we are a family. Barrie Ellen’s lists point the way. He and Dale are fair dealers.
The finest book in my collection is a beautifully bound copy of Alexandre’s “Problemes D’Echecs” 1846 Paris. It came to me from the charming octogenarian bookseller of the British Chess Problem Society, the late Guy Chandler. I have a full set of the Christmas Series and the collection has an emphasis towards problem books. My interests today are principally historical with problems and solving a close second.
Bob Meadley, 41/5th Avenue Narromine 2821 NSW Australia
13 October 1999
Chess Libraries Pages 6 – 82
Dealers I have met over the years pages 83 – 144
Gathering in the Christmas Series pages 144 – 159
Bob Meadley and a Chess Book Collection pages 159 – 163
Indexes pages 164 – 166
CHESS LIBRARIES INDEX
(Note by chessbookshop.com: the index numbers do not correspond in this online version)
Alekhine Alexander 11
Allen George 44
Anderson Magnus Victor/
(State Library of Victoria) 7
Ballo Harald 36
Bassi Bruno 40
Bijl Christian M 80/
Blass Robert 75
(Kings Library Berlin) 4
Brandreth Dale 9
Brans M K 78
British Chess Problem Society 52
Broun Malcolm 41
Buschke Albrecht 42
Chicco Adriano 34
Combe Robert Forbes 33
Cook Eugene B/
(Princeton University) 9,13,49
Cordingley Edgar G R 4l
Corneth HJM (Bert) 35
Courtenay Michael 41
Dodds Edwin 47
Duclos ? 78
Eccles Public Libraries 50
Ehn Michael 10
Ellis John Henry 49
Euwe Max Centrum 9
Falk Harald 76
Farmer Clive 10
Fiske Daniel W/
(Reykjavic Public Library) 16, 81
Ford Richard John 67
Fraser George Brunton 43
Gardiner Edwin 125
(Harvard University) 9,13
(BCF Library) 11
Harrison Kevin 41
Helms Herman 23
Hess Ralf 75
Hennessy Reginald 42
Henry William Russ 15
Hollings Frank 47
Horton Harding S 49
(Helsinki Public Library) 9
Jameison Robert 41
Jones Jim 41
Kavalek Lubimir 34
Keeble John F 27
Lambert Charles J 47
Lange Max 12
Lasa T. von der 11
Ledger Neville 41
Lewis William 26
Lowenthal Jakob 25
Loeffler Heinz 79
Lucena Jose Paluzie Y 22
Lyons William Henry 46
MacDonald H 49
MacDonald-Ross Michael 72
Madden Frederick 42
Manen John van 41
Mantia Tony 77
(New York Public Library) 11
Meadley Bob 154
Mennerat Jean 35
Morgan David J 51
Muffang Andre 73
Murray Harold J R 18
Napoleao Dos Santos Arthur 16
Niemeijer Meindert/ van der Linde
(The Hague Royal Library) 6
Parr Peter 41
Pattle James 71
Pinkus Albert S 35
Preti Numa and Jean 48
Rattmann Kurt 36
Reijstein Leonard R 42
Rimington Wilson J and R 29/31
Rogers Ian 41
Schmid Lothar 7
Souweine Arthur J 49
Toepfer Peter G 48,78
Torning Richard 41
Cyril Bexley 14,79
Waite Henry 43
Walker George 24
White Alain 12
White John G/
(Cleveland Public Library) 7
Whitman Channing W 24,43
Whyld Kenneth 10
Williams Philip H 33
Willing Charles 49
Willing F H 78
Wood Baruch H 31
DEALERS (No page references as too many)
Chandler Guy (BCPS)
Fayers Peter (BCPS)
Fraser Ken (State Library of Victoria)
Glasgow Chess Club
Loranth Alice (Cleveland Public L’y)
McWilliam Robert (BCPS)
Niemeijer Meindert (The Hague L’y)
Purdy Cecil J S (Chess World)
Sheehan Mike (Caissa Books)
Shiel Rosemary (Chess World)
Time Books Melbourne
Wood Baruch (Chess)
BCPS = British Chess Problem Society
Some index pages may be out a page or two due to text alterations. 23 March 2001-BM