Guide to the Research Collections

- Chess and Other Board Games

Chess and Other Board Games

There are about 2,500 entries relating to chess in the Public Catalog, representing an unusually good collection. Significant aspects of the game are chronologically categorized by date of publication. These categories include general books on chess (800 entries), chess problems (280 entries), and chess tournaments (330 entries). The purchase of the Prayer-Goldwater collection of tournament books in the late 1950s strengthened the resources in this area, which now include the following records: London, 1851 and 1862; Hastings, 1895; San Sebastian, 1911 and 1912; and New York, 1924. Books by chess masters and authorities are numerous, including works by Ruy Lopez de Sigura, Philidor (in many editions and translations), William Lewis, and Howard Staunton. Approximately 120 periodical titles cover the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. About 15 titles are currently received from 9 countries, including the Deutsche Schachzeitung (1846-), British Chess Magazine (1881-), and Chess Review (1933-).

Gifts by Gustavus A. Pfeiffer were most important in the development of the chess collection. The first gift, consisting of 590 volumes and 185 pamphlets, came in 1932; it is named in honor of Frank J. Marshall. This group primarily includes works published in the nineteenth century and reprints of earlier titles; chess Americana in the collection is worthy of note. An additional gift of 161 items came the following year. Upon his death in 1953, Pfeiffer made a further bequest of 700 manuscripts, books, scrapbooks, and periodicals, together with funds to be used in developing the chess collection. This final gift included 2 editions of Damiano of Odemira's Libro da imparare giocare a scacchi (Rome, 1525 and Venice, 1564); an anonymous Latin manuscript, probably of the fifteenth century, that contains 132 diagrams of chess problems of which 15 are completed; and about 100 letters of chess masters such as Frank Marshall (10 postcards, 2 letters), Emanuel Lasker (6 letters), William Steinitz (7 letters), and others. Additional chess rarities in the library include 4 fifteenth-century editions of Jacobus de Cessolis, including Caxton's translation The Game and Playe of the Chesse (Bruges, 1476), the second book printed in the English language. Cessolis's work is not a treatise on chess itself, but rather an essay on the moral virtues, with the different pieces used in the game symbolizing the various conditions of life.

The Oriental Division receives 2 periodicals on Chinese chess, Wei Ch'i (Shanghai, 1962-) and Hsiang Ch'i (Canton, 1963-) in addition to a

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Japanese periodical for the board game of go, the Go Monthly Review (1961-). Further book materials in the division refer to these and other Oriental games.