History of Chess Magazines in Europe and the USA

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The history of chess 1 - chess magazines in Europe and the USA in the 19th century (before 1870)

1.1 Chess magazines in France

Overview of the French chess magazines before 1870

1.1.1 Le Palamède

The French chess champion Louis-Charles Mahé de La Bourdonnais, was after François-André Danican Philidor the most important chess player in France. In 1834 he traveled to London, where he played 88 games against the Irishman Alexander McDonnell, who was at that time the strongest chess player in Great Britain. After this, La Bourdonnais was considered the strongest chess player in the world. He died on 13 December 1840 at the age of forty-five years, ill and completely impoverished in London.

chess player Louis-Charles Mahé de La Bourdonnais

Louis-Charles Mahé de La Bourdonnais (17951840)

La Bourdonnais had already published an important chess book in 1833, and in 1836 he founded in Paris the world's first chess periodical Le Palamède. The publication was discontinued in 1839 as a result of the deterioration of his state of health and the lack of financial resources. In 1842, Pierre Saint-Amant, the strongest French chess master at the time, continued the publication until 1847. After that, Saint-Amant stopped playing and focused on his work in the diplomatic service.

chess player Pierre Saint-Amant

Pierre Saint-Amant (18001872)

This is the title page of the world's first chess periodical:

chess magazine Le Palamede 1836

This is the first edition of the second series, published by Pierre Saint-Amant:

French chess periodicall Palamede 1842


1.1.2 La Régence

At the beginning of 1849, the chess periodical La Régence, edited by Lionel Kieseritzky, introduced a different chess notation. This was already made clear on the title page of the first issue.

French chess magazine La Regence 1849

1.1.3 La Stratégie

This is the title page of first edition from 1867:

La Stratégie Journal d'échecs 1867

1.2 Chess magazines in Great Britain

Overview of the British chess periodicals before 1870

1.2.1 The Philidorian

In 1836, La Bourdonnais founded the first exclusively to chess dedicated magazine Le Palamède in Paris. La Bourdonnais was a friend of the London chess player and son of a bookseller George Walker. Almost two years later than the French Palamède Walker founded the first British chess magazine The Philidorian in December 1837. It was the first English-language chess magazine in the world. While the Palamède was still able to endure until 1839, Walker had to resign his Philidorian after only a few months in May 1838 due to a lack of demand. The chess game itself was not so widespread in England, the nation of chess players, that it was worthwhile to publish a chess magazine. Only individual newspapers reported on special chess events. 1834 was the spectacular battle between La Bourdonnais and the Irishman Alexander McDonnell (1778–1835), who played for the Westminster Chess Club. McDonnell won 30 games, lost 44 and played 14 draws. Despite the chess fight between these worlds' best chess players, only a few chess players were interested in the theoretical aspects of chess and did not spend money on a chess magazine. Only after the "power struggle" between England (Staunton) and France (Saint-Amant) in 1843 the game of chess played a greater role in the bourgeoisie. In particular, the triumphant English nation was now more concerned with chess and so the 1841 founded Chess Player's Chronicle now had better sales opportunities.

In the sixth and last edition of the Philidorian in May 1838, Walker published a bibliography of all the books published so far. The chess historian Antonius van der Linde (1833–1897) was able to make good use of Walker's compilation for his extended chess bibliography.

chess player Philidor studies in Polish Draughts 1838

In the March issue of 1838, the Philidorian also treats other games besides chess. The above diagram shows a draught game. Polish drafts is today referred to as international drafts or international checkers. As you can see, the famous French chess player François-André Danican Philidor was not just a master of chess.

four-player chess in the Philidorian 1838

The chess game for four persons (four-player chess), recommended here with black, white, green and red figures, was welcomed in May 1838 in the Philidorian as a special form. In 1837, Karl Enderlein published in Berlin his Theoretisch-praktische Anweisung zum Vierschachspiele, which was published in the same year by Sherwin in London with the title Complete Rules for Playing the New Game of Chess for four persons, with two sets of men, on one board.


1.2.2 The Chess Player's Chronicle

British Miscellany and Chess Player's Chronicle 1841
The Chess Player's Chronicle first edition 1841

In May 1841 Howard Staunton took over the magazine The British Miscellany, which he continued under the title The Chess Player's Chronicle. His competitor was Saint-Amant, who after the death of La Bourdonnais had "revived" the chess magazine Le Palamède in 1842.

Staunton often used his Chronicle for attacks against others. George Walker was often the target. Walker founded the Westminster Chess Club in 1831, the first British chess magazine The Philidorian in 1837, the St. George's Chess Club in 1843, he was a friend of Louis-Charles Mahé de La Bourdonnais, author of numerous chess books and editor of the chess column of the prestigious Sunday newspaper Bell's Life. In addition, Walker won a match against Staunton in 1845. All of this was reason enough for Staunton to fire verbal shots against Walker.

In 1845, George Walker together with Henry Thomas Buckle, William Davies Evans, George Perigal and William Josiah Tuckett played by telegraph two games (a win and a draw) against the team of Howard Staunton and Hugh Alexander Kennedy in Portsmouth.

Henry Thomas Buckle (24.11.1821 in Lee, Kent – 29.05.1862 in Damascus) was a historian and a strong chess player. Adolf Anderssen attested to Buckle an above-average talent and praised his playing strength.

William Davies Evans (27.01.1790 near Pembroke – 03.08.1872 in Ostend) was a sailor, chess player and the originator of the Evans-Gambit. He learned the chess game at the age of 28 from a ship officer.

George Perigal (1806–01.04.1855) was an English chess player in London. He lost against Saint-Amant in 1843 and against Anderssen in 1853.

William Josiah Tuckett, was a chess player in London. In 1849, he is known for his 4 games in London. He died in 1854.

Hugh Alexander Kennedy (1809–22.10.1878) was an English chess master. In 1851 he defeated the Berlin chess champion Carl Mayet and won the sixth place in the international chess tournament in London.

telegraph chess game by George  Walker and Howard Staunton 1845
Station Nine Elms: The telegraph room when Mr. Walker's first move was sent. Wood engraving from the German Illustrirte Zeitung of 9 August 1845.


1.2.3 The Chess Player's Magazine

It is a magazine by the London publishers Edward Healey and E. Owen. For the first series 1863 and 1864, the Viennese chess player Ernst Falkbeer was editorially responsible. The publishers had to earn money with the magazine. Therefore they had advertisements not only for the topic chess, as can be seen in the following advertisement.

advertising dentists in London in 1863 magazine

This edition also contained an advertisement for the bibliography of chess. The book dealer Richard Simpson offered a 49-page catalog with chess books.

bibliography of chess catalog with chess books London 1863


1.3 Overview of the US chess magazines

Overview of the US chess periodicals before 1870

After 1870 published chess magazines (Selection)

Short biography to the names above:

The Chess Monthly first edition 1857

The Chess Monthly - first edition 1857


1.4 Chess magazines in Germany

The first German-language chess magazine with the titel Deutsche Schachzeitung was written and edited 1846 by Herrmann Hirschbach in Leipzig (therefore also sometimes called "Leipziger Schachzeitung"). From 1846 to 1848, three volumes were published by Gustav Brauns in Leipzig.
Six months after the founding of the Deutsche Schachzeitung, Ludwig Bledow founded the Schachzeitung in Berlin in July 1846. Shortly thereafter, Bledow died on 6 August 1846. The Schachzeitung (often called "Berliner Schachzeitung") was published in monthly magazines by the Berliner Schachgesellschaft. Only 26 years later the Schachzeitung was renamed in 1872 in Deutsche Schachzeitung.

Before 1846 there were some newspapers that sporadically reported on chess. The illustrated newspaper Illustrirte Zeitung, founded in 1843, had a regular chess column.

1.4.1 Deutsche Schachzeitung (Leipzig)

Deutsche Schachzeitung erster Jahrgang 1846


1.4.2 Schachzeitung (Berlin)

The publishing house was Veit & Comp. with place indication "Berlin" and only until 1854 additionally with Williams & Norgate in London. The editors of the Schachzeitung were until 1871:

1846 (from July to August) Ludwig Bledow
1846–1851 Wilhelm Hanstein and Otto von Oppen
1851–1852 Adolf Anderssen and N. D. Nathan
1853–1856 Adolf Anderssen and Ernst Kossak
1857–1858 Adolf Anderssen and Jean Dufresne
1858–1859 Adolf Anderssen and Max Lange
1860 Max Lange and other editors
1861 Max Lange, Berthold Suhle, Philipp Hirschfeld
1862 Max Lange and Philipp Hirschfeld
1863–1864 Max Lange
1865–1866 Eugen von Schmidt and Johannes Minckwitz
1867 various editors
1868–1871 Johannes Minckwitz


1.4.3 Magdeburger Schachzeitung

Magdeburger Schachzeitung 1849 von Max Lange

Max Lange founded the chess club Sophrosyne in the city of Magdeburg and he edited the chess magazine Magdeburger Schachzeitung only from January to May 1849.


1.4.4 Sonntags-Blatt für Schach-Freunde

Sonntagsblatt für Schachfreunde 1861 von Max Lange

Max Lange edited this magazine from January to August 1861. It also contained essays, tales, poems for the relaxing family on sundays.


1.4.5 Neue Berliner Schachzeitung

Neue Berliner Schachzeitung von Adolf Anderssen Schach 1866

This chess magazine was edited from 1864 to 1866 by Gustav Richard Neumann and Adolf Anderssen. The magazine was in competition with the Berliner Schachzeitung edited by Johannes Minckwitz. In 1867 Neumann moved to Paris and the chess player Johannes Hermann Zukertort came to Berlin and worked together with Anderssen. The publication was discontinued in December 1871. In 1872 Zukertort moved to London.


1.5 Chess magazines in Austria

Wiener Schachzeitung 1855 von Ernst Falkbeer

The Wiener Schach-Zeitung was edited in Vienna from January to September 1855 by Ernst Karl Falkbeer (1819–1885). It was the first chess periodical in Austria. Ernest Falkbeer moved to London, where he edited the chess column for The Sunday Times from April 1857 to November 1859. In 1864 he moved back to Vienna, where he edited the chess column from 1877 to 1885 for Neue Illustrierte Zeitung.

Schachkomposition Schach Problem von Anton Nowotny in Wien

chess problem by Anton Nowotny in Vienna


1.6 Chess magazines in Switzerland

Schweizerische Schachzeitung 1857 von Friedrich Capräz


The Schweizerische Schachzeitung was published for the first time in 1857 (weekly), 1858 (monthly) and 1860 (14 days) by Friedrich Capräz (also Capraez). In 1859, it was not published. In 1860, the magazine was printed in improved quality. It had a concentration on international news and on chess problems. Capräz was an idealist and one of the first chess pioneers in Switzerland. In October 1848 he published the first chess column in the Bündnerische Unterhaltungsblatt.


1.7 Chess magazines in the Netherlands

In the middle of the 19th century the chess game in the Netherlands was neither sporty nor scientific. The few chess players played for pleasure or recreation. There was no need for a chess magazine. Some strong chess players, who were also interested in the theory, oriented themselves to France and England. Even in England, The Philidorian, published by George Walker in 1838, was scarcely spread, and Le Palamède, founded by La Bourdonnais in 1836, was known to only a few specialists. The attempt by John Henry Huttmann to establish a chess newspaper called Palamede in London in 1840 failed. Huttmann had opened the Garrick Chess Divan at London's Covent Garden. Every week he had a piece of paper printed with a chess problem, which he then issued as a supplement to his sales offerings, such as Havana cigars. Soon the piece of paper grew into a folder of four pages and received the title The Palamede. Nowadays there are no copies in public collections (only in the private Lothar Schmid collection).

Despite this economic failure of the chess magazines in France and England, an attempt was also made in the Netherlands. Only the first issue of the chess magazine De Nederlandsche Palamedes was published. The cover shows two French chess players who wonder about being in Holland. It is reminiscent of the Napoleonic period and the annexation of Holland in 1810, and the time of General van Zuylen van Nijevelt , who was a great chess player. Philip Julius van Zuylen van Nijevelt (1743–1826) belonged to an old Rotterdam aristocracy. In 1767 he studied mathematics. Before he became General of the Dutch Cavalry in 1795, he published his book La Supériorité aux échecs in 1792, which was translated in several languages. He was the first Dutchman who wrote a chess book. Probably he is also the inventor of the random chess (today's Fischer-Random-Chess or Chess960). Van Zuylen van Nijevelt proposed a chess variant where the starting position of the main chess pieces is decided by chance. He did not like any chess openings with a constantly repeating pattern that could be memorized. In his opinion, coincidence provides a variety of different initial situations, which no one could study before.

One copy of this rare chess publication is in the National Library of the Netherlands (Koninklijke Bibliotheek) in The Hague, signature: KW 59 B 4; De nederlandsche Palamedes: tijdschrift voor het schaakspel, 1847, number 1 (more not published), Amsterdam: Westerman en Zoon; size 31 cm. In the Nieuwsblad Voor Den Boekhandel Vol. 12. No. 1 from 2 January 1845 the bookstores were asked to report the number of customers to the publisher who wanted to receive the magazine for six gulden for one year.

Although the Nederlandsche Palamedes was discontinued 1847 already after the first issue because of lack of interest, Willem Jan Louis Verbeek (1820–1888) started a new attempt with a chess magazine in the same year. The chess magazine Sissa - Maandschrift voor het Schaakspel was published in a total of 27 volumes from 1847 to 1874 (in the last three years with changed subtitle). The 1st to 10th volumes from 1847 to 1856 were published by W. F. Stramrood. The place of publication was for all 27 volumes Wijk bij Duurstede. Responsible for the chess magazine was the Nederlandsche Schaakbond. The first ten years were edited until 1856 by Verbeek under the pseudonym Gustavus. As is the case with newly founded magazines, the editorial team oriented themselves to existing material from abroad (England, France, Germany).

From 1857 to 1866 the magazine was edited as a new series in 1 – 10 volumes. From 1860 the magazine was published by Johannes G. Andriessen. A third series was edited from 1867 to 1871 in five volumes. The subtitle changed in Nederlandsch Tijdschrift voor het Schaakspel and the magazine was published by M. S. van Tussenbroer.

Sissa Maandschrift voor het Schaakspel,  Verbeek, Wijk bij Duurstede. Nederlandsche Schaakbond.


1.8 Chess magazines in Italy

The chess magazine La Rivista degli Scacchi was published twice a month in Rome in early 1859. The magazine was edited by the Italian chess masters Serafino Dubois (1817–1899 in Rome) and Augusto Ferrante. The magazine contains theoretical contributions on the game of chess and instructive games with elegant endgames.

La Risista Degli Scacchi da Serafino Dubois, Augusto Ferrante

Dubois had the problem that there were different chess rules in Italy. Nevertheless Dubois was successful against international chess players. In 1855 and 1856 he played in Paris at the Café de la Régence and defeated the French chess master Jules Arnous de Rivière. In 1862, he finished fifth in the London tournament and was better than Wilhelm Steinitz. Dubois was then increasingly active as a journalist. He wanted to achieve the Italian chess rules as an international standard. As a result of his long-standing insistence on these rules, Italy only got a very late connection with European chess in 1880.

From 1856 to 1859, Augusto Ferrante supervised the chess column in the illustrated newspaper L'Album di Roma, published by Tipografia delle belle arti. In 1883 he published a handbook on chess in Milan. From 1890 he was editor of the chess column of the Tribuna Illustrata published in Rome and Milan. Ferrante died in 1891.


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