The book before you consists of forty chapters, originally individual essays or reviews written over the past several years, collected now for the first time. Several originally appeared in small circulation journals, likely unavailable to even the most hardened chess history aficionado. Every essay has been revised, some through minor changes, others receiving a major overhaul, including new material. Over 500 chess games are presented, most long forgotten by lovers of the game. After a fashion, this work stands as a companion volume to my Essays in American Chess History (Caissa Editions: Yorklyn, Delaware 2002), which brought together thirty of my earlier pieces.
Each piece, whether essay or review, began as an exercise in making sense of some small portion of the vast material avai1able to chess historians (a general and admittedly imprecise term I use to associate individuals whose interests include chess biography, chess tournaments, matches and exhibitions, as well as chess politics, patronage and personalities of an earlier day). Chess figures as well known as Steinitz, Lasker, Staunton and Marshall are considered, along with the more obscure, but in ways no less fascinating, such as Sellman, Whitaker, Chajes and Smythe. In reviewing books, particularly in reviewing annual collections of chess magazines such as The Chess Player s Chronicle and The British Chess Review, I have attempted more to explain something about their importance as resources for enlarging our knowledge about our game's past than merely suggesting whether a given volume should be purchased. How successful I have been in conveying something of my love for chess and its past is left to each reader's judgment.
No work about the past can be successfully written without thanks to many in the present. Among those who have he1ped directly or indirectly with producing whatever value this book has are Vlastimil Fiala, Jeremy Gaige, Kathy McCrory, Eduardo Mercere, Jacques N. Pope, Olimpiu Urcan, and Edward Winter. I thank them all. Special thanks go to John Donaldson, my co-author for Chapter 25, and to Neil Brennen, who had the patience to interview me (Chapter 23). Thanks, too, to Jeffery Martin, former Reference Librarian at the John G. White Collection, Cleveland Public Library. Errors appearing herein are my responsibility.
John S. Hilbert