Saturday, October 6, 2012


I will not include that old saw about ignoring the mistakes of the past and doomed to repeat the mistakes in the future. What I am getting about is the history of chess in the 20th century.
In 1972, when I was in Iceland, I had the privilege of meeting B (Baruch) H. Wood at a party celebration of his 64th birthday, which everyone thought was an appropriate year!
Wood could be a tightwad, a very good player, but he was amiable and had a great sense of chess history because he participated in it with his magazine and which had the simplest of names, “CHESS.”
His biggest failing, like Purdy’s, was getting the magazine out on time, making up issues by having double issues to catch up. Most of us have known, at one time or another, how that feels (the readers have NO comprehension of the pressure to produce on limited funds.)
Chess is not a fad and that’s one reason its fate in the magazine realm over the long haul is always one of misery and achievement. Yet, like most things, misery can often bring out the best in men.
I wish I could say that I know how to make the most of the selling of volumes of chess, whether singly, or in years of 10, or in groups by old versus new, cheapest versus most expensive but it’s difficult because there are two types of collectors and researchers:
1) The person who is filling holes in his collection.
2) The person who is a new start up in the research, collecting business, or at the very least, not very far along.

Hopefully we can accommodate both. One thing which I hope everyone will remember is that the history and photographs of the great and near greats, and the elusive capture of those who make a ripping good yarn are usually found in the magazines. If you are looking for a picture of a young Leonard Barden (who IS still around!) you can find it between these covers. Wood’s “time” was significant in chess history as he started “Chess” in the 30s just after Purdy’s “Australasian Chess Review” and around the time of Al Horowitz’s “Chess Review.”
These volumes are listed on the web first in the hope that stray viewers will catch the offerings and jump in feet first.

A few years ago I offered a gigantic run of British Chess Magazines for a significant sum ($14-15K). The market, as this recession recedes (who hopes it keeps on doing that), shows the value going up. One collector out West told me that the collection was worth a “lot more” because it had some significant entries but that he wasn’t ready at that time. Would he be now? Hard to say, haven’t heard a peep out of him in a long time—kid with money. Maybe he is a gazillionaire by now.
My point is, during recessions that’s when the best buys are. If you are investing and it’s just for the purpose of making returns, chess can be very good for that. As spendable income rises and people shake off the “fears” of not being able to pay their bills then heads turn toward investment collecting and the price of everything rises.

Suffice it to say, during Wood’s tenure almost everything was in Descriptive Notation. I won’t say more than that because any person with a head can figure that out. All the books that are bound are in brown cloth (except where noted) and many show wear around the corner edges (not uncommon even for books sitting on a library shelf as sometimes books get knocked around). For myself the greatest satisfaction is in reliving the times of the greats and those who were trying to wedge themselves into greatness by using any crowbar they could find. As a matter of record, it is hard to list these things because one easily finds themselves in a reverie at a desk or in a chair while reading selections. It is at that time that chess seems the most comfortable (and inexpensive!)
At this time I will not put a deadline on the sales of these volumes except it suffices to say that those who need specific volumes will jump first because you just don’t know when that opportunity will rise again.
All have been priced reasonably by that master raconteur, my lifelong friend and chess colleague, Phil Wong. We go back nearly 40 years!
My experience during that time also allows for certain adjustments and smoothness in the various sectors of collecting and selling (full time), so you can be assured the pricing is not that of a raving lunatic (although some may question that) but of two kindred spirits who have collected to the point of gray hair and ready smiles every time we meet.
We have mountains of product to move and I will get started now, not in any particular order (that way, hopefully, you will look at each item instead of zeroing in like a Tomahawk Missile and leaving everything in your wake). Let’s go.

Several More Things...
P.S.: One other thing, Wood started his volume numbering with his first issue and the next year would start 12 months after that, rather than in January, and going to December, which certainly is more convenient, but, as usual, not typical for the founding of most magazines. Please realize THAT when seeing the various numbering schemes Wood would (no pun intended) put together.
P.P.S.: Bare bones descriptions will be offered on this Blog. What isn’t detailed will be given in my various publications with more details as time permits if they remain unsold.
One final P.S.: Sometimes the paper covers are bound in, sometimes not. Sometimes an index is included, sometimes not. Wood’s covers were often advertisements so you aren’t missing anything when those pages (?) aren’t included. Chess content IS included.

1. 1954/1955. 9/54 (#229) – 12/55 (#258). In one issue Barden replies to a Purdy letter about the student who studies openings (too much). Even though Barden makes a few points, it is at the exalted (higher level) than what Purdy was writing about! $65.00. No index.

2. Vol. 20. 9/1954-9/55 (#229-#252). Index included. Cloth binding with rubbed binding on banded spine. $55.00.

3. Vol. 17 (1951). Black pebbled binding. (October 1951-September 1952). With index. (#193-#204). You have to see the magnificent trophy on pg. 241 to believe it (for the state of Nevada!) Also a picture of Wood himself (uncommon) surrounded by many other players (Wood was master-level strength). $65.00. Large size issue (as the earlier ones were.) Most magazines arrived in the post in folded condition, but the binding, and years have flattened them inexorably! Same for item #4.

4. Vol. 16 (1950). Black pebbled binding.  (October 1950-September 1951). No index. (#181-192). Large size issue. Comments on the world championship match between Bronstein and Botvinnik included info you won’t find anywhere else as the fever pitch of an expected win by Bronstein permeated the air everyplace! $65.00.

5. Vol. 13 (October 1947-September 1948). Includes index with masthead tear on the first page (1.5 inches). (#145-#156) If you think the “old” guys couldn’t play you should look at the marvelously tactical game Trifunovich-Bondarevsky from Saltsjobaden and the wondrous efficacies of brilliant calculation. Apparently when Petar Trifunovich was younger he wasn’t offering draws all the time as he did in later years. $75.00. Brown binding.

6. Vol. 12 (October 1946-September 1947). Indexed. (#133-#144) Do you remember that story that was included in Purdy’s “My Search for Chess Perfection” and “The Chess Gospel According to John*") about R.F. Combe? The details are on pages 2-3 (and a picture of Combe!) which is about as incredible as it gets. He became British Champion by teaching himself chess at age 16. He played in Scotland in 1932 then in 1939  and then in 1946, again! He never even played correspondence chess! He owned a LARGE collection of tournament books (what did I tell you?) and he would study them in the evening playing over the various games. He also liked Richter’s German book on Combinations. This was pre computer cheating and would make a nice story for chess fiction because it is so hard to believe! When this story is told it usually isn’t mentioned that Combe finished 2 points ahead of his nearest rival and that he beat such legends as: Abrahams, Alexander (!), Milner-Barry, B. Wood (and G. Wood), Thomas, and Wade with draws against Winter and Golombek! This volume was presented to a prize winner and signed by George Koltanwoski. $85.00. THIS is the kind of thing one discovers by going through older books, esp. bound magazines! Brown binding. You will also find info about Cordingley on page 33 (“He is the loving craftsman personified.”)

7. Vol. 14. Now we come to a rose-colored folder which contains all the issues for that period, loose (with the last one being July-August-September). I see that a Ken Whyld game is included! We start with October-1948 and end with J-A-September 1949, #157-(#166-167-168) or 10 separate issues. If you are collecting chess clocks I wonder if you have the one on the cover of the first issue (doubt it). $55.00. Pay no attention to the Vol. 14-15 on the spine of the cover, it is incorrect. Wear on the edges (spine).

8. Vol. 12-13 in a green folder with 17 loose issues + index. May 1947 (#140)-September 1948 (#156). Due to the fact that purchasers of chess magazine subscriptions usually start “anywhere,” sometimes there are extra issues, that is, beyond one year’s worth, until said subscriber stopped. And of course there are huge collections where no binding was done although Purdy and Wood did offer to have issues bound and some took them up. Thus it wasn’t unusual to see bound volumes with more than just the Vol. #. This particular collection of interesting issues sells for the sum of $110.00. But I will make you a Special Offer of $90.00. Wear on the edges (spine).

As always, we take credit cards such as Master, Visa, and Discover. And PayPal. If you want to try PayPal but don’t know how, give me a ring and I will take you through it, about 3-4 steps. I usually make my own PayPal payments in less than a minute. Secure. Also take checks, money orders, and in person, cash. Shipping is extra. Questions? 563-271-6657. The various volumes have been adequately described and so I won’t be looking through each one for some particular offense or whiz-bang revelation as I did on the Combe story which was absolutely fascinating.

Or you can write to for example if you want to know what other volumes of CHESS we have because, we do have more! (Listed when I get a minute here or there.)

Thanks to my “genius” clientele.

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