Chess Archaeology HomeChess is a scientific game and its literature ought to be placed on the basis of the strictest truthfulness, which is the foundation of all scientific research.W. Steinitz

Conserving the Past: 
Chess Life as a Historical Vehicle
Of Mid-Twentieth Century American Chess
by John S. Hilbert

For many of us Chess Life is simply the magazine that we receive along with the right to play in USCF rated tournaments. It may or may not be read. It may have sixty pages an issue one year, or eighty pages the next. And regardless of how we view the current magazine, very few of us consider its earlier incarnations, or the significance of Chess Life’s role in documenting the history of chess in the United States since its first issue, dated September 5, 1946.
And what can these early Chess Life’s provide us with? Just how valuable are they in regard to our nation’s chess history? Examining one year, taken mostly at random, say 1956—it happens to be one of the years for which I have all the issues—can give us some insight into this newspaper as a historical artifact.
For Chess Life did start its existence as a newspaper. While the years saw changes in size and shape, as well as number of pages, by 1956 the voice of the United States Chess Federation appeared in a small newspaper format, with pages approximately ten inches wide and thirteen inches tall, eight of them, usually, published on the fifth and twentieth of each month, and thus twenty-four times a year. The issues from 1956, like each year’s production, were split between two volume numbers, in this case the tenth and eleventh volumes in the series. Each new volume started on the anniversary date of Volume I, Issue Number 1. Thus, Volume 10 of Chess Life ended with Issue 24 on August 20, 1956, while Volume 11 began with the next issue, on September 5, 1956. 
Chess Life began and ended 1956 with the same single issue cover price: fifteen cents. USCF membership dues, “including subscription to Chess Life, semi-annual publication of national chess rating, and all other privileges,” were set at a whopping five dollars a year. Subscription to Chess Life alone was three dollars annually. If you subscribed in 1956, you sent your money to Kenneth Harkness, the Business Manager, in New York City. Checks, like today, were made payable to the USCF. And the Editor of Chess Life, the only editor during the paper’s first ten years of existence, Montgomery Major, received directly all communications regarding editorial matters at his home address in Oak Park, Illinois.
Montgomery Major was himself a Dickensian character, in ways almost a caricature of the curmudgeon editor, and would fully deserve an article in his own right. His fights during the middle 1950s included an ongoing battle, heated and uncompromising, with Norman T. Whitaker, who is himself the subject of a recently released biography and games collection. Strong willed and opinionated, Montgomery Major had a knack for making enemies as well as friends. His own background is forgotten today, though for the first ten years Chess Life was largely, if not solely, his creation. He would have been the first to mention it, too. But during his last few years with the newspaper, Major’s tenure was anything but assured, both from the perspective of other USCF officers and from his own. At one point, late in 1954, when he felt he might be leaving soon, he finally offered readers some insight into his life. Thus it is largely thanks to his own writing that what little is known about him remains for us today.
According to his own account appearing in the October 20, 1954, issue, Major was born in Chicago and lived in the area most of his life, though time and opportunities also sent him around the country. He originally was expected to earn a law  degree, but instead “he exhibited his natural perversity early in life by concentrating on Romance languages and literature instead.” Major played for the Harvard chess team before leaving school and becoming an assistant editor for a community newspaper. He later was an editor for a juvenile book publisher, and later still edited Motor Life and Store Equipment and Supplies, two trade publications. He would also serve time as a Sears, Roebuck copy writer and even work in the accounting department of the Pullman Company.
Major’s associations with chess were largely organizational in nature, rather than as a player. As he wrote it, speaking of himself in the third person, “for eight years he was Executive Secretary of the Chicago City Chess League, while simultaneously active as Secretary or Vice-President of the Illinois State Chess Association. … He was one of the organizing directors of the American Chess Federation (a fore-runner of the U.S. Chess Federation).” George Sturgis, President of the USCF, in early 1941 persuaded Major to edit the USCF Yearbooks, and he did so in 1941, and 1944 through 1946, before being asked to design and edit Chess Life. Major also made it a point to note, at the end of his article, that he “no longer plays chess.”
Such was the background of the man directing matters during the first decade of the USCF’s newspaper. Major’s presence in the newspaper was even more pervasive than simply his editorial control, as he also wrote columns under pseudonyms, most notably as “William Rojam,” or “Major,” spelled backwards. In the January 5, 1956, issue, Major’s editorial column was devoted to slamming those who felt they could influence policy decisions for Chess Life. That the ones seeking to influence those policy decisions happened to be the other officers of the USCF made no difference to Major. As is the case even today, nearly forty-five years later, the role of Chess Life was coming into question. Should the newspaper be the voice of the organization, in close step with the views of the officers of the Federation, or should it be an independent entity, free to criticize the very organization that gave it life and breath? Major, for one, left no doubt as to his own view. “There have been attempts,” Major wrote, “to stifle the independent voice of Chess Life, and it is no secret that prior to the USCF annual meeting at Long Beach the USCF Ways and Means Committee made a futile and clandestine attempt to replace the Editor with someone more subservient to their mandates. This conspiracy to gag Chess Life failed; and other like attempts will fail just so long as the membership at large combines in insisting upon an independent voice, representing them equally with management.” Apparently Major viewed the role of Chess Life as that of an independent entity, free to condemn or applaud management, membership, or any other interest group associated with chess in the United States. What he didn’t seem to understand, however, was the deep resentment engendered in those who felt Major used Chess Life as his own soapbox, draping his own biases and political views with the protective cloak of freedom of the press. By the end of 1956, and in part due to a membership tired of the bickering and infighting seen among its officers, Major would resign his position, and with the start of 1957 Fred Wren would take his place.
But well beyond the idiosyncrasies of its editor, Chess Life offered members of the USCF information about the international, national, and local doings of the chess world. And today, for the chess historian, these early issues of the Federation’s newspaper magazine offer insight into the times and culture of chess, invaluable in their richness and texture. 
One feature in the early Chess Life quite popular with readers was the “What’s the Best Move?” column, a column that under various guises and editorships has continued for many years. At the start of 1956 the column was conducted by Russell Chauvenet, of Silverspring, Maryland. Curiously enough, it happens to be Chauvenet’s own copies of Chess Life for 1956 that I now own, and in fact I have had extensive communication with Mr. Chauvenet, who still lives in Silverspring, and who has been quite helpful concerning a wide variety of chess history projects. For his January 5, 1956, column, which appeared on the first page of the newspaper, Chauvenet offered the following position:
Position Number 176

Back to play
And that was it. No alternative moves. No hints. Readers were asked to send their solutions directly to Chauvenet’s home address. Later in the year Irwin Sigmond took over the column. For contemporary readers of Chess Life, solutions generally appeared three issues later, in this case in the February 20, 1956 issue. The solution to the position above appears at the end of this article.
Of course, each issue of Chess Life would have a lead story. In the first issue of the year the major headline read “Mednis Takes Collegiate,” and the story involved the victory by a then young New York University student by the name of Edmar Mednis, who won the United States Intercollegiate Championship title with a score of 5½-1½ on tiebreak over Fordham University student Anthony Saidy. There are, of course, occasional problems and contradictions in any such source that need correcting. Here, in the first paragraph of the story, Mednis is referred to as a freshman, while in the very next paragraph we read that Mednis “is a sophomore in chemical engineering at the Bronx campus of New York University.” Whichever college class he belonged to, Mednis had already begun to build a solid chess reputation for himself, winning the New York State Championship that year and the year before finishing as runner up in the World Junior Championship. The Intercollegiate Championship, that year an individual rather than a team event, was held in John Jay Hall at Columbia University, and was sponsored by the Intercollegiate Chess League, the USCF, and Columbia University. President of the Intercollegiate Chess League at the time was another very strong, young player named Eliot Hearst. Twenty-six players competed from seventeen universities, and in addition to Mednis and Saidy, anyone reading the list of participants might well notice the name of Shelby Lyman, then a Harvard University student, who in fact defeated Mednis in the third round. Saidy would win a rapid transit tournament played during the same intercollegiate event, scoring a perfect 11-0 to win first prize, a $12.50 gift certificate. Both Hermann Helms reporting for the New York Times, and Robert Cantwell, for Sports Illustrated, followed the college tournament. Such details, of course, without a source like Chess Life, would be lost to the ages. So to would be lost the obvious hint that anyone interested in writing about this college event should also check back issues of the Times as well as Sports Illustrated. The next issue, January 20, 1956, ran on its front page a picture of Mednis playing Charles Witte of Columbia. The back page of the same issue ran the entire Swiss System crosstable for the twenty-six player event. Later issues would include annotated games from the tournament.
Another story running on the front page involved the curious attempt by Argentine players Panno, Najdorf, and Pilnik to introduce a prepared variation in the Sicilian Defense against Geller, Keres, and Spassky, respectively, in the 1955 Goteborg, Sweden, Inter-Zonal tournament. Unfortunately for the players from South America, a “counter preparation” had been cooking in the Soviet camp all along. The key position follows:

Position after 12…Kf8.
All three games had reached this position by way of 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 e6 7.f4 Be7 8.Qf3 h6 9.Bh4 g5 10.fxg5 Nfd7 11.Nxe6 fxe6 12.Qh5+ Kf8. At this point, all three Soviets played the startling 13.Bb5!, and as reported in Chess Life, this was “the Russian coup, placing the problem bishop where it will hurt, and threatening—maybe—mate. Up to this point the conspiring Argentinians and clairvoyant Russians (all three games)” were playing the same game. Now, however, Geller - Panno veered off from the other two games, finishing up quickly with 14.Bg3 Bxg5 15.0-0+ Ke7 16.Bxe5 Qb6+ 17.Kh1 dxe5 18.Qf7+ Kd6 19.Rad1+ Qd4 20.Rxd4+ exd4 21.e5+ Kc5 22.Qc7+ Nc6 23.Bxc6 1-0. The other two games continued twinning, until the following position was reached:

Position after 22…Rxa2
The two games had proceeded as follows: 13...Kg7 14.0-0 Ne5 15.Bg3 Ng6 16.gxh6+ Rxh6 17.Rf7+ Kxf7 18.Qxh6 axb5 19.Rf1+ Ke8 20.Qxg6+ Kd7 21.Rf7 Nc6 22.Nd5 Rxa2. Now, finally, Keres – Najdorf went its own way with 23.h4 Qh8 24.Nxe7 Nxe7 25.Qg5 1-0, while Geller – Panno took a slightly longer route: 23.h3 Qh8 24.Nxe7 Nxe7 25.Qg5 Ra1+ 26.Kh2 Qd8 27.Qxb5+ Kc7 28.Qc5+ Kb8 29.Bxd6+ Ka8 30.Bxe7 Ra5 31.Qb4 1-0. The result, as it turned out, was a 3-0 shellacking of the Argentine contingent.
Other events were of course also mentioned, including the Second Rosenwald tournament, held December 18, 1955 through January 2, 1956, and won jointly by twenty-seven year old Arthur Bisguier and Larry Evans, then only twenty-four. Both players would be awarded the International Grandmaster title the following year. The Second Rosenwald was a double round affair, with a mere eleven games out of thirty having decisive results. The other contestants, in their order of final finish, were Reshevsky, Horowitz, Shipman, and Lombardy.
The last named, William Lombardy, had only the month before turned eighteen, on December 4, 1955. The next year he would win his International Master’s title, with the Grandmaster title following three years after that. Following the conclusion of the Second Rosenwald tournament, however, Lombardy was a guest annotator for perhaps the most popular of all Chess Life columns in 1956, John Collins’ “Games by USCF Members.” Two of Lombardy’s efforts as an annotator appeared in the first issue of 1956, and help show the diversity of play appearing then in the newspaper.
Franklin S. Howard — Dr. Juan Gonzáles
Sicilian: Richter
(Marshall Chess Club vs. Capablanca Chess Clubs) USA New York, NY
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 d6 6.Bg5 e6 
We have now reached a standard position in the Rauzer Attack.
An over-aggressive continuation which should lead to a slightly better position for Black.
7...bxc6 8.e5 Qa5 
Also good is 8...dxe5 9.Qf3. White cannot exchange Queens because he would be a pawn down. 9...Be7 10.Qxc6+ Bd7 11.Qf3 Rb8 and Black is slightly better because his development is better, he is active on the b-file, and he controls necessary central squares. 
9.Bb5 cxb5 
This move practically loses by force. Best is 10...b4 and if 11.Ne4 Qe5! 12.Qe2 Bb7 13.fxg7 Bxg7 14.Nf6+! Bxf6 15.Bxf6 Qxf6 or (15...Qxe2+ 16.Kxe2 Rg8) 16.Qb5+ Kf8 17.Qxb7 Qe5+ 18.Kd2 Qd4+ 19.Kc1 Kg7 and Black has the upper hand.
11.Qf3! Rb8 12.Bd2! Qc7 13.0-0-0! 
Black, as will presently be seen, is completely lost. He is vulnerable on both open center files and on his f6 and e7 squares. He is also sorrowfully lagging in this development.
13...Bb7 14.Qh5! 
Threatening both Rhe1 and Qxb5+.
14...a6 15.Rhe1 g6 16.Qg4 Rc8 17.Be3 h5 18.Qh4 Bxg2 19.Kb1 Bb7 20.Ka1 d5
A deadly stroke which brings the game to a neat and swift conclusion. There is no defense.
21...Bxd5 22.Rxd5 Qxc2 23.Rdd1 Qf5 24.Qd4 Qd5 25.Qxd5 exd5 26.Rxd5 Bb4 27.Bd2+ 1-0. 
Chess Life, January 5, 1956, p.6 
And here is the second game then “United States Master” Lombardy annotated for the same issue, the winner having been awarded the International Master title the year before:
Frank R. Anderson — Maurice Fox
Spanish: Closed (Center Attack)
(Canadian Championship) CAN Ottawa
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.d4 
Keres questions this move because it opens up the game prematurely, but since it is a rare sidelight of the main line of the Ruy, it may be used as an effective surprise against an unwary adversary, besides which there is no disadvantage incurred by White for playing 5.d4.
Relatively best. 5...Nxe4 is also playable, but  5...Nxe4 leads to trouble after 6.Qe2 f5 7.d5 Nb8 8.Nxe5 Qf6 9.Nd3 Be7 10.Bf4 b5 11.Bb3 d6.
6.0-0 Be7 
6...Nxe4 7.Re1 d5 8.Nxd4 Bd7 9.Bxc6 bxc6 10.f3 etc.
7.e5 Ne4 8.Nxd4 0-0 9.Nf5 d6?! 
9...d5 should be played without loss of time since this move is forced by White eventually.
10.Bxc6 bxc6 
10...Bxf5 11.Bxb7.
11.Nxe7+ Qxe7 12.Re1 d5 13.f3 
White quickly seizes the initiative by driving out Black's advanced knight.
13...Ng5 might be better because after 14.b3 Rd8 15.Ba3 c5 Black's d-pawn is defended.
14.b3 Ne6 
Now Black loses a pawn but he could not allow the devastating pin on the knight with Ba3.
15.Ba3 c5 16.Qxd5 Rb8 17.Nc3 Bb7 
White is a pawn ahead and has fully completed his development. There should be no problem in winning and White proves this by his remarkable technique which masters the position. 
18.Qd2 Rfd8 19.Qe3 
Relentless in applying the pressure on Black's position.
19...Rd4 20.Rad1 Rbd8 21.Rxd4 Nxd4 
21...cxd4 does not help. 22.Bxe7 and White wins the exchange.
The winning move. White threatens Rxd4 and if the knight retreats the c-pawn falls.
22...Nxc2 23.Qxc5 Rxd1+ 
Trading off into a completely lost endgame due to the unfortunate position of the Black knight. But in this kind of position one is not too anxious to waste his time and therefore submits to the inevitable...
24.Nxd1 Qxc5+ 25.Bxc5 a5 26.Kf2 
The knight is completely without communications. 26...Ba6 One might note in this position that Black also cannot do very much with his King except wait for the ax to fall.
27.Nc3 c6 28.f4 
Giving Black no counter chances whatsoever. What for? Black will eventually hang himself! There need be no further comment.
28...g5 29.f5 h5 30.Ne4 Nb4 31.Bxb4 axb4 32.Ke3 Bc8 33.Nd6 Ba6 34.Kd4 Kf8 35.Kc5 Bf1 36.g3 Bd3 37.Kxb4 1-0. 
Chess Life, January 5, 1956 
The Collins column offered usually four or more well annotated games an issue, and at times the games were annotated by one of the players involved. Here is another example, with the winner, Herzberger, offering the notes:
Erich W. Marchand — Max J. Herzberger
English: Four Knights
(Rochester City Championship) USA Rochester, NY
1.c4 e5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.d4 exd4 5.Nxd4 Bb4 6.Nxc6 Bxc3+ 7.bxc3 bxc6 
The books recommend ...dxc6 with equality, but I did not relish the sequence: 7...dxc6 8.Qxd8+ Kxd8 9.Ba3 with 10.0-0-0+ to follow. On the other hand, the text continuation, if followed by 7...bxc6 8.Ba3 d6 9.c5 d5 gives Black as recompense for the pawn structure good squares for all his pieces, and, as I thought a playable game after 10...Qe7, etc. White discarded the book maneuver too, because he felt the bishop had little scope on the queenside.
8.Qd4 Qe7 9.Bg5 c5 10.Bxf6 Qxf6 11.Qe4+? 
Too rash! 11.Qcf6 would have led to an even game; now Black gets the advantage.
11...Kd8 12.Qd3 Rb8 13.e4 Re8 14.f3 Rb6 15.Be2 Qg5 16.Kf2
Wins a pawn, but gives White great counter-play which he uses very cleverly. Correct was 16...Rd6 for instance 17.Qe3 (best) 17...Qxe3+ 18.Kxe3 f5 winning the pawn with overwhelming play. If now  19.Rab1 fxe4 20.Rb8 exf3+ 21.Kxf3 Rf6+ etc.
17.Qd5 Rg6 18.g3 fxe4 19.Qxg5+ Rxg5 20.f4 Rf5 21.Ke3 
The picture has changed. The threat to the e-pawn gives White more territory and powerful counter-play which Black has to meet with great care.
21...Rf6 22.Rab1 Rb6 23.Rhd1 Bb7 24.a4! c6 25.a5 Rxb1 26.Rxb1 Kc7 27.Ra1 a6 28.Rb1 
White created a weakness for Black on b6, but Black has an iron in the fire, by preparing the victorious advance of the center pawns. 
28...d5 29.Rb6 Rd8 30.Bg4 
If instead 30.cxd5 cxd5 31.Bxa6 d4+! but after the text move Black gets more of the White squares.
30...g6 31.Be2 Rd6 32.Rb1 Bc8 33.Rd1 h5 34.Rd2 Be6 35.Bf1 
So far, so good; but how shall Black proceed?
The only move, threatening ...Rb8 and winning in all variations.
36.cxd5 cxd5 37.Bxa6 Ra8 38.Bb5 Rxa5 39.Be8 
A good try, but the center pawns now carry the day. There is no saving move. 39.c4 is answered by 39...Rh3+.
39...Ra3 40.Bxg6 Rxc3+ 41.Ke2 
41...Bg4+ 42.Ke1 d4 
The e-pawn cannot be taken, because of ...Re3+.
43.Ra2 e3 
Threatens mate.
44.Rc2 Rxc2 45.Bxc2 c4 46.Bd1 Bxd1 47.Kxd1 d3 48.h3 c3 0-1. 
The continuation could be: 48...c3 49.f5 e2+ 50.Ke1 c2 51.Kd2 e1Q+ 52.Kxe1 c1Q+ etc.
Chess Life, January 5, 1956, p6 
The early Chess Life issues also include a wealth of information explaining matters not directly apparent from the game scores now available in the huge, commercially available computer databases. For example, in the following position, anyone playing over the game from a database score may well wonder why the great Samuel Reshevsky overlooked a mate in one:

Position after 39…Kg7
Reshevsky – Evans
Second Rosenwald Tournament
New York 1955
Reshevsky missed 40.Qg8 mate, playing instead 40.Be4?, and the game continued another twenty-three moves before the older player scored the full point. Why? Chess Life explains: “The failure of Reshevsky to checkmate his opponent by 40. Qg8 has caused considerable comment; the oversight came when Reshevsky was hard pressed for time, his fortieth move simultaneously with his turn to play. With Evan's reply the game was adjourned for further play.”
In addition to offering explanations such as the above, the early issues of Chess Life also provide a rich source for materials that might well be lost, including games by one-time United States champions. For example, Herman Steiner, who had won the national title in August 1948 playing at South Fallsburg, in what was admittedly one of the weaker national title tournaments of the times, died suddenly while playing in the California State Championship on November 25, 1955, in Los Angeles. Chess Life gave Steiner’s final chess game, finished a mere two hours before his death. Chances are the following game doesn’t appear in any of the million game plus databases that exist nowadays, despite the game being a very hard fought draw against future International Master William Addison, who would turn twenty-two a mere three days after Steiner’s death. As Major wrote of it in the pages of Chess Life, “this stubborn struggle, ending in a hard-fought draw, was the final game played by Herman Steiner in the California State Championship; he died two hours after finishing this game. The State Tournament in which he was participating was cancelled by the wish of the other players as a gesture of sorrow. The only other major tournament that was ever left unfinished, as far as the records show, was the Mannheim Tournament in 1914, interrupted by the inception of World War I.”
Herman Steiner — William Addison
Queens Gambit Declined: Orthodox (Rubinstein)
(California State Championship) USA Los Angeles, CA
1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 Nbd7 5.e3 c6 6.Qc2 Be7 7.Rd1 0-0 8.Nf3 Re8 9.Be2 dxc4 10.Bxc4 Nd5 11.Bxe7 Rxe7 12.0-0 Nf8 13.e4 Nb6 14.Bb3 Bd7 15.Ne5 Be8 16.Ne2 Rc8 17.Nd3 Rec7 18.Qd2 Qh4 19.Qe3 Nbd7 20.Rc1 b6 21.Bc4 c5 22.d5 exd5 23.Bxd5 Nf6 24.Nc3 Ng4 25.Qg3 Qxg3 26.hxg3 Nf6 27.Bc4 Bc6 28.f3 Rd7 29.Ne5 Re7 30.Nxc6 Rxc6 31.Rfd1 Rc8 32.Nb5 Ne8 33.a4 Ne6 34.e5 Kf8 35.f4 g6 36.Rd2 a6 37.Nd6 Rd8 38.Bxa6 Nxd6 39.exd6 Red7 40.Rcd1 Nd4 41.Kf2 Rxd6 42.Bc4 Ra8 43.b3 h5 44.Re1 Rad8 45.Red1 Ke7 46.Rd3 Kf6 47.R1d2 R8d7 48.Ra2 Nf5 49.Rxd6+ Nxd6 50.Bd3 Nb7 51.Bc4 Rd4 52.Ke3 Nd6 53.Bd3 Rb4 54.Ra3 Nf5+ 55.Kf2 h4 56.gxh4 Rxf4+ 57.Kg1 Rb4 58.a5 bxa5 59.Rxa5 Rxb3 60.Bxf5 Kxf5 61.Rxc5+ Kg4
62.Rc7 ½-½. 
Steiner’s very last chess move in this world. 
Chess Life, January 5, 1956
Anyone reading carefully may well have guessed by now that every game and position in this article appeared in the January 5, 1956, issue of Chess Life. And in presenting them I have not exhausted the games and problems appearing in that one issue, let alone the stories and commentary surrounding the play and players from over forty-four years ago. What I wanted to illustrate is in fact just what riches do appear in the early Chess Life newspapers, each issue of which offers extraordinary details for the person interested in chess history. Long forgotten photographs also appear in nearly every issue. The issues of 1956, for example, offer at least three photographs of a very young Bobby Fischer, ones rarely seen today. Though grainy and difficult to preserve from the issues, they are nevertheless interesting to see (for the studious, they appear in the following issues: July 20, 1956, p.6; August 20, 1956, p.7; and December 5, 1956, p.3). A quick survey of the issues from 1956 alone suggests that over 110 games were included deeply annotated, along with another 40 or more unannotated games. In addition, over 120 chess problems appeared during the year. Multiply these numbers times fifteen, the number of volumes appearing in newspaper format, and it becomes clear what a rich source of material this vast storehouse of information represents. 
The problem is the vast storehouse is crumbling away, and the remains are in danger of becoming available only to those who travel significant distances to visit research centers such as the John G. White Collection, housed in the Cleveland Public Library. Even the holdings at the White Collection, which I have seen, are in serious need of attention. Money is rarely available for such projects, even for the greatest chess collection in the world. The paper used for the early newspaper version of Chess Life was very poor. Issues still around today are usually yellow with age, brittle, and ready to collapse into the dust of time, taking with them easy access to our game’s American chess history, certainly from 1946 through 1960, the years when Chess Life appeared in newspaper format. 
Conservation methods are needed, and needed soon, if this marvelous source of American chess history is to remain readily available for generations to come. Ideally, forms of preservation such as microfilming and the creation of computer CDs should be used. Imagine every issue of Chess Life, from September 1946 to 1960, or even to the present, housed on a few, small compact disks! Whether anyone, including the financially strapped USCF, might ever come forth with such a project, remains to be seen. In the meantime all we can do is try and preserve as best as possible the paper issues that still remain. And hope, of course, that some way to conserve this important record of our own recent chess past is eventually found.

Solution to “What’s the Best Move?” Position Number 176: taken from Crisovan – Naef, Luzerne 1953 1...Nxf1 Incorrect is 1...Nd4 in view of 2.Qxd2 and now Black's winning chances are negligible. 2.Bxd6 Nd4! 3.exd4 To be sure, White can prolong the game by 3.Rxc8 Nxe2+ 4.Kxf1 Rxc8 5.Kxe2 Rc2+ but Black's advantage of the exchange is quite enough to win. 3...Rxc1 4.Qb2 Ng3+ 5.Qxc1 Ne2+ 0-1. 
 Chess Life, February 20, 1956, p8

© John S. Hilbert 2001 All Rights Reserved

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