Random Posts

Play Live Blitz


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Chess Review Magazine

This was billed as “the picture chess magazine” and was far superior to all other US magazines. What made it unique, really, were the photos. In those days there was no Internet and there were only about a hundred Grandmasters in the entire world. You rarely, if ever, actually saw one. In fact you rarely saw an actual master because the US only had 50 or 60 of them in the entire country and most of them lived in New York City of Califormnia. From Wikipedia:

Chess Review (January 1933 to April 1941: The Chess Review) is a U.S. chess magazine that was published from January 1933 until October 1969 (Volume 37 Number 10). Published in New York, it began on a schedule of at least ten issues a year but later became a monthly. Isaac Kashdan was the editor for the first year, with Al Horowitz and Fred Reinfeld as associate editors. After one year Kashdan left and Al Horowitz became editor, a position he retained for the remainder of the magazine's existence. Chess Review was virtually unchallenged as the premier U.S. chess periodical from its start in 1933 until a rival emerged in 1961 after a major revamp of the official United States Chess Federation magazine, Chess Life. The two magazines remained in competition until November 1969 when Horowitz retired and the magazines were merged to become Chess Life & Review.

The cover of the first issue featured a chess problem composed by Otto Wurzburg (1875–1951), a Grand Rapids, Michigan, postal worker. Kashdan was one of the world's premier problem solvers of the 1920s and 1930s. His interest in compositions influenced the magazine for years after he left, and the cover would feature a chess problem every issue until May 1941. Wurzburg served as problem editor and contributed a monthly column. The magazine staff also included art director Bertram Kadish who contributed cartoons and illustrations. An unusual feature of the first issue was a bridge column written by George Reith. Horowitz and Reinfeld were contract bridge devotees, but the column was dropped after three issues.

Horowitz became the editor in 1934 when Kashdan left the magazine. In the same year it became the first chess periodical to be sold on newsstands and leading department stores. For that reason, no June issue was printed and the magazine dated ahead one month.[1] In December 1935 the magazine began to put "The Official Organ of the American Chess Federation" on the cover. The American Chess Federation was a predecessor of the United States Chess Federation (USCF), established in 1939. Reinfeld would temporarily leave in 1936 to concentrate on his book writing. The August-September 1941 issue featured a new column by Reuben Fine, "Game of the Month". (His rival Samuel Reshevsky would not write for the magazine until some years later.) This column and format would later be continued by Max Euwe and Svetozar Gligorić. In the same issue, Irving Chernev started the column "Chess Quiz". Chernev had begun to contribute to the magazine in its first year but this marked the beginning of a larger role.

Jack Collins and Albert Pinkus joined the staff in 1943. In 1944 Chess Review began billing itself "The Picture Chess Magazine." Reinfeld returned to the magazine in 1945 as Executive Editor, and Horowitz and Kenneth Harkness were listed as Editors and Publishers. Hans Kmoch joined in 1948, contributing coverage of international tournaments, chess opening theory, and eulogies of great chess players. Fine retired from chess and his "Game of the Month" column in November 1949. Euwe resurrected the column in 1952. Savielly Tartakower also joined the magazine that year, providing portions of his memoirs at intermittent intervals.

Contributors later included Walter Korn (1953), Arthur Bisguier (1957), and Petar Trifunovic (1963).

From its beginning in 1933, Chess Review had been the leading U.S. chess periodical. In 1961 Frank Brady redesigned Chess Life, the official USCF publication, changing it from a newspaper format to a glossy magazine. The magazines would compete until November 1969 when Horowitz retired and the USCF purchased Chess Review to merge the magazines to form Chess Life & Review.

In conjunction with the magazine, Horowitz also conducted a number of correspondence tournaments in those days. The premier event was the “Golden Knights” which was billed as the US Open Correspondence Championship. It was conducted in three rounds; prelims, semi-finals and finals. I played in many of these events and if you made it to the finals you got a coveted Golden Knight lapel pin! Several years ago I threw out about a half dozen pins that had been corroding in a desk drawer for years.

The great thing about these events was that because of the scarcity of chess tournaments in those days, there were a lot of really strong OTB players participating. I played a couple of games against a former US Championship competitor (lost) and a player who was at the time a US Senior Master and rated in the top ten in CC (won). One incident stands out: In one game against an opponent I’d never heard of I decided to play the Grob Attack (1.g4). Not too long after we started I learned he was a Canadian master and had recently won a province championship. Needless to say the Grob turned out to be a very bad choice against him.

The USCF has carried on the Golden Knight events and a list of winners can be found HERE. BTW the 1958 winner was from my hometown and the correct spelling of his name was Jack Witeczek.



  1. What an insteresting story, I really appreciate your posts. May I go further reading the life and games of Bobby Fischer. I'm very interested in reading books on CJS Purdy's lessons and annotated games, too. Well... they're in my wishlist.

    Thanks for sharing !

  2. Some interesting free chessbooks here. I found the one on the Hastings Tournament amazing