Chess Explorations (88)
By Edward Winter
In January 2011, at the height of yet another alleged cheating scandal which
was supposedly ‘rocking the chess world’, we commented in a Chess
‘Unspecific accusations of dishonesty concerning chess players will
result in an international news story. Specific proof of dishonesty concerning
chess writers will result in international silence.’
Since then, nothing has changed, of course. For instance, in December 2011
(C.N. 7427) a correspondent,
Rick Kennedy (Columbus, OH, USA), pointed out cases of plagiarism in Paul
Morphy: Confederate Spy by Stan Vaughan (Milwaukee, 2010).
At random we opened the book on page 133 and found that whole chunks of text
had been lifted from the website Exploring
Toledo. It was by no means an isolated instance.
But does the chess world care what appears in print? There was certainly no
outcry over, for example, the action of a Spanish publisher (Ediciones Altosa
of Madrid) which duped the public by bringing out a beginners’ book with
authorship ascribed to ‘Garry Kaspartov’. The volume had nothing
whatsoever to do with Kasparov, but was simply exploiting his name.
See The Garry
Nor was disgust expressed over the Canadian publisher Coles, whose practices
included reproducing Capablanca’s Chess Fundamentals with a change
of title to Chess Strategy and ascribing authorship to the fictitious
See A Publishing
As mentioned in C.N. 7743, excessive copying is rife in the chess world, but outrage about such
behaviour is not. A case that has caused no ripples of any kind was set out
7237, concerning Alles über Schach by Michael Ehn and Hugo Kastner
As regards outright plagiarism, our article Copying
was able to mention only one case, in the early 1990s, where proper redress
was achieved (a financial settlement of $3,000 to John Donaldson after Raymond
Keene had plagiarized his openings analysis in The Complete Book of Gambits).
Even after the settlement, however, virtually all magazine editors and journalists
kept obligingly quiet about the matter.
The requisite lessons were thus not learned, and in 2008 it was our turn to
be Raymond Keene’s victim, in the Guinness
World Records affair. (An account is also to be found in ‘It’s
Only Chess’ by Justin Horton, published in the Autumn 2009 issue of
But what exactly can, or should, the victim of plagiarism do? For our part,
on 11 October 2008 we sent the following letter by registered post and e-mail
to the then editor of The Spectator (London), Matthew d’Ancona:
‘Dear Mr d’Ancona,
May I advise you that over one third of the chess article by Mr Raymond
Keene published on page 64 of The Spectator, 7 June 2008 was simply
copied, word for word, from what I wrote some two years ago.
The following links to my Chess Notes webpage provide the facts:
At no stage have I given permission for my writing to appear under Mr Keene’s
Thank you very much in advance for informing me of your proposal for settling
No reply of any kind was received, and we concluded that the only way of dealing
with plagiarists and other reprobates is to give their conduct maximum repeated
public exposure. Hence the present article, and there will be more.
or suggestions on chess explorations
All ChessBase articles
by Edward Winter
Edward Winter is the editor of Chess
Notes, which was founded in January 1982 as "a forum for aficionados
to discuss all matters relating to the Royal Pastime". Since then, over 7,750
items have been published, and the series has resulted in four books by Winter:
Explorations (1996), Kings,
Commoners and Knaves (1999), A
Chess Omnibus (2003) and Chess
Facts and Fables (2006). He is also the author of a monograph on Capablanca
(1989). In 2011 a paperback
edition was issued.
Chess Notes is well known for its historical research, and anyone browsing
in its archives
will find a wealth of unknown games, accounts of historical mysteries, quotes
and quips, and other material of every kind imaginable. Correspondents from
around the world contribute items, and they include not only "ordinary readers"
but also some eminent historians – and, indeed, some eminent masters. Chess
Notes is located at the Chess
History Center. Signed copies of Edward Winter's publications are