Edward Winter's Chess Explorations (42)

6/30/2010 – Shockingly, there are chess writers and publishers who copy the work of others. As the Editor of Chess Notes shows, the copying may include large-scale reproduction of positions, plagiarism of text and, even, removing the real author’s name and putting someone else’s. Readers may have to rub their eyes, but in our beloved chess world all this has really happened.

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Chess Explorations (42)

By Edward Winter


White to move

Countless books state that in this position (Marshall v Capablanca, match 1909) White could have won immediately with 45 Qe8+ Kg5 46 f4+ Kg4 (or 46...Kf6 47 Qh8+) 47 Qe2 mate.

In reality, the opportunity never arose, since White’s queen was on b6, not c6.

The game is well known (it is in Capablanca’s My Chess Career), and Irving Chernev was admirably active in trying to lay this ghost to rest. See, for instance, his articles on page 128 of the May 1951 Chess Review, pages 150-151 of the February/March 1975 CHESS and page 11 of Capablanca’s Best Chess Endings (Oxford, 1978).

In his book Chernev observed:

‘It would seem that critics copy from one another without looking up the original score of the games before finding fault with the players concerned.’

Such lazy copying of individual positions is indeed widespread and regrettable, but our article will focus on the darker side of the whole issue. It takes the form of a quiz comprising a dozen questions.


Question 1: Which author erroneously copied the above faulty position even though he himself had previously pointed out in print that Marshall did not miss a win?


Question 2: Still on the subject of positions copied, which writer lifted hundreds of positions, without a word of credit, from the Encyclopaedia of Chess Middlegames (Belgrade, 1980)?


Question 3: Who brought out under his own name a large compilation of games by the expedient of removing the original compiler’s name from the book?


Picture clue (victim)


Question 4: Which writer brought out a two-volume anthology of Fischer’s games which reproduced chunks of an earlier compilation by a Dutch writer (as well as performing numerous cut-and paste operations on other writers’ books)?

Note: Remarkably, this writer has given himself the title of Director of the International Chess Writers Association.


Question 5: Which book included openings analysis copied without permission from a magazine article, with the result that $3,000 had to be paid to the victim of the plagiarism?


Question 6: Which beginners’ book copied entire chunks from Chess Made Easy by C.J.S. Purdy and G. Koshnitsky?


Question 7: Whose magazine column about the 2007 Guinness World Records substantially copied, word for word, somebody’s else writing on the same subject?


Question 8: Which author copied from a chapter of The Personality of Chess by I.A. Horowitz and P.L. Rothenberg (New York, 1963) about 40% of the positions used to illustrate masters’ mistakes?


Picture clue (victim)


Question 9: Which writer of a book on the 2004 Kramnik v Leko match copied from the Internet spoof (violent) words purportedly spoken by one of the players?


Question 10: Who edited a chess encyclopedia which claimed to be ‘completely new’ but copied large sections from a previous reference book?


Question 11: Which publisher reproduced a number of chess books under false names of authors (such as ‘Philip Robar’)?


Question 12: Which other publisher reproduced many old chess books under invented names of authors (and even, when reprinting Capablanca’s Chess Fundamentals, credited authorship to ‘Frank Eagan’)?


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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 6,650 items have been published, and the series has resulted in four books by Winter: Chess 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).

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 currently available.


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