Edward Winter's Chess Explorations (68)

by ChessBase
9/2/2011 – The Editor of Chess Notes has put together an extensive selection of chess-related cartoons and comic strips from the past century or so. They include satire, science fiction, a war adventure, a depiction of Pillsbury riding an elephant, Capablanca’s life story, an account of the 1972 Spassky v Fischer match in Reykjavik and, to begin with, two old cartoons about cheating at chess.

ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024 ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024

It is the program of choice for anyone who loves the game and wants to know more about it. Start your personal success story with ChessBase and enjoy the game even more.


Chess Explorations (68)

By Edward Winter

Recent reports of alleged cheating put us in mind of two old US cartoons. The first, by George Price, comes from page 131 of the June 1939 Chess Review:

The second cartoon, from page 24 of the March 1948 Chess Review, depicts a rather more sophisticated technique:

There follows a selection of cartoons and comic strips which Chess Notes has shown in recent years:

C.N. 3932:

The cartoon and poem below come from page 244 of the December 1898 American Chess Magazine, to mark Pillsbury’s chess tour and the victory of the Republican Party in the mid-term elections:

C.N. 3937:

Miguel Artigas (Sabadell, Spain) writes:

‘I have been reading a comic magazine published in Cuba by Ediciones de colores; there is no publication date, but it was brought out at the time of the Olympiad in Havana (1966). This issue, wholly devoted to chess, is entitled “Capablanca la máquina de jugar ajedrez. El ajedrez cuenta su historia”, and the main story (pages 2-15) is a biography of Capablanca in comic-strip form.’

Our correspondent has provided the front cover of the publication and the first and last pages of the story:

C.N. 3938:

From Eric Fisher (Hull, England) come three cartoons marking the London, 1922 tournament. They were published on pages 11-13 of Tom Webster’s Annual 1923 (London, 1923).

C.N. 4400:

References to chess in comic book fiction seem rare, but an example is shown here from the 9/1981 issue of The Mighty Thor:

A further specimen of the dialogue is given below:

‘I was ensorcelled by Umar and her G’uranthic Guardian. They stripped away my Asgardian persona ...’

C.N. 5418:

Juan Carlos Sanz Menéndez (Alcorcón, Spain) submits the following:

‘Aquiles Talón’ on pages 18-19 of Gran Pulgarcito, number 50 (1970),
the original having appeared in the French magazine

‘La Batalla Fischer-Spassky/El maravilloso Mundo del Ajedrez’
Estrellas del Deporte (Mexico, 1973), page 31

C.N. 5897:

The cartoon below appeared on page 33 of the Chess Weekly, 26 June 1909:

C.N. 6377:

Morten Hansen (Frederiksberg, Denmark) has sent us a number of pages from the Danish edition of a chess-related story in a war comic, Djævelens slagmark. For example:

Our correspondent points out that the English version of the story is entitled ‘No Higher Stakes’, and he summarizes the plot thus:

‘The action takes place in Burma in February 1942, and the two main characters, General Horikoshi and Captain Grant, are both keen chessplayers. Grant is captured by the Japanese and, when revealed to be a chessplayer, is forced to play a game against Horikoshi with his life at stake. Grant wins, and Horikoshi has to commit suicide.’

We give below a sample page (with references to the ‘Mikalov Gambit’ and ‘Sparski’) from issue 94 of the publication Battle:

Mr Hansen notes that the story has been reprinted on pages 201-264 of the book Let ’Em Have It (London, 2008).

C.N. 6589:

From page 14 of London 1946, published by CHESS (Sutton Coldfield, 1946):

A participant in London, 1946 was the prodigy Arturo Pomar.

C.N. 7037:

This illustration comes from the multilingual cartoon book Η ζωή μας είναι σκάκι by Κώστα Νιάρχου/Costas Niarchos (Athens, 1972).

C.N. 7234:

An early example of a comic strip with a chess theme comes from the ‘Rhymo the Monk’ series by Gus Mager. It was reproduced on pages 320-321 of the October 1905 American Chess Bulletin, courtesy of the New York Evening Journal:

Submit information 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, nearly 7,250 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). 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 currently available.

Reports about chess: tournaments, championships, portraits, interviews, World Championships, product launches and more.


Rules for reader comments


Not registered yet? Register