The John G. White Chess
and Checkers Collections
Fine Arts & Special
Collections of the Cleveland Public Library.
I had recently the opportunity to spend some
days in Cleveland, Ohio.
Everyone interested in Chess history, and probably most of
the chess players
around the world know that Cleveland hosts the most
wonderful chess library in the
world! and of course, I spent there a couple of days,
searching for new elements that
will help us to better understand the history of
The John G. White Collection of Folklore,
Orientalia, and Chess at the
Cleveland Public Library is the largest and most
comprehensive chess library
in the World. The John G. White Collection of Chess and
Checkers was officially
established in 1928, when White bequeathed his famous chess
collections to the
Cleveland Public Library. John G. White (1845 –1928) signed
his last will and
testament on May 11, 1905 and attached a codicil on February
9, 1928, the year he died.
Through his will he donated his personal library to the
Library and established the John G. White Trust Fund. The
income from the
Trust Funs was to be used for the acquisition of new
materials. He stipulated
that his chess and checkers collections was to be kept
“ keeping with all articles and books
belonging hereto, even although the more important contents
of such books might indicate a place elsewhere. A list of
this collection is formed by the entries in my interleaved
copy of the van der Linde’s Jahrtausend, which are marked
with a red star or a dagger... Each edition or seperate
state of a book or pamphlet is to be acquired”
He also charged the trusties:
“ to complete the chess collection by
acquiring books, pamphlets,
lithographs, etching, engravings, etc. relating in whole or
part to chess
and checkers, which I have not been able to obtain”
of John G. White in the reading room.
The list of John G. White effects transferred
from his home to the library
included 11 892 chess and checkers books, pamphlet and
single number of periodicals,
300 loose leaves of manuscript, 428 chessmen, 86 chess
pictures and 11 boxes of newspapers.
The collection was evaluated by Thomas J Holmes, librarian
of the W.C. Mather Library
and appraised the collection to $ 300 000. Today the
collection includes more than
70 000 books and manuscripts of incalculable value.
Unfortunately, you cannot see all the
fabulous collection, since the stacks are
closes for security reasons. But all the member of the
library are very helpful and
will bring you in the reading room all the material that you
are locking for! You
can probably find there many unique items found no where
else in the world.
A view of the
If you have a chance to stay some hours in
Cleveland, have a look at the
John G. White Library!
Library building in Cleveland.
The entry of
the John G. White exhibition corridor.
It would not be wise to conclude this
article, without presenting to you a
chess game. In the last issue of the ICCF Amici magazine, I
an interesting correspondence game played on the radio,
M. Jeanton – Lamarche and the listeners of Radio Limoges, in
Meanwhile I have found another correspondence
game played on the radio
by two strong OTB masters, M. Alexander and Bernstein. The
initiative of this
game is due to M. Leca, director of the French section of
the BBC. The game was
played between the 15 February 1946 and the 20 April 1946,
and a move was given
every day on the BBC channel. One of the opponent gave a
short analysis of the
game every Saturday on the radio.
Alexander (1909 – 1974) was one of the major
English chess player in the
mid of the last century. The same year, in 1946, he achieved
a very convincing
win against Botvinnik in the radio match Great – Britain
Bernstein (1882 – 1960) was also a very
strong player, second only to
Chigorine in the 1903 Russian OTB championship before he
settled in France in 1917.
The game has been published in l’
Echiquier de Paris in 1946
(pages 44 to 46) with the annotations of Dr. Bernstein.
Conel Hugh O’Donel Alexander
– Dr Ossip Samoilovich Bernstein
corr (radio) 15/02/1946 –
1.e4 e5 2.¤f3 ¤c6 3.¥b5 a6
4.¥a4 ¤f6 5.0-0 ¥e7
The most recent variation is
5...¤xe4 6.d4 b5 7.¥b3 d5 8.dxe5 ¥e6 9.c3 ¥c5 10.¤bd2 0-0
11.¥c2 ¤xf2 12.¦xf2 f6
Black will have a Rook and a pawn for Bishop
and Knight and a slight attack.
It is not yet easy to give a definite answer about the value
of this line of play.
My impression is that White has the better propects.
6.¦e1 b5 7.¥b3 0-0
This move gives Black more possibilities than
7...d6 as for instance:
7...0-0 8.c3 d5
9.exd5 ¤xd5 10.¤xe5 ¤xe5 11.¦xe5 ¤f6 (or
with the attack in compensation of the sacrificed pawn.
The best move After
would be difficult to meet.;
White could probably play
11.¤xe5 with a strong attack.
White continues to play as if the moves
have not been played,
and this slight detail is the main cause of their loss.
and the following text moves, the squares b3 and b4,
and the pawn a4 become very weak. The long dark diagonal
open to the Black Bishop and White has no compensation at
10.¥d5 would lead nowhere, due
It seems that
was preferable, leaving Black with a weak pawn at b4
and the need to find a suitable square for the light square
Bishop. Black could have played
11.¤xd4 exd4 12.£xd4 c5 13.£d3 ¥b7 14.-- d5 but the
game is now more or less equal.
10...bxc3 11.bxc3 ¥g4 12.¥e3 exd4
13.¥d5 £d7 14.dxe5 and White is better.
Note the curious variation
15.¥xc5 dxc5 16.h3 ¥xf3?? 17.¥xf7+ winning Black
White misses the last chance to maintain
equality. After the text move, the
white central pawns become too weak. They should have played
This move had to be played due to the
weakness of the squares c3 and b4.
In the standard line (without the moves
White could now play
and if Black replies
White could play
threatening the Knight at e4
and the pawn at d5. Black would have no other choice than
the exchange of the
Knights, that would increase the strength of white central
This line is now impossible, due to the
missing pawn at b2.
On the other hand
15.¤bd2 would be bad due to
White has no good move to play. If
This move maintains the central tension,
which favors Black, that has a
better development of the pieces - White Rook at a1 and
Knight b1 are out of the play.
is bad due to
15...¤xe3 16.£xc6 ¤f5 is
better, but Black would have no more than an equal game.
16...£c8 would be better in
some variations, but White could have continued
and save the d pawn and maintain an equal game.
the move 17.¦d1
would be bad due to
19.¥xc2 ¤xc2 20.¦a2 ¤6b4 21.¦b2 £xa4 and Black has
won a pawn, while
maintaining a strong attack on the queen side.
17.d5 ¤a5 18.¥d1
19.£xg4 £xg4 (19...£xe5
would be bad due to
21.¦a3 ¤c2 and Black wins the exchange and the game.
The only move. If
The best reply. If
White seems to be hopeless after
20.£d4 ¦d8 21.¤c3 c5 22.£d2 f6 23.¤f3 ¤c4 24.£e2 ¥d3
In fact, White can save the game with
Black would win a pawn,
but it would be difficult, if not almost impossible to win
the game, due to the
bad position of the Black pieces.
Black Rook threatens the opposing rook
through the three Bishops!
The position of the Knight at
become difficult and White cannot
avoid anymore some loss of material. The pawn d5 is lost and
win a second pawn after
...¥f6. Again the long dark diagonal !
This is not the best move, and loses very
White had probably overlooked the very strong 22nd move of
21.¥d2 was better. Black would
21...¥d6 with the
strange variation would occur after
23.¥xb4 ¦xd7 24.¥xa5 ¦xd5 25.¥f3 ¦ad8 26.¥xd5 ¦xd5 27.¥d2 f6
and Black wins the piece back.
It would however be difficult to win the game, due to the
opposite color Bishops.
21...cxb6 22.¦xe4 f5!
Otherwise, White could protect the Knight
23.¦e6 was a little better, but
the outcome of the game would have been the same
23...¦ad8 24.¤e5 (24.¤xb6?
¥f6 wins at once.)
25.¦xe8+ ¦xe8 26.f4
and Black wins two pawns.
23...¦ad8 24.¤e5 ¥f6 25.f4
¤xd5 26.g3 ¤xf4 27.gxf4 ¦xd1+ 28.¢g2 ¤b3
A very instructive game about the Ruy Lopez.