William Borsodi : American Chess Magazine No. 1 from 1897

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The magazine was published in New York by 39-year-old William Borsodi, a Hungarian immigrant who would later make a career in the world of advertising. His life is better known through the biographies of his son, Ralph Borsodi, who became a famous American social philosopher. The first editor of the American Chess Magazine was Charles Devide, to be succeeded by L. D. Broughton in October 1897 and by A. H. Bierwirth in September 1899. They each managed to enlist the cooperation of great masters of the day including Harry Nelson Pillsbury and Jackson Whipps Showalter. At the time the annual magazine subscription was $3 which translates to $107.10 in 2022!

For early subscribers to our American Chess Magazine, you will recall John Hilbert's “The Great American Chess Magazine War” in issue number three. He described Charles H. Stanley's 1846-1847 periodical, first issued as The American Chess Magazine, which became better known as The Chess Player's Magazine. For the sake of completeness, there was also, in 1875, a two issue run of (The) American Chess Magazine, among whose editors was James Mason.

I believe that today's readers will find real interest in chess life at the end of the 19th century, even though it might be difficult to go through the game annotations, simply because of the old-style chess notation. However, the higher value lies in the narrative and surprising stories which cast a bright light on those good old days. The magazine was effective in covering news from all around the country and in reporting on matches and tournaments, but it was also not shy to devote space to fiction and poetry. Exactly as a magazine should be, there was something for everyone with attention even given to political affairs, hence the first pages went to the Match of the Parliaments (Washington vs. London)!

We present an unabridged version, after making an effort to improve the readability - in fact we used two different scanned copies so as to recreate one that will allow you to clearly read the text whilst allowing the illustrations and pictures to shine at their best again. We might mention that behind the scenes it was quite a task to bring this version up to 21st century standards!

1897 was the year when Emanuel Lasker successfully defended his title in a return match with Wilhelm Steinitz. Outside the chess arena, William McKinley was sworn in as the 25th President of the United States, the first Boston Marathon was run with fifteen men competing, Oldsmobile was founded in Lansing, Michigan, Thomas Edison was granted a patent for the Kinetoscope, a precursor of the movie projector, and the Boston subway opened thereby becoming the first such mode of travel in North America. The Library of Congress building in Washington, D. C. was also opened and Jack London sailed to join the Klondike Gold Rush in Seattle, where he would write his first successful stories.

For me personally, being fascinated with this kind of history, the pages were always going to be a great read. Sometimes I would look at them for inspiration, and regular readers will know that every now and then we have published a few extracts in our magazine from times gone by. So, this is a further tribute to the glorious chess magazine with the same name as the one we have been publishing for the last six years. We treasure great periodicals from the past and are proud to continue the tradition of bringing an ongoing premier chess magazine to the marketplace today.

 

80 Seiten, kartoniert, Reprint,  1. Auflage 2022, Erstauflage 1897

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