Chess on Stamps
Many years ago, when it seems like I had more time, and there was no computer screen to distract me, my stamp collection didn't gather dust on the shelf. "Topical Collecting" -- collecting stamps picturing certain topics, rather than the stamps of a single country, caught my interest, and I started to accumulate stamps with the chess theme. As I hand-lettered my album pages and researched the tournaments, I felt some regret that others couldn't share the lovely images.Bulgaria 1947
Now, with the advent of a webpage which anyone can browse, my feeling of regret is gone: I've dusted off my collection, and the tiny images can be seen larger-than-life, through the magical philatelic magnifying lens of the WWW. Here I present a selection of some of the earliest ones, from 1947 through 1962.
Bulgaria 1947: Balkan GamesThis stamp, probably the first "chess stamp," is one of a set of five issued to commemorate the 1947 Balkan Games, held in Bulgaria, in which Chess was one of the sports. (The other four stamps portray bicycle racing, basketball, soccer, and the flags of the participating nations: Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, and Yugoslavia.)
Hungary was the winner of the Chess competition, with a team comprising Bakonyi, Benko, Barcza, Florian, Fuster, Gereban, Szabo, and Szny.
The stamp (9 leva, white and orange brown) was issued September 29, 1947, typographed on unwatermarked paper, perf 111/2. It was designed by St. Kancer, and 172,000 were issued. The vertical inscription translates: 'Balkan Games 1947,' and the horizontal: 'Republic of Bulgaria.'
Scott: 580 / Gibbons: 674 / Michel: 608 / Yvert: 541
USSR 1948: These stamps (Scott: 1299-1301) commemorate the 18th official World Chess Championship, held in The Hague, Netherlands, March 1-25, and in Moscow, April 10-18, 1948.
Tournament Match for the World Chess Championship, Moscow 1948
The match-tournament was held as a result of the death of the champion since 1921, Alexander A. Alekhine of France, on March 24, 1946, and was between Botvinnik, Euwe, Keres, Reshevsky, and Smyslov. Each player played each other five times.
Mikhail Botvinnik of the USSR, who had been scheduled to play Alekhine for the championship, was the winner by 3 points, with a score of 14-6. (Smyslov 11, Keres 101/2, Reshevsky 101/2, Euwe 4.)
Botvinnik lost the championship to Vassily Smyslov in 1957.
(The inscription on the 3 stamps reads: Tournament Match for the World Chess Championship, Moscow 1948.)
IX Chess Olympiad - August 20 - 31, 1950
These stamps (Scott: 300-304) were issued to commemorate the Ninth Team Championsip of the world, held at the shores of Dalmatia, in Dubrovnik, Jugoslavia. During the tournament a harsh heat wave hit, seriously affecting some of the older players.
This was the first such event since World War II, and the last in which the USSR did not participate.
Jugoslavia emerged the winner from a field of 16:
The team was composed of Gligoric, Pirc, Vidmar, Puc, (Rabar, and Trifunovic).
Candidates Tournament: April 9 - May 16, 1950
These stamps (Scott: 889-890, C69, also imperf.) commemorate the Candidates Tournament, held in Budapest, Hungary, the first such event under the auspices of the F.I.D.E. Ten players participated: USSR - Boleslavsky, Bronstein, Flohr, Keres, Kotov, Lilienthal, Smyslov; Argentina - Najdorf; Sweden - Stahlberg; Hungary - Szabo. Unable to attend were Bondarevsky, Euwe, Fine and Reshevsky.
At the end of the two complete rounds of the tournament, there was a tie between Boleslavsky and Bronstein, with 12 points each. David Bronstein emerged the winner in the tie-breaking match, with a score of 3-2-9. He came to the tournament after winning the Interzonal in Saltsjöbaden, Sweden in 1948. (As a result, he earned the right to challenge Botvinik for the world championship, held in Moscow in 1951. He lost, drawing 12-12.)
(watermarked stars on the 1 forint.)
José Raúl Capablanca
World Champion of Chess
These stamps (Scott: 463-465, C44-46, E12) were issued as part of the commemoration of Capablanca's defeat of Emanuel Lasker for the World Championship. The match began March 15, 1921, and ended (prematurely) on April 21, when Lasker retired from the match. At this point he was down 0-4, with 10 draws. Lasker had been champion since 1894. Capablanca retained the title until 1927, when he lost to Alexander Alekhine.
Capablanca [1888-1942] learned the moves at the age of four by watching his father play, and defeated Cuba's best player in 1901. He attended Columbia University, NYC, in 1906-07, and in 1913 joined the Cuban diplomatic service, an occupation that facilitated his Chess career by permitting travel. From 1916 until 1924 he did not lose a game. He also played baseball, bridge and tennis well. He was felled by a stroke while watching a game at the Manhattan Chess Club and died the next day. His chess style had a deceptive appearance of simplicity; at his best, he could make the defeat of another master look easy.
X Chess Olympiad: August 10 - 31, 1952
This stamp (Scott: 308) commemorates the Tenth Chess Olympiad, held in Helsinki, Finland. 25 countries competed, with the preliminaries being held August 10-19. This was the first time the USSR participated in the Team Championships, and they were the winners. The team was composed of Bronstein, Geller, Keres, and Smyslov, with Boleslavsky and Kotov as reserves.
|GROUP A||13.||East Germany||161/2|
The American Team, which finished 5th, was composed of Reshevsky, Evans, R. Byrne, Bisguier, Koltanowski, and Berliner. The Finnish Team (9th), was Böök, Ojanen, Kaila, Salo, Fred, and Niemelä.
XV Chess Olympiad: Varna, July 1962
(Scott: 1225-1229 +imperfs)
The USSR continued its domination of the Chess Olympiads, which began with their participation at Helsinki. 37 countries participated:
|GROUP B||31.||Puerto Rico||221/2|
|Notice received by e-mail, 9/17/98 |
Le 3 octobre 98 aura lieu une exposition philatélique sur le thème du Jeu d'Echecs près de Valenciennes (Salle des Mazingues à AUBRY DU HAINAUT, Autoroute A23, Sortie n°7) : BENEFRA 98.
Les exposants seront essentiellement d'origines néderlandaises, belges, luxembourgeoises et françaises.
En particulier, François Edaine exposera probablement la plus anciennes pièce philatélique échiquénne connue à ce jour (Angleterre, milieu du XlXème).
A l'occasion de BENEFRA, nous avons édité une Carte Postale:
Pour tout renseignement : 03 27 42 25 36 ou 06 11 96 02 48
(If you don't read French, this essentially says that there will be a Philatelic Chess Exhibit on October 3, 1998, BENEFRA, at Valenciennes (Salle des Mazingues à AUBRY DU HAINAUT, Autoroute A23, Sortie n°7), with participants mainly from the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and France. The most notable exhibit with be by François Edaine, of probably the oldest piece of Philatelic Chess material, from England, mid-19th century. The postcard shown above is issued to commemorate the exhibit. Information is at 03 27 42 25 36 or 06 11 96 02 48. The e-mail was from SXPG006_AT_XL%ccMTA@gl.sncf.fr)
LinksOther topical stamp pages at this site:
Detective Fiction on Stamps
The Philatelic Sherlock Holmes
Robert Louis Stevenson on Stamps
Anti-smoking on Stamps
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Colin Rose, in Australia, has an impressive site of Chess on Stamps, with many images, arranged by country, and numerous links
Be sure visit Colin Rose's great Online Chess Stamp Catalog!.
Take a look at Jacques F.'s fine Thematique philatelique sur le jeu d'echecs 1947 - 1978 page (in French).
See Elias Sarlé's page from Spain, Imatges segells d'escacs (in English), with many nice images.
And see also Jospeh Luft's Philatelic Resources on the Web,
and Mascheroni Maurizio's La Mecca - Chess Encyclopedia.