Emil Kemeny

A Life in Chess


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About the Book

Emil Kemeny appeared on the American chess scene in 1890, a Hungarian chess player on the Lower East Side who had difficulty with English. Within a decade he was considered one of the country’s finest chess players and writers. He dominated chess in both Philadelphia and Chicago, where he lived between 1893 and early 1906.
Congenial and modest, Kemeny was appreciated for his chess play and valued for the strong friendships he formed during his years in the United States. A tenacious competitor despite poor health, he fought Showalter for the national title, ran his own chess magazine, and provided detailed coverage of Monte Carlo 1903.
His chess career as player and writer is presented in detail. Common databases rarely include more than 35 of his games; this book has 227—sixty or more against Halpern, Hanham, Voigt, Showalter and Pillsbury—most with annotations; 361 diagrams. Forty additional period games, hundreds of source notes, tournament and match records, crosstables, a bibliography, and openings, player, and general indexes complete the work.

About the Author(s)

John S. Hilbert, a retired senior attorney with the Social Security Administration living in Buffalo, New York, has written 16 chess books and over 100 articles on chess biography and history, winning multiple national and international awards.

Bibliographic Details

John S. Hilbert
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 352
Bibliographic Info: 266 annotated games, 361 diagrams, appendix, tables, bibliography, indexes
Copyright Date: 2013
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7359-5
eISBN: 978-1-4766-0440-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface  1
A Note on Sources and Annotations  3
Introduction  5
1. In Buda, in Pest… 7
2. A New York Reputation: 1890–1891 16
3. New York Master: 1891–1892 48
4. Philadelphia’s Finest 76
5. Domination: 1893–1895 102
6. Showalter–Kemeny: 1896 U.S. Championship Match 142
7. At the Franklin, and Two Summer Meetings 167
8. The Final Years in Philadelphia 219
9. Kemeny, Writer 253
10. St. Louis and Chicago 282
11. Back in Budapest 308
Appendix: “International Chess Tournaments” (1904)  319
Tournament and Match Record  325
Crosstables  327
Bibliography  332
Index to Openings—ECO Codes  335
Index to Kemeny’s Games by Opponent  336
Index to Others’ Games  337
General Index  338

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “This book covers Kemeny’s chess career and writings in detail”—ChessCafe.com
  • “Hilbert’s research is excellent”—Dale Brandreth, Caissa Editions
  • “The games are presented in an accessible format with plenty of diagrams, 361 in all. Those readers who already own McFarland books will be glad to know that the usual high standard is maintained. The author is probably the leading chess historian in the world. Recommended”—British Chess Magazine
  • “A detailed account of 227 of [Kemeny’s] games”—Reference & Research Book News.