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Hermann Victor Hesse
Number of games in database: 21
Years covered: 1930 to 1971
Overall record: +11 -6 =4 (61.9%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games.

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(born May-26-1910, died Sep-21-1989, 79 years old) United States of America

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Hermann Victor Hesse was born in Bethlehem Pennsylvania, USA. He was the son of Ludwig Otto Hesse and Sophia Hesse, and the nephew of Anton Yost Hesse. 1 He finished second at the 1950 US Open in Detroit, Michigan.

1Neil Brennen "Pages from a Life: The Notebook of Otto Hesse, Postal Chessplayer, Part II" (reprinted in "Quarterly for Chess History" (Winter) 8/2002

Last updated: 2021-01-30 06:30:06

 page 1 of 1; 21 games  PGN Download 
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. H Hesse vs NN 1-0191930CasualC67 Ruy Lopez
2. H Hesse vs W Shipman  0-1501948United States ChampionshipD27 Queen's Gambit Accepted, Classical
3. A Suraci vs H Hesse  0-1391948United States ChampionshipC12 French, McCutcheon
4. H Hesse vs H Steiner  0-1671948United States ChampionshipE67 King's Indian, Fianchetto
5. H Hesse vs O Ulvestad 0-1281948United States ChampionshipC70 Ruy Lopez
6. Larry Evans vs H Hesse  ½-½451948United States ChampionshipE20 Nimzo-Indian
7. H Hesse vs S Rubinow  1-0451948United States ChampionshipB56 Sicilian
8. Kashdan vs H Hesse  1-0551948United States ChampionshipD37 Queen's Gambit Declined
9. H Hesse vs W Janes  1-0521948United States ChampionshipA09 Reti Opening
10. Santasiere vs H Hesse  0-1301948United States ChampionshipA04 Reti Opening
11. H Hesse vs S E Almgren  1-0331948United States ChampionshipA09 Reti Opening
12. F Howard vs H Hesse  0-1461948United States ChampionshipC70 Ruy Lopez
13. H Hesse vs N Whitaker  1-0321948United States ChampionshipD62 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox, Rubinstein Attack
14. W Adams vs H Hesse  1-0371948United States ChampionshipC27 Vienna Game
15. H Hesse vs P Poschel  ½-½401948United States ChampionshipC50 Giuoco Piano
16. G Kramer vs H Hesse 0-1601948United States ChampionshipE22 Nimzo-Indian, Spielmann Variation
17. H Hesse vs A Sandrin  1-0521948United States ChampionshipC46 Three Knights
18. J Platz vs H Hesse  ½-½721948United States ChampionshipC12 French, McCutcheon
19. H Hesse vs Shainswit  ½-½391948United States ChampionshipC11 French
20. I Heitner vs H Hesse  0-1501948United States ChampionshipE16 Queen's Indian
21. Bisguier vs H Hesse  1-0241971USA-72chE58 Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3, Main line with 8...Bxc3
 page 1 of 1; 21 games  PGN Download 
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Premium Chessgames Member
  Doctor Who: I also doubt this is the author but it's interesting that Steppenwolf mentions chess quite a bit.

<"I am not anybody," he replied amiably. "We have no names here and we are not anybody. I am a chess player. Do you wish for instruction in building up your personality?"

"Yes, please."

"Then be so kind as to place a few dozen of your pieces at my disposal."

"My pieces--?"

"Of the pieces into which you saw your so-called personality broken up. I can't play without pieces.">

Jan-02-05  MidnightDuffer: On the first USCF rating list issued July 31, 1950 Hesse was the 25th highest rated player; tied with Robert Byrne at 2352.
Premium Chessgames Member
  paulalbert: This is the Herman Hesse from Pennsylvania. When I was boy in the 50s he was the strongest player at the Allentown, PA YMCA Chess Club where the top Lehigh Valley players including several PA state champions played. I believe Hesse lived in Bethlehem, PA and drove a taxi cab to make a living. Paul Albert
Dec-25-06  Rubenus: Hesse must be very, very old now...
Premium Chessgames Member
  BishopBerkeley: This description of the author Hermann Hesse's "Glass Bead Game" is certainly interesting [set within a monastic order of the 25th century, or thereabout]:


At the center of the monastic order lies the (fictitious) glass bead game, whose exact nature remains elusive. The precise rules of the game are only alluded to, and are so sophisticated that they are not easy to imagine. Suffice it to say that playing the Game well requires years of hard study of music, mathematics, and cultural history. Essentially the game is an abstract synthesis of all arts and scholarship. It proceeds by players making deep connections between seemingly unrelated topics. For example, a Bach concerto may be related to a mathematical formula. One description says:

“Theoretically,” writes the Narrator Archivist, “this instrument is capable of producing in the Game the entire intellectual content of the universe. The manuals, pedal, and stops are now fixed. Changes in their number and order and attempts at perfecting them, are actually no longer feasible except in theory.” And with this statement, he reveals the limitations of the game: its elitism, its hubris, its stagnation, and its sterility. In its infancy, the Game was played with delicate glass beads, which have since been discarded as too . . . real? They connected the Game with the spiritual beads played by religious believers worldwide, as the robes, and secret language, and ceremonial trappings of the game form a mock religious experience in the time of the Narrator Archivist. Without them, the game flies into the ether without a tether to reality. In our world, prayer beads and the repetition of simple phrases serve as keys to transcendence. In Castalia, they are discarded and the key is lost. The Narrator Archivist makes no reference to the ecstatic states that might be achieved by Glass Bead Game players. The games as he describes them in Knecht’s time (the twenty-second century) and his own (the twenty-fourth century) apparently fall short of what seems the obvious goal.

The Game derives its name from the fact that it was originally played with tokens, perhaps analogous to those of an abacus or the game Go. At the time that the novel takes place, such props had become obsolete and the game is played only with abstract, spoken formulas. The audience's appreciation of a good game draws on its appreciation of both music and mathematical elegance....


I haven't read Hermann Hesse's "Glass Bead Game" ("Das Glasperlenspiel"), though I have read his "Siddhartha" many times and regard it as a masterpiece. I am amazed at the subtlety of Hesse's understanding of some elements of Eastern thought.

Of course, the Chessplayer whose games are collected above is a different person and a different "Herman" (with but one 'n' in his name). I wonder if there is a connection between the two?

(: ♗ Bishop Berkeley ♗ :)

Premium Chessgames Member
  whiteshark: Re:


<The chess player states,

<“Just as madness, in a higher sense is the beginning of all wisdom, so is schizomania the beginning of all art and fantasy.”>>>

Jun-27-07  Whitehat1963: Wonder if he ever played against Thomas Mann
Premium Chessgames Member
  whiteshark: At least they met more than once...
look at the photographs ...
Premium Chessgames Member
  IMlday: The Glass Bead Game was the only work of fiction that we sold in the bookstore at the Chess Canada commune in the early 1970s. In Europe it is called Magister Ludi. A lot of the training in the book has many parallels in chess.
Premium Chessgames Member
  whiteshark: <IMlday:> Looking into the 1st booklet of "KAISSIBER", issued Mai 1996, I see on page 19 a nice picture. You in a dialogue with "Kody"

<You: "1. e4 e5 2. f4!?"
<Kody: "Is it edible?"

I always loved it....

Premium Chessgames Member
  IMlday: That is indeed a really funny picture, even more so in German. Kody's thought balloon was realistic considering her husky/wolf priorities.
Premium Chessgames Member
  BishopBerkeley: <IMlday> The Chess Canada commune! I had not heard of this before: it sounds like a fascinating experiment. I would be interested to learn more about it.

I wonder, what is your opinion of "The Glass Bead Game" as a work of literature?

The following remarks from Anders Österling's 1946 Nobel Prize (in Literature) presentation speech (in honor of Hermann Hesse) certainly make it sound interesting:


This year's Nobel Prize in literature has been awarded to a writer of German origin who has had wide critical acclaim and who has created his work regardless of public favour. The sixty-nine-year-old Hermann Hesse can look back on a considerable achievement consisting of novels, short stories, and poems, partly available in Swedish translation....

In Hesse's more recent work the vast novel Das Glasperlenspiel (1943) [Magister Ludi] [or The Glass Bead Game] occupies a special position. It is a fantasy about a mysterious intellectual order, on the same heroic and ascetic level as that of the Jesuits, based on the exercise of meditation as a kind of therapy. The novel has an imperious structure in which the concept of the game and its role in civilization has surprising parallels with the ingenious study Homo ludens by the Dutch scholar Huizinga. Hesse's attitude is ambiguous. In a period of collapse it is a precious task to preserve the cultural tradition. But civilization cannot be permanently kept alive by turning it into a cult for the few. If it is possible to reduce the variety of knowledge to an abstract system of formulas, we have on the one hand proof that civilization rests on an organic system; on the other, this high knowledge cannot be considered permanent. It is as fragile and destructible as the glass pearls themselves, and the child that finds the glittering pearls in the rubble no longer knows their meaning. A philosophical novel of this kind easily runs the risk of being called recondite, but Hesse defended his with a few gentle lines in the motto of the book, «...then in certain cases and for irresponsible men it may be that non-existent things can be described more easily and with less responsibility in words than the existent, and therefore the reverse applies for pious and scholarly historians; for nothing destroys description so much as words, and yet there is nothing more necessary than to place before the eyes of men certain things the existence of which is neither provable nor probable, but which, for this very reason, pious and scholarly men treat to a certain extent as existent in order that they may be led a step further toward their being and their becoming....»


Thanks in advance, should you choose to reply!

(: ♗ Bishop Berkeley ♗ :)

Premium Chessgames Member
  IMlday: <a mysterious intellectual order, on the same heroic and ascetic level as that of the Jesuits, based on the exercise of meditation as a kind of therapy> Well, ours was based on chess. By definition a Canadian chess professional will be 'ascetic'. Whether it's heroic..hmm..sort of depends on tournament results eh. <In a period of collapse it is a precious task to preserve the cultural tradition> Absobloominglutely! This is the best stuff, parallels Asimov's Second Foundation, even its defencelessness. <it is possible to reduce the variety of knowledge to an abstract system of formulas> Indeed: School of Numbers and Symbols, calculus like Shao Yung taught Liebniz and Newton, or Lao Nai-Hsuan to Carl Jung explaining archetype logic and alchemical code.

I reviewed it in Chess Canada mag mentioning Hesse's earlier books as searching and finding but Magister Ludi about the aftermath--teaching it to the next generation. 5 star stuff imo.

Jun-28-07  dabearsrock1010: I tried to read the glass bead game and I thought it was so boring but huge thumbs up to siddhartha and demian.
Premium Chessgames Member
  vonKrolock: "The Glass Bead Game" - A very thoughtful essay on-line by Charles Cameron titled <"A Game Designer's Holy Grail...">, but no mention of a possible connection between Hesse's novel and the 'philosopher's game' - <Rythmomachy>
Premium Chessgames Member
  whiteshark: <Das Glasperlenspiel>

Musik des Weltalls und Musik der Meister
Sind wir bereit in Ehrfurcht anzuhören,
Zu reiner Feier die verehrten Geister
Begnadeter Zeiten zu beschwören.

Wir lassen vom Geheimnis uns erheben
Der magischen Formelschrift, in deren Bann
Das Uferlose, Stürmende, das Leben
Zu klaren Gleichnissen gerann.

Sternbildern gleich ertönen sie kristallen,
In ihrem Dienst ward unserm Leben Sinn,
Und keiner kann aus ihren Kreisen fallen
Als nach der heiligen Mitte hin.

Nov-18-07  talisman: steppinwolf? that you?
May-26-08  brankat: An amazing career that stretches from 1803 to 1948. Four games played, one every 36 years. Mr.Hesse's preparation must have been absolutely meticulous.
May-26-09  gus inn: <brankat> Lol!

You can respond next year :)

May-26-10  Winter: The guy has 60% winning percentage! I cannot wait for another one of his game to come out.
Premium Chessgames Member
  wordfunph: <brankat: An amazing career that stretches from 1803 to 1948. Four games played, one every 36 years.>

Herman Hesse over-indulged himself in playing chess. :-0

Premium Chessgames Member
  whiteshark: Alle Tage rauscht die Fülle der Welt an uns vorüber;
alle Tage blühen Blumen, strahlt das Licht, lacht die Freude. Manchmal trinken wir uns daran dankbar satt,
manchmal sind wir müde und verdrießlich
und mögen nichts davon wissen;
immer aber umgibt uns ein Überfluss des Schönen.
Das ist das Herrliche an jeder Freude,
dass sie unverdient kommt und niemals käuflich ist
sie ist frei und ein Gottesgeschenk für jedermann,
wie der wehende Duft einer Lindenblüte.

-- Hermann Hesse

Apr-02-12  kellmano: Sorry to join the discussion 5 years too late, but i thought Glass Bead Game was a poor book. I say that as a huge Hesse fan. It struck me terribly elitist.

Narziss and Goldmund was probably my favourite.

Jul-26-14  torrefan: Magister Ludi should post here.
Jul-26-14  torrefan: Magister Ludi is Harry Potter without its female characters, its magic and magicians. Here we have Castalia, a "province" [more like the seminaries of today] where it population of masters and students devote themselves to studies, or to the "things of the mind". Outside of Castalia is the practical world [the world which most of us live in] devoted to knowledge not for its own sake, but knowledge to better the physical aspects of living.

In Harry Potter, there's the battle between the good and bad magicians. Here, the struggle mostly happens between ideas and within oneself. Castalia is known for its Glass Bead Game. How this game is played, you'll never know even if you read the book a hundred times. It is similar to chess only because it involves thinking and the games can be recorded and admired. But it is so unlike chess because it takes so very long to finish [10 days to two weeks] and a game would involve meditation. The game is supposed to be a combination of music and other arts and sciences. The Magister Ludi ["Master of the Game"] heads Castalia [like the Vatican has a Pope].

The main protagonist here is Joseph Knecht, a brilliant man who grew up and studied in Castalia and later bacame its Magister Ludi. I would like to spoil your fun of reading this by saying here that in the end Joseph Knecht resigned as Magister Ludi and then drowned. But before this, the book is a long constant debate of the relevance, importance, meaning of, on the one hand, Castalia [with its "things of the mind"] vis-a-vis [or in contrast with), the outside world, with its practical sciences, its politics, its wars.

By the way, the author Hermann Hesse was born in 1877 and was brought up on a missionary household where it was assumed that he would study for the ministry. Then he had a religious crisis, left the seminary where he was staying, and attempted suicide.

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