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Daniel Willard Fiske
Number of games in database: 5
Years covered: 1857
Overall record: +2 -3 =0 (40.0%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games.

Most played openings
B44 Sicilian (2 games)

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(born Nov-11-1831, died Sep-17-1904, 72 years old) United States of America

[what is this?]

Daniel Willard Fiske was born in New York in 1831. From 1852 to 1859, he was the librarian to the Astor Library in Manhattan. In 1857, he was the champion of the New York Chess Club. He organized the 1st American Chess Congress (1857) and published the first American chess magazine "Chess Monthly" (co-edited by Paul Morphy). The magazine began in January, 1857, and ended in May, 1861. In 1861 he was appointed as an Attaché to the American Embassy in Vienna. In 1859, he was elected General Secretary of the American Geographical Society. He had a fascination with Iceland and donated his 1,200 chess books to the National Library of Reykjavik. He wrote "The Book of the First American Chess Congress" (1859) and "Chess in Iceland" (1904). In 1868, he became the first librarian of Cornell University and was also professor of North European Languages (he taught Old Icelandic, German, Swedish, and Danish). In 1880, he married Jennie McGraw, daughter of multi-millionaire John McGraw, lumber merchant. She died a year later from tuberculosis. In her will, she gave Daniel Fiske $300,000, her brother $550,000, and much of the rest of the money (several million dollars) to Cornell University. Due to University by-laws, Cornell could not accept the full amount of McGraw’s gift. When Fiske realized that the University had failed to inform him of this restriction, he launched a legal assault to reacquire the money, known as The Great Will Case. In 1883, he severed all connections with Cornell University and moved to Florence, Italy. He became a book collector and dealer. He visited Iceland in 1879. On September 17, 1904, he died at Frankfurt-on-the-Main, Germany.

Wikipedia article: Willard Fiske, and see

 page 1 of 1; 5 games  PGN Download 
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. D W Fiske vs N Marache 0-13518571st American Chess CongressA84 Dutch
2. N Marache vs D W Fiske 0-14818571st American Chess CongressB44 Sicilian
3. D W Fiske vs N Marache 1-04218571st American Chess CongressD32 Queen's Gambit Declined, Tarrasch
4. N Marache vs D W Fiske 1-02718571st American Chess CongressC01 French, Exchange
5. N Marache vs D W Fiske  1-06018571st American Chess CongressB44 Sicilian
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2) | Fiske wins | Fiske loses  

Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: Mark Twain (born 1835) wrote of Fiske
in his Autobiography:

‘He was as dear and sweet a soul as I have ever known. His was a character which won friends for him, and whoso became his friend remained so, ever afterward.’ (from Edward Winter)

Does anyone know the details of their acquaintance?

Jun-05-09  myschkin: . . .


(by User: SBC)


"Journeys of a Bibliophile" (pdf)

(by Patrick J. Stevens)

Jun-05-09  Calli: <tamar> asked "Does anyone know the details of their acquaintance?"

They met in the 1870s. Fiske wound up restoring a villa and living in Florence, Italy. Clemens made extended tours and stays in Europe and around the turn of the century Fiske found nice place for him to stay right near him. They were neighbors for several years until Clemens wife died. This is what I remember, may not be 100% accurate.

Premium Chessgames Member
  whiteshark: Quote of the Day

Ours is no bloody battle
With woe and horror fraught
Our joust is of a gentler kind
A measuring of Mind with Mind
A tournament of thought.

--- Willard Fiske

Oct-28-10  vonKrolock: <"At each corner rose a lofty tower. In niches next these castellated towers stood huge statues of Knights and Bishops; while supporting either side of the grand entrance were great marble Caryatides representing a stately monarch and his queen. Ranged in front of this ornamented facade, as a sort of fence or protection, was a curious row of bronze foot-soldiers, eight in number."> and further <"We thereupon returned to the hall where I had first met Greco. Philidor and Stamma had by that time finished their game, and thinking to amuse them with a novelty from our side of the Styx, I called their attention to the Indian problem. Instantly the Syrian and his illustrious competitor, together with Ponziani, Brühl, Atwood, Verdoni, Bernard, and others, crowded round the board. While they were employed in attempting to discover the solution of this elaborate and beautiful enigma, I caught sight of a vacant table and quietly arranged Loyd's fine three-move position.

"Here," said I, with an air of pride, "is another beautiful chess stratagem lately concocted among us mortals.>

Two passages from <"Chess in Hades">

a text that appeared in Chess Monthly, February 1858

Newly reprinted online in

Jan-26-16  zanzibar: "severed all connections with Cornell University"????

<Fiske donated thousands of volumes to Cornell including a 1536 edition of the Divine Comedy that he purchased in April 1892 and directed to be sent directly to Cornell. The Fiske Dante Collection grew out of this acquisition and as of 2005 numbered approximately 10,000 volumes.[6]

On September 17, 1904 Fiske died at Frankfurt am Main, Germany. He is buried next to his wife Jennie McGraw Fiske in the elaborate crypt of Sage Chapel at Cornell University. Upon his death, Fiske left a bequest of 32,000 volumes, the Fiske Icelandic Collection, to Cornell [7] along with funds that Fiske had received from Jennie's estate.[8]>

The man's remains are supposedly buried there!

(Not sure why wiki page headlines with "Willard Fiske" instead of "Daniel W. Fiske")

Here's a view of some of the library he willed to Cornell upon his death:

Jan-26-16  zanzibar: Tell me there isn't some resemblance:"monty+woolley"&rlz=1C1TSND_enUS556US589&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X

Jan-26-16  zanzibar: Tell me there isn't some resemblance: (this hack doesn't, it's even worse)

Both " and " work here... accursed <CG> link hacks!

Premium Chessgames Member
  Tabanus: There are lies and damn lies.

<In 1900, he founded the Reykjavik Chess Club.> That must rather be Petur Zophoniasson?

<He was the editor of the first Icelandic chess magazine in 1901. It was published in Venice, Italy.> I doubt this is true.

Apr-04-16  luftforlife: Willard Fiske bequeathed his Icelandic collection to Cornell University. Here's a link to the page from a Google e-book version of the Catalogue showing the chess volumes he bequeathed (including Zóphóníasson's <Kenslubók i skák> from 1906):

Apr-04-16  luftforlife: From the Preface to the Catalogue:

"The Collection covered by this Catalogue was bequeathed to Cornell University by Willard Fiske, Professor of North-European languages and Librarian of the University from 1868 to 1883. He died on September 17th, 1904, and the Collection came to the University Library in the spring of 1905."

Catalogue of the Icelandic Collection Bequeathed by Willard Fiske (Halldór Hermannsson, compiler) (Ithica: Cornell University Library 1914, publisher) (Norwood, Mass.: The Plimpton Press, printer), Preface at v.

Here's a link:

Apr-04-16  luftforlife: Here's a link to Willard Fiske's Chess in Iceland and in Icelandic Literature (Florence: The Florentine Typographical Society 1905):

Premium Chessgames Member
  Tabanus: <He first visited Iceland in 1885> He once visited Iceland, in 1879.
Apr-04-16  Bobby Fiske: Hmmm, it seems I have to re-check my family tree.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Tabanus: is the link to Þjóðólfur, 15 Feb 1901, p. 31, which reports on the foundation of the Reykjavik Chess Club (6 October 1900), and gives the game Thoroddsen vs Zophoniasson (submitted).

Fiske is mentioned as a donator to the club. Very poor translation:

"He has sent the club a lot of gifts: Books for up to approximately 300 Kronor, 90 Kronor in cash, 7 fine boards, 5 pocket boards, 2 awards (12 Kr. each), other things displayed in the Deutsche Schachzeitung, the first "problem" is displayed there, 6 --- scrapbooks, etc."

The game and the story is also in Morgunblaðið , 26 March 1969, p. 10:

And (I can't read that)

Nov-11-16  TheFocus: Happy birthday, Daniel Fiske.
Nov-11-16  offramp: By using various capitals and punctuation it is possible to make a very funny sentence from his name.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Big Pawn: Happy belated Columbus Day, Daniel Fiske.
Dec-08-21  HansDPost: It's about time for a new comment on Fiske, it seems. Found a note in Schachkalender 2021 edited by Arno Nickel, taken from the author "md", that Fiske died in Frankfurt/Main. This was taken, assumed by Nickel, from this source: and copied here:
Daniel Willard Fiske

According to a very precise obituary about Fiske by Pastor Otto Koch, published in DSZ 1904, page 384ff, he died in Florence, where he lived by that time. I really doubt that Koch messed up Frankfurt and Florence.

Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: The first two online newspaper reports on his death I says Florence, one, Frankfurt.
Dec-08-21  HansDPost: Links to newspaper entries, please!
Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: Every other contemporary report, to date, goes with Frankfurt. Here's an early one from the <Buffalo Evening News>, September 19th 1904, p.5:

<ITHACA, Sept. 18 - Word has been received in Ithaca of the death of Prof. Daniel Willard Fiske of Florence, Italy, formerly of Ithaca, which occurred Saturday morning at Frankfort-on-the-Main, Germany.>

The one report mentioning Florence is the <Burlington Free Press> of October 11th, p.4, quoting the <Rochester Post-Express> which starts with: <Professor Daniel Willard Fiske, who died Saturday at Florence, Italy, was a remarkable man...>

Dec-10-21  HansDPost: Nothing beats the quality of documents from german authorities in these days:-) And no one beats Connie C. in finding them!

According to these sources (death certificate prepared by the authorities in Frankfurt/Main) Fiske was found dead on Saturday morning at six o'clock. The address given in the document where he was found relates to Hotel Frankfurter Hof, even today one of the finest addresses in our city.

So Florence is out, and chessgames has the correct information.

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