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Chess Column (54 years)

Leonard Barden sets 54 year record (even more detail)

The sports pages of The Guardian established a world record on Christmas Eve, by publishing its weekly Leonard Barden chess column, the latest in an unbroken sequence that goes back more than 54 years. "I have never missed a week in 54 years, and as a result the Guardian undisputably holds the world record for the longest continuous chess column of (currently) 54 years 3 months."

Read the full story at: http://www.sportsjournalists.co.uk/blog/?p=2268

You can also read more about the older records at Edward Winter's Chess Notes: http://www.chesshistory.com/winter/extra/records.html. It mentions Herman Helms ran a column in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle from 1893 to 1955 when the paper folded, however there was a big break 1907-11 when the paper didn't have a chess section.

Barden and Winter believe that the previous longest continuous column was George Koltanowski’s daily column in the San Francisco Chronicle, which ran for 51 years 9 months and 18 days from 1948 to 2000. (I exchanged a number of E-Mails with Koltanowski, a TWIC reader!!)

Johan Hut (a columnist for several Dutch newspapers) writes that he likes to keep abreast of the records of his rivals and that for instance Gert Ligterink has written for 26 years in "de Volkskrant" and Lex Jongsma for 36 years for "de Telegraaf", both Dutch national newspapers.

He also writes of Haije Kramer (born 24-11-1917, died in 2004). "He played seven times in the Dutch championship and seven times in the Olympiad. In 22 years he was 20 times champion of the province Friesland and he was 35 years in a row champion of Philidor Leeuwarden, the strongest club in Friesland and winner of the Dutch league in 1967. Kramer was highly appreciated as not only a strong chess player, but also a writer of chess books and a chess journalist.)."

He adds that:

"Haije Kramer wrote a weekly chess column in de Leeuwarder Courant, a daily newspaper. Leeuwarden is the capital of Friesland, the paper has readers in the whole province. He started in 1938, only 20 years old. And he kept writing it untill 1998, so for 60 years. I don't know the exact dates, so it can be 59 years and a few months, but in Friesland they always say 60 and that can be true. Certain is 59. From 1947 untill 1969 (so 22 years) he also wrote a weekly column for het Algemeen Dagblad, a national newspaper. So in those years he wrote two weekly columns and I don't think that were the same, because in de Leeuwarder Courant (it is possible to check out his columns at: http://www.archiefleeuwardercourant.nl/ and certainly in the war his name doesn't appear on some of the chess pieces, and some of them barely count as a chess column - MC) he often wrote about chess players from Friesland."

Of course with the war being included within the period of his tenure I find it extremely unlikely that he published a column every week for 54 years in a row as Leonard Barden has, and this must be the record. Nevertheless with Kramer's not being mentioned on Edward Winter's pages (I couldn't find a single mention of his name with a google search) this does seem a notable achievement also that needs checking out. I would bow to Winter's ability to get to the bottom of any claims for World Records and with the additional information in this article there seem plenty of places to start further investigations!

Barden in correspondence with me mentions that Gregory Koshnitsky had a 52 year run for an Australian Newspaper (although in this case there was a 10 year break at one point). He says that he didn't properly break Koltanowski's record for a DAILY column, in the Guardian. Barden adds though that his "Evening Standard column has done so by appearing since around June 1956 (unfortunately I am unsure of the exact starting date but believe it was shortly before Whitsun as I recall giving results from Ilford) without missing a day, ie 53 years 6 months not out.".

Barden adds: "I do consider that Helms is still somebody to beat since allowing for his 3.5 years break enforced by the Brooklyn Eagle he still wrote for a maximum 58 years and 45 days (this is what I calculate from taking the worst case start and finish dates where only the month is known). I don't expect to reach that milestone, still less the 61.5 years from Helms's first column until his last."

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