Tales of Bibliographical Hazards – Niva publications

Нива: иллюстрированный журнал литературы и современной жизни

Niva: illustrated magazine of literature and modern life

Chess historians will sometimes encounter references to Niva magazine, the Russian chess magazine from St. Petersburg. It was affordable, wide-spread, and often featured esteemed Russian writers, including chess masters such as Chigorin or Schiffers, in addition to a bounty of excellent illustrations, occasionally even of chess.

But biographers need to beware, because Niva references are often used inaccurately.  It’s an easy mistake to make, because there were two contemporaneous publications from the same publisher, and most people are unaware of this fact or neglect it when referencing sources.

One publication was a weekly magazine, referred to here:

https://zanchess.wordpress.com/2018/02/25/chigorin-blindfold-exhibition-niva-illustration/, or here,

These posts were from the main issue of Niva, the weekly magazine. The entire series is available from runivers:

http://www.runiverse.ru/lib/book9158/#ogl_tom (all issues, 1870-1918).

Here is a sample cover and masthead (titlepage):

(Click either image to enlarge)

Almost all beautiful illustrations sourced as Niva come from this publication.

However, the biographer must beware that this was not the publication with the canonical chess columns by, say, Chigorin or Schiffers. Those actually come from a different publication, a monthly volume from the same publisher, whose title page looks like this:

Here is a transcription in approximate Russian of the relevant part (approximate because my Windows 10 Russian keyboard software is missing some obsolete Cyrillic letters used back in 1906):


Литературныя и Популярно-Научныя



Журналу “Нива”

which roughly translates to


Literary and Popular-Scientific


Magazine “Niva”

I believe that Niva Suppl. (for Niva Supplemental) is probably the best, and likely most common, abbreviation to use for referencing. This publication had virtually none of the glorious illustrations of the main flagship publication – but it did contain chess diagrams and other technical illustrations (with a few decorative flourishes along the way).

Here is a reference to a chess column in one of these volumes: https://books.google.com/books?id=ZIA1AQAAMAAJ&pg=PA217#v=onepage&f=false

My preference for this reference would be Niva Suppl. (1897) p217-218. Being unsure of the exact history of the supplemental, and lacking clear guidance from Google Books, or other sources, I’m forced to omit the volume number for the time being.



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