Fred Reinfeld

Fred Reinfeld was born in New York City on January 27, 1910.  His father, Barnett Reinfeld, came from Poland.  His mother, Rose (Pogrozelsky) was from Romania.  Fred had a sister, Lily (Lena Blake), born in 1912.

Reinfeld wrote over 100 chess books in his lifetime, and perhaps over 260 books total. He also wrote about geology, history, numismatics, checkers, and astronomy.   He sold more chess books than any other author in history.

When did Fred Reinfeld first learn how to play chess?  In the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Sep 3, 1931, it stated that the newly crowned New York State chess champion, Fred Reinfeld, learned the game of chess at age 9.  This was also repeated in American Chess Bulletin, Sep-Oct 1931, where it further states that Reinfeld then became interested in checkers.  In the Human Side of Chess, he stated that he learned at the age of 11.  In chapter one of  How to Be a Winner at Chess, he stated that he “first learned to play chess as a youngster of 12.”  In Dr. Lasker’s Chess Career he stated that he “learned the moves as a high school youngster, about three months before the great New York Tournament of 1924.”  He would be 14 at that time.

Around Christmas of 1923, Reinfeld visited many libraries in search of chess literature.  He soon had a collection of over 2,000 games that he copied. 

In 1924, Reinfeld earned a place on his high school chess team. 

In early January, 1926, after meeting Carlos Torre-Repetto (1905-1978) at the offices of the American Chess Bulletin, Reinfeld  joined the Marshall Chess Club.

In 1929, Reinfeld won the U.S. Intercollegiate Chess Championship.   He attended New York University, then the College of the City of New York (CCNY), majoring in accounting.

In 1929, Reinfeld tied for 6th-8th place in the 13th Marshall Chess Club championship, won by Rudolf Smirka (1887-1947).

In November 1930, Reinfeld took 4th-5th in Preliminary A of the 14th Marshall Chess Club championship, but did not qualify for the finals, won by Arthur Dake (1910-2000).

In July-August, 1931, Reinfeld lost a match against Reuben Fine in New York.  Reinfeld lost three, won two, and drew one game.

He won the 53rd New York State Chess Association Championship at Rome, New York at the age of 21. The event was held from August 17 to August 22, 1931.  He won 6 games, drew 5 games, and lost none.  Reuben Fine took 2nd place.  At the time, Reinfeld was still a student at CCNY, along with Reuben Fine.   He later became a competent accountant via coursework at Columbia and NYU.  Further part-time employment was found in all kinds of editing jobs. 

In 1931-32, Reinfeld took 2nd place in the 15th Marshall Chess Club Championship, won by Reuben Fine.  Reinfeld defeated Fine in their individual game.

In 1932, he married his fiancée, Beatrice (1912-1979).  She was a secretary at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.  He had two children.  His son, Don, was born in 1942, and his daughter, Judith, was born in 1947.  His son later became a veteran cellist with the Rochester, New York, Philharmonic Orchestra.   Don was a guest speaker during the induction ceremony of Fred Reinfeld at the U.S. Hall of Fame in 1996. 

In July-August 1932, Reinfeld took 3rd place in the 33rd Western Chess Association (US Open) championship, behind  Fine and Reshevsky.  The event was held in Minneapolis.  Reinfeld defeated Reshevsky and drew with Fine in their individual games.

In August 1932, Reinfeld was invited to the Pasadena International, held from August 15 to Auguest 28.  He tied for 7th-10th place.  The event was won by Alekhine, followed by KashdanReinfeld drew both Alekhine and Kashdan in their individual games, and defeated Reshevsky.

In 1932, Reinfeld began writing on chess.  He researched and wrote as many as 13 books a year.   He also found a position as part-time chess instructor for the adult-education sections of Columbia and NYU.  He gave chess courses, of various levels of difficulty, for many years.   They were very popular.  Does anyone know of anybody who took his courses?

In the 1933, Reinfeld started his own publishing house called the Black Knight Press. In his tiny apartment  in the Bronx, he produced and printed his own material.  He started with correspondence courses and pamphlet-style chess books for people who wanted to learn the game.   

In 1933, Reinfeld became a contributing editor of Chess Review, then an associate editor.  He did many of the book reviews for the magazine, as well as annotating many games.  He also translated several German articles into English and had them published.  In 1945, he became executive editor of Chess Review.

From May 6-16, 1933, Reinfeld participated in the United States Team Tournament qualifier, held in New York.  He tied for 7th-8th place.  Fine, Dake, and Simonson all qualified from this event to represent the USA at Folkestone in the Chess Olympiad.  Reinfeld drew with all the qualifiers in their individual games, but only won one game in the event.

In August 1933, Reinfeld won the 55th New York State Chess Championship in Syracuse, New York, ahead of Denker and Fine.  He won 8 games, drew 3 games, and lost no games.  The event was held from August 21 through August 26.

In 1933, he wrote his first books, Book of the Bled Tournament with Isaac Kashadan and Chess Strategy and Tactics with Irving Chernev.

In 1933-34, Reinfeld tied for 2nd with Alexander Kevitz in the 17th Marshall Chess Club Championship.  Reuben Fine won the event.

In 1934, Reinfeld placed 9th-10th in the 56th New York State Championship, won by Reshevsky.  The event was held in Syracuse, New York.

In 1934-35, Reinfeld won the 18th Marshall Chess Club Championship. 

In August 1935, Reinfeld took 4th place in the 57th New York Championship, held in Binghamton, New York.   Reinfeld scored 5-3.  Isaac Kashdan, playing in the New York State Championship for the first time, won the event with 7 wins and 1 draw.

In March 1936, Fred Reinfeld failed to qualify for the 1st U.S. championship when he took 4th in the Marshall Chess Club Qualifying Group.  Denker and Weaver Adams qualified.  Reinfeld drew with both qualifiers in their individual games.  

In August 1936, Reinfeld played in the 37th American Chess Federation Congress in Philadelphia.  He took 4th place in one of the section qualifiers and failed to make it into the finals, which took the first three places in the section qualifier (Kashdan, Denker, and Kupchik).

In 1937, Reinfeld took 4th-5th  in the Marshall Chess Club Championship, won by Frank Marshall.  Reinfeld defeated Marshall in their individual game, Marshall’s only loss.

In March 1938, Reinfeld qualified for the 2nd U.S. Championship Tournament in New York after winning his section with a 7-2 score.  After missing qualification by a half point in the two previous years, Reinfeld finally qualified.

In the 1938 U.S. Championship, Reinfeld tied for 12th-14th place.  The event was won by ReshevskyReinfeld drew with Reshevsky in their encounter.   He fell for a mate in one and twice put pieces en prise in simple positions.  Reinfeld blamed his poor standing due to outside work during the tournament, making concentration difficult.  At the time, he was contributing to The Chess Review, completing one chess book, and preparing for a new chess book.

In 1938, Reinfeld advertised chess lessons for 25 cents at his home in the Bronx  and was willing to answer personal problems of sponsors. 

In 1939, Reinfeld took 9th-10th place in the 1939 Marshall Chess Club Championship with only 1 win, 2 losses, and 7 draws.  His win was against Frank Marshall.

In July 1939, Reinfeld took 2nd place, behind Milton Hanauer, in the Ventnor City (New Jersey) Invitational Masters’ Tournament.  He won 6 games, drew 6 games, and lost no games.   He started out with 5 wins and 1 draw in the first 6 games.

In the 1930s, Reinfeld ran an ad in Chess Correspondence magazine offering to annotate any chess game for a dollar. 

In the 1930s and 1940s, Reinfeld was the only American who had a plus score against ReshevskyReinfeld beat Reshevsky twice and had three draws and no losses.

In 1940, Reinfeld qualified for the 3rd U.S. Championship from the Preliminaries. 

Reinfeld took 8th-11th place in the 3rd U.S. Championship with1 win, 2 losses, and 13 draws.  The tournament was won by ReshevskyReinfeld drew his game with Reshevsky in their individual encounter. 

In 1941, Reinfeld ghosted My Fifty Years of Chess by Frank Marshall.  Reinfeld was paid $100 to write the book, which he did in three weeks.

In July 1941, Reinfeld took 2nd in the third annual Ventnor City Invitational Tournament, behind Jacob Levin.  Reinfeld preserved his record as the only player to in the Ventnor City tournaments without the loss of a single game.

In February 1942, he tied for 1st place with Sidney Bernstein at the Manhattan Chess Club championship.   Reinfeld won 6 games, drew 4 games, and lost no games.  He appeared on the cover of the February 1942 issue of Chess Review with Bernstein.

Reinfeld stopped playing competitive chess by the end of 1942 and concentrated writing chess articles and books.   He abandoned tournament chess because it was impossible to earn a living at it.

In 1948, Reinfeld wrote his first non-chess book, an abridgment of Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens.

In 1948, Reinfeld had a finished manuscript called  Dr. Lasker’s Chess Career, Part II, but couldn’t find a publisher to print it.

In the 1940s, the Brooklyn Public Library listed over 250 books on chess alone, authored by Reinfeld.  Many of them were duplicated, stapled sheets of paper, which he peddled from bookstore to bookstore during the Great Depression.   Because of his phenomenal memory and writing ability, he was able to write most of his manuscripts directly from rough notes instead of having to prepare a preliminary draft.  His editors seldom revised more than a few words. 

In the 1950s, his publisher at Sterling Publishing Company was David A. Boehm, who used the pseudonym Robert V. Masters when he co-wrote with Reinfeld His other main publishers were David McKay Publishing, Pitman, Simon & Schuster, Collier, Prentice-Hall, Dover, and Bell.

In 1950, Reinfeld said, “In those early days I played and wrote seriously – and got nothing for it.  When I pour out the mass-produced trash, the royalties coming in.”

In 1950, Reinfeld managed the USA-Yugoslav Radio Match.

In December 1950, the first USCF rating list appeared in Chess Review. Reinfeld was the 6th highest rated player in the United States, with a USCF rating of 2593, but inactive (he had not played a tournament game since 1942). The top players were Reuben Fine (2817), Samuel Reshevsky (2770), Alexander Kevitz (2610), Arthur Dake (2598), and Albert Simonson (2596).

Between 1950 and 1964, Reinfeld became an expert on numismatics and wrote 14 books on coin collecting.  He authored 5 popular science books.

In 1951, the second USCF rating list appeared. Reinfeld was no longer on the rating list due to inactivity in chess tournaments.

In 1955, Reinfeld most likely began using the pseudonym Edward Young, which first appeared in Chess Review, April 1955.  Edward Young appeared as an author of several chess books.  

By the end of 1955 he had written more than 50 chess books.  At the time, he was on the staff of New York University, where he taught chess to hundreds of students yearly.

In 1958, he was on the staff at the School of General Education of New York University as an instructor in chess.  

In 1959 his book, The Great Dissenters, won the Thomas Alva Edison Foundation Award “for special excellence in portraying America’s past.” 

Fred’s son, Don, wrote, “As I was growing up, I was always astounded by my father's knowledge and deep understanding of many subjects.  He was always eager to answer my questions about politics, economics, history, science, philosophy.  He had read widely in literature, and I later came across letters he had written to my mother before their marriage explaining how to read Proust and listen to Italian opera; they loved the open-air concerts at Lewissohn Stadium.  As a teenager I was astounded when I was forced to conclude that he remembered absolutely everything he read and every move of every game he had ever played or perused when browsing through chess journals.  He worked all the time, every day, from right after breakfast until late at night.  He would take breaks for walks and for reading and listening to classical music, his other great passion.  In the late 1950's he finally indulged his love for music and started taking piano lessons.  I'm afraid his talents there were no greater than mine for chess.”

In 1964, the American newspaper columnist Len Lyons (1906-1976) listed Fred Reinfeld as the most prolific of all living authors.

He died at the age of 54 years and 4 months on May 29, 1964 at Meadowbrook Hospital in East Meadow, New York.  Did he die of a  ruptured cerebral aneurysm and where was the cause of death ever reported?  It does not show up in the obiturary in The New York Times, or by Jack Battell in Chess Review, and no obituary was given for Reinfeld in Chess Life.   The British Chess Magazine, July 1964, said that he died of a virus infection.

In 1996, Reinfeld was inducted into the U.S. Chess Hall of Fame.

Reinfeld wrote several articles for the World Book Encyclopedia.  He was author of a chess program in the form of a teaching machine for the Encyclopedia Britannica.  He was also a consultant for the Random House American College Dictionary.

Reinfeld's chess victories include wins against Samuel Reshevsky (twice), Arnold Denker, Reuben Fine, I.A. Horowitz, Edward Lasker, Frank Marshall, Pinkus, Santasiere, and Simonson. He also drew against Alexander Alekhine.

Reinfeld was a ghost writer for several authors, including Sammy Reshevsky and Frank Marshall.  Irving Chernev and Fred Reinfeld ghosted most of the important American chess books  between 1930 and 1950, including Marshall’s best games.

In 1965 Fred Reinfeld's library was given to New York University by his widow, Mrs. Beatrice Reinfeld.  He had over 1,000 books on chess and over 260 books that he had written,

Fred Reinfeld was inducted into the United States Chess Hall of Fame in 1996.   He was the 26th person to be so inducted, and the first to be inducted primarily for his writing.  He may have done more to popularize American chess in the 20th century than in any other person.  Through 1989, over 50 of his chess books have been reprinted after his death. 

Reinfeld has been quoted as saying, "The pin is mightier than the sword" and "Short of actual blunders, the lack of faith in one's position is the chief cause of defeat."

Chess Books by Fred Reinfeld:


101 Chess Problems for Beginners (Wilshire, Hollywood, 1960)

1001 Brilliant Chess Sacrifices and Combinations (Sterling, NY, 1955)

1001 Brilliant Ways to Checkmate (Wilshire Books, Hollywood, 1955)

1001 Chess Sacrifices and Combinations (Barnes & Noble, NY, 1959)

1001 Ways to Checkmate (Sterling, NY, 1955)

A Chess Primer (Dolphin Books, Garden City, 1962)

A New Approach to Chess Mastery (Hanover House, Garden City, 1959)

A Treasury of British Chess Masterpieces (Chatto & Windus, London, 1950)

A. Alekhine vs. E.D. Bogoljubow : World's Chess Championship 1934 (McKay, Philadelphia, 1934)

An Expert's Guide to Chess Strategy (Hollywood, 1976)

Art of Chess (edited by Reinfeld; written by Mason) (1958)

Art of Sacrifice in Chess

Attack and Counterattack In Chess (Barnes & Noble, NY, 1958)

Beginner's Guide to Winning Chess

Book of the 1935 Margate Tournament

Book of the 1935 Warsaw International Chess Team Tournament

Book of the 1936-37 Hastings Tournament

Botvinnik the Invincible

Botvinnik's Best Games, 1927-1934

British Chess Masters: Past and Present

Challenge to Chessplayers (McKay, Philadelphia, 1947)

Chess At-A-Glance by Edward Young (Ottenheimer, Baltimore, 1955)

Chess By Yourself (McKay, Philadelphia, 1946)

Chess Combinations and Traps

Chess for Amateurs: How To Improve Your Game (McKay, Philadelphia, 1942)

Chess for Children, with Moves and Positions Pictured in Photo and Diagram

Chess for Young People

Chess In A Nutshell (Permabooks, NY, 1958)

Chess is an Easy Game

Chess Mastery by Question and Answer (McKay, Philadelphia, 1939)

Chess Quiz (McKay, Philadelphia, 1945)

Chess Secrets Revealed (Wilshire, Hollywood, 1959)

Chess Strategy and Tactics: Fifty Master Games (Black Knight, NY, 1933)

Chess Strategy for Offense and Defense (Barnes & Noble, NY, 1955)

Chess Tactics for Beginners

Chess Traps, Pitfalls, and Swindles

Chess Victory Move By Move

Chess: Attack and Counterattack (Sterling, NY, 1955)

Chess: Win in 20 Moves or Less (Crowell, NY, 1962)

Complete Chess Course

Complete Chess Player

Colle's Chess Masterpieces (Black Knight Press, NY, 1936)

Complete Book of Chess Openings (Sterling, NY, 1957)

Complete Book of Chess Stratagems (Sterling, NY, 1958)

Creative Chess (Sterling, NY, 1959)

Development of a Chess Genius, 100 Instructive Games of Alekhine (Dover)

Dr. Lasker's Chess Career, Part I, 1889-1914 (Printingcraft, London, 1935)

E. S. Lowe's Chess In 30 Minutes (E.S. Lowe Co, NY, 1955)

Eighth Book of Chess: How to Play the Queen Pawn Openings and Other Close Games (Sterling, NY, 1957)

Epic Battles of the Chessboard

Fifth Book of Chess: How to Win When You're Ahead (Sterling, NY, 1955)

Fifty-one Brilliant Chess Masterpieces (Capitol Pub, NY, 1950)

First Book of Chess (with Horowitz) (Harper & Row, NY 1952)

Fourth Book of Chess: How to Play the Black Pieces (Sterling, NY, 1955)

Games of the 1938 Washington State Chess Association Championship (1938)

Great Brilliancy Prize Games of the Chess Masters (Collier, NY, 1961

Great Chess Upsets (written by Reshevsky; annotated by Reinfeld)

Great Games By Chess Prodigies (Macmillan, NY, 1967)

Great Moments In Chess (Doubleday, NY, 1963)

Great Short Games of the Chess Masters (Collier, NY, 1961

How Do You Play Chess?

How Not to Play Chess (Edited by Reinfeld; authored by Znosko-Borovsky)

How To Be A Winner at Chess (Hanover, Garden City, 1954)

How To Beat Your Opponent Quickly (Sterling, NY, 1956)

How To Force Checkmate (Dover, NY, 1958)

How To Get More Out of Chess (Hanover, Garden City, 1957)

How To Improve Your Chess (with Horowitz) (Collier, NY, 1952)

How To Play Better Chess (Pitman, NY, 1948)

How To Play Chess Like A Champion (Fawcett, Greenwich, 1956)

How To Play Winning Chess (Bantam Books, NY, 1962)

How to Think Ahead in Chess (with Horowitz)

How To Win Chess Games Quickly (Barnes & Noble, NY, 1957)

Hypermodern Chess: As Developed in the Games of its Greatest ExponentAron Nimzovich  (Dover, NY, 1948)

Immortal Games of Capablanca

Improving Your Chess (Barnes & Noble, NY, 1955)

Improving Your Chess (Faber, London, 1954)

Instructive and Practical Endings From Master Chess

Kemeri Tournament, 1937

Keres' Best Games of Chess (1941)

Keres' Best Games of Chess, 1931-1948 (Printed Arts Co., 1949)

Lasker's Greatest Chess Games, 1889-1914 (Dover, NY, 1963)

Learn Chess Fast! (with Reshevsky) (McKay, Philadelphia, 1947)

Learn Chess From the Masters (Dover, NY, 1946)

Modern Fundamentals of Chess

Morphy Chess Masterpieces (with Soltis) (Macmillan, NY, 1974)

Morphy's Games of Chess (by Sergeant; edited by Reinfeld)

My System: A Treatise on Chess (by Nimzovich; edited by Reinfeld) (McKay, Philadelphia, 1947)

Nimzovich: The Hypermodern (McKay, Philadelphia, 1948)

Practical End-game Play (Pitman, London, 1940)

Reinfeld Explains Chess (Sterling, NY, 1957)

Reinfeld On The End-Game in Chess (Dover, NY, 1957)

Relax With Chess and Win In 20 Moves (Pitman, NY, 1948)

Second Book of Chess: The Nine Bad Moves, and How to Avoid Them (Sterling, NY, 1953)

Semmering-Baden Tournament of 1937

Seventh Book of Chess: How to Play the King Pawn Openings (Sterling, NY, 1956)

Sixth Book of Chess: How to Fight Back (Sterling, NY, 1955)

Strategy in the Chess Endgame

Tarrasch's Best Games of Chess (Chatto & Windus, London 1947)

The Book of the Cambridge Springs International Tournament 1904 (Black Knight Press, 1935)

The Chess Masters On Winning Chess

The Complete Book of Chess Tactics (Doubleday, Garden City, 1961)

The Complete Chess Course (Doubleday, Garden City, 1959)

The Complete Chessplayer (Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 1953)

The Complete Chessplayer by Edward Young (New English Library, London, 1960)

The Great Chess Masters and Their Games (Hanover, Garden City, 1960)

The Easiest Way To Learn Chess (Simon & Schuaster, NY, 1960)

The Elements of Combination Play In Chess (Black Knight, NY, 1935)

The Fireside Book of Chess (with Chernev) (Simon & Schuster, NY, 1949)

The Games of the 1933 Match Between S. Flohr and M. Botvinnik

The Human Side of Chess (Pellegrini & Cudahy, NY 1952)

The Immortal Games of Capablanca

The Joys of Chess (Hanover, Garden City, 1961)

The Macmillan Handbook of Chess

The Secret of Tactical Chess (Crowell, NY, 1958)

The Treasury of Chess Lore (McKay, NY, 1951)

The Unknown Alekhine 1905-1914

The USCF 7th Biennial US Championship of 1948

The Way To Better Chess (Macmillan, NY, 1959)

Third Book of Chess: How to Play the White Pieces (Sterling, NY, 1954)

Thirty Five Nimzowitsch Games, 1904-1927

Two Weeks To Winning Chess

Ventnor City Tournament, 1939 (New York, 1939)

Why You Lose At Chess (Simon & Schustor, NY, 1956)

Win at Chess (Dover, NY, 1958)

Winning Chess: How to Perfect your Attacking Play

Winning Chess for Beginners (Grosset, NY, 1959)

Winning Chess Openings (Hanover, Garden City, 1961)


Other Books by Fred Reinfeld (aka Robert Masters):


A Catalogue of the World's Most Popular Coins, (Sterling, NY, 1956)

A Catalogue of European Coins (Oak Tree Press, London, 1961)

A Simplified Guide to Collecting American Paper Money, (Hanover House, NY, 1960)

A Treasury of American Coins (Garden City, NY, 1961)

Blazer the Bear (Sterling, New York, 1953)

Cash for Your Coins (Sterling, NY, 1957)

Coin Collecting (Bonanza, NY, 1958)

Coin Collecting for Beginners (with Burton Hobson)

Coin Collector's Handbook (Sterling, New York, 1954)

Coin Dictionary and Guide (with C.C. Chamberlain) (Bonanza, NY, 1960)

Coinometry (with David Boehm) (Sterling, New York, 1952)

Commemorative Stamps of the U.S.A. (Bramhall House, New York, 1956)

First Book of Famous Battles (Garden City, NY, 1961)

Fun with Stamp Collecting (Garden City, NT, 1957)

How to Be a Winner at Checkers (Hanover House, NY, 1960)

How to Build a Coin Collection (Sterling, NY, 1958)

How to Play Checkers (Barnes & Noble, NY, 1957)

How to Play Top-Notch Checkers (Sterling, NY, 1957)

How to Win at Checkers (ISBN 0879800682) (Wilshire, Hollywood, 1957)

Manual of Coin Collectors and Investors (Sterling, NY, 1963

Miracle Drugs and the New Age of Medicine (Sterling, NY, 1957)

Oliver Twist (Pocket Books, New York, 1948)

Picture Book of Ancient Coins (Sterling, NY, 1963)

Picture Book of Atomic Science (Sterling, NY, 1963)

Pictorial Guide to Coin Conditions (with Burton Hobson) (Garden City, NY, 1962)

Pony Express (Collier, NY, 1966)

Rays Visible and Invisible (Sterling, NY, 1958)

Stamp Collectors' Handbook

Stamp Collector's Price Guide (wiht Obojski) (Sterling, NY, 1986)

The Biggest Job in the World: The American Presidency (Crowell, NY, 1964)

The Great Dissenters, Guardians of their Country's Laws and Liberties (Crowell, NY, 1959)

The Real Book About Famous Battles (Doubleday, NY, 1961)

The Real Book About Whales and Whaling (Garden City, NY, 1960)

The Story of Paper Money, Including Catalogue of Values (Sterling, NT, 1957)

They Almost Made It (Thomas Crowell Co., NY, 1956)

Trappers of the West (Crowell, NY, 1957)

Treasures of the Earh (Sterling, New York, 1954)

Treasury of the World's Coins (Sterling, New York, 1953)

Uranium and other Miracle Metals (Sterling, New York, 1955)

US Commemorative Coins and Stamps (Sterling, NY, 1964)

What's New in Science (Sterling, NY, 1960)

Young Charles Darwin (Sterling, New York, 1956)