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In the history of sport — and publishing — it’s not even close: one sport has had more books (and for that matter, magazines, tracts, pamphlets and handbills) published about it far more than any other: Chess.

Source: publishingperspectives.com

I often hear, but have never seen justification for, the claim that there are more books published on chess than any other sport.

My questions are:

  1. Is this true?
  2. What are the origins of the claim?
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    While certainly on-topic, you might get a better/sooner answer here.
    – Glorfindel
    Sep 8, 2016 at 12:06
  • Searching Amazon.com for books on several popular games does suggest that there are more chess books that books on other games.
    – CWallach
    Sep 8, 2016 at 17:23
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    @CWallach The question is about sports, not games. That includes soccer, poker etc.
    – SmallChess
    Sep 9, 2016 at 2:35
  • You might consider the impact of technology on this claim. I would be willing to bet that the claim would be more easily challenged if internet articles, postings etc. where included. For example, American football teams have at least 10 publications every day of the week, during the season, injury reports, interviews, etc. A little math, 32 teams, 21 weeks not including playoffs, but including preseason, 10 articles per day * 7 day week (70) results in, 32*70*21=47040 publications. For one season.
    – htm11h
    Sep 20, 2016 at 14:30
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    One reason is that chess players believe they can improve their game by owning many chess books and skimming some now and then, soccer players not so much. Oct 18, 2016 at 7:12

3 Answers 3

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The below answer is incorrect because it includes newspapers and magazines. If you go under "Advanced search" and do the same search string, you can see that the results reported on the main page include magazines and newspapers. After omitting these, google search does not give a number of results.

It stands to reason that there will be a large number of newspaper and magazine accounts about football.

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    And it counts only English publications. All other languages are not taken into account. Sep 2, 2018 at 8:55
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Is the claim true?

No. Using the Google Books Library Project, there are:

Where does the claim come from?

From Wikipedia, the claim likely originated from H. J. R. Murray in 1913:

In 1913, preeminent chess historian H. J. R. Murray wrote in his 900-page magnum opus A History of Chess that, "The game possesses a literature which in contents probably exceeds that of all other games combined."

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    Google Books has finally made a scan of Murray's classic A History of Chess book public-domain (as it should be, for a book published pre-1923); I've reuploaded it to archive.org here in case the one on Google Books goes down. Jan 15, 2017 at 16:38
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    The sentence you quoted is from Chapter 1 Introductory (page 25), (here). The footnote says "V. d. Linde's Das erste Jahrtausend der Schachlitteratur (Berlin, 1881) gives a handlist of 3,462 works on chess and draughts. The total number of books on chess, chess magazines, and newspapers devoting space regularly to the game probably exceeds 5,000 at the present time." I wonder how many books were about football in 1913. Jan 15, 2017 at 17:03
  • There is no word "English" in the claim. What about books in other languages? Sep 2, 2018 at 7:45
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I believe that there are many more books written on fishing than on chess, but chess has many books in print from days gone by.