Hermann Helms

(1870-1963)

United States – Inducted 1988

Hermann Helms was one of the greatest journalists in the history of American chess. Through his tireless writing, he influenced chess from the days of Wilhelm Steinitz, the first official World Champion, until the era of Bobby Fischer. Though born in Brooklyn, Helms spent much of his childhood in Germany and Canada, the latter being the place where he was first introduced to chess. After returning to the United States, he played for the Brooklyn Chess Club and was a two-time New York State Champion, earning a national master rating and defeating such turn-of-the-century powerhouses as Harry Nelson Pillsbury and Frank Marshall.

Helms’ greatest skill, however, was as a chess writer and organizer. From 1893 to 1955—an incredible span of 62 years—Helms was chess editor of the Brooklyn Eagle. He also founded the American Chess Bulletin in 1904, which he published until his death in 1963. As an organizer, he helped to coordinate the tournaments of New York 1924 and 1927, both of which were major grandmaster events, and edited the tournament books for both. The USCF proclaimed him “Dean of American Chess” in 1943, and is considered one of the greatest—if not the greatest—chess journalists in history.