Jacques Mieses

Edward Winter


mieses

From the 2002 Bled Olympiad bulletins:

‘When 83-year old grandmaster Mizes defeated Dutch master Van Forest (85 years old) at a tournament in 1950, he told journalists, “Quite simply, youth won!”’

Not exactly. Mieses, not Mizes, was 84, not 83, van Foreest, not Van Forest, was 86, not 85, the game was played in 1949, not 1950, and the occasion was an exhibition game, not a tournament.

Mieses himself gave the game (which was played in The Hague on 26 March 1949) on pages 178-179 of that year’s June issue of the BCM:

‘… In spite of my age – I am 84 – I am still very active in competitive master chess. I am only stating a matter of fact by pointing out that never before in [the] history of chess an expert of my age, or even of nearly my age, has done the same. Quite recently, however, I learned that the well-known Dutch player, Dr D. van Foreest, who, with 86 years, is two years older than I am, has by no means yet retired from active chess, being still very fond of playing off-hand games. I had met him in former times – about 30 years ago – and I remember that, then, he had the reputation of being one of the strongest players in Holland. Now he lives in The Hague and he is still considered to be “quite a good amateur”.

This gave The Royal Dutch Chess Association the happy idea of arranging a remarkable and, up to now, quite unique event, namely a serious game, played in tournament style with time limit (18 moves an hour) between two players of reputation, the combined ages of them being 170 years (!).

Here is the game with some annotations. It formed the conclusion of my exhibition in Holland.

Dirk van Foreest – Jacques Mieses
The Hague, 26 March 1949
Sicilian Defence

1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 e6 5 c4 (In my opinion not the strongest way of treating this variation.) 5…Nf6 6 Bg5 (This loses a pawn. White should have first played 6 Nxc6.) 6…Qa5+ 7 Bd2 Qe5 8 Nxc6 Qxe4+ 9 Be2 bxc6 10 O-O (It is a very well-known matter of experience that losing a pawn in the opening by a mistake is often the involuntary equivalent of playing a quite promising “gambit”. Thus, here, White, with a pawn down, has undoubtedly got a compensating advantage in development.) 10…Bc5 11 Bc3 Qf4 12 b4 Be7 13 g3 (This is a grave positional mistake weakening the king’s side.) 13…Qc7 14 Bd3 c5 15 b5 Bb7 16 Qe2 h5 (Promptly taking advantage of his obvious attacking chances.) 17 Nd2 (Even after 17 h4 White’s position would soon become untenable.) 17…h4 18 Ne4 Nh5 19 Rad1 f5 20 White resigns. (White resigned the hopeless game. When I announced the result of the game I caused much hilarity by adding the joking remark: “Die ‘Jugend’ hat gesiegt.” (“‘Youth’ has triumphed.”)’

mieses

On page 111 of Meister Mieses (Ludwigshafen, 1993) Helmut Wieteck bizarrely stated that the game had been played in ‘Kap de la Hague’ in ‘France’.

van foreest

Dirk van Foreest. Source: Een Hulde aan Jhr. Dirk van Foreest by L. Prins (Lochem, 1945)

(2814)

From the unpublished 1994 edition of Chess Personalia by Jeremy Gaige:

van foreest

C.N. 2814 (see pages 69-70 of Chess Facts and Fables) gave Mieses’ annotations to his famous victory (‘“Youth” has triumphed’) over Dirk van Foreest in the Hague on 26 March 1949. Although Mieses’ article (BCM, June 1949, pages 178-179, and shown in full in our feature article) specifically stated that his opponent was D. van Foreest, an on-line search for ‘youth has triumphed’ and ‘Arnold van Foreest’ will yield dissenting (unsourced, naturally) versions.

There is even this ‘pair’:

‘By the way, Arnold van Foreest plays a part in a well-known anecdote in which Jacques Mieses stars. In 1949, in The Hague, after Mieses (84 at the time) had won an exhibition game against Arnold (86), he caused much hilarity with the classic remark: “Youth has triumphed!”’

Source: ‘A Remarkable Chess Family’ by Hans Ree.

And:

‘Much later Dirk van Foreest gained a place in international chess lore because of a game in The Hague in 1949 between him and Jacques Mieses. Dirk van Foreest was 86 at the time. Mieses was much younger, a mere 84. Mieses won and exclaimed happily, “Youth has triumphed!”’

Source: ‘A Remarkable Family’ by Hans Ree.

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The truth about the longevity of Jacques Mieses (1865-1954) is indeed remarkable. Lodewijk Prins wrote on page 87 of Master Chess (London, 1950):

‘He was the prodigy of the master tournament at Hastings, 1945-46, and his tour of Holland, Belgium, Luxemburg and Germany, where he gave simultaneous displays in 1949, at the age of 84, is unique in the history of chess.’

Page 12 of the January 1949 BCM reported, on the basis of a letter received from Mieses, that he had just given 15 simultaneous exhibitions in Sweden. In an article on pages 178-179 of the June 1949 BCM Mieses wrote:

‘From the middle of February till the end of March I was engaged in a chess tour of Holland, Belgium and Luxemburg. That Holland and Belgium are countries where chess life is highly flourishing is a very well-known fact and, thus, I was not surprised that in Amsterdam, The Hague, Brussels, Antwerp, Louvain, Verviers, Charleroi they put up against me, in simultaneous exhibitions, rather strong teams of, on average, more than 20 players. But what I had not expected was that in Luxemburg I should have to give three simultaneous displays – each of them against about 25 opponents – on three consecutive days. Apart from the simultaneous displays I played, in Holland, repeatedly four serious simultaneous games against first-class amateurs. In all these exhibitions my achievements have been quite satisfactory.’

Can readers trace any forgotten games from these tours by Mieses?

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What are the origins of the famous ‘Mister Meises/Meister Mieses’ story? On page 182 of CHESS, 20 March 1960 B.H. Wood wrote, ‘This anecdote first appeared in print in CHESS many years ago’.

mieses

Jacques Mieses

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Peter Anderberg (Harmstorf, Germany) points out that the story was published on pages 169-170 of Schachwart, September 1932, as follows:

‘Ein Wortspiel.

Als Mieses vor langen Jahren in England weilte, stellte ihn der damals recht bekannte englische Amateur Judd einem anderen englischen Spieler mit den Worten vor: “Mister Meises – ”. Hier unterbrach ihn Mieses lächelnd und wandte sich an den Engländer: “Entschuldigen Sie, aber ich bin nicht Mister Meises, sondern Meister Mieses.”’

Our correspondent comments that this report pre-dates B.H. Wood’s magazine CHESS, which was first published in 1935. The reference to a well-known English (sic) amateur named Judd is strange.

Assiac set the story not in England but in New York when relating it on page 186 of The Delights of Chess (London, 1960):

‘One day in New York he was asked by a German-American who mispronounced his name the English way: “Sind Sie Mister Meises?” “No, sir”, he answered like a shot, “Ich bin Meister Mieses.”

The old boy was full of such anecdotes and reminiscences when he was in a good mood.’

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Latest update: 1 October 2016.


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