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| 1 August
2006: C.N. 4490
2 August 2006: C.N.s 4491-4494
3 August 2006: C.N.s 4495-4497
4 August 2006: C.N.s 4498-4499
5 August 2006: C.N.s 4500-4502
6 August 2006: C.N.s 4503-4506
7 August 2006: C.N.s 4507-4509
9 August 2006: C.N.s 4510-4511
10 August 2006: C.N.s 4512-4514
12 August 2006: C.N.s 4515-4516
13 August 2006: C.N.s 4517-4520
14 August 2006: C.N. 4521
15 August 2006: C.N.s 4522-4524
16 August 2006: C.N.s 4525-4528
18 August 2006: C.N.s 4529-4531
19 August 2006: C.N.s 4532-4534
20 August 2006: C.N.s 4535-4537
21 August 2006: C.N.s 4538-4540
22 August 2006: C.N. 4541
23 August 2006: C.N.s 4542-4544
25 August 2006: C.N.s 4545-4548
26 August 2006: C.N.s 4549-4550
27 August 2006: C.N.s 4551-4553
29 August 2006: C.N. 4554
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The following game was won by Josef Krejcik (1885-1957):
1 e4 e5 2 d4 exd4 3 Qxd4 Nc6 4 Qe3 g6 5 Bd2 Bg7 6 Nc3 Nge7 7 O-O O-O 8 f4 a6 9 Nf3 f5 10 Bc4+ Kh8 11 Ng5 Qe8 12 exf5 Rxf5 13 g4 Rf8 14 Qh3 h6 15 Rhg1 b5
16 Nxb5 axb5 17 Bc3 h5
18 Rd6 cxd6 19 gxh5 gxh5 20 Bxg7+ Kxg7 21 Nf7+ Ng6 22 Rxg6+ Kxg6 23 f5+ Kf6 24 Qh4+ Kxf5 25 Qg5+ Ke4 26 Nxd6+ Kd4 27 c3 mate.
We published the score on page 169 of the November 1983 CHESS, stating that it had been played between Josef Krejcik and Konrad Krobot in Vienna, 1908. Our source was pages 30-31 of the January 1909 Wiener Schachzeitung, which specified the occasion as follows: ‘gespielt im Café Viktoria, Wien IV, am 14. February 1908’.
Subsequently, C.N.s 1214 and 1261 pointed out that when the Wiener Schachzeitung repeated the game on pages 224-229 of its August 1924 issue the date was given as 24 February 1909 (see page 229 of that item – although the date 24 February 1908 appeared on page 227); moreover, on page 35 of his book Mein Abschied vom Schach (Berlin, 1955) Krejcik himself put 24 February 1908. This information was given on pages 48-49 of Kings, Commoners and Knaves.
In C.N. 2786 (see page 22 of Chess Facts and Fables) we added that 14 February 1908 was the date supplied on page 100 of Deutsches Wochenschach, 15 March 1908, which took the score from the Neues Wiener Tageblatt. See too page 75 of the 28 February 1909 Deutsches Wochenschach. Krejcik was therefore wrong to put 24 February 1909 on page 16 of another of his books, Artige und unartige Kinder der Schachmuse (Leipzig, 1925). We also mentioned in C.N. 2786 that when the game was published in the chess column of the Berner Heim on 4 April 1908, with notes from Bohemia, Black’s name was rendered as ‘Krobst’.
Further complications are provided now by Richard Forster (Zurich):
‘I can add that Bohemia (Sonntagsbeilage, 8 March 1908, page 27) also had the names as Krejcik and Krobst and stated “gespielt am 14. Feber 1907 in Wien (Café Victoria)”. Perhaps 1907 was a typo, but it adds to the confusion.’
Can any further evidence be found about the correct date and whether Krejcik’s opponent was Krobot or Krobst?
For a modern set of annotations to the game, by Bent Larsen, readers are referred to pages 22-23 of Kaissiber, October-December 2005.
A brief addition to the earlier items: on pages 27-30 of his book 13 Kinder Caïssens (Vienna, 1924) Josef Krejcik presented a fictional article entitled ‘Rousseau als Schachspieler’.
In a recent book catalogue (List Potpourri-76.4.7Is.1) Dale Brandreth commented on The Psychology of the Chess Player by Reuben Fine (New York, 1967):
‘A very interesting book, though with some very curious errors. For example, on page 50, speaking of Capablanca, he writes: “He never studied, never gave exhibitions, in fact hardly played at all outside of tournaments.” Was Fine daft? Fine himself played in Capa’s magnificent 7th Regiment Armory exhibition against 50 teams in 1931. His simultaneous exhibitions numbered in the hundreds and greatly enhanced his reputation for quick sight of the board considering the extreme rapidity of his play.’
The above photograph, from page 46 of the March 1931 American Chess Bulletin, was taken during the display referred to by Dr Brandreth. Capablanca is standing at a board about half-way down the right-hand side.
Fine on Capablanca makes a strange contrast with Fine on Staunton. About the latter he remarked on page 11 of The World’s Great Chess Games (New York, 1951):
‘He wrote, he played, he traveled all over, lecturing and giving simultaneous exhibitions.’
In fact, Staunton shunned simultaneous play, as mentioned in C.N. 594 (see pages 237-238 of Chess Explorations), which quoted the following passage from his column in the Illustrated London News, 14 April 1866:
‘We have often expressed our opinion of that silliest of all chess exploits – the playing of a number of games simultaneously against a number of tenth-rate amateurs. To play half-a-dozen games without sight of the board is a real tour de force of which very few players are capable – to play half-a-hundred by merely parading up and down before as many chess-boards is what any tolerable player can do without difficulty. In such a case, he need only be insensible to the absurdity of the exhibition; and if he is a good walker, or can hire a velocipede, his triumph is infallible.’
What detailed records exist of Staunton playing simultaneous chess?
In his Psychology book (page 30) Fine wrote of Staunton, ‘No brilliant games of his have survived ...’, a remark characteristic of much that used to appear about him in US chess literature. Other examples were quoted in our feature article on Frederick Edge; for a particularly ill-natured paragraph about Staunton by Al Horowitz see page 259 of Chess Facts and Fables.
In C.N. 3295 (see pages 253-254 of Chess Facts and Fables) a correspondent drew attention to a passage from pages 10-11 of Cannibals in the Cafeteria by Stephen Pile (New York, 1988):
‘Gibaud has been overthrown. Ever since 1924 this French chess master has been revered for achieving defeat in only four moves. A Monsieur Labard [sic] played the walk-on part in this great scene.
But in the 1959 US Open Championship somebody called Masefield was a useful foil, moving around the white pieces in a match that enabled the immortal Trinka to be checkmated in three moves: 1 P-K4 P-KKt4; 2 Kt-QB3 P-KB4; 3 Q-R5 mate.’
In that C.N. item we mentioned having found no particulars about the alleged 1959 game in any contemporary source, and that remains the case today. As regards the players’ names, however, it may be noted that different versions appeared on page 30 of Das Spiel der Könige by Alfred Diel (Bamberg, 1983):
‘Die kürzeste Turnierpartie wurde 1959 bei der Offenen Meisterschaft von Omaha (USA) gespielt. Dabei wurde Trinks von Mayfield nach 1 e4 g5 2 Sc3 f5 mit 3 Dh5 mattgesetzt.’
Martin Weissenberg (Savyon, Israel) mentions that an article by Sjef Houppermans entitled ‘Echecs et autres réussites’ which discussed Roussel and chess was published on pages 303-317 of Echiquiers d’encre by Jacques Berchtold (Geneva, 1998).
Leonard Barden (London) comments that Torres’ invention was placed on view during the 1960 Olympiad in Leipzig. The photograph below appeared on page 253 of XIV. Schach-Olympiade Leipzig 1960, published by Sportverlag Berlin:
See also plate 1 in The Machine Plays Chess? by Alex G. Bell (Oxford, 1978).
A number of items (see pages 330-332 of Chess Facts and Fables and C.N.s 4328 and 4366) have discussed the story that Nimzowitsch complained about an opponent who threatened to smoke, the defendant being identified, in the various versions, as either Vidmar or Lasker. Now we note that in CHESS, 30 September 1963 (‘page 400’, but in fact page 12) Salo Flohr brought in a different name:
‘I remember an incident involving Grandmaster Nimzowitsch. He couldn’t bear tobacco smoke, and in one tournament he set as a condition that his opponent should not smoke.
His rivals agreed. When Bogoljubow put a full box of cigars on the table before sitting down to play against him, he hurried to the chief umpire in great excitement.
The umpire checked up and said, “But Bogoljubow isn’t smoking”.
“I know he isn’t”, Nimzowitsch fumed, “but he threatens to do so, and the threat in chess is more powerful than the execution.”’
Flohr was not necessarily claiming to have been an eye-witness, but it may be recalled that the incident is usually placed at New York, 1927, where neither Bogoljubow nor Lasker participated.
The article by Flohr mentioned in the previous item also contained the following:
‘Chess, like love, is infectious at any age.’
This has become a famous quote, being featured at the start of The Most Instructive Games of Chess Ever Played by Irving Chernev (New York, 1965). Since it is often cited without a source, we should like to know more about the genesis of Flohr’s article in CHESS, which was entitled ‘How to become World Champion’. Was it an original piece for the magazine or a translation from, for instance, a Soviet publication?
Below is an inscription by Flohr in one of our copies of 300 Izbrannikh Partii Alekhina by V. Panov (Moscow, 1954):
English translation: ‘To my old rival and friend, master J. Šajtar, with best wishes for future successes. Salo Flohr 15.VII.1954.’
C.N. 3587 suggested that a candidate for the most famous of all quotes on the game was the alleged old Indian proverb ‘Chess is a sea in which a gnat may drink and an elephant may bathe’. However, we queried its authenticity because our earliest sighting of it was on page 145 of the anthology Chess Pieces by Norman Knight (London, 1949).
Now Christian Sánchez (Rosario, Argentina) has found that a similar quote, claimed to be an ‘old Indian proverb’, was given by George Koltanowski at the start of an article on pages 154-157 of the May 1936 issue of El Ajedrez Español:
‘La partida de ajedrez es como el Océano, donde un mosquito puede cruzar y un elefante puede ahogarse.’
As our correspondent points out, this has a different meaning: ‘The game of chess is like the ocean, which a gnat may cross and where an elephant may drown.’
It is not known in which language Koltanowski wrote his article for El Ajedrez Español or, of course, whether the ‘old Indian proverb’ had appeared in print before May 1936.
Tomasz Lissowski (Warsaw) submits two photographs which he took at the Jewish Cemetery, Okopowa str., Warsaw. He reports that there are three graves of Winawer family members: Szymon (shown on the left), his wife, Adela née Kerner (on the right) and their son, Rafał.
Milan Ninchich (Macquarie, ACT, Australia) writes:
‘I am researching the chess career of Mary Mills Houlding, who was born in May 1850 and lived near Wagga Wagga, NSW (not yet Australia). In 1899 she emigrated to South Wales, where she became a member of the Newport Chess Club. She won the British Ladies’ Championship in Oxford in 1910, was champion again the following year in Glasgow and gained the title a third time in Chester in 1914, when she was 64. In 1928, at the age of 78, she won the Newport Club Championship. She died in Newport on 19 February 1940.’
Our correspondent is, in particular, seeking games played by her, and readers’ assistance will be appreciated.
C.N.s 1133 and 1154 (see pages 53-54 of Kings, Commoners and Knaves) briefly discussed Mrs Houlding, and in the latter item we commented that examples of her play were rare. As the best traceable one we gave her first-brilliancy-prize victory over Alice Taylor in the 1909 British Ladies’ Championship in Scarborough.
C.N. 1154 also stated:
‘We note that Mrs Houlding is to be seen in a group photograph on page 363 of the September 1913 BCM. She appears to be about half the size of everybody else (hence the expression “small Houlding”).’
Below, from page 70 of the 1922 issue of Chess Pie, is a tableau of ‘British Lady Champions – Past and Present’ which includes Mrs Houlding:
Readers without access to the items from L’Echiquier and Les Cahiers de l’Echiquier Français mentioned in C.N. 4487 may care to note that they were included on pages 133-160 of Comment j’ai écrit certains de mes livres (1935), a posthumous work by Roussel which is still in print in a paperback edition published by Gallimard, Paris.
Michael Goeller (East Brunswick, NJ, USA) draws our attention to an article of his dated 2 August 2006 on Fidel Castro and chess. Readers may be able to help him resolve some of the matters discussed, which include Terrazas v Castro (see C.N. 4049).
Below, we give six other photographs of Castro, from the book Cuba/66 XVII olimpíada mundial de ajedrez (Havana, undated):
N for knight has become such natural usage in English-language chess writing that its long road to acceptance is easily overlooked.
Even in the nineteenth century occasional attempts were made to avoid Kt in notation. From page 4 of the inaugural issue of the American Chess Review, July 1886:
‘In this magazine the letter S will stand for knight. Our reasons for using it are: First, when Kt is used, should the t be broken off or damaged, the K would remain, and after the student had vainly spent half an hour searching for the move, he would jump up and claw the air and yell for gore. The S knocks the left eye out of any possibility of the introduction of any new gore-shedding process. Second, S is quicker to write. Third, saves time in composition, as one type can be set in less time than two.
We think the use of Kt should be discontinued altogether and S or some other man substituted.’
Four years later came what is the earliest proposal of N that we recall, by William D. Wight of Pontypridd, Wales on page 418 of the October 1890 BCM. At that time the magazine’s notation was (to quote an opening on the same page) 1 P to K4 P to K4 2 B to B4 Kt to KB3 3 Kt to KB3 Kt tks P, and Wight wrote:
‘... as you are open to suggestions, will you permit me to make the following: firstly, that you abandon the use of to and tks for – and x, which are in use in most books; and secondly, that N be used instead of the clumsy Kt for knight.
The suggestion that H be used for knight has been made, but it has the objection of altering the name of the piece to that of horse. The same objection does not apply to N, which is phonetically correct, and being very distinct from any of the other letters in use, its meaning cannot be mistaken.’
Wight did not mention the possibility of employing S (as in the German word for knight, Springer), but occasionally that letter was used by English-language magazines other than the short-lived American Chess Review. In 1914, for instance, the Chess Amateur had Kt in its game-scores but S (and the algebraic notation) in some parts of its solutions. That tranquil co-existence became a war casualty, for on page 122 of the January 1915 issue W. Moffat wrote:
‘In order to clear our pages of every vestige of the German Notation we shall in future use N for Kt, and for the names of the squares use numbers as in the Numerical Notation [e.g. 51 for e1 and 38 for c8].’
An editorial on page 125 of the February 1915 Chess Amateur flayed the algebraic notation (‘the German method, which for stupidity and clumsiness would be difficult to beat’) and reiterated, ‘In our solutions page, for brevity we intend to use N for Kt, and for legibility numbers for the names of the squares instead of a mixture of small letters and figures’. Overleaf, P.H. Williams commented:
‘I hail with delight your decision to use N for knight instead of the illogical S. The former is phonetic and reasonable, nor would the late Sir Isaac Pitman detect a weakness in spelling in those who used it. Any attempt, however, to refer to knight and pawns as “N and chickens” should be discouraged and drastically censored.But the numerical notation described on page 122 does not appeal to me, nor do I see why the German system should be expunged, except on purely patriotic grounds ...’
On pages 201-202 of the April 1915 issue Fred Brock contributed from Gosport a lengthy letter under the title ‘N Stands for Knight’. He noted that at least some chessplayers ...
‘... are quite willing that N should stand for knight; though where the justification of employing this particular letter comes in, I am quite unable to perceive. We do not spell phonetically; and I, for one, hope we never shall. N, therefore, is not, and, I hope, never will be symbolic of the word knight. We might just as well use X, Y or Z, as the letter in question. Kt, on the other hand, is an eminently descriptive abbreviation of the word, and is known and used by chessplayers in all parts of the world.’
Brock descanted on the subject for over 50 lines more, discussing other possible letters (H for horseman, or C for cavalier, captain or charger) before concluding that Kt should be retained.
A later advocate of N for knight was C.J.S Purdy, in a letter on page 326 of the August 1934 BCM. After announcing that he was ‘abandoning the international notation scheme’ he remarked:
‘What I would like to see, however, is the general use of N for knight. All the columns in Australia use it now, except Gundersen’s, and the ACR will soon follow. I am going to circularize all English and American columns and magazines, but of course the BCM sets the standard.
N is laid down as absolutely alternative by the BCF. The aesthetic objection is purely superficial, for the letters are symbols, not primarily abbreviations (when they would require points after them), so that the first significant letter in knight is the most logical possible to use. I consider it more logical than S, which is not sanctioned officially ...’
The Australasian Chess Review thus switched from Kt to N in the mid-1930s, and Chess Review did so about a decade later. CHESS changed in the 1950s, and the BCM in the 1970s.
During the Second World War, however, the BCM discussed notation once more. In an editorial on pages 209-210 of the August 1941 issue J. du Mont wrote:
‘Exception has been taken to the similarity between K and Kt and the possibility of misunderstandings. It is no worse in principle, and certainly not in practice, than the letters e and c in the Continental notation, especially in small print or in newspapers. However, many people use S instead of Kt, which is reasonable because the German Springer would be descriptive up to a point to the British eye. Others use the letter N, which is ugly and pointless. N stands for nothing at all in chess. (Perhaps a n’orse?).’
In the September 1941 BCM L.C. Birch was given much space (on pages 232-235) to discuss ‘Algebraic v Descriptive Notation’, and once again the knight issue cropped up:
‘I agree with the Editor that N for knight is a vulgar pun, and S is a good alternative. However, an abbreviation for the German Springer is not likely to be accepted today. Why not C for cavalier, bringing our nomenclature in line with French (cavalier), Italian (caval[l]o) and Spanish (caballo)?’
In the ensuing ‘Editor’s note’ (pages 235-236) du Mont left aside the fact that some writers used C for the rook (castle) and commented that Birch’s suggestion was ‘worth considering’. He then added:
‘In an interesting letter received from Mr O.E. Fer, Chester, he wittily suggests that N could, after all, stand for “nag”.’
A close-up photograph of Fischer was given on page 48 of The Most Instructive Games of Chess Ever Played by Irving Chernev (New York, 1965), and we note that it is one of several in the book which had appeared in XIV. Schach-Olympiade Leipzig 1960 (page 106):
We have been unable to match the position with any recorded Fischer game.
From Joost van Winsen (Silvolde, the Netherlands):
‘The story was also told by Gerard Oskam on page 41 of Schaakmat, February 1951. He wrote that Aron Nimzowitsch set the condition that there should be no smoking by his opponents, who included H. Weenink (1892-1931). Oskam stated that the incident occurred before the game between Nimzowitsch and Tartakower, and he reproduced dialogue allegedly exchanged between the two masters.
There are, though, problems with Oskam’s story. He said that it happened in Liège in 1923, but no such tournament took place. Nimzowitsch, Tartakower and Weenink did participate in Liège, 1930, but Oskam stated that it took Nimzowitsch 35 minutes to make his first move, 1 e4; at Liège, 1930 Nimzowitsch was Black against Tartakower, in a Caro-Kann Defence which was drawn after 20 moves. In fact, Oskam’s article indicated that Tartakower was not a smoker, which is corroborated by Kmoch and Reinfeld’s list quoted on page 235 of A Chess Omnibus.
Vidmar discussed his own cigar-smoking habits (including a story involving Tartakower at London, 1922) on page 114 of his memoirs Goldene Schachzeiten (Berlin, 1961).’
The smoking anecdote was also related by G. Koltanowski on pages 441-442 of CHESS, 14 August 1936. He called it ‘an old but very good story’ which had occurred ‘years ago’ in ‘a double round tournament’ and he spread out the action, involving Nimzowitsch and Vidmar (plus pipe), over the two rounds in which they faced each other. Nimzowitsch was stated to have complained to Maróczy, the tournament director. That suggests New York, 1927, except that it was not ‘a double round tournament’. As so often, Koltanowski purported to present the actual words spoken by the protagonists, but when he related the story again on page 13 of his 1968 book TV Chess, the actual words were altogether different.
Below is a woodcut of Nimzowitsch by Erwin Voellmy from page 138 of the September 1929 Schweizerische Schachzeitung:
On page 64 of TV Chess G. Koltanowski affirmed that the game went 1 e4 f6 2 d4 g5 3 Qh5 mate and occurred between players named Mayfield and Trent at the US Open at St Louis.
Can any reader throw light on the passage below about Fritz Sämisch which comes from page 87 of Koltanowski’s TV Chess?
‘When he started in his first important tournament in Berlin, 1920, he took an hour for his first move, 25 minutes for his second move, 15 minutes for his third move, ten minutes for his fourth move, five minutes for his fifth move, and from then on, he would play the rest of the game in rapid-transit style, having only five minutes left for 35 moves.
Most of his opponents used to go beserk [sic], waiting around for him to move. They wondered if he was up to something deep, or new, or was just balmy. But when Sämisch started to play rapid-transit chess, they would follow suit, because they felt Sämisch did not have much time on his clock. They were sure that if they played fast, he would soon blunder.
But Fritz didn’t blunder. In fact, he was in his element and could outsmart most of the opponents in rapid play. Outcome? He would end up winning with great ease, with his opponent having something like an hour and 50 minutes left on his clock and a red face! Soon after his debut, participants would turn up with a detective book to calm their nerves while waiting for Sämisch to move and really slowed up when Sämisch started to rush matters! ...’
Andy Ansel (Laurel Hollow, NY, USA) writes:
‘I have a number of copies of a mimeographed magazine Chess Nuts, which I have not found mentioned elsewhere. It was the bulletin of the San Quentin Chess Club, San Quentin being the famous maximum security prison in Northern California, and the publication appears to have been organized or produced by George Koltanowski. I have the issues only for December 1955, January to September, November and December 1956 and January to March 1957 and am not sure when the periodical ended. The July 1956 number had a banner on the cover as a First Anniversary Issue dedicated to Koltanowski, and until September 1956 there were sketches of masters on the front cover. Each issue was about 24-30 pages long, and the contents included reports on activities within the prison chess club, some opening articles, simultaneous games by such players as König, Koltanowski and McClain and some historical games, mostly by Koltanowski.’
No further information on the chess activities of the prodigy Birdie Reeve has been found, but we have acquired the following playbill:
‘Sunday, July 25’ indicates that the year was 1926. Birdie Reeve is described as a ‘16-year-old’, just as she had been in a newspaper report three years previously (see the supplement to C.N. 3612), but that discrepancy may be passed over. Showfolk age at their own pace.
To revive a matter from C.N. 33, on page 60 of Tal Since 1960 (St Leonards on Sea, 1974) W.H. Cozens wrote:
‘... when I remarked to Dr Euwe after the publication of his book From My Games in 1938 that the book would have been even better for the inclusion of a short selection of “Other Games” such as gave such a sparkle to the Alekhine books he said, “I have no ‘other games’”. Botvinnik has a similarly austere attitude.’
Euwe’s reply is not to be taken literally, and we wonder whether readers can submit any little-known sparklers from old publications.
Fred Reinfeld wrote:
‘Some time ago a friend complained to me that, although he had been playing chess for many years, his game did not improve. “Is this”, he asked, “because I play only once a week?”
My words stunned him. I advised him: ...’
What was Reinfeld’s advice?
Below is another sample game by Mrs Houlding, although this time a loss:Mary Mills Houlding – Grace Ellis
1 e4 c5 2 f4 e6 3 Nf3 Nc6 4 c3 d5 5 Bb5 Bd7 6 exd5 exd5 7 O-O Bd6 8 d4 Qb6 9 Bxc6 bxc6 10 Qe2+ Ne7 11 Be3 O-O 12 Ne5 Be6 13 Qf2 cxd4 14 Bxd4 c5 15 Be3 Nf5 16 Nd3 Nxe3 17 Qxe3 Rfe8 18 Qf2 Bf5 19 Ne1 Re4 20 Qd2 Rae8 21 b3 c4+ 22 Kh1
22...Bxf4 23 Qd1 Re2 24 Na3 Qh6 25 Rxf4 Qxf4 26 Nf3 Bg4 27 Qg1 Bxf3 28 Rf1 Bxg2+ 29 Qxg2 Re1 30 Kg1 Qxf1+ 31 Qxf1 Rxf1+ and wins.
Source: Lasker’s Chess Magazine, July 1906, page 121.
Peter Treffert (Lorsch, Germany) quotes the following from page 89 of EG, April 1966, in a section headed ‘Questions raised by correspondents’:
‘Q: Why does EG use “S” for knight?
A: Some symbol had to be chosen as an alternative to the clumsy, space-consuming traditional English “Kt”. “K” is of course out of the question as it is already used for king. The choice lay between “N” and “S”. Both are used by players, and “N” is also used in the FIDE Revue (which also uses “S” for bishop, by the way, the reason for this being that the sibilant is the first sound of the Slav name for this piece). “S” is already used in the British Chess Problem Society’s journal The Problemist, however, and it was this fact that swayed us in the final choice. “S” stands for Springer, the German name for the knight. An argument against the FIDE symbols is that fairy chess uses “N” for the nightrider, the piece that can make, in one move, any number of successive ordinary knight moves in a straight line. Also, in our attempt to make EG as international as possible, we think “S” will be widely accepted for knight. When we were at Piran (Yugoslavia) in 1958 for the first world congress of chess composers we found that German was by far the most generally useful language to converse in.’
Michael Negele (Wuppertal, Germany) has sent us a rare photograph of Emanuel Lasker’s brother, Berthold, which appeared on page 47 of a biography of Berthold’s wife, Else Lasker-Schüler by Sigrid Bauschinger. The book was first published in 2004 by Wallstein Verlag, Göttingen and is now also available as a paperback (Suhrkamp). The source of the photograph is the Stadtbibliothek Wuppertal, from which our correspondent has received permission for it to be reproduced here.
Courtesy of the Stadtbibliothek Wuppertal, Else Lasker-Schüler Archiv (Mr Henry Schneider).
Two tournament games played by Berthold Lasker are given here, from the August 1890 Deutsche Schachzeitung (pages 230-231 and 237-238 respectively):Berthold Lasker – Horatio Caro
1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 d6 4 d4 exd4 5 Nxd4 Bd7 6 Nc3 Nf6 7 O-O Be7 8 Nxc6 bxc6 9 Bc4 O-O 10 Qd3 Kh8 11 h3 c5 12 Bf4 Nh5 13 Bh2 f5 14 e5 f4 15 Bd5 Rb8 16 Bf3 g6 17 Bxh5 gxh5 18 exd6 cxd6 19 Nd5 Bg5 20 Rfe1 Rf5
21 h4 c4 22 Qxc4 Bxh4 23 Bxf4 Qf8 24 g3 Rc8 25 Qd4+ Bf6 26 Nxf6 Qxf6 27 Qxf6+ Rxf6 28 Re7 Bg4 29 Rxa7 Rxc2 30 Re1 Be2 31 Re7 Bb5 32 Rd1 Bc6
33 Be5 Rxf2 34 Bxf6+ Rxf6 35 Rf1 Rxf1+ 36 Kxf1 Kg8 37 Kf2 Bb5 38 Ke3 Resigns.Berthold Lasker – Curt von Bardeleben
1 e4 e5 2 Nc3 Bc5 3 Nf3 d6 4 Bc4 Nf6 5 d3 c6 6 h3 b5 7 Bb3 Qb6 8 Qe2 a5 9 a4 Be6 10 Bxe6 fxe6 11 axb5 cxb5 12 Be3 Nc6 13 O-O Rb8 14 g3 O-O 15 Kg2 Nd7 16 Nd1 h6 17 Ne1 Rf7 18 Bxc5 Nxc5 19 Qd2 Rbf8 20 f3 a4 21 Nc3 Nd4 22 Ne2 Nxe2 23 Qxe2 b4 24 Qe3 Qb7 25 Rf2 Qc6 26 Rd2 Rb8 27 d4 exd4 28 Qxd4 Rd7 29 Qc4 d5 30 exd5 exd5 31 Qf4 Rdd8 32 h4 Ne6 33 Qg4 d4 34 Nd3 b3 35 cxb3 Rxb3 36 Rc1 Qd5 37 Re1 Rd6
38 Rxe6 Qxe6 39 Qxe6+ Rxe6 40 Nc5 Ree3 41 Nxb3 Rxb3 42 Kf2 d3 43 Ke3 Kf7 44 g4 Ke6 45 Ke4 g6 46 Kd4 h5 47 gxh5 Drawn.
White in the latter game is sometimes incorrectly given as Emanuel Lasker.
There follows a brief feature on Berthold Lasker from page 84 of Die Schachspieler und ihre Welt by Arpad Bauer (Berlin, 1911):
The position below was given in C.N. 354, taken from page 12 of the January 1909 Wiener Schachzeitung. It occurred in a simultaneous exhibition (+ 21 –2 =6) between F.J. Marshall and Dr Hartlaub in Hamburg on 15 December 1908.
Marshall won with 1 Ra8+ Kb7 2 Ra7+ Kb6 3 Ra6+ Kb7 4 e3 Rh1+ 5 Ke2 Rh2+ 6 Kd3 Rxb2 7 Rxb2 c5 8 bxc6+ Kxa6 9 c7 Qf5+ 10 Nxf5 Ka7 11 c8(R) Resigns.
Is it possible to find the complete game-score in a newspaper of the time?
In C.N. 4065 Bradley J. Willis (Edmonton, Canada) raised some questions about a poem concerning Robert Hübner in Chess Pieces by David Solway (Montreal and Kingston, 1999). Our correspondent has now learned direct from Mr Solway that in the actual game, played on Alonissos island, Greece, he resigned against Hübner on the 12th move. Regarding the bishop double-check matter Mr Solway commented to our correspondent: ‘... It was just a harmless joke. The book is, among other things, a jeu d’esprit, although, at the same time, deadly earnest.’
From page 327 of the November 1955 Chess Review:
‘Some time ago a friend complained to me that, although he had been playing chess for many years, his game did not improve. “Is this”, he asked, “because I play only once a week?”
My words stunned him. I advised him: “Stop playing altogether for about a year.”
“How will my game improve if I don’t play?” He enjoyed playing, and the whole point of bettering his game was so he could enjoy it more.
“Of course”, I replied, “you want to play better, but playing won’t teach you enough, fast enough, or clearly enough, to make you the good player you want to be. You should read rather than play – study rather than stumble along.” Playing only reinforces bad habits (if they are bad to begin with), I told him. Learn the right way; play by yourself with some books for a year, and then go back to club play.
This is still the best advice I can give anyone whose game is weaker than it should be: “Read, and read more. Study, and study more.”’
Reinfeld’s article then recommended his series, The First Book of Chess, The Second Book of Chess, etc. There were eventually eight volumes in all, published between 1952 and 1957, the first being co-authored with Al Horowitz.
The following comes from an item on pages 387-388 of Twenty Years of the Rice Gambit (New York, 1916):
‘It has been well said that the name and fame of the Rice Gambit has reached every known portion of the inhabited globe. It has even penetrated prison walls. It may not be generally known that a regular chess department appears in The Star of Hope, a monthly, edited, printed and published by the inmates of the State prison at Sing, Sing, NY. The fortunes of the Rice Gambit have been noted therein from time to time. San Quentin Prison, in California, has a well-organized chess club, boasting of some 60 members, who have intercourse with the outside world (with players “at large”) through the medium of correspondence chess.’
The book then quoted a letter dated 23 January 1916 to Isaac Rice’s widow from the President of the San Quentin Chess Club, Peter Clandeanos [sic], requesting information about the Rice Gambit. He gave further details about the club’s activities on page 119 of the May-June 1916 American Chess Bulletin. Mrs Rice survived her husband by 14 years, and page 213 of the December 1929 American Chess Bulletin stated that her death was ‘reported at Deal, NJ on 4 November’. For further information about The Star of Hope, see page 124 of the American Chess Bulletin, June 1912.
From pages 190-191 of The Middle Game in Chess by Reuben Fine (New York, 1952):
‘The story of the Rice Gambit is rather amusing. It begins: 1 e4 e5 2 f4 exf4 3 Nf3 g5 4 h4 g4 5 Ne5 Nf6 6 Bc4 d5 7 exd5 Bd6. Professor Rice, a New York amateur, had this position once and inadvertently left his knight en prise; then later he won the game. He was so impressed with his success that he immediately interested a number of the prominent masters in the move, which was easy enough to do because he had a lot of money. For several years the gambit was subjected to extensive analysis by the leading American masters.’
Fine naturally did not specify his grounds for asserting that Rice ‘had this position once and inadvertently left his knight en prise’ (i.e. by playing 8 O-O), but references to Professor Rice and his gambit have, for nearly a century now, tended to be accompanied by an almost mandatory sneer. That contrasts vividly with what was written during, and just beyond, his lifetime. He died in late 1915, and the following words by Hartwig Cassel and Hermann Helms concluded the Foreword to Twenty Years of the Rice Gambit (New York, 1916), pages 7-9:
‘“Is the Rice Gambit sound?” was heard on every hand and the question re-echoed across the seven seas. More than once the majority returned a negative response, but Professor Rice and the faithful minority, entrenched in the fullness of his unswervable faith, never faltered, not once wavered and held the line firmly against a foe armed with the nauseating gas of unbelief. And in the end triumph in fullest measure was the reward of him who hewed steadily to the line and would not be turned aside.’
Pages 292-300 had a biographical account which will be reduced here to the basics. Isaac Leopold Rice was born in Wachenheim, Bavaria, Germany on 22 February 1850, the son of Maier and Fanny (Sohn) Rice. The family emigrated to the United States, and Isaac was educated at the Central High School in Philadelphia. He graduated in 1880 from the Columbia Law School with the degree of LL.B. In 1902 he received from Bates College the degree of LL.D. In 1885 he married Julia Hyneman Barnett in New York City, and the couple had six children: Muriel, Dorothy, Isaac Leopold Junior, Marion, Marjorie and Julian. Professor Rice was instructor at the Columbia Law School and lecturer at the School of Political Science until 1886, when he resigned and devoted himself exclusively to railroad law. He reorganized railroad companies in Brooklyn, St Louis and Texas and also became the virtual founder of the storage battery industry in the United States. He was the founder of the electric automobile industry by organizing the Electric Vehicle Company, of which he became the first president. Other companies in which he became involved included the Electric Boat Company, the Consolidated Railway Lighting and Refrigerating Company and the Forum Publishing Company. He contributed articles to the North American Review, Forum and Century. His munificence in the chess world included the gift of an international trophy worth about $1,300 which was competed for in matches between British universities (Oxford and Cambridge) and such US establishments as Columbia, Harvard and Yale. His home, the Villa Julia on Riverside Drive, New York, had a chess room which was hewn out of the solid rock in the basement and was accessible by an automatic elevator which communicated with the floors above.
Rice donated huge sums to chess activity far beyond his gambit, and he was regarded, at least in the United States, as the chess world’s leading patron. ‘Maecenas is dead’ was the title of a poem by Maxwell Bukofzer on pages 286-287 of the above-mentioned book on the gambit. After Rice died, on 2 November 1915, the American Chess Bulletin took the unprecedented step of issuing a lengthy ‘memorial supplement’ (pages 257-303). Much of the material later appeared in the book.
As background information on Rice pages 381-386 of the book gave the score of a game won by him in the pre-Rice Gambit days. It had detailed notes by Steinitz from the New York Tribune, but only a few of them are cited below.Isaac Leopold Rice – Wordsworth Donisthorpe
1 e4 e5 2 f4 exf4 3 Nf3 Be7 4 Bc4 Bh4+ 5 g3 fxg3 6 O-O d5 7 exd5 gxh2+ 8 Kh1 Bh3 9 Qe2+ Kf8 10 Rd1 Bg4 11 d4 Nf6 12 Nc3 Nh5 13 Ne4 f5
14 Rf1 (‘Fine repartee. If Black now take the knight, White recovers with advantage by 15 Nxh4+.’) 14...Nd7 15 Qg2 Bf6 16 Neg5 Qe7 17 Ne6+ Kf7 18 Nfg5+ Bxg5 (‘A beautiful termination is here avoided if 18...Kg6 19 Qxg4 fxg4 20 Bd3+ Kh6 21 Nf7 mate.’) 19 Qxg4 Bxc1 20 Qxh5+ g6 21 Rxf5+ (‘White’s conduct of the attack is of high scientific order. This involves a well devised sacrifice of the exchange which we find sound in various intricate complications.’) 21...Nf6
22 d6 (‘White’s play in the main deserves special marks of distinction.’) 22...cxd6 23 Rxf6+ (‘Quite in keeping with the fine quality of the preceding train of moves on White’s part.’) 23...Qxf6 24 Qd5 (‘White administers the quietus with this very clever stroke.’) 24...b5 25 Qb7+ Qe7 26 Ng5+ Kf6 27 Ne4+ Qxe4+ 28 Qxe4 and wins.
An earlier specimen of Rice’s play is given here from pages 45-46 of the 15 December 1883 issue of the Brooklyn Chess Chronicle. Played at the Manhattan Chess Club, it was one of 12 blindfold games played simultaneously by White.Johannes Hermann Zukertort – Isaac Leopold Rice
1 e4 e5 2 f4 d5 3 exd5 e4 4 Bb5+ Bd7 5 Bc4 b5 6 Bb3 Nf6 7 Ne2 Bc5 8 d4 exd3 9 Qxd3 Qe7 10 Nbc3 a6 11 h3 O-O 12 Bd2 b4 13 Nd1 Ne4 14 Ne3 Re8
15 d6 Bxd6 16 g3 Nc5 17 Qd5 Bc6 18 Qxf7+ Qxf7 19 Bxf7+ Kxf7 20 Rg1 Ne4 21 c3 Bc5 22 Nd4 bxc3 23 bxc3 Nxc3 24 Bxc3 Rxe3+ 25 Kd2 Re4 26 Kd3 Bd5 27 Rae1 Rxe1 28 Rxe1 Bxd4 29 Kxd4 Bxa2 30 Kc5 Nd7+ 31 Kc6 Nf6 32 Bxf6 Kxf6 33 Kxc7 a5 34 g4 a4 35 Kb6 Bb3 36 Kb5 Rb8+ 37 Ka5 a3 38 Ka6 a2 39 Ra1 Bc4+ 40 White resigns.
Zukertort gained revenge in a six-board blindfold exhibition at the Harmonie Club the following year:Johannes Hermann Zukertort – Isaac Leopold Rice
1 e4 e5 2 Nc3 Nc6 3 f4 Bc5 4 fxe5 Bxg1 5 Rxg1 Qh4+ 6 g3 Qxh2 7 Rg2 Qh3 8 d4 d6 9 exd6 cxd6 10 Bf4 Bg4 11 Qd2 Bf3 12 Rf2 Qh5 13 Bxd6 Rd8 14 e5 Nge7 15 Qf4 Bd5 16 Be2 Qg6 17 O-O-O h6
18 Rdf1 Rd7 19 Bg4 Be6 20 Bxe6 Qxe6 21 Qxf7+ Qxf7 22 Rxf7 Nxd4 23 Nd5 Ndf5 24 R1xf5 Nxf5 25 Rxf5 Kd8 26 c4 b6 27 Bf8 Ke8 28 e6 Rxd5 29 cxd5 Rxf8 30 Rxf8+ Kxf8 31 d6 g5 32 g4 Resigns.
Source: Brooklyn Chess Chronicle, 15 September 1884, page 186.
Now we return to the Rice Gambit. The Professor explained how it came about in the first edition of a monograph on the opening, published in 1898. The account was reproduced on pages 342-344 of Twenty Years of the Rice Gambit.
‘During the winter of 1890-91 I had the privilege of playing a long series of practice games with Mr William Steinitz, in the course of which I frequently essayed the Kieseritzky Gambit. Mr Steinitz was of the opinion that the attack could find no satisfactory continuation against the following: 1 e4 e5 2 f4 exf4 3 Nf3 g5 4 h4 g4 5 Ne5 Nf6 6 Bc4 d5 7 exd5 Bd6 8 d4 Nh5, followed by 9... c5.
In the course of these games I made many attempts to discover a winning move for White, but without success. Nevertheless, the problem interested me so much that, whenever I had the opportunity, I played the Kieseritzky Gambit. I did not deviate from known lines until the spring of 1893, when I tried the innovation of 9 Bxf4, followed by castling.
This, I found, led to a quite protracted attack, which seemed to offer some winning chances. Among others, Mr Reichhelm noticed it, and published a short account of it in the Philadelphia Times of 7 June 1893, under the heading “The Rice Attack”. I finally became convinced, however, that the attack was not sound.
Notwithstanding these failures, I did not abandon my efforts, and about a year ago it occurred to me that the knight, and not the bishop, should be sacrificed.
After some private analysis I ventured upon the innovation in off-hand games at the Manhattan Chess Club, enlisting as opponents some of the best players of that club. As a result of these games, I felt justified in the conclusion that the sacrifice secured at least an even, if not a better, game for White and that, therefore, it was sound. I then was fortunate enough to interest Mr S. Lipschütz, who made a thorough analysis of the gambit with me, testing the same in numerous contests over the board. By reason of this analysis, so many novel positions were brought about that I thought the chess world generally might like to become acquainted with the new continuation and, as Mr Lipschütz kindly consented to act as editor, I decided to publish.
If the analysis in the following pages stands the test of criticism, the effect, in my estimation, will not only be favorable to the Kieseritzky Gambit but will go far to establish the soundness of the King’s Gambit in general.’
In June 1910 the Rice Gambit was even the subject of a monograph by the world champion, Emanuel Lasker. Extracts from his Introduction are given below:
‘Within 15 years a splendid analytic work has been accomplished which I judge now to have come to a state of maturity in which it may claim to be presented to the chess world. This work has been carried through by Professor Isaac L. Rice with a magnificent perseverance and courage. Many minds have put together the raw material for this analysis, and Mr Rice has directed their labors and collected their ideas and assisted them by a position judgment that became especially adapted to the task undertaken and proved itself to be wonderfully effective.’
‘... Let, therefore, the gambit again come into its own. Let us admit, which is most probably true, that the gambit will not yield to the first player as high a percentage of wins as the Ruy López or the queen’s pawn; but let us therefore not sacrifice the beauty hidden in the gambit. I hope that this book will be the forerunner of a number of bigger books devoted to a thorough, accurate and imaginative analysis of all those gambit openings, of which the endeavor of former masters has not been able to unravel the mystery fully.
It was in 1895 that Mr Rice had the idea of sacrificing the knight in that manner which brings about the gambit named after him, and ever since that time he has had a lively struggle against those who scorned that move. Within these 15 years Mr Rice has had to acknowledge defeat as often as Wilhelm von Oranje in his fight against the Spanish, but as often as that great prince has he collected his scattered forces and made an army of them and again given battle, and finally he has achieved the same triumph. The foe was driven, often after a hard and long struggle, from each position that it had hoped to maintain, and the truth finally prevailed.
White is not lost. Black must play exceedingly well not to fall into the numerous traps and to obtain a promising game. The positions which arise in the Rice Gambit give difficult problems to both the first and second player and lend themselves therefore to as fine strategy as a chessplayer might wish to see. The Rice Gambit will ever be a valuable asset for the analyst, the player and the student.’
Five years previously the American Chess Bulletin had produced a huge Rice Gambit ‘Souvenir Supplement’ edited by H. Keidanz, which was published as pages 41-155 of the February 1905 issue. The ‘historical review’ by Cassel and Helms (pages 43-46) commented:
‘What nook or cranny of the civilized world, however remote, but has been reached by the fame of this variation of the Kieseritzky attack? On what other opening has the universal chess mind been so intently focussed during such comparatively brief a period? And, again, what line of play has received the searching investigation of the greatest masters of the day and been subjected to such criticism, both favorable and adverse?’
‘... Clear indeed must be the brain that would thread the labyrinthal mazes of Professor Rice’s innovation, which time and again has been declared hopeless, only to rise phoenix-like from the ashes of condemnation. Each leading variation has in turn faced the determined assaults of analysts, but invariably survived and in the end proved a bulwark of resource.’
That was followed (on pages 47-48) by a statement from Rice himself:
‘When as President of the International Chess Congress, held at Cambridge Springs last year, it devolved upon me to welcome the players, I dubbed them “Athletes of the Intellect” and I think that, upon reflection, all interested in the royal game will agree that this is a proper appellation for its champions.’
‘... I received my education in chess when what was called the modern school was all dominant, and I was taught that all forms of King’s Gambits must be eschewed as unworthy of a serious votary.
I was also taught that if there was an exception to this, it could only be the Kieseritzky Gambit, but that even that gambit had finally to be abandoned as leading to unavoidable disaster.
If the Rice Gambit shows that the sacrifice of a knight can save the Kieseritzky Gambit, it will give the so-called modern school a fatal blow unless it can be shown that other variations of the Kieseritzky Gambit, which, up to the time of the Rice Gambit, was supposed to be inferior for Black, are really superior to it and accomplish the defeat of the King’s Gambit; or, going still further, unless it can be shown that the declining of the King’s Gambit at the very outset leaves the attacking forces in immediate inferiority. I have proposed, therefore, that if it should be admitted that the Rice Gambit is sound, to make exhaustive studies, not only into the other variations of the Kieseritzky Gambit but also the various means of avoiding the Kieseritzky Gambit altogether.’
In the present item we have avoided repeating the most familiar information and games related to Isaac Rice and his gambit. Only a minuscule amount of the material available has been mentioned here, and to offer an idea of how much is on record we give below a non-exhaustive list from chess periodicals during his lifetime:
Who would be competent today to pass rational judgment on the soundness of the Rice Gambit, on the overall quality of the analysis undertaken a century ago or on the motives of Rice and the other analysts and players? As an example of the detail sometimes provided, and also as a warning against judgmental glibness, we conclude with an extract from the final item listed:
This comes from page 95 of the October 1904 American Chess Bulletin. Most of the photographs are readily identifiable, and readers may care to put together a full list.
Peter Anderberg (Harmstorf, Germany) writes:
‘The Krejcik v Krobot game was published on page 15 of Neues Wiener Tagblatt, 28 February 1908, under the heading “Gespielt im Café Veronika, Wien, XVII., am 14. Febr. 1908”. Black’s name was given as “Konrad Krobot”. Krobot, unlike “Krobst”, is a familiar surname in Austria.’
The name of the Café, Veronika, may be noted. Sources quoted in C.N. 4490 had Viktoria and Victoria.
We are grateful to Mr Anderberg for a correction to C.N. 3845: Stoltz won the 1930 match against Spielmann, with a score of +2 –1 =3. Our correspondent quotes page 358 of the December 1930 Deutsche Schachzeitung, and we add the following from page 266 of the Swedish magazine Schackvärlden, November 1930: ‘Stoltz besegrade Spielmann med 3½ p. mot 2½’. It is curious that some later secondary sources gave Spielmann as the winner, by +3 –2 =1. See, for instance, page 342 of the Dizionario enciclopedico degli scacchi by A. Chicco and G. Porreca (Milan, 1971).
The photograph below is taken from page 173 of the
October-November 1931 Tidskrift för Schack:
An unresolved matter from C.N. 4470 is why a number of computer chess books affirm that Leonardo Torres y Quevedo invented his chess computer as early as 1890, rather than in 1912-14.
The earliest claim about 1890 of which we are aware is on page 286 of Faster Than Thought edited by B.V. Bowden (London, 1953):
‘In about 1890 Signor Torres Quevedo made a simple machine – a real machine this time – which with a rook and king can checkmate an opponent with a single king.’
The Italianization does not inspire confidence, and no source for the information was offered.
Page 9 of The Machine Plays Chess? by Alex G. Bell (Oxford, 1978) stated:
‘Torres apparently built a prototype machine about 1890 which went through a number of sporadic refinements. His final version made its most publicized performance at the Paris World Fair in 1914 but it, understandably, sank into oblivion on the outbreak of World War I. So much for the discrepancy in dates.’
Can a reader move the matter on from the ‘apparently’ stage to some hard facts?
This position, with Black to move, is from a game won by Ossip Bernstein against an unnamed player in Paris, 1959:
Black won with 1...Qd6 2 R6f2 Nf3+ 3 Kh1 Qh2+ 4 Rxh2 Rxh2 mate.
Source: Schach-Echo, 5 March 1960, page 73. Is the full game-score extant?
Source: American Chess Bulletin, May-June 1933, page 83.
From Calle Erlandsson (Lund, Sweden):
‘I know only three games from the match between Spielmann and Stoltz, all annotated by Spielmann in Tidskrift för Schack, December 1930, pages 269-274. Play went as follows:Game 1 (12 November): Spielmann v Stoltz ½-½ (32)
Game 2 (13 November): Stoltz v Spielmann 1-0
Game 3 (14 November): Spielmann v Stoltz 1-0
Game 4 (16 November): Stoltz v Spielmann ½-½ (38)
Game 5 (17 November): Spielmann v Stoltz 0-1 (28)
Game 6 (18 November): Stoltz v Spielmann ½-½.
The Stockholm Schacksällskap had organized an international tournament to celebrate Ludwig Colllijn’s 25th year as club president. The tournament (20-25 October 1930) had seven players; Kashdan, who lost to Spielmann, won with 4½ points (+4 –1 =1). Then came Bogoljubow and Stoltz with 4 points, followed by Ståhlberg (3), Spielmann (2½), Rellstab (2) and Lundin (1). Spielmann lost to Stoltz and Bogoljubow.
The Collijn Jubilee continued with matches, but Bogoljubow went to Finland for three weeks. From 30 October to 5 November Spielmann and Kashdan played matches against the Swedes. Stoltz beat Kashdan +2 –1 =3, and Spielmann won against Ståhlberg +4 –1 =1). Later Stoltz played Spielmann (see above), and afterwards Spielmann beat Lundin +4 –0 =2.’
From page 41 of the March 1963 Chess World:
‘Unquestionably, the most important single contribution to chess literature has been Nimzowitsch’s Mein System (My System in the English version).
... Although the individual Nimzowitsch is dead, he lives on collectively in every chess master to a greater or less degree. Thus Korchnoi is really Korchnoi plus Nimzowitsch, and so forth. Some masters show little of Nimzowitsch in their styles, but all have been influenced by him.
Other great players contributed to chess theory, but their contributions were mainly indirect. None could be compared with Nimzowitsch, whose contribution was direct, original, and not to the few but to the many.’
C.N. 2967 (see page 322 of Chess Facts and Fables) discussed the poetry of A.E. Santasiere, quoting a clemently brief sample. It may be added that page 3 of Santasiere’s book Essay on Chess (Dallas, 1972) stated that among his output ‘there are three volumes of poetry; one of essays’. On page 160 of the March 1977 Chess Life & Review Santasiere’s obituary contained the assertion ‘at least three volumes of verse’. Have any readers seen them?
Another US figure who died in 1977 (an event accorded three lines on page 257 of the May Chess Life & Review) was Newell Banks, ‘one of the world’s leading checker players and a chess master’.
We shall be writing more about him, but for now a passage by Roy A. Alcorn is given from page 8 of Banks’ 1953 book World’s Championship Checker Match American Style:
‘Banks’ precociousness was not limited to checkers alone. At the tender age of eight he was introduced to the game of chess by his father and was, in a matter of months, winning games from the best chess brains in the city [Detroit]. Later, at the age of 22, he was the only man in the country [sic] to defeat in a crossboard game the great chess master José Capablanca, at Kansas City, Missouri, in 1909, who had just won the American Chess championship from Frank Marshall.’
More information about that game is sought. As regards simultaneous displays, in 1909 the Cuban gave two in Kansas City, on 4 February (four losses) and on 4 December (one loss), as listed in the American Chess Bulletin (March 1909, page 59 and February 1910, page 28). Was Banks the winner in the latter exhibition? In 1987 a local librarian informed us that he had found no mention of Capablanca’s visit in the Kansas City Times and Star of the time, but perhaps a reader could kindly look into the matter.
A small addition to C.N. 3405 (see pages 309-310 of Chess Facts and Fables) concerns the identity of the onlooker in the above photograph of Gilg and Spielmann at Semmering, 1926, which was reproduced from the tournament book. When the picture was published on page 143 of the November 1926 American Chess Bulletin he was identified as ‘Washburn Jr., son of the American Ambassador in Vienna’.
Charles Milton Ling (Vienna) draws attention to a paragraph by R.G. Wade on page 278 of Chess Treasury of the Air by T. Tiller (Harmondsworth, 1966):
‘I remember playing the German master Sämisch in a tournament in Germany in 1949. After 22 moves he had used up so much time that he had only two minutes left for his next 18 – which he was capable of in his tensed-up state, amid the excitement of craning spectators. I viewed the difficult position (and the spectators) sourly; but I noted that I had an hour and a half for my own moves. My reaction? I ordered tea, waited till it came (while my clock ticked), slowly stirred it and drank it, and slowly pondered; and did not move for an hour. The frustrated spectators had long before moved on to more exciting games. My opponent could not stay at the pitch of intensity to which he had raised himself an hour before; his thinking slowed and wandered, and he became visibly relaxed. After I had moved, he actually only made a couple of moves before overstepping the time, and thus losing. I had learnt a valuable lesson.’
The game (1 d4 d5 2 c4 e6 3 Nf3 Nf6 4 Nc3 c6 5 e3 Nbd7 6 Bd3 dxc4 7 Bxc4 b5 8 Bd3 a6 9 e4 c5 10 e5 cxd4 11 Nxb5 axb5 12 exf6 Qb6 13 fxg7 Bxg7 14 O-O Bb7 15 Re1 Nc5 16 Bf4 Nxd3 17 Qxd3 Bxf3 18 Qxf3 O-O 19 Qg3 Kh8 20 Rac1 Rxa2 21 Re5 Qa5 22 h4 Ra1 23 Rec5 Rxc1+ 24 Rxc1 b4 25 Qb3 Rg8; Black won on time) occurred in the tournament in Oldenburg in June-July 1949, and on page 217 of its July/August/September 1949 issue CHESS commented:
‘Sämisch was a side-show all on his own. With unfailing regularity he got into the most atrocious time-trouble. It was nothing to him to have to make 20 or 25 moves in one or two minutes; sometimes he would manage it and preserve a tenable game, but more often the flag would finally fall when he was still five or six short. Against Walther his flag was trembling on the brink, ready to fall, with 16 moves to go. He had a defensive position but managed to make all 16 moves in what must have been at most only three or four seconds.’
The photograph below comes from page 87 of Kagans Neueste Schachnachrichten, 1 January 1925:
Friedrich (Fritz) Sämisch
Joost van Winsen (Silvolde, the Netherlands) reports a claim by G.C.A. Oskam on page 39 of Schaakmat, February 1951 that at the 1921 tournament in The Hague Rubinstein began his record of a game on the second row of the score-sheet. According to Oskam, Rubinstein explained himself as follows: ‘There are always players who do not observe the rule of recording every move. They save time by not doing so. In time-pressure they want to profit from my record and look at my score-sheet. They then think that they have only one more move to make, whereas two moves should be made. There is no need for me to help my opponent.’
As already seen in C.N. 4505, Oskam’s stories need to be read
guardedly. In any case, we recall only ‘normal’ score-sheets in
Rubinstein’s hand. See, for example, page 225 of Akiba
Rubinstein: The Later Years by John Donaldson and Nikolay
Minev (Seattle, 1995).
In C.N. 484 (an item written in 1983) Michael Macdonald-Ross commented:
‘How many readers know which is the earliest printed book with chess content? The answer is Johannes Gallensis’ (John of Waleys) Summa Collationum (Cologne, Ulrich Zel, about 1470). The information in parentheses is not explicitly present in the book, and has been established by research. At the time Murray did his History of Chess the date of publication had not been settled by scholars, which is no doubt why none of the modern reference works mentions this as an important first. The chess section of Johannes’ book is a few pages long and is (of course) on morality. Murray gives an account at the start of chapter 5. Caxton’s chess (1476) is now of less interest: it is not the first book published by Caxton; it is not the first book published in English, and it is not the first book with chess content.
An imperfect copy of Johannes came up for auction in 1982 and was bought in for £500, having failed to reach its reserve. Unlike the many chess reference works, the auctioneers knew about its chess significance: they got their information from an old E.P. Goldschmidt catalogue.’
We have recently been reading an academic article about Johannes Gallensis, ‘All the World’s a Chess-board’ by Lynn Thorndike of Columbia University on pages 461-465 of Speculum, July 1931.
His article reproduced and discussed ...
‘... the Latin text of a mediaeval comparison of the game of chess to human society from an English manuscript which was not consulted or mentioned by H.J.R. Murray when he printed the passage in his erudite history of chess, although he used 11 other English manuscripts. Ours, however, would seem of equal authority with any of them, although not so old as the early fourteenth-century Harleian manuscript of the British Museum which he chiefly followed. Murray rather capriciously dubbed the comparison in question “The Innocent Morality”...’
Thorndike’s article, about half of which comprised text in Latin, would be impossible to summarize here, but it too merits the term ‘erudite’, and we should like to know of any other chess writings by him.
Alekhine’s writings occasionally ‘improved on’ the moves he had played, and five games where there are grounds for, at the very least, suspecting such score-tampering are listed below:
Additions will be welcome.
C.N. 4531 quoted a claim that Newell W. Banks ‘was the only man in the country to defeat in a crossboard game the great chess master José Capablanca, at Kansas City, Missouri, in 1909’. Our item then referred to the two simultaneous displays given there by the Cuban that year, but now we note the following passage from pages 179-180 of the September-October 1915 American Chess Bulletin:
‘Among the leading chess experts Banks has encountered informally are J.R. Capablanca, E. Michelsen, E.P. Elliott, C. Jaffe, N.T. Whitaker, M. Schroeder, H.G. Daniels and H.L. Perrin. Some six years ago he played six games with Capablanca, of which he won one, losing the rest. Against the other strong opponents he made about an even score or better. Banks says that he owes most of his chess knowledge to Shiffman, of Odessa, Russia, the teacher of Rubinstein. This was about two years ago, when he gave Banks the odds of a rook. In six months he could only concede the odds of a pawn and move and, at the end of two years, he more than held his own against his teacher. Banks says that he owes much also to E. Michelsen, who instructed him in the openings when he first took up chess.’
Once again we express the hope that a reader suitably placed can look into Capablanca v Banks, Kansas City, 1909.
Michael Clapham (Ipswich, England) reports that page 54 of issues 13-14 of Leaves of Chess quoted the following from the New York Times, 22 March 1959:
‘Svetozar Gligorić, one of the eight candidates for the honors by virtue of his No. 2 finish in the interzonal matches at Portorož, and Dr Petar Trifunović, also a grandmother, narrowly escaped death in an automobile mishap.’
Following on from the recent items about Newell W. Banks (C.N.s 4531 and 4539), our intention was to give one or two little-known victories by him, but it is proving surprisingly difficult to find suitable game-scores. Any suggestions from readers will therefore be appreciated. Another loose end is Banks’ second forename.
Meanwhile, attention is drawn to a feature about him on pages 81-82 of the March 1922 BCM:
The photograph below was published on page 76 of the March 1960 Chess Review:
Accounts of Banks’ accomplishments at checkers are abundant, one example being the biographical note in his book World’s Championship Checker Match American Style, published in 1953. On pages 8-9 Roy A. Alcorn made a spectacular series of claims:
‘Banks played his first game of blindfold checkers at age five years and six months at the Detroit Chess and Checker Club.
Mr Banks has traveled over 1,000,000 miles in the past 45 years and played about 600,000 checkers and chess games. During this time he has played over 80,000 blindfold games, which is a number that probably exceeds more than that of [sic] any three blindfold players combined in the past.
At the present time, Mr Banks holds all speed records at blindfold and simultaneous checkers; namely 20 games blindfold at one time in 2 hours and 25 minutes at Bethlehem, PA in 1933, winning 17, drawing 3.
At the Century of Progress in Chicago, in 1933, Mr Banks played 140 games of checkers simultaneously in 145 minutes – winning 133, drawing 7, and making an average of about one move per second.
Newell W. Banks holds the world’s championship speed record at mixed play, having played 75 checkers and 25 chess games simultaneously, and at the same time six games of blindfold checkers in four hours’ time (240 minutes), winning 65 checkers games, drawing 10, winning 4 blindfold and drawing 2, winning 22 chess games, drawing 2 and losing only 1. This exhibition was held at the Tuller Hotel, Detroit, in 1932.
Mr Banks at age 60 set [an] endurance blindfold record that is one of the world’s wonders. He played four hours per day for 45 consecutive days, winning 1,331, drawing 54 and losing 2, playing 6 games at a time. He set a new blindfold speed record playing 62 games in four hours, winning 61 and 1 drawn at Convention Hall, Detroit, MI, during this endurance record.
It is important to remember that Newell W. Banks is the only living master at both chess and checkers and also one of the leading promoters of both games in America. He is also one of the few men in history who can play both chess and checkers blindfold.’
Our copy of Banks’ book, heavily annotated in pen, was previously owned by the checkers writer Tom Wiswell. A sample page is given below:
Can readers point out any articles by, or interviews with, Sämisch in which he explained his handling of the chess clock?
The entry ‘World champion (early uses of the term)’ has many references in our Factfinder, and a valuable addition has now come from Robert John McCrary (Columbia, SC, USA). Pages 177-182 of the 1845 Chess Player’s Chronicle (with the cover date 1846) carried a report on the annual celebration of the Yorkshire Chess Clubs in Leeds, chaired by the Earl of Mexborough and with Howard Staunton in attendance. The report of the Earl’s speech included the following description of Staunton: ‘... the Chess Champion of England, or, as he might truly call him, the Champion of the World’.
Dan Scoones (Victoria, BC, Canada) notes that Newell Banks’ second forename was given as Williams in the book Banks’ Scientific Checkers (second edition, Detroit, 1929). Indeed, it appeared not only on the front cover and the title page but also in the caption to a fine portrait of him:
Quite a few readers correctly identified Viacheslav Ragozin. The photograph came from page 298 of XIV. Schach-Olympiade Leipzig 1960.
This was deciphered by many readers. It shows the first six moves of an Evans Gambit game in the Prince Notation, which was described on pages 162-163 of the July-August 1918 American Chess Bulletin as ‘still another attempt to construct a universal chess language’. The creator was Lorenzo Prince of Montreal, and the explanation in the Bulletin is reproduced below:
It may be wondered when 1890 started to be mentioned in chess books as the year in which Leonardo Torres y Quevedo invented his chess computer. A relatively early instance is page 13 of Chess and Computers by David Levy (London, 1976), whereas page 3 of the same writer’s Computer Chess Compendium (London, 1988) gave only 1914.
What is the connection between this photograph and chess?
Concerning this photograph, taken at San Sebastián, 1911, Peter Anderberg (Harmstorf, Germany) considers that Schlechter was indeed present and that the top of his head is visible just above Spielmann’s. Our correspondent furthermore suggests that the picture was taken during the fifth round, on 27 February, when the pairings included Spielmann v Tarrasch (in the foreground), Capablanca v Janowsky and, at the third clock, Schlechter v Důras. Finally, Mr Anderberg remarks that an early publication of the photograph was in Die Schachwelt, 31 March 1911, page 82, with the same (incorrect) caption as in the German tournament book.
Continuing the series of items on Newell Williams Banks (1887-1977), we add that C.N. 2431 (see page 98 of A Chess Omnibus) quoted his remark ‘Draughts is 80% memory, 20% intuition; chess precisely the reverse’. That came from an article by Banks entitled ‘Chess and its Sister Game’ on pages 314-315 of CHESS, 14 May 1939, and some further quotes are given below:
‘Chess is played with 32 pieces on 64 squares, draughts with 24 pieces on 32, so that obviously there must be many more possibilities in chess, and consequently more complications. Complications do not always mean science.
Chess is a game of the opening and middlegame; checkers of the ending. Four out of every five games of chess are decided in the first 30 or 40 moves; only occasionally does a player wrest a win out of an originally even endgame. On the other hand, middlegame combinations in draughts are rare, at any rate between good players, most games being decided only in the concluding stages.
A chess position is easier to size up. You can often find the weaknesses in one player’s game at a glance, he has a bad pawn position or an exposed king, or such like. At draughts a weakness may be most subtly concealed, only to be exploited by one single delicately-timed sequence of moves.
Draughts has been the more exhaustively explored, and it is in this connection that I think it must most definitely acknowledge the superiority of its rival. For instance, the “Single Corner” opening must have been played countless millions of times in the past 500 years, and is known inside out, to ten or 15 moves on each side.’
‘... Dr Alekhine’s knight sacrifice on the fifth [sic – sixth] move of a Queen’s Gambit in a world’s championship match, with a move that had never been explored before, is a phenomenon absolutely inconceivable in draughts.’
‘... Of the two games, which do I prefer? This is a question not to be answered lightly. Although as a draughts player I held the American championship for 25 years, whereas my best achievements at chess were probably my isolated victories over Marshall and Kashdan in one tournament, I have to admit that I get more enjoyment out of my chess. Mainly for its greater variety.’
For the score of Banks’ victory over Kashdan (at Chicago, 1926), see pages 78-79 of Wonders and Curiosities of Chess by I. Chernev (New York, 1974).
Newell Williams Banks
Banks also wrote a feature ‘Chess vs. Checkers’ on pages 13-18 of Banks’ Blindfold Checker Masterpieces (Philadelphia, 1947), from which the above photograph is taken. Some extracts follow.
‘In the course of 50 years of checkers and 45 years of chess, after a careful study of both games, I have reached the following conclusions. Checkers is a game of the endings or as it is often called a game of [scales] or balance, while chess is a game of time. In view of the fact that checkers is played with 12 pieces on a side, on 32 squares, while chess is played on 64 squares with 16 pieces a side, one does not have to be much of a mathematician to prove that chess has at least 100 times as many possible moves as checkers. This fact, however, does not detract from checkers since neither game has ever been mastered. However, if a master mind could completely unravel the mysteries of both games, checkers, undoubtedly, would be mastered first. The end play in checkers is more subtle than chess, for while the moves are more restricted, the timing is, nevertheless, more profound. ... The overwhelming beauty in chess lies in the opening and the middlegame, both of which fields, in my opinion, are unquestionably far superior to those in checkers.’
‘A beginner can learn to play a fairly competent amateur game of chess in one-third the time he can learn checkers. This does not mean that checkers is the more difficult game. What it means is that since checkers has been analyzed at least five times more thoroughly than chess, the beginner at checkers is called upon to absorb a formidable amount of book. It also means that checkers is a great game of memory, a point in its favor, from an educational point of view, since it is plausible to deduce that this practice would tend to stimulate the memory processes in other fields of endeavor.’
‘... As a youngster I learned more about chess looking over [Morphy’s] masterpieces, for about six months, than from any book I ever studied. I recommended the wholehearted study of Morphy’s game to the chess beginners. By all means let them delve into the Steinitz closed system of horizontal play, but, first, let the student be exposed to the principal [sic] of mobility, the beauty of dazzling sacrificial combinations and the open game.’
‘It may be wondered why I do not stress the merits of the endgame in chess. The reason for this is that 90% of all match games, as well as international tournaments, are decided in the opening and middlegame, and it is indeed a rare occasion when a game is won by superlative endgame play.’
‘It is my contention that chess is a great asset to a checker player’s opening and mid-game strategy, while checkers is of great value in improving a chessplayer’s sense of timing in the endgame. For these reasons alone, I advise serious students, of either game, to study both chess and checkers.’
‘An important point stressed by most checker players in favor of checkers is the fact that you must move forward at all times until the King Row is reached, the slightest mistake usually being fatal. In chess, on the other hand, if a minor error is made, you can retreat (except in the case of pawns) and in many cases by doing so avoid disaster.
Another point often made to stress the greater precision evolved in checkers is the fact that one piece down in any normal position will lose, while in chess even king and two knights will not win against a lone king.
However, in actual practice, the fact remains that compared with checkers very few chess encounters are drawn, due mainly to the tremendous scope of the middlegame, which has been aptly termed “The soul of chess” ...’
‘Finally, in answering the question, “which is the greater game – chess or checkers” – I must, in all frankness, favor chess. This statement, coming from the blindfold checker champion of the world may be received with real surprise by many checker players. However, I feel sure that any fair-minded person, reading this article, will understand the reasons that have led me to this conclusion.’
In an article by I.E. Porter page 6 of Banks’ Blindfold Checker Masterpieces referred to Capablanca (with various obvious inaccuracies):
‘When both Banks and the late José Capablanca were young and eager, back in 1909, Capablanca made his first US tour. He had just beaten the late Frank J. Marshall for the American championship, and starting from New York he travelled to the Pacific Coast and back, playing all-comers in exhibition matches. Of the hundreds of games played on this tour, the great Cuban, then not quite 21, lost just one crossboard game – to Newell W. Banks of Kansas City, MO.’
The book also contained (on pages 10-12) an article entitled ‘Recollections of a Veteran’ by H. Helms which referred to a mysterious figure already mentioned in C.N.s 4539 and 4541:
‘Banks learned the moves of chess at home from his father. At 14, he met a Russian refugee by the name of Schiffman. Before leaving Europe, Schiffman had given a helping hand to Rubinstein and Salve, then aspiring young players. He took an interest in little Banks, who from then on progressed rapidly.’
The coupling of Rubinstein and ‘Salve’ as aspiring young players is strange; Georg Salwe was 20 years older than Rubinstein.
Page 14 of our book on Capablanca presented a victory by the Cuban over a player named Schiffman in a simultaneous exhibition in Detroit on 21 January 1909, taken from the Detroit Free Press of the following day. The newspaper described Schiffman as ‘the local expert’. We wonder whether this was the same Schiffman, and not least because Detroit was Banks’ native city.
Our collection contains a copy of Capablanca’s score-sheet of a game he played four days before his match with Marshall began:
The game seems to have been unpublished until we gave it on page 26 of the Spring 1992 Kingpin. It was subsequently included on pages 65-66 of Kings, Commoners and Knaves, and for ease of reference is reproduced below:Louis R. Eisenberg – José Raúl Capablanca
1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bc4 Nf6 4 Ng5 d5 5 exd5 Na5 6 Bb5+ c6 7 dxc6 bxc6 8 Be2 h6 9 Nf3 e4 10 Ne5 Qd4 11 f4 Bc5 12 Rf1 Bb6 13 c3 Qd6 14 b4 Nb7 15 Qa4 Bd7 16 Na3 O-O 17 Nac4 Qc7 18 Nxd7 Nxd7 19 Qc2 Rfe8 20 a4 a5 21 Rb1 Rad8 22 Qb3 Ba7 23 Ba3 axb4 24 cxb4 c5 25 b5 Na5 26 Nxa5 Qxa5 27 Bb2 Nb6 28 Qc3 Qxc3 29 Bxc3 Nxa4 30 Be5 Bb8 31 b6 Re6 32 Bc7 Rf8 33 Bd1 Bxc7 34 bxc7 Rb6 35 Ra1 Nb2 36 Bg4 Rc6 37 c8(Q) Rfxc8 38 Bxc8 Rxc8 39 Ke2
39...Rd8 40 g3 Kh7 41 f5 Nc4 42 Ra2 Rd5 43 g4 Ne5 44 Rf4 Nd3 45 Rf1 Ne5 46 Ra4 c4 47 h3 Nf3 48 Rxc4 Rxd2+ 49 Ke3 Rh2 50 Rd1 Ng5 51 Rd8 Rxh3+ 52 Ke2 Rh2+ 53 Ke3 Rh3+ 54 Kd2 g6 55 f6 e3+ 56 Ke2 Ne6 57 Rd7 g5 58 Rxf7+ Kg6 59 Re7 Kxf6 60 Rxe6+ Kxe6 61 Re4+ Kd5 62 Rxe3 Rxe3+ 63 Kxe3 Ke5 64 White resigns.
Capablanca’s concluding note, to an unidentified correspondent, reads:
‘I send you this game which I played the other day so that (barring the ending) you may know how not to play for Black. To make up for the game, I played Jaffe the following day and he never had a ... [rest of text missing].’
Regarding that victory over Jaffe (1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 a6 4 Ba4 Nf6 5 O-O Be7 6 Re1 b5 7 Bb3 d6 8 c3 Bg4 9 d3 O-O 10 Nbd2 Na5 11 Bc2 c5 12 Nf1 Qc7 13 Bg5 h6 14 Bxf6 Bxf6 15 Ne3 Be6 16 Qe2 Rfd8 17 h4 Qe7 18 g3 Qd7 19 Nd5 Bxd5 20 exd5 g6 21 h5 gxh5 22 Kg2 Qg4 23 Rh1 h4 24 Qe3 Bg5 25 Nxg5 hxg5 26 Bd1 Qf5 27 gxh4 gxh4 28 Qh6 Qg6+ 29 Qxg6+ fxg6 30 Rxh4 Kg7 31 b4 Nb7 32 Bg4 a5 33 Rah1 Rh8 34 Rxh8 Rxh8 35 Rxh8 Kxh8 36 a3 axb4 37 cxb4 c4 38 dxc4 bxc4 39 a4 c3 40 Bd1 Resigns), see the Addenda in the Dover edition of The Unknown Capablanca by David Hooper and Dale Brandreth (New York, 1993). However, it is asserted there that the game ‘was recorded by Vicente Martínez de Carvajal (1840-1915), discovered amongst his papers after his death, and published in Ajedrez Español, 1953, pages 144-145’, whereas it was recorded by Capablanca himself. J.E. Olavide, the author of the article in question in the Spanish magazine (June-July 1953 issue), stated that he had recently acquired a collection of old papers which had belonged to Carvajal and that these included the score-sheet of Capablanca v Jaffe, written in pencil by the Cuban and with the additional information ‘20 moves an hour’.
Avital Pilpel (Haifa, Israel) writes:
‘I have been given access to the archives of Menachem Marmorosh (1903-80) by his son and daughter, Marom Mordechai and Ruth Doral. The papers include an account in Marmorosh’s own hand of his match with King Abdullah. In some respects it differs from Kandelsheen’s account (quoted in C.N. 4211) and it adds some new information. Marmorosh wrote:
“The King sat before me and we played four games. The first two I won, the third ended in a draw, and I lost the fourth. I immediately felt that he suspected that I had done him a favor, and he asked me to play at full strength. Then I was invited to lunch in his palace. In the evening we continued the games, and this is how I spent about a week at his palace.”
Marmorosh said nothing about losing on purpose out of courtesy, let alone fear. He added some details about his reception in Amman:
“The head of the ministers, Ahmed Pesha, received me and said that the King would be arriving later and asked that in the meantime I play with him and his colleagues. We sat down, and I defeated them one after the other. Then one of them remarked that they were used to playing not international [i.e. modern] chess but chess under medieval rules. I immediately told them that from then on I would play by their rules, but the results were no different.”’
A second title has just been added to our feature article.
Occasional C.N. items reproduce articles by G.H. Diggle from the two volumes of Chess Characters which we published in 1984 and 1987. The piece below first appeared in the April 1982 issue of Newsflash.
‘William Norwood Potter (1840-95), by profession a barrister’s clerk, is now perhaps the most forgotten master of the latter half of the nineteenth century. But though his active career only covered the 1870-80 decade, the BCM obituary ranks him as equal to any British master of his time with the single exception of Blackburne. “H.G.”, however, (Encyclopedia of Chess) thinks this goes too far; and indeed Potter only played two matches, drawing with Mason 5-5 with 11 draws, and losing to Zukertort 2-4 with 8 draws. The preponderance of draws was remarkable for those days, and the Westminster Papers reporting the latter match remarked that Potter played overmuch with an eye on the endgame, and “absorbed in his search for things remote, sometimes overlooked the blessings which lay under his nose”. But his eccentric opening play fascinated Steinitz, on whose own style (Dr Lasker tells us) Potter had a great influence. “Put all the pieces into a hat”, said Steinitz, “and shake them out on to the board, and you have Potter’s style exactly.”
As an annotator he was equally unique, and his notes in the Westminster Papers and in his own City of London Chess Magazine 1874-76 could not possibly have been produced by anyone else. “This move aims at nothing in particular, but the position affords no other target.” “Misfortune is clearly coming up the avenue, but this move saves the unwelcome visitor from knocking at the door.” “This game, now an obvious draw, was prolonged for 45 moves. Winawer should make his pedantic experiments at home and not insist on his opponents taking part in such uninteresting twaddle.” “Mr Bird has one of the best pairs of chess eyes in existence, but here he fails to see that the knight is no use at R5 – correct is Kt-Kt2. Ultimately, it will be seen, by a process of exhaustion rather than reflection, he gets hold of the right bellrope.” “Steinitz condemns this sacrifice” (on the sixth move of a King’s Gambit) “as unsound. We hope this condemnation will be a source of consolation to those who fall victims to it. Equally soothing no doubt was the dictum of the learned advocate who informed his client that he could not be put in the stocks. If the legs of the latter testified to the contrary, so much the worse for the legs.” “I fail to see what there is against KtxB followed by KtxP. There may be unearthly voices saying ‘Beware’ but who cares what unearthly voices say?” “The Tournament Opthalmia has evidently set in.” “Just the kind of blunder with which this very wretched specimen of a game ought to finish.” “If our eyes told us there was nothing better to be done than this, we should sternly ask them if they ever heard of Ananias. But of course very often our eyes can be right and we can be wrong.” “There is a strong taste of Prussic Acid about this move.” Next move: “And now Hope says she has an appointment elsewhere.” Finally: “This is throwing the soup overboard altogether, and Black dispatches himself very happily.”’
The following portrait of Potter was published on page 225 of the April 1895 Chess Monthly:
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