Chess Notes

Edward Winter

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1 April 2014: C.N. 8621
3 April 2014: C.N.s 8622-8624
5 April 2014: C.N.s 8625-8626
7 April 2014: C.N. 8627
8 April 2014: C.N. 8628
9 April 2014: C.N.s 8629-8630
10 April 2014: C.N. 8631
13 April 2014: C.N.s 8632-8633
14 April 2014: C.N. 8634

Carlos Torre

A selection of feature articles:

Chess Jottings
Dr Lasker’s Chess History
Chess Camouflage Publications
John Ruskin and Chess
Capablanca v Fine: A Missed Win
Bent Larsen (1935-2010)
S. Lipschütz – Samuel, Simon or Solomon?
Akiba Rubinstein’s Later Years
CHESS The Musical
World Chess Championship Rules
Steinitz, Lasker, Potter and the ‘Modern School’
Instant Chess

Archives (including all feature articles)

8621. Dictionary definitions


Although a very good book overall, the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary (Oxford, 2010) makes little effort with its definitions of basic chess vocabulary. Page 250 has this entry for the word ‘chess’ itself:

‘A game for two people played on a board marked with black and white squares on which each playing piece (representing a king, queen, castle, etc.) is moved according to special rules. The aim is to put the other player’s king in a position from which it cannot escape.’

There is a minuscule diagram on page V33:


The same page attempts to explain the terms ‘check’, ‘checkmate’ and ‘stalemate’:


The second bullet point does not make sense:

‘When one player cannot move his king out of check and the game ends is called checkmate ...’

That sentence, if such it be, illustrates another difficulty. Although the word ‘his’ is used (which is fine, although the reader was addressed in the second person in the preceding bullet point), page 248 has this definition of ‘checkmate’:

‘A position in which one player cannot prevent his or her king (= the most important piece) being captured and therefore loses the game.’

On page 1502 ‘stalemate’ in the chess sense is defined thus:

‘A situation in which a player cannot successfully move any of their pieces and the game ends without a winner.’

‘A player’ cannot move ‘their pieces’ ...

The chess term ‘check’ is defined as follows on page 248:

‘A position in which a player’s king (= the most important piece) can be directly attacked by the other player’s pieces.’

‘Check’ is not ‘a position’, and what to make of ‘can be’ and ‘pieces’?

The best definitions of chess terminology in any general reference work that we have seen are in the Collins English Dictionary.

8622. Spassky in 1972

General reference works customarily avoid hyperbolic editorialization, but the nine-line entry on Spassky on page 1376 of the Chambers Biographical Dictionary edited by Magnus Magnusson (Edinburgh, 1990) has this statement in connection with the 1972 world championship match:

‘His defeat before the full glare of international attention gave him the unfortunate legacy of the most famous loser in sporting history.’

8623. Promotion power


White to play and win

This position (‘an extraordinary example of the promotion power of the pawn’) comes from pages 49-50 of The Macmillan Handbook of Chess by I.A. Horowitz and Fred Reinfeld (New York, 1956). Did it occur over the board?

8624. ‘Plain talk’

‘The literature of chess in the English language is enormous in size, but insignificant in value. One might label it for the most part: “Author: Mediocrity. Beware! Poison!” In matters of mentality mediocrity is poisonous. It quenches the thirst for knowledge by unhealthy stuff.’

So wrote Emanuel Lasker, and below is the text as it appeared on pages 172-173 of the August 1911 American Chess Bulletin. Can the original publication in the New York Evening Post be found?



8625. Alekhine’s Gun (C.N.s 7880, 7914 & 7972)

Jeremy Silman (Los Angeles, CA, USA) notes that pages 118-119 of Techniques of Positional Play by V. Bronznik and A. Terekhin (Alkmaar, 2013) discuss Blackburne v Rosenthal, Paris, 1878, in which this position arose:


The heading in the book is ‘Brute force: Blackburne’s battering ram’, and the authors comment regarding 23 R1c2 (which was followed by 23...Qd8 24 Qc1):

‘Blackburne brings all three major pieces on to the c-file – and the rooks belong in front of the queen.’

The earliest specimen of the manoeuvre that we can quote is Kennedy v Mayet, London, 1851 (see pages 35-38 of the tournament book):


The game continued 21...Rc5 22 a4 Rfc8 23 Rec1 R8c7 24 h3 Qc8.

An earlier game in which the major pieces were tripled, though with the queen placed between the rooks, was Calvi v Kieseritzky, third match-game, Paris, 1842:


Play went 19 Qc2 Rd7 20 Rc1.

Below is the full score as given on page 39 of Kieseritzky’s book Cinquante parties jouées au Cercle des Echecs et au Café de la Régence (Paris, 1846):

calvi kieseritzky

8626. Promotion power (C.N. 8623)


According to the book by Horowitz and Reinfeld mentioned in C.N. 8623, White won with 1 Rc8 Rxc8 2 Re8+ Nxe8 3 d7 Nd6 4 dxc8(Q) Nxc8 5 axb7.

Christian Sánchez (Rosario, Argentina) points out that a similar theme occurred in a position presented by Roberto Grau in volume one of Tratado general de ajedrez:


The winning line is given as 1 Rc8 Rxc8 2 Re8+ Nxe8 3 d7 Nd6 4 dxc8(Q) Nxc8 5 axb7. Grau added that Black would win after 1 Re8+ Nxe8 2 Rc8 Rxa6 3 Kg1 Rxd6.

The page references vary according to the edition of Grau’s work. In our copy (Buenos Aires, 1986) the position is discussed on pages 155-156 (in the section entitled ‘Otros errores: trasposiciones’). The diagram caption states only ‘C. Dorash’.

8627. Promotion power (C.N.s 8623 & 8626)

The name ‘C. Dorash’ mentioned at the end of the previous item also appeared in the caption to a study on page 80 of the Chess Weekly, 31 July 1909:


However, that reference, in common with the one in Roberto Grau’s book, is an apparent transcription error. The above ‘White to move and draw’ composition was by C. Dorasil of Troppau (the German name for Opava). See, for instance, page 308 of the October 1907 Deutsche Schachzeitung.

Regarding the position which Grau ascribed to ‘C. Dorash’, Han Bükülmez (Ecublens, Switzerland) notes that it appears in Harold van der Heijden’s endgame database, the composer being named as C. Dorasil and the source given as ‘Bohemia 1906’.

It was one of four compositions by Dorasil published on page 116 of the April 1907 Deutsche Schachzeitung:

. dorasil

8628. Dickens and Hoyle

Jon Crumiller (Princeton, NJ, USA) reports that he owns a copy of Edmund Hoyle’s The Polite Gamester (Dublin, 1776) which has the bookplate of Charles Dickens:





8629. Richard Réti’s birth record

Avital Pilpel (Haifa, Israel) informs us that a colleague of his, Alon Schab, recently noted Richard Réti’s birth record in the database of the Latter-Day Saints church (the Mormon Church):


Larger version

Mr Pilpel comments:

‘Below the word “Richard” there appears, in Hebrew letters, the name זעליק – “Selig”. If a comparison is made with the other lines, it seems clear that this is Réti’s “Jewish” name, which would make his full name Richard Selig Réti.’

8630. Move order

Wanted: more details about a game published on pages 85-86 of the February 1935 BCM with annotations by Przepiórka (including an interesting comment at move 23):



1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 d5 4 Bg5 Nbd7 5 e3 c6 6 Nf3 Be7 7 Qc2 a6 8 a3 O-O 9 Rd1 Re8 10 Bh4 h6 11 Bg3 dxc4 12 Bxc4 b5 13 Ba2 Bb7 14 Ne5 Nf8 15 O-O Rc8 16 f4 Nd5 17 Qf2 f6 18 f5 fxe5 19 fxe6 Nxe6 20 Nxd5 cxd5 21 Qf7+ Kh8 22 Bxe5 Rc6 23 Bb1 Rg8 24 Qg6 Ng5 and wins.

8631. Julien Gracq

From Oliver Beck (Seattle, WA, USA):

‘In Julien Gracq’s Un beau ténébreux (Paris, 1945) a character’s chess is described as follows:

“Il joue remarquablement, avec une prédilection pour les parties fermées, la Sicilienne, l’Ouest-Indienne, comme tous les joueurs qui sentent ces relations secrètes de case à case qui sommeillent sur l’échiquier, cette puissance explosive latente qui dort dans chaque pièce, et dont l’appréhension intuitive fait toute la supériorité du jeu de fakirs, comme Alekhine, comme Breyer, comme Botwinnik, sur les géomètres [Gracq’s emphasis] de l’échiquier qu’étaient un Morphy ou un Rubinstein” (pages 67-68 in the 1983 José Corti edition).

This description, with the somewhat surprising insertion of Breyer between Alekhine and Botvinnik, may be better understood in light of Gracq’s comment in Lettrines 2 (Paris, 1974):

“... puis, en 1929, le livre de Réti: Modern Ideas in Chess, qui est un peu le Manifeste du Surréalisme échiquéen, me donna à Londres tout un été de découverte et de bonheur” (page 176 in the 1978 José Corti edition).

Elsewhere in Lettrines 2, Gracq describes an encounter with E. Znosko-Borovsky:

“Une fois, avec le président du cercle d’échecs de Quimper, nous y conduisîmes Znosko-Borovsky, célèbre joueur d’échecs, que nous avions invité dans notre ville pour une conférence et une séance de simultanées; avec sa moustache taillée en brosse, il avait l’air d’un gentil et courtois bouledogue. Je ne sais pourquoi je le revois encore parfaitement, silhouetté au bord de la falaise, regardant l’horizon du Sud: il y avait dans cette image je ne sais quoi d’incongru et de parfaitement dépaysant. Il ne disait rien. Peut-être rêvait-il, sur ce haut lieu, à la victoire qu’il avait un jour remportée sur Capablanca” (page 38).

Gracq’s reference to Capablanca v Znosko-Borovsky, St Petersburg, 1913 may not seem unusual; it was annotated in the illustrative games section of Capablanca’s Chess Fundamentals and touched upon in Chapter VII of My Chess Career. However, it causes me to wonder whether Znosko-Borovsky ever mentioned it in his writings. Also, considering Capablanca’s incredible success during his second European tour, how much attention was paid to Znosko-Borovsky’s victory at the time?’

Znosko-Borovsky discussed part of his victory over the Cuban on pages 152-156 of his book The Middle Game in Chess (London, 1922). The full score was published, with notes by both Znosko-Borovsky and Capablanca on pages 189-190 of issue 22 of Les Cahiers de l’Echiquier Français (1930), incorrectly labelled a tournament game:

capablanca znosko-borovsky

capablanca znosko-borovsky

Capablanca’s earliest set of notes to the game appeared on pages 19-20 of the January 1914 issue of La Stratégie:

capablanca znosko-borovsky

capablanca znosko-borovsky

Both French publications stated that the game ended 41 Kd2 Rxd4 42 White resigns, whereas in Chess Fundamentals Capablanca wrote that he resigned after 40...Re1+.

The game was widely published at the time, without receiving special attention.

8632. English

Chess news reports indicate a growing belief that prose is somehow enlivened if the plainest words are avoided. When a player wins first prize in a tournament, the verb ‘wins’ commonly loses out to ‘bags’, ‘claims’, ‘collects’, ‘grabs’, ‘picks up’, ‘scoops’, ‘takes home’, etc.

Another addition to the musings in Chess and the English Language concerns the use, particularly in the United States, of ‘would’ in historical narratives. For instance, ‘Alekhine died in 1946, and two years later Botvinnik would become world champion’, instead of simply ‘became world champion’.

The following examples come from the first page of the article about Henry Chadwick in Lasker & His Contemporaries which was referred to in Chess and Baseball:

‘A native of England, Chadwick came to the United States with his family in 1837, settled in Brooklyn, became a journalist and would be recognized as the first significant sports writer in the United States. ... As Mac Souders, writing in the Baseball Research Journal for 1986, would describe it, Chadwick would become “a one-man press association for baseball in the New York City area”. Chadwick would report on sports and recreational activities for decades ... And he would author and edit numerous baseball books and pamphlets ... He would receive the title “Father of Baseball” early in his career ...’

8633. Translations of English-language problem books

Few books on chess problems written in English have appeared in other languages. One case is Sam Loyd and His Chess Problems by Alain C. White (Leeds, 1913), which was translated into German by W. Massmann under the title Sam Loyd und seine Schachaufgaben (Leipzig, 1926).


We also have Probleemschaak by Kenneth S. Howard (The Hague and Brussels, 1968). Subtitled ‘100 problemen van Amerikaanse componisten tussen 1854 en 1960’, it gives half of the positions from Spectacular Chess Problems (‘200 gems by American composers’), which was brought out by Dover Publications, Inc., New York, in 1965.



8634. Bobby Fischer Triumph and Despair

We thank David DeLucia (Darien, CT, USA) for permission to reproduce Fischer’s score-sheet of his first training game against Gligorić, played in 1992:

fischer gligoric

fischer gligoric

1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 a6 4 Ba4 Nf6 5 O-O Be7 6 Re1 b5 7 Bb3 d6 8 c3 O-O 9 h3 Bb7 10 d4 Re8 11 Ng5 Rf8 12 Nf3 Re8 13 Nbd2 Bf8 14 d5 Nb8 15 Nf1 Nbd7 16 Ng3 h6 17 Nf5 Nc5 18 Bc2 c6 19 b4 Na4 20 Bxa4 bxa4 21 c4 cxd5 22 exd5 Bc8 23 Ne3 Bd7 24 Nd2 Qb6 25 Ba3 Qd4 26 Rc1 Qd3 27 Bb2 Rac8 28 Rc3 Qg6 29 Qc2 Qxc2 30 Nxc2 Nh5 31 h4 f5 32 g3 Nf6 33 Ne3 g5


34 Nxf5 Bxf5 35 Rf3 Nxd5 36 Rxf5 Nxb4 37 hxg5 Nd3 38 Rb1 Rb8 39 Ba3 Rxb1+ 40 Nxb1 hxg5 41 Rxg5+ Kf7 42 Nc3 Be7 43 Rg4 Rc8 44 Kf1 Nc5 45 Ke2 Nd7 46 Kd3 Nf6 47 Rh4 Rg8 48 c5 dxc5 49 Rxa4 Ra8 50 Bc1 Rd8+ 51 Ke2 Rd6 52 Be3 Rc6 53 Kd3 Ke6 54 Rh4 Rb6 55 Rh6 Kf7 56 Rh8 Rb2 57 Ra8


57...e4+ 58 Nxe4 Rxa2 59 Nxc5 Ng4 60 Ne4 Ra3+ 61 Ke2 Nxe3 62 fxe3 Ra1 63 Ra7 Ke6 64 g4 Bb4 65 Rb7 a5 66 Rb5 Be7 67 Ng3 a4 68 Nf5 Bf6 69 Rb6+ Kf7 70 Nh6+ Kg7 71 Nf5+ Kf7 72 Nd6+ Ke7 73 Ne4 Be5 74 Rb5 Bh8 75 Rb7+ Ke6 76 Ra7 Kd5 77 Nd2 Bc3 78 Kd3 Bxd2 79 Kxd2 Ke4 Drawn.

The game is given on pages 358-359 of a new compendium of Fischer documentation edited by Mr DeLucia’s daughter, Alessandra: Bobby Fischer Triumph and Despair (Darien, 2014). It is a 786-page volume of the highest imaginable technical quality, and further details are available on a New in Chess page. We shall be pleased to pass on to Mr DeLucia any orders which C.N. readers wish to place direct with him.

A section of particular interest, further to the material in Fischer’s Fury, is on pages 398-457 of Bobby Fischer Triumph and Despair and concerns the 1995 Batsford edition of My 60 Memorable Games. Alessandra DeLucia writes on page 398 that Fischer’s drafts of his grievances against the Batsford book were written and updated over a period of nearly two years and occupy more than a metre of shelf-space.


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