Chess Notes

Edward Winter

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1 September 2015: C.N.s 9455-9457
2 September 2015: C.N.s 9458-9460

Edgard Colle

A selection of feature articles:

Books about Leading Modern Chessplayers
Brad Darrach and the Dark Side of Bobby Fischer
Chess Broadcasts on the Internet

Archives (including all feature articles)

9455. Photographic archives (4)

Another picture from our collection:


Ulf Andersson, Anatoly Karpov, Tony Miles (Biel, 1990)

9456. Capablanca v Karff (C.N. 9447)

The conclusion of the 1941 game between Capablanca and Mona Karff received a full page (364) in American Chess Art by Walter Korn (London, 1975) with the caption ‘Position in diagram with colors reversed’. The final moves were therefore given as ‘1 Q-B6 Q-Q1 2 RxRPch’.

Olimpiu G. Urcan (Singapore) has forwarded a report in the 5 February 1942 issue of the New York Sun (Sports section, page 28):

‘The Falkirk Herald of 7 January, received here yesterday, reprints from the New York Sun the score of the game which Miss N. [sic] May Karff won from José R. Capablanca when the Cuban master gave his exhibition of simultaneous play at the Marshall Chess Club. The chess editor, A.J. Neilson of Glasgow, who has been conducting his weekly column for upward of 40 years, comments on this game as follows:

“With the lesser-pieces exchanged, and only the heavy-metal and plenty of pawns remaining, Miss Karff worked in quite an uncommon finish; her queen and apparently widely-separated rooks suddenly co-operating in deadly style – a surprise for Capa no doubt!”’

Our correspondent observes:

‘Although it remains unclear when exactly the game-score was first given in the New York Sun, it was indeed reproduced on page 8 of the 7 January 1942 issue of the Falkirk Herald, with 25 Qe1 Rxa2+ as the conclusion (and a slightly inaccurate final tally for Capablanca in the display).’

capablanca karff

Further to his comments in C.N. 9447, Mr Urcan specifies that Miguel A. Sánchez described the game as ‘an unexpected defeat’ for Capablanca because he considered that White had achieved a ‘material and positional advantage’. The remark did not relate to Mona Karff’s general status or playing strength.

Notwithstanding our own brief observations in C.N. 9434 about the book’s (self-evident) superiority over Sánchez’s two-volume work in Spanish (1978), it is disconcerting to see so many obvious errors on the page following the Capablanca v Karff game (i.e. in the bibliography, on page 535).

A random dip has also revealed the inclusion, even, of the Lasker ‘two male pigeons’ yarn (page 198) and, on page 399, unscholarly treatment of Capablanca’s game against Mary Bain: ‘The story goes that ...’; ‘According to some versions ...’; ‘according to others ...’ The next paragraph turns to another topic, beginning: ‘It is fair to assume that ...’ The following paragraph affirms that a story ‘is almost certainly apocryphal, and probably stemmed from the fact that ...’  A few lines later, a ‘rumor’ is mentioned, but deemed ‘also probably untrue’. The final sentence of that paragraph begins, ‘It is also said that ...’, and two lines later comes another ‘probably’.

9457. Biographies and autobiographies

As discussed on page 105 of our book about Capablanca, diverging opinions have been expressed on the quality of My Chess Career (London, 1920).

In his column ‘Half a Century Back. Chess in 1920’ W.H. Cozens wrote on page 354 of the December 1970 BCM:


That reference to Tarrasch’s autobiographical collection (published in 1894/95) came to mind when, earlier today, we opened the latest McFarland production, Joseph Henry Blackburne. A Chess Biography by Tim Harding. From page 1, after some critical remarks about Mr Blackburne’s Games at Chess:

‘To be fair to Blackburne, he was the first leading master to compile a book about his career, and in 1899 there was no template for how to do it.’


Harding’s book starts unfortunately (the first line of the first chapter, on page 7, is: ‘Joseph Henry Blackburne was born on 10 December at 1841’) and, it must be said, the work as a whole would have benefited from greater attention to certain C.N. material (e.g. C.N. 7324). Even so, any critic with the new Sánchez and Harding books before him should recognize at once the overwhelming superiority of the latter. We look forward to reading both volumes from cover to cover, but the Blackburne one will take precedence.

9458. Mr and Mrs Pillsbury

Gerard Killoran (Ilkley, England) draws attention to a chess article by Rhoda A. Bowles on pages 143-149 of volume nine of Womanhood (December 1902-May 1903). This forgotten photograph of H.N. Pillsbury is on page 144:


Pages 144-146 reported on a game of living chess (Pillsbury v H.L. Bowles) and a two-move problem composed by Pillsbury. These matters were discussed in C.N. 702 (see pages 184-185 of Chess Explorations). The photograph below is from page 145 of the Womanhood article:

bowles pillsbury

9459. Christian Hesse

From Peter Anderberg (Harmstorf, Germany):

‘Christian Hesse copies his own errors too. From page 233 of his book Expeditionen in die Schachwelt (Nettetal, 2006):


Wrong position, wrong venue, wrong winner.

Hesse discussed the game again on page 59 of the 3/2007 issue of KARL:



Another position, but also wrong, and again the wrong venue and wrong winner.

On page 5 of the 4/2007 issue of KARL Hesse’s mistakes were pointed out by Richard Forster:



Thus Hesse replied that he would not use the position again in such a way. Richard Forster’s corrections were incorporated (without acknowledgement, and without the revised text being made logical) on pages 242-243 of the English edition of Expeditionen in die SchachweltThe Joys of Chess (Alkmaar, 2011) – but below is what appeared on pages 78-79 of Hesse’s book Damenopfer (Munich, 2015):


Once more, wrong position, wrong venue and wrong winner.’

9460. Johner v Stalda

From pages 136-137 of the September 1938 Schweizerische Schachzeitung (referred to by Richard Forster in KARL, as shown in the previous item):

johner stalda

johner stalda

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Copyright: Edward Winter. All rights reserved.