Chess Notes

Edward Winter

When contacting us by e-mail, correspondents are asked to include their name and full postal address and, when providing information, to quote exact book and magazine sources. The word ‘chess’ needs to appear in the subject-line or in the message itself.

1 December 2008: C.N.s 5870-5876
2 December 2008: C.N.s 5877-5879
5 December 2008: C.N.s 5880-5882
6 December 2008: C.N. 5883
10 December 2008: C.N.s 5884-5886
13 December 2008: C.N.s 5887-5890
14 December 2008: C.N. 5891
15 December 2008: C.N.s 5892-5893
16 December 2008: C.N.s 5894-5895
17 December 2008: C.N.s 5896-5897
19 December 2008: C.N. 5898
20 December 2008: C.N.s 5899-5901
21 December 2008: C.N.s 5902-5904
22 December 2008: C.N.s 5905-5906
23 December 2008: C.N.s 5907-5908
25 December 2008: C.N. 5909
26 December 2008: C.N.s 5910-5913
27 December 2008: C.N.s 5914-5916
28 December 2008: C.N.s 5917-5919
29 December 2008: C.N.s 5920-5923
30 December 2008: C.N.s 5924-5927
31 December 2008: C.N.s 5928-5931
All feature articles and C.N. archives
C.N. Factfinder

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5870. Game conclusion (C.N. 5851)


Black to move.

This position was featured in a Sherlock Holmes vignette ‘Chess in Fiction’ by Hotspur on pages 15-16 of the January 1964 BCM. In a cliff-ledge showdown, Moriarty played 36...fxg2 (‘Time to resign, I think, Mr Holmes.’), but ‘Holmes nonchalantly produced his hypodermic syringe and applied a shot of his favourite drug Morphy-A’ and played 37 Qe2+ Rxe2 38 Nb4+ cxb4 39 Ra5+. Moriarty then ‘made the only move open to him – over the cliff – board, men and Moriarty’. As Holmes later reflected, in the diagrammed position Black could have played 36...Re1+ 37 Qxe1 Bxb2+, with mate in two more moves.

5871. Hanham v Mackenzie

Marc Hébert (Charny, Canada) refers to the game given as ‘Captain Mackenzie-J.M. Hanham, London, 1886’ on page 57 of Adolf Albin in America by Olimpiu G. Urcan (Jefferson, 2008). Play began 1 e3 c5, and Mackenzie is said to have resigned after Black’s 33rd move.

We note that other publications, such as the June 1886 Chess Monthly, pages 296-297, correctly gave Mackenzie as Black. Mr Urcan’s source, page 2 of the New York Times, 15 July 1886, inverted the players’ names.

5872. Inscription to Wade

From our collection we reproduce the title page of Robert G. Wade’s copy of the scarce 1943 book Homenaje a José Raúl Capablanca, inscribed to him by the Cuban master Miguel Alemán in Havana a few days after the end of the 1964 Capablanca Memorial tournament:

capablanca wade

5873. Loomis

From Brian Ridgely (Raleigh, NC, USA):

‘The recent death of Henry Loomis, the former head of Voice of America, brought to mind his father, Alfred Loomis. The elder Loomis was one of America’s wealthiest men in the first half of the twentieth century and a key, if somewhat unsung, figure in the winning of World War II. He was also a chessplayer, and the following appeared on page 19 of Tuxedo Park by Jennet Conant (New York, 2002):

“By age nine, he was a chess prodigy and [...] by age 13 he could play ‘mental chess’ without aid of a board or pieces and could play blindfolded, carrying on two games simultaneously.”

Other passages tell of Loomis playing blindfold (sometimes multiple games) well into adulthood. Is there any record of competitive play by him?’

5874. Tournaments (C.N. 5869)

From Robert John McCrary (Columbia, SC, USA):

‘The Oxford Companion entry on tournaments was taken from my research paper The Birth of the Chess Tournament, which is cited in the Companion entry (second edition) and has been published in full on pages 19-31 of my 1998 booklet The Hall-of-Fame History of US Chess. The paper includes much bibliographical material, including all of Walker’s early uses of “tournament” that I could find.

The word “tournament” appears to have been applied by Walker to the early Yorkshire meetings, which were not “tournaments” in the modern sense. They were more like “congresses” in the modern usage, with no apparent structure to the casual games played there.

The word caught on for general chess gatherings but does not seem to have been applied to “tournament” in the modern sense of structured competition until the 1849 event at the Divan in London. There is reason to assume, though it is hard to prove conclusively, that the term “tournament” in the modern sense then spread from chess to other games and sports. My review of other sporting literature has revealed no occurrences of “tournament” until a few years after London, 1851.

My paper also includes some references (very sketchy and lacking players’ names and other details) to true chess tournaments preceding 1849, which, ironically, were not called “tournaments”.

Regarding our question in C.N. 5869 about Amsterdam, 1851 we note the publication Schaakpartijen, gespeeld in 1851, gedurende den wedstrijd van het genootschap Philidor, in Amsterdam (Wijk bij Duurstede, 1852).

5875. Chigorin

Olimpiu G. Urcan (Singapore) points out that the website of the Bibliothèque nationale de France has a photograph of Chigorin which is likely to be new to readers.

5876. Burger book

From Michael Clapham (Ipswich, England):

‘The dust jacket of The Golden Dozen by Irving Chernev (Oxford, 1976) lists other “Oxford Chess Books”, and the first of these is Chess technique and Bobby Fischer by R.E. Burger. I know of no such work being published, but presumably it would have been the same as Burger’s The Chess of Bobby Fischer, which the Chilton Book Company, Radnor had brought out in 1975.’


Further to C.N.s 5471, 5475 and 5491, we add that in his Foreword to the US book (page viii) Frank Brady wrote:

‘In previous writings I have cited Fischer’s IQ as in the range of 180, a very high genius. My source of information is impeccable: a highly regarded political scientist who coincidentally happened to be working in the grade adviser’s office at Erasmus Hall – Bobby Fischer’s high school in Brooklyn – at the time Fischer was a student there. He had the opportunity to study Fischer’s personal records and there is no reason to believe his figure is inaccurate. Some critics have claimed that other teachers at Erasmus Hall at that time remember the figure to be much lower; but who the teachers are and what figures they remember have never been made clear.’

5877. Alapin’s place of birth


Simon Alapin

Georges Bertola (Bussigny-près-Lausanne, Switzerland) comments that whereas notable sources give S. Alapin’s place of birth as Vilnius there are also statements that he was born in St Petersburg. Instances of the latter version are on page 8 of the Dizionario enciclopedico degli scacchi by A. Chicco and G. Porreca (Milan, 1971) and page 206 of Traité-manuel des échecs by H. Delaire (Paris, 1911).

We note that St Petersburg was specified in the ten-line obituary of Alapin in the October 1923 BCM, page 374, on page 333 of Schachjahrbuch 1923 by L. Bachmann (Ansbach, 1924) and in a number of other publications of the time.

Going his own way, Byrne J. Horton referred to ‘the Czechoslovakian chessmaster S. Alapin’ on page 2 of his Dictionary of Modern Chess (New York, 1959).

5878. Capablanca article

Pages 318-349 of the November 2008 issue of the Moscow magazine Караван (Karavan) have an extensive article Капабланка: гений игры for which we supplied a number of photographs of Capablanca and his second wife. The other illustrations include, courtesy of the Agence France-Presse, a shot of Alekhine outside the Café de la Paix, Paris in 1927.

5879. Loomis (C.N. 5873)

Jerry Spinrad (Nashville, TN, USA) notes that page 10 of the New York Times of 4 March 1906 and page 8 of the New York Sun of the same date reported that A. Loomis had played in the annual Yale v Princeton match in New York. On board ten he defeated W.L. Richard.

We see that this is confirmed by a reference to A.L. Loomis as one of the Yale team on page 45 of the March 1906 American Chess Bulletin. The report states that the match took place at Professor Rice’s residence and that Capablanca was the adjudicator. The following page carried a photograph of the occasion. No identification of the participants was offered, but the Cuban is recognizable, seated on the left.

capablanca loomis

‘Participants in the Intercollegiate Match on ten boards, photographed in the library of the Villa Julia, New York, 3 March 1906’

5880. A deciphering challenge (C.N. 5860)


The above illustration depicts a game in shorthand:

1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bc4 Bc5 4 O-O Nf6 5 d4 Bxd4 6 Nxd4 Nxd4 7 f4 Ne6 8 Bxe6 dxe6 9 Qxd8+ Kxd8 10 fxe5 Nxe4 11 Rxf7 Rg8 12 Nc3 Nxc3 13 Bg5+ Ke8 14 Re7+ Kd8 15 Rxg7+ Ke8 16 Rxg8+.

The top line indicates the pieces (king, queen, bishop, knight, rook and pawn respectively), whereas the second line represents the numerals 1-8. We assembled the illustration from an article ‘Chess Shorthand’ by Allen Watkins on pages 263-267 of the August 1916 BCM. (He gave Black’s seventh move, in both descriptive notation and shorthand, as ...B-K3.) A critical reaction, also entitled ‘Chess Shorthand’, by B.G. Laws was published on pages 297-298 of the September issue, and the following month (pages 333-334) Watkins responded.

The general subject had prompted some interest during, especially, the late nineteenth century. For example:

  • ‘Shorthand Notation’ by Miss M. Barnard on page 24 of the Chess Player’s Annual and Club Directory, 1890 by Mr and Mrs T.B. Rowland (Dublin, 1890).
  • ‘Shorthand Notation’ by M. Barnard. Four-page insert in the Chess Player’s Annual and Club Directory, 1893-94 by Mr and Mrs T.B. Rowland (London and Stroud, 1893).
  • ‘Scoring of Games’. Letter from Charles B. Boitel-Gill on pages 384-386 of the October 1897 BCM.

From more recent times (1971) there exists a 12-page mimeographed publication ‘Chess Shorthand’ by Herbert E. Salzer.

5881. Kolisch problems (C.N. 5862)


From Dan Scoones (Port Coquitlam, BC, Canada):

‘The caption to the problem from Shakhmatny Listok is more accurately translated as “cited by Kolisch”. This implies an acknowledgment that he was not the composer.’

Ignatz Kolisch

5882. Alapin’s place of birth (C.N. 5877)

Since when, and on what basis, has Alapin’s place of birth been given as Vilnius? In old sources we continue to find St Petersburg, a further example being page 84 of Schach-Jahrbuch für 1892/93 by Johann Berger (Leipzig, 1893).


Simon Alapin

5883. My 60 Memorable Games


Dennis Monokroussos (South Bend, IN, USA) disputes the statement on the back cover of the 2008 edition of Fischer’s My 60 Memorable Games that ‘in contrast with the previous edition of this book, no alterations have been made to the text other than the conversion of moves into algebraic notation, making this an updated yet accurate reflection of the original book’, given that the faulty score of a 1959 Fischer v Tal game has been corrected. Our correspondent asks whether we are aware of any other changes in the new edition.

The Fischer v Tal encounter (Game 17) gave rise to the following position after 50 Kb4:


The game concluded 50...Kc7 51 Rb5 Ba1 52 a4 b2, and White resigned. Source: Page 275 of Kandidatenturnier für Schachweltmeisterschaft by S. Gligorić and V. Ragozin (Belgrade, 1960), as well as other publications of the time.

However, in the first edition of Fischer’s book (page 122) the final moves were given as ‘50...B-R8 51 P-QR4 P-N7! White resigns’. This would have allowed Fischer to win with 51 Rc8+. The fact that Tal had played 50...Kc7, and not 50...Ba1, was pointed out by B.L. Patteson on page 146 of the March 1970 Chess Life & Review, in the column ‘Larry Evans On Chess’. Evans commented:

‘Fischer assures us that he caught this error before the book went to press, but that his correction must have fallen off the page by the time it reached the printer. Anyone familiar with the monumental effort that goes into any book knows that perfection is impossible.’

The matter was also raised by D.M. Horne on page 19 of the January 1972 BCM, and the magazine’s editor confirmed that the score in Fischer’s book was faulty.

The inaccurate sequence ‘50 K-N4 B-R8 51 P-QR4 P-N7! White resigns’ was amended, in the 1972/73 Faber and Faber edition, to ‘50 K-N4 K-N4 51 R-N5 B-R8 52 P-QR4 P-N7 White resigns’. This would-be correction remained in the British publisher’s 1988 edition, but Black’s 50th move should read ...K-B2, and not the impossible ...K-N4.

The Batsford editions of 1995 and 2008 both give the conclusion of the game accurately.

As regards Mr Monokroussos’ question about other changes to the 2008 edition, we note that some further textual corrections have indeed been made. In our article on pages 45-48 of the January 1997 CHESS about the 1995 edition of Fischer’s book, we included a section entitled ‘Mistakes not corrected’:


With the exception of the point regarding Game 32, the 2008 edition has corrected all these matters, silently. (See also C.N. 4867.)

Batsford was certainly right, in 2008, to wish to rectify clear-cut factual errors, but we feel that a) the back-cover claim that the text is unaltered was ill-advised, and b) any changes should have been mentioned explicitly and openly, either in footnotes or in an errata section.

5884. Better Chess


A finely-written book, seldom discussed, forms part of the ‘Teach Yourself’ series: Better Chess by William Hartston (London, 1997 and 2003). The page numbers in our selection of quotes below refer to the latter edition:

  • ‘Always look one move deeper than seems to be necessary. After any sequence of captures or checks, look for the sting in the tail.’ (Page 6)

  • ‘Weak players assess a position by counting the captured men; strong players consider only the men remaining on the board.’ (Page 10)

  • ‘Probably more nonsense has been written about planning in chess than any other aspect of the game. ... In fact, as many games are lost through pursuing bad plans as are won by pursuing good ones.’ (Page 28)

  • ‘There is ... one last, totally unimportant point to be made about pawns stacked vertically: a player with sextupled pawns on the a-file or h-file can never lose. Why? Because it takes 15 captures to get them there, so the opponent can have only his king left.’ (Page 42)

  • ‘Think strategies when it’s your opponent’s turn to move; sort out the tactics while your own clock is running.’ (Page 50)

  • ‘One of the best excuses I ever heard was from a man who had just lost to a female opponent. “She completely disrupted my thought processes”, he complained. “Every time I tried to calculate something, I’d begin: ‘I go here, he goes there’, and then I’d have to correct myself: ‘No, it’s I go here, she goes there’.”’ (Page 52)

  • ‘Ask not what your pieces can do for you, ask what you can do for your pieces.’ (Page 70)

  • ‘There are two easy ways to spoil a good position: doing nothing when you should be doing something, and doing something when you should be doing nothing.’ (Page 80)

  • ‘More half-points are thrown away by the inability to recognize a technically won game than through any other single cause.’ (Page 88)

  • ‘The easiest time to blunder is the move after you have solved all the difficult problems. From proper hard thinking, you begin to rely on general principles, forgetting how unprincipled they can be. It has been said that chess is the only area of human activity where paranoia is a positive advantage. Actually there are many such areas, but chess is one where an element of paranoia is an occupational necessity. Every move and every position has to be viewed with mistrust. Once you find yourself thinking “Nothing can go wrong now” you have set up the preconditions for something to go wrong. And, as Grandmaster Murphy pointed out: if anything can go wrong, it will.’ (Page 94)

  • ‘If you hoard your small advantages, the winning combinations will take care of themselves.’ (Page 114)

  • ‘We have mentioned before the Zen koan concerning the art of archery, which says that the man who aims for the centre of the target will win the prize, but the one who aims to win the prize will miss the target. At the very highest level of chess, a similar principle applies. Perfectionism is the only road to ultimate success. At anything below world championship level, however, practicality tends to fare better than perfectionism.’ (Page 148)

5885. Canal v Amateur

Regarding the famous game Canal v Amateur (1 e4 d5 2 exd5 Qxd5 3 Nc3 Qa5 4 d4 c6 5 Nf3 Bg4 6 Bf4 e6 7 h3 Bxf3 8 Qxf3 Bb4 9 Be2 Nd7 10 a3 O-O-O 11 axb4 Qxa1+ 12 Kd2 Qxh1 13 Qxc6+ bxc6 14 Ba6 mate) can the basic facts (the opponent’s name and the occasion) be established?

It is commonly stated that the game was played in a simultaneous exhibition in Budapest in 1934, but can that be proven? Surprisingly few chess periodicals of the time published the game-score, an exception being Chess Review (page 183 of the October 1934 issue). For the occasion it put ‘Played in a simultaneous exhibition’, which was also the limit of the information offered on page 521 of the December 1934 BCM.

Maverick suggestions include ‘France 1934’ on page 53 of The Art of Giving Mate by Attila Schneider (Kecskemét, 2003), but that is a book which began with a game by Greco dated 1875.

5886. My 60 Memorable Games (C.N. 5883)

Russ Glover (Alpena, MI, USA) asks whether an errata list has ever been compiled for the first edition of Fischer’s My 60 Memorable Games.


Bobby Fischer

5887. Claim attributed to Philidor

Frederick S. Rhine (Park Ridge, IL, USA) is seeking substantiation of a statement on page 106 of A History of Chess by Jerzy Giżycki (London, 1972):

‘Philidor thought, for instance, that whoever made first move and made no mistake would win.’

5888. Journal de Genève

A complete run (1826-1998) of the Journal de Genève has recently been made available on-line, and problem/study enthusiasts will particularly welcome the opportunity to read André Chéron’s celebrated chess column, which began on 2 October 1932.

Below is a page from the booklet Mémorial André Chéron, which was published by the newspaper in 1985:


5889. Thinking time (C.N. 5884)

C.N. 5884 quoted a remark from page 50 of Better Chess by William Hartston (London, 2003): ‘Think strategies when it’s your opponent’s turn to move; sort out the tactics while your own clock is running.’

Paul Dorion (Montreal, Canada) notes a passage on page 139 of Think Like a Grandmaster by Alexander Kotov (London, 1971):

‘When later I was busy writing this book I approached Botvinnik and asked him to tell me what he did when his opponent was thinking. The former world title-holder replied in much the following terms: Basically I do divide my thinking into two parts. When my opponent’s clock is going I discuss general considerations in an internal dialogue with myself. When my own clock is going I analyse concrete variations.’

5890. Ill

Page 141 of Kotov’s Think Like a Grandmaster professed to quote Steinitz:

‘A chess master has no more right to be ill than a general on the battle field.’

No source was given, and the closest remark that we can find is a ‘once’ version on page 195 of the Chess Monthly, March 1891:

‘It was alleged, and justly so, for that we can vouch, that Zukertort’s health was failing; but we agree with Steinitz in the remark he made once: “A first-class player has no right to be ill.”’

5891. Dorothea (Dodie) Bourdillon

Bob Jones (Exmouth, England) writes:

‘I am currently compiling a history of the Paignton Congress in readiness for its 60th anniversary in 2010 (60 years in the same room) and have come across the name of Mrs Dorothea Bourdillon, who took part in the second congress in 1952, where she appears to have set male hearts a-flutter. D. Yanofsky mentioned her in his report for the BCM, as did B.H. Wood in CHESS. The magazines carried a brief obituary of her in 1968. Is further information available, including her maiden name?’

Firstly, we quote below the magazine items referred to by our correspondent:

  • Report on Paignton, 1952 by D.A. Yanofsky on page 318 of the BCM, November 1952:

‘Of [the 96 participants] eight were ladies, including Mrs Bruce, the British Lady Champion, and Mrs J. Bourdillon, a charming newcomer from Gloucester who won her section ahead of seven men.’

  • Report on Paignton, 1952 on page 26 of CHESS, November 1952:

‘The lower sections were marked by the definite arrival of Mrs Bourdillon, whose unique combination of beauty, vivacity and sheer skill is going to affect chess congress atmospheres considerably.’

  • An obituary signed ‘E.T.’ (Eileen Tranmer) on page 333 of CHESS, July 1968 (with an almost identical text by her on page 192 of the July 1968 BCM):

‘Dodie Bourdillon

British Ladies’ chess has sustained a loss in the recent death of Dodie Bourdillon at a comparatively early age.

A colourful personality of many talents, she was an actress before her first marriage, and later became the leading speed-writing typist to the Courts of Appeal.

She missed winning the British Ladies’ Championship in 1958 by the smallest possible margin. Having tied for first place with Anne Sunnucks, and having led by 2-0 in the play-off match, with only half a point necessary for the title, she lost the last three games.’

Jeremy Gaige’s Chess Personalia (Jefferson, 1987) had only a brief entry for her, but we note that extensive details were given in the unpublished 1994 edition:


The Family Search website gives her place of birth as Ipswich.

Dorothea Rodwell appeared in the 1939 film Little Ladyship, which starred Lilli Palmer and Cecil Parker.

5892. Bird brilliancy

From a 20-board simultaneous display against the Chess Bohemians:

Henry Edward Bird – W.S. Daniels
London, 6 October 1894
Two Knights’ Defence

1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bc4 Nf6 4 Ng5 d5 5 exd5 Nxd5 6 Nxf7 Kxf7 7 Qf3+ Ke6 8 Nc3 Ne7 9 d4 b5 10 Bb3 c6 11 a4 b4 12 Ne4 Kd7 13 dxe5 Kc7 14 Nd6 Be6 15 Bg5 h6 16 Bh4 g5 17 Bg3 Nc8 18 Ne4 Be7 19 O-O-O g4 20 Qe2 Kb7 21 Nd6+ Nxd6 22 exd6 Bg5+ 23 Kb1 Re8 24 Qd3 Qd7 25 a5 Rab8 26 Rhe1 Bf5 27 a6+ Ka8


28 Qxd5 cxd5 29 Bxd5+ Rb7 30 Rxe8+ Qxe8 31 axb7+ Kb8 32 d7+ Bf4 33 Bxf4+ Qe5 34 Bxe5 mate.

Source: Hampstead & Highgate Express, 10 November 1894.

5893. Steinitz on his world championship title

Our feature article Early Uses of ‘World Chess Champion’ has remarks by Steinitz on whether he became the title-holder by defeating Anderssen in 1866. Now we add a quote from an article ‘Steinitz’s Career Reviewed’ reproduced on pages 105-106 of the July 1905 issue of Lasker’s Chess Magazine:

‘In 1865 I won the chief prize in Dublin, and it was then that a match was arranged for the championship of the world with Anderssen. One of the committee who arranged that match was the present Lord Chief Justice of England. I won it by 8 to 6, and became champion chess player of the world.’

The Lord Chief Justice (from 1894 to 1900) was Lord Russell of Killowen, whose obituary on page 367 of the September 1900 BCM mentioned that ‘he was a supporter of Steinitz in some of his early matches’.

Lasker’s Chess Magazine merely stated that the article had appeared in ‘a recent issue of the Jewish Chronicle’, but we can add that it came from a feature entitled ‘A Chat with Steinitz’ on pages 12-13 of the newspaper’s 4 August 1899 issue.

5894. Stadelman

Lev D. Zilbermints (Newark, NJ, USA) is seeking information about Samuel Leigh Stadelman of Pennsylvania (born 1881) and, in particular, any games played by him which began 1 d4 e5 2 dxe5 Nc6 3 Nf3 Nge7.


From the American Chess Bulletin, February 1909, page 42.

5895. En passant

Our feature article on Stalemate referred to the debate, launched in the 1840s, on whether an en passant capture is obligatory if no other legal move exists. We included a straightforward example presented by Charles Tomlinson:


If White plays 1 g4 it is not stalemate, since the laws of chess eventually established that in such a case 1...hxg3 is obligatory, and not optional.

Now, Valery Liskovets (Minsk, Belarus) draws our attention to two articles he has contributed to Die Schwalbe: ‘Erzwungener En-Passant-Schlag in direkten Retro-Problemen’ (December 2007, page 299) and ‘Eine historische Bemerkung zum erzwungenen En-Passant-Schlag’ (October 2008, page 585). Noting that the history of the topic can be found in the 1911 book in A.C. White’s Christmas series, Running the Gauntlet (subtitled ‘A study of the capture of pawns en passant in chess problems’ and available on-line), our correspondent lists nine compositions in that source which have a forced en passant capture: 23B, 28, 29, 29B, 40D, 44, 47D, 51A and 59. The last of these, and the oldest specimen of any kind (i.e. whether forced or unforced), is one by Adolf Anderssen of which A.C. White wrote on page 181:

‘Probably no other problem has had so distinguished a role in the history of the game of chess, and as such we must do it honour.’


Mate in three (Adolf Anderssen, Leipzig Illustrirte Zeitung, 31 January 1846)

Solution: 1 Re1 Kxd4 2 e4 fxe3 3 Rd1 mate.


Alain Campbell White

On pages 18-21 White explained the historical background:

‘The option of capturing is after all a privilege, and a good deal can be said both for and against its being compulsory. Indeed, a great deal has been said about it, and for some ten years beginning in 1846 the discussion was one of the features of the column in the Illustrated London News, and elsewhere. It was begun by Saint-Amant, taken up by Anderssen, and gradually became general. The correspondence pages of the magazines bristle with it. We know how the discussion ended, for today in an otherwise stalemate position the capture is always compulsory; and we need not trace all the arguments which were doubtless cogent enough 65 years ago, but which seem very trivial now.’

Mr Liskovets adds two compositions with a forced en passant capture which were published after A.C. White’s book appeared: a three-mover by N. Hoeg dated 1921 and a composition by V. Korolkov published in Schach in 1957. He asks for information about further specimens and adds two questions:

1. Have there been any instances in actual play where a loss has resulted from an obligation to capture en passant?

2. Do any theoretically-won endgame positions exist which feature a forced en passant capture?

5896. Explanation of en passant

It may be difficult to find a poorer explanation of the en passant rule than the one published over a century ago in The British Chess Code and still retained on page 34 of The International Chess Code (London and New York, 1918):

en passant

5897. G. Cabrera Infante on Capablanca (C.N. 4421)

C.N. 4421 referred to an essay ‘Capa, hijo de Caissa’ by the Cuban-born writer Guillermo Cabrera Infante (1929-2005) on pages 211-234 of Vidas para leerlas (Madrid, 1998).

Previously, the text had appeared on pages 406-422 of his anthology Mea Cuba (Barcelona, 1992). An English translation of the book, under the same title, was published by Faber and Faber in 1994, with a paperback edition the following year.


Cabrera Infante was unfamiliar with basic facts about Capablanca’s life, and one passage seems particularly odd. From pages 421-422 of the translation (by Kenneth Hall, in conjunction with the author):

‘In the Manhattan Chess Club the Cuban grew close to one of the greatest American players, Frank Marshall, whom he would defeat decisively in 1909. Capablanca was 21 [sic] years old, Marshall 33 [sic]. A very bored Capablanca playing against Marshall nodded off more than once. With a sense of humour often absent from across the chessboard, Marshall tells: “I made the worst move of the game. I woke up Capablanca.” Capablanca proceeded to execute a reveille checkmate.’

The original text was on page 409 of the 1992 Spanish volume:

‘En el club de Ajedrez de Manhattan, Capablanca intimó con uno de los grandes jugadores americanos, Frank Marshall, a quien derrotaría decisivamente en 1909. Capablanca tenía 21 años, Marshall 33. Marshall relata la ocasión en que un muy aburrido Capablanca, jugando en su contra, cabeceó más de una vez. Con un sentido del humor muchas veces ausente del tablero, contó Marshall: “Cometí el peor movimiento del juego: desperté a Capablanca.” Capa ejecutó un jaque mate fulminante.’

What are the origins of this yarn, which are reminiscent of the untrue story about Capablanca falling asleep during a match-game against Alekhine in 1927 (C.N. 5118)? Certainly, though, the Capablanca v Marshall match dragged on, and we pointed out on page 18 of our monograph on the Cuban that the 1927 world title match lasted only eight days longer. The cartoon below appeared on page 33 of the Chess Weekly, 26 June 1909:

marshall capablanca

5898. Chess masters on film (C.N. 3491)

From Luc Winants (Boirs, Belgium):

‘British Pathé footage ( is now managed by ITN Source ( There also seem to be clips from other companies, such as Gaumont.

One brief item is of a simultaneous display given by Alekhine in Paris (most probably the one on 28 February 1932 – see pages 416-417 of the book by Skinner and Verhoeven):

Another one, even more spectacular, shows the tournament in San Remo, 1930. We see them all: Alekhine, Nimzowitsch, Spielmann, Maróczy, Yates …:

5899. Wade in Paris

Dominique Thimognier (St Cyr sur Loire, France) draws our attention to material about Robert Wade in the Bulletin Ouvrier des Echecs in February and March 1949. Our correspondent comments:

‘The Bulletin reported that Wade, who was invited to Paris by the Communist body the FSGT (Fédération Sportive et Gymnique du Travail), was due to play a match against Rossolimo in the French capital but that the Fédération Française des Echecs banned Rossolimo from playing. Instead, there was a two-game match between Wade and François Molnar. Both games were drawn.’

Larger version

5900. G. Cabrera Infante (C.N. 5897)

Taylor Kingston (Shelburne, VT, USA) writes:

‘Guillermo Cabrera Infante’s account of Capablanca supposedly falling asleep while playing Marshall in 1909 bears a great resemblance to an incident involving Fischer and Bisguier. One account is on page 197 of The Even More Complete Chess Addict by M. Fox and R. James (London, 1993):

“It’s New York 1963, the last round of the American championship. Bisguier and Fischer are equal first. Fischer doesn’t make a move for a long time. Bisguier looks up and sees his opponent is fast asleep. In another half-hour, the great Bobby’s clock will fall, making Bisguier the champ. That’s where we come to the most gracious blunder of all. In Bisguier’s words: ‘I made a bad move. I woke up Bobby Fischer.’ And of course Bobby, after a couple of yawns, went on to collect his fifth US title.”

This is almost identical to what Cabrera Infante reports that Marshall said (“I made the worst move of the game. I woke up Capablanca”). Could he have confused Capablanca-Marshall with Fischer-Bisguier?

Whether he did or not, there is already ample confusion about if and when Fischer may have fallen asleep while playing Bisguier. Contemporary reports on the game which was referred to by Fox and James, and was played in the last round of the US Championship in New York on 3 January 1963, mention no such incident (see, for example, Chess Life, January 1963, page 3; Chess Review, February 1963, page 63 and March 1963, pages 76-77).

Frank Brady’s Profile of a Prodigy (New York, 1973) is unsure, but indicates that it was more likely in the Western Open at Bay City, Michigan, in July 1963. Page 70 describes Fischer playing an all-night set of high-stakes blitz games and then states:

“The next morning, Fischer faced Bisguier, and though perhaps apocryphal, it has been said that he was so tired he actually fell asleep at the board and had to be awakened. It didn’t affect his play, however, as he defeated Bisguier soundly.”

Bisguier himself, though, places the incident at the New York State Open, held in Poughkeepsie, NY in August-September 1963, on page 69 of The Art of Bisguier, Selected Games 1961-2003 (Milford, 2008):

“Paired against Bobby in the New York State Open that year, I noticed that he was taking a long time to move. Then I saw that he’d fallen sound asleep. In a few minutes the flag on his clock would fall, and he’d lose on time. That’s not the way I like to win games, tourneys or titles. So I made what some called my biggest blunder of the tournament. I awakened Fischer. Bobby yawned, made a move, punched his clock and proceeded to beat me. It ended up as Game 45 in his My 60 Memorable Games. Later I heard that Fischer had stayed up late the previous night playing speed chess for money.”

Brady seems to have confused the Michigan and New York tournaments. Whether Cabrera Infante has confused Fischer with Capablanca, I cannot say, but the two accounts are remarkably similar.’

We note that a) the above-quoted text by Messrs Fox and James also appeared on page 149 of The Complete Chess Addict (London, 1987) and b) the Fox/James book was referred to, in another context, in Cabrera Infante’s ill-informed essay on Capablanca. Indeed, he clearly used it for a number of his ‘facts’.

5901. Goethe

‘Chess is the touchstone of the intellect’ is a remark commonly ascribed to Goethe, but the matter is not so simple. The sentiments were ‘merely’ expressed by a character, Liebetraut, in Goethe’s 1773 play Götz von Berlichingen, and the precise words ‘chess is ...’ did not appear. Moreover, Goethe wrote ‘a (and not the grander the) touchstone’.

Below (from near the beginning of Act II, Scene I, in which the Bishop and Adelheid are playing chess) is the translation by Charles E. Passage on page 42 of the edition of Götz von Berlichingen A Play which was re-issued by Waveland Press, Inc. in 1991:


The text in German editions in our collection reads either ‘Es ist wahr, dieß Spiel ist ein Probirstein des Gehirns’ or ‘Es ist wahr, das Spiel ist ein Probierstein des Gehirns’.


5902. Speech by Hitler

Our latest feature article, Chess: Hitler and Nazi Germany, includes a quote from page 269 of the June 1933 BCM:

‘In his anxiously awaited speech to the Reichstag on 17 May, Herr Adolf Hitler made a curious comparison, which is thus reported in the telegraphic accounts. Speaking of the Nazi Storm Troops, he said: “If Storm Troops are to be called soldiers, then even the chess and dog-lover clubs are military associations.” Well, we know that chess has been called effigies belli; but it has not yet gone to the dogs!’

We see no reference to chess in the official transcript of Hitler’s speech in Verhandlungen des Reichstags. The closest passage is the following (first column of page 51):


Page 1 of the New York Times, 18 May 1933 stated that ‘it was said to have been the first time that he had ever delivered a written speech’. An English translation of the full text was given on page 3, and the relevant sentence read:

‘If today an attempt is being made in Geneva to count these organizations exclusively serving political purposes as part of the military force, then one might as well include fire departments, gymnastic societies, rowing clubs and sports associations in the military force.’

5903. Books about Anand

Having found no catalogue of books about (not by) the current world champion, we give a list of the volumes in our collection:

  • Führende Schachmeister der Gegenwart Wiswanathan Anand by N. Heymann (Maintal, 1992)
  • Viswanathan Anand (Elo 2600 series, USA, circa 1992)
  • Anand 222 partidas (Madrid, 1993)
  • Vishy Anand: Chess Super-Talent by D. Norwood (London, 1995)
  • Vishwanatan Anand (Szolnok, circa 1995)
  • Vishy Anand by N. Kalinichenko (Moscow, 2004)
  • The Chess Greats of the World: Anand by D. Lovas (Kecskemét, 2007).

5904. Perpetuation of errors


Page 14 of The Immortal Games of Capablanca by F. Reinfeld (New York, 1942)


Page 20 of Capablanca’s Hundred Best Games of Chess by H. Golombek (London, 1947)

In the Lasker match there were ten, not 14, draws. The Euwe match was in 1931, not 1932. The only matter on which the books disagree is the year of Capablanca’s match against Corzo, and both are wrong. It was played in 1901.

The two books have been the subject of modern reprints which have not bothered to correct these (and innumerable other) elementary mistakes.

5905. Réti story

Maurice Carter (Fairborn, OH, USA) asks whether there is any truth to a story about Réti told by H. Golombek on pages iv-v of his Foreword to Réti’s Modern Ideas in Chess (London, 1943):

‘... There is related an anecdote typical of the man. In the closing stages of an international tournament he was playing one of the weaker competitors and had obtained a won game. It was his turn to move – an obvious one since all he had to do was to protect a threatened piece. He seemed to fall into a brown study, did not move for ten minutes; then suddenly started up from his chair – still without making his move – and sought out a friend who was present in the congress rooms. To him he explained that he had just conceived an original and entrancing idea for an endgame study. Not without difficulty his friend dissuaded Réti from demonstrating and elaborating this idea on his pocket chess set, and Réti returned, somewhat disgruntled, to the tournament room, made some hasty casual moves and soon lost the game.

Without troubling at all about this loss, Réti at once returned to his hotel and spent almost the whole of the night in working out his endgame study. As a consequence he lost his next game through sheer fatigue and with it went his chances of first prize. He perfected a beautiful endgame composition at considerable financial loss.’

5906. Reinfeld’s death


Fred Reinfeld, Chess Review, January 1943, page 29

A question from Frederick S. Rhine (Park Ridge, IL, USA) is whether anything is known about how Fred Reinfeld died, on 29 May 1964.

Information seems scarce. J.S. Battell’s obituary of Reinfeld on pages 193-194 of the July 1964 Chess Review gave no particulars and, remarkably, in the 1964 volume of Chess Life we see no mention at all of Reinfeld’s demise. The obituary on page 17 of the New York Times, 30 May 1964 did not specify the cause of death but reported that Reinfeld had died the previous day ‘at Meadowbrook Hospital’.

On page 209 of the July 1964 BCM S. Morrison stated that Reinfeld ‘died of a virus infection at his home in Long Island’. He was 54.

5907. Reinfeld quotes

A few quotes from Why You Lose at Chess by Fred Reinfeld (New York, 1956):

  • ‘Some chess masters write as if they were addressing a convention of grand masters somewhere on Mount Olympus.’ (Page 1)

  • ‘Alexander Alekhine was undoubtedly the greatest chessplayer in the history of the game, but what he really prided himself on was his ... bridge playing. All I know about bridge is that it’s played with a deck of cards – or maybe two decks (it’s very confusing) – but people in a position to judge have told me that Alekhine was a miserable bridge player. I can well believe it. Just as we misjudge our strong points, so we misjudge our weaknesses.’ (Page 7)

  • ‘... a chessplayer and his alibi are not soon parted.’ (Page 9)

  • ‘... Capablanca, perhaps the greatest single-move player in chess history.’ (Page 101)

  • ‘Never forget this: the most important move in any game of chess is always ... the very next move.’ (Page 110)

  • ‘Wilhelm Steinitz was one of the three greatest chess masters of all time. (I rank him with Lasker and Alekhine.)’ (Page 166)

  • ‘I shall never forget the description of the final scene of the 1935 match for the world championship. Both Alekhine, the defeated champion, and Euwe, the new champion, were in tears. There was this difference: Alekhine, the defeated, wept tears of sorrow. Euwe, the victor, wept tears of joy.’ (Page 237) In which contemporary source did the ‘description’ in question appear?

5908. Manuel Márquez Sterling

Mark McCullagh (Belfast, Northern Ireland) writes:

‘In the entry for Capablanca in your Chess Prodigies article the captions to two photographs mention Manuel Márquez Sterling. Is this the Manuel Márquez Sterling who was very briefly the President of Cuba?’

One of the photographs is reproduced below, from a plate section in Glorias del Tablero “Capablanca” by José A. Gelabert (Havana, 1923):

sterling capablanca

The person in question was indeed Manuel Márquez Sterling y Loret de Mola (1872-1934). See, firstly, pages 120 and 122 of The Unknown Capablanca by David Hooper and Dale Brandreth (London, 1975).

We also reproduce the biographical note which appeared on pages 256-257 of Ajedrez en Cuba by Carlos A. Palacio (Havana, 1960):


Larger version

His obituary on page 21 of the New York Times, 10 December 1934 included the following reference:

‘Known as an opponent of the Machado régime, he served for a few days as Provisional President in Cuba during the revolutionary crisis following the flight of the dictator.’

Page 165 of the December 1934 American Chess Bulletin carried a brief death notice:

‘Dr Manuel Márquez Sterling, who had held the post of Cuban Ambassador at Washington since January 1934, died in that city on 9 December, at the age of 62. Old-timers will recall the name of Dr Sterling as that of an ardent chess devotee at one time quite active in Havana, when he was a player of considerable ability. He was the author also of a text book on the game in the Spanish language. Dr Sterling was long in the diplomatic service of his country and, earlier in his career, was Ambassador to Mexico.’

The text book in question was Un poco de ajedrez (Mexico, 1893):


5909. Hugh Myers

The death of our close colleague and friend Hugh Myers is a grievous blow. At present, we simply reproduce for the public record the autobiographical details which he sent us on 18 November 1983 (C.N. 635):



5910. Morphy memorial

From page 320 of Paul Morphy The Pride and Sorrow of Chess by D. Lawson (New York, 1976):

‘Paul Morphy was memorialized at Spring Hill College on 27 April 1957, when a plaque and monument presented by E. Forry Laucks were unveiled by the Mayor of Mobile, Henry R. Luscher, with an honor guard from the Spring Hill ROTC.’

A photograph of the ceremony was given on the following page, and we add below a detail of the plaque, from page 164 of the June 1957 Chess Review:


5911. Daily bulletins (C.N.s 5800 & 5806)

Richard Forster (Zurich) reports that daily bulletins were issued during the 1923 Swiss championship in Berne (six two-page issues, with results and a selection of games). The championship was combined with a match between Switzerland and Southern Germany.


5912. Sand-glass timers

David Kuhns (St Paul, MN, USA) asks for references to illustrations of players using a sand-glass timer (hour-glass).

5913. Walbrodt (C.N. 5832)

The group photograph of Dresden, 1892 was the frontispiece in Hundert Jahre Schachturniere by P. Feenstra Kuiper (Amsterdam, 1964). The apparently tall player was, as in Fred Wilson’s later book A Picture History of Chess, identified as Walbrodt:

dresden 1892

Larger version

5914. Euwe and Alekhine (C.N. 5907)

Prompted by the Reinfeld quote regarding Euwe and Alekhine, Michael Clapham (Ipswich, England) has sent us from his collection a photograph taken at the end of the 1935 world championship match:

euwe alekhine

5915. Alekhine at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

From Jan Kalendovský (Brno, Czech Republic) comes a photograph (source unknown) of Alekhine at the studios of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer with Renée Adorée (1898-1933) and Fred Niblo (1874-1948):


Can it be confirmed that the photograph was taken during Alekhine’s visit to Los Angeles in May 1929?

5916. ‘Thornton castling trap’ (C.N. 4078)

A game presented by us on page 7 of issue 23 (Autumn 1994) of Kingpin (see also pages 62-63 of Kings, Commoners and Knaves):

George Howard Thornton – Boultbee
King’s Gambit Declined

1 e4 e5 2 f4 Bc5 3 Nf3 d6 4 d4 exd4 5 Nxd4 Nf6 6 Nc3 O-O 7 Be3 Qe7 8 Bd3 Re8 9 a3 Ng4 10 Bg1 f5 11 Be2 fxe4 12 Nd5 Qf7 13 Bc4 Be6 14 Nxe6 Rxe6 15 Qxg4 c6 16 Qxe6 Qxe6 17 Ne7+ Kf8 18 Bxe6 Kxe7 19 Bc8 Nd7 20 Bxb7 Rb8 21 Bxc6 Rxb2


22 Bxd7 Kxd7 23 Bxc5 dxc5 24 O-O-O+ Black resigns.

Source: Brooklyn Chess Chronicle, 15 November 1884, page 31, as shown below:


We commented in the earlier item:

‘Jeremy Gaige’s Chess Personalia lists George Howard Thornton (born in Watertown, NY on 28 April 1851, died in Buffalo, NY on 30 January 1920). Unless an earlier game can be found, “Thornton castling trap” might be an appropriate term.’

No earlier games have yet been found, and the term proposed has sometimes been picked up. A recent example is on page 219 of The Greatest Ever chess tricks and traps by Gary Lane (London, 2008).


George Howard Thornton and other ‘champions’ (page 155 of the October 1898 American Chess Magazine)

Biographical information about Thornton and a number of his games are provided on pages 253-261 of Essays in American Chess History by John Hilbert (Yorklyn, 2002). The material is also available on-line.

5917. A decoding task (C.N. 5867)


This decoding task was mentioned in C.N. 5867 by Eduardo Bauzá Mercére (New York, NY, USA). The follow-up item in CHESS was on page 143 of its April 1946 issue:


However, our correspondent proposes a reconstruction which goes through to move 31: 1 c4 Nf6 2 Nc3 c5 3 Nf3 Nc6 4 d4 cxd4 5 Nxd4 Qb6 6 Nb3 d6 7 Bg5 h6 8 Bxf6 gxf6 9 Nd5 Qd8 10 g3 h5 11 Qd2 Bh6 12 f4 Be6 13 Bg2 Rc8 14 e3 Bg7 15 Rc1 b6 16 Kf2 f5 17 Nd4 Nxd4 18 exd4 Bd7 19 Rhe1 e6 20 Ne3 Qf6 21 Rcd1 O-O 22 Bb7 Rc7 23 Bf3 b5 24 cxb5 Bxb5 25 Qa5 Rc5 26 dxc5 Qxb2+ (The preceding moves are as unravelled by the readers of CHESS.) 27 Rd2 Qc3 28 Qxc3 Bxc3 29 Rxd6 Bxe1+ 30 Kxe1 Rc8 31 c6 and White wins.

5918. ‘Sybil’

Rod Edwards (Victoria, BC, Canada) writes:

‘On page 272 of the 25 October 1851 issue of Home Circle, a woman corresponding under the name of “Sybil” issued a challenge to “any chessplayer … not much above the average …” to play a game by correspondence which would be printed as it progressed in the chess column of Home Circle. The 6 December 1851 issue (page 368) reported that she had received several acceptances and had picked one name from an urn: G.B. Fraser of Dundee, who became one of the best players in Scotland in the 1860s and 1870s. Week by week over the next 15 months the moves of the game were reported until at move 51 “The ‘fayre Sybil’ mates with the queen” (Home Circle, 5 March 1853, page 160). The entire game was published with commentary on page 192 of the 19 March 1853 edition and was also reprinted as a game between “A Lady” and “Mr F.” on pages 232-233 of the March 1853 issue of the Chess Player.’
‘A Lady’ – George Brunton Fraser
Correspondence, 1851-53
Giuoco Piano

1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bc4 Bc5 4 c3 Nf6 5 d4 exd4 6 cxd4 Bb6 7 Bg5 d6 8 h3 h6 9 Bxf6 Qxf6 10 Bb5 O-O 11 Bxc6 bxc6 12 Nc3 Qg6 13 Nh4 Qg5 14 g3 f5 15 Nf3 Qg6 16 Nh4 Qf6 17 e5 dxe5 18 dxe5 Qxe5+ 19 Qe2 Qc5 20 O-O f4 21 g4 Bd7 22 Rad1 Rae8 23 Ne4 Qb4 24 Rfe1 Ba5 25 a3 Qb3 26 Rd3 Qf7 27 b4 Bb6 28 Rf3 Be6 29 Qc2 Bd5 30 Nf5


30...Be3 31 Rexe3 fxe3 32 Rxe3 Kh8 33 f3 Qd7 34 Nc5 Qd8 35 Rxe8 Qxe8 36 Kg2 Qe1 37 Nd3 Qe8 38 Nf4 Qf7 39 Ne7 Qxf4 40 Ng6+ Kg8 41 Nxf4 Rxf4 42 Kh2 Rxf3 43 Qa4 Kh7 44 Qxa7 h5 45 gxh5 Kh6 46 a4 Rf7 47 a5 Kg5 48 Qc5 Kxh5 49 a6 Rf1 50 Qe7 g5 51 Qh7 mate.

5919. Wikipedia

It is impossible not to have misgivings, both general and particular, about Wikipedia, but we have recently noticed a great improvement in some of the chess articles in the site’s English-language version. There is, for instance, excellent treatment of G.H.D. Gossip, and it is also good to see a fine article on Hugh Myers.

5920. En passant (C.N. 5895)

Regarding compositions which illustrate the obligatory nature of the en passant capture, Michael McDowell (Westcliff-on-sea, England) quotes a problem by Fritz Giegold (second prize, Deutsche Schachblätter, 1952):


Mate in three.

The key-move is 1 Bd4. After 1...Kxh4 (if 1...Kh6, then 2 Ra5.) 2 f4 exf3 (forced) 3 Bf6 mate.

5921. Marshall v Capablanca (C.N. 5897)

The cartoon in C.N. 5897 provides a reminder of the lack of photographs of the peripatetic match between Marshall and Capablanca in 1909. The illustration below, by C.W. Kahles (1878-1931), comes from page 177 of the Chess Weekly, 1 May 1909. On page 345 of A Chess Omnibus we commented that it had been ‘sketched with some artistic licence’.

marshall capablanca

5922. Alekhine at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (C.N. 5915)


In C.N. 5915 we tentatively suggested that this photograph of Alekhine at MGM was taken during his visit to Los Angeles in May 1929.

David Picken (Greasby, England) and Luc Winants (Boirs, Belgium) note that Renée Adorée played the role of a gypsy in an MGM film directed by Fred Niblo, Redemption. Shot in 1929 and starring John Gilbert, it was not released until 1930. Without the production delays it would have been his first talking picture.

We add that Redemption was unsuccessful, as noted, for instance, on page 66 of La fabuleuse histoire de la Metro Goldwyn Mayer en 1714 films (Paris, 1977). See also pages 261-262 of volume one of The Great Movie Stars by D. Shipman (London, 1989). According to page 544 of Close-Ups From the Golden Age of the Silent Cinema by J.R. Finch and P.A. Elby (New York and London, 1978) Gilbert’s ‘greatest film was The Big Parade with Renée Adorée’.

5923. Quick counting-test

A position from page 75 of Better Chess by William Hartston (London, 2003):


White, to play, gives mate in how many moves?


5924. Desperado

An interesting observation by Mark Dvoretsky in his Foreword to the new algebraic edition of Lasker’s Manual of Chess (Milford, 2008) – see page 14 – is that Emanuel Lasker invented the chess term ‘desperado’. Certainly we can quote nothing which antedates pages 106-107 of the original edition, Lehrbuch des Schachspiels (Berlin, 1926):



5925. A.C. White

Siegfried Hornecker (Heidenheim, Germany) draws attention to a photograph of Alain Campbell White on page 6 of the fifth section of the Pittsburgh Gazette Times, 30 October 1910:


5926. Mackenzie game

Wanted: more information about this game: 1 e4 e5 2 Bc4 Nf6 3 d4 c6 4 dxe5 Nxe4 5 Ne2 Nxf2


6 O-O Nxd1 7 Bxf7+ Ke7 8 Bg5 mate.

Page 50 of Schnell Matt! by C. Hüther (Munich, 1913) merely stated that it was won by Captain Mackenzie. After giving the moves on pages 151-152 of Teach Yourself Chess (London, 1948), Gerald Abrahams identified the winner as ‘the late Captain Mackenzie’, but his addition of ‘the brilliant blind player’ suggests confusion with Arthur Ford Mackenzie.

5927. Missed mate

Lajos Asztalos – Sigmund Herland
Breslau (Hauptturnier A), 17 July 1912
Caro-Kann Defence

1 e4 c6 2 d4 d5 3 e5 Bf5 4 Bd3 Bxd3 5 Qxd3 e6 6 Nf3 Nd7 7 O-O Ne7 8 Nc3 Nf5 9 Ne2 Be7 10 Bd2 O-O 11 Rae1 c5 12 c3 c4 13 Qc2 b5 14 Kh1 h5 15 Nf4 g6 16 Rg1 h4 17 g4 hxg3 18 hxg3 Kg7 19 Kg2 Rh8 20 Rh1 Qb6 21 Qc1 Rag8 22 Nh3 Kf8 23 Nhg5 Rxh1 24 Rxh1 Ng7 25 Rh6 Ke8 26 Qh1 Bf8 27 Rh8 Rxh8 28 Qxh8 Qd8 29 Nh7 Nf5 30 g4 Ne7


31 Bh6 g5 32 Nxf8 Resigns.

Source: the Breslau, 1912 tournament book, page 168 (reproduced below).


31 Bh6 was given an exclamation mark, but if the game-score is correct White overlooked a smothered mate in two: 31 Qxf8+ Nxf8 32 Nf6. This was pointed out on page 144 of the November 1919 Schweizerische Schachzeitung.

5928. An unusual chess picture (C.N. 3434)


Olimpiu G. Urcan (Singapore) writes:

‘The picture which a correspondent enquired about in C.N. 3434 shows the conjoined twins Eng and Chang Bunker (1811-1874), who used the game of chess in their exhibitions and stage shows. Page 11 of Western Civilization in Thailand by Âphâ Phamônbut (published by the Department of Corrections Press in 1986) mentioned that the twins “played American games well and were excellent players for the chess”. Duet for a Lifetime: The Story of the Original Siamese Twins by Kay Hunter (New York, 1964) gave the above picture of the twins playing chess.

Among the illustrations in the public domain is one dated 1839 (also given in the book by Kay Hunter):

A 16-page pamphlet (1831) entitled An historical account of the Siamese twin brothers, from actual observations by James W. Hale had as its frontispiece an engraving of the twins at one of their earliest exhibitions, in 1830. Again, a chess motif was present:

Page 9 of the pamphlet stated:

“They play at chess and draughts remarkably well, but never in opposition to each other; having been asked to do it, they replied that no more pleasure would be derived from it, than by playing with the right hand against the left.”

Rich primary material is available on-line at the library of the University of North Carolina.’

5929. Stalemate

Elmer Sangalang (Manila, the Philippines) asks when stalemate came to be adjudged a draw.

It is a matter which H.J.R. Murray examined not only in his book A History of Chess (Oxford, 1913) but also in an article, ‘Stalemate’, on pages 281-289 of the July 1903 BCM. In the latter source he noted, regarding ‘parallelism to real warfare’, that stalemate most closely resembled a situation ‘in which one monarch retired to an impregnable fortress’ and that:

‘The issue of such a condition was obviously doubtful; sometimes the blockaders might succeed in starving him into surrender, but sometimes with ample supplies the besieged monarch would succeed in wearying his opponents until they abandoned what appeared a hopeless enterprise. With no certain assistance from actual life, the evaluation of the position in the game of chess was left to the fancy of players, and the laws of stalemate have varied from age to age, and from place to place.’

Further extracts from Murray’s article:

‘The revival of interest in chess as a game, which dates from the rise of New Chess, towards the end of the fifteenth century, led to the appearance of books on chess which were other than mere collections of problems. From Lucena’s work (1497) we learn that stalemate was then called in Spain mate āogado, and the player who was stalemated lost half his stake. Ruy López calls it mate ahogado, and gives the same evaluation. To give stalemate was accordingly reckoned in Spain as an inferior form of victory, which was yet more profitable than a draw. With the Italian school, stalemate was reckoned as identical with a draw.’

‘With the beginning of the seventeenth century, a new convention with regard to stalemate makes its appearance, apparently in England. ... Arthur Saul is the first writer to enunciate the rule that the player whose king was stalemated had won the game.’

‘Whatever may have been the origin of Saul’s rule, it rapidly became the accepted rule in English chess. ... The war against the English rule was commenced by Philidor, who naturally stood up for the rules as he had learned them in France. But even Philidor could not convert a nation at once, especially a nation which contained so confirmed a crank as Peter Pratt, the author of that preposterous attempt to convert chess into a game of politics, in which kings were to “closet” and not to castle, with much else of equal absurdity. As a persistent editor of Philidor’s analysis, Pratt was able to air his views under the shadow of the master, and was still in 1806 bravely defending the English rule of stalemate. To Sarratt, the almost forgotten master of Lewis, and the re-discoverer of the open game which most Englishmen still prefer, is due the credit of finally putting an end to the schism, which must indeed have in any case soon ceased with improved methods of inter-communication, and with the coming of the age of international matches and tournaments. The convention that stalemate draws thus became the rule of the European game ...’


From page 32 of Studies of Chess by Peter Pratt (London, 1803 edition)

On pages 57-62 of A Short History of Chess (Oxford, 1963) Murray gave, in a country-by-country review of rule changes, the following information on stalemate:

‘Spain (including Portugal). Stalemate and the baring of the opponent (unless baring and mate occurred simultaneously) were inferior forms of victory at least as late as 1634, and possibly as late as 1750.’

‘Italy. Everywhere stalemate was a draw.’

‘France. Stalemate was a draw.’

‘England. Before 1600 stalemate became a win for the stalemated player. This ceased to be the rule of the chess clubs from about 1807 ...’

‘Germany. Hardly any two authors prior to Allgaier (1795) agree to their rules. [This was a general remark by Murray on rule changes, and not specifically related to stalemate.] Gustavus Selenus (1616): ‘Stalemate is a draw, but in some places the stalemated king wins.’ G.F.D. v. B. (manuscript of 1728): ‘Stalemate is a win for the stalemated king.’ Klemich (1872): ‘The stalemated king wins.’

We hope to find more specific information about the role of Sarratt. Murray’s article about him on pages 353-359 of the July 1937 BCM indicated that matters were unclear:

‘He [Sarratt] was a member, or at least a frequent visitor, of the London Chess Club, which met at Tom’s Coffee-house, Cornhill, and is said to have had a hand in drafting the Laws of Chess for this club. In these rules the older English rule that the stalemated player won was abandoned in favour of the Continental rule that stalemate is a draw.’

5930. Lasker’s Lehrbuch (C.N. 5924)

Lonnie Kwartler (Chester, NY, USA) notes misprints in the pages of Lasker’s Lehrbuch des Schachspiels reproduced in C.N. 5924: ‘Mares’ should read Marco, and in the next diagram White’s king is missing, from h1.

The review of the Lehrbuch on page 318 of the July 1926 BCM commented, ‘There are unfortunately a large number of misprints, which will require correction in a second edition.’ Later versions did indeed make improvements. However, while including such corrections, the English-language edition of Lasker’s Manual, first published in 1927, introduced new problems, and we look at one of them now.

The victim of a famous Alekhine brilliancy (New York, January 1924) was named as Kußmann (i.e. Kussmann) by Lasker in his Lehrbuch (see either page 104 or page 108). In the English edition (page 137) it came out as ‘Kubmann’, i.e. with apparent confusion between the Eszett (ß) and the letter b. The spelling ‘Kubmann’ persisted in subsequent editions of Lasker’s Manual.

In, respectively, Auf dem Wege zur Weltmeisterschaft and his second volume of Best Games Alekhine named his opponent as A. Kußman and A. Kussman. Use of the initial A. may be due to his having played a draw against Abraham S. Kussman on another occasion: in a clock simultaneous display in New York on 23 March 1929 (American Chess Bulletin, April 1929, pages 62 and 65).

As regards the brilliant miniature which Alekhine won, it is rather surprising that page 734 of the Skinner/Verhoeven volume entertained, albeit tentatively, the possibility that Alekhine played two almost identical games, against L. Kussman and L. Kubmann (the sources being, respectively, the above-mentioned books by Alekhine and Lasker).


So, who had the misfortune in the above position to face 16 Qb5+ from Alekhine? We wonder whether there is any reason to doubt the information supplied when the game was published on page 8 of the January 1924 American Chess Bulletin:

‘A simultaneous game played between Alexander Alekhine and Leon Kussman, dramatic editor of the Jewish Morning Journal, in the former’s exhibition at the Newspaper Club of New York, January 13, 1924 – the Russian New Year’s Day.’

alekhine kussman

5931. Mackenzie game (C.N. 5926)


George Henry Mackenzie (BCM, May 1891, page 244)

Fabrizio Zavatarelli (Milan, Italy) has found an interesting passage on page 172 of the Dubuque Chess Journal, May 1877 (converted here to the algebraic notation):

‘Chess in Boston.

The following “chessikin” occurred some years ago between Capt. MacKenzie and a president of the Boston Chess Club:
Remove White’s Ng1.
MacKenzie – Mr X.: 1 e4 e5 2 Bc4 Nf6 3 d4 Nxe4 4 dxe5 Nxf2 5 O-O Nxd1

White mates in two moves.’

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