The Portuguese Opening by Edward Winter

The Portuguese Opening

Edward Winter


We are grateful to Ronald Câmara (Fortaleza, Ceará, Brazil) for a copy of his book No mundo dos Trebelhos (Fortaleza, 1996). Among the interesting chapters is one on the Portuguese Opening (1 e4 e5 2 Bb5), with a welcome reminder that it was played by Schlechter against Teichmann in Vienna on 20 January 1904. (For the score see pages 469-470 of Warren Goldman’s book on Schlechter.) We add that page 34 of Brighton Chess by Brian Denman (Hove, 1994) stated that 1 e4 e5 2 Bb5 was also named ‘Butler’s Folly’ after Henry William Butler (1858-1935), though we have yet to come across any pertinent game-scores.


From page 2 of the Morning Post, 12 March 1894:

ward lowe

1 e4 e5 2 Bb5 c6 3 Ba4 Nf6 4 d3 Bc5 5 f4 Bxg1 6 Rxg1 d5 7 Nc3 exf4 8 exd5 Nxd5 9 Qe2+ Be6 10 Nxd5 Qxd5 11 Bb3 Qd6 12 Rf1 g5 13 Bd2 Kd7 14 O-O-O Bxb3 15 axb3 Qg6 16 Rde1 Rd8 17 g3 fxg3 18 Qe7+ Kc8 19 Rxf7 Nd7 20 Bxg5 Kc7 21 Re6 g2 22 Bf4+ Kc8 23 Rxg6 hxg6 24 Be3 Resigns.

This game, between W. Ward and H.F. Lowe, was played at the British Chess Club in London on 19 January 1894 (BCM, February 1894, page 57).

The ‘Portuguese Opening’ was discussed briefly in C.N. 2223 (see page 142 of A Chess Omnibus), and the following appeared in the Quotes and Queries column of Chris Ravilious on page 162 of the March 2004 BCM:

portuguese opening

C.N. 2223 mentioned the chapter about this opening on pages 119-124 of No mundo dos Trebelhos by Ronald Câmara (Fortaleza, 1996). From page 119:

portuguese opening

How long have the moves 1 e4 e5 2 Bb5 been associated with the name ‘Portuguese Opening’? The reference below, with a mention of ‘the Portuguese Revista de Ajedrez’ [sic], was on page 151 of CHESS, July 1943:

portuguese opening

Can a reader send us what appeared in the magazine in question?

From page 240 of the July-August 1910 Wiener Schachzeitung:

portuguese opening

The feature was also published, with minor changes, on pages 59-60 of Deutsche Schachblätter, 15 February 1938:

portuguese opening

portuguese opening

1 e4 e5 2 Bb5 c6 3 Ba4 b5 4 Bb3 a5 5 Nf3 a4 6 Bxf7+ Kxf7 7 Nxe5+ Ke6 8 Qg4+ Kxe5 9 d4+ Kxd4 10 e5+ Kxe5 11 Bf4+.


Further to the reference by Chris Ravilious to Sneek v Leeuwarden (two cities in the Dutch province of Friesland), the difficulty of establishing a first-hand nineteenth-century source for that game is noted by Frits Fritschy (Marval, France).

In two books focussing on correspondence contests between clubs/cities, Carlo Alberto Pagni gave only a 1991 work as his source for the pair of games (beginning 1 e4 e5 2 Bb5 and 1 e4 e5 2 Bc4) between Sneek and Leeuwarden, which he dated 1865-66: Tweehonderdvijftig jaar correspondentieschaak in Nederland by L.C.M. Diepstraten (Venlo, 1991).

Regarding Pagni’s volumes, the references are page 40 of volume two of Correspondence Chess Matches Between Clubs 1823-1899 (Turin, 1996) and page 122 of Scacchi senza quartiere (Cesena, 2004).


The Cleveland Public Library has sent us page 180 of Het schaakspel in Nederland by Antonius van der Linde (Utrecht, 1875):

portuguese opening


Latest update: 22 January 2022.

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