Chess Notes

Edward Winter


C.N. 11763 (15 March 2020) announced: ‘Owing to other commitments, it will be necessary for us to curtail the posting of new C.N. items as from the end of March 2020. Thereafter, additions to the main C.N. page and to feature articles will be possible only occasionally.’

If contacting us by e-mail (ewinter@sunrise.ch), correspondents need to include their name and full postal address.



chess

Our latest feature article is The Chess Writer P. Wenman.



For pondering

‘Probably there have been two pure geniuses in chess; Morphy and Capablanca. Tal is also a genius as a tactician, but because he makes a lot of unsound sacrifices this is not pure genius; Morphy and Capablanca hardly ever made tactical mistakes. Perhaps Rubinstein was also a genius of positional chess, and his playing style was also very pure; but he was a bad tactician.’

Source: B. Spassky in a 1966 interview with L. Barden, Chess Life & Review, January 1970, pages 7-13.

Earlier observations for pondering.



9 January 2024: C.N.s 11973-11978
28 January 2024: C.N. 11979
12 February 2024: C.N.s 11980-11986
25 February 2024: C.N.s 11987-11993
1 March 2024: C.N.s 11994-11996
chess

Wilhelm Steinitz

A selection of feature articles:

Wilhelm Steinitz Miscellanea
Emanuel Lasker Miscellanea
Chess Problems by H.F.L. Meyer
A Bishop Ending
For Pondering
Cecil Valentine De Vere
Alexander Alekhine Miscellanea
Chessplayers and Animals
Sir George Thomas
Milan Vidmar
Richard Teichmann
Klaus Junge (1924-45)
Mikhail Botvinnik (1911-95)
Salo Flohr (1908-83)
David Bronstein (1924-2006)
Carl Schlechter
The Meran Variation of the Queen’s Gambit
Mikhail Tal (1936-92)
Eugène Znosko-Borovsky
Gioacchino Greco
The Ultimate Chess Playing Guide
The Chess Historian R.N. Coles
Henrique Mecking
The Portuguese Chessplayer Francisco Lupi

Archives (including all feature articles)

Factfinder




11973. Announced mates

Zachary Saine (Amsterdam) asks how the practice of Announced Mates arose.



11974. Cyril Pustan (1929-77)

Willibald Müller (Munich, Germany) draws our attention to a 1967 East German film Die gefrorenen Blitze, with particular reference to ‘Cyril Pustan, the second husband of Bobby Fischer’s mother’:

Preview;

Lengthy extract from the documentary.

We add that the University of Bradford states:

‘The Cyril Pustan archive collection has recently been kindly donated to Special Collections at the University of Bradford’s JB Priestley Library and will be made available to researchers in the near future.’



11975. The most spectacular queen sacrifice

From Richard Forster (Winterthur, Switzerland):

‘When chess.com presented a list of the ten most spectacular chess moves of all time in September 2020, first place went to Shirov’s famous ...Bh3 move against Topalov. However, second place was taken by a virtually unknown specimen:

dia

White played 1 Qc7, and Black resigned after 1...Rdxc7 2 Re8+.

It was pointed out that White had other winning moves, with Stockfish listing the spectacular 1 Qc7 only in about fifth position.

A more interesting question concerns the circumstances and provenance of the ending. Chess.com only wrote “Meier was White against Muller in 1994”, which invited some speculation in the comments section about the identities of the players and the authenticity of the game. Elsewhere on the Internet, “Germany” can be found added as the country, but the origins of the game seem to remain a mystery.

Most likely, the ending was picked up by the chess.com team (directly or indirectly) from John Emms’ controversial 2000 book The Most Amazing Chess Moves of All Time, which had heavily relied on previous work by Tim Krabbé and others with scant acknowledgement (see item 70 on one of Krabbé’s webpages). Emms gave the caption to puzzle 178 as “R. Meier – S. Müller, Switzerland 1994”. As already pointed out in my Late Knight column no. 28 at Chesscafe.com (“Amazing?”), August 2000, the source will have been my earlier Late Knight column no. 2 of June 1998 (“Alpine Accounting”), where I gave the whole game and specified that it was played between René Meier and Stefan Müller in Thun, Switzerland in 1994.

Here is the full score with all the players’ details and the original source:

René Meier (Sihlfeld) – Stefan Müller (Thun), Thun, 7 May 1994. 1 Nf3 c5 2 g3 Nc6 3 Bg2 g6 4 d3 Bg7 5 e4 e6 6 O-O Nge7 7 Nbd2 O-O 8 Re1 d5 9 c3 b6 10 Nf1 Ba6 11 e5 Rc8 12 Bf4 b5 13 a3 Qb6 14 Qd2 Rfd8 15 Bh6 Bh8 16 Qf4 Rd7 17 Ne3 d4 18 Ng5 Nf5 19 Nxf5 exf5 20 e6 fxe6 21 Rxe6 Bb7 22 Rae1 Qd8 23 Qc7 Rdxc7 24 Re8+ Resigns.

The game was played in round five on the seventh and last board of a team match in the second class (“2. Bundesliga”) of the Swiss workers’ Chess Union league (“Gruppenmeisterschaft”). It first appeared in print with a few annotations by the winner in the Schweizerisches Schach-Magazin, no. 6, June 1994, page 189.

A curious twist was added in KARL, no. 3/2023, page 59, when Michael Ehn and Ernst Strouhal gave the ending as “the most spectacular queen sacrifice of all time”, attributing it to “Smith-Walls, USA 1993” without any further indication of their source.

Here for the record is the 1994 publication of the Meier v Müller game:’

meier
 mueller




11976. Alekhine and Capablanca

Our new feature article on Sir George Thomas does not yet include a famous observation attributed to him, because we currently lack a verifiable source.

From page 161 of The Unknown Capablanca by David Hooper and Dale Brandreth (London, 1975):

‘One is reminded of a remark made by Sir George Thomas, “Against Alekhine”, he said, “you never knew what to expect; against Capablanca you knew what to expect, but you couldn’t prevent it!”’

From page 77 of Capablanca’s Best Chess Endings by Irving Chernev (Oxford, 1978):

‘Capablanca’s clear-cut play in this ending calls to mind a comment by Sir George Thomas, “Against Alekhine you never knew what to expect; against Capablanca you knew what to expect, but you couldn’t prevent it!”’



11977. Staunton and religion

John Townsend (Wokingham, England) writes:

‘In his book, The Great Schools of England, Howard Staunton was a staunch opponent of flogging. Pages xlii to xliii of the second edition (1869) contain these remarks:

“Again and again, in treatises on Education, and in periodicals, it has been condemned; but from dread lest England should be ruined, lest ancient traditions and old-world customs should perish, the administrators of Public Schools passionately fight for flogging, as if it were a kind of sacrament, to be added to the other seven.”

This last observation about sacraments earned him the attention of the writer of a critique in Weekly Review (7 August 1869, page 16), who commented that Staunton’s own “ecclesiastical standpoint” could be “gathered” from it. (Presumably, the reviewer was hinting that, by acknowledging the existence of as many as seven sacraments, Staunton was displaying a Catholic point of view.)

Was anything else ever written which suggested Staunton’s association with religion?’



11978. Cecil De Vere

Also from Mr Townsend:

‘Cecil De Vere was illegitimate, and the identity of his father has been a mystery. Now, some new information has been found in the death certificate of his mother, Katherine De Vere (General Register Office, Sept. qtr. 1864, Pancras, volume 1b, page 41). It shows that she died on 7 July 1864 at 10 Lower Calthorpe Street (Grays Inn Road, London), the informant being Eliza Hooker, “present at death”, of the same address. The cause of death was “Cancer Uteri 2 years”; her age was given as 42, and she was described as the widow of Alexander De Vere, naval surgeon.

The name Alexander De Vere is new. This occupation of her alleged late husband is consistent with information entered on Cecil De Vere’s 1846 birth certificate, where the father’s name was left blank (indicating illegitimacy), but his occupation was nevertheless entered as “surgeon”. The birth certificate was discussed by Owen Hindle in the Quotes & Queries column of the BCM, conducted by Chris Ravilious, in December 2003, February 2004 and November 2005.

Katherine De Vere had already been living at the address where she died at the time of the 1861 census, when she was described as a widow, aged 36, born in Wales (National Archives, RG 9 107, folio 91, page 9). At that time, she had as lodgers Francis Burden, a civil engineer, and Albert Lane, a landscape painter, both chessplayers, who taught the young De Vere to play.

It has not so far been possible to identify the individual referred to as Alexander De Vere, and he will need to be the subject of ongoing research. Likewise, details of his supposed marriage to De Vere’s mother have not been readily found.

De Vere’s mother was buried in Brompton Cemetery on 11 July 1864 in a private grave paid for by “Valentine De Vere”, “gentleman”, of the same address. There was neither probate nor letters of administration.’

Illustrations of the chessplayer are rare. Below is a detail of the Redcar, 1866 group photograph in C.N. 5614:

de vere



11979. Copying

Four recent additions to Copying:

napier

The entirety of our compilation of quotations from the three volumes of W.E. Napier’s Amenities and Background of Chess-Play has been copy-pasted, without acknowledgement, on a chessgames.com page.



There is an Alchetron page which helps itself to various illustrations from our Sultan Khan article. That makes it convenient for the chessgames.com page on him to be illustrated as follows:

sultan khan



The Bill Wall method: ransacking our work on Capablanca, without credit, and giving worthless, partial sources.



The ChessBase contributor Davide Nastasio has been lifting a huge number of C.N. photographs (about 80 in the past week alone), without credit, acknowledgement or authorization, for his personal X/Twitter page.



11980. Chess clubs

The first episode of a new PBS television series, Today in Chess, refers to ‘the chess capital of the US, Saint Louis, Missouri’. Through the munificence of Rex Sinquefield, the Saint Louis Chess Club is often described, without contradiction, as the greatest chess club in the United States. What comparable chess clubs (whether in terms of premises, opulence, membership, activity or any further criteria) exist in other countries? In short, if the Saint Louis Chess Club were described as the greatest in the world, would any clubs have a legitimate grievance?

This photograph of the Saint Louis Chess Club was taken for us on 12 February 2024 by Yasser Seirawan:

saint louis
 chess club



11981. Menchik v Mieses (C.N. 3687)

menchik and mieses

This photograph by Erich Auerbach from The Quiet Game by J. Montgomerie (London, 1972) was shown in C.N. 3687, with the question of when it was taken.

From Philip Jurgens (Ottawa, Canada):

‘Vera Menchik and Jacques Mieses played a ten-game match between 21 May and 13 June 1942. He was aged 77, some 41 years older than her. Menchik won by four games to one with five draws. Page 208 of Robert B. Tanner’s book on Menchik (C.N. 10191) described it as “the first ever serious match between a woman and a strong master”.

According to the West London Chess Club website, Vera Menchik joined in 1941 after the National Chess Centre was bombed in the Blitz. Jacques Mieses was also a club member during the Second World War. It is therefore quite likely that they played their match under the auspices of the West London Chess Club and that the photograph was taken during that period.

The above website also states:

“During World War II, very few clubs remained open, but thanks to the determination of the officers, West London Chess Club persevered and invited players from other clubs to play. This brought more strong players to the club, including the likes of Jacques Mieses, Vera Menchik, Sir George Thomas, and briefly, Capablanca [sic].”



11982. Georg Marco

C.N. 4855 reported a remark by Wolfgang Heidenfeld on page 190 of The Encyclopedia of Chess by Harry Golombek (London, 1977):

‘... Marco has left an imperishable chess legacy in his brilliant and witty annotations.’

That is not the only C.N. item in which relevant quotations from Marco’s writings have been solicited, without tangible results; see also C.N.s 5248, 7819 and 11380. Examples of Heidenfeld’s own brilliance and wit could, and perhaps should, be compiled, but Marco deserves priority. Can readers assist?



11983. J. Baca-Arús

baca arus

Jaime Baca-Arús (C.N. 11881)

Further to The Capablanca v Price/Baca-Arús Mystery, Yandy Rojas Barrios (Cárdenas, Cuba) has been looking for games played by Jaime Baca-Arús, and he offers the following:

Jaime Baca-Arús – René Portela
Casual game, Havana, 1912 (?)
Danish Gambit

1 e4 e5 2 d4 exd4 3 c3 dxc3 4 Bc4 cxb2 5 Bxb2 Qe7 6 Nc3 Nf6 7 Nge2 Nxe4 8 O-O Nxc3 9 Nxc3 Qc5 10 Re1+ Be7 11 Nd5 Nc6 12 Nxc7+ Kd8 13 Nxa8 Qxc4 14 Rc1 Qb4 15 Qc2 Bf6 16 Bxf6+ gxf6 17 Qf5 Qd4 18 Rcd1 Qc3 19 Rc1 Ne7 20 Qf4 Nd5 21 Qd6 Qd4 22 Qb8 Ne7 23 Rxc8+ Resigns.

Source: El Fígaro, 10 March 1912, page 138.

Jaime Baca-Arús – E.C. de Villaverde
Casual game, Havana, 28 March 1912
Philidor’s Defence

1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 d6 3 Nc3 Be7 4 d4 exd4 5 Nxd4 Nf6 6 f4 c5 7 Nf3 O-O 8 Bd3 a6 9 O-O b5 10 b3 Bb7 11 Ng5 h6 12 Kh1 b4 13 Nd5 Nxd5 14 exd5 hxg5 15 Qh5 g6 16 Bxg6 fxg6 17 Qxg6+ Kh8 18 Bb2+ Bf6 19 Rf3 g4 20 Qh5+ Kg8 21 Qxg4+ Bg5 22 Qe6+ Rf7 23 fxg5 Qe7 24 Qg6+ Kf8 25 Raf1 Bxd5 26 Rxf7+ Bxf7 27 Qf5 Kg8 28 g6 Be6 29 Qh5 Resigns.

Source: El Fígaro, 21 April 1912, page 238.

Jaime Baca-Arús – René Portela
Round 1, Havana Chess Club Championship, 1912
Queen’s Gambit Declined

1 d4 d5 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 c5 4 cxd5 exd5 5 Nf3 Nc6 6 g3 Nf6 7 Bg2 cxd4 8 Nxd4 Qb6 9 Nxc6 bxc6 10 O-O Ba6 11 Qa4 Bb5 12 Nxb5 cxb5 13 Qb3 Rd8 14 Bg5 Be7 15 Bxf6 Bxf6 16 a4 O-O 17 axb5 Rfe8 18 Bxd5 Rxe2 19 Bxf7+ Kh8 20 Rad1 Rxb2 21 Rxd8+ Qxd8 22 Rd1 Qb6 23 Qe3 Qxe3 24 fxe3 Rxb5 25 Rd7 a5 26 Rd5 Rxd5 27 Bxd5 a4 28 Kg2 g6 29 Kf3 Kg7 30 h4 Kf8 31 Kf4 Ke7 32 Ke4 Kd6 33 Ba2 Kc5 34 Kd3 Kb4 35 Kc2 a3 36 Kd3 h5 37 Kc2 Be5 38 Bf7 Drawn.

Source: Capablanca Magazine, 31 July 1912, page 108.

Jaime Baca-Arús – Gustavo Fernández
Casual game, Havana, 8 March 1914
Danish Gambit

1 e4 e5 2 d4 exd4 3 c3 dxc3 4 Bc4 cxb2 5 Bxb2 Qe7 6 Nc3 c6 7 Nge2 b5 8 Bxb5 cxb5 9 Nxb5 Qb4+ 10 Nec3 Qc5 11 Qd5 Qxd5 12 Nxd5 Na6 13 O-O Rb8 14 a4 Bb7 15 Rfe1 Bc6 16 Bd4 Nf6 17 Bxa7 Rb7 18 Bd4 Bb4 19 Reb1 Bxd5 20 exd5 O-O 21 d6 Ne4 22 f3 Nd2 23 Rxb4 Nxb4 24 Bc3 Nb3 25 Rb1 Nd5 26 Rxb3 Nxc3 27 Rxc3 g6 28 Rc7 Rb6 29 Rxd7 Ra8 30 Rc7 Kf8 31 d7 Ke7 32 Na7 Rab8 33 Nc6+ Kd6 34 Rc8 Kxd7 35 Rxb8 Rxc6 36 Rb7+ Rc7 37 Rxc7+ Kxc7 38 Kf2 Kb6 39 Ke3 Ka5 40 Kf4 Kxa4 41 Ke5 f5 42 g4 Resigns.

Source: El Fígaro (Ajedrez Local, Juan Corzo), 19 April 1914, unnumbered page.

Jaime Baca-Arús – M.A. Carbonell
Round 1, II Intersocial Tournament, Havana, 1931
Caro-Kann Defence

1 e4 c6 2 d4 d5 3 Nc3 dxe4 4 Nxe4 Nf6 5 Nxf6+ exf6 6 Nf3 Bd6 7 Bd3 Bg4 8 O-O O-O 9 c3 Qc7 10 h3 Bh5 11 c4 Rd8 12 c5 Bh2+ 13 Kh1 Bf4 14 Be3 g5 15 g4 Bg6 16 Bxg6 hxg6 17 Qd3 Nd7 18 b4 Kg7 19 Rad1 Rh8 20 Kg2 Rad8 21 Rh1 b6 22 Bxf4 Qxf4 23 Qe3 Qb8 24 d5 Rhe8 25 Qc3 cxd5 26 Rxd5 bxc5 27 bxc5 Qc7 28 Rhd1 Nb8 29 Rxd8 Rxd8 30 Rxd8 Qxd8 31 Nxg5 Qd5+ 32 Nf3 Nc6 33 g5 Ne5 34 gxf6+ Kxf6 35 c6 Ke6 36 Qxe5+ Resigns.

Source: Diario de la Marina, 13 December 1931, page 18.

Biographical and other information is still being researched by our correspondent and will be added in due course.



11984. Anything is good enough

As quoted in C.N. 876 (see Book Notes), Charles W. Warburton wrote the following on page 42 of My Chess Adventures (Chicago, 1980) in a discussion of the Caro-Kann Defence:

‘Typically convincing is the thought of Dr Emanuel Lasker who was known to say “anything is good enough to play once”.’

Countless masters are purportedly ‘known’ to have said countless things, but in this case we can at least cite a vague attribution from Lasker’s heyday. On pages 516-517 of the December 1898 BCM J.H. Blake annotated Tarrasch v Halprin, Vienna, 1898, which began 1 d4 d5 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Nf6 4 Bg5 Be7 5 Nf3 h6 6 Bf4 dxc4 7 e3 Nd5 8 Be5 f6 9 Bg3 Bb4 10 Qc2 b5 11 a4 c6 12 axb5 cxb5 13 e4.

After 8 Be5, Blake wrote:

‘Black’s moves six to ten constitute a line of defence to the attack by B-KB4 in the Q. Gambit, which is little known, and which, though not strictly recommendable, may occasionally serve its turn, in accordance with a maxim attributed to Lasker, that in the opening “anything is good enough to play once”. Dr Tarrasch, however, was on this occasion no stranger to it, since it was played against him (after 4 B-B4 PxP 5 P-K3 Kt-Q4, etc.) by Maróczy at Buda Pesth [in 1896]; it is the more surprising therefore that he should so nearly have fallen a victim to it here, as his continuation on the previous occasion by 6 KBxP KtxB 7 PxKt is in the present position the only good defence, and a perfectly satisfactory one.’



11985. Backward moves and empty squares

Instruction manuals sometimes note the difficulty of visualizing a) sacrifices on empty squares and b) backward moves by pieces. Who first made such observations in print? Also requested: practical examples (the less well known, the better).



11986. Rupert Brooke’s notebook

It is still not proving possible to find out more about the texts included in the notebooks (circa 1902-04) of Rupert Chawner Brooke (1887-1915), as shown in our feature article on him. For example:

brooke

We observed that Brooke appeared to be copying openings material from a book or magazine, and that the reference to Staunton related to remarks originally published on page 148 of his Handbook (London, 1847). Can nothing further be found?

brooke

From page 69 of Rupert Brooke by Michael Hastings (London, 1967)



11987. Samuel Reshevsky

Avital Pilpel (Haifa, Israel) sends, courtesy of Herbert Halsegger, a feature about the prodigy Reshevsky on page 2 of part 6 of the Richmond Times-Dispatch, 20 March 1921:

reshevsky

Larger version




11988. Preparation

Wanted: little-known accounts by masters of their chess preparations for important tournaments and matches.



11989. Steinitz and Séguin

Our recent feature article Wilhelm Steinitz Miscellanea quotes remarks such as the following by Steinitz about James Séguin, on page 86 of the International Chess Magazine, April 1888:

‘And I mean to devote to the task [i.e. exposing the alleged dishonesty of James Séguin], if necessary, the space of this column for the next 12 months, or for as many years, in case of further literary highway robberies perpetrated by the same individual, and provided that I and this journal survive, in order to statuate for all times, or as long as chess shall live, an example that the only true champion of the world for the last 22 years (I may say so for once), who has always defended his chess prestige against all-comers, has also a true regard for true public opinion, and that he can defy single-handed all the lying manufactories of press combinations to show any real stain on his honor; and that he can convict and severely punish any foul-mouthed editor who, like the shystering journalistic advocate of New Orleans, attempts to rob him of his good name outside of the chess board.’

Has there been a trustworthy investigation of Steinitz’s objections concerning Séguin?



11990. The Thomas family

As a supplement to Sir George Thomas, John Saunders (Kingston upon Thames, England) submits this report from page 9 of the Morning Post, 22 June 1895:

thomas

Our correspondent is the Webmaster of BritBase – British Chess Game Archive.



11991. Difficult to visualize (C.N. 11985)

In addition to backward moves and sacrifices on empty squares, there can be difficulty in seeing collinear moves, as discussed, with examples, in C.N. 4230 and 4233. Those items are in our feature article on the originator of the term, John Nunn.



11992. Staunton and Morphy

The text of C.N. 11939:

What was the largest number of games that either Staunton or Morphy ever played simultaneously (excluding the latter’s blindfold displays)?

This surprisingly difficult question has been mentioned in, for instance, C.N.s 4492 and 11874 (see Howard Staunton) and C.N. 10423 (see Paul Morphy). Citations for numbers as low as three or four will be welcomed, to start the ball rolling.



The ball still stubbornly stationary, we now approach the issue from a fresh angle (‘prêcher le faux pour savoir le vrai’). Let it be imagined that, excluding Morphy’s blindfold displays, a chess author were to write:

‘In their entire lives neither Staunton nor Morphy gave a single normal/regular simultaneous exhibition.’

What facts could be put forward to refute that imaginary chess author’s assertion?



11993. Staunton correspondence

From John Townsend (Wokingham, England):

‘Sixty-two letters, written 1855-74, by Howard Staunton to his friend and fellow Shakespeare scholar, James Orchard Halliwell-Phillipps, are deposited at Edinburgh University Library. The chess content is precisely nil. That is because his interest by that stage of his life had turned to Shakespeare and other literary and historical matters, some of which he pursued through his contributions to the Illustrated London News. Nevertheless, the correspondence has much to offer regarding Staunton the man and shows him as a person quite different from the vengeful fiend which he is sometimes portrayed as being.

In the example which follows, Staunton is elated at the prospect of a visit to Broadway, Worcestershire, where Halliwell-Phillipps’ wife had inherited the library of her father, Sir Thomas Phillipps, at Middle Hill. Staunton also expected that the Cotswolds air would be beneficial for his chest condition (described by him elsewhere as bronchitis), and he looked forward to renewing his friendship with Halliwell-Phillipps, whose company he very much enjoyed. He was anxious for his friend to turn up.

The letter is typical of Staunton’s prose in his letters to Halliwell-Phillipps: relaxed and informal, yet studded with literary allusions.

“117 Lansdowne Road,
Kensington Park (W)

May 17th 1873


Dear Halliwell,

I am off to the famous Cotswolds where Master Page’s fallow greyhound came off second best. I hope no mishap will prevent you from joining me on Monday and, then, ‘What larks!!’

How I long for a tramp over those glorious hills!

‘Broadway rises to a height of 1,100 feet above the sea.’

Think of that, Master Brook! Think of the delicious ozoned oxygen! Think of the road side pebbles when, as poor Lamb used to say, ‘We have walked a pint’! Think of the fresh eggs & the streaky bacon! Think of the neat-handed Phillisses, the Cotsoll Hebes!! and with these thoughts let no ordinary impediment deter you from ‘taking the road’. Give my best regards to the ladies and believe me

Sincerely Yours

H. Staunton


J.O. Halliwell-Phillipps”

Source: Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections, Letters to J.O. Halliwell-Phillipps, 203/20.

The visit was highly successful and he stayed at the prestigious Lygon Arms in Broadway. In his James Orchard Halliwell and Friends: IV. Howard Staunton (1997, page 128), Marvin Spevack records Halliwell-Phillipps’ sentiments expressed in a letter from Broadway of his trip with Staunton to Stratford that they were

“as jolly as sandboys [...] how long can jollity last in the world, and would there be any without B. and S.”



11994. Excuses

‘I had a toothache during the first game. In the second game I had a headache. In the third game it was an attack of rheumatism. In the fourth game, I wasn’t feeling well. And in the fifth game? Well, must one have to win every game?’

Anyone using a search-engine for that remark, or a slightly different wording, will be presented with countless webpages. Most ascribe the comment to Tarrasch, some to Tartakower, and none to a precise source.

In print, it is no surprise to find A. Soltis writing the following sourcelessly on page 11 of Chess Life, June 1990:

‘And it was Tartakower who had perhaps the final word on excuses. Asked how he could lose so many games in a row at one tournament he replied: “I had a toothache during the first game, so I lost. In the second game I had a headache, so I lost. In the third game an attack of rheumatism in the left shoulder, so I lost. In the fourth game I wasn’t feeling at all well, so I lost. And in the fifth game – well, must I win every game in a tournament?”’

An earlier version was related by Harry Golombek on page 91 of the April 1953 BCM in a report on that year’s tournament in Bucharest, at which he ‘had a really dreadful phase’:

‘If asked to account for these six successive losses I think I cannot do better than to quote Dr Tartakower who on a similar occasion was explaining why he lost five games in a row in an international tournament. “The first”, he said, “I lost because of a very bad headache; during the second I didn’t feel at all well; I was afflicted by rheumatic twinges throughout the third; in the fourth I suffered acute toothache; and the fifth – well, must one win every game in a tournament?”’

Readers may care to imagine themselves entrusted with editing a chess quotations anthology. What to do with this ‘final word on excuses’? Omit it owing to the lack of a source? Give in detail the various versions and attributions? Plump and hope for the best (the process described in C.N. 9887)?

An attempt may first be made to establish when, if ever, Tartakower or Tarrasch lost five consecutive tournament games, and when the story was first attributed to, if not voiced by, either of them.

See also Excuses for Losing at Chess.



11995. Photographs

Olimpiu G. Urcan (Singapore) has provided this photograph of Bogoljubow and Rubinstein which he owns. Exact details of the occasion are sought.

bogoljubow rubinstein

Mr Urcan has also sent us this 1976 photograph of Tony Miles (Camera Press Archive):

miles



11996. Staunton and Morphy (C.N. 11992)

Jerry Spinrad (Nashville, TN, USA) informs us that the only simultaneous display by Staunton which he has seen mentioned in the Chess Player’s Chronicle is a very small one at the Rock Ferry Chess Club (July 1853 issue, pages 217-218):

‘A special Meeting of this Society was held on the evening of the 5th ult. at the Club Rooms, Rock Ferry Hotel, for the purpose of welcoming to Cheshire Mr Staunton, who, during his short visit, was the guest of Mr Morecroft, of the Manor House ... In the course of the evening there was some very interesting play. Mr Staunton conducted simultaneously two games against the Liverpool gentlemen, in consultation at one board, giving them the odds of pawn and two moves, and against the Rock Ferry gentlemen, at another board, giving them the odds of the knight.’

After supper and speeches the games were resumed, but the report did not specify the outcome.

On Morphy, Jerry Spinrad and John Townsend (Wokingham, England) refer to a simultaneous display which is well known. Mr Townsend writes:

‘David Lawson, in Paul Morphy, the Pride and Sorrow of Chess (new edition by Thomas Aiello, 2010), quoted (on pages 213-214) from an account of a simultaneous exhibition which took place at the St James’s Chess Club in London on 26 April 1859, the source being the Illustrated News of the World, of “the following Saturday”:

“A highly interesting assembly met in the splendid saloon of St James’s Hall, on Tuesday evening last [26 April], when Mr Morphy encountered five of the best players in the metropolis.”

The opposition was formidable:

“The first table was occupied by M. de Rivière; the second, by Mr Boden; the third, by Mr Barnes; the fourth, by Mr Bird; and the fifth, by Mr Löwenthal. Mr Morphy played all these gentlemen simultaneously, walking from board to board, and making his replies with extraordinary rapidity and decision. Although we believe that this is the first performance of the kind by Mr Morphy, it is a remarkable fact that he lost but one game. Two other games were won by him and two were drawn.”’

Those reports, one display apiece by Staunton and Morphy, are all that can currently be cited here, although the following may be recalled from C.N. 10423 (concerning Morphy after his match with Anderssen):

‘He confined himself to simultaneous displays, playing 20, 30 and even 40 people at once ...’

Source: page 274 of Keene On Chess by R. Keene (New York, 1999). The identical wording was on page 275 of Complete Book of Beginning Chess by R. Keene (New York, 2003).



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