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An addition to the games mentioned in our earlier items (see page 92 of Chess Explorations):Johann Nepomuk Berger – Adolf Albin
1 e4 f6 2 d4 e6 3 Bd3 g6 4 Nf3 Bg7 5 Be3 Ne7 6 Nc3 O-O 7 Qd2 d5 8 h4 dxe4 9 Bxe4 f5 10 Bd3 Nd7 11 O-O-O Nf6 12 Bc4 c6 13 Bg5 b5 14 Bb3 b4 15 Na4 a5 16 Bxf6 Rxf6 17 h5 Ra7 18 hxg6 Rxg6 19 g3 Qf8 20 Kb1 Bh6 21 Qe1 Bg7 22 Nc5 Nd5 23 Ne5 Bxe5 24 Qxe5 Qg7 25 Rde1 Qxe5 26 Rxe5 Kg7 27 Rhe1 Kf7 28 Kc1 Rc7 29 Kd2 Re7 30 c4 Nb6
31 d5 Rg4 32 Kd3 cxd5 33 cxd5 Kf6 34 d6 Ra7 35 Bxe6 Bxe6 36 Rxe6+ Kf7 37 d7 Nxd7 38 Re7+ Kg6 39 Nxd7 Kg5 40 f4+ Kh6 41 Rh1+ Kg6 42 Ne5+ Resigns.
Source: Probleme Studien und Partien by J. Berger (Leipzig, 1914), page 175.
Further to a correspondent’s remarks in C.N. 5998 about the signature on an engraving of Staunton, we note that the picture was published in the Chess Monthly Portrait Gallery on page 193 of the March 1890 issue and that the following month (page 225) an illustration of Lasker appeared, with the same signature:
The only artist we recall seeing credited in the Chess Monthly was ‘Mr E. Passingham, of Bradford’ on page 234 of the April 1889 issue. However, his work for the Portrait Gallery bore a different signature.
In C.N. 5905 a correspondent asked about Golombek’s claim that Réti lost two consecutive tournament games through being preoccupied by an idea for an endgame study which occurred to him during play.
Now, Fabrizio Zavatarelli (Milan, Italy) draws attention to a passage regarding the February 1928 tournament in Berlin in Jan Kalendovský’s monograph on Réti (see page 211 of the Czech original and page 374 of the Italian edition). It is stated that, after obtaining the better game against Brinckmann in round ten, Réti played 44 Nh5 but was informed that he had overstepped the time-limit. He then happily explained that the position on another board had inspired him to conceive a beautiful study. Still preoccupied with the study, he also lost his games against Tartakower and Steiner. His prize money was 500 Marks lower, but he produced the study, for which he received five Marks.
Corroboration of this account is sought.
We are grateful to Calle Erlandsson (Lund, Sweden) for a copy of what seems to be our only chess book in Faeroese, Føroysk telving í 20. øld by Suni Merkistein (Tórshavn, 1997). A richly-illustrated 525-page hardback, it is available from H.N. Jacobsens Bókahandil.
A game from page 67:Mikhail Tal – Olaf Durhuus
1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 a6 4 Ba4 Nf6 5 O-O b5 6 Bb3 d6 7 c3 Be7 8 Re1 O-O 9 h3 Na5 10 Bc2 c5 11 d4 Qc7 12 Nbd2 Bd7 13 Nf1 cxd4 14 cxd4 Rac8 15 Ne3 Nc4 16 Nxc4 bxc4 17 Bd2 Rfe8 18 Bc3 Bf8 19 Qd2 Bc6 20 Rad1 exd4 21 Qxd4 Qb7 22 Nh4 Bd7 23 Re3 Rc5 24 Rg3 Rce5 25 f4 Nh5 26 Rf3
26...Rxe4 27 Bxe4 Rxe4 28 Qd2 Be7 29 Qd5 Qxd5 30 Rxd5 Nxf4 31 Rxf4 Rxf4 32 Nf3 Bc6 33 Ra5 Bb7 34 Nd4 d5 35 Nf3 f6 36 b3 cxb3 37 axb3 Kf7 38 Kf2 Bd8 39 Ra1 Bb6+ 40 Ke2 d4 41 Bd2 Rf5 42 b4 Bc6 43 Rc1 Bb5+ 44 Ke1 Ke7 45 Rc8 Rd5 46 Rg8 Kf7 47 Rb8 Bd8 48 Rb7+ Be7 49 Kd1 g5 50 Ne1 Ke6 51 Nf3 h5 52 Rb8 h4 53 Ke1 Bd6 54 Rb6 Kf5 55 Kf2 d3 56 Bc3 Be5 57 Nxe5 fxe5 58 Bd2 Rd4 59 Rb8 Rd6 60 Rf8+ Rf6 61 Rxf6+ Kxf6 62 g3 hxg3+ 63 Kxg3 Kf5 64 h4 gxh4+ 65 Kxh4 Ke4 66 Kg3 Kd4 67 Kf2 e4 Drawn.
Michael Clapham (Ipswich, England) reports that on 19 February 2009 Swann Galleries of New York sold this item by auction for $2,880:
The catalogue described it as follows:
‘Portrait of early American chess master Paul Morphy and a companion, with a chess game in progress between them. Sixth-plate daguerreotype with delicate gilt highlights; in a leather case. 1850s.’
This photograph of Max Romih (Massimiliano Romi) accompanied an article by him, ‘A Strange Opponent’, on pages 302-304 of CHESS, 17 June 1964.
Lawrence Totaro (Las Vegas, NV, USA) asks whether evidence exists to back up this passage on page 46 of Talent is Overrated by Geoff Colvin (New York, 2008):
‘The Czech master Richard Réti once played 29 blindfolded games simultaneously. (Afterward he left his briefcase at the exhibition site and commented on what a poor memory he had.)’
We recall that the following appeared, without any source, on page 287 of Frank Marshall, United States Chess Champion by A. Soltis (Jefferson, 1994):
‘In São Paulo the same year  he broke the blindfold record by playing 29 boards five days after Alekhine had set his own record with 28 in Paris. As the Czech master left the playing hall he forgot his familiar green briefcase. When it was returned to him Réti said, “Oh, thank you. I have such a bad memory.”’
The earliest reference to Réti’s briefcase that we can quote comes in a footnote on page 170 of Die Hypermoderne Schachpartie by S. Tartakower (Vienna, 1924):
On page 4 of Réti’s Best Games of Chess (London, 1954) Harry Golombek made use of the passage:
‘To quote Tartakower again: “He forgot everything, stick, hat, umbrella; above all, however, he would always leave behind him his traditional yellow leather briefcase, so that it was said of him: wherever Réti’s briefcase is, there he himself is no longer to be found. It is therefore evidence of Réti’s pre-existence.”’
A different version was given by J. du Mont on page v of Réti’s posthumous book Masters of the Chess Board (London, 1933):
‘I can see him now, with his perennial smile on his good-humoured features, bustling along with his leather briefcase under his arm. It used to be a saying amongst his friends that where Réti’s briefcase was, there was Réti.’
Frederick S. Rhine (Park Ridge, IL, USA) cites Irving Chernev on page 262 of 1000 Best Short Games of Chess (New York, 1955):
‘Alvin Cass used to say, “My grandmother, when she was a little girl, told me never to capture the queen knight pawn with my queen”.’
Some observations by Wolfgang Heidenfeld on page 9 of the January 1966 BCM (in D.J. Morgan’s Quotes and Queries column):
‘In connection with the various “best game” lists and their coupling with specific masters, it has occurred to me that there is a slight ambiguity in the meaning of the term “best game”. Take Fischer as an example. The game which Fischer played best may be the magnificent brilliancy against Donald Byrne, which he won at the age of 13; or it may be his win against Gligorić at the Candidates’ tournament, 1959; or again it may be the much-advertised “game of the century” [sic] against Robert Byrne. Yet I would call none of these “Fischer’s best game”, because the opposition did not play well enough. Fischer’s best game – that is the best game in which Fischer was involved – was undoubtedly his first-round draw against Gligorić at the Bled tournament, 1961.’
The draw is game 30 in Fischer’s My 60 Memorable Games. Heidenfeld annotated it on pages 145-146 of his posthumous book Draw! (London, 1982).
How exactly did the famous 1918 encounter between Capablanca and Marshall end? On page 90 of The Immortal Games of Capablanca (New York, 1942) Fred Reinfeld stated that after 35...Re3 ‘Capablanca announced mate in five [sic]’, beginning with 36 Bxf7+.
On page 187 of My Chess Career (London, 1920) Capablanca wrote after 35...Re3, ‘BxPch and mate in five moves’. The Cuban also annotated the game on page 12 of the New York, 1918 tournament book. As mentioned in our feature article The Marshall Gambit, the note appended to 36 Bxf7+ read, ‘White forces checkmate in six moves’. No mate announcement was suggested.
From the report on page 14 of the New York Times, 24 October 1918:
‘At the time of the evening adjournment Capablanca had begun to get a real hold on the position. After resumption of play in the evening session, Marshall did not last much longer and was finally pushed to the wall with a forced checkmate in five moves.’
At which move was the game adjourned? As regards the playing arrangements, page 7 of the tournament book stated:
‘There were two sessions daily, from 2.30 p.m. to 6.30 p.m. and from 8.00 p.m. to 11 p.m. The time-limit was 30 moves in the first two hours and 15 moves an hour thereafter.’
Above is an inscription by Capablanca in one of our copies of My Chess Career. Ernest Graham-Little, a Member of Parliament, appears in the photograph given in C.N. 5602.
As noted under ‘Symmetry’ in our Factfinder, some C.N. items have dealt with symmetrical openings/games, and Pascal Losekoot (Soest, the Netherlands) asks for more information about a miniature in C.N. 1507: 1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nf6 3 Nc3 Nc6 4 Bb5 Bb4 5 O-O O-O 6 d3 d6 7 Bxc6 Bxc3 8 Bxb7 Bxb2 9 Bxa8 Bxa1 10 Bg5 Bg4 11 Qxa1 Qxa8 12 Bxf6 Bxf3 13 Bxe5 Bxe4 14 Bxg7 Bxg2
15 Bxf8 Bxf1 16 Qg7 mate.
The game was given on page 43 of Program Šachového Turnaje Memoriál Ing. V. Olexy (Brno, 1987). Karel Traxler defeated J. Šamánek on 20 August 1900 in a tournament at Osyky, the source being specified as Zlatá Praha of 14 September 1900. The booklet contained about 80 of Traxler’s games, presented by Jan Kalendovský.
Below is the crosstable, from page 141 of the 9/1900 issue of Šachové Listy:
Sometimes (see, for instance, page 139 of Gaige’s first volume of crosstables) the venue is given as ‘Osyky u Lomnice’, i.e. ‘Osyky near Lomnice’. Karel Mokrý (Prostějov, Czech Republic) informs us:
‘Osyky, which means “the aspens”, is the old name for the village. Later, with the new language rules, it became Osiky. The tournament in question was one of a number of events which Ladislav Vetešnik organized or co-organized in the village, where he lived.’
The accounts cited in C.N. 6020 disagreed as to whether Réti’s briefcase was green or yellow, and now Maurice Carter (Fairborn, OH, USA) quotes from page 57 of With the Chess Masters by George Koltanowski (San Francisco, 1972):
‘He always carried an old black briefcase filled with reams and reams of sheets on which he had scrawled his comments, and dozens of addressed envelopes.’
On the following page Koltanowski gave a game he played against Réti, dating it 1929 instead of 1927.
Can any photographs be found of Lasker and Steinitz in Moscow during their 1896-97 world championship match?
Concerning this position from Capablanca v Thomas, Hastings, 1919 our earlier items mentioned how Capablanca played 29 Qa8, missing the win of a rook with 29 Rxe8 Qxe8 30 Qa4.
From Gerd Entrup (Herne, Germany):
‘A second winning move is 29 Qb5 (and if 29...c6 30 Rxe8 Qxe8 31 Qb8, with mate to follow). The move was given on page 262 of Kasparov’s first “Predecessors” volume, but I believe that the first person to find it was Klaus-Jürgen Schulz. In his column “Der Leser ist am Zug” on page 17 of the 10/1986 Europa-Rochade he gave the position before White’s 29th move, and on page 28 of the 12/1986 issue he indicated two winning moves: 29 Rxe8 and 29 Qb5.
The diagrammed position was also included in a column by N.H. Yazgac devoted to computer-testing of positions on page 16 of the 11/1986 Europa-Rochade. Only 29 Rxe8 Qxe8 30 Qa4 was given as the winning line, but on page 22 of the 8/1987 issue the second win, 29 Qb5, was pointed out by a reader, Klaus Kiefert of Krefeld. It had been found by his Psion Chess computer program, and a number of variations were provided.’
We add that on page 49 of the February 1982 Chess Life a Texas reader, John Wayland, suggested 29 Qa7. Pal Benko replied:
‘Don’t look for a more clear-cut win than the one given: 29 Rxe8 Qxe8 30 Qa4! Your 29 Qa7 runs into trouble after 29...Rc1+! 30 Rxc1 (or 30 Kf2 Rxb1) 30...Rxb8.’ [The notation and move numbering have been adapted by us.]
From Mark Thornton (Cambridge, England):
‘In rook-odds games could the odds-giver castle with the “phantom rook”? For example, if White gave the odds of his queen’s rook, could he play Ke1-c1? And, if so, were the castling rules the same as if the rook were present?’
No consensus was ever reached, as is shown by the selection of British quotes below. Firstly, Howard Staunton on page 35 of Chess Praxis (London, 1860):
‘When a player gives the odds of his king’s or queen’s rook, he must not castle (or, more properly speaking, leap his king) on the side from whence he takes off the rook, unless before commencing the game or match he stipulates to have the privilege of so doing.’
On page 35 of Chess (London, 1889) R.F. Green wrote similarly:
‘A player giving the odds of a rook may not go through the form of castling on the side from which the rook has been removed.’
However, in a review of the book on pages 88-89 of the March 1890 BCM Edward Freeborough disagreed. After stating, with respect to level games, that castling should be described as a move of the king and that the king should therefore be moved first, Freeborough observed:
‘It follows logically that the fact of giving the odds of a rook ought not to deprive the king of his privilege of taking two steps to the right or left as his first move.’
Page 36 of The British Chess Code (London, 1903) stated:
‘In the absence of agreement to a different effect, a player may castle (by moving his king as in ordinary castling) on a side from which, before the commencement of the game, the player’s rook has been removed, provided that this rook’s square is unoccupied and has been unoccupied throughout the game, and that the same conditions as to squares and as to the king are fulfilled which are required for ordinary castling on this side.’
The above text was quoted on page 275 of the June 1916 Chess Amateur when a revised edition of the Code was envisaged. Comments were invited, and on page 305 of the July 1916 issue ‘Simplex’ wrote:
‘This I think sheer nonsense. If a player gave me a rook and wanted to castle on this rook’s side, I should say, “No, you don’t, you can’t castle without a castle”. Let’s have no pretence. If a player gives a rook, let him give it totally not half. Receivers of odds are not strong players, and to see the nominal giver of odds move his king a couple of squares would be disconcerting. No; if a player gives odds let him give them without pretence.’
A contrary view was expressed by W.S. Branch on pages 333-334 of the August 1916 Chess Amateur:
‘Re Chess Laws, page 305 (July), and as to “castling without rook”, I would say, first, that you can’t “castle the king” – the full and proper term, of which “castles” is an abridgment – without a castle. The phrase should be “moving the king as in castling”.
I believe that the right of the odds-giver to move his king, once in a game, as in castling, has always been upheld since “castling” was invented (sixteenth century). It existed, as part of the “king’s leap”, long before “castling” was invented, and long before the rook was ever called a “castle”. The giving of the rook as odds should not deprive the king of any of his rights.’
Branch then gave further historical details regarding the king’s leap. By 1916, however, the practice of giving odds was disappearing, without any formal resolution of the ‘phantom rook’ question.
Page 202 of Mr Blackburne’s Games at Chess by P. Anderson Graham (London, 1899) gave, with sketchy information, an eight-move extract from a blindfold game won by Blackburne in London against a player named Tuck. Below is the full score, from page 326 of the Chess Player’s Chronicle, 16 October 1895:Joseph Henry Blackburne (blindfold) – F.W. Tuck
1 e4 e5 2 Nc3 Nf6 3 f4 d6 4 Nf3 Nc6 5 Bb5 Be7 6 fxe5 dxe5 7 Nxe5 Bd7 8 Nxd7 Qxd7 9 d4 a6 10 Bxc6 bxc6 11 O-O O-O 12 e5 Nd5 13 Ne4 Qe6 14 Qh5 f6 15 Bd2 f5 16 Ng3 g6 17 Qh3 c5 18 c4 Nb4
19 d5 Qxe5 20 Bc3 Qe3+ 21 Kh1 Qg5 22 Rae1 Nxa2 23 Be5 Bd6 24 Ne4 Qe7 25 Bxd6 cxd6 26 Nxc5 Qg5 27 Ne6 Qf6 28 Qa3 Rab8 29 Nxf8 Rxb2 30 Nd7 Resigns.
The game was played in an eight-game blindfold display at the City of London Chess Club. The date is gleaned from the report on page 307 of the 9 October 1895 issue of the Chronicle. Blackburne scored +4 –0 =4, ‘completing the whole of the games in very quick time’.
Hugh Myers’ book A Chess Explorer was published in 2002, and the following year he sent us a copy of a handwritten 12-page supplement which included a letter to him dated 4 March 1954 from Max Euwe. The former world champion commented, ‘your games are excellent and I hope to publish at least one of them in Ch. Arch.’. Myers wrote in 2003 that he was not sure which of his games he had submitted to Euwe. Did any of them appear in Chess Archives?
With much sadness we have learned of the death earlier this month of Frank Skoff, who was one of Chess Notes’ most valued contributors in the 1980s. He developed a particular interest in the ‘Staunton-Morphy controversy’, and some extracts from his writings can be read in the Edge, Morphy and Staunton feature article. In all, he penned the equivalent of a small monograph on the subject.
A fine chess historian, Frank Skoff abhorred speculation. He combined knowledge (both deep and broad) with outstanding research skills, an ear for the English language and an eye for cant. His contributions to Chess Notes began 27 years ago, and our personal debt to him is enormous.
The photograph below has been received from Lawrence Totaro (Las Vegas, NV, USA):
From page 165 of the May 1930 BCM:
Terrazas at Sabadell, 1945
Above is a photograph of Filiberto Terrazas which we have just added to the feature article, from page 143 of With the Chess Masters by G. Koltanowski (San Francisco, 1972). (Unsurprisingly, Koltanowski misspells his friend’s name.) The apparent resemblance between Filiberto and Teodoro Terrazas leaves us more puzzled than ever.
Trevor Moore (Baughurst, England) quotes from page 47 of Chess Curiosities by Tim Krabbé (London, 1985):
‘When a player, who had conceded QR-odds, moved his king from e1 to c1, his opponent protested, asking what that move meant. The player said that in giving rook’s odds, one did not lose the right to castle. By playing Ke1-c1 he had castled with the phantom of his rook.
In the next game, Black made mysterious bishop’s moves: from g7 to a1, and back to g7. When White again played Ke1-c1, Black argued that phantom castling was out, since he had captured the rook’s phantom at a1.’
Hanspeter Suwe (Winsen in Holstein, Germany) notes that the story appeared in an article ‘Some Chess Anecdotes’ by A.W. Mongredien on pages 352-353 of the August 1923 Chess Amateur:
‘In a foreign café two excitable gentlemen were playing chess, White giving the odds of queen’s rook. After some opening moves White played his king from K1 to QB1.
“One square at a time”, exclaimed Black.
“Not at all!”, retorted White. “I castle queen’s side.”
“Castle!”, cried Black. “Why, you haven’t a rook!”
“I give the odds of a rook”, loftily replied the other, “but that doesn’t prevent my castling with the ghost of my rook.”
Personally I thought the move, if not actually bad, at least innocuous; but White knew its psychological value. His adversary was so nettled at what he termed a low-down trick that, making one mistake after another, he speedily lost. A heated discussion ensued. Just as a free fight seemed inevitable they started a second game, at the same odds. Irregular scarcely describes the opening. After some startling and costly manoeuvres, Black succeeded in playing his bishop to White’s vacant QR square. When, by sheer good luck, he had got it safely away again, he leant back in his chair and surveyed the onlookers with undisguised satisfaction.
I ventured to remark that I did not entirely follow his play.
“Ah!”, he replied in an audible whisper, “Let him try to castle now. He hasn’t even the ghost of a rook!”’
Source: BCM, February 1936, page 96 (in T.R. Dawson’s ‘Problem World’ section).
Michael Ehn (Vienna) sends us from his archives a photograph dated 1872:
From Luc Winants (Boirs, Belgium) we have received a set of photographs published on pages 116-117 of Le miroir du monde, 24 January 1931 (with some aberrations in the captions). Most of the photographs were taken at the Hastings, 1930-31 tournament.
1 e4 Nc6 2 d4 d5 3 e5 Bf5 4 Nf3 e6 5 a3 Nge7 6 Nh4 Be4 7 Bg5 h6 8 Be3 g5 9 Nf3 Nf5 10 c3 g4 11 Nfd2 Nxe3 12 fxe3 Bf5 13 g3 Qg5 14 Qe2 h5 15 Bg2 O-O-O 16 Nf1 Qg6 17 e4 dxe4 18 Nbd2
18...e3 19 Nxe3 Bd3 20 Qf2 Bh6 21 Bxc6 bxc6 22 Ng2 Rhf8 23 Nf4 Rxf4 24 gxf4 Rf8 25 Rf1 Rxf4 26 Qxf4 Bxf4 27 Rxf4 Qh6 28 Rf1 Qe3+ 29 Kd1 Be2+ 30 Kc2 Qd3+ 31 White resigns.
Source: Knowledge, 16 November 1883, pages 311-312.
Gunsberg wrote the chess column in Knowledge under the pseudonym ‘Mephisto’. He reported that the game had been played in a handicap tournament at Purssell’s Chess Room and lasted two hours 40 minutes.
On page 9 Philip Peterson explained how he put together the multiple photographs of himself. We are grateful to Mr Peterson and to the Editor of Northwest Chess, Ralph Dubisch, for permission to reproduce the picture here. A colour version is available on-line.
The above pictures have been sent to us by Nicolas Sphicas (Thessaloníki, Greece), who informs us that they depict two Capablanca games (respectively, against Rubinstein at San Sebastián, 1911 and against Flohr at Moscow, 1935). C.N. 4185 mentioned that much of our correspondent’s other chess artwork can be viewed on-line.
We are also grateful for the 56-page catalogue of an exhibition of his work at the Municipal Art Gallery of Thessaloníki in 2008:
Further acknowledgement in connection with the present item: Michael Syngros (Amarousion, Greece).
There cannot be many chess books more liberal with typos than Kasparov’s Best Games by K.R. Seshadri (Madras, 1984). The first word of the Preface gives Kasparov’s forename as Carri, and the first two paragraphs have occurrences of Kasperov. Overleaf, the forename becomes Gerry. The annotations, taken from the writings of Kasparov and others, are continually mutilated. Here, from page 46, is part of a note to White’s 15th move in Korchnoi v Kasparov, Lucerne (‘Lucerene’), 1982:
‘Hewever, the problamatic ideal manouvre 21 Nc4! suggested by Yugoslav Grandmaster Kovachevic put an end to the theoratical arguments n favour of White.’
An addition to C.N. 5940 and, in particular, to the Blackburne-related material cited on pages 238-239 of Kings, Commoners and Knaves:
Source: pages 86-87 of the Chess Player’s Chronicle, 3 May 1899.
Kings, Commoners and Knaves quoted a slightly different version of Blackburne’s interview with Licensing World (an anti-temperance journal) and gave the score of an 1881 game he won against a player named Brewer. It is not clear whether this is the H. Brewer mentioned on page 104 of the Chess Monthly, December 1880. In this connection we also recall the game Blackburne v Lush (Melbourne, 8 January 1885) given on page 238 of the April 1885 issue of the Chess Monthly and on page 286 of P. Anderson Graham’s monograph on Blackburne.
From our archives:
In a recent article for ChessBase we discussed faulty book covers and reproduced the above specimen, our caption being ‘Trompovsky instead of Trompowsky’.
Now Anthony Wood (London) mentions that the spelling ‘Trompovsky’ was deliberate on the part of Julian Hodgson, who wrote on page 8:
‘... the opening was actually named after Octavio Siqueiro Trompowsky, one time Brazilian Champion, who popularised it in the 1930s and 1940s. For simplicity’s sake I have renamed the opening itself phonetically Trompovsky ...’
The article below by the ‘Badmaster’, G.H. Diggle, is reproduced from page 25 of our publication Chess Characters (Geneva, 1984). It originally appeared in the August 1977 issue of Newsflash.
‘The bilious and impecunious Badmaster, glaring over last month’s Newsflash with a malevolent eye, was delighted to find that the price of Modern Chess Literature, and Books on the Openings in particular, seems to be coming under fire. For if the BM ever agreed to be interviewed on Television and was finally asked, “Looking back, Badmaster, over half a century of lost games, is there any particular factor which you feel has had the greatest influence on your disastrous career?”, he would reply in ringing tones: “Buying Books on the Openings”.
A particularly shameful instance of the BM being let down by these treacherous tomes occurred during the London Championship Tournament 1945. An awful morning had dawned when the official “Order of the Day” ran (inter alia) – “Round 6. Sir George Thomas (White) Badmaster (Black)”. Surmising (correctly) that his august opponent would open P-K4 and go for a quick win, the BM sat up most of the previous night with Modern Chess Openings (Griffith and White), selected the Petroff Defence, distended his brainbox with all 12 columns given, and arrived at the arena next day with the full cargo still on board. The result was that for the first eight moves the BM played with a precision which confounded the critics, but then Sir George (who had previously played like the orthodox gentleman that he was) suddenly revealed himself (in Marxist language) a deviationist of the basest stamp. In short, his ninth move was nowhere to be found. Deserted by MCO, the BM found himself in the same plight as David Balfour in Kidnapped when he ascended the tower in total darkness, only to find suddenly that “the stair had been carried no further” and that he was left to proceed on his own into the void. This he did, and perished about the 20th move. But the most infamous part of the story has yet to come. Of the two unworthy authors responsible for the BM’s downfall White (like Jacob Marley) had long been dead; but R.C. Griffith (a most sprightly “Scrooge”) was not only very much alive but actually a spectator at this very tournament. Just as the BM resigned, R.C.G., who was standing by, bestowed upon him a whimsical yet kindly smile, which plainly said: “Never mind, young man, you’ll know that variation another time”. He then went away beaming all over his face. But for his benevolent appearance and charming manner, the BM could have “felled him like a rotten tree”.’
Regarding Bogoljubow v Capablanca, Bad Kissingen, 1928 Irving Chernev wrote on page 238 of Combinations The Heart of Chess (New York, 1960):
‘For Capablanca this victory must have been especially gratifying. It proved once again that Bogoljubow had been deluding himself when he made the statement, “There is nothing more to fear from the Capablanca technique”.’
Where did Bogoljubow make such a statement?
Stéphane Pilawski (Liège, Belgium) notes Capablanca’s
use of ‘Joseph’ as his first forename on the marriage
licence application (C.N. 6044) and asks whether other
such occurrences can be found. We recall none.
Page 250 of David DeLucia’s Chess Library A Few Old Friends (Darien, 2007) reproduced Capablanca’s identity card, issued by the Belgian Foreign Affairs Ministry and dated 17 July 1935. His name appeared as ‘José Raul Capablanca’.
The ‘standard’ spelling of his second forename is ‘Raúl’, but it may be recalled from The Genius and the Princess that in a love letter (dated 30 April 1935) in our collection Capablanca signed himself ‘Raoul’:
The caption to this photograph from C.N. 6038 prompts us to reproduce two earlier items. C.N. 203 quoted the following from page 176 of the Australasian Chess Review, 20 July 1932:
‘In a recent number of the London Sphere there is a fine photo of two of the players in the London congress seated at the board with clocks and score-sheets alongside them. Underneath is the following priceless description:
“Concentration. W. Winter (England) and Dr S. Tartakower (Poland) ponder their next move during the international tournament. The clocks show how much time each player has taken (for this is limited by rule). The pencil and paper are used to work out combinations before a move is made.”’
C.N. 1004 referred to a paragraph on page 247 of CHESS, August 1940:
‘The London Evening Standard published a picture of Norman Sortier, youngest competitor, in play in the British Boys’ Championship. He was just writing down a move on his pad. The bright caption was, “He used a notebook to help him work out his moves”.’
Efstratios Grivas (Athens) asks whether the full score is available of a game between L. Pachman and K. Hromádka which reached this position:
White to move
See, for example, pages 196-197 of Pachman’s Chess
endings for the practical player (London, 1983),
which stated that the position occurred ‘just before the
adjournment of a game that was important to me. It was
played in the Championships of Prague in 1944’. Instead
of the manoeuvre 1 Ne1, 2 Nf3 and 3 Nh4+, Pachman chose
1 Nxc5, to which he appended two question marks. The
game was then agreed drawn, at his proposal.
We have not found the complete game in any contemporary source, including the 1944 volume of the Prague-based magazine Šach.
From Roger Mylward (Lower Heswall, England):
‘Paul Adrien Maurice Dirac (1902-1984) was a theoretical physicist who made major contributions to the development of quantum mechanics in the first part of the twentieth century. His father was French and his mother English; he was born and brought up in Bristol but for most of his academic life he was based in Cambridge. His last years were spent in Florida. He was a member of staff at Florida State University, where many of his papers are held, in the Dirac Science Library.
A new biography of Dirac has been published, The Strangest Man – The Hidden Life of Paul Dirac, Quantum Genius by Graham Farmelo (London, 2009). It refers on a number of occasions to Dirac’s interest in chess.
In the 1920s “He worked all day long and took time off only for his Sunday walk and to play chess, a game he played well enough to beat most students at the college chess club, sometimes several at the same time” (pages 97-98). The College was St. John’s, Cambridge.
In 1926, his father, Charles Dirac (with whom Paul had a very difficult relationship), offered to buy his son “a set of chessmen” as a Christmas present (page 115).
Regarding the house of Peter Kapitza, a Russian physicist, and his wife Anna (known as Rat), “Dirac was at ease there, talking with Kapitza and Rat over a Russian-style meal, playing chess and larking about with their two rumbustious sons” (page 208).
On 5 January 1955 Dirac gave a public lecture, on subatomic particles, to thousands of spectators at the cricket ground in Baroda, near Calcutta in India. Part of his lecture linked these particles to chess:
“When you ask what are electrons and protons I ought to answer that this question is not a profitable one to ask and does not really have a meaning. The important thing about electrons and protons is not what they are but how they behave – how they move. I can describe the situation by comparing it to the game of chess. In chess, we have various chessmen, kings, knights, pawns and so on. If you ask what a chessman is, the answer would be [that] it is a piece of wood, or a piece of ivory, or perhaps just a sign written on paper, [or anything whatever]. It does not matter. Each chessman has a characteristic way of moving and this is all that matters about it. The whole game of chess follows from this way of moving the various chessmen ...” (pages 353-354).
The text of this lecture is included in the Dirac papers at Florida State University.
From his wife’s first marriage Dirac had a stepson, Gabriel Dirac, who was a mathematician.
“Dirac was close to Gabriel and went out of his way to promote his career, often exchanging letters with him to chew over chess problems they had read in newspapers (G.H. Hardy had described such problems as the ‘hymn tunes of pure mathematics’).” (page 366).
During the Second World War, Dirac was invited to join the Government’s research station in Bletchley Park (page 320). He declined and therefore missed a chance to play chess against some of the best British players of the time.’
Robert Sherwood (E. Dummerston, VT, USA) draws attention to this passage by Bogoljubow on page ix of his book on the Moscow, 1925 tournament:
Our correspondent’s translation:
‘The sporting result of the tournament is as follows.
It has been shown that advanced age does not preclude the highest achievements. Dr Lasker, who for the third time finished ahead of Capablanca, must without question be considered the most successful master of all time. His play yet again is enterprising and almost youthfully fresh.
Further, it is apparent that Capablanca finds it very difficult to separate himself from his dry style of play. His technique, on the other hand, has been at least equalled by Bogoljubow and is not especially feared by the other masters.’
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