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 May 2009: C.N.s 6100-6105
3 May 2009: C.N.s 6106-6109
4 May 2009: C.N.s 6110-6111
5 May 2009: C.N. 6112
8 May 2009: C.N.s 6113-6116
9 May 2009: C.N.s 6117-6118
10 May 2009: C.N.s 6119-6120
12 May 2009: C.N. 6121
15 May 2009: C.N.s 6122-6123
16 May 2009: C.N.s 6124-6126
17 May 2009: C.N.s 6127-6130
19 May 2009: C.N. 6131
21 May 2009: C.N.s 6132-6133
22 May 2009: C.N.s 6134-6136
23 May 2009: C.N. 6137
24 May 2009: C.N. 6138
25 May 2009: C.N.s 6139-6140
27 May 2009: C.N.s 6141-6143
28 May 2009: C.N. 6144
30 May 2009: C.N.s 6145-6147
31 May 2009: C.N.s 6148-6150
All feature articles and C.N. archives
C.N. Factfinder

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6100. Chess flower

Calle Erlandsson (Lund, Sweden) sends this photograph, taken in his garden, of the ‘chess flower’ (Fritillaria meleagris):

chess flower

6101. The other Blackburne


Stewart Shirley Blackburne (1857-1934) was the author of Terms and Themes of Chess Problems (London, 1907). His obituary on page 409 of the October 1934 BCM referred to other sporting interests (‘he also wrote rules for the Lawn Tennis Association, 1883; for the New Zealand Chess Association, 1906; and for the Canterbury Croquet Association’), and Michael McDowell (Westcliff-on-sea, England) draws our attention to a New Zealand webpage which states that Blackburne ‘occasionally represented Doncaster in cricket and football, and frequently in lawn tennis matches’.

6102. American football

As mentioned on pages 232-233 of Chess Explorations and page 101 of Chess Facts and Fables, the late Alistair Cooke drew parallels between chess and American football. For an old discussion of the same topic, see ‘Strategy in the New Football’ by Walter Camp on pages 87-90 of Lasker’s Chess Magazine, December 1907.

6103. Tal photograph


This photograph has been submitted by Lawrence Totaro (Las Vegas, NV, USA). Who was Tal’s opponent and what was the event?

6104. Tartakower on sacrifices

From page 22 of Relax with Chess by Fred Reinfeld (New York, 1948):

‘It was that exuberant phrase-maker and paradox-monger Dr Tartakower who once remarked that a pawn sacrifice requires more skill than does a queen sacrifice. The reason? Sacrificing the queen calls for exact calculation of a quick finish. The pawn sacrifice, on the other hand, involves an intuitive flair possessed as a rule only by the great masters.’

Where did Tartakower make such a remark?

6105. Two directors (C.N. 6099)

Oliver Beck (Seattle, WA, USA) writes:

‘A photograph showing Basil Rathbone, David Burton and Nick Grinde gathered around the same board as in C.N. 6099 appears on page 261 of the May 1979 issue of Chess Life & Review with the following caption:

“Basil Rathbone, before his series of film portrayals of Sherlock Holmes, with crew members discussing a scene in The Bishop Murder Case, in which he played supersleuth Philo Vance.”


It comes in an article entitled “Chess in the Cinema: Films of the Thirties”, one of a series of articles by Frank Brady which appeared in the magazine in 1979, and it discusses the film in some detail.’

6106. Bird comment

From page 23 of My one Contribution to Chess by F.V. Morley (New York, 1945):

‘Bird had written books. When he was in a difficulty he used to say: “It’s all in my book – I’m sure the answer to that is in my book.”’

Wanted: nineteenth-century corroboration of the Bird remark (which appeared on page 29 of the London, 1947 edition of Morley’s work).

6107. Illegal move (C.N. 5833)

Pablo S. Domínguez (Madrid) notes that a different account of the Simagin-Šajtar episode was given, sin fuente, on pages 115-116 of the light-hearted book La guía del perfecto tramposo … en Ajedrez by Antonio Gude (Madrid, 1992).

6108. Blind swine mate (C.N.s 3494, 3525 & 5160)

From page 239 of Point Count Chess by I.A. Horowitz and Geoffrey Mott-Smith (New York, 1960):

‘The ultimate triumph of the open file is to get a rook to the seventh rank, whence it strikes at the enemy pawn base. This “pig” (Spielmann’s epithet) is the more odious when it also menaces the king.’

Can any details be found in Spielmann’s writings?

6109. Tal photograph (C.N. 6103)

Tal’s opponent was Eugenio Szabados. In late October and early November 1957 the future world champion made a tour of Italy, and in a team match between Riga and Venice on 31 October and 1 November he defeated Szabados twice. See page 366 of Storia degli scacchi in Italia by Adriano Chicco and Antonio Rosino (Venice, 1990) and pages 164-168 of the first ‘Chess Stars’ volume of Tal’s games (1949-1962) edited by Alexander Khalifman. The latter book gave only the game in which Szabados was White.

Below is a photograph from opposite page 56 of the Venice, 1949 tournament book:

szabo szabados

6110. Anti-Semitic articles

Regarding the anti-Semitic articles published in 1941 under Alekhine’s name, Henk Smout (Leiden, the Netherlands) writes:

‘The June-July 1942 issue of the Tijdschrift van den Nederlandschen Schaakbond reported on a congress in Salzburg (held during a tournament won by Alekhine) concerning the foundation of an “Europaschachbund” (European Chess Federation). At the congress Alekhine was the French representative, and the magazine’s report (page 88) contained the following “rectification”:

“Gedurende dit congres heeft dr Aljechin tegenover den secretaris van den Ned. Schaakbond zijn leedwezen betuigd over het misverstand, dat zich in het afgeloopen jaar heeft voorgedaan als gevolg van een onjuiste publicatie betreffende het dr Euwe-comité, in het bijzonder ten opzichte van dr Euwe en de heeren Van Harten en Liket.”

[“During this congress Dr Alekhine expressed regret to the secretary of the Dutch Chess Organization about the misunderstanding which occurred last year in consequence of an incorrect publication concerning the Euwe committee, and in particular with respect to Dr Euwe and Messrs Van Harten and Liket.”]

This was understandable only to those who knew the Pariser Zeitung of 23 March 1941 or the Deutsche Zeitung in den Niederlanden of 2 April 1941. It related to the final anti-Semitic article, which stated that the organizing committee of the 1935 match with Euwe had consisted exclusively of Jews and that Euwe was a plaything of the Jews.

That article was not included in the Deutsche Schachzeitung’s serialization. The German magazine’s last instalment concluded on pages 82-84 of the June 1941 issue, and the promise “Fortsetzung folgt” was left unfulfilled, without explanation. It may, though, be relevant that Euwe had long been listed by the Deutsche Schachzeitung as a contributor. (He also became a “Mitarbeiter” of the Deutsche Schachblätter, the official organ of the Grossdeutscher Schachbund, as from the April 1941 issue.)

Approximately 40% of the text of the anti-Semitic articles was not republished in the Deutsche Schachzeitung and was therefore also absent from CHESS, which printed an English translation of what had appeared in the Deutsche Schachzeitung.

Below we reproduce from our collection the relevant part of the article as it appeared in the Deutsche Zeitung in den Niederlanden:


6111. Sarratt letter

The letter below, written by J.H. Sarratt in 1810, was reproduced in C.N. 1047 courtesy of Michael Macdonald-Ross, its owner at that time (1985):

‘Pulteney Malcolm, Esq., &c. &c.


The reasons which induce me to trouble you with this communication, will, I trust, appear to you a sufficient apology for it.

On Saturday morning, when Mr G. Sarratt arrived in Town, I was just beginning to recover from an illness, which, though of no considerable duration, has been very severe. The precarious state of my health induced me to express a desire, that Mr Sarratt should remain with me a few days, particularly as I was very anxious to explain fully to him the mystery which has enveloped his early years.

He felt exceedingly uneasy from the fear, that, if he complied with my earnest wish, he might perhaps subject himself to a charge of apparent remissness in the discharge of his duty, and thus expose himself to be deprived of that meed, which, I know, he most highly prizes – your approbation.

However, he promised to remain with me three or four days, on the condition that I should engage to acquaint you with the motives of his stay – Of course I most willingly acquiesced in a wish dictated by propriety; and upon further consideration, I judged it to be my duty to communicate the following particulars to you Sir, under whose mild and judicious sway, Mr S. will I fervently hope, continue to improve in his “gallant profession”, and render himself deserving of that, after which he so ardently sighs, promotion. –

I was scarcely eighteen when I married Mr S.’s mother in the year 1790: he was at that period three years of age, being born June 21st 1787. At the age of sixteen his mother had been seduced by Major John Kelly: about a year after that unhappy event Mr S. was born – But few months had elapsed since his birth, when Major Kelly, regardless of his vows and his re-iterated promises of making her his wife, quitted the Island of Jersey, and left his destitute victim to tears and misery. Her father for a long time was implacable in his resentment, but relenting at length in consequence of the intreaties of an old and excellent female relative, he consented to be reconciled to his daughter, though he withheld all the tokens of affection from the hapless pledge of her ill-fated affection.

Some months after my marriage, I suggested to my wife the propriety of her son’s calling me father, and being taught to consider me as his parent: of course she assented to it, and that is the origin of his being called Sarratt, although his name is Kelly.

George Strange Nares, Esq. Captain, Light Company 70th. Foot, was his Godfather. He is since dead, and neither Major Kelly nor he ever evinced the least solicitude for the welfare of my adopted son.

Some weeks after Mrs Sarratt’s death, which happened six years ago I wrote to George and in a few words informed him, that, he was not my son; at the same time I told him, that, if he wished it, he was perfectly at liberty still to sign his name “G. Sarratt”, and I repeated to him, that, as long as he continued to behave properly, he might consider me as his unalterable and dearest friend. His affection for me impelled him to declare, that, he should never use any other name, that, he had never known his father, and, that, he should ever consider me as his parent.

It may perhaps not be superfluous to add, that, he was born in the Island of Jersey, and, that, his mother was daughter of an eminent Surgeon.

With respect to his Extract of Baptism which I understand will be of utility to him, I beg to observe, that, from the foregoing statement, it may not be easy to obtain it: However, if it be requisite that he should have it, I should endeavour to procure it.

I have again to apologise for this intrusion, and, with the highest respect,
I have the honour to remain,
Your most obedient servant,

J.H. Sarratt.

Emigrant Office,
12th. November 1810’

The letter from Sarratt to Malcolm was enclosed in another letter from Malcolm to Mrs Malcolm:

(Postmarked 21 November 1810)

‘The enclosed (has) the history of your protégé Sarratt alias Kelly – is Mrs Robinson sister to his mother – I will be of advantage to him hereafter – that he is a natural born subject of His Majesty – As I know you would enjoy beating me at Chess – I would commend you to (serve assistance to) old Sarratt – who is a professor of Chess – writes Books and gives lectures on it – we have one of them on board.


You must pay postage.’

(Addressed to:) Mrs Malcolm, East Lodge, Enfield, Middlesex.

C.N. 1047 added that an entry on P. Malcolm (1768-1838) is to be found in the Dictionary of National Biography and that, in his letter above, parentheses indicate parts which are not clear.

6112. Fine v Alexander

Björn Frithiof (Almhult, Sweden) asks about the game R. Fine v C.H.O’D. Alexander, Margate, 1937, which appears as follows in his database (ChessBase) and on pages 154-155 of Reuben Fine by A. Woodger (Jefferson, 2004): 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Qc2 Nc6 5 Nf3 d6 6 a3 Bxc3+ 7 Qxc3 O-O 8 b4 e5 9 dxe5 Ne4 10 Qe3 f5 11 Bb2 Nxe5 12 Nxe5 dxe5 13 g3 Be6 14 f3 Nd6 15 Qxe5 Qe7 16 e3 Qf7 17 c5 Nc4 18 Bxc4 Bxc4 19 Kf2 Bb3 20 Bd4 Rae8 21 Qf4 Bd5 22 Be5 Bxf3 23 Bxg7 Bxh1 24 Bxf8 Rxf8 25 Rxh1 Qa2+ 26 Kf1 Qxa3 27 Kg2 Qb2+ 28 Kh3 Qe2 29 Rf1 Qg4+ 30 Kg2 Re8


31 Qxf5 Qxb4


32 Rf4 Qd2+ 33 Kh3 Qxe3 34 Qd7 Qe7 Drawn.

Our correspondent comments:

‘What puzzles me is the conclusion of the game, after 31...Qxb4. White is said to have played 32 Rf4 (instead 32 Qf7+, which wins at once), and after the further moves 32...Qd2+ 33 Kh3 Qxe3, White had an immediate win with 34 Rg4+.’

We believe that White’s 31st move was mistranscribed as Qxf5 instead of Qxc7, i.e. QxKBP rather than QxQBP. The move was given as 31 QxQBP on page 304 of the June 1937 BCM and on pages 51-52 of The best games of C.H.O’D. Alexander by Harry Golombek and Bill Hartston (Oxford, 1976).

6113. Gluing and nailing

Page 156 of Kings, Commoners and Knaves commented:

‘Numerous books assert that Carl Carls always played 1 c4, except on the occasion when his c-pawn was glued to the board. In fact, games in which Carls opened as White with another first move may even be found in the monograph Carl Carls und die “Bremer Partie.’

A less common tale, on which we have no further information, appeared on page 4 of Relax with Chess by Fred Reinfeld (New York, 1948):

‘The story goes that a practical joker, taking advantage of Akiba Rubinstein’s predilection for 1 P-Q4, once nailed down the grandmaster’s queen’s pawn.’

6114. Who? (C.N. 6094)


This is Frederick Gustavus Hamilton-Russell (1867-1941), in a photograph which appeared in the June 1926 BCM. A portrait of Frank Marshall with the Hamilton-Russell Cup was the frontispiece of Marshall’s Comparative Chess (Philadelphia, 1932):


6115. Maurice Fox

John Donaldson (Berkeley, CA, USA) writes:

‘Jeremy Gaige’s Chess Personalia states that the Canadian master Maurice Fox was born on 14 January 1898 in the Ukraine, as per the account in Chess World, December 1949, page 291. That magazine also says that Fox settled in England at the age of six months. Did his parents emigrate to England or were they British nationals returning after residing in the Ukraine? This leads to the question of whether or not he was born “Maurice Fox”. Also, was his birth-date 14 January 1898 in the Gregorian or the Julian calendar?’

Below is the biographical item in Chess World referred to by Mr Donaldson:


6116. Tartakower on sacrifices (C.N. 6104)

From page v of Chess Brilliants by I.O. Howard Taylor (London, 1869):

‘Position is everything. To give up a pawn is sometimes a bolder venture than to abandon a queen.’

6117. Ill (C.N.s 5890 & 6058)

Jerry Spinrad (Nashville, TN, USA) quotes from page 7 of part two of the New York Daily Tribune, 3 January 1897 (a letter dated 17 December 1896 just received from Steinitz in Moscow):

‘Why am I so badly beaten? In the first place, because Lasker is the greatest player I ever met, perhaps the greatest that ever lived; to say so positively would be like making excuses for myself and disparaging other rivals at a time when I myself am incapable to compete in the first rank. “A chess master has no more right to be ill than a general on the battle-field”, or words to that effect, I once wrote in the International Chess Magazine, and I adhere to that.’

We cannot explain why this wording is different from what appears on page 337 of William Steinitz, Chess Champion by Kurt Landsberger, where Steinitz’s letter was quoted as stating, for example, ‘A chess master has the same right to be sick as a general on the battlefield’. It may be recalled from C.N. 6058 that Mr Landsberger said that he was citing Steinitz’s letter as published in the New York Sun, also of 3 January 1897.

6118. Long thinking

Below is an extract from pages xix-xx of the Preface by Benjamin M. Anderson Jr to Capablanca’s A Primer of Chess (New York, 1935):



The passage was discussed in C.N.s 706 and 1177 (see pages 117-118 and 263 of Chess Explorations), and for the game in question we can still offer only one candidate: Marshall v Maróczy, Lake Hopatcong, 1926. As mentioned in C.N. 5991, Anderson was in Lake Hopatcong at the time.

6119. Buenos Aires, 1939

This photograph of the team from Bohemia and Moravia at the 1939 Olympiad is reproduced from Nad šachovnicemi celého světa by K. Opočenský and V. Houška (Prague, 1960):

bohemia moravia

6120. Wrong century

Our earlier items (see page 268 of Kings, Commoners and Knaves, page 289 of A Chess Omnibus and C.N. 4823) recorded such mishaps as David Spanier’s description of Nimzowitsch as ‘one of the great masters of nineteenth-century chess’. Now we add another specimen:

‘Caissa is the Muse of Chess and was the creation of Sir William Jones, a famous seventeenth-century orientalist.’

Source: page 189 of The Chess Scene by D. Levy and S. Reuben (London, 1974).

6121. The Pride and Horror of British Chess


William Winter

The article below by G.H. Diggle, the ‘Badmaster’, comes from page 74 of our publication Chess Characters (Geneva, 1984). It first appeared in Newsflash, October 1981.

‘William Winter (1898-1955), twice British Champion, a fine chess teacher, and a writer “who could put into one sentence as much as others could into a paragraph”, might have been called in his heyday “The Pride and Horror of British Chess”. Sometimes (notably Yarmouth, 1935 and Scarborough, 1928 where he was accompanied by a lady friend who kept an eye on him like a Probation Officer) he would appear in a college blazer and well-pressed flannels looking like an ascetic curate on holiday – on other occasions he would have been blackballed on sartorial grounds had he attempted to join a village club consisting exclusively of scarecrows. At London, 1945, though reporting only and not competing, he represented the quality press in denims and a tattered old sweater full of holes. It is curious that such a highly educated and cultured man, a courteous and conscientious chess professional in every other respect, never seemed to realize that even chessplayers (the cream of human abnormality) set some limit to hygienic eccentricity. It certainly lost him professional business. The BM was once on the Committee of a local club and the question of whom to invite to give a simul cropped up. The BM, always a “buy British” patriot, suggested Winter and extolled his chess genius, but was routed by a masterful lady member who said “that was all very well, but she refused to be checkmated by the hand of genius if it was garnished with dirty nails”. But strangely enough, Winter himself was physically fastidious in some ways. At Scarborough, as he once remarked afterwards, he actually agreed to a premature draw with the tailender Dr Schubert solely because he could not put up with the Doctor’s chewing gum.

His fairness and sportsmanship over the board were generally agreed to be of the highest order. The BM once heard him relate the following (he was a vigorous and animated raconteur with a staccato voice which tended to rise to a crescendo as he “neared the goal”): “I was playing in a County Match and after a hard struggle was about to play the winning move when some old duffer (he always referred to chess rabbits as Duffers with a great accent on the “D”) – “some old duffer with a whisper like a foghorn hissed out N-B7 and unfortunately it was the right move. As I could find no other way to win, of course the game had to end in a draw.”

Even when at his least presentable, Winter always had a vivid personality. Had he cultivated a presence as well, and had his beard trimmed, he might have ranked with Tarrasch as a great chess pedagogue. But he would have got on better with Labourdonnais, like whom Winter retained his chess faculties to the last. It was even said that he solved a problem on the very day of his death.’

The remark about his writing and annotations (‘he was lucid, putting into a sentence as much as many others put into a paragraph’) appeared in his obituary by ‘J.G.’ (James Gilchrist) on pages 28-29 of the January 1956 BCM.

This inscription and game come from one of our copies of William Winter’s Chess for Match Players (London, 1951):


6122. Rabbit quote


Page xii of The Treasury of Chess Lore by F. Reinfeld (New York, 1951)


Page 15 of Chess Quotations from the Masters by H. Hunvald (Mount Vernon, 1972)

Above are just two examples of how ‘chess literature’ presents quotes. Not only is the source limited to a single word, ‘Mortimer’, but the texts differ. For instance, there is a choice between ‘cogitative’ and ‘cognitative’, and in this famous quote some websites offer a third option: ‘cognitive’.

We have therefore gone back to the original text, in an article by James Mortimer entitled ‘How to Win at Chess’ on page 9 of the Daily Mail, 6 October 1906:

‘To those who have taken up chess as an intellectual and fascinating pastime, and who are often beaten at odds by players of inferior grammar, it will be cheering to know that many persons are skilful chess players, though in some instances their brains, in a general way, compare unfavourably with the cogitative faculties of a rabbit. They are simply familiar with the openings – the well-beaten paths discovered or devised by the masters of the game.’


The above photograph of Mortimer was published on page 115 of The Rice Gambit by H. Keidanz (New York, 1905). For portraits of higher quality, see C.N.s 4845 and 4879.

6123. Lasker v Marshall agreement

Following publication of the agreement signed by Lasker and Marshall on 26 October 1906 for a world championship match (see pages 147-148 of Lasker’s Chess Magazine, August-September 1906) James Mortimer quoted a few unhappy passages on page 8 of the Daily Mail, 5 December 1906 and commented:

‘All this is wonderfully weird. It may be very good Liskeranto or very elegant Marshallpuk, but it is certainly not very good English.’

6124. Amy Lowell

Bradley J. Willis (Sherwood Park, Alberta, Canada) quotes a composition from page 136 of Amy Lowell: Selected Poems edited by Honor Moore (New York, 2004):

Still Life

Moonlight Striking upon a Chess-Board

I am so aching to write
That I could make a song out of a chess-board
And rhyme the intrigues of knights and bishops
And the hollow fate of a checkmated king.
I might have been a queen, but I lack the proper century;
I might have been a poet, but where is the adventure to
  Explode me into flame.
Cousin Moon, our kinship is curiously demonstrated,
For I, too, am a bright, cold corpse
Perpetually circling above a living world.

Our correspondent notes that in 1926, the year after her death, Amy Lowell was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.

She was a cousin of Robert Lowell, two of whose works were given on pages 67-68 of The Poetry of Chess edited by Andrew Waterman (London, 1981).

6125. Who?


6126. The secret of James Mason’s real name

From the chess column of Robert John Buckley in the Birmingham Weekly Mercury of 15 April 1905, page 25:

‘A curious and apparently contradictory feature in James Mason’s character was his interminable patience. Racially, Mason was of the most impatient, the most impulsive, the most hot-headed temperament in Western Europe. Mason was a Kelt of the Kelts, a really Irish Irishman, and not in the smallest fragment of his being, one of the Scots-Irish or the Anglo-Irish who dominate Ulster.

And here I may tell the world something which has not before been hinted, either in print or, so far as I know, in any other way.

James Mason’s true name was neither James nor Mason. His real name was confided to me years ago, as it were, sub sigilla confessionis. Later he wrote:

“My father adopted the name of Mason on landing in New Orleans when I was 11, his object being avoidance of the prejudice which obtained against the Irish. Don’t split on me till I’m dead, and even then I would rather you didn’t give the name, it’s so infernally Milesian, and they’d say that all the faults of the race went with it, particularly love of drink and laziness. I have them both myself!”

The real James Mason was unknown and incomprehensible to the huge majority of the people with whom he associated, and their estimate of him, their measuring his bushel by means of their pint-pots, is ludicrous indeed. It may be that in the time to come this column may present a few extracts from Mason’s letters, of which about 400, some of them very long, regular essays, addressed to the writer, are available.

Mason was a great letter-writer, and when addressing people with whom he was in sympathy, was apt to let himself go.

And thus I have strayed from the subject of Frank Marshall to one of the “sceptred heroes who still rule our spirits from their urns”. No matter. The Masonic secret should be interesting. Perhaps Mason had other confidants. Yet he was never one of those who wear their hearts on their sleeves for daws to peck at.

One thing I wish to place on record. In money matters; in straightness; in all things where honour was a factor, I ever found James Mason the very soul of integrity; and in this respect as well as intellectually, immeasurably superior to some of the men who smiled upon him patronizingly, and held him in contempt because of his poverty and the well-known weakness which all his friends deplored.’


James Mason

6127. Alleged suicide attempt by Alekhine (C.N.s 790 & 3842)


Alexander Alekhine

Jeremy Silman (Los Angeles, CA, USA) asks whether any further details are available regarding Edmond Lancel’s claim on pages 1152-1153 of the April 1946 issue of L’Echiquier Belge that in 1922 Alekhine tried to stab himself to death in the lobby of the Hotel Corneliusbad in Aachen.


As reported in an endnote on page 263 of Chess Explorations, in C.N. 862 C.D. Robinson (Toronto, Canada) commented:

‘Alekhine is alleged to have stabbed himself about 3 a.m. after celebrating his birthday. The actual date would be either 20 October or 1 November, according to whether he kept his birthday on the Russian date of 19 October or the Western date of 31 October. This allows a maximum of 24 days in which to recover from a serious wound and to travel from Aachen to Vienna for a tournament beginning on 13 November ... Lancel is wrong when he claims that Vienna, 1922 was Alekhine’s worst result between Scheveningen, 1913 and Nottingham, 1936. The earlier limit should be Vilna, 1912 (the All-Russian Tournament).’

C.N. 1854 offered an excerpt from the reminiscences of Francisco José Pérez in the March 1989 Revista Internacional de Ajedrez (page 14). Regarding Alekhine he said:

‘While playing in a tournament in Sabadell in 1945, Alekhine said that he did not have the courage to commit suicide; his wife had written to him saying that she did not want to hear from him any more.’

6128. Index to Schackvärlden

Calle Erlandsson (Lund, Sweden) notes that although the run of the Swedish magazine Schackvärlden from 1923 to 1945 extended to 22 volumes (the first of which featured November 1923-December 1924), only the last two years were indexed, in the respective December issues. However, page 138 of the October 1946 Sjakkliv, a Norwegian journal, reported that the problemist Alf O. Evang had drawn up an index for Schackvärlden (158 densely typewritten pages in four parts, covering 1923-28, 1929-33, 1934-38 and 1939-43) and was prepared to duplicate his manuscript if enough orders were placed. Our correspondent asks whether any copies of the index can be found.


6129. Marshall v Janowsky match

On the basis of Janowsky’s weekly chess column in Le Monde Illustré (11 February to 18 March 1905), as well as La Stratégie of 20 February and 17 March 1905, we list the total times taken by Marshall and Janowsky in their 17-game match in Paris. Marshall, who won +8 –5 =4, had White in the odd-numbered games:

1: 4.14 – 4.11;
2: 2.30 – 2.30;
3: 2.48 – 2.13;
4: 3.48 – 4.12;
5: 3.00 – 2.48;
6: 3.19 – 3.00;
7: 2.00 – 2.12;
8: 2.05 – 1.57;
9: 4.24 – 4.21;
10: 4.14 – 4.31;
11: 3.43 – 3.46;
12: 3.10 – 2.40;
13: 4.12 – 4.40;
14: 3.20 – 2.18;
15: 2.52 – 4.57 (Le Monde Illustré) or 4.37 (La Stratégie);
16: 1.49 – 3.00;
17: 3.03 – 4.35 (times omitted by Le Monde Illustré).

6130. The soul of chess

What is the soul of chess? Among the possibilities are pawns (Philidor), combination (Maróczy), the centre (Alekhine) and tempo (Tarrasch). The corresponding citations can be found in the Factfinder, and we now add the following:

  • ‘... if either player had the privilege of making two moves in succession, it is evident that he would have no difficulty in winning the game. To gain this one move, – with all due deference to the shade of Philidor, – and not the play of the pawns, is the soul of chess.’

Source: The Major Tactics of Chess by Franklin K. Young (Boston, 1909), page 269.

  • ‘Beautiful combination play is the soul of chess.’

Source: The Joys of Chess by Fred Reinfeld (New York, 1961), page 117.

  • ‘... error is the soul of chess.’

Source: Chess Players’ Thinking by Pertti Saariluoma (London, 1995), page 153.

6131. Photographs of Eliskases, Pirc and Spielmann

Jan Kalendovský (Brno, Czech Republic) has submitted from his collection two photographs taken at Poděbrady, 1936:


Erich Eliskases


Vasja Pirc (and, on his left, Bedřich Thelen)

Our correspondent has also provided a photograph of Rudolf Spielmann at Magdeburg, 1927, from page 4 of Wiener Bilder, 7 August 1927:


6132. Small magazines

Page 398 of the August 1936 BCM announced receipt of the first issue of Ajedrez Chileno, ‘which has the distinction of being in format the smallest chess magazine, we believe’. Page 39 of the January-February 1937 L’Echiquier stated that the size of the Chilean magazine (which we have not seen) was 13cm x 18cm, but that is substantially larger than two earlier publications that come to mind:

chess magazines

C.N. 4244 showed our smallest chess book (approximately 6cm x 4cm).

6133. Letters to Capablanca

Our collection includes copies of many letters addressed to Capablanca, and three are reproduced below:


capablanca letter

capablanca letter

capablanca letter

6134. Pollock

Olimpiu G. Urcan (Singapore) notes that in the Preface to her book Pollock Memories (Dublin, 1899) F.F. Rowland mentioned among her sources ‘interesting MMS. books, belonging to Mr Pollock, which contained about 3,000 games entered by himself, and played by Masters and distinguished amateurs, with critical remarks by Mr Pollock’. Our correspondent asks whether this material is known to have survived.

6135. Who? (C.N. 6125)

The photograph in C.N. 6125 came from page 195 of CHESS, 17 May 1957:

bognor regis chess

6136. Vasja Pirc (C.N. 6131)

Paul Dorion (Montreal, Canada) mentions that the Pirc photograph from Poděbrady, 1936 shows the position after Black’s 36th move in the game against Karel Skalička (see page 45 of the tournament book).

6137. Rosenthal and Janowsky

The following photographs appeared in Le Monde Illustré on, respectively, 20 September 1902 (page 288) and 27 September 1902 (page 312):


Samuel Rosenthal


Dawid Janowsky

6138. Soldatenkov

Three games involving the little-known player Soldatenkov were given in 1000 Best Short Games of Chess by I. Chernev (New York, 1955): victories against an anonymous player and F.J. Marshall (in 17 and 21 moves respectively and both published on page 433 of the November 1928 BCM) and The Consultation Game That Never Was. Another brilliancy is on pages 43-44 of Kings, Commoners and Knaves:

Vassily Soldatenkov – N.N.
Ruy López

1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 Nf6 4 d3 d6 5 Be3 Bd7 6 Nbd2 d5 7 exd5 Nxd5 8 Qe2 Bd6 9 Ne4 Bg4 10 O-O-O O-O 11 h3 Bh5 12 g4 Bg6 13 h4 h5 14 Nfg5 hxg4 15 h5 Bxe4 16 Nxe4 f5 17 Bc4 Ne7 18 Bg5 c6


19 h6 g6 20 h7+ Kh8 21 Bh6 fxe4 22 dxe4 Rf7 23 Qxg4 Nf6 24 Qg5 Ned5 25 exd5 cxd5 26 Qxg6 Qc7 27 Bxd5 Nxd5


28 Qg8+ Rxg8 29 hxg8(Q)+ Kxg8 30 Rdg1+ Rg7 31 Rxg7+ Qxg7 32 Bxg7 Kxg7


33 Rd1 and wins.

Source: The Times Literary Supplement, 24 October 1902, page 320.

Below are some further neglected games:

Vassily Soldatenkov – Fürst G.
St Petersburg, 24 April 1902
(Remove White’s queen’s knight.)

1 e4 e5 2 d4 Nc6 3 dxe5 Nxe5 4 f4 Ng6 5 Nf3 Bb4+ 6 c3 Ba5 7 Bc4 N8e7 8 f5 Nf8 9 Bxf7+ Kxf7 10 Ne5+ Ke8 11 Qh5+ g6


12 f6 Ne6 13 f7+ Kf8 14 Bh6+ Ng7 15 Qh4 Nc6 16 Bg5 Ne7 17 Rf1 d6 18 Bxe7+ Qxe7 19 Nxg6+ hxg6 20 Qxh8 mate.

Source: Deutsche Schachzeitung, July 1902, pages 215-216.

Vassily Soldatenkov – A.J. Barasov
St Petersburg (date?)
French Defence

1 e4 e6 2 Qe2 Nf6 3 f4 Bc5 4 Nf3 O-O 5 d4 Bb6 6 e5 Nd5 7 c4 Ba5+ 8 Kf2 Ne7 9 Nc3 c6 10 g4 d6 11 Be3 dxe5 12 dxe5 Bb6 13 Rd1 Bxe3+ 14 Qxe3 Qb6 15 c5 Qxb2+ 16 Rd2 Qb4 17 Bd3 Nd5 18 Nxd5 exd5 19 Rb1 Qa5


20 Bxh7+ Kxh7 21 Ng5+ Kg8 22 Qd3 f5 23 Qh3 Qxd2+ 24 Kg1 Re8 25 Qh7+ Kf8 26 Qh8+ Ke7 27 Qxg7+ Kd8 28 Qf6+ Re7 29 Nf7+ Ke8 30 Nd6+ Kd7 31 Qxf5+ Re6 32 Qf7+ Re7 33 e6+ Kc7 34 Qxe7+ Nd7


35 Qxd7+ Bxd7 36 Rxb7+ Kd8 37 Rxd7 mate.

Source: Page 171 of Traité du jeu des échecs by J. Taubenhaus (Paris, 1910). Brief notes by Soldatenkov were included.

Vassily Soldatenkov – Frédéric Lazard
Café de la Régence, Paris, 9 January 1912
Queen’s Gambit Declined

1 d4 d5 2 Nf3 Nf6 3 c4 e6 4 Nc3 dxc4 5 Bg5 Be7 6 e3 Nd5 7 Bxe7 Nxc3 8 bxc3 Qxe7 9 Bxc4 O-O 10 O-O b6 11 Bd3 Nd7 12 Qc2 g6 13 Be4 Rb8 14 Qa4 a5 15 Bc6 Rd8 16 Rfd1 Bb7 17 Bxb7 Rxb7 18 Qc6 Ra7 19 Rab1 Qd6 20 Qe4 Nf6 21 Qh4 Qe7 22 e4 Kg7 23 Rb5 c6 24 Rxb6 Qc5


25 e5 Qxb6 26 exf6+ Kf8 27 Qxh7 Ke8 28 Ne5 Qc5 29 Qg8+ Qf8 30 Qxf8+ Kxf8 31 Nxc6 Resigns.

Source: La Stratégie, January 1912, pages 23-25. The game was annotated by ‘A.G.’, who concluded:

‘La partie a été un peu légèrement jouée par le jeune champion de la Régence et ne donne pas la mesure de sa force. Par contre, le brillant amateur russe l’a conduite avec une précision et une logique impeccables. Nous considérons Mr Soldatenkoff comme un des plus forts joueurs de Paris. Personne n’a plus de science ni de brio.’

From page 224 of the American Chess Bulletin, November 1917 (an item headed ‘Ending between Russian Diplomats’):


A computer check shows that White missed a number of faster wins.

Soldatenkov’s name became associated with 1 e4 e5 2 f4 Bc5 3 Nf3 d6 4 fxe5 (the ‘Soldatenkov Attack’ or ‘Soldatenkov Variation’) after the following appeared on page 124 of the Carlsbad, 1907 tournament book by Marco and Schlechter:


A number of Soldatenkov’s early games in Russia, together with much other material, were given in a small monograph on him, Tajemný Námořník by V. Čarušin (Brno, 1998). The New York Times (15 October 1917, page 16) reported that a Marshall/Soldatenkov v Janowsky/Jaffe consultation game had just begun (‘The contest will probably extend over the greater part of the week. Marshall and Soldatenkov, playing the white pieces, elected a queen’s pawn opening, to which the rival pair replied with knight to king’s bishop third.’). Further information would be welcome. Page 210 of the December 1921 American Chess Bulletin gave the score of an 18-move draw by Soldatenkov against Perkins which was played in a Metropolitan League match between the Marshall Chess Club and the Brooklyn Chess Club. A loss by Soldatenkov to Zirn in the Metropolitan Chess League was published on page 25 of the February 1922 American Chess Bulletin. More details are sought about the game ending ‘Soldatenkov-Wolf, Berlin, 1925’ given on pages 119-120 of The Joys of Chess by F. Reinfeld (New York, 1961). Soldatenkov’s 21-move victory over Marshall referred to at the beginning of the present item was published by H. Wolf on pages 300-301 of the September-October 1928 issue of Kagans Neueste Schachnachrichten. Clarification of the circumstances of the game, together with notes by Soldatenkov himself, appeared on pages 197-200 of the June 1929 issue. A lengthy article by Soldatenkov was published on pages 221-226 of the July 1929 Kagans Neueste Schachnachrichten. It discussed a recent victory over A. Zimine in the light of a Bogoljubow v Euwe game (the seventh contest in their second match, played in Amsterdam on 2 January 1929 – see pages 53-54 of the February 1929 Wiener Schachzeitung).

Below is page 109 of the revised edition of Mitchell’s Guide to the Game of Chess by David A. Mitchell (Philadelphia, 1920):


Soldatenkov also has a bearing on the origins of the Marshall Gambit in the Ruy López. At New York, 1918 Marshall played 8...d5 twice, against Capablanca and Morrison. Regarding the latter game it was pointed out on page 276 of the December 1918 American Chess Bulletin (under the heading ‘Duplication of Game after 17 Years’) and on page 21 of the tournament book that a game Sittenfeld v Soldatenkov, Paris, 1901 had followed Morrison v Marshall as far as move 18 (when Soldatenkov played ...Bd6 instead of ...gxf6). Whereas Marshall’s victory took 84 moves, Soldatenkov won in 25.

Without reference to these American sources, the Sittenfeld v Soldatenkov game was given by Kevin O’Connell on page 186 of the April 1980 BCM (in K. Whyld’s ‘Quotes & Queries’ column). It was stated that O’Connell had found the game in La Stratégie for 1901, but we do not see it there.

On pages 314-315 of the July 1987 BCM we quoted from, and commented on, the above-mentioned American Chess Bulletin item. Page 612 of the November 1999 BCM (also in the ‘Quotes & Queries’ column) referred to the difficulty in finding biographical information about Soldatenkov (whose birth details were given as 14 July 1879 at Tsarskoye Selo – as mentioned on page 3 of the booklet on Soldatenkov by Čarušin/Charushin).

The lack of information about Soldatenkov (e.g. where and when he died) is particularly strange in view of his prominence as a diplomat on both sides of the Atlantic. A lengthy political article on page 12 of the New York Times, 20 October 1918 included the following:

‘Basil Soldatenkov, standing six feet in his socks and as hard as nails, his deep-set gray eyes looking you straight through from beneath the ledge of a massive brow crowned with waving light brown hair, is a comparatively young man to have had the experiences and to have shouldered the responsibilities which have been his.

He is, perhaps, five and thirty, and by natural mental inclination a mathematician and electrical engineer. On leaving the university, it was his intention to make scientific research his life work, but circumstances led him, first, to try for and win a commission in the Russian navy, and later to enter the Russian Diplomatic Corps.

Mr Soldatenkov served the Imperial Russian Government in nearly every capital of Europe. There are few men living who have as intimate a personal acquaintance with the great diplomats of the world. He came to this country on a special mission from the Kerensky Government.’

It will be noted that his forename was given as ‘Basil’, i.e. the anglicized version of Vassily. However, page 63 of the March 1918 American Chess Bulletin referred to ‘Boris Soldatenkoff, the Russian envoy’. Because of German transliteration, the initial of his forename was sometimes recorded as W (‘Wassily’). The index for the 1907 volume of Deutsches Wochenschach (page 483) had ‘Soldatenkow, W.W. (St Petersburg)’.

Below is an extract from the New York Times, 18 March 1920, page 11:

‘Mr and Mrs Basil Soldatenkov yesterday surprised their relatives and friends by announcing they had been married in Newark, NJ on Tuesday. Mrs Soldatenkov was formerly Miss Madeleine Reese, niece of Martin Vogel, Assistant United States Treasurer, and Mrs Vogel, with whom she had resided since the death of her mother six years ago.

Mr Soldatenkov, who was a special envoy of the provisional Government of Russia, had been attentive to Miss Reese for some time, but Mr and Mrs Vogel withheld their consent to the marriage, owing chiefly to the disparity of their ages, their niece being only 20 years of age and Mr Soldatenkov about 17 years her senior ...

Mr Soldatenkov has been married before. His first wife was the Princess Gotchakoff of Russia, from whom he was divorced last November.

Mr Soldatenkov was Under Secretary of State in Russia under the Milyoukof régime. He met and took charge of Elihu Root and the American Mission when it arrived in Russia, and returned here with the Mission. On his arrival he was thanked personally by President Wilson and Mr Root and was presented with a cigarette case bearing an inscription in acknowledgment of his services to the American Mission.’

The above two references to Soldatenkov in the New York Times suggest that he was born in or around 1883. It was subsequently reported by the newspaper (21 December 1928, page 13, and 11 October 1933, page 27) that the couple were divorced in Nice in October 1928. On 10 October 1933 the marriage took place in London between Madeleine Soldatenkov and ‘Baron Constantine Nicolai Stackelberg, whose father, Baron Nicolai Stackelberg, was a master of ceremonies at the court of the late Czar Nicholas of Russia’.

The Family Search website produces the information that ‘Vasilij Vassilievich Soldatenkov’ was born circa 1869 in ‘Tachanj, Pltv, Ukraine’ and that he married ‘Elena Konstantinovna, Princess Gorchakov’ on 20 January 1901. However, there is also an entry for ‘Basil Soldatenkow’, born in Moscow on 14 June 1877.

The search for biographical details about Soldatenkov continues, and for the time being we conclude with a quiz question arising from one of his early games:


White to move. What is the fastest win?

6139. Marini v Spassky

Jake Freeman (Salt Lake City, UT, USA) raises the subject of L. Marini v B. Spassky, Mar del Plata, 1960, which appears in databases as follows: 1 c4 Nc6 2 Nc3 Nf6 3 g3 e5 4 Bg2 Bc5 5 a3 a5 6 e3 O-O 7 Nge2 Re8 8 d3 d6 9 h3 Bd7 10 Bd2 Qc8 11 Qc2 Ne7 12 Ne4 Nxe4 13 dxe4 Be6 14 Nc1 a4 15 Nd3 Nc6 16 Nxc5 dxc5 17 f4 f6 18 f5 Bf7 19 g4 Rd8 20 Bf1 g5 21 h4 h6 22 Bc3 Kg7 23 Qh2 Rh8 24 Be2 Qe8 25 Kf2 Rd8 26 Qg3 Qe7 27 Rh3 Na7 28 Rah1 Nc8 29 Qh2 Rhg8 30 hxg5 hxg5 31 Rh7+ Kf8 32 Bd1 Qd7 33 Bc2 Nd6 34 Kf3 Nxc4 35 Rd1 Nd6 36 Qh6+ Ke7 37 Rd5 Qb5 38 Bd3 Qb3


39 Be2 Drawn.

Regarding the diagrammed position Mr Freeman comments:

‘Instead of 39 Be2, there is 39 Bxe5 fxe5 40 Qe6+ Kf8 41 Rxf7+ Nxf7 42 Bc4 Qxc4 43 Rxd8+ Nxd8 44 Qxc4, winning easily. If Black plays 42...Re8, then 43 Qxf7+, followed by 44 Rd7+ and mate next move.’

6140. Mate in one overlooked

To our list of ‘Mates missed’ in the Factfinder Frederick S. Rhine (Park Ridge, IL, USA) adds the account on page 51 of ‘Mr Chess’ The Ortvin Sarapu Story by Ortvin Sarapu (Wainuiomata, 1993):


Matanović eventually agreed to a draw after Black’s 54th move.

6141. Mongredien (C.N. 4895)

Below from our collection is another inscribed title page of a non-chess book by Augustus Mongredien:


The Suez Canal Question (London, 1883), inscribed to Frederick Perigal

6142. Campbell v Barnes (C.N. 5048)

From Rod Edwards (Victoria, BC, Canada):

‘C.N. 5048 quoted G.A. MacDonnell, who said that the remarkable Campbell v Barnes match (in which Campbell won 7-6 after being down 1-6) took place in 1861. However, page 100 of the Chess Player’s Chronicle, 1859 stated that the match occurred in 1858.’

6143. Albin odds game

In this game White played without his queen but made the first two moves: 1 e4 ... 2 d4 d5 3 exd5 Qxd5 4 Nc3 Qxd4 5 Be3 Qe5 6 O-O-O Nc6 7 Nf3 Qa5 8 Rd5 Qb4 9 Nb5 e6 10 Nxc7+ Ke7 11 Bc5+ Kf6 12 Ne8+ Kg6 13 Rg5+ Kh6 14 Be3 Qe7 15 Rxg7+ Kh5 16 g4 mate.


The victor was Adolf Albin, against an unnamed opponent, and the score was given on page 180 of 1000 Best Short Games of Chess by Irving Chernev (New York, 1955). No place or date was specified, but we note that the game was published on pages 366-367 of La Stratégie, 15 December 1901, having been played a few days previously at the Cercle Philidor in Paris.

6144. Soldatenkov (C.N. 6138)

Vitaliy Yurchenko (Uhta, Komi, Russian Federation) reports that page 43 of the Russian edition of the monograph by V. Charushin (Omsk, 2000) reproduced Soldatenkov’s Полный послужной список (complete service record), dated 13 January 1913. It gave his birth-date as 14 July 1879 (old style).

We have found a passage about Soldatenkov on page 99 of Self Portrait by Man Ray (Boston and Toronto, 1963). Elsa Schiaparelli has just been mentioned.


Page 243 reproduced the well-known (indoor) photograph of Man Ray playing chess with Marcel Duchamp (Paris, 1956).

6145. Forced mate (C.N. 6138)


This position (White to move) at the end of C.N. 6138 came from page 52 of the 15 February 1898 issue of La Stratégie, which stated that White (Soldatenkov) gave mate in eight moves. The solution on page 119 of the 15 April 1898 magazine was 1 Qh7+ Kxh7 2 gxf8(N)+ Kh6 3 Rh7+ Kg5 4 h4+ Kf5 5 e4+ Ke5 6 Nc4+ Kd4 7 Ne2+ Kxc4 8 b3 mate.


However, it was also pointed out by La Stratégie that two correspondents (Guinet and Buckley) had offered a quicker finish (4 Nde4+ Kf5 5 Nxd6+ Ke5 6 Nf7+ Kf5 7 e4 mate).

When the initial position was given on page 16 of the Czech edition of V. Charushin’s booklet on Soldatenkov (the source being specified as Shakhmatny Zhurnal, 1897, page 357) Black had two additional pieces: a knight on b7 and a bishop on c4. There is then no mate in seven, and the fastest mate is the above line ending in 8 b3.

6146. Grandmaster title

Jens Kristiansen (Qaqortoq, Greenland) is trying to ascertain the highest age at which anyone has gained the grandmaster title for over-the-board play in regular fashion (and not, for instance, honoris causa).

6147. Bookseller recommended

A chess bookshop which can be recommended for its impressive stock and efficient service is run by Kimmo Välkesalmi in Helsinki.

6148. Chess prodigies

Christopher Lenard (Bendigo, Victoria, Australia) writes:

‘Does any comparative study exist of the early games of chess prodigies, i.e. the games of youngsters who have a strong natural aptitude but have not yet been exposed to much formal study? In particular, I am interested in what similarities, if any, exist among such players from over the last century or so. For example, do very strong but “naïve” (untutored) players tend to spot and exploit certain types of patterns?’

The subject of chess prodigies has received surprisingly little treatment in chess literature. For an historical sweep, only two books come to mind – Great Games by Chess Prodigies by Fred Reinfeld (New York, 1967) and Los niños prodigio del ajedrez by Pablo Morán (Barcelona, 1973) – but neither adopted a scientific or academic approach. Can readers quote any articles covering the specific field mentioned by our correspondent or dealing authoritatively with the more general topic of chess Wunderkinder? We hope to build up a bibliography at the end of the Chess Prodigies article.

6149. Sketch from 1905

From Olimpiu G. Urcan (Singapore) comes this sketch on page 438 of the November [sic – it was mistakenly headed ‘October’] 1905 BCM:


6150. Bronstein endgame

Caleb Wright (Ohauiti, Tauranga, New Zealand) asks for solid information about reports that the Soviet computer KAISSA helped David Bronstein in an adjourned game in 1975.

Firstly, we quote a passage from page 128 of How Computers Play Chess by D. Levy and M. Newborn (New York, 1991):

‘The first occasion on which a program’s ability to play certain endgames perfectly was useful to human players was at a Soviet tournament in 1975. There, in Vilnius, Grandmaster David Bronstein was able to use a database created by the KAISSA team to help him analyze an adjourned game, which he subsequently won. This was the ending of queen and knight’s pawn (g-pawn or b-pawn) against queen, the most difficult of all queen and pawn endings.’

Such an ending, we note, occurred in Bronstein’s game in Vilnius against Karen Grigorian. More details, from primary sources, of the computer’s involvement will be appreciated.

For other information on KAISSA, see chapter six of Chess in the Eighties by D. Bronstein and G. Smolyan (Oxford, 1982).

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