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Wilhelm Steinitz vs Beniamino Vergani
Hastings (1895), Hastings ENG, rd 1, Aug-05
French Defense: Classical. Steinitz Variation (C11)  ·  1-0


Annotations by Harry Nelson Pillsbury.      [17 more games annotated by Pillsbury]

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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 2 OF 2 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Mar-12-07  ketchuplover: Vergani only won 2 games in the tourney.
Jun-18-08  Lutwidge: Wow, that *was* a funny finish. :)
Nov-14-12  FSR: This was from Round 1. "Like Vergani, crushed for the very first time."
Jun-10-18  WorstPlayerEver: <FSR>

What an incredible dumb comment! Although he only participated in two tournaments, Vergani beat Schlechter and Gunsberg.

Know your place in history, knucklehead!

Jun-10-18  sneaky pete: I think the comment by <FSR> is quite funny. Does that make me a knucklehead too?
Premium Chessgames Member
  ChessHigherCat: I think he probably missed:

1) the quotation marks, meaning it is a quote, not a direct comment (ah, the mysteries of English language)

2) it was a pun on Madonna's "Like a virgin"

3) it would be flattering for Vergani if anything, because "crushed for the very first time" would mean he was hitherto undefeated

4) last and most importantly, if you don't understand something, you should either just shut up or else do some research to understand it, not attack it as stupid, which only shows your own stupidity

Premium Chessgames Member
  ChessHigherCat: P.S.: <Sneaky Pete>: Yes!
Jun-10-18  WorstPlayerEver: <CHC>

1) I know, which makes it even dumber to quote again.

2) No kidding! Again...

3) Wow that makes the quote sound even MORE stupid!

4) Yeah well... Vergani leant chess at age 21. Probably because he did some good business, he had the time for it. In contrast with the chess scene I'd say; they were poor like rats. No wonder Vergani's appearance did raise some protest amongst them. The other Italianos simply did not have enough cash in their pockets to make it to the tournament...

5) Did you guys beat both Schlechter AND Gunsberg? The relevant factor...

6) That I have to defend some old Italian here, really astonishes me. Or... maybe not so ^^

Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: I found this quote:

"In 1895, Beniamino Vergani (1863-1927) was invited to play in the Hastings International tournament of 1895. He was a chess master from Italy. He ended up in last place, scoring only 3 points (2 wins and 2 draws) out of 21. He was so disgusted with his game that he never played in a masters’ chess tournament again. He was given 2 British pounds for his efforts."

The Hasting book by Horace Cheshire reports he was slight of figure, lame, but always with a smile.

They say his play over cautious ending with:

"Our young friend must remember that 'faint heart never won a fair lady' and woo the fair Caissa again with less dangerous rivals."

Which, if you ignore that here you have an Englishman telling an Italian how to court a lady, (good grief) basically translates to, don't give up and play more aggressively against weaker players to improve.

Jun-10-18  WorstPlayerEver: PS I obviously was kidding in my comment to <FSR>. It was the name which caught my attention. Dutch: vergaan=perish


'The Hasting book by Horace Cheshire reports he was slight of figure, lame, but always with a smile.'

NB Horace himself actually only played corr games..

Anyway, of course you look lame when you are finishing last. Pretty nasty comment btw "... but always with a smile..." seems an addition which reveals pure disgust if you'd ask me -think I already have explained why the disgust lol

Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: Hi W.P.E.

I don't think Cheshire is using the word 'lame' in regard to Vergani's chess. I think he had a pronounced limp.

Cheshire also states Steinitz was 'slightly lame' (which we know for certain he was) so he is using the this word to cover an affliction (unless you think he meant Steinitz was bad, but not as bad as Vergani.)

It reads (to me anyway) Cheshire is saying despite this affliction and bad showing in the tournament he seemed cheerful.

Tim Harding in 'Eminent Victorian Chess Players' refers to Beniamino as the 'rabbit' of the tournament. (page 302).

That is wee bit unkind. He went to Hastings as a journalist to cover the event, someone suggested he take part and was thrown to the lions.

Jun-11-18  WorstPlayerEver: <Sally>

Interesting. I am not convinced though. Horace probably meant Vergani 'smiled like a farmer with a toothache.'

I still am sure he was invited because he had money. If you think about it; he had so much money that he could just join a tournament when he wanted.

We all know what it means. Especially when you think he lost to Schlechter...

Enfin, I am also sure Vergani was a sympathetic guy. Not saying chess players can't be sympathetic but they usually cannot deal with their temper in certain situations. At least, that's my experience.

Premium Chessgames Member
  ChessHigherCat: I think that use of "lame" as slang for "uncool, unconvincing" is 1980's slang. I can't find a date for it but it's not included in Webster's Unabridged Dictionary of 1913 so it must be later than that:

Jun-11-18  WorstPlayerEver: <CHC>

Of course, I never would use 'cool/uncool' in that context. People (still) using the word 'cool' make me cringe ^^

Premium Chessgames Member
  ChessHigherCat: <WPE> But it has nothing to do with your personal style or like/dislike of cool/uncool. The question is what Chessire meant, and I'm sure he meant physically crippled because "lame" didn't even have the possible meaning of "awkward/uncool" at the time (as I pointed before, it wasn't in the unabridged dictionary.) Even now, no author would use the word "lame" in that sense in a scholarly work without putting it in parentheses. I really think it's 1980s "Valley Girl" slang.
Premium Chessgames Member
  ChessHigherCat: <PS> The set term "lame excuse" (=weak excuse) may have existed but nobody at that time could possibly have understood "He was slight, lame, but always with a smile" to mean anything other than "He was small and crippled/walked with a limp but always had a smile"
Jun-11-18  WorstPlayerEver: <CHC>

Yeah well, before posting I googled "lame etymology" but -and this why I am destroying democracy- I only got references to "name etymology."

Premium Chessgames Member
  ChessHigherCat: <WPE: <CHC> Yeah well, before posting I googled "lame etymology" but -and this why I am destroying democracy- I only got references to "name etymology.">

Is that a comment or a perfect example of a "lame excuse"?

In case you're serious, you have to search in Google like this "etymology: lame". I found this article which says the figurative use of "defective" is as old as Chaucer but as applied to people in the modern slang sense, the first case was attested in 1942, nearly half a century after the "The Hastings chess tournament 1895", by Horace F. Cheshire, which is a replication of a book originally published before 1896.

<In this newest sense, the OED says, someone who’s “lame” is “inept, naive, easily fooled; spec. unskilled in the fashionable behaviour of a particular group, socially inept.”

This usage was first recorded in 1942, according to the OED, which labels it “slang” and says it originated in the US.>

Jun-11-18  WorstPlayerEver: <CHC>

Ah, thanks, I was just wondering if I would search for 'google search tricks.'

Wel.. you now see that delegation works. Although you don't have to overdo it IMHO

Of course I am serious when it comes to etymology, d'uh!

Oh dear... obviously I know Horace would not dare to write such awful things, but this kind of astonishes me; did you never hear of 'stab the dragon'?

Premium Chessgames Member
  ChessHigherCat: < WorstPlayerEver: <CHC> Ah, thanks, I was just wondering if I would search for 'google search tricks.'

Wel.. you now see that delegation works.>

I don't understand what you mean by "delegation" but Cheshire's statement wasn't insulting at all, it just means he was small and limped but still smiling. The insulting meaning of "lame" didn't even exist at the time, so there was nothing to defend against in the first place, but keep stabbing that dragon!

Jun-11-18  sneaky pete: That "still smiling" may be a weird offspring of the main characteristic of the Englishman: hypocrisy.

The rude Dutchman Norman van Lennep wrote (in Tijdschrift, 1895): "Apart from that it's impossible not to pity the man. Not only, that he only speaks Italian, so he can not exchange a word with anyone, but physically he is completely paralysed and deformed, so two crutches must support his movements. This intellectual and moral lonelyness, which surriunds Vergani, can have influence on his play, and it's certain that his face shows a sadder expression each day."

Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: Thanks sneaky pete, at least it confirms that 'lame' referred to his affliction and not his chess.

I think anyone would find it hard to smile under those circumstances. At least he stayed the course. After 7 rounds and 7 losses he may have considered packing up and going home.

Premium Chessgames Member
  ChessHigherCat: <sneaky pete> Don't you think the reference to his smile could be a tribute to his fortitude in the face of adversity (like "keep on smiling...)? To me it sounds like Cheshire and van Lennep (why rude?) both really feel sorry for him and praised his courage. At the very least, if they had really wanted to him insult him in any way they could have done so in infinitely clearer ways and I don't think any civilized readers would condone laughing at a handicapped person based on a physical description.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: Hi C.H.C.

"(why rude)"

Sneaky Pete (again!! what would we do without hm), may have an answer.

Norman van Lennep (kibitz #1)

Premium Chessgames Member
  ChessHigherCat: That's absolutely awful but I don't see what was rude about it unless he failed to say adieux before jumping overboard.
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