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Jozsef Szen vs Louis Charles Mahe De La Bourdonnais
"Szen's Greetings" (game of the day Dec-25-2009)
Match (1836), Paris, France
Chess variants (000)  ·  1-0


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Kibitzer's Corner
Dec-25-09  Keith Dow: White sacrifices his knight at c4 and then pushes the a pawn towards a8. Black loses his bishop stopping it. The rest is trivial.
Dec-25-09  Calculoso: I'd opt for Nf3 followed by Ng5 either picking up the black e-pawn or queening on f8 - a bit more sure-fire for me :D
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  An Englishman: Good Evening: And a Merry Happy Joyful Peaceful holiday to all.
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  al wazir: Here's how I see the continuation. It's not quite trivial: 42. Ng1 Bd8 43. Nh3 Ke8 44. Ng5 Kd7 45. f7 Be7 46. Nh7 Kd8 47. f8=Q+ Bxf8 48. Nxf8 Ke7 49. Nxg6+ Kf7 50. a5.
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  Honza Cervenka: This game should be classified as 000 and not A40.
Dec-25-09  Arbiter58: al wazir: Here's how I see the continuation. It's not quite trivial: 42. Ng1 Bd8 43. Nh3 Ke8 44. Ng5 Kd7 45. f7 Be7 46. Nh7 Kd8 47. f8=Q+ Bxf8 48. Nxf8 Ke7 49. Nxg6+ Kf7 50. a5.

Very nicely done. Nothing to add. All forced. Any other move than 42 Bd8 loses in one or the other way faster at least pawn e6 or the bishop with a fork after f8Q Kxf8 and Nxe6+

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  Once: Before anyone asks, this is an odds game. Because black is the stronger player, white gets the odds of a pawn and the move.

For me, the star move comes after 28...Kf7

click for larger view

White takes advantage of the loose Rc3 to transfer his knight, with check, to the devestating d6 square. And the move to do all this is 29. Nef5.

And when nearly all the pieces are exchanged, white emerges with his odds pawn advantage still intact and a mighty knight against a largely inneffectual bishop. In a blocked position like this one, knights can be much more handy than just about any other piece.

I prefer <Calculoso>'s and <al wazir>'s continuation. The white knight will come to g5 (surely the point of 42. Ng1) and then white will create threats on both sides of the board. Black can defend the e6 pawn by Ke8-d7, but then the f pawn runs.

Black might have played after 42. Ng1, but there isn't much joy left in this position for him. I suspect that La Bourdenais had seen enough and was more than a little dejected. A well played game by Szen.

Dec-25-09  newzild: <al wazir> Your line is fine, of course, but the artistically inclined might prefer to vary on move 45:

42.Ng1 Bd8 43.Nf3 Ke8 44.Ng5 Kd7 45.Nh7

and the threats of 46.f7 or 46.Nf8+ (winning a pawn on e6 or g6) are immediately decisive.

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  Phony Benoni: <Once> One small point: It's actually pawn and two moves. Note how the game appears to begin with White's e-pawn already on e4; he played 1.e4 and 2.d4 before Black made a move.

I'd say the game shows convincingly that Szen was too strong to receive those odds.

Dec-25-09  SuperPatzer77: <newzild> 42. Ng1! Bd8, 43. Nf3 Ke8, 44. Ng5 Kd7, 45. f7! below:

a) 45...Be7, 46. Nh7! (real killer)

b) 45...Ke7, 46. f8=Q+! Kxf8, 47. Nxe6+ (fork check) Ke7, 48. Nxd8 Kxd8 49. a5! bxa5, 50. bxa5 (Black cannot stop two threatening passed pawns - e-pawn and a-pawn)


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  Once: <Phony Benoni> Interesting point. I did indeed notice that 1. e4 was played before the game started, But the last time I looked, a game of chess started with white making the first move. So allowing white to make two moves is, to my mind, the odds of an extra move. In effect, the game starts with 1. e4 pass 2. d4 e6 - one extra move, not two.

But in fairness, Wikipedia agress with you that this match was played at the odds of pawn plus two moves, so maybe you are right! I suppose it depends on whether allowing your opponent to play as white counts as giving the odds of a move, which is not how we normally describe it.

Szen won this match by 13 wins to 12 with no draws, so I would say that the odds were a little over-generous.

Mind you, when I play at odds (my club runs an annual handicap tournament) I actually enjoy giving away a pawn. It helps get developed quickly and a giving away f2 or f7 allows an easy f file attack after 0-0. And against lower graded players that can equate to a fun attacking game... for me at least.

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  Phony Benoni: <Once>: I don't know about the logic of the situation, but they called it "Pawn-and-Two" back in the day and that's good enough for me.

I played in a handicap tournament once; among other games, I gave a certain NN rook odds and won easily. There was a regular Swiss the very next day, and I got to play NN again. I hung a piece around move 10 and was disgusted enough with myself to consider resigning when I remembered, "Hey, I gave him a rook yesterday! This is nothing!" So I kept playing, and wound up wining.

Dec-25-09  kormier: 20...a6.;.. um....there must be a better move here.....happy hollidays, tks
Dec-25-09  WhiteRook48: 43 Nef5...
Dec-25-09  technical draw: Great pun. Waited a whole year to use it right?
Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: <Phony Benoni> Nice story! Playing at odds can be very liberating. One of the problems of playing chess can be that we get so hung up on material that we rarely get interesting attacking situations. Stronger players think little about giving away a pawn or two for a strong attack, or sacing the exchange if they see a benefit coming their way. I found that when I have played an odds game I am in more of an attacking mood for normal speed chess.

Against lower graded players, a young Kasparov often seemed to offer up a pawn if that meant he was able to develop more quickly or start an attack.

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  kevin86: two moves-an odds game?
Nov-10-16  Aunt Jemima: I can't understand why white played 25. b4 instead of 25. f5
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