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  1. Albin - Marco 1901

    The match took place in the Bohemian spa resort of Carlsbad (at the time part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, but now in the Czech Republic and known as Karlovy Vary).

    "Along with Vienna and Prague, over the past few years Carlsbad has developed to be an equally important Austrian chess centre. It has through its vigorous chess club and its tireless director of the match, Herrn. Senior Tax Inspector Tietz, become a magnet towards which chess master events are powerfully attracted." [(1)]

    Viktor Tietz saw that he could combine simultaneously the promotion of chess and of Carlsbad as an European resort for the well-healed.

    The Albin-Marco match of 1901 (from July 31 to August 12, 1901) took place in the Kurhaus [(2)] spa hotel during in the middle of the social season at Carlsbad [(3)]. For Viktor Tietz, this was the first of his increasingly ambitious chess projects at Carlsbad.

    In 1902, the chess club and the city council financed a more ambitious match between David Janowski and Carl Schlechter ; and in 1907 they instigated their first international tournament - Karlsbad (1907). The tournament attracted top players which generated significant publicity, and it established the spa as a host for very strong grandmaster events: Karlsbad (1911), Karlsbad (1923), and Karlsbad (1929).


    The cost of the match was underwritten by the town council and the Carlsbad Chess Club. The players received an appearance fee of 50 Krowns, with a further 30 Krowns for a win and 15 Krowns each for a draw. "Pražské Šachové" criticised the purse of 400 Krowns as being "not very much." [(4)]

    50 Krowns would be approximately £206 in 2015 value [(5)]

    Albin: 2 wins and 4 draws = 50 + (2x30) + (4x15) = 170 Krowns (£700 in 2015 value)

    Marco: 4 wins and 4 draws = 50 + (4x30) + (4x15) = 230 Krowns (£950 in 2015 value)

    <The players>

    Adolf Albin

    "Albin, Adolf...was born at Bucharest, Roumania. He was educated at Vienna for a mercantile career, and filled an engagement with the German railway king, Dr. Stroussberg [(6)], till his downfall. Herr Albin, how ever, kept up his end of the see-saw for a few years by returning to Vienna. He now represents New York. The goddess of chess did not make his acquaintance till he was a well-grown man, but so great was his aptitude that, never too old to learn, he quickly came to the front and, after winning several first prizes in Vienna tournaments, he entered the Masters' Tournament at Dresden in 1892, and surprised the world by giving Siegbert Tarrasch his only defeat in a very fine game (Albin vs Tarrasch, 1892 ). His style of play is ingenious and picturesque, with a pleasing dash of rashness, perhaps deficient in book knowledge but showing a keen appreciation of the leading principles of the game. His other chief successes are : 1893, second prize at New York; following Emanuel Lasker a drawn match with Albert Hodges of New York; and a win versus Eugene Delmar." [(7)]

    Albin was fifteen years' older than his opponent. His peak period was in the mid 1890's and his best performance was in Game Collection: New York 1893, The Impromtu Tournament [(8)] Returning to Europe, after two years as a chess professional the United States, to play in Hastings (1895), he finally settled in Vienna. Although he was not to win any major tournament, on his day he was a dangerous opponent.

    Georg Marco

    "Marco, Georg, from Vienna, a man of considerable stature and fine muscular appearance, so much so that he has been jokingly termed 'the strongest chess-player of the world.' He won the first prize finely in the last Amsterdam National Tournament without losing a game, and coming out ahead of Max Weiss, Carl Schlechter, Berthold Englisch, etc. His general appearance is very German, with but little of the bandbox about him [(9)]. One of the chief favourites with the visitors, and apparently on good terms with the masters also, he was largely the life of the Tourney, always bubbling over with fun, and cracking jokes with any and all who could understand his language...His style of game also might be called playful, delighting in comical and puzzling positions of a problematic type." [(10)]

    Marco was a strong player peaking at ninth in the world in 1900 [(11)]. His best results were in the early years of the twentieth century until the First World War.

    Marco was an influential man in the chess world. He had originally gone to Vienna to study medicine, but had became seriously ill with pneumonia and pleurisy and had to abandon his studies. Instead built a career in Vienna combining chess administration, playing and journalism. In 1893, Marco became secretary of the Vienna Chess Association (Wiener Schachgesellschaft) [(12)] and he was editor of the "Wiener Schachzeitung" from 1898 to 1916 [(13)]

    Before this match they had played seven times with Marco having the advantage (+3,=2,-2). Edo Chess' analysis indicates that

    at the time of the match and for several years before, Marco was the higher rated player. In the Vienna Chess Club Winter Tournament over the New Year, they had shared third and fourth prizes behind Schlechter and Semion Alapin. Albin was not able thereafter to sustain his position in the rankings, probably due to advancing age.

    <Progress of the match>

    Marco had white in the odd numbered games.

    Round 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Total
    Albin ½ 1 ½ ½ 0 1 0 0 ½ 0 4
    Marco ½ 0 ½ ½ 1 0 1 1 ½ 1 6 ]table

    <Progressive scores:>

    Albin twice was in the lead and after Game 7 the score was level. Marco then won with Black in Games 8 and 10.

    Round 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
    Albin ½ 1½ 2 2½ 2½ 3½ 3½ 3½ 4 4
    Marco ½ ½ 1 1½ 2½ 2½ 3½ 4½ 5 6]table

    <The Games>

    [[Game 1]]

    In the first game, Marco had white and played a Ruy Lopez. Albin used a defence with which Harry Nelson Pillsbury had achieved a terrific attack - Showalter vs Pillsbury, 1898 but Marco played carefully and a draw should have ensued. Marco misplayed a King and pawn endgame, but with victory in sight Albin stumbled:

    click for larger view

    losing a tempo with <44..Kf6?>

    Instead, <44...c4!> wins after 45. g5 d4 46. cxd4+ Ke6 (not 46... Kxd4? 47. g6 c3 48. g7 c2 49. g8=Q c1=Q =) 47. Kh5 c3 48. g6 c2 49. g7 Kf7 50. Kh6 c1=Q+

    [[Game 2]]

    Albin, with his first white of the match, played a Stonewall with obvious intentions of a King-side attack in the manner of Pillsbury (Pillsbury vs D G Baird, 1893). Marco was too strong and experienced to succumb to such a rustic opening and gradually took over the initiative. He was happy to repeat his play three year's later - Showalter vs G Marco, 1904. In a good position he threw his good work away:

    click for larger view

    with <34...Rxb2?>; most probably believing he would be giving mate to the White King.

    [[Game 3]]

    Marco again used the Ruy Lopez and Albin defended with an uncommon continuation similar to Bird's Defence. Albin had all but equalized when he gave Marco an unwarranted opportunity by allowing him to position his rook on the sixth rank

    click for larger view

    with <29.Rxa6>. Instead Marco exchanged Rooks and the game was eventually drawn.

    [[Game 4]]

    Albin changed to a K-pawn opening with a Giuoco Piano. The players followed the famous Steinitz vs Von Bardeleben, 1895 to move 10. Neither player made a conspicuous error, and the game progressed to a drawn Rook and pawn ending.

    [[Game 5]]

    Game Five marks the start of a turbulent period in the match with four successive decisive games. Albin chose to change his defence introducing the French Defence into this match. Albin lost with a careless move

    click for larger view

    <22...Rc4?> handed the initiative to Marco and as Albin's king was stranded and vulnerable in the centre of the board. Marco had now managed to catch his opponent up in the match.

    [[Game 6]]

    Albin again chose to open with <1.e4> but Marco varied defending a Ruy Lopez. Albin established a dangerous passed pawn at <c7> and Marco had to give up material. Once again Albin was ahead in the match.

    [[Game 7]]

    Despite his setback in game Five, Albin again chose the French defence, but he varied by exchanging central pawns early in a manner and then posting a Knight on <f6>. Albin had seen Delmar play in this manner - S Ricardo-Rocamora vs E Delmar, 1894. In a minor piece ending, mutual blunders led the advantage veer one way and then the other before Albin made the last mistake.

    Georg Marco had a decided view about luck in chess:

    ‘...any unbiased chess friend will have come to the conclusion that in a game of chess chance rules almost as often as in a game of roulette. Nor is there anything surprising in that; the probability that in a given critical position a chess master will select the best move...(but) is easy to show that the values of these powers diminish very rapidly, and the probability of always finding the correct move diminishes in a very alarming way. Now consider physical weakness; exhaustion after a protracted struggle; tendency to light-heartedness when the position is favourable; tendency to dejection when the position is critical, and it will be clear that absolute correctness is an ideal at which everybody aims, but which nobody attains, or ever will attain.’[(14)]

    [[Game 8]]

    No longer a point ahead, Albin played the solid Giuoco Piano, which was part of his usual repertoire. In the early middle game, he played passively and Marco had some initiative on the White squares preventing Albin from castling. Albin could not untangle himself and lost a pawn. He was then unable to prevent Marco queening his <a> pawn.

    Marco was now ahead for the first time in the match.

    [[Game 9]]

    Marco with White played a Ruy Lopez. He attempted to attack on the King-side by allowing the opening the <g> file in front of his castled King. Albin played calmly and was able to exchange material to create a drawn minor piece ending.

    Albin remained a point behind but with White in the final game.

    [[Game 10]]

    Albin played a non-theoretical opening <Nf3, e3 followed by Ne5 and f4>. and a reversed Dutch-Stonewall pawn structure developed. As in Game 2, Marco had little problem with this line. He created vigorous Queen-side counterplay before Albin could establish any attack on the opposite wing.

    click for larger view

    Having to win to tie the match, Albin attempted to engineer a King-side attack, but Marco had no weakness there. Instead, Marco was now able to penetrate Albin's position on his weak white squares. Marco attacked, he won a key pawn on the Queenside and was able to create a unstoppable passed pawn.

    Albin later refined his opening play to defeat Marco the next year - Albin vs G Marco, 1902


    [1] “Wiener Schachzeitung”, No.7-8, July-August, 1902, p.163-164.


    [3]The social season at Carlsbad,"begins on April 1st and lasts till November..", “North Devon Gazette”, Tuesday 12th February 1901. See


    [5] 1 Pound sterling = 23.97 Kr.
    ( and for relative values see


    [7] "The Hastings Chess Tournament 1895", edited By Horace F. Cheshire. Chatto & Windus, 1896, p.359.


    [9] The phrase alludes to being smartly dressed, e.g. being as smart as something fresh out of the box.

    [10] "The Hastings Chess Tournament 1895", edited By Horace F. Cheshire. Chatto & Windus, 1896, p.359-60.


    [12] "Wiener Schachzeitung", January-February 1915", p.2-3,5 and 9.


    [14] Georg Marco quoted in the "British Chess Magazine", December 1907, p.558.

    The original collation of the games of this match was completed by User: Pawn and Two.

    10 games, 1901

  2. Andersson - Kavalek (1978)
    This match was played in Washington DC, from 30th April to 14th May 1978.

    A prominent Washington businessman - Ilya Chamberlain - privately sponsored the match after he was unable to secure corporate sponsorship from Volvo. Chamberlain provided a $5,000 purse, with $3,000 going to the winner. (1)(4) In the case of a tie, the purse would be divided equally. (2)

    "Chamberlain is a retired biochemist who receives royalties from patents on a soybean fermentation process. A native of London, he taught at Oxford and was for four years a vice president of a major American food-processing company. In his retirement, Chamberlain passes his time selling Volvos to members of the diplomatic corps in Washington.." (3)

    Ulf Andersson stayed with Lubomir Kavalek during the match which was played in a friendly atmosphere.

    For the first game, the play took place in Chamberlain's car dealership's showroom: "Volvo of Washington", 4800 Wisconsin Ave. Thereafter, the players moved to the manager's office.

    Spectators were admitted to the showroom for a charge of $2, where Mark Diesen (World Junior Chess Champion in 1976, ELO 2440) provided analysis and commentary. Diesen had the opportunity to get to know Andersson when they had both played in 18th International "Costa del Sol" tournament in Spain, February 1978

    Mike Ciamarra was the referee.

    The games began at 4 p.m. (4)

    <The players:>

    Andersson was aged 26 and Kavalek 34 at the time of this match.

    This was a time of improvement for Andersson. He won first prizes at Belgrade 1977, Buenos Aires (Clarin) (1978) and Hastings 1978-79, and reached a career ranking peak in 1982-85.

    "During the 1970's Kavalek was one of the most active and successful tournament competitors from the USA." (5) Kavalek had finished joint first in two U.S. championships ( US Championship (1972) and US Championship (1973)). After this match he went onto win the 26th US Championship (June 4th-26th 1978) outright; by doing so, he qualified for the 1979 Interzonals.

    Andersson was considered a slight favourite. They had met eight times since 1972, with Andersson winning twice. The remaining games were drawn and usually short. On this occasion, Kavalek won by 6½-3½. Although Kavalek had won the match by winning the 9th game, the tenth was played anyway.

    <"The publicity , both in the local press and on TV were highly gratifying..."> (4)


    <Progress of the match:>

    This was a slow burning match which came to life in its final four games - three of which were decisive. Kavalek won twice with White and once with Black.

    Andersson had White in the odd-numbered games.

    Elo 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 Pts
    1 GM Andersson 2545 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ 0 0 3½
    2 GM Kavalek 2570 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 1 6½ ]table (6)

    Game 1: Sunday 30th April - In the first game Kavalek had White. It was a very cautious draw, a main line Queen's Indian lasting only 17 moves. Next year at Sao Paulo, Andersson repeated the defence and drew in 21 moves with Ljubojevic.

    Game 2: Monday 1st May, <They played 16 moves of a King's Indian Defense yesterday> ("Evening Star", 2nd May p.28)

    Andersson opened the second game with a double fianchetto, but neither player wanted a fight, and there was a short draw in 16 moves.

    Game 3: Thursday 4th May, <yesterday ... their third draw, this one in 20 moves> ("Evening Star", 5th May p.30) (which also says game was postponed because the local group called the Washington Plumbers had recruited Andersson for their National Chess League telephone match).

    The third game also was a solid and short draw, this time a QGD Semi Tarrasch in 20 moves.

    Game 4: Friday 5th May, <yesterday adjourned the fourth game> ("Evening Star", 6th May p.16).

    The fourth game was the first game in the match of real substance. Kavalek won a Pawn, but was unable to convert the win when Andersson held up the passed pawn in an opposite coloured Bishop ending. It appears to have been drawn after the adjournment.

    Game 5: Sunday 7th May, <drew the fifth game ... yesterday> ("Evening Star", 8th May p.55)

    Andersson had to contend with Kavalek's rook on his seventh rank, but after he had liquidated it, he held an opposite coloured bishop ending.

    Game 6: Tuesday 9th May, <short draw yesterday> ("Evening Star", 10th May p.71)

    A King's Indian Defence, in which Andersson as White, was content to draw in short order.

    Game 7: Wednesday 10th May, <Kavalek .. defeated .. Andersson ... in the seventh game ... yesterday> ("Evening Star", 11th May p.45)

    Kavalek as White, played dynamically against Andersson's Caro-Kann. Andersson, judging by his play, seemed taken aback and played imprecisely. He tried to sacrifice an exchange at his 18th move, but this was insufficient to save him, and he was overwhelmed rapidly.

    Game 8: Thursday 11th May, <the eighth game ... was adjourned yesterday after 40 moves> ("Evening Star", 12th May p.28)

    Andersson opened using one of his slow K-side fianchetto systems but achieved little. He tried for a long-time to win an ending in which he had only a scintilla of an advantage.

    Game 9: Friday 12th May, <adjourned the ninth game ... Friday after 42 moves ... Game 8 was also adjourned. Thus, two games awaited conclusion. The 10th and final game was to be played today, starting at 1 p.m.> ("Evening Star", 14th May p.57)

    Andersson lost again on the Black side of a Caro-Kann. This time he lost late in the game due to a blunder.

    click for larger view

    Andersson played <44.Bxb3?> and resigned four moves later.

    Game 10: Sunday 14th May, <Kavalek won the tenth ... game in 39 moves .. yesterday> ("Evening Star", 15th May p.39)

    Andersson had White and was faced with a King's Indian Defence. Kavalek obtained some advantage, but the game ended unexpectedly after Andersson lashed out on the K-side with <g4>, fatally weakening his position.

    click for larger view



    (1) "Chess", July 1978, nos 797-8, p.309.

    (2) "Evening Star", Washington DC, 1st May, p.43.

    (3) "Washington Checkmate?", Joseph McLellan, "The Washington Post" December 30, 1978 -

    (3) "High-Geared Chess",Joseph McLellan,"The Washington Post" - May 3, 1978 -

    (4) "Chess", Vol. 43, nos.797-8, P.309-310.

    (5) "The Oxford Companion to Chess", Second edition, p. 195, Oxford University Press (1992).

    (6) "Chess Results, 1978-1980", Gino Di Felice, p.90.


    User: Chessical - original text and compilation.

    User: OhioChessFan - proof read and provided improvements to the text.

    User: Chessdreamer provided the missing scores for games 1,2,3,4,6 and 8.

    User: Tabanus sourced and transcribed the match reports from the "Evening Star" newspaper, Washington DC, this material has been used in full.


    10 games, 1978

  3. Bird v Blackburne

    Frederic Hyman Lewis, a barrister, provided the funds for the match. He originally proposed that it be a match dedicated to the Evan's Gambit, (Opening Explorer).

    "Match.— Bird v. Blackburne. A short match consisting of a series of five games, having been arranged by Mr. F. H. Lewis, who also provides the stakes, was commenced on Monday at the British Chess Club....Originally, Mr. Lewis proposed that all the five games should be Evans Gambits; but Mr. Blackburne thought that in such a contest little scope for originality would be left to the players, and it was agreed to play only two Evans. In both cases the defence won...". [(1)]

    <The Terms of the match>

    According to the "British Chess Magazine" of June 1887:

    "I understand that arrangements are now being made for a match between Messrs. Bird and Blackburne, on similar terms to the match now being played between the latter player and Zukertort.

    The principal conditions are:

    1st. No stakes, but a purse of £25 to be played for, £15 to go to the winner, £10 to the loser.

    2nd. The winner of first five games to be victor, draws not to count.

    3rd. Time-limit 20 moves per hour.

    4th. Play to commence about a fortnight after completion of pending Blackburne-Zukertort match.

    It is evident that these short and friendly matches continue to maintain their popularity, and I trust they long may do so, as it is evident that Chess gains thereby" [(2)]

    This suggests that the match was arranged before May 1887, and the purse matched Blackburne - Zukertort (1887) which also had a purse of £25, and a £15/£10 apportionment (£15 is approximately £1,450/$2,420)

    MacDonnell mentioned in the "Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News" of 4th June that he was requested to act as stakeholder and umpire.

    The match was held in the British Chess Club, 37 King Street, Covent Garden, London, in November 1888.

    "A match of five games between Messrs. Bird and Blackburne was commenced at the British Chess Club on Monday. Mr. Bird won the first game, and the remainder were won by Mr. Blackburne, who was therefore victorious by four games to one. The match was arranged by Mr. F. H. Lewis, one of the conditions being that the Evans Gambit should be played once by each player. This was done, and it is noteworthy that the defence won in both cases." [(3)]

    <The players:>

    In 1878, Joseph Henry Blackburne had defeated Henry Edward Bird in a match with a 5-2 score.

    Their previous games usually ended in a decisive result, according to the Chessgames database prior to this match their score was: 6 wins to Bird, 11 to Blackburne with two draws. Their last six games in the database before this match included no draws and had five wins for Blackburne. Of course, the database is not complete, but this gives a good impression of two players who enjoyed combat which allowed them to exercise their tactical flair.

    Alexander Alekhine later commented on the "English school and style of chess" which he stated was founded by Blackburne, James Mason and Bird:

    "Bird, always lay greater stress on a thorough study of each tactical unit of a scheme than on judging the expediency of such a scheme.

    That they had good results despite such a primitive conception of chess was due, especially by Blackburne, first to their extraordinary combinatorial talent and, second, to the fact that Wilhelm Steinitz ’s epoch-making explanations of the principles of chess strategy were then only beginning to become popular." [(4)]

    In 1886, Blackburne had won tournaments with Bird coming in second place behind him, The BCA Handicap Tournament and the "Criterion" tournament.

    Blackburne was now 46 years old, and this match took place during his peak period between 1886 and 1888. In 1887, he played three matches defeating George Alcock MacDonnell and then an ailing Johannes Zukertort, (May - June 1887).

    Both he and Zukertort then travelled to Frankfurt (1887), (July - August 1887) where Blackburne came a close second to MacKenzie in a very powerful field.

    Within weeks of this strenuous achievement, he was contesting a match with his nearest British rival, Isidor Gunsberg, who had tied for first in 1887 British Championship and would win the title outright in 1888, - Blackburne - Gunsberg (1887), (September - November 1887). It was reported that Blackburne's health had broken down during the match - Morning Post, Monday 17 October 1887, p. 2. and this time he lost, the match concluding +5 -2 =6 in Gunsberg's favour.

    London 1887 B.C.A. Masters 6.5/9; Bradford 1888 B.C.A. Masters 10/16

    Bird was of master strength but by profession he chose to be an accountant specialising in railway finance. He was 57 years' old, and was in decline from his peak rating in 1875-1880 [(5)]

    By the mid 1880s, Bird was suffering with gout, although still active in tournaments and travelling to give exhibitions. At Vienna (1882) he had been ill with gout for 5 rounds and of his performance at the Second British Chess Association Congress, London 1886, a sympathetic commentator remarked:

    <"Frequently in tourneys of late years has Mr. Bird, for the first half of the contest, held the foremost place. But then his health fails, gout comes on, and the veteran favourite has a hard struggle for even a low place in the prize list. Of course it would be a very hard thing for Mr. Bird to train for anything, such a sufferer is he from chronic gout."> [(6)]

    Bird's recent form had been mediocre. In June 1886, he had lost a match with Gunsberg by 5 games to one, affected by gout his form collapsed. After being a game in the lead he was to lose five games in a row. He had then come fifth the 16th Congress of CCA in Nottingham (August 1886) behind Amos Burn, Emil Schallopp, Isidor Gunsberg and Zukertort, and at the CCA Congress, Stamford (August 1887), Bird shared a disappointing third place with William Henry Krause Pollock and Edmund [bad player ID].

    In December 1887, Bird was a distant seventh in the Third Congress of the BCA, London (November-December 1887). He showed a return to better form in the Handicap Tournament at Simpson's Divan (March-May 1888) coming second to Gunsberg, only to plunge to ninth at the Fourth Congress of the BCA at Bradford in August 1888.

    <The match>

    Mr Lewis seems to have got the type of match he had wanted, highly tactical and with sharp play and combinations. This match was hard fought, with no draws.

    Bird had White in the odd-numbered games.

    1 2 3 4 5 Total
    Bird 1 0 0 0 0 1
    Blackburne 0 1 1 1 1 4

    Progressive scores:

    1 2 3 4 5
    Bird 1 1 1 1 1
    Blackburne 0 1 2 3 4

    <Reflections on the match:>

    "... some time ago that Mr. F. H. Lewis, with his usual generosity, provided the stakes for the recent match between Bird and Blackburne. This match was commenced on a Monday and closed on the following Friday. A game was played on each of the five days, and the whole affair passed off very quietly and satisfactorily. Bird's play seldom reached the full height of his genius, but Blackburne's play was in many instances superb.

    Bird magnanimously said to me a few evenings ago, Blackburne's play against me was very grand. I think it was the finest exhibition of combined force and beauty that I have ever seen on Blackburne's part." And here I may observe that Bird fully agrees with myself and George Henry Mackenzie, that Blackburne's genius for chess would suffice to make half-a-dozen Steinitzes or Zukertorts." [(7)]

    <The Games:>

    [[Game 1]]

    Bird accepted Blackburne's Evans's Gambit and was two pawns up at one stage. Blackburne did not play accurately enough to maintain an attack. Bird then sacrificed one of his additional pawns and after a blunder by his opponent was then able to force two connected passed pawns through on the Q-side.

    click for larger view

    <32.a7> would have given Blackburne a chance to draw, but instead <32.Ne2?!> lost

    [[Game 2]]

    This time Blackburne accepted the Evans's Gambit and for most of the game Bird had the initiative in a tense game with both Kings on opposite wings. Bird seemed to be on the verge of breaking through on the Queenside, but eventually blundered and fell into mating net.

    [[Game 3]]

    Bird chose to defend with an open Sicilian Defence but played the opening very poorly. As a consequence, Blackburne won a Knight for two pawns. Bird defended tenaciously but was slowly ground down losing in 70 moves.

    [[Game 4]]

    Blackburne met Bird's eponymous opening <1.f4> with the aggressive From's Gambit. Blackburne played energetically

    click for larger view

    and Bird's King was too slow to escape to a safe refuge on the Queen-side. Blackburne finished off the game quickly.

    [[Game 5]]

    Bird played a Queen's Fianchetto Defence to counter Blackburne's <1.e4>.

    Blackburne smashed through Bird's King-side and ended the game with a pretty Bishop sacrifice.

    click for larger view



    Games 2,3 and 5 were submitted to database 2nd March 2017.

    [(1)]. "The Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser", (quoting "The Field") Saturday 26th January 1889, p.201. and "H.E. Bird: A Chess Biography", Hans Renette, McFarland, p.401.

    [(2)]. "British Chess Magazine", volume 7, June 1887, p. 263.

    [(3)]. "Morning Post", Monday 3rd December 1888, p.3.

    [(4)]. "New York Times", 25th August 1929, pages 1 and 2 of the sports section, Alekhine.

    [(5)]. and

    [(6)]. "Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News" - Saturday 6th October 1888, p.12.

    [(7)]. "MARS" - "Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News", Saturday 22th December 1888, p.13. George Alcock MacDonnell wrote under the name of "Mars". See Winter's "Chess Notes" 3974. "The Steinitz-Wormald-MacDonnell controversy"

    Original collection and text by User: Chessical

    5 games, 1888

  4. Blackburne - Bardeleben 1895

    A match of five games up, draws not counting, abandoned after nine games, with the score tied three games apiece. The venue was the British Chess Club.

    The match began on the 25th April, 1895:

    "The match between Herr Von Bardeleben and Mr. Blackburne, fixed to commence yesterday, was postponed, upon the former's proposal, till Thursday, at the British Chess Club." [(1)]

    This may have been due to problems funding the match:

    "There seems to have been some danger of the match between V. Bardeleben and Blackburne falling through, but Sir George Newnes has provided the necessary funds, and the match will after all come off. It is to be played, however, at the British Chess Club, and not at Hastings." [(2)]

    "BLACKBURNE v. BARDLEBEN This important match is now in full swing at the British Chess Club, London. Sir George Newnes, M.P. [(3)], has provided the stakes, £25 (approx £3,125/$4,040 in 2017 values - e.d.). The first winner of five games (draws not counting) governed by a time limit of 20 moves per hour, decides the contest.

    Herr Von Bardeleben is well known to our readers as the distinguished Leipsic master. His first brilliant victory was in 1883, when he won the minor tournament in connection with the great London tournament of that year. Since then he has had a successful career both as a match and tournament player. [(4)]

    Blackburne took an early lead and then won two games in a row, but von Bardeleben fought back twice to tie the match:

    "BLACKBURNE v. BARDLEBEN. The two players in this well-fought match have equalised their scores. The English champion has, unfortunately, lost the position he had attained early in the match, and the score now stands three each, with three draws. As the match was for five games up, draws not counting, the result will probably he a drawn battle." [(5)]

    <The Players:>

    According to Edo Historical Chess Ratings, von Bardeleben was tenth and Blackburne 12th in the world - in 1895.

    Chessmetrics' analysis for January 1895 has Blackburne as 7th and von Bardeleben as 11th, by May this had become 7th and 8th respectively -

    At the time of the match, von Bardeleben was 34 and Blackburne 53 year's old.


    Blackburne and Isidor Gunsberg were the leading English players of the time. These were challenging time for "The Black Death" as strong new rivals were emerging especially in Germany and Austro-Hungary. He had come a point and four places behind Curt von Bardeleben and Gunsberg at Breslau (1889). This was also the tournament where Siegbert Tarrasch emerged winning with a dominant 13/17.

    Blackburne came a disappointing tenth in the Meisterturnier of the 7th German Chess Federation Congress at Dresden in Leipzig in September 1892. He improved to fourth in the equally strong 9th Congress in Leipzig in September 1894, but on both occasions he was behind Tarrasch and at Leipzig he also trailed the German master Richard Teichmann who was resident in London at the time.

    Blackburne had lost to Gunsberg - Blackburne - Gunsberg (1887) who had as a result of his showing at Game Collection: New York 1889 challenged and played Steinitz for the world championship - Steinitz - Gunsberg World Championship Match (1890). Blackburne had heavily defeated Bird Bird - Blackburne (1888) and Francis Joseph Lee in 1890, but he suffered a comprehensive defeat at the hands of Emanuel Lasker in 1892 - Lasker - Blackburne (1892)

    This match conveniently marks the beginning of a notable decline in Blackburne's performances. With the exception of his third place at Berlin (1897), an event lacking the absolute top players, in all of the major tournaments in the second half of the 1890's he was outside the major prizes - tenth at Hastings (1895), eleventh Nuremberg (1896) (but the best score of a non-prize winner against the prize winners), twelth at Vienna (1898), and sixth at London (1899).

    [[von Bardeleben:]]

    Von Bardeleben was one of the top 20 players of the 1880s and 1890's and was third in Germany behind Lasker and Tarrasch

    He had become a recognised master by coming fifth at Meisterturnier at Nuremberg (1883). His first at London (Vizayanagaram) (1883) was the start of a series of good performances against strong opposition in the German Chess Association's Meisterturnier. He came fifth at Nuremberg (1883), fourth at Frankfurt (1887) and fourth equal at Breslau (1889) before finally tying for first at 8th Congress (1893).

    Other achievements included 3rd-4th in the very strong Bradford tournament of 1888, 1st-2nd at Leipzig, 1888 and 4th-7th Breslau, 1889, 5th-8th Berlin, 1890.

    Immediately before this match, Von Bardeleben had won a match 4 - 1 against fellow Leipzig master Hermann von Gottschall (March 12th - 25th, 1895).

    <Progress of the match:>

    Played at the British Chess Club.

    Game 1 - 25th April
    Game 2 - 29th April
    Game 3 - 30th April
    Game 4 - 2nd May
    Game 5 - 3rd May
    Game 6 - 6th May
    Game 7 - 10th May
    Game 8 - 13th May
    Game 9 - 16th May

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
    Blackburne 1 ½ 0 ½ 1 1 0 0 ½ 4½
    von Bardeleben 0 ½ 1 ½ 0 0 1 1 ½ 4½]table


    <Progressive score:>

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
    Blackburne 1 1½ 1½ 2 3 4 4 4 4½
    von Bardeleben 0 ½ 1½ 2 2 2 3 4 4½]table


    "The players met again on the 17th May, but no play resulted as von Bardeleben had already got to the time limit, so far as his stay in the country was concerned, and there was no possible time for two more games to be played, and this was the minimum required for winning the match according to the conditions laid down.

    By mutual consent, therefore, the match was declared drawn, with the final score standing as above (+3=3-3). Herr von Bardeleben is to be congratulated on his gallant uphill fight, and Blackburne on the retention of his laurels". [(6)]

    <Contemporary match commentary:>

    The following are excerpts from British Chess Magazine of June 1895, (p.268-270), unless otherwise indicated:

    [[Game 1]]

    "As originally arranged, play in this match was to have commenced on the 22nd April, but at the request of von Bardeleben the first game was not started until the 25th.

    Herr von Bardeleben had the move, and opened with a Vienna, very ably defended by Mr. Blackburne, who ultimately won a Pawn and finally the game."

    Score: Blackburne 1, Bardeleben 0.

    (The following is the first game. Both masters opened very cautiously, but at the twelfth move the German injudiciously advanced his King's pawn. Blackburne improved his position until the 26th move, when his opponent placed <27.Ra1>, the only move to save the game.


    click for larger view


    Eventually Blackburne obtained a pawn, and in the end game he had a Knight against a Bishop, which won him a well-fought battle.") [(7)]

    [[Game 2]]

    The second game was played on the 29th April. Mr. Blackburne opened with <d4>, his opponent adopting a Fianchetto defence. The Englishman got a promising attack, ultimately winning a Pawn, and at the time of adjournment, on the 40th move, had the better game, but on resuming play he made a weak move or two, and had therefore to be content with a draw.

    Score: Blackburne 1, Bardeleben 0, drawn 1.

    [[Game 3]]

    The third game was played on the 30th April, von Bardeleben offering a King's Gambit, which was declined by Mr. Blackburne. An adjournment took place on the 41st move, and on resuming play von Bardeleben by clever manoeuvring succeeded in winning the exchange, and Mr. Blackburne was ultimately left with B and two Ps against R and two Ps, when the game was adjourned till the 2nd May. On resuming hostilities the English champion made a stubborn defence, but the position was a lost one, and he had to resign on the 93rd move.

    Score: Blackburne 1, Bardeleben 1, drawn 1.

    [[Game 4]]

    The fourth game was played on the 2nd May. Mr. Blackburne again opened from the Q's side and got a good game, but von Bardeleben, playing well, did not give him any great chance, and a draw resulted on the 47th move.

    Score : Blackburne 1, Bardeleben 1, drawn 2.

    [[Game 5]]

    The fifth game, played on the 3rd May, showed Blackburne in his best form. He declined the offer of an Evans Gambit, and later sacrificed a Pawn, for which he got a strong attack, and finally won a clear piece. On the 47th move matters were hopeless, and von Bardeleben resigned.

    Score : Blackburne 2, Bardeleben 1, drawn 1.

    [[Game 6]]

    The sixth game was played on the 6th May. After <1. e4 e5>, Mr. Blackburne played the somewhat unusual move <2.Be2>. Von Bardeleben did not seem to get a good game, and about the 15th move began to play somewhat rashly, allowing Mr. Blackburne to assume a strong aggressive position, so that on the 27th move he was able to make a clearance of pieces with the gain of a Pawn, and shortly after, winning another Pawn, brought about a winning end-game, but von Bardeleben played very stubbornly, and did not resign until the 64th move.

    (In the Sixth Game ... Blackburne temporarily sacrificed a knight, which, however, he shortly regained, and in addition two pawns. After this capture his victory was a question of time.") [(8)]

    Score: Blackburne 3, Bardeleben 1, drawn 2.

    [[Game 7]]

    The seventh game was played on the 10th May, and showed the German master in much better form than he had displayed in some of the early games, and he secured a victory in a short game by fine play.

    Score: Blackburne 3, Bardeleben 2, drawn 2.

    [[Game 8]]

    The eighth game was played on the 13th May. Mr. Blackburne started with <1.d3>. Von Bardeleben got a slight advantage, and looked like forcing matters in his favour, but Mr. Blackburne recovered himself and had nearly equalised the positions at the time of adjournment. On resuming play von Bardeleben set up a strong attack, giving up a piece for Pawns, and ultimately won after sixty moves.

    Score: Blackburne 3, Bardeleben 3, drawn 2.

    [[Game 9]]

    The ninth and as it turned out the last game of the match was played on the 16th May. Von Bardeleben opened with a Ponziani, which he treated in a somewhat original manner, and it looked as if he would win the game. Mr. Blackburne, however, was equal to the occasion, and got out of his difficulties, and a draw resulted.

    Score: Blackburne 3, Bardeleben 3, drawn 3."

    ("The match between Bardeleben and Blackburne, at the British Chess Club, was given up as a draw, with the score at three games all and three drawn, in consequence of Herr von Bardeleben having other engagements which prevented his continuing the contest.") [(9)]


    [(1)]. [["London Evening Standard"]], Tuesday 23rd April 1895, p.7.

    [(2)]. [["Nottinghamshire Guardian"]] - Saturday 2nd February 1895.

    [(3)]. Sir George Newnes, (13th March 1851 – 9th June 1910), was a prominent newspaper and magazine publisher and Liberal politician. He was president of the British Chess Club and used his wealth to support English Chess both to provide finance for matches, this match and Lasker - Blackburne (1892) and being the umpire for Mieses - Teichmann (1895).

    [(4)]. [["Newcastle Courant"]], Saturday 4th May 1895, p.2.

    [(5)]. [["Belfast News Letter"]], Thursday 23rd May 1895, p.3.

    [(6)]. [["British Chess Magazine"]], June 1895, p.269.

    [(7)]. [["Newcastle Courant"]], Saturday 4th May 1895, p.2.

    [(8)]. [["Northern Whig"]], Thursday 16th May 1895, p.7.

    [(9)]. [["Morning Post"]], Monday 27th May 1895, p.3.

    see also:


    This is a work of several hands.

    The original collation of the games of this match with material for the introduction was was completed by User: MissScarlett. Additional material was then contributed by User: jnpope and User: Pawn and Two.

    This collection was cloned by User: Chessical and further material added from contemporaneous reports. The introductory text was expanded and scores tables added.

    9 games, 1895

  5. Blackburne - Lee Match, Bradford-London, 1890.

    Commenced: Monday 14th July 1890, Bradford Chess Club; Concluded Monday 11th August 1890,Simpson's Divan London


    Blackburne was white in the odd numbered games.
    Note that draws were only counted into the score from game 6.

    Blackburne = 1 = = = = 1 0 1 1 1 0 = = 8.5
    Lee...........= 0 = = = = 0 1 0 0 0 1 = = 5.5


    Joseph Henry Blackburne was 48 years old and Francis Joseph Lee 33 years old. Blackburne was ranked in the top five players in the world at the time, and the 1880's had been his peak time with his best individual performance being in Game Collection: Frankfurt 1887.


    This match opens the apogee of Lee's career which was the 1890's when he was in the top thirty of players. His best tournament result was at Game Collection: New York 1893, The Impromtu Tournament where he finished third equal, and he went into win two matches against Henry Bird in London 1897.

    "A match for a stake of £50 (approximately £4,700/$6,300 in December 2013 values) between Mr. Blackburne (the English champion) and Mr. Lee (the winner of the recent London handicap), was commenced at the rooms of the Bradford Chess Club, yesterday. The conditions are— the first scorer of six games to win; draws, after the first five, to score half to each player and the match is to be played day-by-day until completion. Mr. H. Muff (president of the Bradford Chess Club) formally opened the match at mid-day, and made the first move for Blackburne.

    Sheffield Independent - Tuesday 15 July 1890.


    Blackburne consistently was the more aggressive player in this match. Lee relied on the French defence and Queen's pawn openings, Blackburne's main defence was the Slav.

    <Contemporary reports:>

    (Game 1) Lee played the French defence, and, after appearing to get an advantage in the opening moves, played with, perhaps, too much caution, and the first game ended in a draw, after 22 moves had been made.

    Sheffield Independent - Tuesday 15 July 1890

    THE BLACKBURNE - LEE CHESS MATCH. To-day, at Bradford, Lee opened the second game with the Giuoco Piano. The game developed into an interesting struggle, though of a close order, and on the twentieth move Blackburne had the initiative well in hand.

    Manchester Evening News - Tuesday 15 July 1890

    CHESS. BLACKBURNE v . LEE. Play in the match between Messrs. Blackburne and Lee was resumed at the Exchange Cafe, Bradford, at one o'clock yesterday afternoon. Mr. Lee opened the second game of the contest with the Guioco Piano, but hesitated with the attack, and thus lost any advantage which might be expected from a bold continuation of the opening. Blackburne pressed so closely that Lee had eventually to abandon any idea of castling, and from the fifteenth move or so was entirely on the defensive. Lee fought very hard, but could not prevent Blackburne gaining a Pawn after forcing the exchange of Queens. In the end of the game the old master had matters pretty much his own way, winning a fairly-contested game in forty-four moves. The time occupied was — Blackburne two hours forty-seven minutes ; and Lee, two hours fifty- two minutes. The score is —Blackburne, one ; Lee nil. Play continues on Thursday.

    Manchester Evening News - Wednesday 16 July 1890

    CHESS. CHESS MATCH AT BRADFORD. The second game in the Blackburne v. Lee chess match at Bradford, was played yesterday. Lee had an opening move, and played a Guioco Piano, which developed in the ordinary way until about the thirteenth move, when Blackburne, finding his opponent doing nothing definite, took up the attack. From that time Lee was kept entirely on the defence, and after about forty moves of remarkably interesting play, Blackburne obtained a perceptible advantage, which he pressed to a win. Forty-four moves wore recorded, the time occupied was : Blackburne, 2h. 47 mins, Lee 2h. 52 mins.

    Sheffield Independent - Wednesday 16 July 1890

    THE BLACKBURNE-LEE CHESS MATCH. The third game in the Blackburne v. Lee chess match was commenced at Bradford this morning. Lee again adopted the French defence. Blackburne manifested some impatience in his attack and made some risky advances. Lee playing with great judgment repelled the attack, and Blackburne, having to play quickly to make up time, was compelled to relinquish a pawn, and remain with an inferior position at the twenty-first move.

    Manchester Evening News - Thursday 17 July 1890

    The Blackburne v. Lee Chess Match.—The fifth game of the Blackburne v. Lee match was played at Bradford yesterday. Lee, playing Black, adopted the French Defence again. The game was drawn on the fifty-third move after Blackburne had consumed three hour 3 and twenty-five minutes, and Lee had occupied three hours and twenty minutes.

    Manchester Evening News - Wednesday 23 July 1890

    THE BLACKBURNE-LEE CHESS MATCH. (Special Telegrams.) The sixth game of the Blackburne-Lee chess match was commenced at Bradford this morning. Lee again played Zukertort's opening. For seven moves that game proceeded absolutely on the same lines as the fourth game. Lee again opened his King's Knights file, but profiting by the previous experience devoted more attention to his Queen's side pawns.

    THE BLACKBURNE-LEE CHESS MATCH. The seventh game of the Blackburne chess match was commenced this morning, and though Lee again played the French defence he played much more boldly than in any previous game, and by making a sacrifice early got distinctly the better of the position, and will probably win. The game is one of extraordinary interest and much complexity, and Blackburne is the exchange and a pawn behind

    Manchester Evening News - Wednesday 23 July 1890

    C H E S S. BLACKBURNE v. LEE. The seventh game of the match between Messrs. Blackburne and Lee was played at Bradford yesterday. The game in its opening gave promise of something brighter than had been seen in the preceding games, although Lee again played the French Defence. Up to Blackburne's eighth move it was merely a copy of the fifth game, but Lee then castled. The second player proceeded to move up his pawns, and to maintain a pawn at king's fifth Blackburne moved his king's side pawns freely. Lee, by checking with the queen on rook's fifth, took up the attack.

    White castled on queen's side and Lee then formulated a formidable-looking attack with queen, rook, two knights, and bishop, giving up one of the knights for two centre pawns. Later on Blackburne gave up the exchange temporarily and formed a pretty combination, which must either recover the loss or, in the alternatives, draw by perpetual check or mate in two. At the adjournment of the afternoon sitting a reduction of the pieces to queen, knight, and bishop each had rendered the possibilities of what had been all through a brilliant and interesting game, somewhat smaller. Blackburne, who was a pawn to the bad, consumed twenty-five minutes in determining upon his last move prior to the adjournment. On the resumption, Lee suddenly gave a fine chance to Blackburne by leaving two pieces subject to danger for the white queen, he having to rely entirely on his queen to serve the three purposes of protecting the two pieces and preventing an immediate mate. It need hardly be said that Blackburne took full advantage of this surprising turn of events, which there is reason to think Lee had anticipated, and won in a few moves. The score is now - Blackburne, two; Lee, nil.

    Leeds Mercury - Friday 25 July 1890

    The eighth game of the Blackburne-Lee match was commenced at Bradford this morning. Lee again played the Zukertort opening game, but in its early stages took entirely different form to those played previously. At about the twentieth move Lee had his pieces well developed, but the defence seemed perfectly sound.

    Manchester Evening News - Friday 25 July 1890

    CHESS. BLACKBURNE v. LEE. The ninth game of the Blackburne v. Lee chess match was played this afternoon at Bradford, and resulted in the resignation of Mr. Lee on the 37th move after three hours' play, Lee played the French Defence again, but Blackburne was able to get an opening attack on his King's side, and Lee resigned a few moves after a sacrifice of a Knight by Blackburne. Score: Blackburne, 3, Lee, 1

    Manchester Evening News - Monday 28 July 1890

    CHESS. MATCH. BLACKBURNE v. LEE. The thirteenth game in this match— which for six games up—was played Simpson's Divan London, on Saturday. The score from the previous day being — Blackburne, 5; Lee, 2; and drawn, 5. It was perhaps owing to the fact that the game might be the deciding one of the match—if won by Blackburne — that large number of spectators, despite the line weather and outdoor attractions, congregated in the room, at times crowding it inconveniently, to witness the play.

    The hopes of any exciting finish were not, however, realised. for Lee again playing the close French defence, never gave his opponent chance, and although draws, which now and are not to his interest he seemed, curiously enough, nevertheless, to be satisfied with drawn game, which ultimately was agreed on the thirty-eighth move, after about three hours play. The score now — Blackburne 5 1/2 , Lee, 2 1/2; and 5 draws. Blackburne need, therefore, only draw his next game to win the match.

    Western Daily Press - Monday 11 August 1890

    THE BLACKBURNE - LEE CHESS MATCH. The fourteenth game in the Blackburne v Lee match was played yesterday, amid some excitement. Lee obtained an early advantage on the Queen's wing, which he pressed with much vigour. At one moment it seemed as if he had winning chances, but relaxing somewhat in his attack, he allowed Blackburne to consolidate his position, and further turn the tables on him by a clever surprise, which won a pawn. Further struggle being hopeless, a draw was agreed upon. This decided the match in Blackburne's favour, the final score being Blackburne six, Lee three. Five other games were drawn.

    Manchester Evening News - Tuesday 12 August 1890

    14 games, 1890

  6. Blackburne - Zukertort

    A return match between Blackburne and Zukertort held in London ENG.

    This was effectively a match between the second and third players in the world behind Steinitz. Blackburne dominated winning by 5 to 1 with 8 drawn games.

    Despite the one-sided result, the quality of the games was seen as high and perhaps superior to those of the recently concluded world championship between Steinitz and Zukertort.

    <Venue and Duration>

    British Chess Club, 37 King Street, Covent Garden, London ( - commenced: Saturday 7th May 1887 and completed: Thursday 9th June 1887. The match lasted 34 days.

    A match has been arranged between Messrs. Blackburn and Zukertort for the winner of the first five games, to be commenced at the British Chess Club in the first week of May. This encounter will no doubt excite great interest among chess players, who may reasonably anticipate that it will be more productive of fine examples of chess play than was Zukertort's encounter with Steinitz a year ago. The remarkable game between Zukertort and Blackburn in 1883, probably the finest the former ever played, is well remembered (Zukertort vs Blackburne, 1883). A match between these two players in 1881 resulted in a victory for Zukertort by 7 games to 2. Another match was arranged but was not concluded, each player having won one game.

    Source - <Morning Post - Monday 18 April 1887, p.2.>



    Zukertort's peak was between 1881 and 1885. In this period he had been first or second in the world rankings, and he achieved his career best performance in London 1883 ahead of an elite field including the top seven players in the world ( At the time of this match Zukertort was 45 years old, and was ranked forth in the world.

    Blackburne was 45. Having been badly affected by the death of his wife in 1880, he had recovered and was ranked second in the world.

    Blackburne's peak was between 1886 - 1888. In 1887, he played three matches prior to facing Zukertort, he had defeated Francis Joseph Lee and George Alcock MacDonnell but lost to Isidor Gunsberg. After defeating Zukertort, Blackburne went onto achieve his greatest career and tournament result in Frankfurt 1887.

    This match was therefore between two masters one just beyond his peak and the other approaching his steadily.



    Through the good offices of different amateurs a match of five games up has been arranged between Mr. Blackburne and Mr. Zukertort. Three games per week are to be played and the time limit is 20 moves per hour. The stakes are nominal, but it is understood a liberal prize has been provided for each player.

    Source - <"The Daily Graphic", NY, USA, Saturday 21 May 1887, p 615.>

    "The Bohemian" reports a match, Blackburne vs Zukertort, promoted by that indefatigable worker in chess. F. H. Lewis. Esq...substantial rewards are provided for both victor and vanquished. This pleasant opinion is added: "There is reason to hope that Dr. Zukertort has recovered his old form." ..

    Source - <"New York Clipper" , NY, USA, May 21 1887, p.16>

    The prinicipal organizer appears to have been Frederic Hyman Lewis, a London barrister who made a number of contributions to chess matches and tournaments. His wife and son gave £150 toi 1th 1899 London Chess tournament in his memory (Source: Otago Witness, Issue 2,371, 10th August 1899, p.48).

    The "St. Louis Globe-Democrat" of May 28, 1887 states that the match is played for $125 (£25 in 1887-

    "I understand that the arrangements are now being made for a match between Messrs. Bird and Blackburne, on similar terms to the match now being played between the latter player and Zukertort. The principal conditions are <1st> -- No stakes, but a purse of £ 25 to be played for, £15 to go to the winner, £ 10 to the loser. <2>. -- The winner of first five games to be the victor, draws not to count. <3rd>. -- Time- limit 20 moves per hour. 4th. -- Play to commence about a fortnight after completion of pending Blackburne-Zukertort match. It is evident that these short and friendly matches continue to maintain their popularity, and I trust they long may do so, as it is evident that Chess gains thereby."

    Source - <"BCM, volume 7, 1887: June 1887, p.263>

    <£15> is approximately £1,450/$2,420 in 2014, and <£10> is approximately £970/£1620 in 2014.

    On sitting down to play both player looked in good form, Mr Blackburne especially seemingly being in the best of health, though hardly so stout looking as he was a little while ago, whilst Mr Zukertort seemed entirely to have thrown off that jaded look which he had on his return from the States which he retained unfortunately for many months.

    Source - <"BCM, volume 7, 1887: June 1887, p.268>

    "The Handicap Tournament, which is now approaching its conclusion, will be succeeded by a match between Messrs Blackburne and Zukertort. The idea originated with Mr F.H. Lewis, who kindly arranged the match and drew up the following conditions in consultation and perfect agreement with the players. The main points are: Play to commence on Saturday, May 7, at the British Chess Club; the winner of the first five games to be the victor; drawn games not to count; three games to be played each week,on Tuesday, Thursdays, and Saturdays ; unfinished games to be played out on the following bye days; hours of play from 2 o'clock till 6.30, and from 8.30 till 11.30 p.m.; time limit, twenty moves per hour."

    Source - <Chess Monthly, volume 8, 1886-87: May 1887, p.257-258>


    <Game scores>

    <thomastonk's> research has revealed that there are some differences in some of the game scores between "BCM" and the "Chess Monthly" in games: 1, 11 and 13. These will be shown against the individual games.

    "Chess Monthly" (published in London) was co-produced by Leopold Hoffer and Zukertort.

    The BCM is the primary source for this collection's game scores.



    Blackburne was White in the odd numbered games.

    table[ Round 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 Total Blackburne ½ 1 1 ½ 0 ½ 1 ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ 1 9 Zukertort ½ 0 0 ½ 1 ½ 0 ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ 0 5]table

    This match was the complete opposite of their 1881 contest (Blackburne - Zukertort (1881) on this occasion, it was Blackburne who had the initiative throughout this match and Zukertort who was continually attempting to catch him up.

    From 1886, although only 44 years old Zukertort's health began a marked deterioration. This led to patchy results and a fall away from the top ten chess masters. After this match he had a poor 15th place in Game Collection: Frankfurt 1887 5th German Chess Federation Congress, Meisterturnier, (July-August 1887) five points behind Blackburne, and 6.5 behind the winner George Henry Mackenzie . This was followed by a mediocre 7th in London in 1887 (November - December 1887) 6 points behind the winner Isidor Gunsberg. This supports the hypothesis that he was now unable to consistently muster and then maintain his physical strength.


    <Contemporary reaction>

    The match between Mr. Blackburne and Dr. Zukertort, which has been progressing during the past week at the British Chess Club, was concluded on Thursday. The last game was a particularly interesting one, and by his masterly play in a very intricate ending Mr. Blackburne won the game and the match, the final score being — Blackburne, 5 ; Zukertort, 1 ; drawn, 8. The fact that there were so many as eight draws in 14 games shows that the players are remarkably evenly matched, and proves how tenaciously Dr. Zukertort conducted an uphill contest. Mr. Blackburne is to be congratulated on his brilliant success. The match produced several brilliant games and many examples of high-class chess strategy. The games are certainly superior to those played between Steinitz and Zukertort last year (Steinitz - Zukertort World Championship Match (1886)) and Blackburne having won by a larger proportion of games than did Steinitz, the wish is very generally expressed that a match between Blackburne and Steinitz may be arranged. As, however, the latter has foregone his intention of visiting Europe this year, that interesting contest, if it should ever come off, will not be for some time.

    Source - <Morning Post - Monday 13 June 1887, p.2.>

    "MATCH: BLACKBURNE v. ZUKERTORT.-- The match was concluded on the 9th ult., the final score being: Blackburne 5, Zukertort 1, and 8 drawn games. As we publish the games, we leave the reader to form his own opinion on their merits, and congratulate Mr. Blackburne cordially on his well-deserved victory. Everything passed off smoothly, and not the slightest contretemps marred the feeling of good-fellowship between the combatants."

    Source - <Chess Monthly, volume 8, July 1887, p.323>

    The match also was great boost for Blackburne's reputation, and his performance against Zukertort was contrasted favourably with Steinitz's own. This match gave Blackburne's reputation a significant filip, he was now seen as a world championship contender.

    I hear that an effort is being made by the leading members of the British Chess Club to arrange a match between Blackburne and Steinitz. The superiority shown by the former over Zukertort in the match now concluded was so decided that friends of the English champion are convinced that he is able to lower the colours of that redoubtable player.

    Source - <Sheffield Evening Telegraph - Monday 20 June 1887, p.2.>

    In the great championship match being played in London between Blackburne and Zukertort the former leads by the score of four to one and six draws, with but one more game to win. The prospects are that be will defeat Zukertort by a more decisive score than that of the Steinitz-Zukertort match, which will confirm Blackburn's claim to the title of chess champion of the world.

    Source - <"The Daily Graphic", NY, USA, Saturday 18 June, p.891.>

    The match between Blackburne and Zukertort, so long and stubbornly contested, has at last terminated in a very decisive victory for the English champion...The match has probably excited a wider interest than any event occurring in the chess world since the conclusion of the Steinitz-Zukertort match last year.

    Source - <Belfast News-Letter - Thursday 16 June 1887, p.3.>


    <Zukertort's health problems>

    It is notable that at the time Zukertort's health problems were not fully recognised. From contemporary reports it was accepted that he had a frail physique and that his health would be delicate but it was not considered to be chronic.

    "Mr Zukertort is now in excellent health , and if his capital performance in the Handicap of the British (British Chess Club Handicap Tournament, June-July, 1888 - ed.) is to be any guide to his present form , he will be a most formidable foe"

    Source - <BCM, 1887, p.218>

    Dr Zukertort being now apparently quite restore to health, much better examples of first-rate modern chess may be expected in the match than in the recent Steinitz - Zukertort contest...

    Source - <Belfast News-Letter - Thursday 16 June 1887, p.3.>

    It is only five years ago that, after winning the London International Tournament, Dr. Zukertort was universally admitted to be pre-eminent as a chess player. The great strain of that contest, however, undoubtedly had an injurious effect upon his delicate constitution, and this effect was increased by the match he played with Steinitz in 1885. He engaged in this contest in spite of urgent medical advice to the contrary, and he returned from America after his defeat in a seriously debilitated state of health. After that time he showed a marked falling off in his powers of chess combination, but he nevertheless won the handicap at the British Chess Club last year. He was engaged in the tournament which is now progressing at the same club, and the excellence of some of his games gave rise to the hope that he was recovering his form.

    Source - <Morning Post - Thursday 21 June 1888, p.3.>

    In the following report of the match, Zukertort's form is affected by fatigue late in two games early in the match:

    (In the second game) ...Dr. Zukertort became tired and a series of rather weak moves on his part contributed in no small degree to Mr. Blackburne's victory. The third, game, played on the 12th, was a more interesting game than any yet played in the match. It was evenly contested to nearly the close, when Dr. Zukertort overlooking a" beautiful combination of Mr.Blackburne's, fell into what looked very like a trap and again contributed to his adversary' score at a point when there was every chance in favour of a drawn game.

    Source - <Australian Town and Country Journal (NSW, Australia) Saturday 9 July 1887, p.44.>

    Only a year later, on the 20th June,1888, Zukertort died suddenly and unexpectedly. He was 46 year's old.

    ...Dr. Frank Jeeves, the house physician of Charing-Cross Hospital ...had since made a post-mortem examination, and found that death was due to cerebral haemorrhage. The kidneys of the deceased were slightly unhealthy ...and the arteries and the base of the brain were diseased....the jury accordingly returned a verdict of death from natural causes.

    Source - <Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser - Monday 25 June 188, p.8.>


    <Steinitz's comments>

    In the current number of the International Chess Magazine, Mr. Steinitz refers to the late Blackburne- Zukertort match, and, after carefully explaining that he has no wish to disparage Mr. Blackburne's " highly creditable performance, "goes on to show that "the previous contest between the same players in 1881 which was played for seven games up under the 15 move (per hour - ed.) time limit, and was won by Zukertort by 7 to 2 and 4 draws, afforded a surer test of relative strength at least for the time being, than the last short match for five wins only, under the 20 move time limit. For frequently the ultimate victor in a match has made a bad start, and it requires no argument to prove that in such a case the really better player is more likely to recover in a long match from the demoralising effect of his first losses than in a short one.

    As regards the time limit, there can be no doubt that Zukertort is essentially a fast player, but I have seen him occasionally take his full time even in sittings of more than eight hours' duration, under the 15 move per hour rule. The games of the match, on the whole, were neither better nor worse than the average of games played under the fast time rule"

    One is tempted to ask, then, where the "highly creditable performance" comes in?

    Source - <Nottinghamshire Guardian - Saturday 16 July 1887, p.8.>



    Many thanks to <User: thomastonk> whose extensive research found original source material in the BCM which he and uploaded and disseminated. He also consulted the "Chess Monthly" (Hoffer & Zukertort), volume 8, Sept 1886 - Aug 1887. This allowed the match dates to be confirmed, and exposed the difference in scores between "Chess Monthly" and "The Field". His contributions added a great deal to this work.

    Thanks also to <User: Phony Benoni> who added the dates to the games in this collection from <thomastonk>'s information.

    14 games, 1887

  7. Blackburne-Gunsberg Match, Bradford-London 1887.

    This was a match between Britain's two best players. Blackburne the 1886 British Chess Federation Champion and Gunsberg who tied for first in 1887 and won the title outright in 1888. They were two very credible and obvious challengers to world champion Steinitz.

    The match was level until Game 10, Gunsberg then pulled away with three wins, two of which were with the Black pieces

    Gunsberg's victory in this match +5,-2,=6 reversed his previous match loss to Blackburne in 1881.


    Commenced: Monday 26 September 1887, Victoria Hotel, Bradford; concluded: Wednesday 9th November 1887, British Chess Club in London.


    This match had national interest. It was opened by the Mayor of Bradford, John Limber Morley, in a prestigious venue the Victoria Hotel (now the Great Victoria Hotel) in Bridge Street, Bradford. This large and impressive brick railway hotel designed by Lockwood & Mawson, is now officially recognised as being of special historical and architectural significance.

    Bradford had grown immensely in the 19th century due to industrialisation and especially textiles. There was the money in the local economy to pay for chess matches.

    “Between 1800 and 1850 Bradford changed from a rural town amongst the woods and fields to a sprawling town filling the valley sides. The town centre expanded and its old buildings were largely replaced by new ones with lavish Victorian architecture still much in evidence today. Bradford was granted city status on 9th June 1897...”.



    This was a match between Britain's strongest players.

    In August 1886, Blackburne had won the British Chess Federation championship. In December 1887, Burn and Gunsberg tied for first, and Gunsberg won the title outright in 1888.

    Blackburne was 45 years old and Gunsberg was 32 years old. Respectively second and third in the world behind Wilhelm Steinitz having both overtaken Zukertort in ratings in 1886 (Chessmetrics). This was before the emergence of Emanuel Lasker and Siegbert Tarrasch and Mikhail Chigorin at the end of the 1890s as the dominant players.

    Blackburn would remain a top-ten player for most of the 1890's. He had won the London tournament in July 1886 and in 1887 he had beaten in match play both Macdonnel and then a declining Johannes Zukertort (Game Collection: Blackburne - Zukertort - by 5 wins to 1 with 8 draws). These were Blackburn's peak years and he rose to be number two behind Steinitz on the rankings. His greatest career achievement winning Frankfurt 1887 was just around the corner.

    Gunsberg peaked at the end of the 1880's, New York, 1889 , Chigorin-Gunsberg Match (Havana), 1890 drawn at 11.5 points out of 23, Manchester, 1890 2nd behind Tarrasch, Steinitz - Gunsberg World Championship Match (1890) losing by 8.5 to 10.5.

    "The difference in style between the two players has been very well brought out in the present match. Gunsberg is impetuous and Blackburne is careful, but both have a wonderful power of combination, and are capable, of very brilliant strokes. The level score points to the probability of a protracted contest, but in any case it may be anticipated that public interest in the match will be maintained to the end. A large proportion of drawn games seems to be inevitable in every first-class match, but it is doubtful whether the custom of not counting them in the score tends to reduce their number"

    Source - <Morning Post - Monday 10 October 1887, p.2.>

    They had played a previous match in 1881, Blackburne winning 5.5 to 2.5. Since that match they had played five times with Blackburne scoring four victories to Gunsberg’s one. These had been tournament games and illustrates the lack of British tournament opportunities at the time, it is notable that three of the five games were in Germany.

    Gunsberg's victory in this match was a great achievement, and gave him the status to be a credible challenger to Steinitz for the world championship.



    CHESS. The match played at Bradford between Blackburne, the champion player of England, and Gunsberg, now stands adjourned, the conditions limiting play at Bradford to three weeks, with four games weekly. Twelve games played resulted in Gunsberg winning four, Blackburne two, drawn six. Play must be resumed in London within two months. The match may be considered a great success, as it was supported by all sections of the community, even non-chess players, headed by the Mayor of Bradford attending it. The quality of the play was dashing and enterprising, therefore also pleasing to chess players.

    Source - <Morning Post - Saturday 15 October 1887, p.3>

    IMPORTANT CHESS MATCH. A chess match, in which five won games are necessary to win, was begun by the renowned players Blackburne and Gunsberg this afternoon at the Victoria Hotel, Bradford. The Mayor of Bradford welcomed the competitors, and made a first move for Gunsberg. The Four Knight's opening was chosen, and, after two hours' play, and twenty-two moves, the game was quite even, Gunsberg working a well-resisted attack on the King side. The play was watched with great interest.

    Source - <Manchester Evening News - Monday 26 September 1887, p.3.>

    The match between Mr. J. H. Blackburne and Mr. I. Gunsberg commences at 1.30 to-day, at the Victoria Hotel, Bradford. The match will go to the winner of the first five games, draws not counting. The time limit is 15 moves an hour. Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays are the days appointed for play.

    Source - <Morning Post - Monday 26 September 1887, p.2.>


    Blackburne was White in the even numbered games.

    table[ Round 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 Total Blackburne 0 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 1 ½ 0 ½ 0 0 5
    Gunsberg 1 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 0 ½ 1 ½ 1 1 8

    +5,-2,=6 in Gunsberg's favour.


    The match was level until Game 10. Despite suffering a disaster in the opening of the Game 8 and resigning in only 11 moves, Gunsberg pulled away from his opponent in the final quarter of the match with three wins, two of which were with the Black pieces. It may be that as reported Blackburne's health took a turn for the worse in the latter stages of the match; he was indisposed after the 11th game.


    <Contemporary reports on the games>

    Game - 1 - Monday 26th September 1887

    IMPORTANT CHESS MATCH. An important chess match between Blackburne and Gunsberg, the scorer of five games to win, was commenced at Bradford yesterday. The Mayor of Bradford made the first move for Gunsberg. The opening developed into the Four Knight’s game. Gunsberg got a strong attack upon the King's side, and finished in a brilliant advance of the Pawn on the King's file, which, combined, with a strong position of his officers, necessitated Blackburne's resignation on the 32nd move, when a mate in five was inevitable. Time occupied: Gunsberg, 1 hour 30 min. ; Blackburne, 1 hour 50 min.

    Source - <Sheffield Independent - Tuesday 27 September 1887, p.7.>

    BLACKBURNE V. GUNSBERG. The first game in this chess match ended last night in a brilliant win for Gunsberg. To-day Blackburne played the Scotch Gambit, varying the usual continuation at the eighth move, which made the game very instructive. At the eighteenth move there was absolutely no advantage, the game being, however, very complicated. When play was adjourned at the 22nd move matters looked highly interesting. There was an assembly of local chess enthusiasts.

    Source - <Manchester Evening News - Tuesday 27 September 1887, p.3.>

    The match between Messrs. Blackburne and Gunsberg was commenced at Bradford on Monday, and the play during the week has excited considerable interest. Four games have now been contested, with the result that each player has won one and two have been drawn. Accounts of the progress of the match have appeared daily in our columns, so that it is now only necessary to refer to the quality of the play. The first game was weakly defended by Blackburne, but Gunsberg's pretty combination at the end has excited much admiration. The second game was poorly played on both sides, Gunsberg missed more than one opportunity of drawing, if not of winning, and Blackburne's victory is mostly to be attributed to his opponent's bad play. The game played on Friday was the most interesting of all. Both players exhibited more boldness than in the previous encounters, and each in turn seemed on the verge of victory, only to be foiled by the accuracy of the defence. It should be remembered that drawn games are not counted, and, as one of the player must win five games, sometime must elapse before the match is concluded.

    Source - <Morning Post - Monday 03 October 1887, p.2.>


    Game - 2 - Tuesday 27th September 1887

    CHESS GUNSBERG v. BLACKBURN. This match was resumed at Bradford yesterday, Blackburn having the move and playing Scotch gambit. The game was perfectly even for 20 moves. On the 21st Gunsberg had a strong advantage in position, which encouraged him to indulge in experimental moves for the purpose of winning when a draw could easily have been secured. He made three successive palpably weak moves which finally brought about defeat, Gunsberg's King not being able to approach two pass Pawns, Blackburn winning a stubbornly fought game in 40 moves. Time :—Blackburn, 2 hours ; Gunsberg, 1 hour 40 minutes.

    Source - <Sheffield Independent - Wednesday 28 September 1887, p.7>

    CHESS. BLACKBURNE v. GUNSBERG. In this competition the players agreed upon resting yesterday, and the match will be continued today. A careful analysis of games first and second shows that both were faulty, and not very fine specimens. In the first game Blackburne made a few initial mistakes, also relying much upon the breakdown of Gunsberg's attack. The second was spoilt through Gunsberg's three weak moves in the end of the game. Barring these faults the games were finely contested, and never lacked interest.

    Source - <Sheffield Independent - Thursday 29 September 1887, p.7>

    THE CHESS MATCH.- The match between Gunsberg and Blackburne was resumed at Bradford yesterday, Blackburne having the move, and playing the Scotch Gambit. The game was perfectly even for twenty moves. Gunsberg subsequently made three successive palpably weak moves, which finally brought about defeat, Gunsberg's King not being able- to approach two passed Pawns, Blackburne winning a stubbornly-fought game in forty moves. Time; Blackburne two hours, Gunsberg one hour and forty minutes.

    Source - <Pall Mall Gazette - Wednesday 28 September 1887, p.10>


    Game - 3 - Thursday 29th September 1887,

    BLACKBURNE V. GUNSBERG. The third game of the match between these players was commenced this afternoon. Gunsberg played Giuoco Piano. The time occupied showed that the game was more carefully opened than the previous ones. After careful development of the pieces, Gunsberg offered the sacrifice of a Knight, which was not accepted. The attack is on the King's side, which is finely defended. The complications of position when the adjournment took place were so delicate that the prediction of the result was quite impossible.

    Source - <Manchester Evening News - Thursday 29 September 1887, p.3.>

    THE CHESS MATCH AT BRADFORD. The third game of the match between Blackburne and Gunsberg was played at Bradford yesterday. Gunsberg played Giuoco Piano, which proceeded to 12th move according to book. Both players had castled on King's side, and White's establishment of the Bishop on King's Knight's fifth gave Blackburne much trouble. White, to gain a Pawn, got his Queen at Queen's Rook's second, when Blackburne might have won Queen by intricate combinations. After this oversight Gunsberg played very well, offering a draw at the 39th move, when only Kings, Knights, and Pawns were left. Blackburne, two hours ; Gunsberg, one and a half.

    Source - <Morning Post - Friday 30 September 1887, p.3.>


    Game - 4 - Friday 30th September October 1887.

    CHESS. The fourth game of the chess match at Bradford between Blackburne and Gunsberg was played last evening. Blackburne played White, and adopted the Ruy Lopez, Gunsberg adopting the Berlin defence. This is much the best game played so far, both masters attacking in turn, and defending in thoroughly sound style. The result could not have been predicted at the 29th move. Gunsberg then forced the game, when Blackburne was within an ace of scoring. At the 38th move Gunsberg offered to draw, which was accepted, and subsequent analysis fully justified the result. Blackburne was two hours one minute, and Gunsberg one hour 52 minutes. Play will be resumed on Monday.

    Source - <Morning Post - Saturday 01 October 1887, p.3>

    At the thirty- eighth move Gunsberg offered to draw, which was accepted. Blackburne, two hours and one minute; Gunsberg, one hour fifty-two.

    Source - <London Standard - Saturday 01 October 1887, p.3>


    Game - 5 - Monday 3rd October 1887

    THE BLACKBURN-GUNSBERG CHESS MATCH. The Blackburne-Gunsberg chess match was resumed this afternoon. Gunsberg offered a King's Gambit, which was declined. Blackburne prepared an attack on the queen's side, which prevented Gunsberg from castling on the King's side. Soon after Blackburne had castled on the King's side Gunsberg got up a powerful attack on the King, and Mr. Blackburne took twenty minutes' consideration over his twenty-second move. Gunsberg's position looks very good, but if this attack does not succeed he has practically no chance.

    Source - <Manchester Evening News - Monday 03 October 1887, p.3>

    CHESS - The fifth game of the match between Blackburne and Gunsberg was played at Bradford yesterday. Gunsberg offered King's Gambit, and Blackburne declined. Gunsberg did not castle, but advanced Pawns on the King's side, and developed a heavy attack on his opponent's castled King with the queen, Rook, two Knights, and Pawns. A smart defence enabled Blackburne to come out with the loss of exchange of two Pawns, but the middle of the game was marred by Gunsberg's losing an opportunity for a certain win. The end of the game was very pretty. It was drawn when Rook and Pawn opposed a Bishop and three Pawns. Blackburne was 1h. 55 min., and Gunsberg 2h. min.

    Source - <Morning Post - Tuesday 04 October 1887, p.3>


    Game - 6 - Tuesday 4th October 1887

    CHESS. In the sixth game of the match between Blackburne and Gunsberg, which was decided at Bradford yesterday, Blackburne played the Queen's Gambit. Gunsberg declined to accept and introduced a comparative novelty by playing Pawn to Kings Knight's third at fourth move. The game was very sound, and neither player was able to obtain any advantage. Exchanges early in the game left it pretty certain that a draw was inevitable, and, though the master played on doggedly with opposite Bishops, one Knight each, and an equal number of Pawns, nothing better could be done.

    Source - <Morning Post - Wednesday 05 October 1887, p.3>

    THE BLACKBURNE-GUNSBERG CHESS MATCH. The sixth game of this chess match at Bradford was commenced this afternoon. Blackburne offered the Queen's Gambit, and Gunsberg declined. The game was remarkably well contested, and neither player was able to get any advantage. At the sixteenth move an exchange of Rooks simplified matters, and the exchange of the Queen's at the twenty-seventh move practically determined a draw. The game was adjourned at the thirty-fourth move. Gunsberg consumed less than, half the time taken by Blackburne.

    Source - <Manchester Evening News - Tuesday 4 October 1887, p.3>


    Game - 7 - Wednesday 5th October, 1887.

    The seventh game of the match between Blackburne and Gunsberg was played at Bradford yesterday, and proved to be one of exceptional interest. Gunsberg played King's gambit, to which Blackburne responded with the Falkbeer Counter Gambit. Neither player castled. Gunsberg, though his King was queen's second early in the game, maintained a strong attack and won two Pawns ; Blackburne never surmounted the embarrassments of his position, and Gunsberg got two powerful passed Pawns, which completely defeated his opponent, who resigned at the fortieth move. Time — Gunsberg, one hour and ten minutes ; Blackburne, one J hour and forty minutes. Present score : Gunsberg, two ; Blackburn, one ; drawn, four.

    Source - <London Standard - Thursday 06 October 1887, p.2.>


    Game - 8 - Thursday 6th October 1887.

    THE BLACKBURNE - GUNSBERG CHESS MATCH. A remarkable change took place in today's play in this match at Bradford, a game being disposed of at one o'clock in 42 minutes. Blackburne opened with the Ruy Lopez, and at the seventh move Gunsberg, who, as usual, was playing the opening very quickly, committed a grave blunder, which led to his resignation upon the eleventh move. Time: Gunsberg, 15 min.; Blackburne, 27min.

    Source - <Manchester Evening News - Thursday 06 October 1887, p.3>


    Game - 9 - Thursday 6th October 1887.


    The players then proceeded with the ninth game, in which Blackburne played French defence. The game was wearisome and stereotyped, and at the fifteenth move it was agreed to draw, as remaining Bishops were on opposite colours. Play was adjourned till Monday.

    Source - <Sheffield Independent - Friday 07 October 1887, p.5.>


    Game - 10 - Monday 10th October 1887

    BLACKBURNE V. GUNSBERG. The chess match was resumed at Bradford this afternoon with the score standing at two games each and five draws. Blackburne played Queen's Bishop's opening. After Blackburne had castled, Gunsberg got up a heavy attack on the King's side and compelled him to place the King on the King's second. The position is very complicated and all the pieces are on the board, except one Knight and a Bishop. Twenty six moves have been made.

    Source - <Manchester Evening News - Monday 10 October 1887, p.3>


    Game 11 - Tuesday 11th October 1887/Wednesday 12th October 1887

    BLACKBURNE V. GUNSBERG. This match was resumed to-day. Gunsberg played the White. Blackburne adopted the French defence. Gunsberg eventually pushed his Pawn to the King's fifth, thus altering the tactics from Thursday's game. Both castled on the King's side. Gunsberg at once proceeded with the attack. At the adjournment the game looked rather interesting. The tenth game was won by Gunsberg after seventy-seven moves. The score at present stands Gunsberg three, Blackburne two, and five drawn.

    Source - <Manchester Evening News - Tuesday 11 October 1887, p.3.>

    CHESS. — The 11th game of the match between Blackburne and Gunsberg, which was adjourned on Tuesday, terminated in a draw yesterday, Blackburne deciding to allow Gunsberg to draw the game by perpetual check. He certainly could have played the ending with three minor pieces against the Queen, but it was very difficult to foresee what would have been the result of Gunsberg's attack on the Rook's file. Subsequent analysis shows that Gunsberg's attack, although powerful, could not have been fatal, Blackburne defending in excellent style. Owing to Blackburne's indisposition another game was not commenced, and the match will be resumed to-day.

    Source - <Morning Post - Thursday 13th October 1887, p.3>

    CHESS MATCH. BLACKBURNE v. GUNSBERG.-Play was resumed yesterday, Blackburne (Black) playing the French Defence. The usual moves were made up to the twelfth, when Gunsberg initiated an attack by a Pawn to a King Knight third. Both players had then castled King's Rook. Then Gunsberg followed with the King's Knight second Rook Rook square, &c. The game became very exciting. Blackburne succeeded in establishing a strong counter attack on the queen's side, compelling Gunsberg to force the pace by sacrificing the Knight. The game adjourned at the fortieth move. Blackburne, 2 hours 15 minutes; Gunsberg, 2 hours, 30 minutes. Play will be resumed today.

    Source - <Leeds Mercury - Wednesday 12th October 1887.>

    CHESS. BLACKBURNE v. GUNSBERG. The eleventh game (which was adjourned on Tuesday) of chess between these masters terminated in a draw yesterday. Blackburne decided to allow Gunsberg to draw the game by perpetual check. He certainly could have played, ending with three minor pieces against the Queen; but it was very difficult to foresee what would have been the result of Gunsberg's attack on Rook's tile. Subsequent analysis shows that Gunsberg's attack, although powerful, could not have been fatal. Blackburne defending in excellent style.

    Owing to Blackburne's indisposition another game was not commenced.

    Source - <Sheffield Independent - Thursday 13 October 1887, p.7>

    After a long examination before adjournment Black decided to allow White to draw the game by perpetual check. Black certainly could have got out with three minor pieces against the queen, but it was very difficult to foresee the result of White's attack on the Rook's file.

    Source - <Morning Post - Saturday 15 October 1887, p.3>


    Game 12 - Thursday 13 October 1887.

    The twelfth game of the match between Blackburne and Gunsberg was played on Thursday at Bradford. played White and opened with the Lopez, to which Gunsberg responded in the usual way, Blackburne adopted the unusual course of castling on the queen's side after his opponent had castled on the King's side, thereby abandoning the King's Knight's Pawn. A very interesting contest ensued, but Gunsberg defended soundly, maintaining his advantage and being three Pawns ahead on the forty-fourth move when Blackburne resigned. Score:—Gunsberg, four; Blackburne, two ; drawn, six.

    Source - <Derby Daily Telegraph - Friday 14 October 1887, p.4.>

    BLACKBURNE V. GUNSBERG. The twelfth game in the chess match was commenced at Bradford today, and, at the adjournment for dinner, was left in a position which did not show advantage on either side. It is a Ruy Lopez game. Blackburne playing White, again adopted the old-fashioned continuation of Q—K2 (Qe2), and also departed from custom by castling on the queen's side. Eighteen moves occupied an hour and a half.

    Source - <Manchester Evening News - Thursday 13 October 1887, p.3>


    Game 13 - Wednesday 9 November 1887 (British Chess Club, Covent Garden, London).

    The match between Messrs. Blackburne and Gunsberg stands adjourned, to be completed in London. Those who have been interested in following the play are doubtless disappointed that the match was not finished at Bradford.

    The three weeks during which the players undertook to remain in that town have, however, expired, and it appears that there is a further reason for adjourning in the unsatisfactory state of Mr. Blackburne's health. Twelve games were contested, which, generally speaking, were of a high order of merit. The score stands at present — Gunsberg, 4 ; Blackburne, 2 ; drawn, 6.

    Source - <Morning Post - Monday 17 October 1887, p.2.>

    Chess.— The match between Blackburne and Gunsberg, recently commenced at Bradford and adjourned, was resumed yesterday at the British Chess Club in London. Gunsberg opened with Queen's Pawn, and attacked vigorously, but Blackburne defended well, and even positions resulted. On the 25th move Blackburne injudiciously advanced a Pawn, enabling Gunsberg to win his Queen. Blackburne was mated on the 42nd move, the time being — Gunsberg, 1 hour 55 min; Blackburne, 2h. 10 min. By this victory Gunsberg, with the score of 5 to 2 games and 6 draws, wins the match.

    Source - <Morning Post - Thursday 10 November 1887, p.3>


    Thanks to User: thomastonk whose who provided a breakdown of the Blackburne - Gunsberg games played between their 1881 and 1887 matches and who realised that there was another and 13th game to the match. His research provided the score to the 13th game from the <"BCM", Vol. 7, p. 454>.

    Thanks also to User: Karpova for indicating valuable secondary sources.


    13 games, 1887

  8. Bogoljubov - Eliskases 1939

    After the Nazi annexation and absorption (Anschluss) of Austria (12th March 1938), Austrian chess players such as Erich Eliskases, Albert Becker, Ernst Gruenfeld and Josef Lokvenc were incorporated into the National Socialist organisation the Grossdeutsche Schachbund (Greater German Chess Federation - GSB).

    Becker, on behalf of the Austrian Chess Association, quickly wrote to Otto Zander, the head of the GSB, "In indelible gratitude towards the man who has led us German Austrians to freedom and unity, we greet our chess comrades in the Greater German Chess Federation with Heil Hitler!" [(1)]

    Eliskases was the German Champion in both 1938 and 1939. The only other grandmaster of equal stature in the Greater German Chess Federation was Efim Bogoljubov.

    At the time of the match, Bogoljubov was almost fifty whilst Eliskases was twenty-five year's old. Bogolubov was no. 11 and Eliksases no. 9 in the January 1939 Chessmetrics rating list [(2)]

    <The match:>

    The match was of twenty games and was played between 4th January and 12th February 1939 in eleven towns and cities in Germany. The itinerary involved over 1,700 km (1,078 miles) of travel.

    Although opening in the capital, Berlin, from then on the match's progress was an untidy zigzag path across Southern Germany and in particular Bavaria. In its itinerary, only Berlin and Munich were, by population, in the top ten cities of the country.

    After two games in Berlin, the first leg south was 160 km west to the medieval city of Magdeburg on the River Elbe for one game. Then it was then south to Regensburg in Bavaria which was a 450 km journey and which passed by the great cities of Dresden and Leipzig. The third leg, north-west through Bavaria to Nuremberg, was less taxing at 110 km. Bamberg was a short hop north at 62 km, but the next stage, south to Augsburg, passing Nuremberg again, accounted for 207 km. Then, it was 72 km south-east to the Bavarian state capital of Munich, and a further 90 km south-west to the small Swabian town of Kaufbeuren.

    The tiny Black Forest town Triberg, involving a 267 km trek west may seem a surprising choice, but it was also Bogoljubov's adopted home. The players then proceeded north-west and into the Rhineland-Palatinate to play at Kaiserslautern (250 km) and finally, the match ended to the east amidst the baroque splendour of Mannheim (67 km). Bogolubov would have been familiar with this having played across the country from his world championship matches against Alekhine. The constant upheaval and travel of this peripatetic match does not seem to have weighed more heavily on the older grandmaster, as he scored more points in the second half of the match!

    [ Game Venue

    1. Berlin
    2. Berlin
    3. Magdeburg
    4. Regensburg
    5. Nuremberg
    6. Nuremberg
    7. Bamberg
    8. Augsburg
    9. Augsburg
    10. Munich
    11. Munich
    12. Munich
    13. Kaufbeuren
    14. Triberg
    15. Kaiserslautern
    16. Kaiserslautern
    17. Mannheim
    18. Mannheim
    19. Mannheim
    20. Mannheim


    It seems extremely probable that this match was held to decide whom the Grossdeutsche Schachbund would support as a prospective challenger to Alexander Alekhine for the world championship. Would it be the established but ageing Bogoljubov or the much younger Eliskases? Eliskases had won the 1938 and 1939 championships of the Grossdeutsche Schachbund whilst Bogoljubov had twice been the world championship contender to Alekhine, Alekhine - Bogoljubov World Championship Match (1929) and Alekhine - Bogoljubov World Championship Rematch (1934)

    <The players:>


    Bogoljubov was a strong tactician and this was allied to an optimistic character. In terms of positional skill, he was significantly behind Alekhine and Capablanca.

    Bogoljubov's peak had between the second half of the 1920's when he was 4-5th in the world rankings. Efim Bogoljubov in the late 1930s had a series of mediocre results in top-class international tournaments. He had been 10th out of 15 at Nottingham (1936), 3rd of 4 in Bad Nauheim-Stuttgart-Garmisch (1937) and 5th of 10 at Noordwijk (1938). Whilst there were some successes, such as winning the strong Stuttgart tournament (May 1939), this appears to have been a period of on-going decline. [(3)]

    [(2)] See Chessmetrics,


    Eliskases was a predominantly positional player with a particular technical proficiency in the ending.

    During the 1930s, Eliskases became one of the strongest players in the world. He was a member of the Austrian national team in the Chess Olympiads of 1933 (Folkestone) and 1935 (Warsaw) where he scored the highest individual score on the third board.

    In the late 1930s, his success at major international events put Eliskases into consideration as a plausible world championship candidate for the 1940's along with Reuben Fine, Salomon Flohr, Paul Keres and Reshevsky. Eliskases put together a run of very impressive tournament victories: Swinemünde (Świnoujście) in 1936, Zurich in 1938 and he won in Noordwijk (1938) (ahead of Paul Keres and Max Euwe, with Bogoljubov in fifth place), Milan 1939 and Bad Harzburg and Bad Elster (both 1939).

    Both World Champions of the 1930s used his services as a second, Euwe in 1935 and Alekhine in 1937.

    Eliskases was 'Österreichischer Vorkämpfer' (Austria's foremost standard bearer). According to Chessmetric's data, Eliskases was behind Reuben Fine (#2) Samuel Reshevsky (#3) Max Euwe (#7) Salomon Flohr (#8) and Mikhail Botvinnik (#12) in the world rankings.

    There was no doubt that he was a strong grandmaster, up to end of 1939 Eliskases' personal score against the world's leading players was: Paul Keres (+3 =2 -2), Alexander Alekhine (=0 =2 -2), Jose Raul Capablanca (+1 =2 -1), Max Euwe, Samuel Reshevsky (+0 =0 -2), Salomon Flohr (+1 =2 -6), Reuben Fine (+0 =2 -1).

    Whilst he had shown he was very strong, he had not yet shown that he was exceptional. His performances at the elite tournaments: Podebrady (1936), 6th = (+6 =7 -4), Moscow (1936), 7th= which was last place (+2 =11 -5) Semmering/Baden (1937), 6th which was second to last (+2 =8 -4), had been disappointing.

    <The progress of the match>

    Eliskases was White in the odd-numbered games.

    Halfway through the match at Game 10, Eliskases was three games up. Bogoljubov had not won since the opening game of the match, yet did not fold. Instead showed his fighting spirit. In the next ten games, Bogoljubov won two games and only lost one further game.

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 Bogoljubov 1 ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ 0 0 0 ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ 0 1 0 ½ ½ ½ 8½ Eliskases 0 ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ 1 1 1 ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ 1 0 1 ½ ½ ½ 11½ ]table

    Progressive score:

    Eliskases was ahead in the match from Game 7 until its conclusion.

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 Bogoljubov 1 1½ 1½ 2 2½ 3 3 3 3 3½ 4½ 5 5½ 6 6 7 7 7½ 8 8½ Eliskases 0 ½ 1½ 2 2½ 3 4 5 6 6½ 6½ 7 7½ 8 9 9 10 10½ 11 11½ ]table

    From Game 8, he was never less than two points ahead.

    Eliskases was much more effective with the White pieces than his opponent; Bogoljubov only won one game with White (Game 16) whilst Eliskases won five.

    In defence, Bogoljubov won two games with Black and lost five, whilst Eliskases as Black won one but lost two.

    <The games>

    [[Game 1]] - Eliskases played a topical line against Bogoljubov's Nimzo-Indian. Whether by choice or by chance, Eliskases was following his opponent's method of play in the Classical variation; Bogoljubov vs Saemisch, 1937. Bogoljubov equalised and then outplayed his opponent in a Rooks and Knights late middlegame. Just before the time control, Bogoljubov became distracted by his opponents Passed <a> pawn and missed the winning line <40...Nxd4> playing his Rook to <a2> instead.

    click for larger view

    Luckily for him, Eliskases also missed <41.Rb3+> which would have snatched a draw from imminent defeat.

    Bogolubov was to use this variation himself in Game 14, as he deployed a wide variety of systems against his opponent's Queen Pawn opening from established to the experimental.


    [[Game 2]] - Bogoljubov chose a solid but old-fashioned opening, the Giuoco Pianissimo, which three years before he had won a spectacular game with Black against - G Machate vs Bogoljubov, 1936. Eliskases played energetically and drew the Rook and Pawns ending.


    [[Game 3]] - Having played an antique opening with White in the previous game, Bogoljubov defended with a hyper-modern Modern Benoni defence. Eliskases secured the centre but Bogoljubov had sufficient counterplay before he made a number of second-best moves in a sharp position and lost. Once again, Eliskases presented him with one fleeting opportunity to draw but he missed it.

    click for larger view

    Eliskases played the natural <30.Kg2?!> whereas <30.Rf2!> wins as after <30...Bxf2+> 31.Kg2! leaves the Black Queen with no squares, whilst taking the <b2> pawn loses the vital key-stone pawn on <d6>. The match score was now tied.


    [[Game 4]] - Bogoljubov remained faithful to <1.e4> but this time chose a Ruy Lopez. Eliksases used a long theoretical line of the Open defence following his opponent's moves from another Bogoljubov victory A Becker vs Bogoljubov, 1938 the previous year. It seems that as with game two, this was the result of studying of his opponents' games in preparation for the match.

    Bogoljubov won a pawn but despite trying for many moves, he could not win with two pawns versus one with both sides having Black-squared bishops.


    [[Game 5]] - Eliskases' second game using the Classical variation of the Nimzo-Indian was more successful than the first in that he drew, but he was unable to handle any initiative from the opening as White.


    [[Game 6]] - With Black in a closed Ruy Lopez, Eliksases used a defence he had previously played in his 1932 match with Spielmann - Spielmann vs E Eliskases, 1932. In a game that proceeded methodically without tactical surprises, a bishops of opposite colour ending led to a draw after 45 moves.


    [[Game 7]] - This game began as another Classical Nimzo-Indian but Bogoljubov transposed into a QGD. Eliskases slowly outmanoeuvred his opponent and dominated the centre. Defending a cramped position Bogoljubov shed pawns and finally resigned three pawns down.


    [[Game 8]] - Bogoljubov unveiled a new opening, the Catalan, and Eliskases defended with a closed version. Eliskases had a passed <c> pawn which Bogoljubov mishandled. This toxic pawn fatally tied him down in the endgame and Bogoljubov recorded his second loss in two games.


    [[Game 9]] - With Black and two successive losses, Bogoljubov employed the solid Slav Defence. He developed a comfortable position, but an oversight gave his opponent the advantage.

    click for larger view

    <31...Bb7?> instead of Qxc5 allowed Eliskases to play <32.Rd6!> establishing a very powerful protected passed pawn. Bogoljubov attempted to launch an attack before an endgame emerged which would have been hopeless for him. It seemed he had chances by insinuating his Queen into Eliskases' King-Side. Instead, his opponent had seen more and trapped the Black Queen.


    [[Game 10]] - Bogoljubov now had White, as he had suffered three losses in a row he could be expected to be "out for blood". Eliskases defended with the combative Two Knight's Defence when he could have easily gone into quiet lines along the lines of Game 2. Bogoljubov had some advantage and eventually won a pawn, but Eliksases easily held the ending.

    This was to be the last <e> pawn opening of the match. The first half of the match completed, Eliskases was four wins to one up; there was the real prospect of a rout with Bogoljubov succumbing to demoralisation.


    [[Game 11]] - Eliskases has the initiative. He now had White have scored 3.5 out of 4 points in the proceeding games. This game could break Bogoljubov' resistance.

    Bogojubov's answer to his predicament was the sharp Budapest Gambit. Bogojubov tactically outplayed his younger opponent and developed overwhelming pressure on the King-side costing Eliksases both a piece and the game.


    [[Game 12]] - Bogojubov chose to open with a Queen-side debut and Eliskases defended with a Queen's Indian Defence. Obviously buoyed up by his previous win, Bogoljubov played energetically and should have won this game. With two connected outside passed pawns, he wasted a move by pushing the wrong one had had to resort to a perpetual check.

    click for larger view

    <45.b4?> drew but <45.a5!> wins. [45. a5 Rxg3+ 46. Kd2 Rd3+ 47. Ke2 Rxb3 48. a6 Rb2+ 49. Kd1 Rb1+ 50. Kd2 Rb2+ 51. Kc3 Rc2+ 52. Kb3 Rd2 53. a7]


    [[Game 13]] Bogojubov came close to winning this game on the black side of a Slav Defence

    Despite spoiling a winning position in the previous game, Bogojubov was still fighting hard but in this game, his opponent showed great resilience and technique. Eliskases managed to construct a draw-by-stalemate two pawns down.


    click for larger view


    [[Game 14]] - Bogoljubov as White chose the Classical Nimzo-Indian. He overplayed his by castling Queen-side (Keres also came to grief with this idea - Keres vs Botvinnik, 1941) and was only saved when Eliskases overlooked a tactic.

    click for larger view

    <23.Bxh7+!> Kf8 24. Bc2

    The final position bears testament to the "hair-trigger" nature of the game:

    click for larger view


    [[Game 15]] - Bogojubov defended with a new defence in this match, the Grunfeld. He was quickly overwhelmed by a King-side attack culminating in a knock-out blow:

    click for larger view

    24. Nf5!! [<24...Qe6> (24... gxf5?? 25. Qg3) 24... Bxf6 25. exf6 Qd7 26. Nh6+ Kh8 27. Re7 Qc6 28. Nxf7+ Rxf7 29. Rxf7 Qc5+ 30. Kh2 ]


    [[Game 16]] - Eliskases again defended with a Queen's Indian Defence despite his experience in Game 12. For a long time, the game was equal until Eliskases blundered and allowed Bogoljubov to establish two connected passed pawns. Bogoljubov had pulled a game back but was still two games down.


    [[Game 17]] - On the White side of a QGD, Eliskases whipped up a King-side attack. Once again, Bogoljubov was to suffer a disaster on <f5>

    click for larger view


    Eliskases was now three games up.


    [[Game 18]] - Three points ahead, Eliskases introduced the solid Lasker's Defence to the QGD into the match repertoire. Bogoljubov could make no headway and a completely drawn ending ensued.


    [[Game 19]] - Bogoljubov once again varied his defence by playing the first QGA of the match. In the following position, Bogoljubov made a critical decision.

    click for larger view

    Instead of taking the Rook on <b7>, he tried to complicate and protected his Knight with <25...Bd8>. The transaction was to leave him two pawns down. Bogoljubov defended with tenacity, but Eliskases stumbled and missed the win in the long Bishop and Pawn endgame.


    [[Game 20]] - Bogoljubov, with the White pieces, could have agreed on a quick draw, but he fought on. Eliskases, as in Game 18, used Lasker's Defence to the QGD. Eliskases had weak pawns on the Queen-side but Bogoljubov could not exploit this advantage and the game was drawn.



    Whilst the match was in progress, the British Prime Minister, Chamberlain was in Rome trying to negotiate with Mussolini. The clouds of war were gathering in Europe and neither player was to have an opportunity to take further part in the world championship.

    Eliskases was left isolated without financial or national support in South America. From there, he had little opportunity to stake a claim for consideration as a candidate. For the ageing Bogoljubov, his time as a realistic challenger for the crown was over. He lost to Euwe (+2 -5 =3) - Euwe - Bogoljubov (1941) at Karlsbad (Karlovy Vary), but more importantly, his reputation was to be irrevocably soiled by association with Nazi Germany.


    [(1)] "The Chess Game as Phenomenon of the Cultural History of the 19th and 20th Centuries", Edmund Bruns. Quoting M. Ehn, "Zwei Männer und Anschluß 1938" in "Der Standard", 20th January 1991.

    [(2)] See:

    [(3)] See:

    Eliskases wrote a book about the match: "Der wettkampf Bogoljubov-Eliskases, 1939", Erich Eliskases, Magyar Sakkvilág (1939).

    The game collection was cloned from: User: Pawn and Two who also used Eliksases' book of the match to supply the dates and locations of the games. Also see "Chess Results 1936-1940", Di Felice, p.272.

    Text by User: Chessical.

    20 games, 1939

  9. Bogoljubov - Nimzowitsch

    This was a short four game match between two emerging masters Efim Bogoljubov (aged 31) and Aron Nimzowitsch (aged 33) whose progress had been held back for half a decade by the disaster of the First World War but who would both achieve great tournament successes in the 1920s.

    They had only played once before Bogoljubov vs Nimzowitsch, 1914 with Nimzowitsch winning with Black.

    This match was played in played between 1st and the 7th September 1920 [(1)] in the rooms of the Stockholm Schacksallskap, The Grand Hôtel in Stockholm. The hotel situated on the waterfront near to the Royal Palace; was and continues to be a premium luxury hotel.

    Sweden offered a rare opportunity for grandmaster chess. Neutral in the First World War, the demand for Swedish exports in a seller's market allowed the Swedes to pay their high national debt off and lower their interest rates. The newly wealthy country could afford the luxury of hosting chess tournaments when other economies were struggling to recover.[(2)]


    Bogoljubov had barely broken into the master ranks before the First World War. His best results were first at Łódź 1913 ahead of Salwe and second to Karel Hromadka in the All Russian Amateur Tournament (Liepāja) 1913. In January 1914, at the All Russian Master's Tournament he came 8th (9½ points) behind the winners Alexander Alekhine and Nimzowitsch (13½ points)

    Although arrested and held in Germany during the First World War, Bogoljubov had the opportunity to play strong masters as the interned Russian masters organised their own tournaments.

    Bogoljubov had been in Sweden for over a year along with Rudolf Spielmann, Richard Reti and slighlty later Akiba Rubinstein. Efim Bogoljubov played in "J.G.Schultz Memorial" (Stockholm) in November 1919, The Four Master's Tournament (Stockholm) in December 1919, played a match of 12 games against Rubinstein (January 1920) losing 5½ to 6½ and a match against the Swedish player Arthur Hakansson, (Kristianstad) [(3)]


    Nimzowitsch's security and opportunity to build his career rapidly were all destroyed due to the First World War. His homeland, Latvia had been invaded by the German and then by Red Army when it struggled to become an independent country. There would not be peace until the Latvian–Soviet Peace Treaty was signed on 11th August 1920.

    The early 1920s were consequently a precarious time for Nimzowitsch. He needed to restore his status as a master urgently. In 1920, he was 33 years old and with little money left he had to secure a living in a foreign country. He had been grinding out an existence by giving simultaneous displays and lectures in Latvia [(4)]. It would not be until 1923 with Copenhagen (1923) and Karlsbad (1923) that he began to play and in and win major tournaments which took him to third place in the rankings by the end of the decade.

    Nimzowitsch's first grandmaster tournament after the war was in Game Collection: Gothenburg 1920 (August 2nd - 20th, 1920). Nimzowitsch had not played tournament chess since St. Petersburg (1914) six years before. He was visibily nervous and played poorly, losing his last three games and finishing twelfth.

    Twelve days later, he would open this match against Bogoljubov, who had come third at Gothenberg behind Richard Reti and Akiba Rubinstein. This was to be a hard fought match revealing that Nimzowitsch's play was not yet in a good or stable form. This would take another two years during which his "hypermodern style" was honed. Nimzowitsch's first game victory was to be his only one in the match. In the next three games his play became less exact as he progressed into the later middlegame.

    <The progress of the match>

    1 2 3 4
    Bogoljubov 0 1 1 1 3
    Nimzowitsch 1 0 0 0 1 ]table

    Progressive score:

    1 2 3 4
    Bogoljubov 0 1 2 3
    Nimzowitsch 1 1 1 1 ]table

    Nimzowitsch was White in the odd numbered games.

    <The games>

    [[Game 1]] In the first game, Bogoljubow had Black and played aggressively. He then overstepped the mark, blundered and Nimzowitsch was able to finish him off with a coup de grâce.

    click for larger view



    [[Game 2]] The second game was a long grind. Bogoljubov accrued little advantage out of the opening. Bogoljubov had a Rook and two pawns for two Bishops. The two prelates were not particularly beneficial until Nimzowitsch began to play inexactly in the late middle game as he suffered in the toils of time trouble. Eventually, Nimzowitsch had two pawns for a Bishop but could not hold a difficult but not definitely lost ending.


    [[Game 3]] Nimzowitsch played his favourite Advanced French against Bogoljubov's second deployment of the French Defence. Nimzowitsch was unable to secure an advantage with the White pieces as Bogoljubov dominated the centre.

    Bogoljubov secured the game with a dramatic 28th move:

    click for larger view


    Nimzowitsch now to had win his next game with Black.


    [[Game 4]] Nimzowitsch, with the Black pieces, used an old favourite the Philidor Defence. He equalised without any real difficulty. As in Game 2, his play deteriorated in the late middle game and Bogoljubov was able to avenge his humiliation in the first game with his own spectacular Rook sacrifice:

    click for larger view




    [(1)]. The start and end dates are given on p.193 of the November-December edition of "Tidskrift För Schack", Nr.11-12, vol 26. Nimzowitsch annotated the first game and Bogoljubov the third and fourth games of the match in this edition.


    [(3)]. "Aron Nimzowitsch: On the Road to Chess Mastery, 1886-1924", Per Skjoldager, Jørn Erik Nielsen, p.277

    [(4)]. "Aron Nimzowitsch: On the Road to Chess Mastery, 1886-1924", Per Skjoldager, Jørn Erik Nielsen, p. 274-5)

    Original collection and text by User: Chessical.

    Game 4 found and submitted to database.

    Thanks to: User: MissScarlett ; User: Tabanus and User: zanzibar for reading over the text and suggesting improvements and additional material.

    4 games, 1920

  10. Bogoljubov-Rubinstein

    From Thursday 8th January to Sunday 1st February 1, 1920 Akiba Rubinstein and Efim Bogoljubov contested a febrile match which took place in Gothenburg and Stockholm chess clubs, Sweden.[(1)]

    After the devastation of the First World War, there was little opportunity for grandmaster tournaments across an exhausted Europe. One exception was Sweden whose neutrality had allowed it to sell raw materials and manufactured goods in a buyer's market at premium prices. Consequently, in the immediate post-war year's Sweden became a hub of European chess activity. Aron Nimzowitsch, Bogoljubov, Richard Reti, Rudolf Spielmann and Akiba Rubinstein all spent considerable amounts of time in the country in 1919-1920.


    There were three strong tournaments in Sweden paying during this period: Stockholm in 1919 and Gothenburg (1920) and Stockholm again in 1920. Bogoljubov played in each and showed he was in good form. In the first Stockholm tournament, he was first ahead of Spielmann and Reti, in Gothenburg he was third behind Rubinstein and Reti in a strong field of mostly central European masters and he was first again in Stockholm 1920.

    He also played two matches of which this was the first; in the second - Bogoljubov - Nimzowitsch (1920) 1st and the 7th of September 1920 - he defeated Nimzowitsch.

    Bogoljubov's rating had risen rapidly since 1915, whilst Rubinstein's had fallen. Before the war, Bogoljubov would have had little chance in such a match, but 1920 was a new and a different time. [(2)]

    This match gave Bogoljubov a professional reputation and exposure he had no previously enjoyed.

    "Mr A. J. Mackenzie...remarks: “(Bogoljubov)'s fine play enables us to understand how this comparatively new master has stepped quickly into the front rank professional experts” [(3)]


    "…he is the greatest artist amongst chess players...with Rubinstein all is refined tranquillity; for with him in building up his game the position given to every piece is the necessary one. It is not a matter of a fight for him (the contrast here is clearly with Lasker), but the working out of a victory, and so his games create the impression of a great structure from which no stone dare be lifted." [(4)]

    Rubinstein had played only the occasional domestic chess tournament in Poland during the war, but as the war ended he played in several very strong events in Germany.

    In January 1918, he defeated Carl Schlechter in a close match (+2 =3 -1). His form collapsed in a quadrangular tournament in Berlin (April - May 1918) - Berlin Four Masters (1918) - where he could score only two draws out of eight games. In a second Berlin quadrangular tournament - Berlin Grandmasters (1918), in September 1918, he greatly improved, coming second to the world champion Lasker. Rubinstein's form continued to be unpredictable in a manner which had rarely seen in his pre-war performances. He was only a distant third in the 1919 Warsaw City Championship, losing to tail-enders.

    After the First World War, Rubinstein continued to be a top ten player until 1933 [(5)] but his highest rating and best individual performances remained in past.

    The new "hyper-modern" chess was not to his taste and the new opening ideas of the 1920's did not feature in his repertoire. Nevertheless, he still remained a leading master and a formidable competitor. The new guard of: Richard Reti, Savielly Tartakower, Aron Nimzowitsch, Ernst Gruenfeld all had negative life-time scores against him. Only Efim Bogoljubov had an equal lifetime score. [(6)]


    This was a hard-fought match; only three of the twelve games were drawn. Rubinstein won by a margin of one game.

    Bogoljubov had White in the odd-numbered games. Both players had difficulty in defence, Rubinstein losing three times defending against the Four Knights, and Bogoljubov only scoring one win out of six games with Black.

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
    Bogoljubov 0 0 1 1 ½ 0 1 0 1 ½ 0 ½ - 5½
    Rubinstein 1 1 0 0 ½ 1 0 1 0 ½ 1 ½ - 6½


    <Progressive score:>


    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
    Bogoljubov 0 0 1 2 2½ 2½ 3½ 3½ 4½ 5 5 5½
    Rubinstein 1 2 2 2 2½ 3½ 3½ 4½ 4½ 5 6 6½


    <The games>

    [[Game 1]] - This was a game Bogoljubov should have won after a blunder by his opponent.

    click for larger view

    <31. Ne4!> Qc7 32.Nxf6 wins

    Instead, Bogoljubov after missing this winning line then blundered his Q-side pawns away.

    . . .

    [[Game 2]] - From an equal but sharp position, Rubinstein outplayed his opponent finally killing him off with a temporary exchange sacrifice

    click for larger view


    . . .

    [[Game 3]] - Although two games down, Bogoljubov played aggressively against Rubinstein's patent <4...Nd4> defence against the Four Knights. Rubinstein blundered in the complications allowing Bogoljubov to his opponent's Queen with a Knight fork combination.

    Defending against the Four Knights was to be a surprising problem for Rubinstein in this match.

    click for larger view

    Rubinstein's preference for <5...Nxe4> rather than Qe7 proved an unhappyhoice in this match. He lost Games: 3, 7, and 9 trying to justify this variation. Yet, Rubinstein did not lose faith in his system, and given the opportunity to play it once more, he improved the variation Spielmann vs Rubinstein, 1925 and won.

    Like Wilhelm Steinitz before him, Rubinstein was prepared to pay to defend his principles when it would have perhaps been pragmatic to choose another variation.

    . . .

    [[Game 4]] - For the second game in a row, Bogoljubov, with Black, outplayed Rubinstein in a complex position so tying the score. Rubinstein's K-side attack collapsed and Bogoljubov's pieces flooded in to win in 33 moves.

    . . .

    [[Game 5]] - This game gave the impression it would be the steadiest of the match so far. Rubinstein defended with an Open Ruy Lopez and neither side disturbed the equilibrium but then from move 33 both players suddenly made a succession of unforced errors. Perhaps this was time-pressure, but the players both having made and missed various blunders the game ended in a draw.

    . . .

    [[Game 6]] - Faced with a Colle system for the second time in the match, Bogoljubov deviated from Game 4. Unfortunately, he lost a pawn and the initiative went decisively to his opponent.

    . . .

    [[Game 7]] - Once again Rubinstein lost on the Black side of Four Knights. This time it was not a quick combinational kill, instead Bogoljubov outplayed Rubinstein in the endgame which was one of Rubinstein's greatest areas of proficiency.

    The match was now tied; so far only one game had not been decisive.

    . . .

    [[Game 8]] - Rubinstein bounced back with a sparkling finish

    click for larger view

    <42. Nxc4!> Ka8 43. Rfd7! Qxc4 44. Qxh8!

    . . .

    [[Game 9]] - Bogoljubov only took 22 moves to defeat his opponent whose defence to the Four Knights again was made to appear fragile. Rubinstein in this match showed a vulnerability to tactical play against the highest level opponent (hence his poor score (-6) against Alekhine in the 1920's and 1930's).

    . . .

    [[Game 10]] - This lengthy game was marred by both players overlooking several simple but effective tactical blows. For instance:

    click for larger view

    <44...Nxg4!> on successive moves. It appears that the players were tired, but whether Rubinstein in particular would have played so poorly before the war is a moot point.

    . . .

    [[Game 11]] - Once again a simple tactical oversight decided the game.

    click for larger view

    <42..Rxf2!> and Rubinstein won.

    . . .

    [[Game 12]] - Rubinstein missed his way to drawing the match when presented with a late opportunity:

    click for larger view

    <53.Rxd4!> Rxf2 54. Rxf2 Rxf2+ 55.Kh3 and wins.

    . . .


    [(1)]. "America Chess Bulletin", vol.17 p.94.

    [(2)]. See

    [(3)]. "Falkirk Herald", Wednesday 29th September 1920, p.4.

    [(4)]. "Modern Ideas in Chess", Richard Reti, p.95.

    [(5)]. See -

    [(6)]. See - User: RubinsteinScores


    This was cloned from an original collection by User: Karpova. Text and original research by User: Chessical. ]

    12 games, 1920

  11. Bronstein - Boleslavsky Candidates Playoff 1950
    <The participants>:

    Isaac Boleslavsky was 31 and David Bronstein 26 years old. They were leading representatives of an extremely strong generation of Soviet talent that had emerged in the 1940's. They were pillars of "Kiev School" of Ukrainian chess, personal friends and were innovative and sharp players.

    Boleslavsky and Bronstein, along with fellow Ukranian Efim Geller , were particularly important in the development of the Kings Indian defence in the 1940's and 1950's.

    According to Chessbase's "Big Database (2013)", they had played each other seven times, the only decisive game having being won by Boleslavsky - Bronstein vs Boleslavsky, 1947

    Bronstein wrote of his approach to the game:

    "When I play chess...I always try to vary my openings as much as possible, to invent new plans in attack and defence, to make experimental moves which are dangerous and exciting...I believe that my greatest quality in the chess world is that I have never played routine games...” [1]

    Boleslavsky too had a well-defined credo:

    "In playing I did not strive for victory just for the sake of points, and considered that the only win of a consistently played game could give real satisfaction...the game of chess is a struggle, but in the first place a struggle of ideas, and therefore the winner, if he wants to prove the value of his victory, ought to prove the correctness of his ideas". [2]

    In this match, they played consistently sharp and innovative chess.

    Both players were at the peak of their form. Bronstein had twice come joint first in the USSR Championship (1948) (with Alexander Kotov) and USSR Championship (1949) (with Vasily Smyslov whilst Boleslavsky had been Russian Federation Champion in 1946, was third in the extremely strong Moscow (1947) and shared the second place in the USSR Championship (1947)

    They had been selected by FIDE as part of a cohort of the strongest Soviet players to participate in the Candidates at Saltsjöbaden Interzonal (1948), where Bronstein had come first and Boleslavsky third.

    <The background to the match>:

    This match took place as David Bronstein and Isaac Boleslavsky had tied for first place at the Budapest Candidates (1950) two points clear of Vasily Smyslov in third place.

    With two rounds left to play, Boleslavsky was in undisputed first place a full point ahead of Bronstein. Boleslavsky took short draws in his last two games, but Bronstein won both of his games and thus finished equal first with Boleslavsky.

    Boleslavsky had not lost a single game in the tournament. It has been stated in Bronstein and Furstenberg's book "Sorcerer's Apprentice", (Cadogan 1995) that Boleslavsky purposefully "slowed down" to facilitate the tie. The idea being was to then hold a three man tournament with the world champion Mikhail Botvinnik . Boleslavsky had a very poor record against Botvinnik and this seemed to be the best chance to dethrone him.

    According to Chessbase's "Big Database (2013)", at the time Boleslavsky's record against Botvinnik was: 7 loses, 4 draws and no wins. Bronstein's score was better: a win and a draw in his favour.

    The proposal for a three person match was not accepted by the Soviet federation. Instead, the joint winners of the Candidates tournament would play an elimination match to resolve the tie. The winner would be the next (1951) challenger to Mikhail Botvinnik for the world championship.

    The match was planned to be of 12 games, but if it was tied at the end of this, two further games were to be played. If the match was still undecided, it would go to a sudden death with the first win being decisive.

    The chief arbeiter was Nikolay Zubarev and FIDE's representative was its Vice-President Viacheslav Ragozin.

    The match was played at a culturally prestigious venue: "Railwaymen's Central Hall of Culture", Komsomolskaya Square, Moscow, between July 31st 1950 and August 27th 1950. This grand building, built in 1927, had a 1,000 seat theatre. [3]

    ................1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 Bronstein...IGM 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 0 ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ 1 7½ Boleslavsky.IGM 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 1 ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ 0 6½ ]table

    <Progress of the match:>

    <Game 1:> Bronstein as White used a sharp sacrificial novelty which he had previously played against Boleslavsky in Round 7 of the Candidates tournament.

    click for larger view

    Bronstein had studied the position and found an improvement on move 17. He gained two pieces for a rook and won powerfully in short order.

    This line, which is still topical, appears to have been originated in Ukrainian chess circles. In a slightly different variation, it was used in [bad link] , Semi Finals 13th USSR Championship, Omsk. [4]

    "We were both playing extremely hard and showing the greatest respect for each other. It seems the only occasion in the history of chess contests when players have exchanged bouquets of bright flowers before the first move of the first game!". [5]

    <Game 2:> After some contemplation, Bronstein defended with Alekhine's Defence, which was not one of his usual defences. Boleslavsky achieved a spatial advantage but agreed to a draw on move 30.

    <Game 3:> Boleslavsky avoided the Grunfeld and Bronstein's opening preparation. Instead, a carefully classically played game unfolded in which Boleslavsky equalized without much incident. After 11 moves, the game had transposed into a turn of the century QGA - Pillsbury vs Blackburne, 1896 .

    <Game 4:> Boleslavsky played the White side of the Ruy Lopez extremely proficiently to build up a strong K-side attack. In a sharp tactical contest, Boleslavsky ran short of time and Bronstein was rather fortunate to achieve a draw. "A perfect model for those studying the Ruy Lopez attack!...Also deserving acknowledgement is Boleslavsky's courage, when in the endgame and still the exchange down, he nevertheless refused the draw that was offered him". [6]

    <Game 5:> Bronstein outplayed his opponent in the late middlegame and achieved an advantageous ending with active pieces, but on resumption after the adjournment Boleslavsky put up strong resistance. Later analysis found a win for Bronstein, but at the board he could not break through. This time it was Boleslavsky who was fortunate to secure a draw.

    <Game 6:> Bronstein played aggressively against Boleslavsky's Ruy Lopez, using the Marshall Attack. Once again, Bronstein was following deep into a previous game of his opponent. Boleslavsky had to be alert against another dangerous theoretical improvement from his opponent.

    Up to move 16, the game followed Boleslavsky vs Szabo, 1950 . Boleslavsky held the attack off but did not establish any advantage. Boleslavsky, however, had faith in this system of defence as he deployed it again Boleslavsky vs V Saigin, 1951 and Boleslavsky vs Nezhmetdinov, 1954

    <Game 7:> Bronstein extended his lead to 2-0 lead with five games to go. Unlike Game 2, Boleslavsky chose a more complex variation, but Bronstein gained a clear spatial advantage and Boleslavsky was besieged. Bronstein maintained his advantage through to a win in a complex Rook ending despite Boleslavsky's tough defence.

    <Game 8:> Bronstein as Black against the Ruy Lopez and ahead in the match, chose a very different defence to that of Game 6. He adopted a more solid but passive approach with an old-fashioned Berlin defence. Both players strove hard to win and ran short of time, but it was Boleslavsky who won, and won artistically, to pull up to a single point behind.

    "Note carefully the amazing manoeuvres by the white pawns in the middlegame and the sudden composition-study-like finale to the ending, where the heroes were no longer the pawns, but the knight and the rook". [7]

    click for larger view

    <49.g6!> Re6 50. g7!

    <Game 9:> Boleslavsky (most probably unwittingly in view of his slow rate of play) followed a brilliancy of a great Ukranian forebear Efim Bogoljubov -Rotlewi vs Bogoljubov, 1910 . Bronstein's technique was superior to Rotlewi's but he too failed to achieve an advantage as White. He offered and Boleslavsky, who was short of time, accepted a draw on move 20.

    Boleslavsky's uncertainty in the opening gives the impression of an apparently impromptu manner in this game.

    <Game 10:> Boleslavsky as White needed to win this game, as with only two games left of the regular match, Bronstein had a one point lead.

    Bronstein adopted a solid Caro-Kann defence. Boleslavsky opened the <f> file and had considerable pressure against Bronstein's <f> pawn. Bronstein defended well and managed to hold the draw.

    <Game 11:> Boleslavsky had to win this game with the Black pieces and he played a King's Indian system he had pioneered

    It was a system to which both he and Bronstein had contributed significant developments and were regularly using.

    Bronstein played ambitiously and set up a broad centre, but then played inaccurately. Boleslavsky gained the initiative, but then allowed the ingenious Bronstein to fight his way back into the game. Boleslavsky then had to navigate his way to victory through a difficult Queen and Rook ending full of traps and snares to tie the match.

    <Game 12:> Bronstein played a sharp variation of the French and sacrificed a pawn. Boleslavsky regarded the variation as incorrect, [8] but played slightly inaccurately and Bronstein was able to instigate a very imaginative King-side attack. Rather than have an uncertain fight through this onslaught, Boleslavsky took a perpetual check.

    The match then went into its extra-time of two games.

    <Game 13:> A very sharp game that either player could at one point could have won; Bronstein rejected a forced draw and later analysis showed that he could have lost if Boleslavsky had found a key move.

    click for larger view


    <Game 14:> Bronstein repeated the same variation of French defence as in Game 12. Boleslavsky was out-prepared and outplayed in this game. Bronstein pocketed two pawns and then won efficiently. Boleslavsky shook his hand and wished him luck in his forthcoming battle with Botvinnik.


    Bronstein advanced to play a world championship match against Botvinnik in March 1951 - Botvinnik - Bronstein World Championship Match (1951) .

    Boleslavsky played in the USSR Championship (1950) (November 11th to December 11th, 1950) where he came 7-10th, and then assisted his friend as his second in the world championship match.


    Compiled from the original games collection - Game Collection: WCC Index (Bronstein-Boleslavsky 1950) - created by User: Hesam7 .

    Match dates from Golombek's report in the "British Chess Magazine" as reproduced in "World Chess Championship Candidates' Tournament Budapest 1950", E.G.R. Cordingley, p.177, Hardinge Simpole.

    [1] "Sorcerer's Apprentice", Bronstein and Furstenberg, Cadogan 1995, p.18.

    [2] Isaac Boleslavsky, "Selected Games", Caissa Books, 1988, p.18-19.

    [3] http://xn--d1ael0c.xn--p1ai/index.php

    [4] "World Chess Championship Candidates' Tournament Budapest 1950", E.G.R. Cordingley, p.65, Hardinge Simpole.

    [5] "200 Open Games", David Bronstein, Courier Dover Publications, 1991, p.95.

    [6] “200 Open Games", David Bronstein, Courier Dover Publications, 1991, p.96.

    [7] "200 Open Games", David Bronstein, Courier Dover Publications, 1991, p.95.

    [8] Isaac Boleslavsky, Caissa Books, 1988, "Selected Games" p.142.

    14 games, 1950

  12. Candidates Final Match: Karpov - Sokolov

    This match took place in Linares, Spain from Tuesday, February 24th to Thursday, March 26th, 1987. It was a FIDE Candidates Final Match to decide the world championship challenger for 1987 who would face Garry Kasparov.

    The experienced Spanish master Antonio Angel Medina Garcia, was the arbeiter. Lots were drawn on Monday, 23rd February.

    The purse was 5,250,000 pesetas for the winner and 3,150,000 pesetas for the loser. [1]

    This was to become a match of a comet versus a star.

    <The players:>

    Aged 23, Sokolov was 12 years younger than Karpov. He had risen exceptionally quickly winning the 1982 World Junior Championship in Copenhagen, and the 51st Soviet Championship (+8,-0, =9; 2nd–28th April 1984) so becoming the third-ranked player in the world. Perhaps, only Mikhail Tal and Kasparov can compare with the speed and accomplishments of his emergence into the elite.

    In 1985 he tied for first in the Montpellier Candidates (1985) , France. Then Sokolov fought his past leading representatives of both his own and the predeeding generation of strong posts-war Soviet players. Both of these opponents were then enjoying their peak years of performance.

    In these Candidates matches Sokolov had first dispatched the 34 year old Rafael Vaganian (+4, =4, -0). Then he defeated his contemporary the 26 year old Artur Yusupov , Game Collection: WCC Index (Sokolov-Yusupov 1986) (+4, =7, -3).

    Despite Sokolov's rapid and impressive achievements, the ex-world champion Karpov, aged 35, was generally shaded to be the favourite due to his playing strength, technical ability and and vast experience. It was felt, however, that it would be a tough match.

    Kasparov stated: "A year ago I would have bet on Karpov without hesitation, but now it is not so clear, Sokolov usually plays the opening aggressively, which may cause problems for Karpov". [2]

    "A recent poll among grandmasters for the French chess magazine gave Karpov a 60 per cent chance to beat Sokolov and face Kasparov for a fourth time.But Sokolov said in an interview in the magazine: <'I've won all the matches where I was not the favourite. If these prognostications are the same, then the result will be the same.>'' [3]

    Karpov was supported by long-term trainer Igor Arkadievich Zaitsev, as well as having new seconds in his team: Elizbar Ubilava and Mikhail Podgaets. Sokolov's coach was the experienced Soviet Grandmaster Gennadi Kuzmin, who had come third equal in the USSR Championship 1972 and second equal in the in 1973.

    The players examined the playing hall but were not particularly pleased initially.

    "Both raised identical problems: the narrowness of the playing table and the colour of the carpet, a green judged to be too shrill and therefore unsuitable for calm concentration....During yesterday morning, the two main contenders visited town's furniture store in search of seating more to their liking and both were satisfied with what they found".

    They also rejected the clocks demanding the German "Garde" brand clocks and threatened to not play if the organisers did not provide this equipment [4]


    Round 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11
    Karpov, Anatoly ... ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ 1 1 ... 7½ Sokolov, Andrei ... ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ 0 0 ... 3½ ]table

    <Progressive Scores:>

    Round 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 Karpov, Anatoly ... ½ 1½ 2 2½ 3 4 4½ 5 5½ 6½ 7½ Sokolov, Andrei ... ½ ½ 1 1½ 2 2 2½ 3 3½ 3½ 3½ ]table

    <Contemporary reaction:>

    Raymond Keene - "Before the Candidates' super-final match started in Linares, Spain, I had expected Andrei Sokolov to put up a stern fight against Anatoly Karpov, perhaps even win. After all, Sokolov, just a few weeks older than Kasparov, has had a meteoric rise to the top and he has the distinction of never having failed in his major aims. He won the USSR championship when he had to, at the age of 20, then came out at the head of his Interzonal and the Montpelier Candidates' toumament. Finally, he disposed of Vaganian and Yusupov in Candidates' matches. But Karpov's subtlety is proving too much for him. With White, Sokolov has been making no impression, conceding draw after draw, while, as Black, his Queen's Indian Defence is almost imperceptibly failing to equalise. In fact, Sokolov is hardly putting up any kind of fight...It is all highly reminiscent of the way Kasparov failed to adjust to Karpov's methods in the opening nine games of their first match. [5]

    Robert Eugene Byrne - "The 35-year-old Karpov won three of the five games in which he played White by capitalizing on a vastly superior grasp of the endgame. He carefully stopped the 24-year-old Sokolov every time he had Black, and in the 11th game of the 14-game series refuted a wild, desperate attack to take the final point with Black". [6]


    Sokolov never came to terms with Karpov's style in this match.

    It became apparent that Sokolov suffered from a narrow opening repetoire whose positions were unfortunately to the taste of his opponent. Furthermore according to Zaitsev (Karpov's trainer) they purposefully avoided sharp positions and relied on Karpov's mastery of positional technique and endgame viruosity.[7]



    Original collection: Game Collection: 0, compiled by User: TheFocus

    [ This text by User: Chessical ]







    [7] Kasparov, My Great Predecessors, vol 5. page 411.

    11 games, 1987

  13. Chajes v Janowski Match
    This match was one of several David Janowski played against the top East-coast American players in 1916 - 1918. At this time, the leading players in New York area were: Frank James Marshall, Oscar Chajes, Charles Jaffe and Abraham Kupchik. After the death of Harry Nelson Pillsbury (1906), Marshall was the sole American grandmaster.


    Although Janowski's best years were in the first decade of the 20th century, and he had resoundingly lost a championship match to Lasker in 1910 Lasker - Janowski World Championship Match (1910) (+0 -8 =3), he was still seen a leading master. The newspapers habitually described the "Parisian" master as the "French Chess Champion". This appears to have meant that he was the predominant French player as there would be no official French championship until 1923.

    Deprived by the First World War of regular international tournament chess income, Janowski had to fund himself largely through exhibitions and matches. Janowski managed to get to the United States from war-torn Europe disembarking at New York on Tuesday, January 11th, 1916. He saw no possibility of making a living in Europe, and considered that "international chess in Europe was dead for at least twenty years to come". [1]

    He joined Jose Raul Capablanca, Borislav Kostic as one of the three leading foreign players resident in the United States.

    On the 25th February 1916, he began a match with Jaffe at Marshall's Chess Divan, but this appears to have been an intermediary step in a greater plan to quickly establish himself in the USA. That very day, Janowski wrote to Capablanca:

    <"My dear Mr. Capablanca - I have the honor to challenge you to a set match at chess of ten games up, drawn games not counting... with regard to the purse and stakes, time and place, and other details, I shall be glad to receive word from you at an early date".> [2]

    Nothing came of the challenge, perhaps because of Janowski's uninspiring performance against Jaffe. Janowski appears to have badly under-estimated "the Crown Prince of East Side Chess" and had to struggle to win a very close match winning 7 to 6.

    In June 1916, Janowski lost a match to Marshall - Janowski - Marshall, Match 5 (1916) at the Manhattan Chess Club.

    In December 1916, Janowski decisively defeated the former American Champion Jackson Whipps Showalter - Janowski - Showalter Match 4 (1916) . Once again, he challenged Marshall:

    "Immediately after the conclusion of the game Janowski drew up a challenge, addressed to F.J.Marshall, the United States champion, for a match of twenty games, draws not counting, for a purse of not less than $500" [3]

    The match did not come to fruition. Instead, Janowski again challenged Jaffe, but in December 1917 the Parisian master was much more successful winning by 11 to 5. The last five games were won by Janowski which gave the impression of an absolute crushing victory.


    Chajes was probably best known for his defeat of Capablanca O Chajes vs Capablanca, 1916 and for having won the 1917 New York State championship in Rochester. Chajes challenged Janowski. It was the best available way to achieve international recognition as a master. Chajes had aborted a match with Capablanca in 1912 after losing the first game:

    "Both Jaffe and Chajes, two of the leading players of USA, felt aggrieved that they had not been selected to play in the Havana (1913) tournament. To settle the question Capablanca offered to play a match of three games against each of them...Jaffe finished his match, but Chajes chickened out after one game." [4]

    A second match was unlikely to be of any interest Capablanca. Challenging Marshall, the US Champion, needed an intermediary step. Chajes and Jaffe (who had a parallel career) had trailed Marshall and Duras in the Quadrangular Masters (1913). Chajes had a dismal record against Marshall (he had never won a game against him). The match against Janowski was a match against a grandmaster was such a step.

    Chajes was taking a significant risk. Chajes was 44 years old whilst Janowski was 49 years old. Janowski was vastly more experienced; Chajes only twice played outside of the United States. He shared last place at Karlsbad (1911) and at Havana (1913) he came fourth of eight.

    Janowski and Chajes had played a short three game match at the Progressive Chess Club, New York, in April 1913.

    "After the recent tourney at New York a small exhibition match of three games was arranged between Janowski and Chajes. The former won two games, and the other was drawn." [5]

    Since then, to his credit, Chajes had scored well and came in a mere half a point behind Janowski in the Rice Memorial (1916) .

    <The Match's conditions>

    The winner would be the first to win seven games. Draws were not counted. [6]

    "Oscar Chajes, champion of New York State Chess Association, has challenged David Janowski of Paris who recently defeated C.Jaffe by 10 to 4 to a match of seven games up, and the articles will probably be signed tomorrow. Most of the games will be played at the Manhattan Chess Club, and one each at the New York Press Club and the Hotel Ansonia (2109, Broadway, New York- ed)." [7]

    According to the "New York Times" of January 20, 1918 the articles were signed on the 20th January. The purse was $500 [8] (about $8,500 in 2015 value - e.d.).

    "Following closely upon the heels of the State Masters tournament, the honors of which were divided between Oscar Chajes and A. Kupchik , with Alfred Schroeder and Roy Turnbull Black fourth, comes the match of seven games up between Chajes and David Janowski of Paris, which should produce many a hard-fought contest for the delectation of those who delight in the perusal and study of masters' games. Play in the first game will begin at the Manhattan Chess Club, Hotel Sherman Square, Manhattan, on Saturday afternoon, and a large gallery may be expected. Naturally, Janowski, after his decisive defeat of Jaffe rules a strong favorite, but Chajes is at the top of his form and will assuredly give a good account of himself.

    The second game has been scheduled at the Hotel Ansonia and will be under the patronage of Mrs. Isaac L. Rice, widow of the late president of the New York State Chess Association. The third game will go to the I.L.Rice Progressive Chess Club, at its new rooms, 201 Second Avenue Manhattan. Most of the remaining Chajes games will be played at the Manhattan Chess Club." [9]

    Women were now able to watch this match in the rooms of the Manhattan Chess Club. It had just been decided by the club's committee to allow in women chess players. [10]. This was in response to woman in New York state gaining voting rights on 6th November 1917.

    <The games:>

    Played in New York from Saturday, 16th March to Tuesday 7th May, 1918, this was a match of 22 games.

    1st game - Saturday, 16th March
    2nd game - Wednesday, 20th March
    3rd game - Thursday, 21st March
    4th game - Saturday, 23rd March
    5th game - Monday, 25th March
    6th game - Tuesday, 26th March
    7th game - Saturday, 30th March
    8th game - Sunday, 31st March
    9th game - Wednesday, 3rd April
    10th game - Thursday 4th April (est.) ended 6th April. "This game took "three sittings and two adjournments" [11].

    11th game - Tuesday, 9th April
    12th game - Thursday, 11th April
    13th game - Saturday, 13th April
    14th game - Tuesday, 16th April
    15th game - Thursday, 18th April
    16th game - Saturday, 20th April
    17th game - Tuesday, 23rd April
    18th game - Thursday, 25th April (est.)
    19th game - Wednesday, 1st May
    20th game - Friday, 3rd May
    21st game - Saturday, 4th May
    22nd Game - Tuesday 7th May

    [The dates of the individual games are from contemporary newspaper reports. Some games have not yet been corroborated by finding relevant articles in the press. These are shown as (est.) based on the pattern of the match and public holidays.]

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 Janowski ½ ½ 0 ½ 0 ½ 1 0 ½ ½ 1 1 ½ 0 0 ½ 1 ½ ½ 0 1 0 - 10 Chajes ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 ½ 0 1 ½ ½ 0 0 ½ 1 1 ½ 0 ½ ½ 1 0 1 - 12 ]table

    Janowski had White in the odd-numbered games.

    "After twenty-two game of the Janowski - Chajes match, Chajes was declared winner by 7 to 5, with 10 drawn." [12]

    <Progress of the match:>

    This was a hard fought match with the games averaging 54 moves, and over half of the games being decisive.

    “It required 22 games to determine the question of supremacy between Oscar Chajes, New York State champion, and David Janowski, of Paris, in their match of seven games up at the Manhattan Chess Club, and then, when the final count was taken, the verdict favored not the international master of world renown, who has long been known as the chess - champion of France, but the genial secretary of the Isaac L. Rice Progressive Chess Club of New York, who made his reputation first as champion of Chicago and the Western Chess Association and later as participant in several national tournaments, the Carlsbad congress of 1911, and the Havana tournament of 1913. With few exceptions the games lasted two days. The tenth game, which went to 80 moves, needed three sittings of five hours each. Result:-Chajes, 7; Janowski,5; drawn, 10.” [13]

    Janowski made a slow start as he had done in his first match with Jaffe. It seems that he may have underestimated his opponent, he was also talking about a 10 game match at odds with Kupchik at the time. [14]

    Janowski was never to be ahead in the match. Overall, he was behind for 18 of the 22 rounds, and two games behind on eight occasions up to losing the last game. Janowski was a fighter and he rallied with wins in Games 11 and 12 to even the score but he could not establish a winning momentum. By losing Games 14 and 15 in succession, it would have then been an exceptional feat to go onto win the match.

    Janowski was saved several losses by his opponent's lack of endgame technique. In Games: 1, 2 and 13, he escaped defeat in positions that his top rivals: Marshall or Duras (not to mention Capablanca) would have surely taken the point from him.

    <The openings:>

    This match pitted the <1.e4> of Chajes against the <1.d4> of Janowski. Two openings dominated the match - nine Queens Pawn games(Queen's Pawn Game (A46)) and seven Four Knight's (Four Knights (C48)). Chajes was White in all of the Four Knight's games and he achieved a remarkable +3=4-0 (71.4%) with this opening.

    Janowski, despite his greater experience and talent, too often was slapdash in the opening. Chajes won four games with Black, but Janowski could only win one game as Black, (Game 12) and that was one in which Chajes had missed a winning opportunity.

    Chajes +7/=10/-5 - 54.5%
    Janowski +5/=10/-7 - 45.5%

    Chajes as White +4/=6/-1 - 63.6%
    Chajes as Black +3/=4/-4 - 45.5%

    Janowski as White +4/=4/-3 - 54.5%
    Janowski as Black +1/=6/-4 - 36.4%

    <The endgames:>

    These were not the highlights of the match. Both players' endgames in this match were often marred by inaccuracies. Although in Game 16 Janowski, as Black, should have won the ending, overall he benefited from such blunders. He could have been two down after the first two games had not Chajes misplayed each ending.


    “Oscar Chajes, the State Champion, has not measured up to his opportunities in the first two games of his match with D. Janowski of Paris, both of which, with correct play at the critical junctures, he should have won. Instead, both games were drawn. In the first encounter Janowski played far beneath his form in the opening, and deservedly got the worst of it. Chajes finishing the first session with a clear "exchange" ahead. Little by little, however, this advantage was permitted to slip through his fingers and in the end, Janowski with a knight against two widely separated pawns, barely managed to force a draw." [15]

    <Game 1> Janowski as White loosened his position in the opening, and fell into a poor middlegame. He underestimated a defence which Chajes seems to have prepared for this match (playing it in Games 1,3,5,7, and 9). Janowksi had no convincing line of play against this Chigorin-like <d6+Nf6+Nbd7> defence.

    Ironically, Chajes had faced the same defence when playing against Janowski, O Chajes vs Janowski, 1916 , at the Rice Memorial (1916) , and had then used this system to defeat Kostic B Kostic vs O Chajes, 1916. Chajes, was able to win the exchange and should have won the ending.

    click for larger view

    [<63...b4> wins]

    <Game 2>, was drawn after a problem with the clocks being incorrectly set up at the resumption. Chajes had a winning position

    "In the second game Chajes again obtained the upper hand by means of a strong attack in the Ruy Lopez. His sealed move was <32. Nxg6>, when he might have won with <hxg6>. After that, Janowski again outplayed him and had a win in hand when he consented to have the game declared drawn because of an error in setting the clocks after resumption of play. This cause Chajes to get into time difficulties, and naturally he aired his grievance when the time was ripe. For match chess of this importance, the incident was quite without precedent... Janowski consented to call the game drawn (in a winning position for him - e.d.) , because Chajes at this point was under time limit pressure and upon compliant of the latter, it developed that, in starting the clocks for the second sitting, he had been deprived of ten minutes through erroneous adjustment of the time on his clock." [16]

    click for larger view

    [<32.hxg6> fxg6 (or <32... b5> 33. R6f5 Qxe7 34. Nh5+ Kg8 35. Nf6+ Kg7 36. Rxe5 dxe5 37. Qxe5 fxg6 38. Nd5+ and wins) 33. Rxg6+ Qxg6 34. Nxg6 Rxf1+ 35. Nxf1 Kxg6 36. Nh2 Kf6 37. Nf3 and wins]

    <Game 3>, was won by Chajes. Again poor opening play against the <d6+Nf6+Nbd7> defence by Janowski left him with a difficult position. Once again, he lost the exchange.

    <Game 4>, Chajes had persistent pressure against his opponent's backward <d> pawn. A methodical game then descended into chaos as both players traded a succession of blunders towards the end of the session. In the end, Chajes made the fatal last blunder and lost.

    <Game 5> Janowski opposed his opponent's <d6+Nf6+Nbd7> defence with an early <c> instead of trying his earlier London system approach.

    He achieved a solid position from the opening, but overestimated his chances on the Q-side. This allowed Chajes to build up a winning K-side attack. Janowski had now lost with White twice in succession.

    <Game 7> Chajes had a spatial plus for most of the game but could not break through. Wearied, he gave Jansowski an opportunity to win but his opponent also missed the simple tactic.

    click for larger view


    <Game 8> Janowski had to endure another loss. Worse still, Chajes incorrectly announced a forced mate and this was then headlined in The "New York Times" of the 2nd April 1918: <"Chajes checkmates rival - Announces victory over Janowski four moves ahead.">

    The article was hyperbolic:

    "By far the most brilliant chess yet exhibited in the match between D. Janowski of Paris and Oscar Chajes, the New York State Champion was witnessed in the eight of the series.."

    click for larger view

    [<31. Nxg5> fxg5 32. Qxg5 Ne5 33. Rf1 Rad8 34. Nf6+ Kf7 35. Qg6+ Nxg6 36. fxg6+ Ke7 37. Re3 mate.]

    <Game 10> Janowski used the Sicilian defence, and Chajes kept an edge. Eventually, Janowski held a draw with a Q against two Rooks in a long endgame. Once again, Chajes did not have the exact technique to make more of an advantage accrued in the middle game.

    <Game 11>, Chajes made a simple error in the late middlegame which resulted in his Queen being trapped.

    <Game 12>, Once again this was a hard fought game with the final stage being marred by mutual blunders. Chajes held the advantage of most of the game, but missed his opportunity to win the game and then played poorly and then lost on short order

    click for larger view

    [<37.Ra5!> wins 37...Qe6 38. Qxe6 Nxe6 39. Ne5 Bc8 40. b5]

    <Game 14>, After having persistent positional plus in Game 13 but only securing a draw, Chajes mounted a K-side attack and overwhelmed Janowski whose defence was less than accurate.

    <Game 15> Janowski completely miscalculated a combination in the late middlegame and his position collapsed.

    <Game 16> Janowski, as Black, misplayed an advantageous ending. Having just lost two games in succession, he could not afford to squander such opportunities.

    <Game 17> Chajes lost a piece in an unusual fashion:

    click for larger view

    [<38. e7!>]

    <Game 20> This was a disastrous loss for Janowski who resigned after only 25 moves. Game 19 had been the steadiest of the match, and although 5-4 down his position in the match was not hopeless.

    Unfortunately, Janowski appears at this point to have completely lost his head; playing wildly as Black he loosened the position around his King and Chajes pieces flooded in with fatal effect.

    click for larger view

    Janowski was in Edward Lasker 's opinion temperamentally unsuited to match play. Janowski's reckless play here goes some way to support this assertion. [17]

    Chajes now only needed one more win to take the match whilst Janowski needed three.

    <Game 21> With only one game required to win the match, it was Chajes who now let his nerves affect his play. He achieved a good position with the Black pieces, but then made a succession of errors in trying to force the win.

    <Game 22> Janowski played solidly, and a draw seemed a likely result. This would have given him White in the next game. Instead, Janowski tried to make something out of nothing and only succeeded in damaging his own position. Chajes was able to break up Janowski's king-side, and then wrap the match up with a flourish.

    click for larger view

    [<60. Rh4+!> (60... Nxh4+ 61. Qxh4+ Kg7 62. Qe7+ Kh6 63. Rf6+ Kg5 64. Qg7+ Kh5 65. Rh6+ Rxh6 66. Qg4 mate) 60...Kg7 61. d6 Ra7 62. a5 Rxd6 63. b6 and wins.]

    <Contemporary reaction:>

    This match was to be Chajes' best competitive performance. [18]

    "By losing but one of the first ten games of his match with Janowski at the Manhattan Chess Club Oscar Chajes has covered himself with distinction and, although he has a long road to travel before he can obtain the necessary seven wins to be declared winner of the match, he has enhanced his reputation appreciably and this holds good even though he should lose out in the long run. [19]

    "The victory of Chajes was unexpected, but the French champion was rarely at his best, and on several occasions played far below his real form." [20]

    "Full credit is due to the State Champion for his really brilliant performance, but Janowski, besides underrating his opponent, was far from being in his best form." [21] (Hermann Helms)

    <Outcome of the match>

    Janowski had lost the match and had made heavy weather of many of the games. The games were long and there was little sense of ease in the play of the ex-world championship contender. There was poor opening play and too many blunders, especially in the endgame, for a top-rank player. The match was a symptom of his progressive decline from the top rank of chess.

    In his fifties he could no longer represent a threat to the top players although he still showed brilliant sparks of attacking verve - Jacques Davidson vs Janowski, 1926. In his final international tournaments his results were poor. He was last at New York (1924) (+3 -13 =4) ; 14th out of 16 at Marienbad (1925) (+3 -7 =5); 7th out of 10 at Hastings (1925/26) (+1 -4 =1) and 10th out of 18 at Semmering (1926) (+7 -7 =3).

    In 1913, Lasker had given an astringent sketch of Janowski to a newpaper:

    <"Janowski's courage remains unbroken despite his misfortune in tournaments and matches; and it must be conceded that his style is far better than its low level of success may suggest. The French warhorse sniffs out subtleties, with which he knows how to masterfully achieve small advantages. He only seems to be lacking in resolution. Maybe he dislikes tactics. At least, he anxiously avoids leaving himself wide open. This, however, naturally depletes his attack of vitality. Every now and then , however, his strategy leads to victory creating a powerful aesthetic impression."> [22]

    Those comments may have reflected Janwoski's play against the grandmaster elite. In this match, however, Janowski, too often had left himself vulnerable. The overall impression is that he had too little regard for his opponent and then kept gambling he could win by overwhelming Chajes.

    Chajes felt emboldened by the unexpected victory and challenged Marshall to a match (but this initiative floundered as they could not agree terms).

    "We understand that Mr F. J. Marshall, the American champion, has been challenged to a match Mr Oscar Chajes who recently beat Mons. D. Janowski the French master. Mr Marshall has accepted on condition that, his championship title is challenged in such a match, the stake shall be 2,000 dollars, with not less than six hours’ play each sitting, unless, of course, the game is finished within that time. This means that the games are evidently at a rate of something rather less than 20 moves per hour; and that Marshall desires to eliminate “adjournments’’— in which he is quite right." [23]

    "The American Chess Bulletin" stated that Marshall wanted the winner to be the first to win 8 games, draws not counting, and that the purse should not be less than $2,000 (about $34,000 in 2015 value – e.d.). The time limit would be 30 moves in the first 2 hours, then 15 moves per hour after that. [24].

    Chajes was not able to break into international chess after the First World War. There was relatively little opportunity for international master chess in America, and his invitation to Karlsbad (1923) only saw him outclassed, again he came bottom of the tournament table. Chajes was able to win brilliancies and defeat the top players occasionally but his overall technique and game fell short of grandmaster level. He died in 1928, aged 55, just over a year after Janowski.


    [1] . "The Brooklyn Daily Eagle", 12th January 1916, p.20.

    [2]. "The Brooklyn Daily Eagle", 25th February 1916, p.24.

    [3]. "The Brooklyn Daily Eagle", 22nd March 1916, p.8.

    [4]. "The Unknown Capablanca", Hooper, D. & Brandeth, D., Dover, 1993, p.55 & “Jose Raul Capablanca, Games 1901-1926.”, p.91.

    [5]. "Sunday Times" (Sydney, Australia), 29th June 1913.

    [6]. "Referee (Sydney, Australia), Wednesday 24th July 1918, p.11.

    [7]. "The Brooklyn Daily Eagle", 13th January 1918, p.36

    [8]. "Leader" (Melbourne, Australia), 25th May 1918, p.54.

    [9]. "The Brooklyn Daily Eagle", 4th March 1918, p.6.

    [10]. "The Brooklyn Daily Eagle", New York, April 7th 1918, p.3.

    [11]. "The Brooklyn Daily Eagle", 7th April 1918, p.3.

    [12]. "The Brooklyn Daily Eagle", 19th May 1918, p.36.

    [13]. "American Chess Bulletin." quoted in the "Leader" (Melbourne, Australia), 27th July 1918, p.54.

    [14]. "The Brooklyn Daily Eagle", 23rd September 1917, p.34

    [15]. "The Brooklyn Daily Eagle", 21st March 1918, p.26.

    [16]. "The Brooklyn Daily Eagle", 21st March 1918, p.26.

    [17]. "Chess Secrets I Learned from the Masters" Edward Lasker, McKay, 1951, p. 115.


    [19]. "The Brooklyn Daily Eagle", 11th April 1918, p.2.

    [20]. "Weekly Times", (Victoria, Australia), 3rd August 1918

    [21]. H.Helms in "The Evening Post", New York, 11th May 1918, p.13.

    [22]. Dr. Emanuel Lasker, January 9th 1913 quoted in "Pester Lloyd", Berlin, January 12th 1913 p.8.

    [23]. "Falkirk Herald", (Falkirk, Scotland) 7th August 1918, p.4.

    [24]. "American Chess Bulletin", 1918, vol. 15., p. 138.

    The source for Games 21 and 22 was "The Brooklyn Daily Eagle", 23rd May 1918, p.2.


    Thanks to:

    User: Tabanus for researching newspaper reports to provide the missing match dates.

    User: Karpova who originally unearthed the "Pester Lloyd" quote . see David Janowski (kibitz #76) . I have slightly altered his translation.

    22 games, 1918

  14. Chessical's favorite games
    Janowski v Esser
    1 game, 1910

  15. Chessical's favourite games
    I particularly like the style of the first two decades of the twentieth century. The idea that masters played quiet lines and drew with each other is wrong. Many games were sharply fought and whilst being on positional basis are easier for amateurs like myself to understand and learn from than the heavy theory based games of modern top grandmasters. In this collection I have put in lesser known games which I consider worthy of being seen today.
    7 games, 1907-1988

  16. Chessical's Instructive Endgame Collection
    This collection contains analysis of various instructive K+Ps and R+Ps endgames.
    24 games, 1849-1998

  17. Chigorin's bête noire
    Опасно! Волк! Chigorin the great Russian world championship candidate seems to have been unable to play against the Viennese master Heinrich Wolf. Wolf was undoubtedly a strong player, but as his scores against Chigorin's peers shows he had disproportionate success against the Russian champion.

    Pillsbury beat Wolf 4 to 0, with 2 draws.
    Maroczy beat Wolf 11 to 1, with 4 draws.
    Tarrasch beat Wolf 5 to 0, with 6 draws.
    Schlechter beat Wolf 10 to 0, with 6 draws.

    So why did Chigorin fare so badly against Wolf? Chigorin's alcoholism and poor health (diabetes) must have contributed to the sharp decline in his powers evident from 1904, but even so his record against Wolf is extraordinarily bad.

    6 games, 1902-1907

  18. Chigorin-Gunsberg Match

    This match (January 1st - February 17th 1890) was the precursor to a world championship match against Wilhelm Steinitz, it was not, however, a candidates’ tournament.

    The challenger was originally supposed to be the winner of the Game Collection: New York 1889 but there had been no outright winner. [1] Instead, the third place player, Isidor Gunsberg , challenged the tournament’s co-winner Mikhail Chigorin . [2] There was little doubt that the winner of this match would be generally considered at Steinitz’s legitimate challenger for the world crown.

    The match was arranged by the Havana Chess Club and played in Havana. It was for ten games up, draws not counting, with stakes of £200 a-side. [3] [4]

    <The participants>


    Chigorin (39 y.o.) made his international debut at Berlin (1881) , taking 3-4th place, but he made his reputation in London (1883) , in the next six years Mikhail Chigorin only had the opportunity to play a single match (Jules Arnous de Riviere in 1883) but no tournaments. Instead he concentrated on popularising chess in Russia and playing correspondence games. From January 20th to February 24th 1889, Chigorin had fought but lost a world championship match against Wilhelm Steinitz by 10½–6½ (+6-10=1) - Steinitz - Chigorin World Championship Match (1889). Only a few weeks later, on March 29th, he was playing in and then tied for first with Max Weiss in the extremely strong and large New York 1899 tournament.

    "Chigorin did not have a solid sports background, nor any resounding international victories (except taking fourth place in the London tourney of 1883)... favouring the Russian champion was the incontrovertible fact that thanks to his vehement research, the study of openings had reached a profound height of interest... (he) directed several chess magazines in his native country, and he flooded them with his profuse commentaries...” [5]

    Chigorin's best results were to come in the 1890s ( see - ) when regular strong international tournaments became a yearly occurrence rather than once in a decade.

    He was the third or fourth rated player throughout the 1890s. He tied a match with Tarrasch Chigorin - Tarrasch (1893) and his greatest tournament victory was to come at Budapest (1896) .


    Isidor Gunsberg 's career reached its peak at the end of the 1880's, with impressive results in Game Collection: New York 1889 and Manchester (1890) (second behind Tarrasch). He went onto give a good account of himself in the Steinitz - Gunsberg World Championship Match (1890) by 8.5 to 10.5.

    According to Chessmetrics, he was 2-5th in the world 1886-90. [6]; whilst EDO Chess estimates Gunsberg to have been 2nd-7th for the same period. [7]

    At New York Gunsberg came third. He beat Chigorin 2-0, but lost to Weiss by 0.5 to 1.5. Gunsberg then seized an unexpected and sudden opportunity. With the joint tournament winners Chigorin and Weiss declining to play a match to select a challenger to world champion Steinitz, Gunsberg challenged Chigorin. At the time of the match Gunsberg was 35 year’s old, four year’s younger than his opponent.

    Gunsberg had struggled for his place in the limelight. He had never been seen as the preeminent British player and was usually eclipsed by Joseph Henry Blackburne .Gunsberg had emerged in the third German Chess Congress 1883. Gunsberg was 17th with 5/18 whereas Blackburne won with 13.5/18. At the fourth German Chess Congress, Hamburg July 13th - 25th 1885, Blackburne again won on a tie break followed by James Mason. Gunsberg improved his standing to 5th only half a point behind the winner.

    At Hereford, August 4th – 12th, 1885, Blackburn won and Gunsberg was fifth equal, whilst at the Second BCF championship London 1886, July 12th – 29th, he was third equal with Taubenhaus behind Blackburne and Burn.

    At the fifth German Chess Congress, Frankfurt July 17th - August 2nd, 1887, Blackburne was fourth and Gunsberg was far back in 14-16th place. He scored only two points against the top ten players.

    The Third BCF Congress London 1887, November 29th - December 12th, improved his status. Gunsberg was first equal with Burn ahead of Blackburne by 1 1/2 points; and at the Fourth BCF championship in Bradford, August 6th – 18th 1888, Gunsberg won, 1 1/2 points ahead of all his important British rivals including: George Henry Mackenzie, Mason, Amos Burn , Blackburne and Henry Edward Bird.

    In 1887, Blackburne - Gunsberg (1887), Gunsberg defeated Blackburne in a match , played in Bradford and London, 26th September – 9th November 1887 scoring +5 -2 =6.

    Having tied for first in 1887 and won the title outright in 1888, and at least temporarily drawn ahead of his most obvious rival, his victory in this match gave him the status as a credible challenger to Steinitz for the world championship.

    "The difference in style between the two players has been very well brought out in the present match. Gunsberg is impetuous and Blackburne is careful, but both have a wonderful power of combination, and are capable, of very brilliant strokes." [8]

    Gunsberg's problem was that he was not consistent. At Breslau (1889) , 15th – 26th July 1889, he was equal fourth, but Tarrasch eclipsed all the other participants with a magnificent +9. At Amsterdam (1889) , 26th August – 1st September 1889, he came only half-way up the field (+2 -2 =4).

    <Background to the match>

    Blackburne had defeated Johannes Zukertort Blackburne - Zukertort (1887) – (7th May – 9th June 1887). It was effectively a match between the second and third players in the world behind Wilhelm Steinitz. Blackburne dominated, winning by 5 to 1 with 8 drawn games

    "I hear that an effort is being made by the leading members of the British Chess Club to arrange a match between Blackburne and Steinitz. The superiority shown by the former over Zukertort in the match now concluded was so decided that friends of the English champion are convinced that he is able to lower the colours of that redoubtable player." [9]

    Zukertort died 20 June 1888 (aged 45). The question was now who would be the new Challenger?

    “There is a pretty firm conviction at the clubs that that Gunsberg, especially since the death of Zukertort, is the strongest and hardiest of the professional masters of the game, and that in his present condition he can be more trusted than anyone else to play up to his best form over a fortnight's course….It will soon be time, by the way, to demand a match between Gunsberg and Steinitz -the old Achilles who sulks on his reputation in America. Mr Steinitz is giving us time enough in England to forget his prowess, and people already say that his victory over Zukertort, when the decline of the doctor's powers had manifestly set in, was not of sufficient importance to provide him with laurels for the remainder of his life. No doubt, this is said partly by way of defiance, and in course of time it is pretty certain that the champion will have to descend into the lists again, and try conclusions with Mr Gunsberg.” [10]

    Steinitz saw Chigorin as his most credible challenger and chose to defend his world championship title against Chigorin in Havana (20th January 1889 - 24th February, 1889). Steinitz defeated his Russian challenger by 10-6, Steinitz - Chigorin World Championship Match (1889)

    <Gunsberg takes his opportunity in New York>

    The Sixth American Chess Congress New York 1889, commenced on Monday, March 29th , 1889 and was originally to allow a fresh challenger for the world championship to emerge.

    "It is the purpose of the Committee to make the Tournament a contest for the real championship of the world, thus avoiding the controversies and disputes that have so often arisen at the end of tournaments, which, owing to the absence of a regulation providing for a match, have rendered them fallacious tests of superiority. In addition to the First Prize which will be $1,000, minimum, (approx. £22,400 in 2016 value) a trophy representing such championship will be provided and held subject to challenge under fair and equitable conditions, thus combining the advantages of a tournament and a championship match, to consist of at least seven games up, forming part of the tournament, and to be incorporated in the Book of the Congress. [11]

    “The winner of the Tournament shall be bound to play the Championship Match if duly challenged. He shall not be obliged to play for stakes, but may insist upon a maximum of $1,500 a side. To ensure compliance with this rule, one-fourth of the amount of the First Prize shall be held as a forfeit until the Championship Match is completed or the time for challenge has expired.” [12]

    But whilst Steinitz edited the tournament book and had been one of the principal organizers, he did not choose to play:

    “In that connection it is due to mention that the non-participation of Mr. Steinitz was a great disappointment to the majority of Chess amateurs. The Committee beg to say on this subject that they would have been highly gratified if Mr. Steinitz had been one of the contestants” [13]

    Steinitz’s explanation was: "I was one of the chief organizers and therefore could not well compete..." [14]

    Mikhail Chigorin and Max Weiss tied for first with a score of 29 but Chigorin defeated Weiss in their individual game. They then drew all four games of a playoff.

    “At the end of the tournament there was a tie between M. Chigorin, of St. Petersburg, and Herr Max Weiss, of Vienna. Both these masters expressed a desire not to be compelled to play a championship match, as provided by the rules, and as there was no other challenge for the title and the prizes offered for the purpose, the Committee decided that this contest should not take place.” [15]

    The Committee gave way, probably influenced by the fact that the congress had lost money and subscribers had not paid and spectators were fewer than anticipated. Although Weiss was not interested in playing a championship match, Gunsberg, as the third place finisher, exercised his right and challenged Chigorin to a World Championship candidates match.

    “7. The right of challenge shall belong to the prize winners in the order of their score” [16]

    It also buttressed his claim that he had won the tournament’s best game prize - J Mason vs Gunsberg, 1889

    Weiss’ reticence may have been due his decision to leave chess for the greater certainty and remuneration of a banking career. He had also just played 49 games including a tied mini-match with Chigorin to try to decide the tie for first place. For Chigorin a match against Gunsberg would be a welcome pay-check and was an offer on the table whereas Steinitz had not made any move to play the winner of New York.

    “One of the usual results of a great tournament is that after its conclusion various rumours arise of projected matches between the combatants. There is generally a feeling among some of the competitors that they did not do themselves justice, or that they had bad luck in particular games, and there is a desire to prove themselves not inferior to those with whom they had lost. Challenges are therefore issued very freely by the losers, though they are not always accepted by the winners. The New York contest has been no exception to the general custom, and already there are many matches in the air. Gunsberg, who is well known to be one of the most enterprising of chess players, is stated to have challenged Chigorin, and it is anticipated that if he proves victorious he will afterwards play Weiss. A contest between Gunsberg and Burn is also in contemplation.

    A match between Gunsberg and Chigorin would be of the greatest interest, for these two players are undoubtedly the leading representatives of the modern school. Both are well gifted with imagination, and their games exhibit a boldness and chivalry of style which even if not invariably successful, is always certain, at any rate, to command admiration. Mr. Steinitz's so-called "modern theory," however successful it maybe in his hands, is not of a kind to make chess more popular, nor to excite the admiration of rising players. The style of chess that in our opinion can be justly designated as the "modern school" combines the clash and enterprise of Labourdonnais and Macdonnell with improved scientific accuracy. It is this method that has been successfully adopted by both Gunsberg and Chigorin…" [17]


    Before leaving New York Mr Gunsberg challenged M. Chigorin to a match at chess, if the Russian champion would come to London to play. The contest might be easily arranged. Another match is talked of between Herr Steinitz and Gunsberg, and could the great Bohemian champion be prevailed on to cross the water, this most interesting event might also be negotiated. A set match for the championship of the world was to follow the late New York tournament. "T'were a consummation devoutly to be wished" and nothing would wanting on the part of English amateurs to bring it about.” [18]


    Mr. Gunsberg has been challenged (sic), and has accepted the challenge, to play a match against Mr. Chigorin. The following are the conditions : 1. Ten games up, draws not counting. 2. Time limit 15 or 20 moves an hour. 3. Four games a week. 4. Play to commence between the 15th of December and 1st of January next. Chigorin's friends propose a stake of £200, and Gunsberg, who has no wish to play for any heavy amount, is not likely to make any difficulties in matters of detail.” [19]

    “The Havana Chess Club has arranged another great match to take place in "that El Dorado of chess players" between M.Chigorin of St.Petersburg and I.Gunsberg, of London". [20]

    Gunsberg quickly attracted the financial support from British players:


    The conditions which Gunsberg proposed to Chigorin in connection with this encounter have been accepted by the latter, and we may therefore look upon the contest as a fixture. As before stated play is to commence in Havana, between the 15th December and 1st January next.

    A circular has been issued by a committee, acting on behalf of Mr. Gunsberg, in which Chess players of this country are invited to provide the stakes, and give their representative that national support which will enable him to cope successfully with his powerful antagonist in the great struggle for Chess supremacy between England and Russia. The Committee is composed of the following gentlemen:

    Wordsworth Donisthorpe (Vice President British Chess Club), F. Anger (Vice President City of London Chess Club), J. W. Hunt, M.D. (President North London Chess Club), L. Hoffer (Hon. Sec. British Chess Association), A. Mocatta, A. Hunter, Thos. Schofield, W. Montague Gattie, &c.” [21]


    The chess news from Havana is interesting. Extensive preparations are being made for a series of match games between Herren Chigorin and Gunsberg, and an engagement of five weeks has been offered to Capt. Mackenzie to take part in a contemplated tournament. In addition to guaranteeing the passage money from their places of residence in Europe and return, the sum of $250 for hotel expenses will be paid to each on arrival in Havana. In addition, $20 will be paid to the winner and $10 to the loser at the end of every game, and in case of a draw $10 will be paid to each player up to five games. The winner of the ten-game match will also receive a purse of $1,000, this sum having being subscribed by the backers of Herr Chigorin. A similar amount is expected to be raised by the followers of Herr Gunsberg. “ [22]

    “…Mr Gunsberg travelled from London via New York, arriving at Havana about the middle of December. Herr Chigorin left Russia in the latter part of November, and proceeded via Paris to New York, reaching that city on the day of Mr Gunsberg's arrival in Havana. Herr Chigorin completed his journey in time to allow to the playing of the first game of the match on New Year's Day”. [23]

    "Gunsberg arrived at Havana on December 16th, and Chigorin at New York on the same day, having been prevented by a attack of influenza from leaving St.Petersburg till November 24th. After some preliminary play with the Havana players by Gunsberg, the great match began at the Casino Espanol, at 2 p.m., on New Years's Day. Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday are the days for play..." [24]


    “Further communication from Senor Adolfo Moliner states that Mr. I. Gunsberg has cabled his acceptance of the offer to play at Havana against Chigorin according to the proposed terms and rules, and that Chigorin, through his representative, Mr. de Beon, accepts also.


    1. Ten games up, draws not counting.

    2. Time limit, 15 or 20 moves per hour.

    3. Four games a week.

    4. Play to begin between the 15th Dec. and the 1st of January.

    5. Either player to have the right to abstain from play three times during the match, provided he give notice to that effect previous to the time fixed for the beginning of the game.

    6. Play begins at 3 p.m. and proceeds up to 6 p.m. It is resumed at 8 p.m, until 11 p.m. During dinner adjournment the two players remain together.

    7. The time will be measured by stop- clocks. Either player not appearing, his clock will be set in motion at 3.05 p.m., and should he fail to arrive after two hours he forfeits the game.

    8. At any adjournment the first player writes down his move and hands it over in a closed envelope to the Hon. Secretary or to any person appointed for the purpose by the latter.

    9. If the same move be repeated six times the opponent may claim a draw. The winner will be he who first scores ten games.

    11. The London International Rules of Play will govern the match.

    12. Umpires not to be backers of either party, and shall be elected by each, subject to the approval of the other side, and the two players shall elect a Referee.

    13. The right of publishing the match games belongs to both players and the club.” [25]

    "It seems that the invitations of the Club to the two Champions include a request that the openings might be varied as much as possible. Clearly they had enough of the monotonous sticking to favourite openings in the Steinitz-Chigorin match. ..." [26]

    “Mr. Gunsberg has sailed from Liverpool on the Alaska to fulfil his engagement at Havana, where he will fight a match with Chigorin, the Russian player, for the chess championship. The match, which is expected to commence about Christmas, is to be one of 10 games up, draws not counting, stakes £200 a-side, the entertaining club giving in addition a fixed sum to the winner and loser of each game played.” [27]

    “All preliminaries have now been arranged for the chess match Gunsberg versus Chigorin, play in which will be commenced on Wednesday next.” [28]

    “The regular days of play are Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday of each week. The time limit agreed upon requires the completion of 30 moves by each player within the first hour and three-quarters, after which the stipulation is 15 moves per hour.” [29]

    The match was held in the Casino Espinol [30]. This was probably the the ‘Casino Espanol’ built next to the Havana Yacht Club on the waterfront off Avenida 5ta. It appears to have been abandoned and its main building has now collapsed. The current building known as the ’Casino Espanol’, or more recently as the ‘Palacio de los Matrimonios’, was built later in 1914.


    Game 1 - January 1st 1890 - Chigorin v Gunsberg Game 2 - January 3rd 1890 - Gunsberg v Chigorin Game 3 - January 5th 1890 - Chigorin v Gunsberg Game 4 - January 7th 1890 - Gunsberg v Chigorin Game 5 - January 8th 1890 - Chigorin v Gunsberg Game 6 - January 10th 1890 - Gunsberg v Chigorin Game 7 - January 12th 1890 - Chigorin v Gunsberg Game 8 - January 14th 1890 - Gunsberg v Chigorin Game 9 - January 15th 1890 - Chigorin v Gunsberg Game 10 - January 18th 1890 - Gunsberg v Chigorin Game 11 - January 21st 1890 - Chigorin v Gunsberg Game 12 - January 22nd 1890 - Chigorin v Gunsberg Game 13 - January 24th 1890 - Gunsberg v Chigorin Game 14- January 26th 1890 - Chigorin v Gunsberg Game 15 - January 28th 1890 - Gunsberg v Chigorin Game 16 - January 31st 1890 - Chigorin v Gunsberg Game 17 - February 2nd 1890 - Gunsberg v Chigorin Game 18 - February 4th 1890 - Chigorin v Gunsberg Game 19 - February 5th 1890 - Gunsberg v Chigorin Game 20 - February 10th 1890 - Chigorin v Gunsberg Game 21 - February 12th 1890 - Gunsberg v Chigorin Game 22 - February 14th 1890 - Chigorin v Gunsberg Game 23 - February 17th 1890 - Gunsberg v Chigorin

    <The progress of the match>

    Chigorin was White in the even numbered games.


    Chigorin - 1 1 0 ½ 0 1 ½ 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 ½ 0 ½ 1 ½ 1 0 1 0 - 9 Gunsberg - 0 0 1 ½ 1 0 ½ 1 1 1 0 1 1 1 ½ 1 ½ 0 ½ 0 1 0 1 - 9

    Progressive scores - draws do not count


    Chigorin - 1 2 2 2 2 3 3 3 3 3 4 4 5 5 5 6 6 7 7 8 8 9 9 Gunsberg - 0 0 1 1 2 2 2 3 4 5 5 6 6 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 8 8 9


    The match rolled heavily one way then the other. Chigorin went two points into the lead, and then lost four in a row from Rounds 7-10. Chigorin was ahead in seven of the first eight rounds, Gunsberg then took the lead for the next nine rounds. The score was tied at seven wins each at round 18. Chigorin was a point ahead with the last game to play but Gunsberg won the 23rd game and tied the score.

    Both players were more successful with the Black pieces in this match. Chigorin was the most successful as Black (+6,=1,-4), winning his last four wins with the Black pieces, yet he had a crisis mid-match when from rounds 8-14 he lost four times in a row with Black. Chigorin won three times with White, and lost five times. He lost with White four times in the first nine games.

    Gunsberg won five games with Black, and four with White (all these wins being in succession from Rounds 8-14). After Round 14 he did not win with White again.

    <Contemporary accounts>


    The eleventh game in the championship match was played yesterday, when Mr. Chigorin played the Ponziani Opening, a mode of attack he adopted in the first game of the series. The Russian, as in the first game, obtained an advantage in the opening, which he materially increased by subsequent good play, while in the end game he really surpassed himself, conducting it with great brilliancy, which was much admired by the numerous spectators. Mr. Gunsberg resigned at the v thirty-fourth move, after about three and one-half hours' play. The score now is: Gunsberg, 5 ; Chigorin, 4, and 2 games drawn.

    The first ten games of the Chess match now being played at Havana have been the subject of much discussion among the Cubans and Chess-players in this country. A summary of these games will therefore be timely. On January 1st, when the champions faced each other for the first time in Havana, both were in excellent health and spirits. It will be remembered that this is Mr. Chigorin's second visit to the famous Cuban Chess centre, while Mr. Gunsberg, in order to thoroughly accustom himself to the climate, arranged to arrive a fort night before his famous antagonist. Mr. Chigorin, in the first encounter, played with all the dash and brilliancy for which he is celebrated, and succeeded in out playing Mr. Gunsberg at every point in the first game, this being a fine specimen of modern Chess and a well-deserved victory.

    It cannot be said that Mr. Gunsberg overcame the moral effects of a defeat in the second game. His play, although full of line strategy, lacked finish, and again the Russian succeeded in adding another victory to his score by a brilliant combination in the end game. Although Mr. Gunsberg was handicapped in the third game by a slight attack of fever, he scored his first win in spite of having chosen the French game as his defence. Mr. Gunsberg often falls back upon this safe defence, when either wishing to check the victorious career of his antagonist or when feeling out of sorts. If Mr. Gunsberg was beaten in the first and second games, Mr. Chigorin had to put up with a defeat in the third game, for which great credit is due to Mr. Gunsberg, in as much as he entirely outplayed his rival by introducing a novelty which the Russian failed to offset. In the fourth game, a short battle of thirteen moves, neither player had a chance throughout the contest. It was a Four Knights Game, where exchanges were the principal feature, and after a most uneventful and short struggle the first drawn game was recorded. For the first time in the match the Russian essayed the Evans Gambit in the fifth game. It is a generally acknowledged fact that Mr. Chigorin' ranks among the most renowned masters as an exponent of this mode of attack. Mr Gunsberg conducted the defence very cleverly and ought to have won the game right out, but Mr. Chigorin played the middle game in splendid style and regained the ground lost in the opening. Mr. Gunsberg, however, was equal to the occasion, and when it looked as if honours would be divided the Russian fell off in play, and, overlooking safe continuations, he fell a victim to Gunsberg's tactics and lost. This was a very sensational battle.

    In the sixth game Mr. Gunsberg was again defeated, the Russian's brilliant dash being too much for his adversary, who played a game so tame and inconsistent that Mr. Chigorin was enabled to once more show his inimitable style of attack, to which Gunsberg fell a prey. The game was a Two Knights Defence. Mr. Gunsberg, in the 7th game, when playing the French Defence, got on even terms with the Russian, who tried hard to score. Mr. Gunsberg played this game in classical style, and at one time he ought to have got the better position, but he missed his chance, the game being finally drawn.

    Zukertort's Opening was the plan of battle in the eighth contest. Here the Russian, who conducted the defence, was altogether outplayed by his rival throughout the game, and by a really artistic finish Mr. Gunsberg scored. The writer has seen many surprises over the boards. He saw the veteran Bird miss a mate in two and all sorts of oversights, which are now being termed hallucinations. But how Mr. Chigorin, a brilliant and quick-witted player, could miss a mate twice in one game can scarcely be understood, and these oversights have to be registered in the annals of Chess history as hallucinations of the first magnitude. In this game Gunsberg fell into a beautifully laid trap, but for reasons given above he scored after all. The tenth game, a P—Q4 opening variation known as the Steinitz vs. Potter, was also remarkable, as Mr. Chigorin again lost through an oversight, this time committed in the end game. But for this a really magnificently contested game would have ended in a draw. Altogether the promoters of this match and the Chess world at large have every reason to be satisfied with the results so far recorded.

    We have pleasure in giving credit for this excellent report to the Sun, N. Y., a paper fully alive on all the amusements that interest humanity.” [31]


    The committee of the Havana Chess Club expressed a wish previous to the beginning of the Gunsberg vs. Chigorin match that the same opening or defence should not be played more than twice by each player, in order to get a greater variety and resumed Mr. Gunsberg easily forced a win, the Russian having to resign after sixty-five moves. Although the interest in local circles has not in any way abated, the fifteenth game in the match gave a stimulant, if at all required. This game will rank among the finest specimens of modern Chess. Chigorin had the move and Gunsberg adopted the Centre Counter Gambit (Blackburne's variation). The Russian really excelled himself, for his brilliant attacks and combinations surpassed anything ever shown by this expert. On the other hand a really masterly defence was shown by Gunsberg. Frequently it looked heavy odds against the Britisher, but he always managed to avert a catastrophe, and after a highly interesting contest of fifty moves play was adjourned. On the following day the battle was resumed. Beautiful strategic movements were shown on either side and loud applause and cheering greeted the masters when a really magnificently played game was drawn. So far, this has been the finest game in the match. — The Sun, N. Y.

    As will have been seen from the summary of the first ten games published last week, both masters have so far respected the desires of the Havana Club. In glancing at the openings of games 11 to 15, it will be found that five distinct openings or defences, respectively, have been selected by the champions in these games. Mr. Chigorin, who had the move in the eleventh game, for the second time in the match selected the Staunton Opening, and, as in the first game, in which he played the same attacking combination, he succeeded in altogether outplaying his antagonist. This can only be explained by the fact that Mr. Gunsberg adopted too original a defence, which probably was weak, and the Russian, taking full advantage, scored a beautifully played game after thirty-four moves. Mr. Gunsberg also essayed the same opening for a second time in the twelfth game, namely, P—Q4. It will be remembered that the Hungarian in the tenth game, in which this opening was played by him, entirely outwitted his rival from the very beginning of the game. In this Mr. Gunsberg did not again succeed. On the contrary, Mr. Chigorin made a very bold front, and the game was perfectly even until the end-game stage was reached, when Mr. Gunsberg showed better staying power. Little by little he gained ground, and his opponent falling off in play, Gunsberg proceeded with an irresistibly and finely planned combination, and Mr. Chigorin fell an easy prey after forty moves.

    I never to have refused a gambit, and it was therefore a matter of general surprise when the news came that he had declined the King's Gambit offered by Mr. Chigorin in the thirteenth game. Moreover, the defence selected was weak, and Chigorin, being in splendid form, smashed up his adversary's position in no time, and gained a very creditable victory after forty-nine moves.

    A very tough battle was the outcome of the fourteenth game, in which Mr. Gunsberg played the Zukertort Opening. This will be found a very instructive game to Chess-players. At first the Russian defended very steadily, while Gunsberg; slowly developed his pieces in order to place them in proper battle order, a manoeuvre also, but not so neatly, executed by his antagonist.

    In the middle game, however, Gunsberg forced the pace. He gained first one Pawn, then another; but the general exchange of pieces which followed resulted in Bishops of opposite colours remaining on the board. This, at one time, relieved the anxiety of Mr. Chigorin's friends, inasmuch as a victory for Gunsberg did not look probable under these circumstances. After sixty-two moves, in six hours' play, the contest had to be adjourned. When the game was won, the Russian having to resign after sixty-five moves.

    Although the interest in local circles has not in any way abated, the fifteenth game in the match gave a stimulant, if at all required. This game will rank among the finest specimens of modern Chess. Chigorin had the move and Gunsberg adopted the Centre Counter Gambit (Blackburne's variation). The Russian really excelled himself, for his brilliant attacks and combinations surpassed anything ever shown by this expert. On the other hand a really masterly defence was shown by Gunsberg. Frequently it looked heavy odds against the Britisher, but he always managed to avert a catastrophe, and after a highly interesting contest of fifty moves play was adjourned. On the following day the battle was resumed. Beautiful strategic movements were shown on either side, and loud applause and cheering greeted the masters when a really magnificently played game was drawn. So far, this has been the finest game in the match. — The Sun, N. Y.” [32]

    <A review of the games>

    [[Game 1]]
    Gunsberg lost the first game of the match as Black after making a simple blunder. He had almost equalised against Chigorin's Ponziani Opening but overlooked a very simple tactic. Instead of <21...g6!>, Gunsberg played <21...Nd5>

    click for larger view

    oblivious to <22.Qxf8!>.

    “A difficult position occurred at a time when the hands of the clock were dangerously near the hour, and Gunsberg , under time pressure , made some hasty moves” - [33]

    [[Game 2]]
    Gunsberg allowed Chigorin to build up a threatening K-side attack as Black.

    click for larger view

    35.Rh1 Rxf3! 36. Qd2+ 37.Kg1 Bf2+!! (37...Qxb2? 38.Rf1 Qd4+ 39.Kg2=) 38.Kf1 Nd4 39.Bxd4 Qxc1+ and wins.

    [[Game 3]]
    This was Gunsberg’s first win of the match and was achieved with Black after two thumping losses. Chigorin misplayed and lost the exchange for a Pawn. The simple error contrasted starkly with his splendid combinational vision in the first two games.

    [[Game 4]]
    Gunsberg as White, made no effort to win in a Four Knight’s Opening, and a draw followed in only 13 moves.

    [[Game 5]]
    Chigorin offered and Gunsberg accepted an Evan’s Gambit. Chigorin attempted to break through in the centre but Gunsberg held onto the Pawn. Later inaccurate play by Gunsberg allowed Chigorin to claw his way back to equality. In a long Rook and Pawns endgame, Chigorin’s technique let him down and he lost.

    The players later repeated the opening to move 12 at Hastings 1895 with Chigorin winning.

    [[Game 6]]
    Gunsberg's inaccurate play allowed Chigorin to build up a strong K-side attack with Black in a Two Knights Defence.

    Chigorin broke through his opponent's defences with an inspired Rook sacrifice;

    click for larger view

    <34...Rxh4!!> 35. gxh4 g3!!

    [[Game 7]]
    Chigorin met Gunsberg's French Defence with <3.exd5>, and achieved nothing with the White pieces. In the late middle game Chigorin played inaccurately and Gunsberg could have accrued a positional advantage. Both players then lost the thread of the game and it was drawn.

    [[Game 8]]
    This was one of Gunsberg's best games of the match. Chigorin miscalculated and allowed his opponent to tear open his King side defences. After

    click for larger view

    <28.Rxe6!> Chigorin was caught in a mating net.

    [[Game 9]]

    This game was a disaster for Chigorin yet it all began very well. He played an Evan's Gambit and his determination to win was shown on move 11 when he sacrificed his Bishop for his opponent's <f> Pawn and attacking chances.

    Later analysis established that this should have resulted in a draw, but Gunsberg made an extraordinary decision and exposed his King to a prolonged assault

    click for larger view

    with <14...Kg6?>

    Chigorin pursued his opponent’s King across the board to the Queen-side. He seemed at a loss how to proceed. There was a three-fold repetition which was ignored and then Chigorin blundered and let Gunsberg's King escape. With the tables turned, Gunsberg's play improved considerably and with an ending in which he had a Rook, two Bishops and a Knight for his Queen he won the ending efficiently.

    [[Game 10]]
    Gunsberg established a winning endgame only to let victory slip through his fingers due to poor technique

    click for larger view

    with <62.d5?> instead of <62.Re7>. With <62...b5> Chigorin reached a technically drawn position.

    Gunsberg, apparently, wanted to be shown and his persistence paid off. After an accurate defence Chigorin suddenly made a gross blunder with

    click for larger view

    <77...Rxb7> and after <78.Rh1> he could not avoid mate.

    This was the second loss in a row due to a simple blunder by Chigorin.

    [[Game 11]]
    Despite the setbacks of the previous two games, Chigorin rallied to show that his combinational ability was still intact. Gunsberg played lackadaisically and did not see the danger to his King.

    click for larger view


    [[Game 12]]
    Gunsberg played another good attacking game. Chigorin allowed his opponent’s Queen to penetrate his Q-side and weave a mating net around his King.

    [[Game 13]]
    Gunsberg as Black in a Vienna Game, allowed his King to remain in the centre for too long. Chigorin broke through in the centre and again sacrificed his Bishop on <f7>. Although he missed some quicker finishes, the issue was never in doubt.

    [[Game 14]]
    Chigorin defended with a Dutch defence but misplayed it very badly. He ended up two Pawns down and whilst Gunsberg could have made some better moves, he did not dissipate his advantage.

    [[Game 15]]
    Chigorin established a significant spatial advantage against Gunsberg’s Scandinavian Defence. It seemed only a matter of time until he broke through to his opponent’s cramped King. Chigorin once again lost his way.

    click for larger view

    <44.Qxh7!> would have won. Instead, Gunsberg was left with a winning position which he then blundered away in return and the game was drawn.

    [[Game 16]]
    Gunsberg attempted a Pawn storm on the King-side, but lost through carelessness in the opening

    click for larger view

    after <15.c5?> (15. dxe5 =) he was rocked back by <15...Nd3> 16. Bxd3 (if 16. cxd6 Qxd6 17. Bxd3 Qg3+ 18. Kh1 Qxh4+)

    [[Game 17]]
    Chigorin’s Vienna opening yielded him no advantage and opposite coloured Bishops led to a draw.

    “Feb. 3. Yesterday's game in the contest between Messrs. Gunsberg and Chigorin was commenced with the Vienna Opening. Gunsberg obtained an advantage, but by somewhat relaxing his attention later on, he enabled his opponent to equalise matters, the result being a draw on the 47th move.“ [34]

    [[Game 18]]
    Gunsberg played carelessly with

    click for larger view

    <31.Nd5?> and after <31…Bf5!>, he sacrificed the exchange in the forlorn hope of some attacking chances. Chigorin made no mistake and pocketed the exchange with impunity.

    [[Game 19]]
    Gunsberg equalised efficiently as Black in a Ruy Lopez. Having little prospect of any advantage, Chigorin conceded a draw in 22 moves. This was the second shortest game of the match, but it was to be followed by four decisive and hard-fought games.

    [[Game 20]]
    Chigorin, defending a Ruy Lopez, created a tremendous attack on the K-side in the late middle game. Transferring his heavy pieces across from the Q-side with great skill, he finished in splendid combinational fashion.

    [[Game 21]]
    Chigorin blundered with <25.Qg4?>

    click for larger view

    leaving Gunsberg with a much superior ending after <25...Re1!>. In the endgame, he made a gross error and lost quickly.

    [[Game 22]]

    Chigorin equalised with the Two Knight's defence and then began to develop a mild initiative on the King-side. Gunsberg, completely lost the thread of the game and Chigorin’s clever play, especially with his Knight, won the game.

    [[Game 23]]

    "The 23rd game in the contest between Messrs. Gunsberg and Chigorin has once more placed the two players on an equality. They now stand nine wins each out of the necessary ten. In yesterday's game Chigorin had the move, and a Centre Gambit resulted. Gunsberg obtained an advantage in the middle came by clever and well-directed play, and, maintaining his superiority, he won on the 41st move. The enthusiasm here is unbounded, and it is safe to say that no previous chess match has ever caused such excitement." [35]

    'I thoroughly know that opening,' said Gunsberg afterwards, 'for I played it frequently in the Hamburg tournament of 1885, and first adopted the defence I need against Chigorin in a game I believe against Johannes Minckwitz, played in that tournament (J Minckwitz vs Gunsberg, 1885). I knew at once that I would either win or draw the game.' Chigorin in his turn had indeed at this decisive moment fallen a victim to one of the rules governing the match that each opening should not be played more than twice by each player. Being compelled to choose a fresh opening he had selected one about which his opponent for once knew more than he did.

    The game had hardly proceeded five or six moves when Chigorin must have discovered by the rapid and confident play of his opponent that he had made a mistake. Gunsberg got the attack in hand, and soon drove all the first player's pieces back to the eighth rank. Chigorin had, as usual in the opening, castled on the Queen's side, and was subjected to an attack in that quarter. Matters soon assumed a critical aspect, and the spectators thought a speedy termination in Black's favour not unlikely. Chigorin, however, defended well, and Gunsberg probably still played under the restraint imposed upon him by the state of his score.

    Between about the 25 and 35th move it seemed that, although Gunsberg had somewhat the better position, his opponent might yet be able to equalise matters, but a mistake on the part of the Russian in playing his Knight to B2 instead of to K3 deprived him of his last chance, and by a few clever and well-directed moves Gunsberg knocked the ground from his feet, thereby scoring his ninth win, and at the same time saving the match. It must be admitted here that even Chigorin's backers joined in the general congratulations which rewarded Gunsberg for his victory, for they admired the pluck displayed in the game, and honoured the player who could hold his own so evenly..” [36]

    “The next question was what was to be done now. The committee of the club and those members who had liberally contributed towards this match felt it would be absurd indeed to stake the issue of a great match on a single game when 23 games had been played between the same players with an even score. The committee met on Tuesday, and asked Gunsberg what his views were. Gunsberg replied that he would like to play out the match, but as it would be unfair that the loser, after having made such a good fight, should sacrifice everything over one game, he proposed the committee should offer a sum of 100 dollars to the loser of the game.

    The committee, however, intimated that they would prefer the match to be drawn, although they declared their willingness to accept Gunsberg's proposal in a modified form, in case Chigorin refused to agree to draw. Upon this Gunsberg placed himself unreservedly in the hands of the committee.

    Chigorin did not put in an appearance till nearly 2 o'clock on Wednesday — the time for resuming play— when Senor Golmayo acquainted him with the desire of the committee, Chigorin offered to play three or five games to decide the match, but Gunsberg said he would either play the final game or draw the match, but would not on any account prolong the contest. After this declaration, Chigorin agreed to the request of the committee, and the match was abandoned as a draw. “ [37]


    Gunsberg was keen to maintain his momentum and establish his position as a leading player. He made energetic attempts to secure another match against another leading player.

    "Dr. Tarrasch is unable, on account of other business engagements, to accept the invitation of the Havana Club to play Herr Steinitz. A match between Herr Steinitz and Mr. Gunsberg will be played at New York in December." [38]


    Mr. Gunsberg telegraphed to the Havana Chess Club on October 5 asking that a match should be arranged there between himself and Mr. Blackburne in January. The Havana Club, however, declined to comply with this request." [39]

    He was able to secure an opportunity to play for the world championship


    “Further details are now to hand respecting the proposed match between Gunsberg and Steinitz. It appears that on Mr. Gunsberg's arrival in New York, from Havana, great enthusiasm was manifested towards him by the local players, and a proposal was at once made that he should fight a match with Steinitz. Gunsberg, however, was very anxious to have another trial of strength with Chigorin and this, meeting the approval of the New York players, the Manhattan Club, of that city, at once started preparations for the contest. The proposed conditions were a match of live games up for the same stakes as in their previous encounter, with the addition of a substantial purse to cover the expenses—this latter being subscribed by the local players, who came forward with most liberal donations.

    On Chigorin's arrival in New York he was approached on the subject when, much to the surprise and disappointment of everyone, he refused to play again, on the ground that he intended to arrange a match on a large scale at St. Petersburg. The directors of the Manhattan Chess Club thereupon met and decided to promote a match between Gunsberg and Steinitz, to take place as soon as possible. Mr. Gunsberg proposed to start play on 1st May, he desiring a short rest and wishing to spend a few weeks in England.

    Steinitz could not agree to this date, as it would interfere with his other engagements, and the start was therefore postponed until the autumn. A committee of the Manhattan Club was appointed and entrusted with the task of carrying out the necessary arrangements, and they are maKing active progress with their work.

    Already large sums have been subscribed towards the stakes, and Mr. Steinitz has given his assent to the proposal. Great things are expected of the contest, which will be one of the most interesting Chess struggles of modern times. The Yankee enthusiasm has been thoroughly aroused, and no doubts are entertained as to their ability to bring the match to an issue.” [40]

    Steinitz played Gunsberg for the world title - Steinitz - Gunsberg World Championship Match (1890)

    This was Gunsberg’s swan-song. The 1890’s were to be the decade which marked the emergence of Seigbert Tarrasch and Emmanual Lasker. Gunsberg could not keep up with these two great players.

    At 6th German Congress, Breslau, July 15th - 28th 1889, then at the 6th British Congress, Manchester, August 25th - September 8th 1890, Tarrasch was far ahead of his rivals including Gunsberg, Mason and Blackburne.

    As for Lasker, he demolished the leading British masters who would play him. The contenders of the previous decade had been overtaken:

    Lasker - Bird (1890), Lasker - Blackburne (1892) and Lasker - Bird (1892)


    [1] <“The book of the Sixth American Chess Congress: containing the games of the international chess tournament held at New York in 1889.> Edited by W. Steinitz (1891), Committee report page, xii [2] "Shields Daily Gazette" - Monday 17th June 1889, p.2. The quote is from "Hamlet, Prince of Denmark.

    [3] Columbia Chess Chronicle, Vol.5, October 15th 1889, No.17, p.75.

    [4] The Argus (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia) Friday 21st Game 1 - February 1890, p.5.

    [5] <“José Raúl Capablanca: A Chess Biography”>, Miguel A. Sánchez, p.39.



    [8] Morning Post - Monday 10th October 1887, p. 2.

    [9] Sheffield Evening Telegraph - Monday 20th June 1887, p. 2.

    [10] Bristol Mercury - Tuesday 21st August 1888, p.8.

    [11] <“The book of the Sixth American Chess Congress: containing the games of the international chess tournament held at New York in 1889.> Edited by W. Steinitz (1891), Committee report page, xii

    [12] <“The book of the Sixth American Chess Congress: containing the games of the international chess tournament held at New York in 1889.> Edited by W. Steinitz (1891), Committee report page, xx.

    [13] <“The book of the Sixth American Chess Congress: containing the games of the international chess tournament held at New York in 1889.> Edited by W. Steinitz (1891), Committee report page, xxi

    [14] Letter from Steinitz to the publishers "George Routledge and Son, April 3rd 1890. Quoted in <"The Steinitz Papers: Letters and Documents of the First World Chess Champion">, p.115.

    [15] <“The book of the Sixth American Chess Congress: containing the games of the international chess tournament held at New York in 1889.> Edited by W. Steinitz (1891), Committee report, page xxiii

    [16] <“The book of the Sixth American Chess Congress: containing the games of the international chess tournament held at New York in 1889.> Edited by W. Steinitz (1891), Committee report page, xx.

    [17] Morning Post - Monday 17th June 1889, p.2.

    [18] "Shields Daily Gazette" - Monday 17th June 1889, p.2.

    [19] Nottinghamshire Guardian - Saturday 5th October 1889, p.3.

    [20] The Brooklyn Daily Eagle (N.Y), 13th October 1889, p.14.

    [21] The Chess Player's Chronicle - Saturday, 19th October 1889. p89.

    [22] New York Times - Saturday, November 9th, 1889, p.3.

    [23] The Argus (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia) Friday 21st Game 1 - February 1890, p.5.

    [24] The British Chess Magazine, January 1890, p.45.

    [25] Columbia Chess Chronicle, Vol.5, October 15th 1889, No.17, p.75.

    [26] The British Chess Magazine, February 1890, p.112.

    [27] Canterbury Journal, Kentish Times and Farmers' Gazette - Saturday 30th November 1889, p.6.

    [28] Belfast News-Letter - Saturday 28th December 1889, p.7.

    [29] Morning Post - Thursday 23rd January 1890, p.5.

    [30] Belfast News-Letter - Thursday 27th February 1890, p.3.

    [31] Columbia Chess Chronicle, Vol.5, January 15 1890, No.12 & 13, p.142 and 143.

    [32] Columbia Chess Chronicle, Vol.5, Game 1 - February 1st 1890, No.14. p.162 – 163.

    [33] The Scotsman - Saturday 4th January 1890.

    [34] Morning Post - Tuesday 4th February 1890, p.3.

    [35] Morning Post - Wednesday 19th February 1890, p.4.

    [36] South Australian Chronicle (Adelaide, South Australia, Saturday 3rd May 1890, p.16.

    [37] South Australian Chronicle (Adelaide, South Australia, Saturday 3rd May 1890, p.16.

    [38] York Herald - Tuesday 7th October 1890, p.4.

    [39] Manchester Evening News - Thursday 16th October 1890, p.2.

    [40] The Chess Player's Chronicle - Saturday, 22nd March 1890. p.97.

    A contemporary match book was published: "Match: Gunsberg - Tschigorin (Paris, N.Preti) according to The British Chess Magazine, August 1890, p.329.


    User: zanzibar for editorial suggestions, and User: OhioChessFan for proof reading and improving the text.

    Games cloned from User: keypusher 's original collection with his agreement. I have, however, altered several of the dates to match my own sources.

    23 games, 1890

  19. Donner - Euwe Championship Match

    A match between Max Euwe and Jan Hein Donner for the championship of the Netherlands.

    This ten-game match for the Dutch Championship took place from 27th December 1955 to 7th January 1956. It was housed in the "Dagblad Het Binnenhof" newspaper's offices at 42 Prinsegracht in the centre of The Hague, Netherlands. It was played in an office on the first floor with a large glass front with both players clearly visible to the pedestrians below. On the ground floor, windows were large demonstration boards for the spectators milling around on the pavement. [(1)][(2)]

    Euwe had lost the national championship narrowly to Donner in 1954. This match was one of youth versus experience; a challenge to the established order. The Dutch press treated it as a national event, and the radio stations provided a dedicated radio programmes on the match days. Donner would become Dutch Champion again (in 1957 and 1958). In 1958, he narrowly failed to qualify for the Portoroz Interzonal (1958) losing a match against Bent Larsen for the last qualifying place from the Wageningen Zonal (1957) - Donner - Larsen Zonal Playoff (1958).

    In 1958, Donner would become the second Dutch Grandmaster after Euwe.

    Euwe, as the ex-world champion still considered himself as the premier Dutch player. He had bestrode the Dutch chess world as a Colossus for three decades.

    "Understandably, Euwe did not take the loss of “his” national title lying down. The revenge mechanism devised for these situations was invoked and sponsors materialised out of nowhere.

    ...Donner, normally not given to admiring the feats of his opponents, was remarkably modest:

    <“My position was a bit like the pupil playing his teacher, of course, with desperate thoughts along the lines of what do I know that this man doesn’t? Which is not exactly the required fighting spirit.”>

    Donner continued:

    <“Another reason why I couldn’t do anything against him was that I had been brought up as a Euwian...”>"[(3)]

    <Progress of the match>

    Euwe had white in the odd-numbered games. Donner did not win a single game.

    Round 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Total
    Euwe ½ 1 1 ½ ½ 1 1 ½ ½ ½ 7
    Donner ½ 0 0 ½ ½ 0 0 ½ ½ ½ 3 ]table

    <Progressive scores:>

    Round 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
    Euwe ½ 1½ 2½ 3 3½ 4½ 5½ 6 6½ 7
    Donner ½ ½ ½ 1 1½ 1½ 1½ 2 2½ 3 ]table

    <Photograph of the match>

    <The Games>

    "All chess lovers in the country will be staying up a bit later than usual in the evening in order to follow the course of the chess match between Euwe and Donner into the late hours. It praiseworthy of the radio broadcasting associations that they have decided to jointly broadcast this national event.

    It is also interesting that Dr Euwe ... is willing to comment on his games, if the battle on that day has already concluded by eleven o'clock ... it is a pleasure to hear the master speak about the game, in which he sometimes honestly reproaches his play, sometimes expresses his satisfaction, but he is always extremely sportsman-like in his assessment." [(4)]

    [[Game 1]]

    A Queen's Gambit Exchange with Euwe as White. Euwe played vigorously and initiated a King-side attack. Donner defended accurately and after 24 moves a draw was agreed.

    [[Game 2]]

    Donner defended with an Open Spanish, a long established favourite despite his problems with this defence in 1948.

    Donner used the <9. Qe2> variation which Keres had used so effectively against Euwe in that tournament. Donner played aggressively but was tactically outplayed.

    "2nd Game DONNER-EUWE

    THE HAGUE, 28 Dec. - The second match of the two-camp J.H. Donner - Dr M. Euwe was won by Dr Euwe. Donner, who played white, resigned the game at the 34th move. Dr Euwe now has the lead with a one-and-a-half point against Donner's half a point." [(5)]

    "(From our chess correspondent, Dr M. Euwe). My second game against Donner was finished well within the allotted time last night ... Donner opened with the King's pawn and I defended myself with the open version of the Spanish game, a continuation, which has an aggressive character and was warmly recommended half a century ago by Dr Siegbert Tarrasch.

    Since then, theorists from all countries have constantly examined this "variation" with the result that the Tarrasch continuation has practically disappeared from the tournament game of the masters. This is not surprising: it should not befit the black player to take the initiative, however, the open game remains an overwhelming weapon and as such, I used it today in the second game of the match.

    Donner chose a Russian variation and his eleventh move was a recommendation of Vasily Smyslov, but I was prepared for it.

    click for larger view

    [Position after Euwe's (black) 13th move <13...Na5>]

    My thirteenth move was a novelty, a pawn sacrifice which Donner did not dare to accept. The result of this was that he had then to cope with complications which he could not ultimately resolve.

    Donner's nineteenth move was a mistake and cost two pieces for a Rook after interesting complications.

    There was still play in the position but after the 25th move the danger was finally neutralised and then the remaining moves were only a matter of technique ..." [(6)]

    [[Game 3]]

    Euwe once again played the Queen's Gambit Exchange variation. He maintained a slight advantage, and his precise play kept Donner under pressure. Donner was left with a weakness on <c6> which Euwe very effectively exploited.


    The third match of the two-championship chess between Dr M. Euwe and H. Donner for the championship of the Netherlands was won by Euwe after 38 moves. The fourth match ended on the 30th move, on Donner's proposal as a draw. Euwe now leads with 3-1." [(7)]

    [[Game 4]]

    Donner reprised his <1. e4> opening and a second Spanish Open followed. Both sides played accurately and a draw was agreed on move 30.

    “The fourth game of the H. Donner - Dr M. Euwe match has ended in a draw at the suggestion of Donner after the 30th move. Dr Euwe is now leading 3 - 1 after four games.

    Would the arrears of two points discourage Donner? That was the question that many posed after the two victories by the former world champion; the answer to this imponderable soon appeared. The numerous attendees in the press room on the first floor, separated by a glass wall from the player's room, in the lower hall and in front of the building of "Het Binnenhof" this time had an exciting duel. For this fourth game, Donner again chose the Spanish Opening, but on the fourteen he deviated from the second game. What he played forced Euwe to find a very accurate defence. At his nineteenth move the ex-world champion thought for an hour, and with success, because after that any advantage for Donner was presumed to be lost. Incidentally, this was only after breathtaking manoeuvres - a nice game that shows that Donner does not intend to lay down his arms.” [(8)]

    [[Game 5]]

    Whilst Euwe opened with <1. d4>, Donner transposed into a Caro-Kann defence. The game followed Furman vs Korchnoi, 1954, but unlike Furman, Euwe swapped material off and a draw was agreed in 19 moves. Euwe was in the lead in the match and it was clearly up to Donner to force the pace of the match.

    [[Game 6]]

    Donner for the first time in the match opened <1. d4>. Euwe played a King's Indian Defence. Donner took a risk

    click for larger view

    with <15. f4> but this proved disastrous. Euwe saw the weaknesses created in his opponent's King-side. Donner was tactically outplayed and resigned after only 22 moves.

    The 6th game took place on the on 3rd January 1956 [(9)]

    "Euwe-Donner 4½-1½

    The state of the chess match between Dr Euwe and champion. Donner is after six matches 4½ - 1½ in favour of Dr Euwe. Three games ended in a draw and three were won by Dr Euwe. There are now four games to be played; from which Euwe only needs to get one point, to recapture the Dutch chess champion's title." [(10)]

    "<Sixth game is decisive for the match. Dr Euwe's brilliant victory is another point towards the title. Donner completely lost after 22 moves.>

    (From our special reporter) The Hague, Jan 3. - In his column Donner yesterday, after the fifth game, announced, that the experiment playing without seconds in the second half of the match could still be discussed. We have been spared from working through the night by the remarkable speed with which either a decisive decision was reached or a draw has been agreed. The average number of moves of the first five games has been far below, for example, the ten games against Alekhine in 1927 (December 1926 - January 1927, Alekhine - Euwe Training Match (1926) - e.d.) which instigated Euwe's career as a grandmaster. Was Donner planning to have extra provisions, extra smoking and writing utensils and a blanket to be prepared for all possible contingencies? In any case, he had excited the curiosity of the Hague audience: not only was downstairs room crowded at half past seven, but people were also pushing outside in front of the spectacle and staring hypnotised at the demonstration board. Then there was something great to see!

    The direct attack continues with a full Rook less. The most amazing thing was that he could have avoided this second sacrifice; with <18. Bg7> instead of <18...Rxe4>, Black would still have a certain win.

    click for larger view

    "A duplicate solution," said Euwe, smiling after the game, "but I wanted somewhat more ..." The continuation was not that difficult anymore and was therefore found in many different versions by the experts. But not only Donner but also us experts had been given our lesson, by the 22nd move when White resigned in a totally lost position.

    Euwe thought for an hour before he made his first sacrifice. That he was brooding on something was clear, but he surely would not come up with the unhappy idea <16.Bxh3>? That's how the whole press thought; the spectre of the time scramble was invoked, Donner's counter-chances were widely considered - but not deeply - and in the chorus, the evidence was provided that the entire Dutch chess world consisted of little children in comparison with a Euwe.

    ...In the analysis between Donner and Euwe after the game, the masters agreed that Donner's real mistake had been <15.f4>... In short, Euwe had seen everything from Donner's pawn sacrifice and his splendid conception...There is no doubt that this sixth game is decisive. Not only for the score but for the profound impression that a so magisterial game has made his opponent. A game of this class, played by a 54-year-old, is unique in the so rich chess literature." [(11)]

    [[Game 7]]

    Donner now three games down in the match, equalised as Black playing a Grunfeld Defence. He played a pawn sacrifice which Euwe accepted. Donner could not build an initiative and in the end lost a second pawn and soon after the game. Euwe had now won the match, although the remaining games were played out.

    click for larger view

    Euwe played <42.Bc6!>, Black has severe difficulties protecting his Rook; if <42...Bg6> then 43.c5!

    "<Donner resigns after six hours.>

    (From our chess editor, Dr M. Euwe). Finally the night session. After a fierce battle of five hours, an endgame came into being, in which I possessed an extra pawn. After another hour of play, I finally succeeded last night in converting the advantage which I had gained in the first session. It was a King's Indian opening in which I gained some spatial advantage. Given the state of the match, I did not want to take any risks and took the first opportunity (<12.d5>) to wrap up the game.

    Notwithstanding the simplification, I kept sufficient pressure on Donner's position and as he does not feel so at home in purely defensive positions, Donner sacrificed a pawn (<17 ... Be6>) in the hope of taking over the initiative.

    click for larger view

    However, this only succeeded in part; I continued to have small and large threats and it looked like I would win a quick victory. Donner, however, defended himself excellently and as the playing time passed, it became clear that no decision would be made before the adjournment. The game was adjourned in a critical position. After the break, it soon became apparent that Donner had to give up a second pawn in order to escape immediate defeat. There was then a rook endgame of three pawns against one, which although it still posed problems, in the long run, was unsustainable for Donner. Donner resigned at about half past one. That is to say, I have retaken the championship title. The remaining three matches will be played on the next three days." [(12)]

    "(From our special reporters) THE HAGUE, Wednesday. It was busy at the "Binnenhof" building on the Prinsengracht in The Hague, when the match between Jan-Hein Donner and his challenger, Dr Max Euwe, entered its decisive phase. Many prominent figures from the chess world had come to watch. They saw what they should expect: Donner, lighting one cigarette with another...the former-world champion eating fruit and nut mix. Jan-Hein played under the pressure of his previous losses, he lost a pawn after weak defensive play and Euwe did not let the chance slip away.

    <"Not unique">

    What I want to say', Herman Pilnik said,'in the Dutch newspapers you reads that the grandiose attack and sacrifice, as Euwe played Tuesday, is unique for a grandmaster at the age of 54. That is certainly not correct. Just think of the old Emanuel Lasker and the magisterial victory of 80-year-old Dr Ossip Bernstein against my compatriot Najdorf, recently in a South American tournament (O Bernstein vs Najdorf, 1954 - e.d.).

    Pilnik discussed the game along with Fenny Heemskerk, the Dutch ladies champion, and had a lively discussion with her about the advantages and disadvantages of a championship match against a tournament.


    One of the most expert and interested spectators in the warm, smoky upper room was the German-Argentinian grandmaster Herman Pilnik, just arrived from Iceland, to participate in the Hoogovens tournament in Beverwijk. (Pilnik) immediately equipped himself with a pocket chessboard, and carefully examined the position between Euwe and Donner. "Yes", he concluded in an amiable tone, "by <12.d5> Euwe can play without any significant risk of losing." The transformation to the endgame on the next moves is then almost forced and then Donner's wing will be exposed to an annoying pressure. " Indeed, the entire variant predicted by Mr Pilnik came on the board a little later." [(13)]

    "It would be an exaggeration to say that the Prinsegracht, where the "Het Binnenhof" building is located, was filled by the public of the Euwe - Donner match, but there were hundreds of chess players crammed together by the end of the game at half-past ten to learn that Donner had resigned the seventh match against Euwe on the 54th move, the 54 - year - old Dr Max Euwe had deprived his old rival of the title of Dutch champion.

    As you know, Donner had seized the national title two years ago in a tournament.

    In a game that lasted longer than one of the previous six, the Dr Euwe very quickly gained an advantage. Donner played relatively weakly and only when the battle seemed hopeless did he move up a gear, but this, however, proved futile.

    When Euwe, after analysis and filming, came out at one o'clock, an enthusiastic applause of the crowds echoed on the street, which proved how popular the "new" champion among Dutch chess players is." [(14)]

    [[Game 8]]

    Having decisively lost this match, Donner played an English opening but had little appetite to try to score a consolation point with White. The game was drawn at move 16.

    [[Game 9]]

    Donner replied ton Euwe's <1.d4> with a Czech Benoni. It seems his fighting spirit had returned after the previous game. Despite this, Euwe maintained an advantage in space and was never troubled.

    [[Game 10]]

    Donner played a know drawn line against Exchange Slav and followed a previous game, Botvinnik vs P Trifunovic, 1947, even up to the same draw on the 13th move.


    This was a decisive victory for the 54-year-old Max Euwe against 28-year old Jan Hein Donner. Afterwards, a formal dinner took place with the mayor of The Hague F.M.A. Schokking presenting both players with a book. Donner graciously congratulated Euwe on his victory.

    "<Ex-world champion was well prepared.>

    Why did Euwe win? First of all, we can see that the ex-world champion was better prepared than Donner, which emerged from the novelties in the first, second and third games. Donner was able to recover — in the fourth game, he came up with a novelty, which probably means the refutation of Euwe's idea in the second game — but Donner was forced to have to choose alternative openings with both white and black." [(15)]

    Surprisingly, they would only play once more after the match despite being their era's leading Dutch players.


    [(1)]. Newsreel film of the event: Eerste NTS-Journaal (5th January 1956) -

    [(2)]. Newsreel film of the event:

    [(3)]. "Max Euwe: The Biography", Munninghoff, Alexandr. New in Chess. Chapter 12

    [(4)]. "De Telegraaf", Dutch newspaper, 5th January 1956.

    [(5)]. "Limburgsch Dagblad", Dutch newspaper, 29th December 1955.

    [(6)]. "Het vrije volk", Dutch newspaper, 29th December 1955.

    [(7)] "Java-bode", Dutch newspaper, 2nd January 1956.

    [(8)] "Utrechtsch Nieuwsblad, Dutch newspaper, 31st December 1955.

    [(9)] "Limburgsch Dagblad", 4th January 1956.

    [(10)] "De Nieuwsgier", Dutch newspaper, 5th January 1956.

    [(11)]. "De Volkskrant", Dutch newspaper, 4th January 1956.

    [(12)]. "Het Vrije Volke", 5th January 1956.

    [(13)]. "De Telegraaf", 5th January 1956.

    [(14)]. "Utrechtsch Nieuwsblad", Dutch newspaper, 5th January 1956.

    [(15)]. "Utrechtsch Nieuwsblad", 9th January 1956.

    The attribution of the photographs of the match:

    1. Daan Noske / Anefo [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons 2. Haagse Tijden

    This text and original research by User: Chessical.

    Thanks to: User: OhioChessFan for textural improvements and also to User: sneaky pete for information about the "Dagblad Het Binnenhof" newspaper.

    10 games, 1955-1956

  20. Donner - Larsen Zonal play off

    This was a four-game playoff match to decide who would take the final Wageningen Zonal Tournament qualifying place and participate in the Portoroz Interzonal (1958), which would be held in August -September 1958.

    The match took place between 14th -19th April 1958, in the Dutch city of The Hague. [(1)]

    It arose as Jan Hein Donner and Bent Larsen had tied for 3-4th at the Wageningen Zonal Tournament. Despite the protestations of the Dutch Chess Federation, a play-off match was announced at the closing ceremony of the Wageningen tournament. [(2)]

    The match took place in the offices of the newspaper "Het Binnenhof", at the Prinsegracht. The match director was Dr M. Euwe, who was assisted by Mr H. de Graaf. [(3)]

    <The players:>

    Larsen was 23 years old Danish student but was already a Grandmaster (1956). Donner was 30, he was the Dutch champion and an International Master.

    <“(Wageningen) was strong and I just managed to share third place with Donner, whom I beat in the tie-break and thus I qualified for the Interzonal … but my games weren’t brilliant; I often got into trouble, although I managed to squeak through a number of times thanks to my reserves of energy and resourcefulness …”> [(4)]

    They had played twice before, a draw Larsen vs J H Donner, 1956 and Donner had defeated Larsen at Wageningen - J H Donner vs Larsen, 1957 in a very sharp game.

    Larsen was 21st on Chessmetric’s January 1958 rating list and Donner 61st. [(5)]

    <The necessity for a playoff:>

    The Dutch Chess Federation, led by the ex-world champion Max Euwe, did not want a playoff, especially as Donner would be disadvantaged by his inferior Sonneborn–Berger at the Zonal Tournament. This meant he had to score 2.5 points to win the match whilst Larsen needed 2 points. [(6)]

    <"It is not impossible that Both Larsen and Donner who tied for the third qualifying place may be placed in the Interzonal Tournament. The FIDE has received a request to admit four, instead of three, from the Wageningen Tournament because the participation in the latter was so much stronger than that in Dublin and the Sofia Zonal tournaments".> . [(7)]

    Euwe's opinion is contentious. An examination of the three Zonal Tournaments indicates that the Wageningen Zonal Tournament was of similar strength to that of Sofia, although both were significantly stronger than the Dublin Zonal.

    The players who had already qualified from the European zonal tournaments were: Fridrik Olafsson and Laszlo Szabo (Wageningen), Ludek Pachman, Pal Benko and Svetozar Gligoric (Dublin), and Aleksandar Matanovic, Oleg Neikirch and Miroslav Filip (Sofia).

    These were the highest rated players in their respective tournaments and they all had higher gradings than Donner (with the exception of Neikirkh).

    FIDE rejected the Dutch Chess Federation's request to allow Donner as well as Larsen to enter the Interzonal tournament in Portoroz.

    . . .

    <Donner on Larsen>

    “Character, endurance, self-confidence and aggressiveness determine who will be the greatest among the grandmasters. Let me introduce Larsen who in this respect has a very happy disposition. He has one characteristic, which is particularly striking and rarer than one would think of chess players: he clearly enjoys chess … One clearly understands that Larsen takes the game very seriously. He is obsessed with chess …” [(8)]

    . . .

    <The itinerary:>

    "The match program is as follows: 14 April, first game; 15 April second game; 16 April playing out of adjourned games; April 17 third game; 18 April possible continuation of third game; April 19th fourth game. " [(9)]

    <Photograph of the first game:>

    Larsen sits to the left and Donner to the right. Mayor Hans Kolfschoten makes the first move whilst Euwe peers over Donner's shoulder.

    . . .

    <The progress of the match:>

    "Since Larsen's result in Wageningen was somewhat more favourable than that of Donner according to the Sonneborn–Berger system, he only needs two points from the four games of the match to qualify. Donner will have to earn 2.5 points for that." [(10)]

    Donner was White in the odd-numbered games.

    1 2 3 4
    Donner ½ 0 0 ½ - 1
    Larsen ½ 1 1 ½ - 3 ]table

    Progressive score:

    1 2 3 4
    Donner ½ ½ ½ 1
    Larsen ½ 1½ 2½ 3]table

    . . .

    <The games>

    <Larsen klopt Donner>

    [[Game 1]]

    The game was played in a first-floor room in "Hef Binnenhof’s” offices, Dr Euwe and other notable Dutch personalities watched the proceedings through a glass partition wall.

    Mayor Hans Kolfschoten, the Mayor of The Hague and prominent Dutch politician, made the opening move for Donner. A newspaper report of this game described Donner as being “hyper-nervous”. [(11)]

    “The opening phase (Donner) played skilfully. He won the initiative and also played much faster than Larsen. Around the fifteenth move, Donner had spent half an hour less thinking time than his opponent. When Larsen left the glass room for a moment, he stated: "I like the playing area but my position rather less."

    Donner, who is thoroughly familiar with such positions which was also evident during the analysis afterwards, in which Larsen showed an affable objectivity. Larsen had not thought for a moment that he would achieve more than dividing the point. The investigations of the experts together with the players showed that Donner had missed the strongest continuation on the 21st move

    click for larger view

    <21.Nc6> instead of <21.Nc4>. Donner was quite right when, on immediately realising the consequence of his weaker continuation, he then offered a draw." - [(12)]

    . . .

    [[Game 2]] A vigorous game in which Larsen as White sacrificed a pawn for lasting pressure on the K-side in a King's Indian.

    <Donner has lowered his colours after Larsen’s sledgehammer blows.>

    (From our chess editor, Dr M. Euwe)

    The second Larsen - Donner party was also characterized by an enterprising approach by both sides. This could only be pleasing for Donner, because the fiercer the battle, the greater the chance that his opponent could stumble.

    After all, our champion must win at least one of the remaining games to pave his way for the Interzonal Tournament in Portoroz. Of course, Donner also runs the risk of miscalculating when the game gets complicated, but he has to take this risk and it was nice to see that Larsen also fully accepts the risks of a fight.

    The chosen variation involved castling on opposing sides, which usually involves a hard battle for the initiative. Larsen had the open <g> file, focused on the heart of the King’s position, Donner had, the open <c> file, which faced white’s King on the Queen-side.

    Major operations were not undertaken until a number of minor pieces were placed in order to clearly define each other's area of influence.

    For a moment it seemed as if Larsen made a mistake in these preparatory measures. Donner was able to win a pawn, but rightly our champion saw through it, as this material gain would have been at a significant positional cost.

    <Highly demanding>

    The consequence of this, however, was that Larsen had the initiative. He was already manoeuvring along the open g-file, whilst Donner had yet to initiate his counter-play on the other wing.

    Donner did not do this at all. He concentrated on defending his position. Now whilst Donner is a strong defender, this put very high demands on his defensive skill. Larsen sacrificed a pawn to get a Knight onto a strong square and Donner's position became completely constricted.

    click for larger view

    There was, however, no immediate winning line for the Dane. At one point, Donner saw the opportunity to free his position, and suddenly it looked much better for him. A far too optimistic pawn manoeuvre, however, then altogether spoiled his position.

    click for larger view

    (Donner played <36...e4?> instead of <36...Kh7> =) and lost after <37.Qe8+> - e.d. The situation was very tense as Larsen was extremely short of time and Donner appears to have sought to create tactical complications in his opponent's time pressure.)

    Larsen managed to regain the initiative with a crushing blow, and he went onto wind matters up flawlessly. Donner lost some of his most critical pawns and had to strike his flag on the 38th move.” [(13)]

    . . .

    [[Game 3]]

    (From our chess correspondent, Dr M. Euwe)

    The third match game has suddenly and for Holland disappointingly brought to an end to this short match. Larsen also won the third game and thus achieved a tally of two wins, and Donner cannot now catch up. And even a draw would have been insufficient, as mentioned earlier - Larsen already had enough points to draw and still go through to the Interzonal Tournament.

    That was the big handicap for Donner from the start of the match. He had to win to retain his prospects. After our champion had lost in the second game how much more pressure was he under in the third game? Initially, things did not go too badly for Donner. He came out of the opening using the standard variant of the Nimzo-Indian, which was not surprising since Donner has made a special study of this variant. The moves followed each other in quick succession and only Larsen was looking worried from time to time.

    For the first 21 moves, the Dane had used a full hour, compared to Donner who had used barely ten minutes. Larsen had accepted a doubled pawn to cope with the gradually growing difficulties and then it looked promising for Donner. He was practically a pawn up and only the presence of Bishops of the opposite colour reduced his chances of winning to some extent


    Larsen, did not, however, bother with his double pawn but concentrated on manoeuvring his pieces to good positions. With a few fine moves, he was able to drive Donner into the King-side corner and the best he had was then a draw due to the repetition of moves. This, however, had no attraction for our champion, because in that case, Larsen would have achieved the required two points and for Donner, the chance of playing at Portoroz would have disappeared.

    Donner, therefore, played on and this proved to be extremely risky.

    click for larger view

    (Donner blundered with <31.Nf1?> allowing Larsen to create a mating net with <31...Rc1>. <31.e6> would have at least kept Donner in the game. - e.d.)

    Larsen skilfully constructed a mating net and Donner resigned on the 33rd move. The score is now 2.5 – 0.5 in Larsen's favour.

    The fourth and last game, which is no longer of any importance to the match’s result, nevertheless begins Saturday afternoon at one o'clock.” [(14)]

    . . .

    [[Game 4]]

    Larsen with the White pieces played carefully in response to Donner's King's Indian Defence. All the minor pieces were exchanged off leaving a drawn Queens and Rooks ending. The game was drawn in 24 moves the match already having been decided in the previous game.

    . . .


    "..Donner had done so well in the Wageningen (Zonal) Tournament and shortly thereafter in the Beverwijk Tournament. That is not to say that Larsen's victory was undeserved. From from that. The young Danish grandmaster demonstrated in the match that he clearly was the stronger player. Not for a moment was he in serious danger, and he utilised his chances excellently.

    Still, his match result, 3-1, is somewhat flattering and undoubtedly the result of the fact that Donner would be eliminated in the event of a tied score. Repeatedly, Donner was compelled to play for a win, which was not justified by his position.

    Moreover, Larsen had just returned from the Mar del Plata Tournament and was in much better form than at Wageningen. Had the match taken place immediately after the latter, the result might have been different...the second game was the most interesting. This game, in fact, decide the match. Thereafter, Larsen needed only half a point out of two games. In spite of time trouble, Larsen surprised Donner with a Queen manoeuvre, and won shortly thereafter". [(15)]

    Larsen qualified for the Interzonal but performed poorly (+5 -8 =7). This drew a line after a succession of good performances such as winning the gold medal at the Moscow Olympiad. Larsen entered a period of a relative slump until the mid-1960's.

    Donner became a Grandmaster in 1959. Wageningen was one of his greatest performances as a player.

    In the Madrid Zonal on 1960 he came equal first, but came last in the playoff with Svetozar Gligoric, Lajos Portisch and Arturo Pomar Salamanca.


    [(1)]. "De Tijd", 4th February 1958.

    [(2)] . "During the prize-giving ceremony after the end of the international round-table tournament in Wageningen yesterday it was announced that a match between Donner and Larsen is provisionally scheduled for next spring." - "Het Vrije Volk", 28th November 1957 - Also see "De Telegraaf", 28th November 1957.

    "Because Donner and Larsen are now tied in third place a tie-breaking match will be required, which according to the regulations must be of four games, <unless FIDE agrees with the request of the Royal Dutch Chess Federation to also award four players places from this zonal tournament>..." - "Het Vrije Volk", 27-11-1957, also see "De Volkskrant", 28th November 1957, "...pending the decision on the request to classify both chess masters for the interzonal."

    [(3)]. "Het Vrije Volk", 25th February 1958.

    [(4)]. "Bent Larsen's Best Games: Fighting Chess with the Great Dane", Bent Larsen, p.52.


    [(6)]. "Het Vrije Volk", 25th February 1958.

    [(7)]. Max Euwe in "Chess Review", vol.26, no.3 March 1958, p.72

    [(8)]. Donner in "De Tijd", 1st February 1958.

    [(9)]. "De Telegraaf" 25th February 1958.

    [(10)]. "Het Vrije Volk", 25th February 1958.

    [(11)]. "De Telegraaf" 15th April 1958.

    [(12)]. "De Telegraaf" 15th April 1958.

    [(13)]. "Het Vrije Volk", 8th April 1958.

    [(14)]. "Het Vrije Volk", 18th April 1958.

    [(15)]. Max Euwe in "Chess Review", vol.26, no.7 July 1958, p.200.

    [ This text and original research by User: Chessical. Thanks to User: sneaky pete and User: OhioChessFan for their proof reading and suggestions now incorporated into the text.]

    4 games, 1958

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