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Louis Charles Mahe De La Bourdonnais vs Alexander McDonnell
"The 100 Moves' War" (game of the day Aug-05-2014)
La Bourdonnais - McDonnell 5th Casual Match (1834), London ENG, rd 9
Italian Game: Evans Gambit. Main Line (C51)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Jun-16-13  rasputin 777: neither side played the opening accurately. 6d4 is considered necessary to get attacking chances. since black gave up the center anyway, they broke even on mistakes.
Jun-16-13  Abdel Irada: <rasputin 777: neither side played the opening accurately. 6d4 is considered necessary to get attacking chances.>

I'm not sure this is a fair criticism.

How long has our current opening knowledge in the Evans Gambit encompassed this idea? I haven't checked yet, but I surmise that this game antedated current theory.

Jun-16-13  Boomie: 6. d4 was first played by La Bourdonnais...heh.
La Bourdonnais vs McDonnell, 1834

If you look at their games, you will find a huge variety of openings. La Bourdonnais was a world champion caliber player who commands respect even today.

Jun-16-13  Abdel Irada: <Boomie>: You may find this interesting.

<The two main sources (La Strat├ęgie, 1876 and Bachmann, Aus Vergangenen Zeiten, 1920) give the move order 6.0-0 d6 7.d4 exd4 etc for this game. That original version (gid=1001166) was here half a year ago, but has been erroneously removed in favour of this duplicate. The second duplicate, with 5... Bc5 (never played by MacDonnell) and dated in 1835, La Bourdonnais vs MacDonnell, 1835, so far escaped that fate.>

La Bourdonnais vs McDonnell, 1834

Of course I claim no certainty, but this accords with my own memories of the L-M matches. I don't believe 6. d4 became the preferred move until later.

Jun-16-13  Boomie: <Abdel Irada> Thanks for the reference. I consulted the OE to find the debut for 6. d4 which is the game we both cited. As for the authenticity of the game, perhaps one of our avid chess historians could track it down. Alas, I'm not one of them.
Jun-16-13  Abdel Irada: <Alas, I'm not one of them.>

I'm afraid that makes two of us.

Jun-16-13  thomastonk: <sneaky pete> has checked the move order already 6 years ago in William Greenwood Walker's book from 1836, and so I can only confirm that 6.0-0 has been played.

There are only very few games with 6.d4 from the 1830s. The move is not mentioned in the German Handbook of 1843 (maybe the most complete book of that time). It seems that it became popular in the United States in 1845 and 1846, where I found 11 games, many of them played by James Thompson, but these games are not contained in the 'usual' databases.

Mazukewitsch, in his book on the Evans' Gambit (1991), attributes the move to Staunton, but in his Handbook from 1847 it is not mentioned, though there are many examples with 6.0-0, of course. There is however a game with 6.d4, that Staunton played in a simultaneous exhibition in 1850.

Beginning with the third edition of the German Handbook (1858), it is stated that the move became more and more popular by Anderssen. This is - at first sight - based on several games he played in 1851 with Mayet and Dufresne.

Jun-16-13  thomastonk: <Boomie: to find the debut for 6.d4> Well, there is a game in George Walker's "The Philidorian" from April 1838, p 195 with 6.d4 exd4 7.♘xd4, but without player names. Some years later Walker published it as "G.Walker vs --" in his "Chess Studies", game no. 720.

The May issue begins (pp 201-206) with a theoretical outline of a "Mr.B., a distinguished player, and member of the Edinburgh Club". In the text, 6.0-0 is the main line, but the following comment is given: "We may here hint that to deploy the Q.P.two, is also good play, though rarely adopted." It is not clear at this point, whether this remark is due to Walker or Mr.B., because it is Walker who wrote the outline based on Mr.B's analyses. The text continues with "If the K.P. take, you retake with Kt."

I have also a hint for an early game with 6.d4 that Walker lost to Frederick Lokes Slous, but I have no early source thereof (and only that is important, I think). In this game, it happened 6.. exd4 7.♘xd4.

So, it could be difficult to find with some certainty the first occurrence of 6.d4, because the move could have been well-known for some time before it appeared in print. But if White intended 7.♘xd4 in the early days of 6.d4, then the next question arises ... etc. etc.

Jun-16-13  JoergWalter: I think Tartakower called 6.d4 a transatlantic invention. The first mention and analysis I found was in "The American Chess Magazine" by C.H. Stanley, 1847, p.241ff.

<6. Q.P. two (b)

(b) In opposition to the uniform opinion of our more experienced contemporaries, we have always upheld this move, as being far preferable to that of castling; as in the latter case, Black may bring out K.Kt. to B.third...>

Jun-16-13  thomastonk: Hello, <JoergWalter>! I discussed here at cg some weeks ago another 19th century issue, and user <ParisAttack> said it this way: <"Tartakower was known more for his writing being interesting than accurate. :)">

I think, it will be difficult to support the idea of "a transatlantic invention", not only because of G Perigal vs Popert, 1840.

The quote from the ACM is nevertheless quite valuable, because it clearly states why 6.d4 is preferable. But, if the writer is Stanley, and I think so, then this is no support for the transatlantic idea, because the "always" refers clearly to Stanley's time in London (according to his cg biography, he emigrated 1842, but according to Wikipedia this happened in 1845).

I have 5 games with 6.d4 exd4 7.0-0 played in 1845-46 in New York, Brooklyn, Lexington and Philadelphia, but it will take some time to find the original sources, and then to check them for additional information.

Jun-16-13  JoergWalter: <thomastonk> yes, Tartakower is not the most reliable source. Some time ago I took his remark as my starting point for investigating into the Evans and actually, the ACM was the earliest source for a detailed analysis. However, I would not know who played the move first and with which intentions. And Stanley's comment tells us that the move known but not appreciated very much by the more experienced players.

For me it looks like in the Lasker defense of the Evans - Lasker is credited with the theory however, La Bourdonnais played it first when McDonnel confronted him with the Evans in their 26th game.

Jun-28-13  JoergWalter: <thomastonk> this is from Freeborough and Ranken's chess opening ancient and modern, p.103

free download here:

<After some fluctuations of opinion with regard to the best way of treating the defence 6 ..., Kt-KB3, the conclusion has been generally accepted that it is better for White to play 6 P-Q4 than to Castle. 6 P-Q4 was first suggested by Mr. Stanley in the American Magazine (1847) and further improved by Morphy (1859) after 6 ..., PxP; 7 0-0, Kt-KB3, by the continuation 8 B-R3 : it completes the dividing line between the two main variations of the Evans Gambit.>

Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: At one time, I considered compiling a collection of games lasting at least 100 moves, with the collection name, <"Boring!"> Of course, that would be a joke as the games would have to be interesting to qualify. This would have made it as one of the earliest Boring! games on record.

By the way, if you don't care for the endgame play, remember that they labored under a handicap. Here's an 1834 tablebase:

Aug-05-14  waustad: I always figured that if white didn't win in about 25 moves in the Evans Gambit, he was toast. I stand corrected.
Aug-05-14  mruknowwho: The amazing thing is, the endgame starts on move 36.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Honza Cervenka: 30.Qf6! could have won the game immediately. After practically forced 30...Qxd5+ 31.Kg1 Rh7 the game could continue 32.Rg4 (threatening Qe7#) 32...Re8 33.Rg8+! Kxg8 34.Rxe8#.
Aug-05-14  waustad: Having them not have good, if any, endgame technique isn't a shock, since in those days most games ended in mate in the middle game. Fish that I am, I'd do better in the endgame, but against a player of that skill, I'd already be dead before we got there.
Aug-05-14  morfishine: These games were nothing if not exciting
Premium Chessgames Member
  alexmagnus: To which war is the pun referring?

Hundred Years' War (England-France 1337-1453)?

Hundred Days' War (part of the Lebanese Civil war, 1978)?

Hundred Hours' War (also known as the Soccer War, between El Salvador and Honduras in July of 1969)?

Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: I suspect you are looking for a level of sophistication that simply ain't there. There are 100 moves in the game. Chess is a war game. Therefore...

My dog's got no nose. How does he smell? Awful.

My dog's got not tongue. How does he taste? Delicious.

The game itself is a titanic struggle, especially as it was played before chess clocks and McDonnell was a notoriously slow player, taking over an hour for some moves. That makes this game almost as much of a feat of stamina as a victory for chess knowledge and calculation.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Penguincw: Wow. It takes 64 moves to convert a one pawn advantage (of course, there were many pieces on the board).
Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: Could this game have been the best between these two titans? Great that the played so many and recorded so many!
Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: <kevin86>

I don't know which is the best, but this one would take some beating...

McDonnell vs La Bourdonnais, 1834

Aug-05-14  Lossmaster: Alexmagnus, your first guess is the right one: it's with the Hundred Years' War in mind that I did submit the pun, the antagonists being French and English (McDonnell was actually born in Belfast, but he settled in London). I submitted the pun with the spelling "Hundred", as is usual in the war name, but someone at chessgames felt the need to dumb it down to "100".
Jun-18-18  Omnipotent00001: 66. g7 Rxg7 67. Rc4 draws
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