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Pierre Charles Fournier de Saint-Amant vs Howard Staunton
Staunton - Saint-Amant Match (1843), Paris FRA, rd 21, Dec-19
Queen's Gambit Declined: General (D30)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Aug-13-03  PVS: Staunton found another good move in 32...Qd7, but 33.Kg1 was a good answer. Soon 35.f4 hurt white's game.
Aug-14-03  Kenneth Sterling: I see what you mean. This was the time for Bxc4.
Jan-07-04  J.A. Topfke: 5…Be7 “Strangely enough, a Tarrasch Defense!” writes Kasparov in Predecessors. Even more strange because it is a Semi-Tarrasch Defense. An evaluation of the match by Kieseritzky, “Staunton plays strictly correctly (sic) for development,” was quoted in MGP, though 5…Be7 is not strictly correctly the best correctly development, strictly speaking. Nigel Short, in his Daily Telegraph article, calls it “a small imprecision” due to the fight for tempo and prefers the move 5…a6 (which he gives an exclamation point) to the main line. However, it is difficult to criticize Staunton’s move—he had already lost three games in the match with the Symmetrical Variation, 5…Nc6.

I propose the following hypothesis, based solely on my analysis of this game and a brief review of similar positions in this match: that the players of this era slightly overrated the strength of isolated pawns and hanging pawns. From the opening into the middlegame, at every turn, White avoided creating these types of set-ups while Black’s maneuvering seemed to encourage them.

Fischer is quoted in MGP as saying, “Where Morphy and Steinitz rejected the fianchetto, Staunton embraced it.” With 6…b6 Staunton weaves the embracement of the fianchetto in with the concept of accepting hanging pawns into his grand design. Short prefers 6…0-0 which “would have avoided a potentially annoying check on the a4-e8 diagonal,” although 7.Qa4+ Bd2 doesn’t look all that annoying to me. Kasparov prefers the tempo winning 6…dxc4, which he awards an exclamation point.

I will defer to Kasparov’s positional judgment when he remarks that 9.cxd5 is “a rather premature exchange, provoked by the desire to block the bishop at b7.” In all honesty though, speaking as an amateur player, I don’t see why it’s so bad. Kasparov’s line runs 9.Bb2 cxd4 10.exd4 Nc6 and either 11.Qe2!? or 11.Rc1.

Both Kasparov and Short give a dubious punctuation to 10.Qc2, apparently due to the queen’s placement on a file that’s likely to become open. “Offering a target,” comments Short, who says 10.Bb2 was a superior alternative. Kasparov writes, “The queen is misplaced here,” and gives either 10.Bb2 or 10.Qe2 as better.

The last chance to convert the pawn structure to hanging pawns was 12.dxc5 bxc5. Kasparov’s analysis continues 13.Na4, “besieging the hanging pawns,” and he concludes that if 13…Rc8 then 14.Qe2.

Jan-07-04  J.A. Topfke: Kasparov sums up the match with, “Staunton played cautiously…Saint-Amant acted in the same solid, rather dry manner.” Or, as Kieseritzky explained, “Events developed slowly.” This is evidenced by the number of slow pawn moves in the first part of the game. 11.a3—necessary; 11…a6—“a superfluous move,”—GK; 13…h6—the best move, though not the only choice. “Preventing the enemy bishop from going to g5 and freeing the knight from having to defend the h7-pawn.”—Saint-Amant; 14.b4—“an unnecessary weakening,”—GK; 15…b5 “also not essential,”—GK; 16.h3—unnecessary.

14…Bd6! is given an exclamation point by Kasparov, presumably for taking control of the b8-h2 diagonal and preventing Bf4.

17…Qc7 “Indirectly hitting the knight on c3.”—Short. The move also sets a trap because 18.Nxd5? is answered by 18…Nxd5 19.Qxd5 Nxb4.

Of course 19.Nxd5? is still not playable due to 19…Nxd5 20.Qxd5 Ne5! 21.Qxb7! (21.Qb3 Nxf3+ 22.gxf3 Qxd4) 21…Qxb7 22.dxe5 Bc7.

“The match became the next…significant step in the development of chess strategy, the understanding of the deep regularities of the game and the art of maneuvering.”—GK. Maneuvering and cautious play is witnessed before the first adjournment. 19.Ne7—not a bad move, though a passive one; 20.Nh5—given a dubious punctuation by both Short and Kasparov. “A rather strange maneuver.”—GK. I propose that with the symmetrical pawn structure this was a waiting move; 22.Nh4—“A no less strange maneuver.”—GK, who recommends 22.Ne5, which he gives an exclamation point with the remark, “Into the center, closer to the c5-square, with a slight but enduring advantage.” Kasparov also states that any candidate master would play this move “without thinking.” I am not a candidate master, however I have often been accused of playing moves without thinking, and it seems to me if White wants to play the knight to c5 then Nd2-b3-c5 would be a simpler route; 23…Nh7—“Also a quite unnecessary move.”—GK. Interestingly, Short gives this move an exclamation point, citing that White can’t continue with 24.Bxh6? gxh6 25.Qxh6? because of 25…Bh2+, but Kasparov points out the correct continuation, 23…Rfc8, because the sacrifice 24.Bxh6? still doesn’t work after 24…gxh6 25.Qxh6? Ne4!; 25.Kh1—“Yet another strange move.”—GK, but as Short points out White wants to avoid the check on h2 and prepare for the sacrifice on h6 again; 25…Ne8—another waiting move in my opinion. Kasparov recommends 25…Bc8! “to control f5 and play the bishop to the normal square e6.”

Jan-07-04  J.A. Topfke: 26.Nf5 is given a dubious punctuation by both Short and Kasparov, who informs, “an obvious positional mistake, exchanging the passive knight at e7.” Short considers 20.Qd2 to have been “the consequent choice.”

27…a5! is granted an exclamation point by both Kasparov and Short, who observes, “Obtaining counterplay.”

29…Rc4! The character of the game is changed by the rook obtaining the forward outpost and later offered as an Exchange sacrifice. 32.Bxc4? dxc4, threatening mate on g2 and the queen on c3, 33.f3 cxb3 34.Rxc6 Bxc6 35.Nc3 Re8; 33.Bxc4 dxc4 34.Kg1 (threat: 34.Qxh4) 34…Nd5 and Kasparov’s line runs 35.Bd2 Bc7! 36.Qc2 (36.Rf1—Fritz) 36…Qd6 37.g3 f5 “with a powerful attack”; 34.Bxc4 dxc4 35.Nc3 with the idea of d5 and Kasparov writes, “Black has full compensation for the exchange, but nothing terrible for White is apparent”; 35.Bxc4 dxc4 36.f3 was better in Kasparov’s opinion. (Short prefers 35.f3.) Furthermore, Kasparov considers 35.f4? “a positional blunder, catastrophically weakening the light squares.”

Quoting Kasparov after 39…Rg6, “With the threat of 40…Nxc3 41.Qxc3 (41.Rxc3 Qe7) 41…Qe7 42.Rb2 (42.Rb1 Bxf4) 42…Qe4 43.Rcc2 (43.Qd2 c3! [a misprint in MGP has ‘43…e3!’]) 43…Rg3 44.Re2 Bxf4.”

40.Rd1? Short’s article claims, “Counter-sacrificing with 40.d5! offered the best hopes,” with no further analysis after, say, 40…Nxc3 and either 41.Rxc3 or 41.Qxc3 followed by 41…Bxd5. MGP quotes Staunton as saying, “it is extremely difficult for White to determine what line of play is best here,” but offers no plan for the position. Originally I favored 40.Nxe4 Bxe4, but after, for instance, 41.Ra1 Qc6 42.Rf2 c3! I came to agree with Fritz’s overnight analysis as the least evil: 40.Rcc2 Nxc3 41.Qxc3 Qc6. It goes without saying that the move played in the game, 40.Rd1?, fails to the petite combination 40…Nxc3 41.Qxc3 Bf3!. Kasparov points out that 41…Qe7?!, intending …Qe4, “is not very successful,” due to 43.Qb2 “with unnecessary complications.”

42.Rde1 In La Palamede Saint-Amant writes, “The other rook should have been played,” but in Chess Player’s Chronicle Staunton gives the continuation 42…Bxd1 (42…Qe7! 43.Rb1 Qe4 44.Rbb2 Bxb4 45.Qxb4 Qxe3+ 46.Kh2 c3—Fritz) 43.Rxd1 Qe7 (“43…Rg3 is also possible,” but it is unclear whether this move was Staunton’s analysis or Kasparov’s input) 44.Rb1 (44.Bf2—Fritz):

A)44…Rxg2+ (?—JAT) 45.Kxg2 Qe4+;
B)44…Qe4 45.Rb2 Bxb4 (45…Rg3—Fritz);
“In every case Black’s game is won.”—Staunton. (Source: MGP)

46…Kf7?! The cautious style of Staunton appears again. Apparently he didn’t like the variation 46…Bxb4?! 47.Qa8+ Kh7 48.Qd5, but as GK notes, he misses 46…Bxf4 “winning,” for example 47.Bxf4 (47.Qa8+? doesn’t work, 47…Kh7 48.Qa3 Qh4+ 49.Kf1 Qg3 50.Bc1 c3!) 47…Rxf4+.

Jan-07-04  J.A. Topfke: The piece play with 47…Qb7, preventing White’s queen from sneaking in behind his army and with the idea of 48…Re8?! and 49…Qh1, before proceeding with the pawn break …g5, is a manifestation of Staunton’s style: prevent the opponent’s counterplay before breaking through. 47…g5!? is suggested by Kasparov right away; 48…g5! 49.fxg5 hxg5 50.Bxg5 Rxe2+ 51.Kxe2 Qg2+ 52.Kd1 Qxh3 53.Bd2 Qxg3.

51.hxg5 hxg5 52.Qe1 (52.fxg5?! Re8—Short [52…Re4—Fritz]) 52…Qh2+ 53.Kf1 Qh3+ 54.Kg1 Qg4! 55.Kf1 gxf4 56.Bxf4 Qf3+ 57.Qf2 Qh1+ 58.Qg1 Qxg1+ 59.Kxg1 Rxe2.

54…Bxf4!? If 54…hxg5 the game would transpose to the analysis above.

55…Rxe2 is better.

Conclusions: I once read somewhere that the art of maneuvering, what Tarrasch called “cat and mouse play,” was something that couldn’t be taught. Either you can instinctively master the art or you can’t. Most players (myself included) tend to always press forward. Computer analysis also doesn’t lend itself well to this type of game. However Kasparov, in his annotations, repeatedly used the word, “unnecessary.” Perhaps he summed it up best when he wrote, “The players were proceeding through virgin territory, intuitively trying to grasp the rudiments of positional play.” Staunton was the strongest player of his day, and undoubtedly his school of thought must have influenced the masters in his area. So much so that when Steinitz moved to London, from the Austrian region where Anderssen’s aggressive, uncompromising technique reigned supreme, his style of play changed. Reading ahead in MGP, Lasker is quoted as writing, “From the imaginative, heroic temper of Anderssen’s combinative style, the large-visioned, systematic position-play of the English School a synthesis arose in the mind of Steinitz.”

Feb-18-04  fred lennox: So far my favorite game of Staunton. He creates a broad intricacy uniquly his won like a bel-canto aria of Bellini. The "high C" or climax is the positional sacrifce of rook/bishop, extra-extrodinary for it's time. The game may not have the polish of a few Morphy games but in depth and subtlety it's one of the greatest games of the century.
Jun-13-04  feenian: staunton was called -the champion-by many of his contemporaries and he won three crushing matches against st amant horwitz and harrwitz in the 1840's-these matches were very similar in format and length to modern world title matches-would we be justified in regarding staunton as the world champion of his day?
Mar-06-07  SirBruce: Only for a short time, as Morphy was emerging on the scene right after Staunton, and MOST officianados believe Morphy was the superior player.
Mar-06-07  RookFile: Well, Morphy showed up around 1857.
Jul-07-07  myteacher34: 6...dxc4 7.exd4 Bb4 will be better for black
Jul-07-07  realbrob: Well, probably Morphy was better, but this game looks more modern than the usual Morphy game starting with 1.e4 and then gambits all over the place.
Oct-08-07  nimh: Rybka 2.4 mp, AMD X2 2.01GHz, 10 min per move, threshold 0.25.

De Saint Amant 14 mistakes:
22.Nh4 0.05 (22.Nd2 0.36)
26.Nf5 -0.05 (26.Nf3 0.26)
28.Qb3 -0.57 (28.Bh7+ 0.11)
34.Qd2 -0.05 (34.Bxc4 0.24)
35.f4 -0.46 (35.Qe2 -0.10)
38.Nc3 -0.52 (38.Rcd1 -0.23)
40.Rd1 -1.89 (40.Nxe4 -0.64)
42.Rde1 -2.01 (42.Rdd2 -1.58)
46.Qa2 -2.93 (46.g3 -1.82)
49.Qc3 -3.17 (49.h4 -1.27)
50.h4 -5.45 (50.Qe1 -3.21)
55.Bxf4 -17.29 (55.g6+ -8.16)
61.Bd2 -28.48 (61.Kf2 -9.05)
62.d6 #20 (62.Bxb4 -21.36)

Staunton 6 mistakes:
25...Ne8 0.26 (25...Bc8 0.00)
32...Qd7 -0.03 (32...Bb8 -0.37)
33...Nh5 0.24 (33...Bc6 -0.08)
37...Rf6 -0.23 (37...Ne4 -0.49)
47...Qb7 -1.25 (47...g5 -2.35)
55...Qxe2 -9.25 (55...Rxe2 -17.29)

Oct-11-07  nimh: Correction, new threshold 0.33

De Saint Amant 10 mistakes:
28.Qb3 -0.57 (28.Bh7+ 0.11)
35.f4 -0.46 (35.Qe2 -0.10)
40.Rd1 -1.89 (40.Nxe4 -0.64)
42.Rde1 -2.01 (42.Rdd2 -1.58)
46.Qa2 -2.93 (46.g3 -1.82)
49.Qc3 -3.17 (49.h4 -1.27)
50.h4 -5.45 (50.Qe1 -3.21)
55.Bxf4 -17.29 (55.g6+ -8.16)
61.Bd2 -28.48 (61.Kf2 -9.05)
62.d6 #20 (62.Bxb4 -21.36)

Staunton 3 mistakes:
32...Qd7 -0.03 (32...Bb8 -0.37)
47...Qb7 -1.25 (47...g5 -2.35)
55...Qxe2 -9.25 (55...Rxe2 -17.29)

Mar-07-08  Knight13: Sticking that rook on c4? Like these guys knew anything about exchange sacrifice.
Premium Chessgames Member
  GrahamClayton: Apparently this game took over 14 hours to be played.
Dec-24-08  zzzzzzzzzzzz: long game, but amazing
Dec-24-08  Ychromosome: <Knight13> the Rook on c4 is not really an exchange sac since if it is taken the recapture with a pawn threatens mate and the white Q, so the exchange is a rook for a bishop and a queen.
Apr-13-09  vsadek: I read it sometimes ago, that before this match with Saint Amant in 1843, Queen's Gambit as an opening was considered to calm and uninteresting, even second-rated in some way. This match and a way Staunton used Queen's Gambit to outplay his opponent changed the views and history.
Feb-07-12  Knight13: This is the last game of the Paris match between these players. I am a little disappointed to see that Saint Amant didn't play with more energy and vigor; instead, he played like someone with a resigned mentality. He was losing -10, +6, = 4 at this point and probably decided that Lady Fortune was not really going to help him. It's a bit of a shame, really, considering that Saint Amant fought back from a -7, +0, =1 deficit to this.
Mar-29-12  LoveThatJoker: GOTD: The First Positional Exchange Sacrifice


Premium Chessgames Member
  Jonathan Sarfati: <Ychromosome>: it *is* an exchange sac, because look how long Staunton leaves the R there until St Amant takes it.
Apr-21-18  justwatcher: Move 49 Queen h1 has been the essential thought of Staunton for winning this game.
May-01-18  justwatcher: Staunton had the great idea of 49...Qh1 while the Frenchman at move 62 lost his best chance when he has advanced the pawn before having shot the rook!...
Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: <Pierre Drop>
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