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James Mason vs Johannes Zukertort
London (1883), London ENG, rd 3, Apr-30
English Opening: Agincourt Defense (A13)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
May-09-04  fred lennox: 31...Ne6 "Overfinessing" - Zukertort. More forcible is Bxc2. 32. Qxc2...Ra8 33. g4...Ne6 34. Kg2...Nxd4 35. Qb1...Qb3 threatening...Ra1 or Qf3+

36. e6 is premature. Better is g4 "blocking the egress of the hostile knight." - Zukertort, followed by 37. Rc1.

One of the great chess epics (65 moves or more), full of tension until the last few moves. With one move black can mate four ways after 73 moves!

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: 23.Bh6 might win for Mason.
30.Qc5 is a bit weak; Qb4 was better.
36.Rc1 probably wins.
57.g3 is a real lemon; most other moves would probably have drawn.
Premium Chessgames Member
  whiteshark: In his memoirs 'Goldenen Schachzeiten' (The Golden Times of Chess, published in German only) Milan Vidmar wrote in the first episode of the Nottingham tournament in 1936:

"I'm in my memory-pictures a little deviated from the path, and Alekhine is still in Nottingham, a worn book in hand, before me, in front of us, we who want to learn something interesting. The fact that it will be a game, that's clear for us. We expected an opening as it was still common, and none of us thought to such opening jumps, how they have been invented and performed by Nimzowitsch. But very soon we should be disappointed, respectively surprised. Alekhine, in the pose of a high priest, started:


click for larger view

"Just a second!", we called almost with one voice, "who is white and who is black?" "This is something you will get to know," said Alekhine. "Just run the moves."

We could appease us and looked on. We saw the following 9 pair of moves:

<1. ... e7-e6 2. e2-e3 Sg8-f6 3. Ng1-f3 d7-d5 4. d2-d4 Bf8-e7 5. Nb1-c3 0-0 6. Bf1-d3 b7-b6 7. c4xd5 e6xd5 8. Nf3-e5 Bc8-b7 9. 0-0 c7-c5>

click for larger view

" 'Gosh', I said to myself, this is hypermodern '() I didn't know, of course, as it was to Aljechins spectators, but I could not help the impression that I got presented a first class game from both sides -- at least until move 30 - it was played remarkably clean. Of course I saw that a well-planned powerful black attack get under way, but also saw that white on the king's wing set to understand to create an attack scene. It was and is even today, when I replay the moves for myself, an exquisite pleasure to watch how the battle scales moves up and down, how to bear the king's wing against the queen's wing. ...

Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: It is easy to see why Alekhine would be fascinated by this game. Almost on every move there are possibilities to create imbalances.

19...Ba4 looks reasonable, winning the exchange, but I thought the principled decision would be to take in the center-make a stand as it were, and depend upon the passed pawns to win the game.

Using an older version of Rybka on Deep Analysis, here is its best scenario

19...Nxe4 20 f3 c3 21 fxe4 dxe4 22 Be3 Bd5 23 Rf2 g6 24 Qg4 h5 -1.44/20

click for larger view

Black has defensive resources like ...Ra6 and ...Bf6 to bolster his King shelter, and I don't see any danger for him.

Oct-14-15  Knight13: 34. Rb1 seems better to me.
Oct-29-19  SymphonicKnight: I've been playing with historical player ratings for a long time, and will attempt to recreate part of the psychological impression of the final results of London 1883 on the people who were then living. This is not meant to truly compare players across time, but merely the awe vivified in modern days. Considering that the 7 strongest players in the world were present, I am setting the average rating at 2700 (but subtracting Skipworth forfeits) considering that today there are 36 players rated 2700+. Given that, the performance ratings come out (*considering also the draws* which affects ratings in subtle ways, e.g. Rosenthal had a lot of draws against stronger players):

__Performance Rating__
Zukertort 2920
Steinitz 2835
Blackburne 2790
Chigorin 2775
Mason 2745
Mackenzie 2740
Englisch 2740
Rosenthal 2735
Winawer 2700
Bird 2675
Noa 2630
Sellman 2490
Skipworth 2410
Mortimer 2360

We can feel the strength of Steinitz as essentially world champion even then, since winning every match since defeating Anderssen in 1866 (although there was a real parallel between the popular feeling while Morphy/Fischer was alive still while Steinitz/Karpov were retired)! A firm 2nd place for Steinitz, and splitting games with the tournament winner...

Zukertort! 2990 at +21 =7 -4 against the strongest players in the world. He lost his 3 last games (a replayed draw with Mackenzie, and, shockingly, 2 of the 3 weakest competitors, Sellman! and Mortimer! playing sick, and high on opium. Imagine what his performance rating might have been had he remained healthy!

Maybe 2990 even generously giving Mackenzie a draw (See the game where Zukertort had a significant advantage), but wins against Sellman and Mortimer.

Fun player, Zukertort.

Oct-29-19  SymphonicKnight: I meant that Morphy was a living retired legend when Steinitz took over, and Fischer was a living retired legend when Karpov took over. Both Morphy and Fischer had retired as Champions at their strongest. Zukertort's dominance must have suggested a new possible legend, which led to him partaking in the 1st "Official" World Championship.

It is a shame 😔 he broke down, and is almost forgotten.

Oct-29-19  SymphonicKnight: Apologies for this correction as well: the actual performance rating for Zukertort _with_ the 3 opium-influenced losses was 2920 (in a relative sense), 21 wins (the forfeit by Skipworth not counting), 7 draws, and 4 losses. However, without the opium, I hypothesised (and this is just for playful reflection) 23 wins, 8 draws, and 1 loss, with a performance rating of 2990.
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