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Captain William Davies Evans vs Alexander McDonnell
"Naval Intelligence" (game of the day Jul-10-2017)
London (1827), London ENG
Italian Game: Italian Variation (C52)  ·  1-0



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Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: Is an unsigned article published 130 years later now considered a primary source?

<Jess>, tell me you're joking.

Premium Chessgames Member


Isn't this the primary source listed?

<Nantwich Chronicle 20 September 1958>

And the photo is the relevant portion of that particular issue?

I do see your point though. The photo would be a lot sounder if it included the name/date of the "Nantwich Chronicle" issue in question. I can see that the late date of the publication is not optimal as well.

<Geoff> can you track down the relevant issue of the "Nantwich Chronicle"?

<MissScarlett> possibly we might find out more about this by offering the information at hand in the Biographer's Bistro, and requesting further assistance?

Don't panic- if we have to walk this back we can do that at our leisure.

Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: <<Geoff> can you track down the relevant issue of the "Nantwich Chronicle"? >

<According to the Nantwich Chronicle 20 September 1958.>

< I can see that the late date of the publication is not optimal as well.>

Possibly the greatest understatement since the relief of Mafeking.

Feb-23-22  Z truth 000000001: The lurking reader is smirking or should that be smafeking?!
Feb-23-22  Z truth 000000001: (<Missy> is older than that ref, I might note)
Premium Chessgames Member

<MissScarlett> I think you meant Roarke's Drift?

Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: The <Nantwich Chronicle>, September 20th 1958, p.9, is online. I was wrong to say the article was unsigned - the author of the <Chess For All> column is one <G Chesters>. Why am I still unconvinced?
Feb-23-22  Dionysius1: The "Navel intelligenc"ia? They unscrewed their belly button until their bottom fell out!
Premium Chessgames Member


You know when I first looked at the pgn for this game, AS USUAL there was no source tag. Over and over and over I have been advocating for years that no upload be published without a source tag.

If the original uploader had bothered to supply a source tag, we would have more information about where the game came from.

But noooooo.

As usual.


Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: I asked Richard if he knew who wrote it and he replied.

"G Chesters (Graham Chesters senior, I think)."

We have a G. Chesters here; Graham Chesters but whether or not it is the same lad, or if indeed he was the correspondent, I do not know.

(Richard is unsure and so am I. It is not the kind of error a regular chess correspondent would make. I've seen lists of World champions going back and beyond Philidor but never seen McDonnell or Evans as one. )

1827? Well it's round about then, stay with that till a more reliable bona fide source appears to either confirm or correct (add a '?')

Feb-23-22  Z truth 000000001: That Graham Chesters would be (almost) all of 14 yo in Sept 1958.

Not likely to be the columnist. (Not impossible, just very unlikely)

Feb-23-22  sneaky pete: The Oxford Encyclopedia of Chess Games has this game (dated 1826, but with an uncertainty mark on top of the 6) giving as its source the British Chess Magazine, year 1928, so a 1958 re-publication is irrelevant. But what source was used by the BCM?
Feb-23-22  Z truth 000000001: A 1958 source is the best we can do?

I agree with <sneaky pete>, let's retire it in place of this 1866 source:

<<Marache's Manual of Chess (1866) p74>

The following game has a historical interest, as having occurred between Captain Evans and Mr. McDonnell, on Captain E.'s first showing his (then) new Gambit to that great master. WHITE (CAPT. EVANS).>

Of course, it would be nice to get a bit further upstream, but at least we're in the right century!


Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: What's wrong with Lewis' 1832 source?

Should we merge the two versions?

Feb-23-22  Z truth 000000001: <<Missy> What's wrong with Lewis' 1832 source?>

What wrong you ask?

I just scrolled back through the 4 pages of comments and there's no mention of a Lewis source till now.

That's what's wrong - the usual cryptic <Missy> leaves the reader hanging.

Moreover - where exactly is the Lewis 1832 source? Another L/N ref?

Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: Try Captain Evans vs McDonnell, 1827 (kibitz #63)
Feb-23-22  Z truth 000000001: OK, I missed it, sorry.

But I still think you could help the reader with a link without too much trouble.

Now the question becomes - when and why did we use the 1958 source?

Feb-23-22  Z truth 000000001: As penance here's the refs from Harding (via <JFQ>)

<Fifty Games (Lewis 1832) G-34 p61>

(Can anybody make out the handwriting for White?)

* * * * *

<Chess Studies (Walker 1844) G-42 (420) p83>


Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: Go with the Lewis source. He was alive when the game was played.

The 1958 column is either someone copying something from another source or mixing up one or two facts. (or in the case of a World Championship match , a misconception.)

The reference to the first ever Evans in Game One of the first World Championship?

McDonnell used it for the time in a 'World Championship Match' v La Bourdonnais in game one of match 2.

That match was often referred to as a 'World Chess Championship.'

The game in question is McDonnell vs La Bourdonnais, 1834

And Morphy notes:

"The game before us is the first in which that most beautiful of openings, the "Evans Gambit", occurs between these two distinguished players."

So they used the first ever Evans Gambit, but mixed it up with game one of a 'World Championship Match. Don't laugh, These mix up's are rife in chess history. Edward Winter has three different sources where Kieseritzky wins the Immortal v Anderssen:

And a well known expert on making blunders, both OTB and with historical accuracy I can vouch for the plausibility of it all In fact I'm starting to belive it myself.

Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: <Fifty Games at Chess (Lewis 1832)>

Have all these games been positively identified?

Premium Chessgames Member
  jnpope: <Have all these games been positively identified?>

I don't have them all identified. Jay Whitehead assigned a number of the NN-NN games as Lewis being a participant, but that may just be an artifact of him identifying which source the games came from; he does the same thing to a number of games from Bell's Life in London--he adds Walker's name to games he couldn't identify.

Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: <The deferred offer of the b-pawn here, and in two, probably contemporaneous, games mentioned in the notes, shows that either Evans originally conceived the gambit in this form or was initially unsure whether b2-b4 was better at move four or five.>

These other two games are <Evans - Brandreth> (G#30 in <Lewis (1832)>), and <Evans - Benjamin Keen>.

<<31> Their time spent in the Caribbean would have provided Evans and McDonnell with a talking point apart from chess. Although possibly not a a slaveowner himself, McDonnell was certainly a propagandist for them, as a quick search in the British Library's online catalog reveals.>

I saw something at the <English Chess Forum> (I would have said <ECF> but <zanzi> insists I spell everything out) which claimed that McDonnell's ownership of slave plantations had been definitely established. Anyone know the details?

Feb-24-22  Z truth 000000001: <I saw something at the <English Chess Forum> (I would have said <ECF> but <zanzi> insists I spell everything out) which claimed that McDonnell's ownership of slave plantations had been definitely established. Anyone know the details?>

I'm the guy who likes shorthand refs. Cryptic means hidden, or shortened to the point of obscurity.

Just document what you do or use, then shorthands are useful chunks.

In this particular case a link would be just as easy, and more direct: (definitive, and more helpful than the name really)

(A google search on <ECF chess> would be misleading - as English Chess Federation would be top dog. So, think about the link.)

Jan-10-23  generror: This seems to be the first ever appearance of the Evans Gambit, although Cpt. Evans should have the decency not to introduce it with some transposition. In fact, Stockfish doesn't like <5.b4?!> much, its evaluation goes from +0.3 to -0.5. (In other words, it loses about 80% of the b-pawn :)

Apart from the opening though, the game is yet another example of how unconvincing the playing was back then, the future first unofficial World Championship contender McDonnell plays really badly for today's standards Evans also blunders quite a bit. <9...Nd8?> instead of <9...Nh6> is the first mistake, but after <10.dxe5 dxe5> (D) White plays <11.Ba3?> instead of winning two pawns with <11.Nxf7 Nxf7 12.Bxf7+ Qxf7 13.Qxb7 Rd8 14.Qb5+ Rd7 15.Qxa5 Nf6 16.Qxe5+>.

click for larger view

<13...Bh5??> is a real blunder. The alternative <13...Be6 14.Bxe6 fxe6> still isn't great, but at least wouldn't have made <Rd1> a winning move. But <14...Qc8??> (D) is even worse, losing the queen to <15.Qb5+ Nc6 16.Bd5 Qd7 17.Bxc6 bxc6 18.Qxe5+>. However, White instead plays the flashy but unsound exchange sacrifice <15.Rxd8??>, after which Black could achieve complete equality with <16...Qf6!>. But Black instead plays as aggressively as possible with <16...Qh4??> and gets mated in four, ending his misery and mine.

click for larger view

That's quite a lot of blundering for such a short game. Again, I do not want to sound dismissive or disrespectful; it's very easy for me today to criticize these old games; we've had centuries of experience and we have God-like engines. But this game still was sobering, especially regarding McDonnell who really doesn't play like someone who would, in seven years, play for the title of best chess player of the world.

PS. I love how people in this thread are working hard to find accurate sources and metadata for this and other games on this site, and yes I'm all for the suggestion of only being able to submit games with a source tag. So much of chess history is just mythology :(

Jan-29-23  thechessforum: Check out complete guide on Evans Gambit accepted:
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