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Captain William Davies Evans vs Alexander McDonnell
"Naval Intelligence" (game of the day Jul-10-2017)
London (1825), London ENG
Italian Game: Italian Variation (C52)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 3 OF 4 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Nov-18-09  mandy64: I think 16..Qf6 is strong enough.
17.Qa5+ c6 18.Nd6+ and of course not 18..Kd7, as patzer2 said, but 18..Qxd6 and black has an extra rook.
Jan-14-10  ballroomblitz: There`s nothing like the brillant Evans-Gambit!

Captain Evans is "the Thomas A.Edison of Chess" - b2-b4 is the lightning of the 19th century,any doubt about it?

Sep-28-10  GamerMan: Does the Napoleon opening count as a major one? If so, I'm going to have to go with him.
May-17-11  goodevans: <ballroomblitz: ... Captain Evans is "the Thomas A.Edison of Chess">

Please do not insult the memory of the great Captain Evans. There is nothing whatsover to suggest that Evans ever stole other people's ideas to pass them off as his own!

Premium Chessgames Member
  beenthere240: Gunderam was more of an analyst than a player. He developed a varitation of the Caro-Kann that uses a very early c5 followed by a queenside pawn attack (1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. ed cd 4. c4 Nf6 5. c5 ?!)
Dec-24-11  alshatranji: 17. Bb5+ is a better move than 17.Qb5+, which Evans played. There follows 17...c6 18. Qe6+ Qe7, 19. Qxe7#.
Jul-25-12  vinidivici: what about 16...Bxf7?
Jul-25-12  LoveThatJoker: <vinidivici> 16...Bxf7 17. Bxf7+

Analysis Diagram - Position after 17. Bxf7+

click for larger view

17...Nxf7 (17...Kd7 18. Qe6#) 18. Qe6+ Qe7 19. Qxe7#


Jul-25-12  vinidivici: <LoveThatJoker> oops missed that line.

How about 16...Nxf7?

Jul-25-12  Shams: <vinidivici><How about 16...Nxf7?> 17.Bb5+ with the same mate.
Jan-06-13  Gambit All: After 16...Nxf7 17. Bb5+ Qd7 18. Bxd7 Kxd7 White has a Queen for Rook and Bishop but McDonnell still has a chance. Did I miss anything?
Jan-06-13  Nilsson: Not 18.Bxd7? but 18.Qe6+ Kd8 19.Qxd7#
Premium Chessgames Member

Evidence on the date of this game from

Tim Harding, "Eminent Victorian Chess Players" (McFarland 2011) pp.14-16, 350.


<"The following is generally agreed to be the 'official' debut of the Evans Gambit. It first appeared in William Lewis's 1832 game collection, when the normal practice was not to name the contestants, and it was Walker who later wrote: 'This game occurred upon Captain E's first showing his new Gambit to McDonnell.' <<<*>>> The loser was only in embryo the player who fought ably with de la Bourdonnais in 1834. 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."> [Game score with notes and annotations by Tim Harding follows- the score is the same as the one in our database. Harding's header for the printed game score reads exactly as follows:

<William Davies Evans-Alexander McDonnell
London, ca. 1825. Evans Gambit (C52)]

<*> These are the two primary sources Harding lists for the game score provenance:

WIlliam Lewis, "Fifty Games at Chess which have actually been played" (London 1832), p.61.

George Walker, "Chess Studies" (London 1844), p.83.

Premium Chessgames Member


<"There has been considerable debate about when this game was actually played, with Thomas dating it to 1826 or 1827 while the 'Oxford Companion to Chess' plumps for 1826. Even 1830 or as late as 1833 were sometimes assigned to the invention of the gambit but Evans's memory of 'around 1824' is a convincing detail, in view of the change to steam that year, and Walker's statement of the debut game is also usually accepted at face value, since he knew both men quite well.

Above [in the header for the game score] it says 1825 because surely Evans was eager to try out his idea against metropolitan experts, and it is hard to believe that he would have waited more than 12 months to do this- especially as it is now known that he visited London in September 1825! It has also been suggested that the game was played at Lewis's subscription rooms in St. Martin's Lane, which opened in 1825 and closed in 1827 or 1828, but attempting to date Evans's early games through speculations about Lewis is a rather indirect procedure. For a start, McDonnell had joined the London Chess Club in 1824 and Evans could have met him (and Keen) there. <<<29>>> Moreover, Thomas's arguments about Lewis are based on an incorrect date for his bankruptcy. <<<30>>> As for McDonnell's movements, throughout the period 1820-1830 he traveled between London, his home city of Belfast, and Demerara (now in Guyana) where he had 'extensive business interests.' <<<31>>> He certainly spent time in London during 1824 and in all subsequent years until 1835 when he died.

Post office records, showing the dates of Evans's absences from Milford, narrow down the possibilities in a way not considered by previous writers. A memorandum dated 9 September 1825 from Captain C[happell] to the Postmaster General shows that Evans, after being ordered to bring one of the packets to Harwich for a refit, applied for leave: 'Capt. Evans brought the 'Meteor' to the River Thames and wishes to avail himself of the opportunity to transact some business in London. There is not any Commander absent, and perhaps Your Lordship may be pleased to comply with his request.' <<<32>>>

Evans was granted a month off, but on 15 November he was refused reimbursement of his fare from London to Milford because he had not returned immediately after delivering the 'Meteor.' This provides strong evidence that Evans tried out his gambit on McDonnell and others during September 1825. Since at this date he was not yet involved in the ships' lights scheme, chess seems very likely to be his unspecified business.">

-Tim Harding, "Eminent Victorian Chess Players" (McFarland 2011) pp.14-16.

Premium Chessgames Member


NOTES for <Harding's> text- from p.350 of his quoted book.

<29> LMA [London Metropolitan Archives (near Islington] A/LCH/1, "London Chess Club muniments," including an early list of members.

<30> Possibly misled by Murray, Thomas said Lewis is "known to have left" for Waterloo Place in 1827, yet the 'London Gazette' shows that St. Martin's Lane was still Lewis's address when he was bankrupted late in 1828 (not 1827 as previous writers have said). For more details, see Tim Harding, 'Correspondence Chess in Britain and Ireland, 1824-1987' (Jefferson: McFarland 2011) page 390, note 27.

<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. Between 1824 and 1830 he had published at least seven pamphlets about colonial commerce and the slavery question, and one full-length book, 'Considerations on Negro Slavery' (1824, 2nd. ed 1825) in which (page x) he says he acted as secretary to the committee of the inhabitants of Demerara. There had been a slave uprising there in 1823. In 1830 McDonnell received an appointment to represent planter's interests in London. <32> BPMA [British Postal Museum and Archive (near Islington)] POST 34/13 Packet Minutes for July 1825-March 1826. The minutes also show that the 'Sovereign' had arrived at Milford on 24 August, so Evans probably sailed for the Thames soon afterwards.

Jan-04-14  offramp: Ha-harr! McDonnell you daughter of a bilge-sucker, I'll sellotape your brain to the mizzen-mast you old bacon cruncher!
Jan-04-14  Dezaxa: I think theory favors 7...Bb6, so that 8 Qb3 can be answered by Na5. Having committed himself to 7...Bg4 Black should have followed up with 8 Qb3 Bxf3 immediately. This would have eliminated an attacker and made the defense much easier. I get the impression that Black was rather too fearful of Bxf7.
Premium Chessgames Member
  jessicafischerqueen: Sorry- the last NOTE got cut off- here it is now


<32> BPMA [British Postal Museum and Archive (near Islington)] POST 34/13 Packet Minutes for July 1825-March 1826. The minutes also show that the 'Sovereign' had arrived at Milford on 24 August, so Evans probably sailed for the Thames soon afterwards.

NOTES <29-32> are from

Tim Harding, "Eminent Victorian Chess Players" (McFarland 2011) p.350

Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: A TRUE Evans Gambit!
Oct-04-15  The Kings Domain: Classic. Can't help but smile at this. :-)
Jul-10-17  offramp: I think this was the Evanses'se's'es' Gambit's first appearance. Nearly 200 years later the opening is still going strong: A Travkina vs K T Ivanova, 2017.
Jul-10-17  Saniyat24: the importance of early castling...!
Jul-10-17  The Kings Domain: Nice to see this memorable game as a GOTD again. Evans' attacking flair is a delight to behold.
Jul-10-17  offramp: <The Kings Domain: Nice to see this memorable game as a GOTD again. Evans' attacking flair is a delight to behold...>

I agree, Kings Domain. In this great world of chess, with its hither and wither, whom unto we are to be beholden unto eternity. And into that future which we will all belong, than unto what shall we be?

Jul-10-17  ChessHigherCat: Al' MacDonnell lost the farm
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