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Emmanuel Schiffers vs Max Harmonist
"Schiffers Me Timbers!" (game of the day Oct-20-2012)
5th DSB Congress, Frankfurt (1887), Frankfurt am Main GER, rd 11, Jul-25
Italian Game: Classical Variation. Greco Gambit Traditional Line (C54)  ·  1-0



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Given 25 times; par: 36 [what's this?]

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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 2 OF 2 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Nov-19-03  Calli: On 26...Nd3 27.Qg7+ Kd8 28.Nf7+ looks resignable. I don't know that it qualifies as "tougher resistence"

26...b6 is probably what Schiffers expected when he played Ne4!. Most likely he disappointed when black did not continue 26...b6 27.Ng4! Bb7 28.Ngf6+ with a mating net. Harmonist spared himself the agony.

Nov-19-03  patzer2: <Calli> Congratualations for finding the correct continuation for both 26...Nd3 and 26...b6. Looking at Schiffers winning percentage, I'm not so sure he saw all of this over the board. I figure he prepared the line in advance after previously analyzing 16. Re8!! In response to 26...b6, 27. Ng5! is indeed a difficult quiet move to find over the board.

Both lines here are worth analyzing or plugging into the computer just to see the myriad of possibilities for mating or winning decisive material with Q + Ns versus an exposed king position.

Nov-30-03  MoonlitKnight: Black never lived up to his name.
Premium Chessgames Member
  OhioChessFan: Wow. Re8. I agree that Qd8 was weak, but it doesn't detract from White's achievement.
Feb-27-07  percyblakeney: Pretty combination by Schiffers, while Harmonist goes wrong with 18. ... Ne2+, after h6 instead white is better but there is much left to play for.
May-31-12  Moonwalker: Just played this on <Guess the Move>.. Scored 43 (par 36). Could've been 49-55 but I stuffed up and Toga punished me with the loss of the maximum points (3) twice!

Anyway, great game and needless to say I did not guess the brilliant <16. Re8>. I opted for <16. Nf3>. Toga gave full credit for it. According to the rules of the game that means it is just as good. I find that incredibly hard to believe and, unfortunately, I don't have the means to quantify the merits of the move.

It would be great if this was selected as a <PUZZLE>. Might be a tad on the <INSANE> side of the difficulty scale!

Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: Looks like I get the blame for the pun here. It's based on one of those old cliches you hear in pirate movies without actually knowing what they mean. Wikipedia to the rescue!

<"Shiver my timbers (or shiver me timbers using the possessive me) is an exclamation in the form of a mock oath usually attributed to the speech of pirates in works of fiction. It is employed as a literary device by authors to express shock, surprise or annoyance. The phrase is based on real nautical slang and is a reference to the timbers, which are the wooden support frames of a sailing ship. In heavy seas, ships would be lifted up and pounded down so hard as to "shiver" the timbers, startling the sailors. Such an exclamation was meant to convey a feeling of fear and awe, similar to, "Well blow me down!", or, "May God strike me dead". Shiver is also reminiscent of the splintering of a ship's timbers in battle - splinter wounds were a common form of battle injury on wooden ships ('shiver' means splinter in some English dialects).">

Harmonist, being a ballet dancer, probably expressed his own "shock, surprise, or annoyance" in a more civilized manner, such as "****" or if really angry, perhaps "*****".

Oct-20-12  Abdel Irada: Oh, no! Not "*****"!?
Premium Chessgames Member
  Richard Taylor: "Shiver me Timbers" is in Treasure Island by R L Stevenson I'm pretty sure.


"Yo ho ho ho and bottle of rum
Fifteen dead men on a dead man's chest"!

Avast ye me hearties! Set about! Look lively now! Thar she blows!!

Oct-20-12  Abdel Irada: <Richard Taylor>: Your pirate chanty contained one "ho" too many.
Oct-20-12  kevin86: Active pieces defeat inactive any day.
Oct-20-12 How about 13...h6, and not 13...Qc7? Things fall apart after 13...Qc7 14. Rac1!
Oct-20-12 "Schiffers Emmanual-handles Max's Harmony"?
Oct-20-12  bengalcat47: I'm sure "Thar she blows!" might have been an expression used mainly by whale hunting ships such as clippers in the 19th century, although it's possible pirates could also have said this. Playing chess may have been one form amusement for pirates during long periods of time at sea. Somewhere I have a small, desk size skull-and-crossbones flag.
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: Superb pun; one of the very best!
Premium Chessgames Member
  Willber G: What would be the best continuation for white after 17...Kf8
Dec-08-14  kahen: Such a beautiful game. Too bad that chess engines tell us that it's hogwash.

16.Re8?⩲ (⌓16.Nxf7±) 16... Rxe8 17.Bxf7+ Kh8 18.Bxe8 Ne2+⁇ (18... h6□⩲)

Modern technology is not kind to the classics and the people who have annotated them over the ages.

Apr-17-16  SBC: According to the BCM, Nov. 1888, this game was played in July 1885 but Schiffers received an award of £5 5s., donated by F.H. Lewis of London, for the "prettiest game" of the Frankfort Congress only in 1888 in "a rather late decision."
Apr-17-16  SBC: That is, unless there is a second game in which Schiffers won brilliantly against Harmonist in Frankfort: "Germany.—The prize of £5 5s. offered by Mr. F. H. Lewis of London, for the prettiest game in the last Frankfort Congress, has been awarded to M. Schiffers of St. Petersburg, for his game with Herr Harmonist. This is rather a late decision, as the Frankfort tourney was held in July, 1885." ...which seems unlikely.
Apr-19-16  SBC: The problem seems to be entirely with the BCM since the 1885 German congress was held in Haburg and neither Harmonist nor Schiffers participated.
May-26-16  kereru: What I hate about engines is that they cause people start giving awesome moves like 16.Re8!! question marks just because the engine finds a more prosaic way to get the advantage.

Fact is few humans would be able to resist 18...Ne2+ and Black will probably just lose slowly after 18...h6 anyway.

Premium Chessgames Member
  GrahamClayton: 14...Nf4 opens up the f7 square to attack by the White queen & bishop battery on the a2-g8 diagonal - Schiffers adds another piece attacking the square with 15. Ng5, and 16. Re8 deflects the only defender.
Feb-13-23  generror: Not the best game ever, but it's fun -- a drawish Giuoco Piano that suddenly lights up after Black decides to commit invite death and destruction with <14...Nf4?>. Personally, I'd've given that move two question marks, but to Stockfish, it's just two lost pawns, so still a mistake in my book. White immediately sees the opportunity and plays <15.Ng5!>, and Black helps him out with <15...Ng6?> (again, Stockfish is nice with this move).

<16.Re8!?> is of course a surprising move, but it actually isn't *that* hard to find if you have heard of deflection and noticed all the White pieces staring real hard at that f7-pawn. Also Stockfish says that <16.Re8!?> wins a pawn, but nothing else if Black would have played <18...h6!>, and that Schiffers actually should have played the more direct and strong <16.Nf7!> that is immediately winning whether Black retakes or not.

But of course, our (comedian?) Harmonist decides that now is the perfect moment to go hunting for some material advantage on the other side of the board with <18...Ne2+??>, and here Stockfish and I finally agree that this moves just deserves to lose.

Max Harmonist seems to have been a wildly uneven player. At that tournament, he beat Gunsberg, Blackburne and Schallopp, so he definitively deserves some respect, yet he still managed to finish last with 5.5/20. Unfortunately for him, this game is the one he's remembered for.

Feb-15-23  kereru: Come on, just about every human player on earth would have played 18...Ne2+ at the board. Don't base your awards of "?"s on what Stockfish says. Base it on whether the player could reasonably be expected to have analyzed it correctly.
Feb-15-23  SChesshevsky: Actually not terrible play by Harmonist. A young guy here, facing an experienced "pro", and apparently not interested in being a "pro" himself.

He obviously saw the danger in 14...Nf4. But seems one of those, "I'm probably going to be ok or even better, if I don't get mated."

Think he might've been counting on ...Qa5 at some point. Maybe something like 26...Qa5 threatening mate in one. Hoping the aggression might ease the pressure. Unfortunately white gets there first and better. 26...Qd8 amounting to a virtual resignation.

14...Nf4, unwise? Sure. But I don't think Harmonist was oblivious to the danger and I do think his play was logical if his intent was to take it to his opponent and somehow survive or force his opponent to find the mate.

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