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Eugen Sobernheim vs Salomon A Langleben
"The Bishop's Funeral March" (game of the day Oct-13-2010)
Casual game (1895), New York, NY USA
French Defense: Classical Variation. Richter Attack (C13)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 3 OF 3 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Premium Chessgames Member Our apologies for the misprint. It is Black to play 17...?
Jan-31-15  patzer2: Mistakenly beliving it's "White to move" (diagram below),

click for larger view

I picked 17. g4!? which is Fritz's first choice (i.e. if White's move) .

However, it's (17...?) Black (not White) to move, with a brilliant 17...Qa3+!! solution.

Here's my look at 17...Qa3+!! with Fritz 12:

<17...Qa3+!! 18. Kxa3>

If 18. Kb1, Black wins after 18...Nxb3! 19. axb3 Rxb3+ 20. cxb3 Qxb3+ 21. Ka1 Qxc3+ 22. Ka2 Bd7! when play might continue 23. Nd2 Rb8 24. Bb5 Qc2+ 25. Ka1 axb5 26. Nb1 Ra8+ 27. Na3 Bxa3 28. Qd3 Qb2#

<18... Nxd3+ 19. b4 Rxb4?> Though it leads to mate, this is a mistake which gives White survival chances.

Stronger and clearly winning is 19...Bxb4+! 20. Kb3 (20. Ka4 Nc5#) 20... Be7+ 21. Nb5 (21. Ka4 Nb2+ 22. Ka5 Bb4#) 21... Rxb5+ 22. Kc3 Nxf4 23. Qg3 Ne2+ 24. Kd2 Nxg3

<20. Rxd3?> This mistake returns the favor (i.e. one error for another) and leads to mate-in-six.

Instead, White can hold a pawn down with 20. Qh4! Bxh4 21. Nxh4 Rxf4 22. cxd3 Rxh4 23. Na4 Rg4 24. Rd2 Bd7 25. Nc5 Bb5 26. d4 Kf7 .

<20... Rb1+ 21. Ka4 Bd7+ 22. Ka5 Bd8+ 23. Kxa6 Bc8+ 24. Ka7 Bb6+ 25. Ka8 Ba6#> 0-1

Jan-31-15  morfishine: <17...Qa3+> 18.Kxa3 Nxd3+ 19.Ka4 Bd7+ 20.Ka5 Rb5+ 21.Kxa6 Ra8#

I thought I'd seen this game, and sure enough its Game 956 in Chernev's 'The 1000 Best Short Games Of Chess'

"Wherein lies the fascination of this game? Is it the startling sacrifice of the Queen? Is it the forced march of the King? Is it the interplay of the Bishops as they take turns checking the King into mate? Or is it the skillful blending of all these elements that makes this game enchanting?"


Jan-31-15  Slim2211: Great!!
Jan-31-15  diagonalley: very pretty!... unfortunately, believing it was white to play, i stared at the sodding thing for a good twenty minutes before giving up :-(
Jan-31-15  diagonalley: ahh ... i see it was a CG faux pas! ... maybe i'll apply for a deduction on my next renewal :-)
Premium Chessgames Member
  Stonehenge: I think the game was played in New York, see
Jan-31-15  wooden nickel: There seems to have been a discrepancy between Black or White to play. The diagram shown directly under was correctly tagged with "Black to play", the embedded version on guest sites showed "White to play"... I didn't notice the move statement below "17. ...?" showing "Black to play"! Nevertheless nice puzzle punned with "The Bishop's Funeral March"... Black's name is ironically "Langleben" (langes Leben) meaning "long life" in German! After 19. .. Rxb4, White could have tried 20. Qh4! Black should rather have played 19. .. Bxb4+!
Jan-31-15  nopassion4jazz: great one!
Jan-31-15  gofer: This one is very interesting, white has fianchettoed his king side and then traded off his DSB! A recipe for disaster in most people's books. If it were black to play we would have the rather beautiful Qa3+!

1 ... Qa3+!!!

The king cannot accept...

2 Kxa3? Nxd3+!
3 b4 Bxb4+ (Ka4 Nb2+! Ka5 Bb4#)
4 Kb3 Ba5+ (Ka4 Nb2+ 6 Kb3 Ba5+ 7 Nb5 Rxb5+ 8 Ka3 Nc4+ 9 Ka4 Rb4#) 5 Nb5 Rxb5+ (Ka4 Bxc3 mating and Ka3 Nb2! mating)
6 Ka3 Nb2! (Kb4 Nb2+ mating)
7 Rd4 Nc4+
8 Rxc4 dxc4

click for larger view

which could then lead to...

9 Nd4 Bb4+
10 Kb2 c3+
11 Ka1 Rd5
12 Nb3 Rfd8
13 Qh5 Ba3

click for larger view

Not accepting the queen sacrifice is not an option either...

2 Kb1 Nxb3
3 axb3 Rxb3+
4 cxb3 Qxg3+

So having seen all this the obvious statement is we can avoid moves like...

17 g4
17 Ng5 h6
17 Bxf5 Rxf5

But hold it one second. The POTD states <17 ... ? White to Play>.

So is this a spoiler or a beautiful queen sacrifice by black. Time to hit <Refresh> and see if CG have corrected the mistake!

Ahh! All is right with the world. <CG> have corrected their error and it isn't a spoiler it is <Black to Play>.

So this IS very interesting! I wonder what happened!!!


I missed the mate... ...but I think I found a win...

Jan-31-15  gofer: Wow! I see <wooden nickel> post about <20 Qh4!> Black cannot try <20 ... Bc5> due to <21 Na4!> which starts me to thinking that I was probably not wrong to look at <19 ... Bxb5+> instead!

Which definitely makes this on interesting...

Premium Chessgames Member
  agb2002: Black has the bishop pair for a bishop, a knight and a pawn.

The first idea that comes to mind is 17... Qa3+, trying to extract the king (17... d4 18.Nb1 Na4+ 19.Kc1 doesn't seem to achieve much):

A) 18.Kxa3 Nxd3+ 19.b4 (19.Ka4 Nb2+ 20.Ka5 Bb4(d8)#)

A.1) 19... Bxb4+ 20.Kb3 (20.Ka4 Nc5#) 20... Be7+ (the bishop controls h4 again to trap the white queen) 21.Nb5 (21.Ka4 Nb2+ 22.Ka5 Bb4(d8)#) 21... Rxb5+ 22.Kc3 (22.Ka4 Nb2#) 22... Nxf4 23.Qg3 Ne2+ followed by 24... Nxg3 - + [2B+P vs N].

A.2) 19... Rxb4

A.2.a) 20.Ng5 Rb5+ 21.Ka4 Nb2#.

A.2.b) 20.cxd3 Rb1+ 21.Ka4 Bd7+ 22.Ka5 (22.Nb5 Bxb5+ 23.Ka5 Bd8#) 22... Bd8+ 23.Kxa6 Bc8+ 24.Ka7 Bb6+ 25.Ka(b)8 Ba6#.

A.2.c) 20.Qh4 seems to complicate things considerably, so 19... Bxb4+ looks preferable.

B) 18.Ka1 Nxb3+ 19.cxb3 (19.Kb1 Nd2+ 20.Ka1 Qb2#) 19... Rxb3 and the double threat Qb2# and Rxc3 wins a pawn while keeping the attack. For example, 20.Na4 Rxd3 (20... Qxa4 21.Bc2) 21.Rxd3 Qxd3 22.Ng5 Qd4+ 23.Nb2 (23.Qc3 Qxa4) 23... h6 24.Nf3 Qxf4 - + [2B+2P vs 2N].

C) 18.Kb1 Nxb3

C.1) 19.axb3 Rxb3+ 20.cxb3 Qxb3+

C.1.a) 21.Kc1 Qxc3+ 22.Kb1 (22.Bc2 Ba3+ 23.Kb1 Qb2#) 22... Bd7

C.1.a.i) 23.Rd2 Rb8+ 24.Ka2 Qa5#.

C.1.a.ii) 23.Bb5 Qb5+ wins the bishop with tempo and the attack with queen, rook and bishop pair looks too strong (23... Rb8 24.Nd4 protecting the bishop and threatening 25.Qxc3 creates problems and 23... Bxb5 24.Nd4 (24.Ng5 Bd3+ 25.Q(R)xd3 (25.Ka2 Qa3#) 25... Rb3+ mates) is unclear).

C.1.b) 21.Ka1 Qxc3+ 22.Ka2 (22.Kb1 transposes to C.1.a) 22... Bd7 looks similar to previous lines. For example, 23.Rd2 (23.Rb1 Qa3#) 23... Rb8 and neither 24.Rb1 nor 24.Rb2 are possible due to 24... Qa3+ mating. Or 23.Ng5 Qa3+ 24.Kb1 Rb8+ 25.Bb5 (25.Kc2 Qb2#) 25... Rxb5+ 26.Kc2 Rb2+ 27.Kc1 Qa1#.

C.2) 19.cxb3 Rxb3+ 20.axb3 transposes to C.1 (20.Ka1(c2) Qb2#).

Jan-31-15  Nick46: Shouldn't the name of the game be
"The Bishops' Funeral March" rather than "The Bishop's Funeral March", since both bishops dance around, not just one of them?
Premium Chessgames Member
  playground player: Didn't get this the last time it was the daily puzzle, and didn't get it this time, either--even though I remembered the pun. This is a level of chess to which I fear I shall never ascend.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Jimfromprovidence: This is a tricky variation of the 17...Qxa3+ 18 Kb1 thread. After 18...Nxb3, how about 19 Bb5?!

click for larger view

Black to play and win.

Jan-31-15  MAnaconda: 19-RXb4??
20RXd3??....(Qh4! and black fight well)
Jan-31-15  thegoodanarchist: Seems to me that 17.Nb1 is the best defense. I did not use my engine to analyze it, though.
Jan-31-15  Steve.Patzer: Actually I think think the puzzle would be more interesting with 16. ...? Black to move. What happens after 16....Qb4 17. Ne2
Jan-31-15  Chess Dad: <Gofer: Wow! I see <wooden nickel> post about <20 Qh4!> Black cannot try <20 ... Bc5> due to <21 Na4!> which starts me to thinking that I was probably not wrong to look at <19 ... Bxb5+> instead!>

Yes, according to Stockfish, 19... Rxb4 was a blunder. Had White recognized the risk, and responded with 20. Qh4 then Black's advantage is only 3/4 of a pawn.

But then White blundered right back, and 20. Rxd3 handed the game back to Black.

But, as they say, the winner is the person who made the next-to-last mistake. And in this game, that's certainly true.

Jan-31-15  nalinw: This must be the first time I have seen some light on a Saturday.

17. ... Qa3+

If 18. Kxa3 then 18. .. Nxd3+ and it seems that the N, 2Bs and R will mate regardless of what White does.

If 18. Ka1 or Kb1 then what?

One has to get rid of the c3 N and bring the other B into play - can't see how.

Ok - it was not light it was a mirage? Time to check ...

Jan-31-15  nalinw: &^%$^**()^$##@ etc.

It was no mirage - just didn't visualize how the lone Q could clean up.

Lesson - never give up.

Jan-31-15  Calar: I just have to say that this has to be one of the best puns I've ever seen of :)
Jan-31-15  Jim Bartle: <Instead, White can hold a pawn down with 20. Qh4! Bxh4 21. Nxh4 Rxf4 22. cxd3 Rxh4 23. Na4 Rg4 24. Rd2 Bd7 25. Nc5 Bb5 26. d4 Kf7 .>

20. Qh4 would be one of the most surprising full queen sacrifices I've seen.

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: <Jim Bartle: <Instead, White can hold a pawn down with 20. Qh4! Bxh4 21. Nxh4 Rxf4 22. cxd3 Rxh4 23. Na4 Rg4 24. Rd2 Bd7 25. Nc5 Bb5 26. d4 Kf7 .> 20. Qh4 would be one of the most surprising full queen sacrifices I've seen.>

Verily! It shows that the more you accept, the more you can give back. It is amazing that White can get away with being just a pawn down.

Nov-16-22  Mathematicar: Great game.
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