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Isidor Gunsberg vs Edmund Thorold
Hereford BCA (1885), Hereford ENG, Aug-??
French Defense: Normal Variation (C10)  ·  1-0



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Feb-26-15  stst: one long sequence:
21 Rxe6 fxe6
22 Bxg6+ Nxg6
23 Qxe6+ Re7
24 Qxg6+ Kd8
25 Rf8+ Kd7
26 Qf5+ Re6
27 Rf7+ Kc8
28 Qxe6+ Bd7
29 Rf8+ Qd8
30 Rxd8+ Kc7
31 Qxd7 Kb6
32 Rxa8 .... and Black's big pieces are all gone....

Will find a shorter one tomorrow (EST, now sleeping hours PST....)

Premium Chessgames Member
  An Englishman: Good Evening: How in heaven's name can 3...c6? be described as a "Normal" variation?!
Premium Chessgames Member
  al wazir: I guessed the first four moves right without seeing the conclusion -- so I doubt that I would have played the combination.
Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: So this is the "Normal Variation" of the French, eh?
Premium Chessgames Member
  agb2002: White has the bishop pair for a bishop, a knight and a pawn.

Black threatens ... Qxe5 and ... dxc3.

The first idea that comes to mind is 21.Rxe6:

A) 21... fxe6 22.Qxe6

A.1) 22... Rg7 23.Bxg6+ Rxg6 (23... Kd8 24.Rf8#) 24.Qf7+ Kd8 (24... Kd7 25.Qxe7+ Kc8 26.Rf8+ and mate in two) 25.Qf8+ and mate in three.

A.2) 22... Rh8 23.Rf7 wins (23... Bd5 24.Rxe7+ and mate next; 23... Kd8 24.Bxe7+ and mate in two).

A.3) 22... Kd8 23.Rf8#.

A.4) 22... Bd5 23.Bxg6+ Rf7 (23... Kd8 24.Rf8#) 24.Bxf7+ Kd8 (24... Kf8 25.Bh6#) 25.Qxd5+ wins a piece and a couple of pawns at least.

B) 21... f5 22.exf6

B.1) 22... Bd7 23.Bxg6+

B.1.a) 23... Rf7 24.Bxf7+ Kxf7 (else 25.fxe7+ wins) 25.Rxe7+ Kf(g)8 (25... Kg6 26.Rg7#) 26.Qxh5 wins.

B.1.b) 23... Kd8 24.fxe7+ wins.

B.1.c) 23... Kf8 24.fxe7+ Kg8 (24... Kf7 25.Rf7+ Kg8 26.Bxh7+ Kxf7 27.Qf5+ and mate in two) 25.Bxh7+ wins.

B.2) 22... 0-0-0 23.Rxc6+ wins.

Premium Chessgames Member
  agb2002: For some reason I missed 25... Be8 in my line A.1.
Feb-26-15  diagonalley: well... this is patently more difficult than 'medium'! ... in fact (as did <stst>) i went for 21.RxKP... but although white has a torrid attack for the rook, i couldn't convince myself it was winning
Feb-26-15  ozu: Well, I got the first move right and then looked at a couple of continuations of which the next couple moves of the actual game continuation was a big contender. I didn't feel certain about it though. The black knight needs to be taken out pretty quickly. That's for sure.
Feb-26-15  ozu: This reminds me a little bit of a recent puzzle: White to move and yes he can still legally castle. In this case: White to move and yes Black can still legally castle. That's definitely a big dynamic here.
Feb-26-15  Cheapo by the Dozen: I'm having trouble with this one. I imagine the answer is

21 Rxe6 fxe6
22 Qxe6

but I'm not seeing what works against 22 ... Rg7.

Feb-26-15  morfishine: There are various interesting "tries" but what really wrecks the house is <21.Bxg6>

(1) 21...fxg6 22.Rf8+ Kd7 23.Rxa8

(2) 21...Nxg6 22.Rxg6 fxg6 23.Qxe6+ Re7 24.Bxe7 Qxe7 25.Qg8+ Kd7 26.Qxa8

Nice try by Black to extricate himself


Feb-26-15  grootbrabant: I think 4...c6 is seen as normal in French because it looks like you are waving your white flag when you play it.
Feb-26-15  wooden nickel: Since it's a puzzle, lets try a few sacs, what do we got to lose?! :-) 21.Rxe6 fxe6 22.Qxe6 Rg7 23.Bf6 Qd7

click for larger view

... good, but we might as well have just played 21.cxd4 with a good position as well!

The played line leads to the winning position:
21.Bxg6 Nxg6 22.Rxg6 fxg6 23.Qxe6+ Re7 24.Qxg6+ Kd7

click for larger view

Several other lines win i.e. 25.Qf5 or even 25.BxRe7, if Kxe7 then 26.Rf7+ Kd8 27.Rf8+ Be8 28.Qxe8#

click for larger view

Feb-26-15  gofer: Black is holding on buy a thread (Pe6/Pf7/Pg6/Ph5), so lets cut it...

<21 Rxe6 ...>

21 ... O-O-O
22 Rxc6+

21 ... Kf8
22 Bxe7+ Kg8 (Kg7 Bf6+ Kg8 Re7 )
23 Rxg6+ fxg6
24 Qe6+ Kh8
25 Rf7

21 ... Kd8
22 Re7+

21 ... Qb6
22 Rxe7+ Kf8 (Kf8 Rxb7+ )
23 Bxg6 d3+
24 Kh8 Bxg2+
25 Qxg2 Rg7
26 Bxg7 Kxe7
27 Rxf7+ Kd8
28 Bf6+ Kc8
29 Bf5+ Kb8
30 Qg8+ mating

21 ... Kd7
22 Rxe7+ Kd8
23 Rexf7+ Ke8
24 Rf8#

21 ... f6
22 Bxg6+ Kd8 (Rf7 Bxf7+ Kxf7 Rfxf6+ mating or Kf8 Rxf6+ Kg7/Kg8 Bxh7 mating) 23 exf6 Nxg6
24 f7+ Ne7
25 f8=Q+ mating

21 ... f5
22 exf6

<21 ... fxe6>
<22 Qxe6 ...>

Now defence becomes really quite tricky!

22 ... Bd7
23 Bxg6+ Kd8
24 Qg8+ Be8
25 Qxe8#

22 ... Qd7
23 Bxg6+ Kd8
24 Qg8+ Kc7
25 Qxh7 Nxg6
26 Rf7

22 ... Kd8
23 Rf8+ Be8
24 Qg8! Qd7
25 Qxh7

<22 ... Rg7>
<23 Bh6! ...>

click for larger view

White now threatens Rf8# if Rg7 moves anywhere except Rg8

23 ... Bd7
24 Bxg6+ mating

23 ... Qd7
24 Qf6

<23 ... Rg8>

These moves are not easy to find... I must be missing something


Yes! Well that would be what I was missing! Wrong on move 1!...

Feb-26-15  CHESSTTCAMPS: In this middle-game attacking position, white's doubled rooks and active bishop pair provide ample compensation for a pawn deficit. Black is preparing O-O-O to protect the king and coordinate the pieces. A sacrifice to break up black's light-square based pawn shield needs to be considered while black's vulnerable Rh7 is still isolated on the K-side.

21.Rxe6!! threatens Rxe7+ and ties black down with pins. After 21... fxe6 (forced) 22.Qxe6, black can't deal effectively with the deadly threat of 23.Bxg6+:

A) 22... Bd7? (the helpmate variation) 23.Bxg6+ Kd8 24.Qg8+ Be8 25.Qxe8 mate.

B) 22... Qd7 23.Bxg6+ Kd8 24.Qg8+ Kc7 25.Qxh7 Nf5 (Nxg6 26.Rf7 wins the BQ) 26.Bxf5 exf5 27.Qxf5 Qxf5 28.Rxf5 dc 29.Rxh5 looks like a won ending, but 25.Qxh5 (playing for a win in the middle game is probably stronger.

C) 22... Rh8 23.Rf7 wins.

D) 22... Rg7 23.Bf6 Bd7 24.Bb5! Bxb5 25.Bxg7 and 26.Rf8# is not preventable.

D.1) 23... Rg8 24.Bxe7 Qxe7 25.Qxg8+ Kd7 26.Qxg6 is winning.

Time for review...

Feb-26-15  wooden nickel: On the line
21.Rxe6 fxe6 22. Qxe6 Rg7
everybody (including myself previously) is posting 23.Bf6 or even 23.Bh6, but Fritz finds 23. Rf4!

click for larger view

Qd7 24. Bxg6+ Rxg6 25. Qf7+ Kd8 26. Qxg6 dxc3 27. Rf8+ Kc7

click for larger view

winning for White!

Feb-26-15  Marmot PFL: Calculated as far as 21 Bxg6 N(or p)xg6 22 Rxg6 fg6 23 Qxe6+ Re7 24 Qxg6+ Kd7 25 e6+ and decided that it "had to be winning".
Feb-26-15  TheTamale: Well, I saw the first move and the vulnerable rook sitting on a8, but I didn't come up with a way to tie the two together without White getting the worse of it. That's some high-stepping brainwork by old Gunsberg.
Feb-26-15  patzer2: <FSR: So this is the "Normal Variation" of the French, eh?> If 3...c6? is normal, then I want no part of "normal" playing the Black side of the French. This move sadly neglects development and impedes the normal development of the Knight to c6.

According to the Opening Explorer (OE), 3...c6 has been tried in 40 games and has very poor results. Of the 40 games with this move in the OE, White wins 77.5% while Black only wins 17.5%. The computer evaluations show it already being close to a pawn plus for White after 3...c6 4. Nf3 or 3..c6 4. e5 .

If opening lines came with a warning, then 3...c6? should come with one that says "for off hand skittles only, not intended for serious play."

Premium Chessgames Member
  Longview: I saw the breakthrough Bishop and Rook sacs that lead to the chase but could not envision the chase scene.

I did see another puzzle today that was sort of a chase that I could see. Mate in 6 or mate in 9 depending on the choice of the 5th move.

click for larger view

white to play

Feb-26-15  starry2013: For the first time this week I haven't got the checkmate against the computer. This is definitely beyond my level.

I tried what seemed the obvious rook sacrifice on f7 or f6. Getting the queen to e6 and/or bishop to g6, in some circumstances pinning the rook and knight in front of the king. I managed to chase the king around to the queen's side but the active black queen proved annoying, I wish my king had been a bit safer too.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Penguincw: I got 21.Bxg6 and (captures), but that's it.
Feb-26-15  nalinw: <gofer>

21. Rxe6 0-0-0

is illegal - the discovered attack on d8 is important in some lines.

I looked at both 21. Rxe6 and 21 Bxg6 and chose the latter but I had

21. Bxg6 Nxg6
22. Rxe6+ fxe6
23. Qxe6+

which seems to win

as my solution without seeing the simple defense 22. ... Ne7 :-)

Perhaps a 1/4 point for me?

Feb-26-15  patzer2: Gunsberg was the hidden player in the Chess automaton "Mephisto" and one of the strongest players of his time. Here he plays like a modern Super GM.

This is my look at the game and the Thursday puzzle position (21. ?) with the Opening Explorer and Fritz 12:

<1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 c6?> This is really bad, neglecting development and blocking the Knight's access to c6.

Instead, the popular master level move 3... Bb4, as in Kasparov vs Ivanchuk, 1995, gives Black good counterplay.

<4. Bd3 Bb4 5. Nf3 dxe4 6. Bxe4 Nf6 7. Bd3 Nd5 8. Bd2 Qa5?> Despite its aggressive appearance, this move exposes the Black position to attack as it wastes tempo and enhances White's development.

Instead, 8... O-O 9. O-O Be7 10. Re1 Nd7 11. Nxd5
cxd5 12. Bf4 b6 13. c3 Bb7 14. Qc2 g6 15. a4 a5 gives Black drawing chances.

<9. a3!1 Bxc3 10. bxc3 Qc7 11. Ne5 Nd7> Not 11... f6? 12. Qh5+! g6 13. Bxg6+ Ke7 14. Nd3 .

<12. f4 Nxe5?> This gives White a practically won attacking position.

Instead, Black can put up more resistance with 12... O-O 13. O-O c5 14. Qe2 .

<13. fxe5 Bd7 14. O-O c5 15. Qg4! g6 16. Rf2> This is strong, but perhaps even better here is 16. c4! Ne7 17. Qh4 when play might continue 17...Nf5 18. Qf6 Rf8 19. Bg5 Qd8 20. Qxd8+ Rxd8 21. Bxd8 .

<16... Ne7 17. Bg5 h5 18. Qh3 Bc6 19. Raf1 Rh7 20. Rf6> This sets up the winning combination to solve this Thursday puzzle.

However, a strong winning alternative is 20. Bc4! when play might continue 20...Nd5 21. Rxf7 Rxf7 22. Qxe6+ Kf8 23. Bh6+ Kg8 24. Qxg6+ Rg7 25. Bxg7 Qxg7 26. Qd6 Kh8 27. Bxd5 Bxd5 28. Qxd5 .

Feb-26-15  patzer2: <20... cxd4?> This allows White's brilliant winning combination.

Putting up more resistance is 20... Nf5 21. g4! to .

<21. Bxg6!!> This surprise demolition solve today's Thursday puzzle.


If 21... fxg6, then 22. Qxe6! proves to be the strongest winning move, as play might continue 22...Kd8 23. Rf7 Rxf7 24. Rxf7 Qd7 25. Bxe7+ Kc8 26. Rf8+ Kc7 27. Bd6+ Kb6 28. Qxd7 Bxd7 29. Rxa8 .

<22. Rxg6 fxg6 23. Qxe6+ Re7 24. Qxg6+ Kd7 25. e6+!>

Another winning option is 25. Qf5+! Re6 26. Qf7+ Kc8 27. Qxe6+ Qd7 28. Rf8+ Kc7 29. Rf7 .

<25... Rxe6 26. Qf7+ Kc8 27. Qxe6+ Qd7 28. Rf8+ Kc7 29. Qxd7+ 1-0> Black resigns in lieu of 29...Kxd7 30. Rxa8 .

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