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Henry Hookham vs Joseph George Witton
"Hookham Up" (game of the day Jul-30-2015)
Australian Championship (1887), Adelaide AUS, rd 4, Aug-20
Rubinstein Opening: Bogoljubow Defense (D05)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  Richard Taylor: That was a sharp lesson from Mr Hookham!
Jun-08-13  optimal play: <<<<<THE CHESS CONGRESS.>

In the game between the New Zealand champion, Mr. Hookham, and Mr. Witton, of Victoria, an irregular opening was adopted. From the start till the 18th move the game was well contested, neither player gaining any appreciable advantage; but at this stage the Victorian player made a mistake, and his opponent, taking full advantage of the opportunity, won.>

- South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA) issue Monday 22 August 1887>

The fourth round of the major tourney in connection with the Adelaide Chess Congress, took place on Saturday. In the game between Hookham of New Zealand, and Witton of Victoria, the latter made a mistake at the eighteenth move and lost the game.>

- Launceston Examiner (Tas) issue Wednesday 24 August 1887>

After 4 rounds (with 5 more to play) the points table stood as follows:-

Henry Charlick (1-1-1-) [+3 =1 -0] (3/4) = 1st

Frederick Karl Esling (1-1--1) [+3 =1 -0] (3/4) = 1st

David Heiman (1-1-0-1) [+3 =0 -1] (3/4) 3rd

George Hatfeild Gossip (1-0-1-) [+2 =1 -1] (2/4) = 4th

Henry Hookham (0-1--1) [+2 =1 -1] (2/4) = 4th

William Tullidge (0-1-1-0) [+2 =0 -2] (2/4) 6th

George B Hall (0-0-0-1) [+1 =0 -3] (1/4) = 7th

Joseph George Witton (0-0-1-0) [+1 =0 -3] (1/4) = 7th

Patrick Eiffe (1-0-0-0) [+1 =0 -3] (1/4) = 7th

John E Crewe (0-0-0-0) [+0 =0 -4] (0/4) 10th

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: Looks like is massively bigging up the good old Aussie Championships of 1887. This is the second game in a row. Or second game on death row... who knows?
Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: 18...Nh5? I suppose we could forgive Black for not knowing that knights on the rim are dim or that Loose Pieces Drop Off or examine every check and capture. None of those pearls of wisdom had yet been written. Probably.

But 18...Nh5? Really? Yes, it would be great to pick up the white rook on g3, but white has pretty much telegraphed the fact that he is going to play something like Nh6+.

Incidentally, Fritzie says that 20. Nxf7 would have been even stronger than 20. Qxh5. Not that it matters when black is in such a generous mood.

Jul-30-15  Abdel Irada: As of move 11, the position is notably symmetrical except in one respect: Black has developed his knight on c6 and White on d2.

Ordinarily one might think this gave the black steed more scope and activity, but (and I'll admit I'm not au courant on this opening) this appears to be one of those cases where d2 (d7 for Black) is a better choice.

Why? The answer appears on the very next move, when White seizes the opportunity to break symmetry with 12. Ne5!, and the advantage becomes apparent: Because his knight on c6 blocks his bishop on b7, Black can't hope to reply in kind. This condemns him to relative passivity.

Black then worsens his plight by prematurely resolving tension in the center with 12. ...cxd4?! This only activates White's rook, justifying his otherwise unimposing 10. Re1.

Then Black further compounds the error with his next two moves: 13. ...dxc4 (inviting the knight from d2 to c4 and further fortifying the knight on e5) and 14. ...Bb4, which only appears to force White to make the rook lift he wanted anyway.

Probably the bishop should have retreated to b8, keeping pressure on e5 and threatening to chase off the knight with 15. ...b5 (although this is easily prevented with 15. a4), but by this time I think the game is strategically lost anyway. White has all the play, and it is practically impossible to evict the knight from e5.

In fact, the otherwise inexplicable 18. ...Nh5? is probably a consequence of Black's desire to kick the knight. But, as <Once> points out, this only invited his immediate tactical demise.

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <Abdel Irada: As of move 11, the position is notably symmetrical except in one respect: Black has developed his knight on c6 and White on d2. Ordinarily one might think this gave the black steed more scope and activity, but (and I'll admit I'm not au courant on this opening) this appears to be one of those cases where d2 (d7 for Black) is a better choice....>

In 1992, I lost the decisive game of the Vermont championship in the Spassky line (4.e3) of the Queen's Indian, in which I played ....Nc6 instead of placing it at d7. The middlegame play is similar to what went in this game.

At a glance, it appears as though a knight at c6 places greater pressure on the centre, but a more significant feature of the position is that Black needs to overprotect his knight at f6.

Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: White will win the rook...just to add to the advantage.
Premium Chessgames Member
  thegoodanarchist: Not much of a game - White just exploits Black's poor play.
Jul-30-15  desiobu: It's interesting how forced everything seems after 18...Nh5? The Nxf7 suggestion from <Once> seems promising though.
Jul-30-15  morfishine: Looks like something out of the under 1400 section
Jul-30-15  mruknowwho: Kind of funny how the white queen was so nicely placed on her original square.
Jul-31-15  Moszkowski012273: 18.Nc2... was a stronger line. Also 20.Nxf7... was crushing.
Jul-31-15  optimal play: Hookham played this opening again in round 6 against Heiman (H Hookham vs D Heiman, 1887) reaching exactly the same position at 12.Ne5 however instead of 12...cxd4 Heiman played 12...Bb8 and beat Hookham in 48 moves.

Hookham tried it again in the last round against Charlick (H Hookham vs H Charlick, 1887) however instead of 8...b6 Charlick played 8...cxd4 attaining a winning position although agreeing to a draw after 46 moves to clinch the championship.

Twenty years later, Akiba Rubinstein reached the same position at 11...Rc8 in the Ostende-B tournament against Franz Jacob (Rubinstein vs F G Jacob, 1907) but instead of 12.Ne5 Rubinstein played 12.dxc5 winning in 40 moves.

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