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Henry William Birkmyre Gifford vs Benjamin Willem Blijdenstein
DCA Congress 1st (1873), The Hague NED, Aug-??
Queen's Gambit Accepted: Old Variation (D20)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  Eggman: C'mon, Mr. Gifford, 6.Qf3 ain't even hard enough for a Monday puzzle!
Premium Chessgames Member
  fredthebear: The year was 1873. The Franco-Prussian War (1870–1871) has ended, and Germany emerges. The World's Fair has held in Vienna, 1873. Some famous players attended the Vienna chess tournament at the same time:

Many United States Civil War veterans have moved west. The first transcontinental railroad meets up at Promontory, Utah in 1869. The Indian Wars rage on the Great Plains; the native supply source of buffalo herds are being slaughtered. Hence, the American Wild West is in full bloom. (General George Armstrong Custer and James Butler "Wild Bill" Hickock met their ends in 1876.) The Gilded Age, spurred by the railroads, the factory system, and immigration is about to boom.

The first official chess world champion Wilhelm Steinitz published his textbook, The Modern Chess Instructor in 1889.

Irving Chernev's Winning Chess Traps: Three Hundred Ways to Win in the Opening (1946) had not been written yet. Gifford was probably waiting for the E-book version anyway. Read the various, oft misinformed book reviews that believe old traps no longer work in modern play:

Here are some quick Queen's Gambit traps from the internet: The missed opening trap on this page "was pointed out by Alessandro Salvio in 1604." -

Could Henry William Birkmyre Gifford read? Could he read a printed language other than English? Gifford was a well-traveled man, the unofficial Dutch champion in 1873. It would seem that he had some sort of chess training to reach that strength. Yes, Mr. Gifford should have seen this famous opening trap even way, way back then.

The incomparable Bill Wall has post about the various chess books in history:

"Before anything else, preparation is the key to success" - Alexander Graham Bell

"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." - Winston Churchill

Premium Chessgames Member
  Eggman: <fredthebear> Sure, but all I'm saying is that 6.Qf3 should have been an easy move to find!
Premium Chessgames Member
  fredthebear: You are likely correct <Eggman>.

I was trying to put myself in Mr. Gifford's shoes, understand his thinking. How many would find 6.Qf3 if they had never seen the trap before (which can be found in the trap link above)? Given the times, how "chess educated" would Mr. Gifford have been? German, Spanish, and Italian chess literature seems to have been much better than English print at that time (1873).

Ah, but we are creatures of habit, and 6.Nc3 is very natural. Perhaps White was hoping for the response 6...a6, allowing 7.Nxb5 taking advantage of the pinned a6, and 8.Qf3/8.Bxc4 is still threatened. If one is focused on the pawns and minor pieces, he does not see the loose Ra8.

6.Qf3 is not a natural move, just the best move. Black should respond 6...Nc6 (or 6...Bb7 7.QxBb7 Nd7) 7.QxNc6+ Bd7 8.Qa6 etc. allowing the minor piece to take the fall for the cornered rook, leaving us with the following position:

click for larger view

It seems that Mr. Gifford is not alone. Thanks to <Phony Benoni>, see this 6.Nc3?! game from 1918:

Game 39/3453 Burgess, Samuel R - Colby, B H
Casual game St. Louis, MO, 23.01.1899
Source: American Chess Bulletin, April 1918, p. 83.

1.d4 d5 2.c4 dxc4 3.e3 b5 4.a4 c6 5.axb5 cxb5 6.Nc3 a6 7.Nxb5 Bb7 8.Nc3 Qc7 9.Qa4+ Nd7 10.Bxc4 Bxg2 11.Nd5 Qb7 12.f3 Bxh1 13.Qa5 Ra7 14.Bxa6 Qc6 15.Bd2 e6 16.Rc1 Qxd5 White announced mate in 5 moves. 1-0

Why are modern day players as Black still falling for it?

Memphis Chess
Tony Maneclang(1736) - Joseph Hawks(1738)
Pre-Spring Special February 27, 2010 round 4
D20: Queen's gambit accepted

1. d4 d5 2. c4 dxc4 3. e3 b5 4. a4 c6 5. axb5 cxb5 6. Qf3 Nc6 7. Qxc6+ Bd7 8. Qf3 a5 9. Qd1 e6 10. Nf3 f6 11. Be2 Ne7 12. O-O Qc7 13. Re1 Nd5 14. Bf1 h5 15. Bd2 g5 16. Nc3 h4 17. Nxd5 exd5 18. Kh1 g4 19. Ng1 Bd6 20. f4 Bf5 21. Ne2 b4 22. Qa4+ Kf7 23. Kg1 Bd7 24. Qc2 a4 25. e4 dxe4 26. Qxe4 f5 27. Qc2 b3 28. Qc1 Rhe8 29. Nc3 Rxe1 30. Qxe1 a3 31. Be2 Re8 32. Qxh4 axb2 33. Rb1 Bxf4 34. Bxf4 Qxf4 35. Bxc4+ Be6 36. Qh7+ Kf8 37. Qh8+ Ke7 38. Qg7+ Kd8 39. Qf6+ Re7 40. Bxe6 Qc1+ 41. Kf2 Qf4+ 42. Ke2 Qxh2 43. d5 Qxg2+ 44. Kd3 Qc2+ 45. Kc4 Qh2 46. Bxf5 Qf4+ 47. Kxb3 Qb8+ 48. Kc2 Qh2+ 49. Kb3 Qb8+ 50. Kc4 Qc7+ 51. Kb5 Qf4 52. d6 Qe5+ 53. Qxe5 Rxe5+ 54. Kc4 Rxf5 55. Rxb2 Kd7 56. Nb5 g3 57. Rg2 Rg5 58. Kb4 Kc6 59. d7 Kxd7 60. Nd4 Kd6 1/2-1/2

Note that Black can simply return the pawn after 3.e3 by 3...e6, ...e5, or ...Nf6 allowing 4.Bxc4 etc.

Here's an unsound trap for Black using 3...Be6?!: 1.d4 d5 2.c4 dxc4 3.e3 Be6?! 4 Bxc4? BxBc4 5.Qa4+ Black can reply 5...b5, protecting the Bishop, attacking the Queen and generally ruining White's day.

If 3...Be6 4.Ne2 is suitable says one engine:

1. d4 d5 2. c4 dxc4 3. e3 Be6 4. Ne2 b5? 5. a4! c6 ( 5... a6 6. axb5 )
( 5... bxa4 6. Nf4 Bd5 7. Nc3 c6 8. e4! )

6. axb5! cxb5 7. Nec3!! Bd7
( 7... Qd7 8. Qf3 Nc6! 9. Nxb5! ( 9. d5?-+ Nb4 10. dxe6 Nc2+ 11. Ke2 Qd3# ) Bf5 10. Nd2 Bd3 11. Nxc4+- )

8. Qf3 Bc6 9. d5 Bd7 10. b3! Qc8
( 10... b4 11. Bxc4!! bxc3? 12. d6!+- Bc6 13. Qxf7+ Kd7 14. Qe6+! Ke8 15. d7+! Qxd7 16. Qf7+ Kd8 17. Qxf8++- )

11. bxc4 b4
( 11... bxc4 12. Na3 )

12. Na4 Bxa4 13. Rxa4 a5

Premium Chessgames Member
  fredthebear: Black cannot take the c-pawn and hang onto it like Black does the f-pawn in the King's Gambit. Instead of 4...c6?, much better is 4...b4:

Onischuk, Alexander (2664) - Xiong, Jeffery (2618) [D20] USA Chess Championship/Saint Louis (1.6) 2016

1. d4 d5 2. c4 dxc4 3. e3 b5 4. a4 b4 5. Bxc4 Nf6 6. Qf3 c6 7. Ne2 e6 8. e4 Bb7 9. Bg5 Be7 10. Nd2 h6 11. Bxf6 Bxf6 12. e5 Be7 13. Ne4 O-O 14. Rd1 Ba6 15. Bb3 Nd7 16. Nf4 Qa5 17. Qg3 Nxe5 18. Nxe6 Nd3+ 19. Rxd3 fxe6 20. Re3 Kh8 21. Qe5 Qxe5 22. dxe5 Rad8 23. Bxe6 Rd3 24. Rxd3 Bxd3 25. Nd6 Bxd6 26. exd6 Rf6 27. Kd2 Rxe6 28. Kxd3 Rxd6+ 29. Kc2 c5 30. Rd1 b3+ 31. Kc1 Ra6 32. Rd8+ Kh7 33. Kd2 Rxa4 34. Kc3 Ra1 35. Rd2 a5 36. Kxb3 a4+ 37. Kc4 a3 38. bxa3 Rxa3 39. Kxc5 h5 40. Kd4 Ra5 41. Ke4 g6 42. f4 Kg7 43. h3 Kf7 44. Rd6 Ra2 45. g4 hxg4 46. hxg4 Ra7 47. g5 Rb7 48. Ke5 Ra7 49. Rf6+ Kg7 50. Rc6 Re7+ 51. Kd6 Re4 52. Rc7+ Kg8 53. Rc8+ 1/2-1/2

Here's an exhibition game that Garry Kasparov played against a computer before computers were nearly unbeatable. The computer played 4...Ba6:

[Event "Kasparov sim-32 (13)"]
[Site "Hamburg"]
[Date "1985.06.06"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Kasparov Garry"]
[Black "Elite A/S Experimental"]
[Result "1-0"]

1.d4 d5 2.c4 dxc4 3.e3 b5 4.a4 Ba6 5.axb5 Bxb5 6.Nc3 c6 7.b3 e6 8.bxc4 Ba6 9.Nf3 Nf6 10.Bd3 Bd6 11.O-O O-O 12.e4 Bb4 13.Qc2 Nh5 14.e5 f5 15.exf6 Nxf6 16.Re1 Bc8 17.Bb2 a5 18.Rad1 Ra7 19.Ne5 a4 20.Re3 a3 21.Ba1 Bb7 22.Ne2 Nbd7 23.Nf4 Re8 24.Rh3 Nf8 25.g4 h6 26.g5 hxg5 27.Nfg6 N8h7 28.Nh8 g6 29.Bxg6 Nf8 30.Nhf7 Qe7 31.d5 cxd5 32.Nh6+ Kg7 33.Bxe8 Qxe8 34.Neg4 Be7 35.Ng8 Kxg8 36.Bxf6 Ng6 37.Bxe7 1-0

* Just for fun, here's an e3, Nc3 & Qf3 miniature: 1.d4 d5 2.c4 dxc4 3.Nc3 a6 4.e3 b5 5.a4 b4 6.Qf3 Ra7 7.Bxc4 bxc3 8.Bxf7+ Kd7 9.Qd5 mate 1-0 Dunham-Agnew, Postal 2004

Yes, this is "much ado about nothing" (also the name of a William Shakespeare play published in 1623) on my part. Ol' FTB is still trying to give Mr. Gifford the benefit of the doubt. Let's check Staunton's handbook to see if the 6.Qf3 trap was given there.

Speaking of chess books, one may download Bill Wall's 500 Queen's Gambit Miniatures here:

Premium Chessgames Member
  Eggman: <Fred> Do these downloadable versions come with pgn? I've got some Bill Wall puzzle books and I would love to find some kind of downloadable versions that have the positions as fen, or even had the complete games the puzzles came from, given as pgn. So much easier to make diagrams for my notes.
Premium Chessgames Member
  fredthebear: I asked your question to Quora. Here is the top answer given:

<Chris Holmes, UEA Chess Champion 1976, ELO 1905 (1980); 300+ Chess books

Bill Wall has quite a few pgn files of the games in various chess books.

Bill Wall's Chess Page

You can find there a variety of books by Chernev, Assiac & so on, Alekhine’s 2 game collections, Euwe, Smyslov, Botvinnik, all the World Championship matches, McDonnell-De La Bourdonnais, endgame books, collection of 500 miniatures of various openings compiled by Bill Wall, books on tactics, the middlegame, etc.

What more could you want ?>

This old bear has spent the past forty years buying the actual hardcopy book, having acquired hundreds. Used bookstores are a favorite haunt of mine. Most folks would prefer the convenience of digital pgn nowadays.

This site seems to be the pgn jackpot:

Let us know how these worked out for you <Eggman>.

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <FTB> Well, you managed take a very unpromising page and turn it into something fascinating!
Premium Chessgames Member
  Eggman: <<Fred>> I realize now that I was confusing Bill Wall with Bill Harvey - ugh! I hope I didn't put you out.
Premium Chessgames Member
  fredthebear: Not at all <Eggman>. I've been carrying on myself, playing devil's advocate with your original assessment of the missed 6.Qf3. My curiosity considered how much chess education/training a strong English-speaking player would have had in 1873. As it turns out, a considerable amount of chess information was available back then - certainly enough to approach national master strength by today's standards, IMHO.

BTW, both <Mr. Wall> and <Mr. Harvey> helpfully post on this site on a fairly regular basis.

Putting thoughts down in writing helps to clear my mind without regretting lost thoughts later <keypusher>. Writing seems to clarify and "save" my thoughts after answering self-proposed questions. Of course, such does require a bit of double checking and editing before making it public, or the critics come out of the woodwork like Trump Haters. One must not be too concerned about "know-it-alls" for their chastising can be educational, steer one in a new direction of growth (although nowadays, most are trying to be hurtful to boost their own ego in a sad sort of way). I learned as a child that nobody is perfect; do your best and try, try, try again. Critics be damned.

Botvinnik stated the value of self-expression in chess. Generally, I do avoid specific move/variation theoretical debates that the strongest computer wins. We have some fine computer analysts on this site; let them shine at their forte! Successful people in many walks of life are copycats of knowledge; chess is no different.

With that, I'm about to put 6.Qf3 in 1873 to bed, as soon my next post is edited.

Premium Chessgames Member
  fredthebear: Ol' FTB finally did get to my "other" (bigger, less beloved) chess library and pulled "The Chess-Player's Handbook" by Howard Staunton, Foreword by GM Raymond Keene. Staunton's Handbook was originally published in 1847 in London, so Mr. Gifford should have known about it, and READ it by 1873, IMHO (or at least the chapter on the Queen's Gambit). My paperback edition was printed in 1985 (arrangements by B. T. Batsford, London).

Staunton's Handbook is wonderfully informative; 518 pages long. It lacks an index, but the Table of Contents is 3 pages long, so there's no difficulty finding a particular topic. There are many, many game examples in orderly fashion by opening, variation, and synopsis. The names of the players are given, but not the date or location of most games. Most pages have footnotes, which may contain historical information.

My Brief Outline of the Table of Contents:

Book I - Introduction, Terms, Rules, Observations, etc.

Book II - Open Game/King's Knight

Book III - Open Game/King's Bishop

Book IV - Open Game/King's Gambit

Book V - Closed Game & Semi-Open Game (Irregular)

Book VI - Endings (almost 100 pages worth!)

The reprint remains in English Descriptive Notation. The print is clear and the binding is sturdy, but some of the diagrams are too dark. The diagrams are not a problem for an experienced player, but lack of focus would slow down a beginner. The handbook wisely used clear, enlarged diagrams in the beginning chapter as wide as the page, then downsized diagrams in later chapters to save some space.

It is well-referenced, mentioning various other books, especially the German "Handbuch" and the "Chess-Player's Chronicle" and includes writers from centuries ago: Ruy Lopez, Salvio, Greco, Cozio, Lolli, Ponziani, Philidor, Sarratt, Allgaier, Bertin, Kassim, Lewis, Bilguer, Jaenisch, etc. etc.

Surely this publication was the crème de la crème of it's day. It has been re-printed more than two dozen times since 1847. Staunton organized the first international chess tournament, London 1851; this event likely served as a launchpad for spreading Staunton's Handbook.

Ol' FTB was stunned to see Algebraic Notation (long form) explained on p. 501! I had wrongly thought this recording method was a 20th Century invention. There are a couple other types of notations given as well, each having a method for numbering the squares 11-88 by rank and/or file.

So, what about the Queen's Gambit Accepted, 6.Qf3? Yes, Alessandro Salvio's Trap is given within the 1st Game of the Queen's Gambit, explained on pp. 355-356! <Eggman> is correct. Mr. Gifford should have known/seen 6.Qf3 wins a piece, assuming Gifford knew how to read and could afford Staunton's Handbook.

I was further stunned to see QGA 3.e4 as the 2nd Game example. This too, I had figured for a 20th Century invention. (Again, the handbook is written in English Descriptive Notation, but our conversation on this page has been using Algebraic Notation.)

It is clear to me that Mr. Howard Staunton did his homework researching other materials in non-English languages and put great effort into his publication. These games were played all over the world, particularly Europe -- not just England.

Staunton's Handbook is still a worthwhile read for the modern player given the amount of information covered. In recent times (historical references aside), it might be comparable to "The Mammoth Book of Chess"/"Chess: Tactics and Strategy" (reprint under a different title) by Graham Burgess, or "Chess: 5334 Problems, Combinations and Games" by László Polgár.

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