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Luis Ramirez de Lucena
One of the chess problems from the oldest known chess book
Repetición de Amores y Arte de Ajedrez con ci Iuegos de Partido
Number of games in database: 2
Years covered: 1497 to 1515

Most played openings
A00 Uncommon Opening (2 games)

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(born 1465, died 1530, 65 years old) Spain

[what is this?]
Luis Ramirez de Lucena (Loo-THAY-na) was a leading Spanish chess player and the author of the oldest existing chess book, Repetici├│n de Amores y Arte de Ajedrez con cl Iuegos de Partido, published in Salamanca in 1497. His name is associated with a fundamental rook ending, commonly called "the Lucena Position", although this attribution may be a misnomer, as it does not appear in his book.(1) However, the smothered mate often referred to as Philidor's Legacy is in the book.

(1) John Roycroft, British Chess Magazine, 1982, pp 160-161

Wikipedia article: Luis Ram%C3%ADrez de Lucena

 page 1 of 1; 2 games  PGN Download 
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. NN vs Lucena 0-1261497SalamancaA00 Uncommon Opening
2. Lucena vs Quintana 1-0321515HuescaA00 Uncommon Opening
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2) | Lucena wins | Lucena loses  

Kibitzer's Corner
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Jul-16-09  visayanbraindoctor: <I think they did one of the top tournaments, like one of the San Sebastian events.>

That's good. However I think they should also have the same with

Lasker-Schlechter World Championship Match (1910)

This was a truly remarkable event for that era.

Jul-16-09  Bridgeburner: <visayanbraindoctor>

I might do that myself when I put together something resembling a viable blunder-check methodology. What do you think of my preliminary ideas about using an engine's evaluation shifts based on a fixed ply analysis? THe first problem I've encountered with this idea is whether to stick to say 16 ply, or use it as a minimum. Leaving an engine on overnight to wrack up 20 or more ply can change evaluations significantly. Maybe that concern is too fussy.

I don't really want to start on any project like this until I feel that I have the basic principles of the methodology organized.

Ideally I'd want to use a top of the line multi-processor with the latest Rybka software, but I'll make do with my silicon midget.

Jul-16-09  visayanbraindoctor: <Bridgeburner: What do you think of my preliminary ideas about using an engine's evaluation shifts based on a fixed ply analysis?>

It sounds fine.

If you are going to push through with this project, it would be just great! I would suggest the first two matches to be the 1910 Lasker-Schlechter (80% draws) and 1921 Capablanca-Lasker (71%). I believe these two matches are crucial in our understanding of the modern World Championship Math because these are the matches that started it all - the first examples of the high quality nearly errorless closely fought World Championship matches that we see with regularity since the beginning of the Karpov era.

Here are some suggested caveats which you already stated above, stated in different words:

1. Desperate moves in a lost position that are regarded as 'blunders' by computers may not be real effective blunders.

2. Often when faced with multiple winning lines, an advantaged human chess player chooses the humanly simplest to follow, but which is regarded as a blunder by a computer. For example, there is a sure mate in 5 in a position, but follows a very complicated path from the viewpoint of the human chess eye. A human player would often choose a simpler but longer path; something like winning a piece instead, or transposing into a clearly won endgame. This is especially true when under time pressure. Such a decision to choose a longer winning line may be a blunder in the viewpoint of a computer, but in effect is perfectly fine, as it surely brings the full point anyway even though it takes longer.

3. Same thing in #2 applies to a disadvantaged chess player seeking a path to a draw. He could actually sacrifice material in order to obtain a clearly drawn position, even if it's a blunder according to a computer. For example, a disadvantaged chess player could end up sacrificing two pieces just in order to get an ending where his opponent is left with two bare Knights against his naked King, which for humans is easily drawn.

Jul-16-09  Bridgeburner: <visayanbraindoctor>

I will do it (and it will take time), but rather than these two early matches I'd rather compare and contrast Schlechter-Lasker with one of the "massacres", preferably one of the recent ones such as the second Botvinnik-Tal natch or the second Korchnoi-Karpov match.

What do you reckon?

Also, I agree with your caveats.

Jul-17-09  Bridgeburner: <visayanbraindoctor>

I've finished the preliminary mapping of the Zukertort-Steinitz game, and I'll deal with it on my forum, rather than here. I think your project should stay on page 1 for a while at least.

Once I have some sort of methodology, I'll start on the Lasker-Schlechter match. I'd like to reiterate my question about a compare and contrast analysis with a massacre.

Premium Chessgames Member
  OhioChessFan: LOL, does have a hacker who is able to assign ELO's to various players?
Aug-08-09  percyblakeney: <LOL, does have a hacker who is able to assign ELO's to various players?>

It gets even more mysterious considering that it is his NN opponent and not Lucena himself that had an Elo of 2720 back in the 15th century:

NN vs Lucena, 1497

Nov-26-09  frogbert: i thought 1497 was the rating...
Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: Alas! Poor NN, like so many of us, started leaking rating points with advancing age.

<frogbert> Back in the days when USCF ratings had to be looked up in a printed booklet, I once saw a player in a Class event win the Under-1200 section with a rating of 1092. It turned out that his rating was actually 1350; the 1092 was the month and year of his memberhsip expiration, which was also printed in the booklet.

The kicker was that the guy was an older blind gentleman, and honestly had no idea what had happened. He just played wherever he was led, often without knowing his opponent's name or rating.

In the end, he was not allowed to win the prize but was given his entry fee back.

Dec-05-09  mysql: How did he get a rating of 2720?
Premium Chessgames Member
  tpstar: A: Inflation.
Dec-13-09  zanshin: <mysql: How did he get a rating of 2720?>

Looks like <CG> took care of his Elo rating.

Dec-13-09  Caissanist: The Elo rating system began as a project of Professor Elo for figuring out the ratings of historical players. Perhaps the rating is from his 1978 book.
Feb-11-10  SirChrislov: Can Anyone describe the position on the upper right?
Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: Those with a more scholarly interest in Lucena might look up a book called <Isabel Rules : Constructing Queenship, Wielding Power>, by Barbara F. Weissburger, which is about the cultural influence of Queen Isabella I of Spain. Chapter 5, "Luis de Lucena and the Rules of Game", discusses Lucena and his book.
Nov-18-10  Oliveira: Lucena's book is available online at:
Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: <Oliveira> Thanks for the link to Lucena's book. I think I've tracked down the answer to <Sir Chrislov>'s question.

The position is #133 in Lucena's book:

click for larger view

I can't read much of the caption, but I think it refers to White mating Black in four moves. There appears to be no such mate, but in looking around I discovered that many of Lucena's problems utilized the "old" rules which were commonly used until about 1475.

One of the old rules restricted to move of the bishop to two squares diagonally. with the option to leap an intervening piece. Like the knight, it did not attack the piece it leaped over.

There are two variations to the solution: <1.Nh7+ Kg8 2.Rf8+ Bxf8 3.Nf6+ Kh8 4.Rh7#>, and <1.Nh7+ Ke8 2.Rf8+ Bxf8 3.Nf6+ Kd8 4.Rd7#>, since the Bc8 is not attacking the rook.

By the way, note that if the piece on c8 were a knight, then the problem would work under modern rules as well. Might Lucena have used this problem to illustrate a difference between the old and new rules?

Dec-17-10  Oliveira: <Del viejo de iiii>

<El blanco tiene la mano y dize que dara xaque y mate al negro en iiii lãnces ni mas ni menos el primero de cavallo en a y dize xaque despues de roque em b y de cavallo em c y de roque em d.>

I'm posting a translation I've made for those who couldn't understand the text in the diagram above.

It is a bit archaic, but readily intelligible to anyone that knows modern-day Spanish, the main issue is to understand this Gothic font if you're not used to it, I think.

Of the old, in 4

click for larger view

White is to play and has said he will deliver mate to Black in 4 moves, neither plus nor minus. First with the ♘ in A (h7) and White says check, then with the ♖ in B (f8), then with the ♘ in C (f6) and with the ♖ in D (d7/h7).

NB: This problem is intended to be solved with the medieval or Arabian rules of chess.

Feb-15-11  SirChrislov: I will attempt to bring Lucena's masterpiece to light,

Game Collection: Repeticion de amores E arte de axedres, Lucena

Premium Chessgames Member
  Nightsurfer: <SirChrislov>

Dear <SirChrislov>, herewith I communicate one more position that has been published in LUCENA's book - though I have to admit that I have found that position in the great book "The Art Of The Checkmate" by Georges Renaud and Victor Kahn ... and I have been too lazy to try to find that very position in the online edition of LUCENA's book.

I am talking of the basic position of THE GREAT SMOTHERED CHECKMATE - VERSION NO. 1

Herewith the starting-out position that has been composed by LUCENA in 1497..

click for larger view

The final moves will be as follows:

1.Qe6+ Kh8 2.Nf7+ Kg8 3.Nh6++ Kh8 4.Qg8+!! Rxg8 5.Nf7# 1-0

Now we see: That very GREAT SMOTHERED CHECKMATE - BASIC VERSION NO. 1 has to be called "Lucena's Legacy", in case we are talking of the notorious "legacy" with regard to THE GREAT SMOTHERED CHECKMATE - BASIC VERSION NO. 1 ... whereas Old Philidor has done a lot for teaching chess tactics and chess strategies, for sure, but there is no justification to link Philidor's name to THE GREAT SMOTHERED CHECKMATE - BASIC VERSION NO. 1 since it has been LUCENA who has first composed that nice teamwork by Queen and Knight in order to hunt down the King on the opposite side of the board.

Since 1497, LUCENA's Matrix of THE GREAT SMOTHERED CHECKMATE - BASIC VERSION NO. 1 has been put on the board over and over again. In the following two parallel cases - out of a million (or so ...) of parallel cases.

First of all - the original after the decisive 1.Qe6+ Kh8 2.Nf7+ ...

click for larger view

Now a famous parallel case that has been put on the board 362 years after LUCENA having composed THE GREAT SMOTHERED CHECKMATE - BASIC VERSION NO. 1: That is Morphy vs Schrufer, 1859 after 21.Nd7+ ...

click for larger view

... with the only difference that the sides have been reversed and Black King gets cornered on the right Black wing this time.

Last not least a more recent case of replay, no more and no less than 474 years after LUCENA having composed THE GREAT SMOTHERED CHECKMATE - BASIC VERSION NO. 1: That is B Koester vs R Gralla, 1971 after 22. ... Nf2+ ...

click for larger view

... with the only difference that the colours have been reversed (in comparison to LUCENA's original composition).

Therefore it is a good idea to be alert and to watch out for LUCENA's legacy of THE GREAT SMOTHERED CHECKMATE - BASIC VERSION NO. 1!

Premium Chessgames Member
  Nightsurfer: Herewith two more cases of LUCENA's legacy, namely LUCENA's original composition of THE GREAT SMOTHERED CHECKMATE - Position No. 1: K Bischoff vs K Mueller, 2004 and S Duron Godoy vs V Garcia Castro, 2004
Oct-28-11  JoergWalter: <nightsurfer:
Herewith the starting-out position that has been composed by LUCENA in 1497, please check out Luis Ramirez de Lucena: The final moves will be as follows:

1.Qe6+ Kh8 2.Nf7+ Kg8 3.Nh6++ Kh8 4.Qg8+!! Rxg8 5.Nf7# 1-0>

The final moves could also be as follows:

1.Qe6+ Kh8 2.Nf7+ Kg8 3.Nd8+ Kh8 4.Qe8+ Qf8 5.Qxf8# 1-0

Mar-11-14  offramp: If he were time-slipped to the present day he'd need just a few minutes to learn the modern moves, rules and opening & endgame theory then he'd be off like a lunatic winning game after game after game against these so-called super-grandmasters AND do it blindfold!
Dec-15-14  kaysa: carlsen
Nov-30-18  Blue Morphine: Hey, guys. If you need Lucena's pic, here I found this from a spanish WIkipedia (probably). Check out -
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