Sunday, June 30

Checkmate by committee

We present a game played recently by correspondence between the chess clubs of Providence (R.I.) and Washington, D.C.  The contest is of particular interest owing to its sudden conclusion.  Heavy-piece endgames, as is well known, are often fraught with danger, as at any moment one side or the other might contrive to unleash its substantial firepower upon the foe.  Such is the case here.  The Washington team candidly admitted after the game to having completely overlooked White's stunning 34th move, with which the Providence club announced a forced checkmate.  That a group of accomplished players in consultation, with days available for reflection, should miss such a blow is, we feel, no real discredit to the members of the losing side.  Rather, we view it as yet another striking example of the depth, and difficulty, of our remarkable game of chess.


Saturday, June 29

Marshall on tour: Portland, Oregon

Frank J. Marshall, the United States Chess Champion, continues his travels out west.  From Portland, Oregon, comes word that the peripatetic performer yesterday faced 43 opponents in a simultaneous exhibition, emerging undefeated with 41 victories against only two draws.  Marshall also contested a blindfold game against members of the Portland Chess Club in consultation, scoring another triumph.  Reports from our correspondents indicate that Marshall is winning not only games of chess, but many friends as well, and the members of the Portland club were said to be most favorably impressed by his modest and unassuming manner.

We present the blindfold game from Portland below.  Even if Marshall's name were not attached, a reader might well guess that it represents his work: the sacrifice of two pawns early on, the offer of the exchange a bit later, the clever tactics, which include a smothered mate in the notes, and the remorseless pursuit of the Black King all smack of the sparkling style of the Champion.        

Friday, June 28

Upcoming events: New York, Debrecen, Scheveningen; national championships

July and August often abound in chess activity, and this year seems certain to prove no exception to that happy rule.  Several international tourneys are scheduled soon to take place, along with a slew of national championships.  In what follows we attempt to furnish the reader with an overview of forthcoming events in our world of chess, while cautioning that the list that follows ought not to be considered complete: with so much set to transpire, we are quite likely to have overlooked one or more items of significance.

New York:  Preparations for the Rice Chess Club Summer Tournament have proceeded by fits and starts, and difficulties have been met in securing the participation of Masters of world renown, but two excellent pieces of recent news have now prompted the organizers to set the starting date for 2 July, only four days hence.  The first glad tidings came in the form of a cable from Oldrich Duras, by which the Czech Master agreed to cross the Atlantic and compete in New York, filling a place originally reserved for Rudolf Spielmann, who had recently declined his invitation.  Then, yesterday witnessed the arrival from Havana of José R. Capablanca, whose participation naturally lends immeasurable interest and prestige to the event.  Joining Capablanca and Duras will be a number of first-class players, among them Oscar Chajes, J.H. Stapfer, Abraham Kupchik, and Edward Tenenwurzel, all veterans of the Second American National Tournament  held at New York earlier in the year.  

Still, the Rice Club tourney has not yet overcome all obstacles, and certain adjustments will likely yet be made to the schedule, which calls for only two rounds per week.  We understand that Capablanca has requested that he be allowed to play his games at a faster pace, five games per week being the Cuban's preference.  Moreover, Duras will not leave Europe until the 5th prox. and will not arrive in New York until the 12th, a circumstance that will require a number of his games to be postponed and made up at a later date.  In addition, the final roster of tourney participants is still subject to change, with Roy T. Black of the Brooklyn Chess Club having decided only yesterday to enter the lists, and with the already-entered Alfred Kreymborg now expressing doubts as to his ability to take part.  We will, as always, do our best to keep readers apprised of all developments, both on and off the board.

Debrecen: As mentioned in our final report on the recent Budapest tournament, the Hungarian Championship, set to begin in approximately one week's time, will feature several participants from that earlier event, among them Gyula Breyer, who will attempt to defend the title he won at Temesvar last year.  In addition to Breyer, we know that Reti, Barasz, Sterk, Asztalos, and Szekely intend to compete.  According to the Wiener Schachzeitung, if the number of Masters participating does not exceed six, a double-round event will be held; if more play, a single round-robin format will be followed.  As with Budapest, we will again provide as complete an account as the information sent by our sources permits.

Scheveningen:  This tourney, which begins on 28 July, has been organized to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the founding of the Dutch Chess Federation, and will feature the participation of the rising players Alekhine and Yates, the veterans Janowski and Mieses, and a number of the strongest representatives of the Netherlands, among others.  We foresee a lively struggle, as the four foreign Masters named above all play a most uncompromising and aggressive brand of chess, and are generally willing to risk all in the attempt to win.  It could well prove to be the event of the year.

National championships:  In July, in addition to the Hungarian Championship at Debrecen, we know of the Canadian Championship, to be held in Winnipeg, as well as an Amsterdam match for the Dutch title between Loman and Esser.  August will bring with it the British Chess Federation Congress at Cheltenham, the Irish Championship match, set for Dublin, between O'Hanlon and Porterfield Rynd, and, it is rumored, a duel for the title of Australian Champion between Messrs. Viner and Crakanthorp.  Look to this space for reports on all the above.

An abundance of activity awaits us in July and August, indeed.  We daresay that even those ravenous for chess news may find themselves pleasantly surfeited come September.     


Thursday, June 27

Marshall on tour: West Coast

Frank J. Marshall, the United States Chess Champion, is presently making his first visit to the West Coast, where he will fulfill a number of chess engagements in locales ranging from Canada to Southern California.  The Champion left New York by train on the 17th inst., arriving five days thereafter in Seattle, from where this tireless traveler soon embarked by ferry for Victoria, British Columbia, giving two simultaneous exhibitions at that city's Camosun Club on the 24th.  In an afternoon session Marshall faced nine opponents, scoring eight wins and allowing only one draw, to Mr. A. Gibson.  In the evening, with 17 players ranged against him, Marshall recorded 13 victories and three draws, losing only to Mr. J.T. Myers.  We understand that the Champion spoke highly of the level of skill of his friendly Canadian foes.

Marshall's itinerary includes a stop at the Mechanics' Institute in San Francisco, as well as a visit to Los Angeles, and we have made arrangements to present a selection of game scores as his tour progresses.  The Champion's travels will of necessity force him to miss the Rice Chess Club tournament in New York, set to begin in a few days' time, an event about which we expect soon to publish a preview.

We present the game between Marshall and Mr. Gibson, played in the afternoon exhibition mentioned above.  There is some indication that this nine-board session was conducted blindfold by the Champion, but, as our sources are rather unclear on this point, we find ourselves unable to state definitively yea or nay.  Still, whether played with sight of the board or without, the game is vintage Marshall, who sacrifices material for a speculative attack and then "swindles" a draw from a position in which he stands a piece behind.


Wednesday, June 26

Chess in Ireland: Championship match in view; O'Hanlon defeats Barry in preliminary; will face Porterfield Rynd for title

From the Emerald Isle comes word that the Irish national Championship will be decided in a match arranged by the Irish Chess Union, an organization founded last year to replace the long-defunct Hibernian Chess Association, under whose direction the last Championship tourney took place in 1892.  Mr. J.A. Porterfield Rynd, holder of the national title since that time, has sportingly agreed to risk his crown against Mr. J.J. O'Hanlon, winner of a preliminary match against Mr. C.J. Barry.  The Championship match, scheduled for the best of five games, is expected to take place in early August in Dublin, and will likely prove a stern test for Mr. Porterfield Rynd, now well into his seventh decade.

Mr. O'Hanlon earned the right to face the Champion by defeating Mr. Barry by the score of three victories to one in a match likewise scheduled for five games.  Our understanding is that a three-man preliminary tourney had originally been planned as a means to select a challenger to Mr. Porterfield Rynd, but the absence of a representative from the Cork Chess Association lead to the arrangement of the O'Hanlon-Barry match in its place.  

We applaud the intention of the newly-fledged Irish Chess Union to bring about a Championship encounter after so long an interval, and we wish all success to their efforts.

Two games from the match between Messrs. O'Hanlon and Barry have come to hand, representing one victory for each man, and we offer them below.


Tuesday, June 25

Budapest tournament, Final Round: Spielmann, with draw, takes first prize; Tartakower second; Forgacs falls to third after loss

Rudolf Spielmann played to a draw in his final-round encounter against Gyula Breyer to capture first place in the Austro-Hungarian Championship tournament at Budapest.  Spielmann's score of 8 1/2 points left him one half-point clear of the second prize winner, Dr. Saviely Tartakower, who overtook Leo Forgacs on the score table by defeating Lajos Asztalos in a fine positional game.  Forgacs, not long ago sole leader of the tourney, suffered defeat at the hands of Milan Vidmar and fell to third place with 7 1/2.  The veteran Georg Marco took fourth, a point behind Forgacs, a placement already certain before the beginning of the round, notwithstanding the fact that Marco sat idle with the bye.  In the day's other games, Miklos Brody topped Richard Reti, and Karoly Sterk, bottom man on the score list, recorded his first victory of the event at the expense of Zsigmond Barasz.  Zoltan von Balla was free, owing to the earlier withdrawal of his scheduled opponent, Jeno Szekely.  The complete standings are given below.

Spielamnn thus adds this triumph to his recent victory in the Vienna Jubilee tournament and can justifiably feel well satisfied with his results in the first half of the current year.  We are informed that the Viennese maestro has declined the invitation to cross the Atlantic and compete in the upcoming New York tournament sponsored by the Rice Chess Club, an understandable decision in view the length of the journey, but regrettable nonetheless in that it deprives all chess aficionados of even further specimens of his fine play.

Tartakower turned in another excellent showing, like Spielmann remaining undefeated throughout the event and producing much high-class chess.  Forgacs with the passing of time may look back with satisfaction on his placement, although for the present he is certain to experience disappointment at the thought of what might have been.  Marco, winner of three of his final four games, appeared rather unexpectedly among the leaders at the finish, but unquestionably gave overall a solidly creditable performance.  Vidmar did rather less well than expected, while young Reti found himself quite out of form.  For the latter, and for several others who finished off the lead, the chance for redemption is near at hand, as six of the competitors who began the Budapest event, Reti, Sterk, Breyer, Barasz, Asztalos, and Szekely, are due to compete in the Hungarian Championship at Debrecen in July, a tourney on which we expect to report.

Final scores: Spielmann 8 1/2; Tartakower 8; Forgacs 7 1/2; Marco 6 1/2; v. Balla 6; Breyer 5 1/2; Asztalos, Vidmar, Brody 5; Reti 3 1/2; Barasz 3; Sterk 2 1/2.

The scores of two games from the final round reached us via cable.  We present first Forgacs' loss to Vidmar, in which the loser seems to have miscalculated near the end of the battle, perhaps originally thinking 39.Qxf4 a playable reply:

We conclude our reporting on the Budapest tourney with Tartakower's defeat of Asztalos, a game whose opening moves 1.f4 d5 2.e3 e6 3.Nf3 c5 4.b3 Nc6 5.Bb5 Nf6 6.Bb2 make clear White's intention to play on the dark squares, a plan he carries to fulfillment with artistic mastery.



Sunday, June 23

Steinitz game collection, Volume 2 (continued)

As we await the cable with the results of today's final round in the Austro-Hungarian Championship tourney at Budapest, we return, as promised, to an earlier subject.

Some weeks ago we reported with pleasure the appearance of the second volume of Herr Ludwig Bachmann's Schachmeister Steinitz, a monumental and ongoing work through which Herr Bachmann proposes to assemble and publish all known games played by the late World Champion.  This second volume, covering the years 1878-1883, includes, in addition to the games played by Steinitz at the historic Vienna and London tournaments, a large selection of contests from the great man's first visit to the New World over the fall and winter of 1882-83.  Many of these games were unfamiliar to us, notwithstanding the fact that during the period in question we were a young man following most assiduously all news of our noble game, and we must congratulate Herr Bachmann on the diligence and thoroughness of his research.

We present today three games by Steinitz from this period, two played against Sr. Dionisio Martinez of Philadelphia and one against the late Mr. Alexander Sellman of Baltimore.  Steinitz met Sr. Martinez, a native of Cuba regarded as one of the strongest Philadelphia players, in two series of games late in 1882, winning the first by a clean score over seven games and taking the second by the tally of three wins to one, with three games drawn, a result rather more indicative of the loser's true strength.  The reader will find below the initial game of the first series and the closing game of the second, which have been selected in part as being representative of the often idiosyncratic opening play of the Champion: to wit, the move 2.e5 against the French Defense and the eponymous Steinitz Gambit, a weapon, we feel, meant to be wielded, like the bow of Odysseus, by its owner alone.  The final specimen was played in December of 1882 at Baltimore in a series of 5 games contested against Sellman, a strong young player taken from us far too soon, who made the very creditable score of three draws and two losses against his powerful opponent.  Steinitz's renowned tenacity, patience, and willingness to maneuver are readily apparent in this dour struggle.

Examining the games of Steinitz from decades ago has in some sense brought us back to our chess youth, a most delightful sensation, and we may well revisit this subject again in the future.



Saturday, June 22

Budapest tournament, Round 12: Spielmann takes lead; Forgacs 2nd, Tartakower 3rd

Rudolf Spielmann played to a draw with Zsigmond Barasz to assume a half-point lead over the idle Leo Forgacs after the twelfth and penultimate round of the Austro-Hungarian Championship tournament in Budapest.  Spielmann, with 8 points, and Forgacs, with 7 1/2, are followed closely by Saviely Tartakower, who drew his game vs. Milan Vidmar and now stands third on 7 points.  In the day's other contests, Georg Marco defeated Miklos Brody, Zoltan von Balla topped Karoly Sterk, and Gyula Breyer and Richard Reti divided the point after a drawn battle.  Forgacs, as noted, had the bye, while Lajos Asztalos also sat idle, as his scheduled opponent, Jeno Szekely, withdrew from the tourney several rounds ago.

All three leaders will play with the White pieces in the final round, the complete pairings being Spielmann-Breyer, Tartakower-Asztalos, Forgacs-Vidmar, Reti-Brody, and Sterk-Barasz.  Marco will have the bye, and thus has completed his games in the tourney, as has von Balla, originally slated to meet Szekely on the final day.  Marco, with 6 1/2 points, is assured of sole fourth place, while von Balla, in fifth position with 6 points, may yet be caught by both Asztalos and Breyer, each with 5.  

The complete standings entering the final round are as follows: Spielmann 8; Forgacs 7 1/2; Tartakower 7; Marco* 6 1/2; v. Balla* 6; Asztalos, Breyer 5; Vidmar, Brody 4; Reti 3 1/2; Barasz 3; Sterk 1 1/2.    *Marco and von Balla will be free during the last round, and so have completed their program.

We received only one game from Budapest after the twelfth round, purportedly Marco's win as Black over Brody in the Exchange Variation of the French Defense, but while preparing that contest for publication we noticed that the score was identical to the first round contest Brody-Spielmann.  We are at a loss to provide an explanation for such an error, and find ourselves equally without any games to present from the latest round, for which we express our most sincere apologies.  

The final round will be played tomorrow, the 23rd.

Friday, June 21

Budapest tournament, Round 11: Spielmann with win, Forgacs with draw now share lead; idle Tartakower stands 3rd; Marco 4th.

Rudolf Spielmann defeated Zoltan von Balla to join Leo Forgacs atop the score table after the eleventh round of the Austro-Hungarian Championship tournament in Budapest after Forgacs, the erstwhile sole leader of the tourney, could only draw his game with Miklos Brody.  The co-leaders now stand on 7 1/2 points, a full point ahead of the third place contender, Saviely Tartakower, who did not play in the 11th round as his originally scheduled opponent, Jeno Szekely, has withdrawn from the event.  In other contests, Georg Marco defeated Gyula Breyer to claim sole possession of fourth place with 5 1/2 points, while the games Reti-Barasz and Sterk-Asztalos were drawn.  Milan Vidmar had the bye.

With two rounds remaining the question of first place is still very much an open one, though Spielmann will be afforded an excellent opportunity to assume the lead alone in the twelfth round when he will face Zsigmond Barasz, one of the bottom markers in the tourney, while his rival Forgacs sits idle with the bye.  Dr. Tartakower, who will next meet Vidmar, will also surely look to narrow the gap between himself and Forgacs.  All three of the main contenders, Spielmann, Forgacs, and Tartakower, will be active in the thirteenth and final round, with Spielmann facing Breyer, Forgacs playing Vidmar, and Tartakower squaring off against Asztalos.

Scores after 11 rounds:  Spielmann, Forgacs* 7 1/2; Tartakower 6 1/2; Marco* 5 1/2; Asztalos*, v. Balla* 5; Breyer 4 1/2; Brody 4; Vidmar 3 1/2; Reti 3; Barasz 2 1/2; Sterk 1 1/2.       *Denotes those players who still have a free day remaining.

Our daily cable from Europe brought an odd assortment of tidings.  We have received only the first dozen moves of the game between Forgacs and Brody, a Sicilian Defense, which began 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 a6 5.g3 Nc6 6.Bg2 Qb6 7.Nb3 d6 8.Be3 Qc7 9.a4 Nf6 10.0-0 Be7 11.a5 Nd7 12.N1d2 b5, and was later drawn.  We have also the moves of Marco's victory over Breyer and Spielmann's defeat of von Balla, although the latter score is clearly corrupt at the finish, leaving us in doubt as to its true concluding moves - see the commentary included below.



Thursday, June 20

Budapest tournament, Round 10: Forgacs, with victory, retains lead; Spielmann, Tartakower keep pace; v. Balla now 4th

Leo Forgacs, playing Black, defeated Gyula Breyer to retain the lead after the tenth round of the Austro-Hungarian Championship tournament in Budapest.  Forgacs, with 7 points, stands one half-point ahead of Rudolf Spielmann and Saviely Tartakower, each of whom likewise recorded a victory on the day, the former at the expense of Lajos Asztalos and the latter by topping Karoly Sterk.  Forgacs and Tartakower have two games each remaining, while Spielmann has three, a circumstance likely to make the finish most tight indeed.  In other contests, Zoltan von Balla assumed clear fourth place with 5 points by defeating Richard Reti, and, to complete a round comprised wholly of decisive games, Zsigmond Barasz took the full point from Georg Marco.  Milan Vidmar had the bye, while Miklos Brody was also free, owing to his pairing with the withdrawn player Jeno Szekely.

Scores after Round 10: Forgacs* 7; Spielmann, Tartakower* 6 1/2; v. Balla* 5; Breyer, Asztalos*, Marco* 4 1/2; Brody, Vidmar* 3 1/2; Reti 2 1/2; Barasz 2; Sterk 1.       *Denotes those players with a free day remaining.  

We have three games to offer to our readers today, though Forgacs' triumph over Breyer is sadly not among them, and it pains us greatly to find ourselves once again unable to share with our audience the sporting achievements of a man who now bids fair to claim the Championship of one of the greatest chess powers of the earth.  Tartakower's victory over Sterk is also lacking.  We find this entire situation deplorable.  If such vital information proves so difficult to come by in our day, what will be the fate of researchers a century hence?  We pity their future plight.

To present that which is in our possession, we begin with Spielmann's defeat of Asztalos, in which the Viennese tactician defended the Ruy Lopez with the sharp 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 f5, and landed the final blow in a contest in which both Kings came under heavy attack:


Reti, as second player in a Queen's Gambit Declined, sacrificed the exchange against von Balla, obtaining good play in return, only to stray from the correct path later on.  In particular, Black appears to have missed a clear draw at his 27th move.

Finally, Basasz, who had seen his only prior victory in the tourney expunged from the record as a consequence of the withdrawal of Szekely, at last recorded an official win, besting Marco in a Philidor Defense.



Tuesday, June 18

Budapest tournament, Round 9: Forgacs, with victory over Barasz, now alone in lead

Leo Forgacs defeated Zsigmond Barasz to move to the top of the score table after the ninth round of the Austro-Hungarian Championship tourney in Budapest.  Forgacs, with 6 points, now stands one half-point ahead of his nearest rivals, Rudolf Spielmann and Saviely Tartakower, who drew their ninth round encounter.  Both Forgacs and Tartakower have a free day remaining on the program, and so will play in only three of the final four rounds; Spielmann will play in all four.  In the day's other contests, Miklos Brody checkmated Milan Vidmar, Richard Reti sacrificed his Queen en route to defeating Lajos Asztalos, and Georg Marco topped Zoltan von Balla.  Gyula Breyer had the bye, and Karoly Sterk was likewise free, having originally been paired against the departed Jeno Szekely. 

The tournament has proved most sharply contested, with half the field having held at least a share of the lead at one point or another.  In such circumstances it is perhaps of even more vital importance than usual that tourney organizers make all game scores available to the public, and we take this opportunity to issue once again our oft-repeated plea to that effect.  We have received no games by Forgacs, the man who now leads the Championship, since the second round, nor do we have to hand the score of the Spielmann-Tartakower ninth-round clash, a battle between tournament co-leaders.  Thorough reporting thus becomes impossible, and we feel compelled to apologize to our readers for the incompleteness of our account, even if the cause for dissatisfaction lies wholly outside of our control.

Scores after 9 rounds:  Forgacs* 6, Spielmann, Tartakower* 5 1/2; Breyer, Asztalos*, Marco* 4 1/2; v. Balla* 4; Vidmar**, Brody* 3 1/2; Reti 2 1/2; Barasz, Sterk 1.    *The number of asterisks following a surname indicates the number of rounds each player will sit idle during the remainder of the tourney.  Spielmann, for example, will play in each of the remaining 4 rounds, Forgacs in 3, Vidmar in 2.

The 10th round will be played on 19 June.

We share with our readers the two game scores that did arrive via cable.  Here Brody instantly exploits an oversight by Vidmar to deliver mate on the move:

And here Reti, who has found this tourney rough going, records a fine victory over Asztalos: