Tuesday, April 1

Unusual news from the world of chess

The morning mail on this first day of April brings three unusual pieces of chess news:

1) The chess automaton Mephisto has issued a challenge to its counterpart Ajeeb to contest a match for the Championship of the mechanical world, an event that, should it come to pass, would mark the return of the former to competitive play after a sabbatical of 25 years. Negotiations are now in progress; in addition to the usual discussions regarding stakes, venue, lighting, requirements for victory, etc., one additional point of contention yet to be resolved is the issue of security: i.e., how best to ensure that during the course of play neither machine receives suggested moves from any human source. Our request for an interview with the prospective opponents has not yet been granted, but we remain hopeful of an affirmative response in the near future.

2) Prof. Isaac L. Rice, whose munificence as a chess Maecenas is known to all, has agreed to triple the already lavish prize fund of the forthcoming St. Petersburg tournament on condition that all games in that event begin with the eponymous gambit that bears his name. The good Professor believes that with so many of the world's finest chess minds at work on the Rice Gambit, its strength and soundness will be established once and for all beyond question or doubt. In addition, says Prof. Rice, such a course will guarantee that the games played at St. Petersburg will prove to be of lasting value, as the Rice Gambit generally gives rise to absorbing chess struggles, unlike - to cite just one debut mentioned by the Professor - the Exchange Variation of the Ruy Lopez, which rarely results in a contest of historical importance.

3) We note with interest and some trepidation the announcement that a lawsuit has been filed with the U.S. District Court in New York by a certain Mr. S.V., who claims to hold the exclusive copyright for both the descriptive and co-ordinate, or algebraic, versions of chess notation, and who is seeking financial compensation for their future use in chess publications, as well as substantial back payments. The individual in question is known to us by reputation, and has acquired a certain notoriety for his many extravagant claims, of which this latest episode appears to represent yet another example. Nevertheless, should Mr. V. prove successful in his suit - and he is, if nothing else, a dogged litigant - those who record and publish games of chess may well decide to resort to another system of notation, perhaps that designed by Mr. Louis Uedemann in 1882 for telegraphic contests, in which each square is designated by a two-letter name, and a move is indicated by giving the squares of departure and arrival of the piece in question. Mr. Uedemann's designation for each square is given below.     


For example, the move 1.e4 (or 1.P-K4 in descriptive notation) is represented as DOGO, while the reply 1...e5 (or 1...P-K4 for Black) is LOHO.  Similarly, the squares known as a8, c7, e3, and d7 are, respectively, AP, IL, FO, and OL.

We leave the matter there, trusting that our readers can fill in the rest for themselves. 

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