Edward Winter presents: Unsolved Chess Mysteries (27)

4/11/2008 – What are the origins of the term ‘Pride and Sorrow of Chess’ to describe Morphy? What did Tartakower mean by the ‘Brake triangle’? What is known about Bogoljubow’s wartime record? Can the truth be established regarding two of Koltanowski's games? These and other mysteries from Chess Notes are discussed in the latest selection. Readers are invited to join in the hunt for clues.

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Unsolved Chess Mysteries (27)

By Edward Winter


The position below, contributed to C.N. 681 by Michael McDowell (Westcliff-on-sea, England), comes from page 124 of Modern Chess Tactics by L. Pachman (London, 1970):

Lucarelli v Carra, Bologna, 1932. If 1 d4 then 1...Qe2. White therefore played 1 Rd2 Rxd2 2 d4 Qe2 3 Bc1, and Black resigned.

Does any reader have the full game-score? It is one of only two specimens of the anti-Turton theme in over-the-board play which have been given in C.N. so far (see pages 5-6 of Chess Explorations). The other occurrence (C.N. 553) was in the game Edward Lasker v Marshall, New York, 1924:

White played 28 Bf4 (preventing ...Qe5).

Wolfgang Heidenfeld’s explanation of the anti-Turton theme, using the above example, was quoted in C.N. 553 from pages 10-11 of his book Lacking the Master Touch (Cape Town, 1970):

‘It consists in forcing the attacker who wishes to double two pieces on the same gait in such a way as to have the stronger piece in front and the weaker behind (called the Turton in the jargon of problemists) into playing the weaker piece across the so-called “critical square” (here Black’s K4) and thus into reversing the planned line-up ...’

‘The Pride and Sorrow of Chess’

Paul Morphy

What is the original source of the description of Morphy as the pride and sorrow of chess? C.N. 4053 mentioned that on page 113 of the April 1885 International Chess Magazine Steinitz wrote:

‘... the fearful misfortune which ultimately befell “the pride and sorrow of chess”, as Sheriff Spens justly calls Morphy, can only evoke the warmest sympathy in every human breast.’

In C.N. 5204 we quoted from page 308 of Paul Morphy The Pride and Sorrow of Chess by David Lawson (New York, 1976):

‘Sheriff Walter C. Spens, chess editor of the Glasgow Weekly Herald, quoted an announcement about it [a premature report of Morphy’s death] in his chess column of 25 November 1882, and added a five-stanza sonnet. It is owing to Sheriff Spens that we have “The Pride and Sorrow of Chess”.’

In fact, that edition of the newspaper (page 7) had a tribute to Morphy by Spens which was a single 14-line poem. Moreover, contrary to what might be inferred from Lawson’s words, no phrase such as ‘the pride and sorrow of chess’ appeared there. It was in the 19 July 1884 issue of the Glasgow Weekly Herald (page 7) that Spens’ five-stanza tribute to Morphy was published. (Lawson noted this on page 310 of his book, quoting the second stanza.) Again, though, the epithet is absent. In an endnote, Spens mentioned that his poem was adapted from previously-published material: not only the above-mentioned stanza in the 1882 Herald but also a composition ‘written about ten years ago at the time of a report as to Morphy’s insanity’ which had appeared, Spens said, in the Chess Player’s Chronicle.

Walter Cook Spens

That C.N. item added that although we were focusing on Spens’ poems, it was quite possible that ‘the pride and sorrow of chess’ appeared in his prose. Moreover, C.N. 4403 noted that Golombek attributed the phrase to D.W. Fiske.

In C.N. 5204 Eric Fisher (Hull, England) reported that whereas page 409 of David Lawson’s book referred to a poem by Sheriff W.C. Spens in the September 1875 Huddersfield College Magazine the poem (whose first line was ‘Problems you term the poetry of chess’) was published in the June 1875 issue, page 185. It did not mention Morphy by name, but the last two lines are an ostensible reference to him:

‘Or that Chess Byron, who, with Europe’s bays,
Recrossed the Atlantic, then withdrew from gaze?’

At the moment, therefore, we have two poems by Spens specifically about Morphy:

  • Glasgow Weekly Herald, 25 November 1882, page 7.  A one-stanza poem, the first line being:

    ‘By the bright winter fire I lightly read’.

  • Glasgow Weekly Herald, 19 July 1884, page 7. A five-stanza poem, the first lines of the respective stanzas being:

    ‘He came to Europe: English sages smiled’
    ‘He played a glorious game: in open field’
    ‘About him was a gentle modesty’
    ‘He came, he saw, he conquered; then he went’
    ‘So o’er his clouded mind the sad years sped’.

The Bismarck family

In C.N. 4908 Olaf Teschke (Berlin) quoted the following passage from page 106 of Living Leaders of the World (Chicago and St Louis, 1889):

‘The grimness and ruthless ambition of Otto von Bismarck must have come down to him from his ancestors who fought and suffered in the days of Wallenstein and Tilly. Certainly they did not appear in his immediate parents. His father was a handsome, merry sportsman and courtier. His mother was a proud and beautiful dame of the old school, highly intellectual, gifted with graces and, withal, one of the most skilful chessplayers of the time ...’

Our correspondent asked on what grounds that last claim was made. No information has yet been found.

‘The Brake triangle’

As mentioned in C.N. 3392, on page 107 of Ideas modernas en las aperturas de ajedrez (we have the fifth edition, published in Buenos Aires in 1967) Tartakower affirmed that the pawn formation e3-d4-c3 was known as ‘the Juncosa triangle’ in Spain and as ‘the Brake triangle’ in England. The reference to (José) Juncosa may be related to his advocacy of lines beginning with 1 c3, but what is the explanation for ‘Brake’?

König v Weiss

John Donaldson (Berkeley, CA, USA) wrote in C.N. 4094:

‘There is a mystery concerning Imre König’s famous win over H. Weiss (1 d4 e6 2 c3 d5 3 Bf4 Nf6 4 e3 c5 5 Bd3 Nc6 6 Nd2 Be7 7 Ngf3 O-O 8 Ne5 Re8 9 g4 Nxe5 10 dxe5 Nd7 11 g5 Nf8 12 h4 Bd7 13 Qg4 Bc6 14 O-O-O b5 15 h5 c4 16 Bxh7+ Nxh7 17 g6 Ng5 18 Ne4 Nxe4 19 gxf7+ Kxf7 20 Qg6+ Kf8 21 h6 Bf6 22 hxg7+ Bxg7 23 Rh8+ Bxh8 24 Bh6+ Ke7 25 Qh7+ and mate next move). The game was published in The Art of Attack in Chess by V. Vuković (on pages 246-248 of the first edition and pages 218-220 of the second) and was König’s personal selection for his representative game on pages 130-133 of British Chess (Oxford, 1983). He stated there that he was born in 1901 and that “my first real step in chess occurred when at the age of 19 I had gone to study in Vienna”. The game, reproduced from Vuković’s book, was headed “Vienna, 1919”. In what event did it occur?’


C.N. 1323 gave the following game between R. Dzindzichashvili and Y. Zacharov, which the winner concluded by successively retreating three pieces to their home squares:

1 e4 c5 2 c3 Nf6 3 e5 Nd5 4 d4 cxd4 5 cxd4 d6 6 Nf3 Nc6 7 Be2 Bf5 8 O-O dxe5 9 dxe5 e6 10 Bd2 Ndb4 11 Nc3 Nd3 12 Bg5 Nxb2 13 Qxd8+ Nxd8 14 Bb5+ Nc6 15 Nd4 Bd3 16 Nxc6 Bxf1

17 Bxf1 bxc6 18 Bc1 Ba3 19 Nb1 Resigns.

We took the game from pages 8-9 of Roman Dzindzichashvili – Sein Aufstieg zur Weltspitze by Manfred van Fondern (Hollfeld, 1982), which stated that it was played in the 1957 Soviet Junior Championship. However, page 258 of Chess Explorations reported that no such championship had been traced and that Bob Wade’s suggestion was that the game had probably occurred in the 1957 Soviet Junior Team Championship in Vladimir (in which both Dzindzichashvili and Zacharov participated). In C.N. 4090 we added that Black’s resignation looked rather premature.

Brian Karen (Levittown, NY, USA) wrote in C.N. 4097:

‘I asked Roman Dzindzichashvili about C.N. 4090 in a telephone conversation on 12 January 2006, and he confirmed that the game was played in the 1957 Soviet Junior Team Championship. He also mentioned that Black did not resign in the final position given. However, that was all that he reconstructed of the game at the time.’


As mentioned in C.N. 4497, in CHESS, 30 September 1963 (‘page 400’, but in fact page 12) Salo Flohr wrote:

‘Chess, like love, is infectious at any age.’

This has become a famous quote, being featured at the start of The Most Instructive Games of Chess Ever Played by Irving Chernev (New York, 1965). Since it is often cited without a source, we should like to know more about the genesis of Flohr’s article in CHESS, which was entitled ‘How to become World Champion’. Was it an original piece for the magazine or a translation from, for instance, a Soviet publication?

Bogoljubow and the Nazis

A number of C.N. items (most recently, C.N. 4821) have touched on the subject of Bogoljubow and the Nazis. For instance, Reuben Fine’s unsubstantiated claim that Bogoljubow had some of his rivals put in concentration camps by the Nazis was dealt with on pages 183-184 of Chess Explorations and pages 191-192 of Chess Facts and Fables, whereas page 92 of the latter book referred to Bogoljubow’s attempts at rehabilitation vis-à-vis FIDE in 1946. Has any chess writer ever published a rigorous, extensive study of Bogoljubow’s conduct during the Third Reich?

Cracow/Krynica/Warsaw, 1940 (1 December 1940 Deutsche Schachblätter, page 192)

As regards Alekhine’s wartime record and the anti-Semitic articles published under his name, see our feature article Was Alekhine a Nazi?

Koltanowski games

George Koltanowski

As discussed in C.N. 2378, ‘Dunkelblum’ is frequently given as the name of the player who lost two of the most frequently published games featuring George Koltanowski, i.e. the 13 Qd8+ brilliancy (‘Antwerp, 1923’) and this more sophisticated encounter (‘Antwerp, 1929’): 1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bc4 Bc5 4 O-O Nf6 5 d4 exd4 6 e5 d5 7 exf6 dxc4 8 Re1+ Be6 9 Ng5 Qd5 10 Nc3 Qf5 11 Nce4 Bb4 12 c3 dxc3 13 bxc3 Ba5 14 g4 Qg6 15 Nxe6 fxe6 16 f7+ Kxf7 17 Ng5+ Kg8 18 Rxe6 Qd3 19 Qe1 Rf8 20 Re8 Qd7 21 Rxf8+ Kxf8 22 Ba3+ Ne7 23 Rd1 Qxg4+ 24 Kf1 Qxg5 25 Rd5 Qh4 26 Rh5 Qf6 27 Rf5 Resigns.

On page 27 of his book Adventures of a Chessmaster Koltanowski gave the former game as played against A. Dunkelblum in ‘an eight-game blindfold exhibition at Antwerp in 1923’. However, on page 35 of Checkmate Strategies (co-authored by Koltanowski and M. Finkelstein) the heading was ‘Antwerp, 1931’. As regards the second game, both books agreed on ‘Antwerp, 1929’, but the former (page 38) gave Black’s name as ‘P. Dunkelblum’ (Koltanowski also referred to ‘my boyhood chum, Dunkelblum’) whereas the latter volume had ‘Dunkelbaum’. Where Arthur Dunkelblum (see page 82 of Histoire des maîtres belges by M. Wasnair and M. Jadoul) may fit in with all this is more than we would dare guess.

The Caro-Kann miniature with 13 Qd8+ was published on page 268 of the September 1931 Wiener Schachzeitung with notes by A. Becker. Black was not identified, but the heading specified that the game had been played in Koltanowski’s record-breaking 30-board blindfold exhibition in Antwerp on 10 May 1931. The first problem here is that Koltanowski gave all 30 games from that display in two of his books, “En Passant” Chess Games and Studies (Edinburgh, 1937) and George Koltanowski: Blindfold Chess Genius (Anaheim, 1990); the brilliancy is not among them.

Secondly, on page 348 of the November 1931 Wiener Schachzeitung Dyckhoff pointed out that the Caro-Kann game had already been played in October 1930 by Tarrasch, in a casual encounter against an unnamed Munich opponent, and had been published in the Stuttgarter Illustrierte Zeitung of 21 December 1930, as well as the Bayerische Radio-Zeitung of March 1931. Moreover, the queen sacrifice line had been given by Blümich in the notes to the game Fajarowicz v Blümich, Leipzig, 24 November 1930, on page 87 of the March 1931 Deutsche Schachzeitung.

Thirdly, there is a discrepancy over the move order. Whereas in Adventures of a Chessmaster Koltanowski gave 1 e4 c6 2 d4 d5 3 Nc3 dxe4 4 Nxe4 Bf5 5 Bd3 Qxd4 6 Nf3 Qd8 7 Qe2 Nf6 8 Nxf6+ gxf6 9 Bxf5 Qa5+ 10 Bd2 Qxf5 11 O-O-O Qe6 12 Qd3 Qxa2 13 Qd8+ Kxd8 14 Ba5+ K moves 15 Rd8 mate, the Wiener Schachzeitung had the opening as 1 e4 c6 2 d4 d5 3 Nc3 dxe4 4 Nxe4 Nf6 5 Bd3 (‘A bold pawn offer recently recommended by Tarrasch, with the aim of quick development.’) 5…Qxd4 6 Nf3 Qd8 7 Qe2 Bf5 8 Nxf6+ gxf6 9 Bxf5 Qa5+.

Finally, lest it be thought that 5 Bd3 was, in any case, Tarrasch’s invention, we found an earlier instance of 1 e4 c6 2 d4 d5 3 Nc3 dxe4 4 Nxe4 Nf6 5 Bd3: a correspondence game between George W. Sweetser and Leander Turney, published on page 33 of the February 1922 American Chess Bulletin. Regarding 5 Bd3 Turney wrote: ‘This was probably an oversight, but is almost good enough, the development of White nearly compensating for the lost d-pawn.’

Can anything further be discovered about what was, and was not, played by George Koltanowski?

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All articles by Edward Winter

Edward Winter is the editor of Chess Notes, which was founded in January 1982 as "a forum for aficionados to discuss all matters relating to the Royal Pastime". Since then over 5,500 items have been published, and the series has resulted in four books by Winter: Chess Explorations (1996), Kings, Commoners and Knaves (1999), A Chess Omnibus (2003) and Chess Facts and Fables (2006). He is also the author of a monograph on Capablanca (1989).

Chess Notes is well known for its historical research, and anyone browsing in its archives will find a wealth of unknown games, accounts of historical mysteries, quotes and quips, and other material of every kind imaginable. Correspondents from around the world contribute items, and they include not only "ordinary readers" but also some eminent historians – and, indeed, some eminent masters. Chess Notes is located at the Chess History Center.

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