Edward Winter's Chess Explorations (26)

8/30/2009 – The Editor of Chess Notes reverts to the curious subject of missed mates, focusing on instances where chess authors have overlooked a mate in one move. There is, for example, the case of the hapless writer who blundered immediately after mentioning an identical oversight by someone else. And what about the suggestion that even Alekhine missed a mate in one?

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Chess Explorations (26)

By Edward Winter

Missed mates

In C.N. 6280 Frederick S. Rhine (Park Ridge, IL, USA) drew attention to page 96 of On Top of the Chess World by L. Christiansen, J. Fedorowicz and I. Gurevich (San Francisco, 1995), where Gurevich annotated the 14th match-game between Kasparov and Anand:

Anand’s 17...Qc7 received this comment by Gurevich:

‘Black could not do without this move, since 17...f6 18 Nd3 Nb6? is bad due to 19 Be1! Qb5 19 [sic] Nc5.’

Mr Rhine commented: ‘20...Qxf1 mate would be a strong rejoinder.’


Another recent item, C.N. 6276, remarked that there cannot be many books by a master in which a move awarded an exclamation mark allows mate in one. From page 95 of The Fireside Book of Chess by I. Chernev and F. Reinfeld (New York, 1949):

Concerning the references to ‘the authors’ comment’ and ‘the analysts’, it should be noted that the eighth edition of the book in question, Kleines Lehrbuch des Schachspiels, was published in 1910, i.e. some 17 years after Dufresne’s death. The title page stated ‘Kleines Lehrbuch des Schachspiels. Von Jean Dufresne. Achte verbesserte Auflage. Herausgegeben von Jacques Mieses’.

Below is the relevant section of page 398, in a note to 8 e3:

In C.N. 6288 Andreas Saremba (Brieselang, Germany) noted that the seventh edition of the book (1901) had only six pages of variations on the Queen’s Gambit (as opposed to 13 pages in the eighth edition) and did not even mention the Tarrasch Defence (3...c5). Moreover, the error in the eighth edition was corrected on page 397 of the ninth edition, published in 1916, through the interposition of ...Bb4+ before ...Ne7:

As mentioned in C.N. 6276, the following different amendment appeared on page 397 of the tenth edition, published in 1923:


Jacques Mieses


In C.N. 2117 Richard Forster (Zurich) referred to the position which arose after White’s 25th move in Réti v Marshall, New York, 1924 (see pages 165-166 of the English-language tournament book, published in 1925):

Play went 25...Nxg3 26 Rhg1, and Alekhine wrote: ‘Or 26 hxg3 Qxg3+ 27 Ke2 Qg2+ 28 Kd3 Rxh1 29 Rxh1 Qxf3+, to be followed by 30...Qxh1, with an easy win.’ Instead, there is 28...Qc2 mate.


Analysis by Alekhine (position after 28 Kd3)

On page 33 of his 1929 book Schachmethodik Tartakower also ignored the mate, as did Soltis on page 270 of Frank Marshall, United States Chess Champion (Jefferson, 1994).

C.N. 2131 remarked that in the original 1925 edition of Alekhine’s tournament book W.H. Watts gave a nine-page errata supplement which mentioned (on page vi) 28...Qc2 mate, and when discussing the matter further on pages 283-284 of Kings, Commoners and Knaves we drew attention to some complications. Here is the complete game-score as it appeared in the tournament book (English and German editions):

Richard Réti – Frank James Marshall
New York, 6 April 1924
Queen’s Gambit Declined

1 Nf3 Nf6 2 c4 d5 3 cxd5 Nxd5 4 d4 Bf5 5 Nc3 e6 6 Qb3 Nc6 7 e4 Nxc3 8 exf5 Nd5 9 Bb5 Bb4+ 10 Bd2 Bxd2+ 11 Nxd2 exf5 12 Bxc6+ bxc6 13 O-O O-O 14 Qa4 Rb8 15 Nb3 Rb6 16 Qxa7 Qg5 17 Qa5 c5

18 Qxc5 Nf4 19 g3 Rh6 20 Qxc7 Ne2+ 21 Kg2 Qg4 22 Rh1 f4 23 f3 Qh3+ 24 Kf2 Rc8 25 Qa5 Nxg3 26 Rhg1 Qxh2+ 27 Rg2 Qh4 28 Rc1 Re8 29 Qb5 Ne4+ 30 Kf1 Qh1+ 31 White resigns.

However, we observed, when Réti annotated the game on pages 259-260 of the September 1924 Wiener Schachzeitung he gave White’s 18th move as 18 dxc5. If that were correct, Alekhine would have missed no mate later in the game. Hanon Russell (Milford, CT, USA), who possessed the original score-sheets of both Réti and Marshall, informed us that they respectively gave White’s 18th move as ‘Dxc5’ and ‘QxP’. A later transcription error in the German notation would have been easily made (i.e. ‘Dxc5’ becoming ‘dxc5’).

On page 126 of Das New Yorker Schachturnier 1927 (Berlin, 1928) Alekhine wrote regarding the communication of game-scores by telegraph:

‘But in general more accurate wire information for the foreign press should be provided during American tournaments. In 1924, for example, a similar error resulted in a wholly incorrect judgment of Marshall’s win against Réti.’

Here, a further point in this complex affair may be added. In 1924 Alekhine also annotated the game in Le Pion (Montreal); see pages 116-117 of the May 1924 issue of La Stratégie. He gave White’s 18th move as Qxc5, and at move 26 merely wrote, ‘If 26 hxg3 Qxg3+ 27 Ke2 Qg2+, winning easily’.


Alexander Alekhine


Our final example was pointed out by Frederick S. Rhine in C.N. 6281. It comes from page 197 of Complete Defense to King Pawn Openings by Eric Schiller (New York, 1998), in the game Ghinda v W. Watson, Thessaloniki, 1988:

The position after 22 Rxe6:

Schiller observes that Watson’s suggestion 22...Qc5 allows 23 Re8 mate. So, instead, Schiller recommends 22...Qc7, overlooking that it allows 23 Re8 mate.


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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, nearly 6,300 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. Signed copies of Edward Winter's publications are currently available.



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