Understanding before Moving 129: Chess history in a nutshell (11)

by ChessBase
6/11/2023 – Herman Grooten is an International Master, a renowned trainer and the author of several highly acclaimed books about chess training and chess strategy. In the 129th instalment of his ChessBase show "Understanding before Moving", Herman continues his series "Chess history in a nutshell" and talks about tactics and the attacking and defending skills of Wilhelm Steinitz, the first official World Champion. | Photo: Pascal Simon

Key Concepts of Chess - Pawn Structures Vol.1 and 2 Key Concepts of Chess - Pawn Structures Vol.1 and 2

In this two-part course the emphasis will be on typical pawn-structures.


Wilhelm Steinitz (3)

Steinitz, about whom we have spoken in the previous two issues, is known for a most remarkable idea in the opening, later known as the "Steinitz Gambit", which arises after 1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.f4 exf4 4. d4 Qh4+ 5.Ke2 - White voluntarily moves his king towards the centre.

The main idea of this line is that the queen from h4 will soon be driven back with Nf3 and that in the meantime White has had time to build up a powerful pawn centre with e4 and d4.

Steinitz could not have known that this gambit would inspire the famous mathematician, puzzle composer and chess enthusiast Sam Loyd to compose a problem that would later become famous.

I once read that Loyd once challenged Steinitz, then the world's strongest chess player, that Loyd would be able to compose a problem that Steinitz would not be able to solve. Steinitz seems to have laughed this off, but when presented with the three-mover shown in the diagram below, he seems to have had great difficulty in solving it.

Dutch writer/chess player Tim Krabbé discusses this problem after a "Millennium" election in the Dutch "Probleemblad", where a jury of readers were asked to choose the most beautiful three-movers. They chose Loyd's Problem, perhaps because of the story associated with it, but probably more because the key move is the most unlikely move.

Krabbé writes that even those who understand the theme of the problem do not dare to believe that they have found the solution.

Do you see which key move Sam Loyd had in mind and how the problem plays out? The question is: White plays and mates in three moves. It is indeed one of the most ingenious ideas with a highly original solution.

Master Class Vol. 12: Viswanathan Anand

This DVD allows you to learn from the example of one of the best players in the history of chess and from the explanations of the authors how to successfully organise your games strategically, and how to keep your opponent permanently under pressure.

This week’s show (for Premium Members only)


More by Herman Grooten and "Understanding before Moving"...

Reports about chess: tournaments, championships, portraits, interviews, World Championships, product launches and more.