Mike Fox and Richard James play chess with four and twenty ladies

Alekhine deviates

In response to numerous requests*, here's that Alekhine win at Marseillais Chess we mentioned recently (with, once more, acknowledgements to David Pritchard's excellent and recently published Popular Chess Variants (Batsford). Our notes are paraphrased from David's):

You will recall the rules - each player gets two moves instead of one; you must get out of check on your first move; a check on the first move forfeits the second; and you can't expose your king to check on move one, even if you can get out of check on move two. A Fortis v. A Alekhine (1925): 1. b3 Bb2 (nowadays they tend to give White only one first move, otherwise the odds are too much in his favour) ...b6 Bb7 2.e4 Be2 (better than Bxg7 Bxh8) ...Bxe4 Bc6 (not 2. ...Bxe4 Bb7? 3. Bf3 Bxb7 Qc8 Qxb7 4.Qf3 Qxb7, inning) 3. a4 a5 a6 b5 4.Bxb5 Be2 Bxg2 Bc6 5.Nh3 Rg1 e5 Nf6 6.Bxe5 Ng5 (double threat to the B Queen) ...Ng4 Nxf2 7.Kxf2 d4 (Kxf2 Rg3 is winning, says one annotator)...Qxg5 Qf5+ 8. Ke1 Bd3? Qxd3 Qxd1 9.Kxd1 Bg3 Bd6 Bxg3 (Black heads for simplification) 10.Rxg3 Nc3 f5 f4! (White has no defence) 11. Rg1 Re1+ Kd8 Bf3+ 12.Kd2 Kd3 Bg2 f3 13.Ke3 Kf2 Nc6 Nxd4 14.Ne2 Nxd4 c5 cxd4 15.Rad1 Rad4 Re8 Rxe1 16. Kxe1 Rd2 Rc8 Rc6 17. Rf2 Kd2? (Rxg2 Rf2 would have been better) ...g5 Rd6+ 18Ke3 c3 h5 Re6+ 19. resigns

Alessandro Castelli, the guru of Marseillais opening theory believes that both 1.e4 Nf3 and 1. d4 Nf3 lead to theoretical wins for White, says David.

*well, two.


We never cease to be astonished by your omniscience, people. Here's Bernard Cafferty clearing up the mystery of Vygodchikov and Yudovich.

"There must be a slight doubt about whether the gamelet really involved the two prominent Russian players, as they were both masters at the time, and odds-giving was hardly prevalent in the USSR - in fact I cannot find any reference to it in either the 1964
Shakhmatny Slovar (Chess Dictionary) or the 1990 larger reference book edited by Karpov.

"There is a 1908-9 postal game K. Wygodchikoff versus Alekhine in the first volume of A's games. This W--ff spelling is a variant based on French/German conventions. The Sh. Slovar indicates that Konstantin Alekseyevich Vygodchikov (1892-1941) lived in Smolensk and gained the master title in 1929 after having come level with the young Botvinnik in the preliminary round of the USSR Championships of that year. Mikhail Yudovich, whom I played by CC some decades ago, also came from Smolensk and gained the master title in 1931, having come 3rd- 6th in the final of the USSR Champ. of that year.

"So, they both had high status in 1935, but Yudovich was resident in Moscow in the 1930s (as well as in later decades) so why should they meet up for an exhibition at odds giving? Must be someone else, or the story is a concoction?"

PS Peter Gibbs told Bernard Cafferty that his father once lost in a handicap tournament by the same sequence 1 e4 e5 2 Qh5+. These moves must surely have been played at low level in the heyday of odds-giving - i.e. in the 19th century.

Do not pass Go

Not for the first time, we exhort our readers to take a look at the terrific game of Go, the only board game that rivals chess (and its
oriental derivatives) in its ability to fascinate. The elements of Go are so simple, you can learn to play (but not very well) in about twenty minutes ; but, such is the vastness of the ocean on which you embark when you start a game, that even twenty first century computers flounder in its depths.

In terms of age, Go (born in China, now flourishing in Japan) makes chess look like a Johnny-come-lately: most modern estimates place it at between 2, 500 and 3,000 years old; its literature goes back 1,000 years. We mention all this because we have just been reading a new and excellent book: Teach Yourself Go by Charles Matthews, one of the best guides to the game we've come across.

In his closing chapter, Matthews touches on Go's recent history . We were unsurprised to learn that the modern game has its equivalent of our Lekos and McShanes. Go Seigen (born in China, played in Japan) is the Alekhine and Botvinnik of Go - he dominated the game from the forties to the sixties - and was GM strength (5dan professional) 'in his early teens' says Matthews.

The current hotshot is Lee Chang-ho of South Korea, who turned professional at the age of 11 and just went on winning and
winning. He is now probably the world number one.

We mentioned computers above. Our own experience (MF writes) is that, modest though our abilities are (we once beat Tony Miles - but since we'd only just shown him how to play, this hardly counts), we've not yet met the computer program that could humiliate us as Genius or Fritz do every week. A Taiwanese businessman, says Matthews, offered a $1,000,000 bet to anyone who could make a program that could beat a professional. He died a few years ago without his money looking remotely in danger.

But, if you're just starting out, a Go program will help a lot. Go (as it were) to for more information; or buy a program called Go Professional. For more general stuff on Go, try the British Go Association site on Their phone number is +44 (0) 1630 685292. But do remember ( A.C. Health Warning): Go is about four times more addictive than nicotine. As the ancient oriental proverb says: 'A Go player will finish the game before attending a dying parent'.

Ree's a Laugh

We recall many years ago reading a record review which said "Not many people will buy this, but those who do will be the happiest people in the world". We felt much the same way when reading Hans Ree's wonderful book of chess essays and journalism The Human Comedy of Chess (Russell Enterprises Inc). Strange (or maybe not - Donner's influence?) how so much of today's best chess writing (Ree, Krabbé, ten Geuzendam) emanates from the Netherlands. Ree's enthusiasm for and love of everything to do with chess - not just the game itself but its politics, personalities, literature, history and heritage, shines through every page in this collection of beautifully crafted pieces on a wide variety of subjects.

If your interest in chess is confined to the latest TN in the Botvinnik Semi-Slav you'd be well advised to save your money (although you will find Ivanchuk's TN on move 21 v Shirov inside). But for anyone who believes that there's more to chess than this we can only advise you to rush out and buy a copy at once. We'll no doubt be returning to the book later, but the next item will give you a flavour.

Van Lennep

Never heard of Norman Van Lennep? We recalled from the Hastings 1895 tournament book that he was the reserve player there, and knew from Gaige that he died two years later at the shockingly early age of 25. But before reading The Human Comedy of Chess we had no idea of the story behind the man.

Norman Willem Van Lennep was born into a wealthy family. He dropped out of education early and in 1893, at the age of only 20 became secretary of the Dutch Chess Federation and Editor of its magazine. For the next two years he led a hectic life as a player (winning the Leipzig Hauptturnier in 1894 and thus becoming the first Dutch master, journalist, organiser and proselytiser of chess.

He went to Hastings in 1895, his entry was rejected by the organisers, but he stayed on as a journalist, filing reports on the tournament for his magazine. Suddenly, an annoucement was made that Van Lennep has decided to stay in England. The letters he wrote to his parents from England have survived, and enabled Ree to piece together what happened.

It seems that he was exiled by his father, who, unhappy with his involvement with chess, wanted him to settle down, find a steady job and get married. But the idea of office life did not appeal to young Norman, nor did he feel any attraction towards the opposite sex. Increasingly frustrated by this ostracism from his chess friends in his home country, he embarked on a ship sailing from Harwich to the Hook of Holland, and, during the night, climbed over the railings and jumped into the North Sea.

We only managed to find two of Van Lennep's games in our database, both of which suggest he possessed considerable tactical ability. Are any games from Leipzig 1894 extant?

In 1893 he played two matches against the organist Rudolf Loman (+2 =0 -2 and +1 =1 -1) and a match against Arnold Van Foreest (+3 =2 -0) This is the first game from one (which?) of the matches against Loman.
Rudolf Loman - Norman Van Lennep
Amsterdam 1893
Vienna Game
1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.g3 Bc5 4.Bg2 Nc6 5.Nge2 a6 6.0–0 d6 7.d3 Be6 8.h3 Qd7 9.Kh2 h5 10.Be3 Bxe3 11.fxe3 h4 12.g4 Bxg4 13.hxg4 Nxg4+ 14.Kh1 Nxe3 15.Qd2 Nxf1 16.Rxf1 Ne7 17.Qe3 h3 18.Bf3 Qe6 19.Nd5 Nxd5 20.exd5 Qe7 21.d4 g6 22.Rg1 exd4 23.Qxd4 Rh4 24.Qf2 Qf6 25.c3 Kf8 26.Nd4 Re8 27.Rf1 g5 28.Qd2 Rf4 29.Qd3 g4 30.Qh7 gxf3 31.Ne6+ fxe6 32.Rg1 Qf7 33.Qh6+ Ke7 34.Rg7 f2 35.Rxf7+ Rxf7 36.Qxe6+ Kd8 37.Qxf7 Re1+ 0–1

We presume the next game, a speculative sacrificial attack against his room-mate HH Cole, was a friendly encounter.
Henry Cole - Norman Van Lennep
London? 1896
King's Gambit: Falkbeer Counter-Gambit

1.e4 e5 2.f4 d5 3.exd5 e4 4.Nc3 Nf6 5.Bc4 Nbd7 6.Qe2 Bd6 7.d3 0–0 8.dxe4 Bb4 9.Kf1 Bxc3 10.bxc3 Re8 11.e5 Nb6 12.Bb5 c6 13.dxc6 bxc6 14.Bxc6 Ng4 15.Nf3 Be6 16.Nd2 Nc4 17.Bxe8 Nce3+ 18.Kg1 Nd1 19.Nf3 Nxc3 20.Qd2 Qb6+ 21.Nd4 Ne2+ 22.Kf1 Nxd4 23.h3 Bc4+ 24.Ke1 Ne3 25.Ba4 Nef5 26.c3 Ne6 27.Bc2 Ng3 28.Rb1 Qc5 29.Qe3 Nxh1 30.f5 Qe7 31.f6 Qc5 32.g4 Rd8 33.fxg7 Nf4 34.Be4 Qxe5 35.Bd2 Re8 36.Bxh1 Qxe3+ 37.Bxe3 Rxe3+ 0–1

Femme Fatale

Congratulations to suave BCF Publicity Director Robin Mackley on winning a recent heat of the popular Channel 4 quiz show Fifteen to One. His score, though, was not enough to qualify for the Series Final, because, despite his degree in French, he failed to identify a femme fatale. Next time, Robin, try phoning a friend. At least he restored the pride of the chess community following a previous quiz show appearance by a well known GM.

Tam Lin

A little-known fact about RJ is that he is a devotee of those interminable mediaeval ballads about supernatural goings-on among the folk of the Scottish lowlands. One of the best-known (and most interminable) of these, Tam Lin, features a chess scene in some versions (but not, alas, in Richard's favourite, by Frankie Armstrong). Just in case anyone else out there is interested in such things, your reference is Child 39.

The story, briefly, concerns a young virgin, in different versions named Janet, Margaret or Margery May. The daughter of a rich landowner, she ignores warnings about what will happen to her and goes to Carterhaugh (an area near Selkirk owned by her father) to pick some flowers. No sooner has she plucked a rose than Tam Lin, one of the fairy folk, appears and rapes her. She returns home and, a few months later:

"Four and twenty ladies fair
Were playing at the chess,
And out then cam the fair Janet,
As green as onie glass"

Janet, looking pale and ill, does not want to join in the Minor Section of the Selkirk Congress with the other ladies. Everyone guesses she must be pregnant. So off she goes to Carterhaugh again to pick a herb that will induce a miscarriage. Again she meets up with Tam Lin, who tells her his story. He was a mortal who fell of his horse while out hunting one day and was captured by the Queen of the Fairies. He asks Janet to rescue him from Fairyland as he goes through a number of transformations. She succeeds in doing this and they live happily ever after.

The Ultimate Pawn Centre

We've noticed a couple of features on the Ultimate Pawn Centre (pawns on the four central squares) in recent issues of CHESS. Of course we needed no further prompting to scan our database for further examples. Here are some of the more notable ones we found.

Alexander Alekhine - Bestak
Simul Czechoslovakia 1925
Albin Counter-Gambit
1.d4 d5 2.c4 e5 3.e3 e4 4.cxd5 Bd6 5.Nc3 Nf6 6.f3 Bf5 7.g4 Bg6 8.g5 Nh5 9.fxe4 0–0 10.Nf3 a6 11.a3 Re8 12.e5 Be7 13.e4

13...b5 14.Bd3 Qd7 15.Rf1 Rf8 16.Ne2 Qd8 17.Nh4 Nd7 18.Nf5 Bxf5 19.exf5 Nxe5 20.dxe5 Qxd5 21.f6 Qxe5 22.fxe7 Qxe7 23.Bd2 Rad8 24.Qc2 1–0

Udo Osieka (2235) - Bruno Schienmann,Bruno (2245)
BL2-SW 1990
English Opening
1.c4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Nf3 Nc6 4.e3 Bb4 5.Nd5 Be7 6.d3 0–0 7.Be2 d6 8.Nxe7+ Nxe7 9.0–0 Ng6 10.b3 h6 11.Bb2 Nh7 12.d4 e4 13.Nd2 d5 14.cxd5 Nf6 15.Qc2 Bf5 16.Ba3 Re8 17.Bb5 Bd7 18.Bc4 Rc8 19.Rae1 a6 20.f3 b5 21.fxe4 bxc4 22.bxc4 Nh7 23.e5 Qg5 24.Ne4 Qh5 25.Nc5 Bg4 26.Nxa6 Ng5 27.Bc1 Nh4 28.Kh1 Ra8 29.Nxc7 Ngf3 30.Nxa8 Nxh2 31.Kg1 Rxa8 32.e4

32...N2f3+ 33.Rxf3 Nxf3+ 34.gxf3 Bxf3 35.Qh2 Qg4+ 36.Kf1 Bxe4 37.a3 Bd3+ 38.Kf2 Qxd4+ 39.Be3 Qxc4 40.d6 Rxa3 41.Qg3 Bf5 42.Qf4 Ra2+ 43.Kg1 Qc2 44.Qf2 Qc3 45.Bd4 Qb4 46.Qe3 Rd2 47.Rf1 Bh3 48.Rf2 Rxd4 49.Qxh3 Rg4+ 50.Kf1 Qb1+ 51.Ke2 Qc2+ 52.Kf3 Qe4# 0–1

Johannes Van Mil (2475) - Erik Van den Doel (2305)
Wijk aan Zee (8) 1995
Colle System
1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.e3 b6 4.Nbd2 Bb7 5.Bd3 d5 6.Ne5 Bd6 7.f4 c5 8.c3 Qc7 9.0–0 Nc6 10.Qf3 0–0–0 11.b3 Ng8 12.Bb2 Nb8 13.Qh3 Qe7 14.c4 Nh6 15.cxd5 f6 16.e4 fxe5 17.fxe5

17...Qg5 18.exd6 Qxd2 19.Rf2 Qg5 20.dxe6 Ng4 21.d7+ Nxd7 22.exd7+ Rxd7 23.Qg3 Nxf2 24.Qxg5 Nxd3 25.d5 Nxb2 26.Qd2 Re8 27.Re1 Bxd5 28.exd5 Rxe1+ 29.Qxe1 Rxd5 30.Qe6+ Rd7 31.Qg8+ Kc7 32.Qxh7 Nd3 33.Qe4 Nb4 34.Qe5+ Kb7 35.Qe4+ Kc7 36.a3 Nc6 37.Qf4+ Kb7 38.h4 Nd4 39.Kh2 a6 40.h5 Ka7 41.Qe3 b5 42.g4 a5 43.g5 b4 44.axb4 cxb4 45.h6 gxh6 46.g6 Ka6 47.Qd3+ Kb7 48.g7 Rxg7 49.Qxd4 Rc7 50.Kg3 Rc3+ 51.Kf4 Kc6 52.Ke4 h5 53.Qf6+ Kb5 54.Qf5+ Rc5 55.Qd7+ Kb6 56.Kd4 Rc3 57.Qd8+ Ka6 58.Qf6+ Kb7 59.Qf7+ Kb6 60.Qxh5 Rc7 61.Qe8 Rc3 62.Qe6+ Rc6 63.Qe5 Rc3 64.Qe4 Rc8 65.Qd5 Rc3 66.Qd8+ Kb5 67.Qb8+ Ka6 68.Kd5 Rd3+ 69.Kc4 Rc3+ 70.Kd4 Rc6 71.Kd5 Rc3 72.Qd6+ Kb7 73.Qe7+ Kb6 74.Qe4 Rc6 75.Qe3+ Kb7 76.Qe7+ Rc7 77.Qd8 Rh7 78.Kc5 Rh5+ 79.Kc4 Rh7 80.Qd5+ 1–0

Irina Krush (2432) - Sergey Kayumov
WCh U18 Boys (sic) Oropesa del Mar 1999
QGD Slav Defence
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e3 a6 5.Nf3 b5 6.b3 Bg4 7.Be2 e6 8.0–0 Bd6 9.Ne5 Bxe2 10.Qxe2 0–0 11.f4 b4 12.Nd1 Ne4 13.Nf2 Nxf2 14.Rxf2 f5 15.a3 Bxe5 16.fxe5 bxa3 17.Bxa3 Rf7 18.Bd6 Rb7 19.b4 a5 20.b5 cxb5 21.cxd5 Qe8 22.e4

22...Nd7 23.dxe6 Qxe6 24.d5 Qe8 25.e6 Nf6 26.Rxf5 Qg6 27.Raf1 h5 28.e5 Ne8 29.Rf8+ Kh7 30.R1f5 Nf6 31.R5xf6 gxf6 32.Rxa8 Qb1+ 33.Qf1 1–0

Enno Heyken (2410) - Oystein Dannevig (2290)
Gausdal 1992
French Defence
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 c5 4.Nf3 cxd4 5.Bd3 Nc6 6.0–0 f6 7.Qe2 Qc7 8.Bf4 g5 9.Bg3 g4 10.Nfd2 fxe5 11.Qxg4 Qg7 12.Qh5+ Qf7 13.Qd1 e4 14.Be2 Nge7 15.Nb3 Bg7 16.Bh5 Ng6 17.Bd6 b6 18.a4 Qd7 19.Ba3 a5 20.Be2 e5

21.Bb5 Qe6 22.c4 dxc4 23.N3d2 Bb7 24.Nxc4 0–0–0 25.Nxb6+ Kb8 26.Bc4 Qf5 27.Qb3 Bh6 28.Be6 Qg5 29.Nd7+ Rxd7 30.Bxd7 Nb4 31.Bxb4 axb4 32.Qxb4 Nf4 33.g3 Ne2+ 34.Kh1 Qh5 35.Qb3 d3 36.g4 Qh3 37.Nd2 Bxd2 38.f3 exf3 0–1