Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The first Blunderprone: Kieseritzky

I decided to shift gears slightly and created an account on chess.com to post my games as this post will reference four games. I am continuing my series of blunderprone analysis of the games of the first international chess tournament in London 1851. Today, I will focus on French chess master, Lionel Kieseritzky.

Lionel Kieseritzky has to be related to me from a chess genealogical sense because of his famous choking under tournament pressure ( I'll get into that shortly). Prior to the London 1851 event, he became a chess professional in Paris, giving lessons or playing games for five francs an hour at the Cafe de la Regence, and editing a chess magazine ( La Régence) which was the 19th century equivalent of a blog. He became one of the four leading French masters of the time, alongside Louis de la Bourdonnais, Pierre Charles Fournier de Saint-Amant and Boncourt, and for the few years before his death was among the top two players in the world along with Howard Staunton. His knowledge of the game was significant enough to make contributions to chess theory, but his career was somewhat blighted by misfortune and a passion for the unsound. His popularity was jaded by his narcissistic nature as he self-proclaimed being the "Chess-Messiah".

The first game ( with blunder's annotations here) finished in 20 minutes with a gross blunder:

20 Rg3???

Lionel Kieseritzky was so focused on delivering a king side attack on his own opponent that he neglected the mate threat on his own f2 square. Howard Staunton even went on to comment about this first game as having been "never equalled even among beginners of the game"!

Being a best of three elimination, the second game ended in a surprising draw. I think Kieseritzky should have won the endgame given the final position after Anderssen offers his rook:

Game 2 Position after 55. Rxc3

Why was a draw accepted or offered by Lionel? Clearly, the rook can stop either rook pawn. Was he that rattled after game one?

With only a 1/2 point going into the third match against Anderssen, a similar scenario to the first game presented itself in the next game that lasted only 17 moves before he dropped a bishop and resigned.

To add insult to injury to this self proclaimed "Chess-messiah", to warm up for the tournament, he decided to play a game at the Simpson's-in-the-Strand Divan, a local pub and eatery in London known to host casual games of chess. The game later became know as the Immortal Game for the stellar sacrifices that Anderssen played to deliver the final blow on move 24. The game start by making Anderssen look like a patzer having him move his king so he can't castle and obliterating his king side pawns. Later and calmly, Anderssen develops and abandons a Bishop, both rooks and a queen.... yes all his heavy hitting pieces... in a clever way to deliver a 3 piece suit of a mate. Incidentaly, in true blunderprone form, Kieseritzky posted his game on his "blog" otherwise known as the French chess magazine La Régence published in July 1851.

That is why, from this day forward, Lionel Kieseritzky, in my mind will be forever dubbed " Blunderprone the first"


Anonymous said...

Nice to get back to your family roots. Hey, at least he was famous.

likesforests said...

Wow, alot of excellent analysis here. I hope to have something *useful* to contribute soon. ;)

takchess said...


Once again grasping defeat from the jaws of victory. quite remarkable. this game is from the art of attack.

kierseritzky is also known for the Kierseritzky gambit in the KG one the most active lines in the kGa as well as the Boden Kierseritzy Gambit which is an interesting line I belive in the scotch.

Unknown said...

yeah, but you weren't a cheese eating surrender monkey like Lionel Adalbert Bagration Felix Kieseritzky. i didn't even know he was french.

he goes into my "how good would they be if they were playing today?" file...would anand and aronian destroy him? he was a badass, no doubt, but was he a badass "for his time" or would his badassness stand today?

cool post my man....

BlunderProne said...

@Soap: hey, aren't I famous? That's waht this blog implies.

@LF: Your posts are always useful... I just hope I don't bore my fan base.

@Tak: I'll check that game out. He did have some winners and merrit to the game during the "romantic age" of chess.

@CL: there have been studies on the relative playing strenght of masters past versus today. Given the style of play was a bit substantially different than today, tehy may not make the GM class but most definitely the master and international master level ( 2200-2400 ELO)

Anonymous said...

Wow. Do you sometimes wish high-level chess would never have left the "romantic" era?