Saturday, May 31, 2008

London 1851 : Round 3 battles

While having a fine cigar at the Divan, I had a chance to reflect upon this round as I got into the mood of a battle of two types. Two matches were to be battled out to the end of 7 rounds while two will be decided in a clear sweep as the contestants test their mettle. For those interested, Howard Staunton's book of this event is downloadable for free by Google books at this link.

Since I've covered the match between Staunton and Anderssen Here as well as here, I decided not to cover this particular match. I will comment on Staunton's exhaustion as quoted in his manuscript in this game:

" But in truth to all who knew the labours entailed upon Mr. Staunton by the carrying-out this Tournament, and his seriously impaired health at the time, the
wonder was not that he played so ill, but that he could play at all. "

Keep in mind that there was no real tournament director, rather a management committee was formed by the likes of Staunton, Williams, Wyvill and Captain H Kennedy, which sustained heavy scrutiny from a rival club feeling this was an exclusionary tactic to bolster their clubs rankings in the kingdom. They were all players in the event they managed. At our club we have folks who double as TD's and players during our weekly events. It's extremely hard and could rightly cost them some playing strength as the concentration of maintaining a good running event is taxing.

The close battle between Williams and Wyvill is noteworthy. Williams was on his way to a fine sweep winning the first three games rather effortlessly. Wyvill seemed to be suffering the same impairment as Staunton when he finally snaps out of it and wins the last four games in a row to win the best of seven match. Williams consistent play of a Dutch style formation for either side was strong at first, but once Wyvill discovered the trick to dealing with it by controlling long diagonals and releasing sharp tactics, he was able to close the match the victor.

The Captain H. Kennedy crushed Mucklow. Mucklow was rather timid in these games which allowed the captain much run of the board. In the second game of the match, Mucklow gets a slight material advantage but Captain Kennedy manages to launch a successful removal of the defender tactic and breaks Mucklow's fighting spirit.

Josef Szen and Horwitz matches were an example endgame tacticians battling it out from the opening moves. Game 1 started the trend as Szen converted a seemingly benign advantage into an over all win as he allowed Horwitz to over extend himself in the center only to find it hard to hold on to as his pieces got over worked. The second match was a Berlin Defense of the Ruy Lopez had Szen's white king side under attack and weakened. An unfortunate misstep in a middle game skirmish swung the pendulum in Szen's favor and took the point. Following up after that in games 3 was a rush for both to reach an endgame with early queen exchanges only to leave Horwitz underdeveloped and with inactive pieces. Game 4, Szen opened up the game and this time made use of an advanced e-pawn to launch a kingside attack and cramp Horwitz.

So what are my lessons of round 3? For starters, even the legends have bad days. With tenacity, some recover rather gracefully while others just can't get their game on. In Staunton's book, he makes sure it is known that this is a tournament of amateurs. No professionals were here playing as he felt none should exist.

From a positional sense, the lessons in this round have to do with middle game strategies that allow one to expand in the center in a closed game only in hopes to over extend that opponent. The major and sub ordinate major diagonals ( a1-h8, a8-h1, a2-g8, b1-h7, a7-g1, b8-h2) are useful in such cases. Also, again, the idea of small advantages are to be nurtured until the endgame.

I will wrap up this tournament in the next and final round 4. It was a fun tournament to dig into. The more I read about and researched this event, the more I could feel the agony, smell the cigar smoke and cut the tension with a knife. I feel like I am there.

I am tuning up the time machine for Hastings 1895 in the very near future as my centennial edition of the event arrived today. This will be a good summer series once I wrap up spring time in London 1851.




Anonymous said...

Hey Blunder Prone!

I have really enjoyed your reports on the London 1851 tournament. I love finding out tidbits of chess history and I LOVE playing over great games of the past. When I first took up chess I didn't think I would like playing through masters games that much but as it turns out I can't get enough of it.

It have likened it to listening to records of my favorite drummers and trying to figure out why they played what they played. I am finding A LOT of similarities between chess study/playing and music study/playing!

Have a great day!

Tom G

Anonymous said...

blunderprone you amazingly interesting chess historian, setting the wayback machine for the 1800's and taking us on an enlightening journey...i have downloaded the link (even though it was all in italian and i had to figure out how), i will get me a snifter of brandy, put on my ascot and smoking jacket, sit by the fire, and re-live the heady, exciting times of old timey chess. i wonder if the captain wore an ascot...

BlunderProne said...

@TommyG: Too bad i can't learn an opening as quick as a new song... and being a bass player... as long as teh guitar player shows me first. ;)

@CL: the italian garb is only a header from google. Once you scroll down, the book is in Ye Olde Timey English... Staunton has a good the 100 page introduction about how hard it was to manage this and have the London Chess club try to debunk his work.

BlunderProne said...

Using cheap online calculators i get 500= 12,320 in today's standards, But i read somewhere else that this might actually have been worht much more.