Friday, August 22, 2008

Hastings 1895: Curt Von Bardeleben, The Luzhin Defense

Did I mention that Hastings is a seaside town and this event was played around this time of year? All the more fitting for me to have studied these games while at the seashore! ( ok last time I rubbed it in)

The Count Von Bardeleben was 34 at the tournament and an amateur chess player as he was in the “legal profession” as noted in the short biography in the tournament book. the novel The Defense (or The Luzhin Defence) by Vladimir Nabokov. Nabokov in turn drew upon the events in the life of his friend Curt von Bardeleben who committed suicide in 1924. The novel was made into a movie in 2001 titled “ the Luzhin defense”.

At Hastings, Herr Von Bardeleben was the only one undefeated entering round 10 with 3 draws and 6 wins. Up against Steinitz whose game I will detail when I post on Steinitz, was so upsetting to Von Bardeleben, that he left after move 24 without resigning. His stellar performance started to deteriorate following that incident as he didn’t even play round 17. Instead he had a courier send a message to Pillsbury that he was ill and had to forfeit their match.

He starts out strong beating Burn in round one as black taking advantage of Burn’s misplaced pieces on the rim. He beats Lasker in round 4 ( the game to watch ) with the better pawn structure and more active rooks as they went into a a rook and pawn endgame. The draws with Bird and Albin are not commented on here though the Bird game was previously posted about in the first of the series. Round 5 he beats Vergani in a queen pawn set up I like ( Ne5 and lots of king side action). A tenacious knight and pawn ending gets the better of Mason in round 6 as he eggs on a pawn advantage. These four games are found here.

In round 7 he tears Mieses to pieces ( I couldn’t resist) as Mieses’ premature attack implodes. I covered Schlechter’s round 8 draw already and in round 9 he dumps on Pollock who attempts to play a Benoni defense. Having the wind knocked out of him in round 10 by Steinitz, he only manages three more draws with Tarrasch, Janowski and Schiffers in the next 6 rounds losing to Chigoran, Tinsley, and Walbrodt. Round 19 he finally gets a solid win with Gunsberg making use of his developmental advantage and beginning an attack against the weak uncastled king with a bishop sacrifice. In round 21 he beats Marco playing in a hypermodern way with 1…g6. Rounds 7, 9 19 and 21 are found here.

Overall, he tied in seventh place with Teichmann winning 8, drawing 7 and losing only 6 ending in a score of 11.5. He took home slightly more that Teichmann, 15 pounds 5 shillings because he had a win in the first round against Burn. ( Extra money was awarded for wins in the first three rounds).
Besides his phenominal mustache, what struck me most about his style of play was how he seemed to be a pioneer in the Bf4 positioning of the Queen’s bishop, an adaptation later found in QGD and London systems which makes e5 a focus of central struggles.

A tragedy of a genius to have taken his life. Such acts of madness are themes all too common on looking at the history of great chess players. Will it stop me? Thank God I am not a genius!


Dennis said...

Hello BP!
I just thought I would drop you a line to tell you I have been reading your blog and like it very much. I have just gotten back into chess after a long hiatus and decided to start a blog of my own. I didn't realize there were so many different chess blogs out there. Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

Chess players are weird creatures. Pity though that you didn't post the game against Steinitz. Now i am curious how Steinitz did 'murderer' our poor Curt Van Bardeleben.

BlunderProne said...

@Slacker: thanks for stopping by.
@Tiger: I call that a cliff hanger... as geeky as it is to cover such historic games, I have to entice future readership somehow? Steinitz coming up in 2 more posts. First will be Schiffers who placed 6th, then Steinitz, Tarrasch, LAsker, Chigoran and then Pillsbury.

Anonymous said...

Its not geeky to cover old tournaments. It's actually very healty to know your classics.

Polly said...

I loved "The Defense". The movie version was lovely in terms of the photography though they kinda trashed the ending. It's interesting to learn who's the inspriration behind a fictional character. I too don't worry about being an insane genius.

es_trick said...

If only I had genius to blame for my insanity!

Anonymous said...

The Von Bardeleben-Lasker WAS cool!

I wanted to see exactly why Lasker resigned the endgame to Bardeleben so I put it into Shredder from where Lasker resigned and played it out. I almost blew it!!!

Thanks again for the great posts!


Anonymous said...


I'm enjoying your coverage of Hastings 1895. Keep up the good work! Currently I'm reading Chernev's Most Instructive Games, and Pillsbury-Gunsburg (Hastings, 1895) is one of them.