In 1974, Irving Chernev wrote an interesting book called Wonders and Curiosities of Chess. Here are a few of his wonders and curiosities with a little bit more detail that I have added.
Shortest Master Game. Chernev wrote that the shortest tournament game ever played between masters lasted only four moves. He wrote that it occurred between Gibaud and Lazard in a Paris Championship Tourney. The moves were 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nd2 e5 3.dxe5 Ng4 4.h3 Ne3 and White resigns, Amedee Gibaud-Frederic Lazard, Paris 1924. However, this is said to be a conjured up game, not a real game. In 1922, Lazard wrote that he played a friendly game with an amateur in Paris, and the game went 1.d4 d5 2.b3 Nf6 3.Nd2 e5 4.dxe5 Ng4 5.h3 Ne3 and White resigned, NN-Lazard, Paris 1922. In 1937, Gibaud wrote an article in CHESS and denied that he played this game. Gibaud was champion of France four times (1928, 1930, 1935, and 1940).
Longest Won Game. Chernev wrote that the longest master game ending in a win lasted 168 moves (there have been longer games since this — 239 moves is the record). It was between Wolf and Duras at Carlsbad 1907. He said it took 6 sittings and lasted 22.5 hours.
Heinrich Wolf — Oldrich Duras, Carlsbad 1907
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. Nc3 b5 6. Bb3 Bc5 7. Nxe5 O-O 8. O-O Nd4 9. Nf3 d6 10. Nxd4 Bxd4 11. Ne2 Bb6 12. d3 Ng4 13. h3 Ne5 14. d4 Nc4 15. Ng3 Qh4 16. c3 g6 17. Qf3 Be6 18. Bc2 Rad8 19. b3 Na5 20. Be3 d5 21. e5 f5 22. Qf4 Qxf4 23. Bxf4 Nb7 24. Ne2 c5 25. b4 c4 26. a4 Rb8 27. axb5 axb5 28. Bg5 Kf7 29. Ra6 Nd8 30. Rfa1 Bc8 31. R6a2 Ne6 32. Be3 Bb7 33. Kh2 Kg7 34. f4 h5 35. g3 Nc7 36. Ng1 Ra8 37. Rxa8 Rxa8 38. Rxa8 Nxa8 39. g4 hxg4 40. hxg4 Bc8 41. Nf3 Bd8 42. gxf5 Bxf5 43. Bxf5 gxf5 44. Bf2 Kf7 45. Bh4 Bxh4 46. Nxh4 Ke6 47. Ng2 Nb6 48. Ne3 Na4 49. Nd1 Ke7 50. Kg3 Kf7 51. Kf3 Ke7 52. Ke3 Nb6 53. Kd2 Ke6 54. Ne3 Nc8 55. Nc2 Kd7 56. Ke2 Nb6 57. Ne3 Ke6 58. Kf3 Na4 59. Nd1 Ke7 60. Kg3 Kf7 61. Kh3 Kg7 62. Kh4 Kg6 63. Kg3 Kf7 64. Kf2 Ke7 65. Ke2 Ke6 66. Kd2 Nb6 67. Ne3 Nc8 68. Nc2 Kd7 69. Ne1 Ke6 70. Nf3 Nb6 71. Ke2 Ke7 72. Ng5 Na4 73. Kd2 Nb6 74. Nh7 Nd7 75. Ke3 Kf7 76. Kf2 Ke6 77. Ke3 Kf7 78. Kd2 Ke6 79. Ng5+ Ke7 80. Nf3 Nb6 81. Ne1 Ke6 82. Nc2 Kd7 83. Na3 Kc6 84. Ke2 Na4 85. Nb1 Kd7 86. Kf3 Ke6 87. Kg3 Kf7 88. Kh4 Kg6 89. e6 Kf6 90. Kh5 Ke7 91. Kg6 Kxe6 92. Kg5 Nb2 93. Na3 Nd1 94. Nxb5 Ne3 95. Nc7+ Kd7 96. Na6 Kc6 97. Nc5 Kb5 98. Kf6 Nd1 99. Kxf5 Nxc3 100. Ke5 Na4 101. f5 Nxc5 102. bxc5 c3 103. f6 c2 104. f7 c1=Q 105. f8=Q Kc4 106. Qf6 Qa1 107. Kd6 Qa3 108. Qf1+ Kb4 109. Qe1+ Kb5 110. Qe2+ Kb4 111. Qe6 Qa8 112. c6 Qd8+ 113. Qd7 Qf6+ 114. Kxd5 (White has a won endgame at this point) 114...Qf3+ (114...Qg5+ would put up more resistance) 115. Kd6 (15.Ke5 would have been better) Qg3+ 116. Ke7 Qh4+ 117. Ke6 Qh3+ 118. Kf6 Qh6+ 119. Kf5 Qh5+ 120. Kf4 Qh6+ 121. Kf3 Qh5+ 122. Ke4 Qh4+ 123. Ke5 Qh2+ 124. Kd5 Qh1+ 125. Ke6 Qh3+ 126. Ke5 Qh2+ 127. Ke4 Qh4+ 128. Kf5 Qh5+ 129. Kf4 Qh6+ 130. Kg3 Qg5+ 131. Kf3 Qh5+ 132. Qg4 Qd5+ 133. Ke3 Qd6 134. Qf4 Qe6+ 135. Kf2 Qa2+ 136. Kg3 Qg8+ 137. Qg4 Qb8+ 138. Kg2 Qd6 139. Qd7 Qg6+ 140. Kf2 Qc2+ 141. Kf3 Qd1+ 142. Kf4 Qd2+ 143. Kf5 Qf2+ 144. Kg6 Qg3+ 145. Kf7 Qh2 146. Qe7+ Ka4 147. d5 Qh5+ 148. Ke6 Qg4+ 149. Kd6 Qb4+ 150. Kd7 Qg4+ 151. Kc7 Kb5 152. d6 Qf4 153. Kb7 Qb4 154. Qe5+ Kc4+ 155. Kc7 Qa3 156. Kd7 Kb4 157. c7 Qh3+ 158. Kd8 Qh4+ 159. Kc8 Kb3 160. Qb5+ Ka3 161. Kb8 Qd4 162. d7 Qc3 163. d8=Q Qb3 164. Qxb3+ Kxb3 165. c8=Q Kb4 166. Qd3 Ka5 167. Qdc4 Kb6 168. Qb4# 1-0
Longest Drawn Game. Chernev wrote that the longest game ending in a draw occurred between Pilnik and Czerniak (there have been longer draws — 269 moves is the record). It lasted 191 moves and required 23 hours of play. The game was between Herman Pilnik and Moshe Czerniak and played at Mar del Plata, Argentina in 1950.
Most Defeats in a Tournament. Chernev wrote that Moreau lost all 26 games without a draw or win at the Monte Carlo 1903 international tournament (won by Siegbert Tarrasch). The player was Colonel Charles Paul Narcisse Moreau (1837-1916), a French soldier and mathematician. Here is one of his losses at the tournament.
Geza Maroczy — Moreau, Monte Carlo 1903 1.e4 e5 2.d4 exd4 3.Qxd4 Nc6 4.Qe3 Be7 5.Nc3 d6 6.Bd2 Be6 7.O-O-O Bf6 8.f4 Qc8 9.Nf3 Nh6 10.h3 Bxc3 11.Bxc3 O-O 12.f5 Bd7 13.f6 Ne5 14.Nxe5 gxf6 15.Qg3+ Kh8 16.Nxd7 1-0
Grunfeld. Chernev wrote that Ernest Grunfeld (sic), in his time one of the greatest authorities on openings, played 1.e4 only once in his whole tournament career (against Capablanca at Carlsbad in 1929). When asked why he avoided 1.e4, he replied, "I never make a mistake in the opening." However, I did find another game in which Ernst Gruenfeld played 1.e4. He played 1.e4 against Jacques Mieses in 1918 and drew.
Ernst Gruenfeld — Jose Capablanca, Karlsbad 1929 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bb5 Bb4 5.O-O O-O 6.d3 d6 7.Bg5 Bxc3 8.bxc3 Qe7 9.Bxc6 bxc6 10.Nd2 h6 11.Bxf6 Qxf6 12.Qf3 Qxf3 13.Nxf3 Be6 14.c4 Rfb8 15.Rfb1 Kf8 16.Nd2 Ke7 17.f3 Rb6 18.Kf2 Rab8 19.Ke2 c5 20.Kd1 Kd7 21.Kc1 Rxb1+ 22.Rxb1 Rb6 23.Nf1 f5 24.Ne3 f4 25.Nd5 Bxd5 26.cxd5 c6 27.c4 1/2-1/2
Ernst Gruenfeld — Jacques Mieses, Kosice 1918 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Nd7 5.Nf3 Ngf6 6.Bd3 Nxe4 7.Bxe4 Nf6 8.Bd3 c5 9.O-O cxd4 10.Nxd4 Be7 11.Re1 O-O 12.Bg5 Qxd4 13.Bxh7+ Nxh7 14.Qxd4 Bxg5 15.Rad1 Bf6 16.Qb4 e5 17.c3 Ng5 18.a4 b6 19.a5 Rb8 20.axb6 axb6 21.Ra1 Bb7 22.h3 Ne6 23.Red1 Nf4 24.f3 Rfe8 25.Qb5 e4 26.Rd7 Ba8 27.Qc4 Ne6 28.fxe4 Rbc8 29.Qb4 Nc5 30.Rda7 Bxe4 31.Qxb6 Bg5 32.Re1 Re6 33.Rc7 Rxb6 34.Rxc8+ Kh7 35.Rxc5 f5 36.Rxe4 fxe4 37.Rxg5 Rxb2 1/2-1/2
Blindfold Play Banned by Law. Chernev wrote that in Russia, chess is thought so highly that it is taught in the public schools. Yet blindfold play is forbidden by law. Some sources say that simultaneous blindfold exhibitions were officially banned in 1930 in the USSR as they were deemed to be a health hazard.
Rehsevsky's Prediction. U.S. chess champion Sammy Reshevsky was asked whether he expected to win the Western Tournament of 1933. According to Chernev, his reply was, "Who is there to beat me?" Reshevsky was right. Nobody did beat him — but he did not win the tournament. Reshevsky scored 11-2 with 9 wins and 4 draws. Reuben Fine scored 12-1 with 12 wins and 1 loss. This was the 34th Western Championship, held at the Hotel Tuller in Detroit from September 23 to October 1, 1933 (otherwise known as the US Open). The event was sponsored by the Auto City Chess and Checker Club. There were 14 players in the event. Fine lost to Reshevsky in round 6, but won every other game that he played. Reshevsky drew to Arthur Dake, Samuel Factor, Albert Margolis, and George Barnes.
Reshevsky — Fine, Detroit 1933
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 Bb4+ 4. Bd2 Bxd2+ 5. Qxd2 b6 6. g3 Bb7 7. Bg2 O-O 8. Nc3 Qe7 9. O-O d6 10. Qc2 c5 11. dxc5 bxc5 12. Rad1 Nc6 13. e4 Rfd8 14. Rd2 Ng4 15. Rfd1 Nge5 16. Nxe5 Nd4 17. Ng6 hxg6 18. Qd3 e5 19. Rf1 Bc6 20. f4 Rab8 21. f5 Qg5 22. f6 Rb7 23. Rdf2 gxf6 24. b3 f5 25. exf5 Bxg2 26. Kxg2 gxf5 27. Rxf5 Nxf5 28. Rxf5 Qh6 29. Qe4 Re7 30. Qg4+ Kf8 31. Rh5 Qg7 32. Qh4 Ke8 33. Nd5 f5 34. Nxe7 1-0
An Amateur for Life. Franz Gutmayer, who wrote a book on how to become a chess master, was never able to become one himself. Gutmayer (1857-1937) was an Austrian chess writer and mediocre chess player. In 1898, he wrote Der Weg zur Meisterschaft (The Way to Chess Mastership) and explained how to become a chess master.
Sergey von Freymann — Gutmayer, Cologne 1911
1.d4 e6 2.Nf3 f5 3.c4 Nf6 4.Nc3 Be7 5.e3 O-O 6.Bd2 b6 7.Qc2 Bb7 8.Bd3 Nc6 9.a3 Qe8 10.O-O-O Nb8 11.d5 Ng4 12.Be1 Bf6 13.h3 Ne5 14.Nxe5 Bxe5 15.f4 Bf6 16.g4 g6 17.gxf5 exf5 18.e4 Bxc3 19.Bxc3 fxe4 20.Bxe4 Rxf4 21.Rde1 Na6 22.Bxg6 Qxg6 23.Rhg1 1-0
A Million-Dollar Move. Chernev wrote that Frank Marshall (1877-1944) brought off one of the most startling and unexpected moves ever seen on a chessboard in his game against Levitzky at Breslau in 1912. The spectators were so electrified by the brilliant coup that they responded by showering the game with gold pieces. Marshall assured Chernev of the truth of the incident. Marshall, in his book Marshall's Greatest Games (formerly My Chess Career), wrote "I have often been asked whether the crowd really did shower us with gold coins. The answer is yes literally!!"
Stefan Levitsky — Frank Marshall, Breslau 1912
1.d4 e6 2.e4 d5 3.Nc3 c5 4.Nf3 Nc6 5.exd5 exd5 6.Be2 Nf6 7.O-O Be7 8.Bg5 O-O 9.dxc5 Be6 10.Nd4 Bxc5 11.Nxe6 fxe6 12.Bg4 Qd6 13.Bh3 Rae8 14.Qd2 Bb4 15.Bxf6 Rxf6 16.Rad1 Qc5 17.Qe2 Bxc3 18.bxc3 Qxc3 19.Rxd5 Nd4 20.Qh5 Ref8 21.Re5 Rh6 22.Qg5 Rxh3 23.Rc5 Qg3! (24.fxg3 Ne2+ 25.Kh1 Rxf1 mate) 0-1
Strange Name of Players. Chernev gave a list of strange chess player names such as Bobritscev, Putschkin, Bogolybov, Dus-Chotimirski, Ilyin-Genevsky, Przepiorka, and Konstatinopolsky. Chernev wrote that in a tournament held in St. Petersburg in 1903, no less than three Znosko-Borovskys won prizes. I have not been able to confirm this. There were two active players with that same last name — Evgeny Alexandrovich Znosko-Borovsky (1884-1954) and his brother, Sergey Alexandrovich Znosko-Borovsky (1879-1911). There was also N. Znosko-Borovsky, who appears with Eugene in the photo of St. Petersburg 1914.
Unwilling Club Members. Chernev wrote that one club that no one cared to join was the Vera Menchik Club. The members consisted of masters who had lost a game to Vera Menchik — a master but still a woman! Chernev listed notable unwilling members include Dr. Euwe (former World Champion), Reshevsky, Sultan Khan, Colle, Lajos Steiner, Sir George Thomas, Samisch, Becker, and Yates. In 1929, the Vera Menchik Club was formed as a joke. The first member was Viennese master Albert Becker. He proposed that all the men that got beaten by Vera Menchik should be members of the Vera Menchik Club. When he lost to her in an international tournament that year, he became the first member. Other members included masters Conel Hugh O'Donel Alexander, Abraham Baratz, Eero Book, Harry Golombek, Frederic Lazard, Jacques Mieses, Stuart Milner-Barry, Karel Opocensky, Brian Reilly, Theodore Tyler, and William Winter.
Good Advice. Chernev wrote that a book published in German whose title in English would be Advice to Spectators at Chess Tournaments, is completely blank with the exception of one page. On this page there are only two words: Halt's Maul (Keep your mouth shut). The book (two folded pages) was Regeln fur Nichtmitspieler (Rules for Non-Players) , published by Adolf Roegner (1855-1910) of Leipzig. Roegner was a chess dealer and among his items was Regeln fur Nichtmitspieler from one of his catalogs. Roegner's item comprised of one folded cover page and one folded page inside. The front-cover was entitled Spielregeln fur Nicht-Mitspieler, printed in Leipzig. On the only printed page inside was the words 'halt's Maul.' On the back cover was a list of items from Roegner's chess business and a chess diagram.
Blind Composer. Chenev wrote that comparable to Beethoven's miracle of composing music while deaf is that of A. F. Mackenzie, who, although blind, created some fine chess problems. Arthur Ford Mackenzie (1861-1905) composed dozens of chess problems while blind and was the author of Chess, Its Poetry and Its Prose (1887). He lost his sight in early 1896. In 1905, Alain C. White published Chess Lyrics: A Collection of Chess Problems by A. F. Mackenzie 1887-1905. It consisted of 282 problems composed by Mackenzie.
Dazzling Exhibition. Chernev wrote that Capablanca played 103 games simultaneously in Cleveland in 1922. He won 102 games, lost none, and allowed one player to escape with a draw. Capablanca's winning score was 99.5%, the highest ever in a large simultaneous exhibition. The exhibition date was February 4, 1922. At the time, it was the largest simultaneous exhibition ever given. The drawn game was scored by Erick Anderson when Capablanca made a slight error which resulted in a draw where he had a winning position. Anderson received a fine inlaid chess table for his draw.
Board Kings. Chernev wrote that in 1851, the Chess Champion of the World was A. Anderssen and the Checker Champion of the World was A. Anderson. Adolf Anderssen (1818-1879) was a German master. In 1851, he won the first international chess tournament held in London, making him the unofficial chess champion of the world. Andrew Anderson (1799-1861) was a checkers master and was the first World Champion of draughts/checkers. He held that title from 1830 until 1848 when he retired undefeated. In 1851, James Wylie (1818-1899) was recognized as the Checker Champion of the World.
Drawing Master. Chernev wrote that "The Great Drawing Master" in chess history was Carl Schlechter. He drew 7 of his 9 matches in which he took part. Even Dr. Lasker, World's Champion, could do no better than draw his match with Schlechter, when they played for the title in 1910. Carl Schlechter (1874-1918) was a leading Austrian master who is best known for drawing a World Chess Championship match with world champion Emanual Lasker. Schlechter only needed a draw in their final game to win the match, but he lost after blundering from a won position, then blundering from a drawn position.. Schlechter won 1 game, drew 8 games, and lost the final game to draw the match. Lasker retained his world championship title. He seems to have drawn 47% of all his games that he played. In 1893, he played Georg Marco in a match in Austria and drew all 10 games. In 1894, he drew matches with Georg Marco and Adolf Zinkl. In 1896, he drew a match with Dawid Janowski in Vienna. In 1900, he drew a playoff match with Harry Pillsbury. In 1904, he drew a match with Richard Teichmann in Vienna. In 1911, he drew a match with Siegbert Tarrasch in Cologne.
Emanuel Lasker — Carl Schlechter, World Championship Match, Game 10, Berlin 1910
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.e3 g6 5.Nc3 Bg7 6.Bd3 O-O 7.Qc2 Na6 8.a3 dxc4 9.Bxc4 b5 10.Bd3 b4 11.Na4 bxa3 12.bxa3 Bb7 13.Rb1 Qc7 14.Ne5 Nh5 15.g4 Bxe5 16.gxh5 Bg7 17.hxg6 hxg6 18.Qc4 Bc8 19.Rg1 Qa5+ 20.Bd2 Qd5 21.Rc1 Bb7 22.Qc2 Qh5 23.Bxg6 Qxh2 24.Rf1 fxg6 25.Qb3+ Rf7 26.Qxb7 Raf8 27.Qb3 Kh8 28.f4 g5 29.Qd3 gxf4 30.exf4 Qh4+ 31.Ke2 Qh2+ 32.Rf2 Qh5+ 33.Rf3 Nc7 34.Rxc6 Nb5 35.Rc4 Rxf4 36.Bxf4 Rxf4 37.Rc8+ Bf8 38.Kf2 Qh2+ 39.Ke1 Qh1+ 40.Rf1 Qh4+ 41.Kd2 Rxf1 42.Qxf1 Qxd4+ 43.Qd3 Qf2+ 44.Kd1 Nd6 45.Rc5 Bh6 46.Rd5 Kg8 47.Nc5 Qg1+ 48.Kc2 Qf2+ 49.Kb3 Bg7 50.Ne6 Qb2+ 51.Ka4 Kf7 52.Nxg7 Qxg7 53.Qb3 Ke8 54.Qb8+ Kf7 55.Qxa7 Qg4+ 56.Qd4 Qd7+ 57.Kb3 Qb7+ 58.Ka2 Qc6 59.Qd3 Ke6 60.Rg5 Kd7 61.Re5 Qg2+ 62.Re2 Qg4 63.Rd2 Qa4 64.Qf5+ Kc7 65.Qc2+ Qxc2+ 66.Rxc2+ Kb7 67.Re2 Nc8 68.Kb3 Kc6 69.Rc2+ Kb7 70.Kb4 Na7 71.Kc5 1-0
Bad Year for Champions. Chernev wrote that the year 1894 was a disastrous year for board champions. William Steinitz, World's Chess Champion for 28 years, lost his title then to Emanuel Lasker, while James Wyllie, Checker Champion for 40 years, had to relinquish his crown to James Ferrie. Actually, Wyllie was world checkers champion for 50 years, beginning in 1844, with a few breaks when Andrew Anderson was world checkers champion from 1847 to 1849, Robert Martins was champion from 1859 to 1864, and Robert Yates was world champion from 1876 to 1878. In chess, On May 26, 1894, Emanuel Lasker defeated Steinitz, 12-7, in Montreal, to become world champion. Steinitz was the oldest world champion at 58 years, 10 days. Steinitz was the official undisputed world champion from May 29, 1886 to May 26, 1894, or 8 years. Steinitz was unbeaten in match play for 32 years, from 1862 to 1894. Another champion that lost that year was U.S. chess champion Jackson Whipps Showalter (1859-1935) losing to Albert Hodges (1861-1944).
First Blindfold Star. Chernev wrote that the first display of simultaneous blindfold play was given by Buzecca, the Saracen chess master, when he visited the palace of Count Popoli in Florence in January of 1266. He conducted two games blindfold, and one game over the board against three of the city's leading players. The exhibition resulted in 2 wins for Buzecca and 1 draw. The record stood for 517 years. The source of the story is from Tratto dell' origine di Firenze, by Giovanni Villani, written in 1559. It was repeated in A History of Chess by H.J.R. Murray, 1913, page 458. There is no record of the games or whether the draw occurred in a blindfold game or the sighted game. This is the earliest recorded report of blindfold play in Europe. It was in May, 1783, that the record of 3 blindfold games was played. On May 9, 1783, Francois-Andre Danican Philidor (1726-1795) played 3 blindfold games simultaneously at the chess club in James Street in London. He won two and drew one.
Champions' Longest Reigns. Chernev wrote that William Steinitz held the Chess Championship of the World for 28 years against all opponents. His conqueror, Dr. Emanuel Lasker, proved to be a worthy successor; he held the Championship for 27 years! Lasker was world chess champion for 26 years and 337 days, from 1894 to 1921.
Napoleon's Hypermodern Move. Chernev wrote "The opening of the future," as Tartakover called the Reti-Zukertort Opening in 1924, was played as far back as 1804 by Napoleon Bonaparte. The opening in question is 1.Nf3. Actually, Napoleon played the move 1.Nc3 first, and the game may have never really happened.
Napoleon Bonaparte — Madame De Remusat, Chateau de Malsaison, Rueil-Malmaison, France, 1804.
1. Nc3 e5 2. Nf3 d6 3. e4 f5 4. h3 fxe4 5. Nxe4 Nc6 6. Nfg5 d5 7. Qh5+ g6 8. Qf3 Nh6 9. Nf6+ Ke7 10. Nxd5+ Kd6 11. Ne4+ Kxd5 12. Bc4+ Kxc4 13. Qb3+ Kd4 14. Qd3 mate 1-0
Philidor Eschews His Defence. Chernev wrote that Philidor never played Philidor's Defence. We really don't know that since very few of his games were recorded. Philidor's Defense is a chess opening characterized by the moves 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6. The opening is named after Francois-Andre Danican Philidor (1726-1795), who advocated it as an alternative to the common 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 line. His original idea was to challenge White's center by the pawn thrust 3...f5. The opening line was noted by Lucena and recommended by Ruy Lopez. Philidor was a strong advocate of 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6 since he disliked blocking the pawns with his knights. In his book Analyse du jeu des Echecs, written in 1749, he analyzed 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bc4 f5, writing, "It is always advantageous to change your king's bishop's pawn for his king's pawn, because, by that means, your king's and queen's pawns may place may place themselves in the centre of the chess-board; besides, in castling on the right wing, your castle finds itself free and able to act from the very beginning of the game, as will be shown by a back-game on the same play."
Master Learns the Moves Twice. Chernev wrote that the Russian chess master Iljin-Genevsky had to learn the moves twice! Shell shock in the first World War took away his memory, and the master player had to be told how the chess pieces move and capture! Alexander Fyodorovich Ilyin (1894-1941) was known as Alexander Ilyin-Genevsky (Zhenevsky), or "the Genevan" because he joined the Bolshevik group of Russian émigrés while exiled in Geneva. In 1914, he was chess champion of Geneva. At the outbreak of war he returned to Russia and joined the tsarist army. He was wounded and returned to Petrograd (the new name of St. Petersburg) suffering from shell shock. Having lost his memory, he had to relearn everything, even how to move the chess pieces. He later won the Leningrad championship in 1925, 1926, and 1929. In 1925, he defeated Jose Capablanca at the great Moscow 1925 International Tournament.
Marache in a Hurry. Chernev wrote that Napoleon Marache made such rapid strides in assimilating chess that he was able, three weeks after his first lesson, to give his tutor the odds of a Rook! The source of this statement comes from the biographical sketch of Marache in The Fifth American Chess Congress by Charles Gilberg, published in 1881. Napoleon Marache (1818-1875) was born in France and moved to the United States when he was 12. He learned the game around 1844 at the age of 26. He began composing chess problems and writing about chess the following year. In the winter of 1855-56, he won the New York Chess Club championship, consisting of the eight strongest players in New York of that day.
Ruy Lopez at Play. Chernev wrote that the first International Chess Tournament was held in Madrid in 1575 at the Court of Philip II. The players were Ruy Lopez and Alfonso Ceron of Spain, and Giovanni Leonardo (also known as Il Puttino) and Paolo Boi of Italy. Leonardo was the winner of the first prize. The event took place at the Royal Court of Spain in El Escorial, near Madrid, in presence of King Philip II (1527-1598) of Spain, the most powerful ruler in Europe. First place went to Giovanni Leonardo Di bona (1542-1597), followed by Paolo Boi (1528-1598), then Ruy Lopez de Segura (1530-1580), and Alfonso Ceron (1535-1590?) of Grenada. King Philip presented Ruy Lopez with a golden chain for his neck, from which was suspended a rook, and obtained preferment to a rich benefice. Ruy Lopez was given some property and was declared a noble. King Philip II granted Boi certain official appointments in Sicily. Leonardo received a thousand crowns, jewels, and furs.
Longest Problem Mate. Chernev wrote that J.N. Babson published a problem in Brentano's Chess Monthly in 1882, the terms of which were: White to mate in 1,220 moves, after compelling Black to make three successive, complete Knight's tours. Joseph Ney Babson (1852-1929) was a famous chess composer. He edited a chess column in the Montreal Herald in 1892.
Record for Simultaneous Play. Chernev wrote that the record for simultaneous chess play is held by Gideon Stahlberg, Swedish master. He played 400 games at Buenos Aires, in an exhibition which started at 10:00 P.M. Friday, August 29th 1941, and ended at 10:00 A.M. on Sunday. He wound up with the score of 364 wins, 14 draws, and 22 losses. Since then, in 2011, Ehsan Ghaem-Maghami of Iran played 604 players in 25 hours. He won 580, drew 16, and lost 8 games. Gideon Stahlberg (1908-1967) was a Swedish chess grandmaster who won the Swedish Chess Championship in 1927. He gave the exhibition in Santos Lugares, a suburb of Buenos Aires, which lasted 36 hours and 5 minutes. Hundreds of opponents did not sit at a chessboard for 36 hours. The organizers limited the number of games to 40 played at once. When a game was over, a new opponent sat at the same table. He took a 10-minute break after every 4 hours.
Army of Women Players. Chernev wrote that more than 10,000 women players took part in the eliminating sections of the Russian Women's Chess Championship in 1936! In 1936, the USSR Women's Chess Championship finals was played in Leningrad and won by Olga Semenova Tyan-Shanskaya (1911-1970). She had won it previously in 1934.
Masters Becoming Army Officers. Chernev wrote that Reuben Fine and Isaac Kashdan have been officers in the Mexican Army. The reason for these titles (which were honorary) was that it would facilitate their travels through Mexico. In the 1930s, the Mexican government offered all foreign chess masters officer appointments as chess instructors in the Mexican Army. Boris Kostic (1887-1963) was made an army Colonel. Reuben Fine and Isaac Kashdan were made Lieutenants. Alexander Alekhine and Jose Capablanca were also chess instructors in Mexico, but did not accept their rank. This status and honorary title facilitated their travels to chess tournaments throughout Mexico.
Distinguished Race-Horses. Chernev wrote that Steinitz and Capablanca have had racehorses named after them. So has Alekhine, Smyslov, and Karpov. In a database of thoroughbred horses, there have been 9 horses named Capablanca. A racehorse named Steinitz had 8 starts, 2 wins, 2 places, and 0 shows, earning over $30,000.
Suspicious-Looking Moves. Chernev wrote that Steinitz was once arrested as a spy! Police authorities assumed that the moves made by Steinitz in playing his correspondence games with Tchigorin were part of a code by means of which important war secrets could be communicated. In 1891 Steinitz played Chigorin in Havana by cable (a telegraph match) and lost. Shortly afterward, the New York police arrested Steinitz as a Russian spy for using chess code over a cable. This was cleared up later on. Unfortunately, there does not seem to be any collaboration in the local press to prove this incident.
Merry-Go Round at Baden-Baden. Chernev wrote that in the double-round tourney held at Baden-Baden in 1870, Anderssen beat Steinitz 2-0, Steinitz beat Neumann 2-0, and Neumann beat Andersson 2-0. Adolf Anderssen won the event (and 3,000 francs) 13 out of 18 points, followed by Wilhelm Steinitz with 12.5, and Joseph Blackburne and Gustav Neumann with 12 points.
One-Upmanship 400 Years Ago. Chernev wrote that Ruy Lopez recommended as good chess tactics placing the board so that the light would shine in the opponent's eyes! (A valuable addition to the theory of the Ruy Lopez opening!).
Blindfold Musician. Chernev wrote that the organist Sir Walter Parratt was able to play a Beethoven Sonata at the same time that he was conducting two games of chess blindfold. Sir Walter Parratt (1841-1924) was an English organist and composer. He was a member of the Huddersfield Chess Club and played his blindfold games while playing a selection of tunes on the piano at Tenbury Wells, Worcestershire. The source of this information is from Musical Memory and its Cultivation by Dr. F. G. Shinn, written in 1898.
Chess and Insanity. Chernev wrote that in 1850 an old passion for chess awoke in Szechenyi (founder of the Magyar Academy) and took an insane character. It became necessary to pay a poor student to play with him for 10 to 12 hours at a time. Szechenyi slowly regained his sanity, but the unfortunate student went mad! Count Istvan Szechenyi (1791-1860) was a Hungarian politician and considered one of the greatest statesmen of Hungarian history. During the Hungarian Civil War of 1848-49, he suffered a nervous breakdown and withdrew to a private hospital in Vienna. Chess helped him recover from his mental illness for a time. He suffered from depression and committed suicide by a shot to his head.
Lucky Prize-Winner. Chernev wrote that in the International Tournament held at London in 1851, Mucklow won a grand total of two games, lost eight, forfeited the rest — and still won a prize! James Swain Mucklow (1820-1897) ran a successful business in the Manchester area. He played in the 1851 London tournament as a provisional competitor. He defeated E.S. Kennedy twice at that tournament and moved on to the next round (the tournament was organized as single elimination matches). He lost to E. Williams in round two, losing 4 games, then lost to H. Kennedy in round 3, losing 4 games. Mucklow took 8th place out of 16 players in the event. Staunton said that Mucklow was a player from the country, never before even heard of, and to whom a first-rate master would give the odds of a rook.
Just Wild About Chess. Chernev wrote that perhaps the most fantastical devotee the game has ever known was Daniel Harrwitz. He wore stickpins shaped like chess pieces, chess ties, and had chess figures embroidered on his shirts. He played chess a the Café de la Regance morning, noon and night seven days a week. At one stage of his match with Morphy, Harrwitz pleaded illness, and failed to put in an appearance. His admirers found him resting up at the Café de la Regence, playing chess! Daniel Harrwitz (1823-1884) was a Jewish German chess master. He was one of the most active chess players of his day. He played matches against Staunton, Anderssen, Lowenthal, and lost to Morphy. He became a professional chess player at the Cafe de la Regence in Paris. In 1852, his match with Lowenthal was the first chess match that introduced a time limit. The time limit was 20 minutes per move. In 1853-1854, he founded and edited the British Chess Review. In 1862 he wrote Lehbuch des Schachspiels. He retired in the Austrian Alps (Tyrol), living off his inheritance.
Belated Tournament Book. Chernev wrote that the Cambridge Springs Tournament took place in 1904. The Book of the Tournament was published in 1935, 31 years later! The Book of the Cambridge Springs International, 1904 was written by Fred Reinfeld in 1935. In June 1904, the American Chess Bulletin, Volume 1, No. 1, was published by Hermann Helms and Hartwig Cassel. It included all 120 games from Cambridge Springs and was the first "book" written about the tournament. The introduction by Renfeld in his book said, "It may seem incongruous, in view of the endless procession of tournaments and matches, to bring out the book of a tournament which ended 31 years ago to the day. Nine of the participants of the Cambridge Springs Tournament, some of them among the greatest masters the game has had,are no longer with us. To honor the dead and at a same time to pay tribute to Frank J. Marshall's glorious triumph in one of the most notable tournaments in chess history, seemed to me two tasks which demanded completion....I have been somewhat handicapped in the production of this book by the shameless apathy of those from whom I had every reason to expect some interest in such a volume...." May 19, 1935.
Exception Wins Tournament. Chernev wrote that the Tournament at San Sebastian in 1911 was limited to those masters who had won at least one third prize in an International Tournament. An exception was made to this ruling in the case of Capablanca (who had never played in an International Tournament) on the strength of his phenomenal victory over Marshall two years earlier. The exception won the tournament! Initially, Ossip Bernstein (and Aron Nimzowitsch) had objected to Jacques Mieses, the tournament organizer, about Capablanca's inclusion in the tournament based on one match victory. Capablanca proved himself first by defeating Bernstein in the first round (winning the Rothschild prize for the most brilliant game of the tournament). He then beat Nimzowitsch, silencing his protests for the rest of the tournament. He then went on admirably to win clear first in the tournament, taking home the 5000 Franc prize, as well as winning the brilliancy prize. Capablanca scored 9.5 out of 14 to win the event. San Sebastian was the strongest chess tournament since Nuremberg in 1896. Capablanca won a major international tournament at his first attempt (the last person to do that was Pillsbury when he won Hastings 1895). He won 6, drew 7, and lost 1 (to Rubinstein) ahead of Rubinstein and Schlechter. At age 23, Capablanca was now the 2nd strongest player in the world, after Emanuel Lasker.
Standing Room Only. Chernev wrote that over 100,000 people requested tickets of admission to the first round of the Moscow 1935 International Tournament! Mikhail Botvinnik and Salomon Flohr tied for first place in this 20-player event. The tournament was organized by Nikolai Krylenko, the head of Soviet Chess. He invited two former world champions (Lasker and Capablanca) and eight foreign masters to pit their skills against 12 Soviet masters. The tournament was held at the Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow. Over 60,000 tickets to the tournament were sold out long before the event even began. Only 4,000 fans at a time could be accommodated with seating in the playing room. There were also 180 Soviet journalists and 23 foreign journalists that covered the event.
Baby (of the tournament) Finished Third. Chernev wrote that Nimzovich once took part in a tournament where he was forbidden by law to enter the tournament room! This occurred in Ostend in 1907, where the play took place in the Casino. Since all under 21 were forbidden to enter the building, Nimzovich (who was 19 at the time) had to play his games outside. The baby of the tournament finished third in a field of 29 entrants. The Ostend, Belgium Masters' Tournament was played in May-June 1907. Ossip Bernstein and Akiba Rubinstein tied for 1st place with 19.5 points. Nimzowitsch and Jacques Mieses tied for 3rd-4th place with 19 points. A championship tournament was also held for the top 6 players. Siegbert Tarrasch won that event.
Carried to the Battle. Chernev wrote that a curious misfortune afflicted the youthful Alekhine in the Hamburg 1910 Tournament. Because of an injury to his foot (it wasn't a bone spur), he had to be carried to his table every day. This would have been the 17th German Chess Federation (DSB) tournament in July-August, 1910. Carl Schlechter won the event. Alekhine (1892-1946) tied for 7th-8th. Alekhine was 17 years old and could not walk on account of a serious swelling of the lymphatic vessels of his ankles.
Fine's Record-Breaking Exhibition Play. Chernev writes that in 1940 Reuben Fine toured North America, giving exhibitions of blindfold play, simultaneous chess, and serious games against single opponents. He played 418 games in all, of which 21 were conducted blindfold. Of these last, Fine won 17, drew 4, and lost none. Of the remaining 397 games, Fine won 376, drew 18, and lost only 3 games! In 1940, Reuben Fine (1914-1993) gave several simultaneous exhibitions in California. In Sacramento, he won 13 and drew 1. In San Francisco, he won 18 and drew 3. In Carmel, he won 23 and drew 1. In Los Angeles, he won 29 and drew 3. In Hollywood, he won 14 and drew 4. In Santa Barbara, he won 15, drew 1, and lost 1.
Who's Looney Now? Chernev wrote that Cambridge University once played a game by correspondence with an insane asylum — and lost! This game was first reported in a chess column by Leopold Hoffer which appeared in The Field on May 10, 1884. The game was played by some students at the Cambridge University Chess Club and some patients at the Bethlehem Royal Hospital (Bedlam Asylum) in London. The game was started in December, 1883 and ended in March, 1884.
Cambridge University — Bedlam Asylum, Correspondence 1883-84
1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 e6 3.Nf3 Nc6 4.d4 cxd4 5.Nxd4 Bb4 6.Ndb5 Nf6 7.a3 Bxc3+ 8.Nxc3 d5 9.exd5 exd5 10.Bg5 Be6 11.Be2 O-O 12.O-O Ne7 13.Bxf6 gxf6 14.Bd3 Kh8 15.Qh5 f5 16.Ne2 Qd6 17.Nd4 Qe5 18.Nf3 Qg7 19.Nh4 Rg8 20.g3 Qf6 21.f4 Rg4 22.Rae1 Rag8 23.Ng2 R8g6 24.Rxe6 fxe6 25.Be2 Rh6 (26.Qe8+ Rg8 27.Qd7 Qd4+ 28.Rf2 Nc8) 0-1
Cash Penalty for Exceeding Time Limit. Chernev wrote that in the Nuremberg Congress of 1906 there was no time limit if a game took 6 hours or less. Afterwards the players were required to move at the rate of 15 moves an hour. If they exceeded the time limit, they were penalized at the rate of a mark for each minute of extra time. Under this ruling, Tarrasch not only lost his game to Salwe but had the unique privilege of paying the equivalent of $20.00 in fines for doing so! The 15th DSB Congress in Nuremberg was won by Frank Marshall. Georg Salwe took 6th-7th place. Tarrasch took 9th-11 place. Tarrasch's penaly came to four pounds and 15 shillings. In 1906 U.S. dollars, this fine would have been approximately $4.86 (1 pound) x 4.75 = $23.09. At that time the German mark was worth approximately 23.79 cents. Therefore, Dr. Tarrasch exceeded the time limit in his game with Salwe by approximately 97 minutes. One source says that Tarrasch paid 60 marks in his time limit penalty. Other competitors avoided these fines by agreeing to make meaningless moves. Here is the game.
Salwe — Tarrasch, Nuremberg 1906
1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 c5 3.e3 Nc6 4.c4 e6 5.Nc3 Nf6 6.Bd3 Bd6 7.O-O O-O 8.Qe2 Qe7 9.b3 b6 10.Bb2 Bb7 11.Rad1 Rad8 12.Rfe1 Kh8 13.Ba1 Bb8 14.Bb1 Rfe8 15.cxd5 exd5 16.Qb2 cxd4 17.exd4 Qf8 18.Ne2 Ne4 19.Ng3 f5 20.Bd3 a6 21.a3 Bd6 22.b4 b5 23.Nd2 Nb8 24.Ngf1 Bf4 25.Nb3 Nd7 26.Nc5 Bc8 27.f3 Ng5 28.h4 Nxc5 29.dxc5 Nf7 30.Rxe8 Rxe8 31.Qb3 Rd8 32.Bb1 Qe7 33.Rxd5 Qxh4 34.Bxf5 Re8 35.Qc3 Bh6 36.Bxc8 Rxc8 37.Qd3 Re8 38.Rd7 Ng5 39.Be5 Ne6 40.g3 Qh5 41.f4 Kg8 42.c6 g5 43.Qxh7+ 1-0
First Picture Book of Chess. Chernev wrote that a book of Philidor's games, published in 1819, had illustrative diagrams showing the position of the pieces after every move. The editor, J.G. Pohlman, must therefore be given credit for being the originator of chess in movie form. John George Pohlman's book was titled Chess Rendered Familiar by Tabular Demonstrations of the Various Positions and Movements, as Described by Philidor; With Many Other Critical Situations and Moves, and a Concise Introduction to the Game.
Bald Heads Win Match. Chernev wrote that in 1891 a team match was played at the Manhattan Chess Club between the bald-headed members and the full-haired members. The bald heads won 14-11. The September 20, 1891 issue of the New York Tribune announced that the Manhattan CC had organized a chess match between its bald-headed members and "those blessed with full crops of hair." The bald-headed members claimed their opponents would "not be able to touch a hair on their heads." The players with the full heads of hair replied that they "will grasp their enemies where the wool is short." The event was played on September 26, 1891. Over 40 members of the Manhattan CC participated. The bald-headed team achieved a victory by the score of 14 to 11. Samuel Lipschutz, who played on the full-haired team and lost, later said that he would shave his head bald before the next year's contest so that he could play on the bald-headed team next time.
Singles Beat Married. Chernev wrote that a match between the bachelors and the married men was held at the New Orleans Chess, Checkers, and Whist Club in 1890. The single men won 8 to 4. The club building was destroyed by fire on January 21, 1890. In order to celebrated the opening of their new building at the end of the year, the New Orleans Club organized a chess match between their married and single members. The event took place after Christmas in 1890. There were 12 players on each side, and the bachelors won by 8 games to 4.
For Whom the Bell Tolls — 15 Times. Chernev wrote that Samisch lost all 15 of his games in a tournament held at Berlin in 1969. He lost every game on time limit! Friedrich Saemisch (1896-1975) was 73 years old at the time. He played in a chess tournament in memory of Adolf Anderssen in May, 1969. The event took place is Buesum, Germany, not Berlin. In that event, Bent Larsen took 1st place. Saemisch later played in a tournament in Linkoping, Sweden where he lost all 13 games on time control.
The Staunton Knight. Chernev wrote that the Staunton pattern Knight is modeled from the famous Greek horse of the Eglin Marbles in the British Museum. The design of the knight did come from the head of a Greek horse of the Eglin Marbles in the British Museum (brought to the museum in 1806). The head of a horse of Selene, the Moon Goddess, came from the east pediment of the Parthenon in Athens, Greece. The Parthenon had a sculpture of horses drawing the chariot of Selene. That sculpture was controversially removed by Thomas Bruce (1766-1841), the 7th earl of Eglin, when he was ambassador to the Ottoman Empire between 1799 and 1803. In 1816, he donated these "Eglin Marbles" to the British Museum.
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