The Astonishing Mrs.
are only few ladies in the correspondence
Chess world today, but they were probably even
fewer during the 19th century where most of
games were played by the cities Chess clubs.
It is rather surprising to find a lady
the match between England and America in 1877
and her games with Mr Gossip, a well known
mysogyne, were one of the main attraction of this
tournament and their progress were reported
almost every month in “La Stratégie”
or “The Chess Monthly” .
readers of these magazines may have been astonished
when the Mrs. Gilbert won all her 4 games against Mr.
Gossip. But the
most amazing was the announce by the lady of a mate in 35
moves to secure her first win
G.H.D Gossip was a famous
in the second part of the 19th century and he
published several famous chess books like
“Theory of the Chess Openings” (1891),
“The Chess Player Manual” (1902) and
“The Complete Chess Guide”
(1903) amongst others.
He has also worked on the
game at odds that
used to be very popular during the 19th century
and published one of the very few books solely
devoted to that very special kind of chess
“The Chess players’ Pocket Guide to Games at Odds” (1893).
G.H.D Gossip – Mrs J.W. Gilbert [C80]
Annotations by Wilhelm
Steinitz "The Field"
1.e4 e5 2.¤f3 ¤c6 3.¥b5 a6
4.¥a4 ¤f6 5.0-0 ¤xe4 6.d4 b5 7.¤xe5
Several theoreticians prefer7.¥b3
8.dxe5 after Black’s best reply
not advised to take the bishop, because White take the
queen Knight and another piece by
attacks the Rook and the Knight.
¤xb3 10.axb3 d6
dxe5 12.£xe5+ £e7 13.¥f4
should not let the exchange of the Queens, while the black
is in a bad position. With
13.£d5 they would have had good
to attack Blacks position:
13.£g3 ¥b7 14.¥f4 0-0-0 15.c4 b4 16.¤d2
a good game.
13.£d5 ¦b8 14.¥f4 ¥b7 15.£d2 ¦d8 16.£a5
with the threat
a good game.
Gossip has surely not foreseen this very good move when
letting the exchanges of the Queens. He thought he could
have won a pawn, but if he takes it now, Miss Gilbert
back the pawn with advantage.
15.c4 0-0-0 16.¤c3
mistake that costs a pawn. M. should have taken the pawn
with a good game. His isolated pawns are more than
compensated by the strength of his rooks on the c and d
16.cxb5 axb5 17.¤c3 b4 18.¤a4 ¥d6 19.¥xd6 ¦xd6 20.¤followed
¦a7 with an
16...b4 17.¤a4 ¦d3 18.¦fe1
¦xb3 19.¦e3 ¦xe3 20.fxe3 ¥e7 21.¥d4 ¦d8 22.¦f1 f6 23.¤c5
has made a lot of efforts to exchange his Knight with the
opponent’s King Bishop, to remain with the opposite colours
Bishops with good drawing chances. His last moves are
24.¥xc5 ¦d2 25.¦f2 ¦d1+ 26.¦f1 ¦xf1+ 27.¢xf1 a5 28.g3
Gossip was hoping more than a draw, he was wrong and has
forgotten, that when playing against a majority of pawns
with opposite colours
Bishops, the opponent’s pawns have to be forced to play on
square that have
an opposite colour to his own Bishop.
28.¥f8 g6 29.¥g7 f5 30.g3 ¥a6
(seems to be the best)
31.b3 a4 32.bxa4 ¥xc4+ 33.¢e1 ¢d7 34.¥f8 b3 35.¥g7
and the white King
stop the black pawns on c3.
28...¢d7 29.¢e2 ¢e6 30.¢d3
¢f5 31.¥f8 g6 32.¥e7 ¥g2 33.¢d4 b3 34.¢c5 a4 35.¢b4 ¥f1
was certainly better to take the a4 pawn.
move. It the Bishop is captured, the a pawn will advance to
decisive mistake. We think that by playing
Black King to advance, they would still have good chances to
draw the game.
Gilbert plays this game with great skill. The text move is
37...c6 that would have allowed
White to draw with
is also very clever. Black has immobilised the white King
on the queen side and with his king side pawns he will
opposite Bishop and obtain a passed pawn.
White takes the pawn on c7, Black will also get a passed
pawn by playing g5.
39...¢xg3 40.¢c3 h6 41.¢b4
Gilbert announces a mate in 35 moves !!
In the Chess Monthly issue of November 1879, one can read:
“ Dame Europe is by the
time accustomed to see all her great works dwindle to dwarfs
in comparison with the gigantic undertakings of her younger
sister on the other side of the Atlantic. Our players are
proud when they succeed in announcing a correct mate in
half-a dozen moves, whereas Mrs. Gilbert, the well known
lady champion, increases the number to three dozen. The
diagrams illustrates the position after the 42nd
move of White in a game played between Mr. Gossip (White)
and Mrs. Gilbert (Black) in the pending correspondence
match, England v. America. Mrs. Gilbert, in order to save
her unfortunate opponent all further trouble, presented him
courteously with the following short mate in 35 moves”
42...g5 43.hxg5 hxg5 44.¥d8
¢f4 45.e5 g4 46.¥xc7 g3 47.e6+ ¢f3 48.¥e5 g2 49.¥d4 ¢e2
50.e7 ¢f1 51.¢c3 g1£ 52.¥xg1 ¢xg1 53.¢d3 ¢f2 54.¢d2 ¢f3
55.¢d3 ¢f4 56.¢c4 ¢e5 57.¢b4 ¢e6 58.¢c4 ¢xe7 59.¢b4 ¢e6
60.¢c4 ¢e5 61.¢c3 ¢e4 62.¢c4 ¢e3 63.¢c3 ¢e2 64.¢b4 ¢d2
65.¢a3 ¢c2 66.¢b4 ¢xb2 67.¢a5 a3 68.¢b6 a2 69.¢xc6 a1£
best move for the shortest mate
b2 72.c7 b1£ 73.c8£ £d4+ 74.¢e7
the moves are correct and the best one for the shortest
74...£h7+ 75.¢e6 £g6+ 76.¢e7
J.W. Gilbert – Mr. G.H.D. Gossip [C80]
Notes from Wilhelm
Steinitz in the "The Field"
1.e4 e5 2.¤f3 ¤c6 3.¥b5 a6
4.¥a4 ¤f6 5.0-0 ¤xe4 6.¦e1 ¤c5 7.¥xc6 dxc6 8.¤xe5 ¥e7
9.d4 ¤e6 10.¥e3 0-0 11.¤c3 f6
move weakens the King file. The f7 pawn should not move in
to support the queen bishop or the knight on e6 and White
would not be
able to get a better profit than Black from the e file.
seems to us that the best plan in this position would
¤g7, ¥e6 or f5 followed by
¤f5 or e6.
12.¤d3 f5 13.¤e2 ¥d6 14.f4
move. The doubled pawn on c6 is blocked and becomes a
weakness that will force Blank to a defensive position. If
the b pawn had to be played,
it should have been moved only a single step.
Gilbert has immediately spotted the weak point in her
position et moves her forces towards this side of the board.
15...¥b7 16.c4 bxc4 17.¤c5
Better would have been the immediate capture of the pawn,
obtaining a strong attack after
misses a good opportunity to release the pressure.
They should have captured the knight with the bishop, eg:
17...¥xc5 18.dxc5 £d3 19.¤c3 ¦fe8 20.£a4 ¤xf4 21.¦cd1 ¦xe3
wins, with two rooks and a bishop for the queen.
18.¦xc4 ¦b8 19.b3 £f6 20.£d3
was useless, Black capturing with the queen and threatening
sets a trap in which "Dame Champion" does not fall. .
Had White played
¤xe6, aiming for the capture of
the c6 pawn with the rook,
Black would have captured with the bishop threatening
21...¤xc5 22.dxc5 ¥e7 23.¤d4
excellent move that cause a lot of problem to Black.
Their bishop can only move to b7 where he is useless.
23...¢h8 24.£c2 ¥h4 25.¥f2
excellent way to maintain the initiative. Black has nothing
to swap the bishops leaving White with a knight in an
compared to their own bishop that has no perspective.
could also play the g2 pawn, because Black can take no
of the piece sacrifice:
25.g3 ¥xg3 26.hxg3 £xg3+ 27.¢f1 h5 28.¢e2 ¦e8 29.¢d2
26.£xf2 ¦e8 27.¤f3 ¥b7 28.¤e5 £e6 29.¦c4 ¦bd8 30.¦c3 £f6
has no resources.
32.£e2 ¦d4 33.£h5 g6 34.£h6
loses quickly, but Black has a very limited choice of moves:
White answers with
35.¤xg6+ followed by
34...¢g8 35.¤xg6 £xg6 (35...hxg6 36.¦e6) 36.¦g3
wins in both cases;
34...¦g8 the answer would be
35.¤f7+ followed by
All this proves the skill with which Miss Gilbert leads the
the Chess Monthly of December 1879, one can read :
“ Mrs. Gilbert has
achieved another surprising feat in announcing at her 36th
move a mate in 21 to Mr. Gossip. Our readers are aware that
in the International Post Card Tourney Mr. Gossip had the
honour to be Mrs. Gilbert’s opponent. The lady champion won
three games and the fourth resulted in a draw(*). The mate
in 35 moves we gave last month, was the astonishing ending
of one of the four games. Last year on our journey to Paris
we had a young American as travelling companion, and after
different subject of conversation had been exhausted, the
new boat Castalia came on the tapis. Not speaking
from our own experience we expressed an opinion that
crossing the Channel in her will be quite a pleasure. “I
guess she is a wonderful vessel” – replied our Yankee – “ I
saw her practising on the Calais pier, and shave off
half of it in less than no time.” We guess Mrs. Gilbert has
been practising on Mr. Gossip and shave off a good
part of the pier on which his Chess reputation was based. It
is a severe blow to Mr. Gossip’s claim to
pre-eminence and we hope he will in the future take the wise
adage to heart that: Discretion is the better part of a
(*) In fact the final
result was 4-0 and was rectified some months later (E. Ruch)
¢g8 37.£xg7+ ¢xg7 38.¤xf8 ¦xf8 39.¦e7+ ¦f7
doubt that the mate could have
been given in the indicated number of moves
40.¦xh7+ ¢xh7 41.¦xf7+ ¢g6
42.¦xc7 ¥a8 43.¦a7 ¥b7 44.¦xb7 ¢f6 45.h4 ¢g6
46.¦c7 ¢f6 47.¦xc6+ ¢e7 48.h5 ¢d7 49.¦g6 ¢e7 50.c6 a5 51.c7
¢d7 52.h6 ¢xc7
53.h7 a4 54.h8£ axb3 55.£h7+ ¢c8 56.¦g8# 1-0
M. G.H.D. Gossip – Mrs.
J.W. Gilbert [C42]
Notes from "La Stratégie"
Game published in the "Cleveland Voice".
1.e4 e5 2.¤f3 ¤f6 3.¤xe5 d6
4.¤f3 ¤xe4 5.d4 d5 6.¥d3 ¤c6
7.0-0 ¥e7 8.c4 ¥e6 9.£b3
this is played according to the generally recognized theory
of this opening.
best. Black threatens
...dxc4 followed by
£xb7 Black would answer
the better development.
M. Gossip had the hope to get an advantage by opening the
11.d5 exf3 12.dxc6 b6 13.¦d1 £c8 14.¤c3
mistake. The only move was
this point on "Dame Champion" initiates with great skill, a
£e8 16.£a4 f6 17.£b3 £g6+ 18.¢h1 £h5 19.¢g1 ¥xh2+
20.¢f1 £xf3 21.¤d5 £h1+ 22.¢e2
could have given up here.
22...¥g4+ 23.¢d2 £g2 24.¢c3
¥e5+ 25.¢c2 ¥xd1+ 26.¢xd1 £xf2
27.¥d2 ¦ad8 28.¢c2 £f5+ 29.£d3 £xd3+ 30.¢xd3 ¥xb2 31.¦g1 ¥e5
32.¥h6 ¦f7 33.¥e3 ¦d6 34.¦b1 ¦xc6 0-1
Mrs. J.W. Gilbert – M.
G.H.D. Gossip [C42]
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nf3
d5 6.Bd3 Nc6
7.0-0 Be7 8.c4 Nf6 9.h3 Be6 10.c5 a5 11.a3 0-0
12.Nc3 Qd7 13.b4 Ne8
14.Ne2 Bf6 15.Be3 g6 16.Ra2 Ne7 17.Nf4
Bf5 18.Bxf5 Nxf5 19.g4 Be7
20.Bd3 c6 21.Re2 Nc7 22.Nfe5 Qc8
23.f4 Nb5 24.Qc1 Bg7 25.Rg2 f6 26.Nf3 Rh8
27.h4 a4 28.f5
gxf5 29.h5 Rg8 30.h6 Bf8 31.g5 Ng6 32.gxf6 Qe6 33.Ng5