Correspondence Chess Reminiscence N3


By Eric Ruch


The Astonishing Mrs. Gilbert 

By Eric RUCH



There are only few ladies in the correspondence
Chess world today, but they were probably even
fewer during the 19th century where most of  the
games were played by the cities Chess clubs.


It is rather surprising to find a lady playing in
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 Stratgie
or The Chess Monthly .




The 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

G.H.D Gossip was a famous british chessplayer
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).



 M. 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 followed by 8.dxe5 after Blacks best reply 7...d5.


It is not advised to take the bishop, because White take the
queen Knight and another piece by
e1 followed by f3.

 8.dxe5 c5

If 8...bxa4 9.d5  attacks the Rook and the Knight.

 9.b3 xb3 10.axb3 d6

We prefer 10...d5.

 11.e2 dxe5 12.xe5+ e7 13.f4

They should not let the exchange of the Queens, while the black queen
is in a bad position. With
13.g3 or 13.d5 they would have had good chances
to attack Blacks position:
13.g3 b7 14.f4 0-0-0 15.c4 b4 16.d2 followed by
17.c5 or 17.e3
with a good game. 13.d5 b8 14.f4 b7 15.d2 d8 16.a5
with the threat
with a good game.

 13...xe5 14.xe5 b7

M. 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 answers with c8 gaining back the pawn with advantage.

15.c4 0-0-0 16.c3

A 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 files. 16.cxb5 axb5 17.c3 b4 18.a4 d6 19.xd6 xd6 20.followed by either a4, a5 or a7 with an excellent game.


16...b4 17.a4 d3 18.fe1 xb3 19.e3 xe3 20.fxe3 e7 21.d4 d8 22.f1 f6 23.c5

White has made a lot of efforts to exchange his Knight with the opponents King Bishop, to remain with the opposite colours Bishops with good drawing chances. His last moves are clever.

 23...xc5 24.xc5 d2 25.f2 d1+ 26.f1 xf1+ 27.xf1 a5 28.g3

If M. 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 opponents pawns have to be forced to play on square that have
an opposite colour to his own Bishop.

For example : 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 will
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 36.c5

It was certainly better to take the a4 pawn.


Nice move. It the Bishop is captured, the a pawn will advance to queen.


The decisive mistake. We think that by playing 37.h3, preventing the
Black King to advance, they would still have good chances to draw the game.


Miss Gilbert plays this game with great skill. The text move is much
better than
37...c6 that would have allowed White to draw with 38.e4+.

 38.d8 g4

This is also very clever. Black has immobilised the white King
on the queen side and with his king side pawns he will capture the
opposite Bishop and obtain a passed pawn.


If White takes the pawn on c7, Black will also get a passed pawn by playing g5.

39...xg3 40.c3 h6 41.b4 g4 42.e4



Mrs. 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 70.d7 a3

The best move for the shortest mate

 71.c6 b2 72.c7 b1 73.c8 d4+ 74.e7

All the moves are correct and the best one for the shortest mate.

 74...h7+ 75.e6 g6+ 76.e7 dd6# 0-1



 Mrs. 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

This move weakens the King file. The f7 pawn should not move in order
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.

It seems to us that the best plan in this position would
be g6,
g7, e6 or f5 followed  by f5 or e6.

 12.d3 f5 13.e2 d6 14.f4 b5

A bad move. The doubled pawn on c6 is blocked and becomes a permanent
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.


Miss Gilbert has immediately spotted the weak point in her opponents
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


Black 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 22.xd3 xe1+
23.f2 xd3+
wins, with two rooks and a bishop for the queen.

 18.xc4 b8 19.b3 f6 20.d3

20.xe6 was useless, Black capturing with the queen and threatening the bishop.

20...g6 21.a4

Black 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

An 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

An excellent way to maintain the initiative. Black has nothing better than
to swap the bishops leaving White with a knight in an excellent position
 compared to their own bishop that has no perspective.

White could also play the g2 pawn, because Black can take no advantage
of the piece sacrifice:
25.g3 xg3 26.hxg3 xg3+ 27.f1 h5 28.e2 e8 29.d2 and win.

 25...xf2+ 26.xf2 e8 27.f3 b7 28.e5 e6 29.c4 bd8 30.c3 f6 31.ce3 f8

Black has no resources.

 32.e2 d4 33.h5 g6 34.h6 dd8

This loses quickly, but Black has a very limited choice of moves:
White answers with 35.xg6+ followed by e8+;
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 e7.
All this proves the skill with which Miss Gilbert leads the fight!


35.h3 g7



In 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. Gilberts 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. Gossips 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 Chess player.


(*) In fact the final result was 4-0 and was rectified some months later (E. Ruch)


 36.xg6+ g8 37.xg7+ xg7 38.xf8 xf8 39.e7+ f7

Had Black played ...f6, we 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 Stratgie" 1879
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

All this is played according to the generally recognized theory of this opening.


The best. Black threatens ...dxc4 followed by ...a5.


Had he played xb7 Black would answer ...a5 with the better development.
M. Gossip had the hope to get an advantage by opening the queen file.

 10...dxe4 11.d5 exf3 12.dxc6 b6 13.d1 c8 14.c3

A mistake. The only move was f4.


From this point on "Dame Champion" initiates with great skill, a victorious counter-attack

 15.gxf3 e8 16.a4 f6 17.b3 g6+ 18.h1 h5 19.g1 xh2+
20.f1 xf3 21.d5 h1+ 22.e2

White 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 Nxe4 5.d4 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



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