Correspondence Chess Reminiscence N4


By Eric Ruch



Paris Marseilles correspondence games in the 1880s.

By Eric RUCH


 In this 4th issue of the ICCF Amici Sumus, I would like to report about the strange correspondence games played between the Paris and Marseilles Chess Clubs in the 1880s.

As far as I know, only one of these games has ever been published by Carlo Alberto Pagni in his monograph about CC games between Clubs during the 19th century, but the history of these, probably, unique CC games has never been brought to light.


Pagni mentioned in his book that the game was given to him by the German CC GM Hermann Heemsoth and that he has found the score in an old polish magazine! Hermann Heemsoth could not give me any more details about the game.


About one year ago, I was very lucky to find the following brief article, published in the Chess Monthly edited by L. Hoffer and J. Zkertort (Vol IV, December 1882, page 104):

We have received a collection* of one hundred self-mate endings, partly taken from actual play, partly original compositions, and the reminder transformation from direct into self-mates. Also some games played by correspondence between Paris and Marseilles, and games and endings of Four-Chess. The self mates average from two to fifty-five moves. The work is a labor of love, dedicated to the lovers of Chess by the author, Mons. Antoine Demonchy, of Marseilles. The little book of 144 pages , copiously illustrated with diagrams, is lithographed, and altogether of an elegant appearance.


*)  Une centaine de Fins de Parties Inverses  Ddie aux Amateurs dEchecs (Marseille 1882).


The German chess collector Ralf Binnewirtz could confirm that the game was published in this book. Finally, during the summer of 2004, I was fortunate enough to find and buy these two books written by Antoine Demonchy and find out that he actually published six CC games played between Paris and Marseilles during the 80s (probably many more have been played according to the book).


Front page of the book of A. Demonchy.



The unique feature about these games, is that they are not standard games, but losing games where you have to get mated to win the game! and as far as know, these are the first CC losing games ever played.

One must also note that these games were not played according to the currently most acknowledged losing chess rules, as for instance the capture was not compulsory.


The game published in the polish magazine was among the games published in the book and probably was the source of this publication.

Lets see this first game and see how you can force a player to mate you!!


Paris - Marseille

Corr, 1878

(White gives Queen odds)


1.d4 d5 2.c3 c6 3.f3 g6 4.e4 e6 5.e5 b4 6.d2 xc3 7.xc3 b5 8.h4 h5 9.0-0-0 a6 10.g5 f5 11.g3 h6 12.d3 f7 13.xf5 gxf5 14.xf7 xf7 15.d2 d7 16.he1 c5 17.dxc5 xc5 18.g5 g8 19.e3 b7 20.c3 c8 21.e3 d7 22.d4 xc3 23.bxc3 a5
24.d2 a4 25.b1 a6 26.g1 g4 27.b1 c8 28.b4 c4 29.xc4 dxc4 30.a3 f4
31.c1 fxg3 32.fxg3 xg3 33.b2 xh4 34.c1 e1+ 35.b2 d1 36.a7 xe5 37.c5 h4 38.d4 c6 39.e3 e5 40.f2 h3 41.g3 e4 42.f4 e6 43.g3 e3 44.f4 e2 45.g3 d7 46.h2 e1 47.f4 ee2 48.g3 dxc2+ 49.a1 f1+ 50.e1 d2 51.b1 h2 52.a1 h1 53.b1 f8  54.a1 xa3+ 55.b1 ad6 56.a1 f6 57.b1 c7 58.a1 b4 59.b1 b3 60.a1 b6 61.b1 a5 62.a1 e7 63.b1 c8 64.a1 b5 65.b1 a6 66.a1 b6 67.b1 h7+ 68.a1 xc3+ 69.xc3# 0-1 !!

White mates, but Black wins the game ! Astonishing !


For those who would like a little practical exercise I propose to test your ability by solving the following problem:



Black plays and wins (by getting mated!) in 7 moves!

Some good advice: do not use Fritz to solve it !


This game is already very fascinating but the next two ones played between the Paris and Marseilles during the same period are even much more fascinating. These are two games in one! The first game is played according to the standard chess rules, and the winner will be the player who mates his opponent (you will understand that one cannot resign in such a game). From the mating position, a move is taken back, and this new position is the starting point  for a new game played according to the losing chess rules!

Lets have a look to these amazing games!


Paris - Marseille

1st February 1880 27 May 1880
Antoine Demonchy  Une centaine de fins de parties inverses 


 Partie joue en mode normal puis en inverse ( qui perd gagne), par correspondance entre le 1er fvrier et le 27 mai 1880. Les Blancs jouent les trois premiers coups de suite.

White has the odds of three moves.


1.e4 -- 2.d4 -- 3.c3 c6 4.c4 e6 5.h3 a6 6.e5 g6 7.g5 e7 8.e4 xg5 9.hxg5 h6 10.d6+ f8 11.f3 xg5 12.xc8 f5 13.d5 cxd5 14.xd5 exd5 15.xd5 c6 16.xd7 d8 17.e6 fxe6 18.0-0-0 xd7 19.xd7 xc8 20.c3 b5 21.hd1 fe7 22.d2 d8 23.e3 xd7 24.xd7 f7 25.f4 d8 26.b7 h6 27.c7 f6 28.a3 d5+ 29.g4 xc7 30.h4 h5+ 31.f3 e5+ 32.e2 a5 33.f3 a4 34.g4 hxg4 35.fxg4 xg4 36.f3 h6 37.f4 d3 38.h5 a6 39.hxg6 e5+ 40.e4 c5# 0-1



Black mates and wins the first part of the game. The last move is then taken back and
the games was continued as follows :


40...d2! 41.f3 f5 42.b4 e4+ 43.g3 d3+ 44.h4 xc3 45.g7 g8 46.h5 e3 47.h4 e2 48.h5 f6 49.g4 f7 50.f4 e1 51.f5

There is always a way to release the Knight from his position to play  g8!


51...e7+ 52.g5 g8 53.f6 xa3 54.g5 e3 55.f6 a3 56.g5 a2 57.f6 a1+ 58.g5 ac3 59.g4 c7 60.g5 f2 61.g4 ff4+ 62.h5 c5 63.bxc5 b4 64.c6 g3 65.h6 b3 66.h5 b2 67.h6 b1 68.h5 d5 69.h6 ce5 70.c7 e6+ 71.h5 c8 72.h6 a3 73.h5 a5 74.h6 b2 75.h5 b4+ 76.h6 e1 77.g6 c6 78.h6 h3+ 79.g6 hh2 80.c8

80.c8 e6+!; 80.c8+ e8+!; 80.c8+ e8+!)


80...h6+ 81.xh6 h1+ 82.g6 e7+ 83.xe7#

White mates and Black wins the second part of the game.



Paris - Marseille

20 mai 1880 31 aot 1880
Antoine Demonchy  Une centaine de fins de parties inverses 


Games played in normal mode from 20 May till 19 August 1880, and then in losing
chess mode from 19 august till 31 august 1880.


1.e4 e5 2.f3 c6 3.d4 exd4 4.xd4 xd4 5.xd4 c5 6.e5+ e7 7.d5 h6 8.c3 f6 9.b3 a6 10.a4 d6 11.c4 g5 12.0-0 g7 13.d2 0-0 14.fe1 e6 15.d5 xd5 16.exd5 c7 17.f3 ae8 18.e3 xe3 19.xe3 e8 20.e1 e4 21.d2 xe1+ 22.xe1 d7 23.c3 xa4




24.b3 a2 25.xf6 xc2 26.d3 c1+ 27.f1 f4 28.xg7 xf3!
29.gxf3 xg7 30.h3 f6 31.c8 a5

The 31st move seems to be well played on both sides


32.xb7 c4 33.bxc4 a4 34.c5 dxc5 35.a6 e5 36.c4 f5
37.f1 a3 38.e2 d4 39.d6 xc4

Paris should have moved the Bishop.


40.d7 a2 41.d8 a1 42.d3+ b4 43.xf5 a6+ 44.e3 c4

If Paris had given check on b1, the game would probably have been drawn.



45.d4 d6+ 46.e4 d3+ 47.e5 xf5+ 48.xf5 c3 49.g6 c2 50.xh6 c1 51.h5 f4 52.h3 c5 53.g6 d6 54.h5 e6 55.g6 e7 56.h5 f6 57.h6

Paris is not allowed to resign decide to shorten the game.

 57...h4# 0-1


Position of the direct mat.


The game now goes on in losing chess mode :

57...e5! 58.h5 h4+ 59.g6 f4 60.f6 xh3 61.g6 e6+ 62.h5 f7+ 63.h6 f5 64.f4 g4 65.f3 f8+ 66.h5 g3 67.h4 g2 68.h3 g1 69.h4 g2 70.h5 fg7 71.h4 2g3+ 72.h5 f6 73.f5 f8 74.f4 f7 75.f6 g8 76.f7+ h7 77.f5 h8 78.f6 c5+! 79.h6 g7+ 80.fxg7#  0-1




It should be noted that the players of these two last games are not indicated
in the book, but one can assumed that Paris played with White and Marseilles
with black according to the notes of the game.



I would be very much interesting to hear from anyone knowing other examples of losing chess games played by correspondence, especially during the 19th century.


During the 20th century, there are least two other well known CC losing games.

The first games played between the problemist Hans Klver of Hamburg and Thomas R. Dawson of London during March and November 1923. This game has been published for the first time in the Deutsches Wochenschach in May 1924 and is among the very first true losing games played according to the most acknowledged rules of this form of chess.

The other one has been played between E.T.O Slater of London and the
same Hans Klver. I have found this game in Le Courrier des Echecs 
February 1955, without any indication of date.

Some CC Losing tournaments have been organized in the past, and, as far as I know,
the first one being the German tournament organized in 1948 by H. Kniest.


The most important feature of this type of chess are the following

The game is won for you if you are the first being unable to move; this may
happen by losing all your pieces or by stalemate.

Capturing is compulsory for each player; if there exists more than one possibility to take,
the player may choose the most favourable one.

The king has lost any royal properties, i.e. there exists no check or mate, so the K may be taken as any other piece. Especially he may also be created by a pawn promotion. Logically nowadays castling is not allowed (but it was allowed in older times, see the Klver game). Therefore a game without kings or with only one king is not unusual!


For more information see the excellent website of Fabrice Liardet (in French),
he is one of the greatest LC specialists:


Main Page  |  Issue 01  |  Issue 0 Issue 03  Issue 04


Copyright 2004,  International  Correspondence  Chess  Federation

    This page is maintained by     Raymond Boger