Correspondence Chess Reminiscence N6


By Eric Ruch


The John G. White Chess and Checkers Collections
Fine Arts & Special Collections of the Cleveland Public Library. 


I had recently the opportunity to spend some days in Cleveland, Ohio.
Everyone interested in Chess history, and probably most of the chess players
around the world know that Cleveland hosts the most wonderful chess library in the
world! and of course, I spent there a couple of days, searching for new elements that
will help us to better understand the history of correspondence chess.


The John G. White Collection of Folklore, Orientalia, and Chess at the
Cleveland Public Library is the largest and most comprehensive chess library
in the World. The John G. White Collection of Chess and Checkers was officially
established in 1928, when White bequeathed his famous chess collections to the
Cleveland Public Library. John G. White (1845 1928) signed his last will and
testament on May 11, 1905 and attached a codicil on February 9, 1928, the year he died.
Through his will he donated his personal library to the Cleveland Public
Library and established the John G. White Trust Fund. The income from the
Trust Funs was to be used for the acquisition of new materials. He stipulated
that his chess and checkers collections was to be kept together:


keeping with all articles and books belonging hereto, even although the more important contents of such books might indicate a place elsewhere. A list of this collection is formed by the entries in my interleaved copy of the van der Lindes Jahrtausend, which are marked with a red star or a dagger... Each edition or seperate state of a book or pamphlet is to be acquired


He also charged the trusties:


to complete the chess collection by acquiring books, pamphlets,
lithographs, etching, engravings, etc. relating in whole or part to chess
and checkers, which I have not been able to obtain




A portrait of John G. White in the reading room.


The list of John G. White effects transferred from his home to the library
included 11 892 chess and checkers books, pamphlet and single number of periodicals,
300 loose leaves of manuscript, 428 chessmen, 86 chess pictures and 11 boxes of newspapers.
The collection was evaluated by Thomas J Holmes, librarian of the W.C. Mather Library
and appraised the collection to $ 300 000. Today the collection includes more than
70 000 books and manuscripts of incalculable value.


Unfortunately, you cannot see all the fabulous collection, since the stacks are
closes for security reasons. But all the member of the library are very helpful and
will bring you in the reading room all the material that you are locking for! You
can probably find there many unique items found no where else in the world.


A view of the reading room.


If you have a chance to stay some hours in Cleveland, have a look at the
John G. White Library!


The Public Library building in Cleveland.


The entry of the John G. White exhibition corridor. 


It would not be wise to conclude this article, without presenting to you a
chess game. In the last issue of the ICCF Amici magazine, I have presented
an interesting correspondence game played on the radio, between
M. Jeanton Lamarche and the listeners of Radio Limoges, in 1949.


Meanwhile I have found another correspondence game played on the radio
by two strong OTB masters, M. Alexander and Bernstein. The initiative of this
game is due to M. Leca, director of the French section of the BBC. The game was
played between the 15 February 1946 and the 20 April 1946, and a move was given
every day on the BBC channel. One of the opponent gave a short analysis of the
game every Saturday on the radio.

Alexander (1909 1974) was one of the major English chess player in the
mid of the last century. The same year, in 1946, he achieved a very convincing
win against Botvinnik in the radio match Great Britain against USSR.

Bernstein (1882 1960) was also a very strong player, second only to
Chigorine in the 1903 Russian OTB championship before he settled in France in 1917.

The game has been published  in l Echiquier de Paris in 1946
(pages 44 to 46) with the annotations of Dr. Bernstein.



Conel Hugh ODonel Alexander Dr Ossip Samoilovich Bernstein

corr (radio) 15/02/1946 20/04/1946

Ruy Lopez C88

Annotation by Dr. Bernstein


1.e4 e5 2.f3 c6 3.b5 a6 4.a4 f6 5.0-0 e7



The most recent variation is

5...xe4 6.d4 b5 7.b3 d5 8.dxe5 e6 9.c3 c5 10.bd2 0-0 11.c2 xf2 12.xf2 f6

Black will have a Rook and a pawn for Bishop and Knight and a slight attack.
It is not yet easy to give a definite answer about the value of this line of play.
My impression is that White has the better propects.


6.e1 b5 7.b3 0-0



This move gives Black more possibilities than
as for instance: 7...0-0 8.c3 d5 9.exd5 xd5 10.xe5 xe5 11.xe5 f6 (or 11...c6 )
with the attack in compensation of the sacrificed pawn.

8.a4 b4

Better than 8...b8  

9.d4 d6

The best move After 9...exd4 10.e5 would be difficult to meet.;
If 9...xd4 White could probably play 10.xf7+ xf7 11.xe5 with a strong attack.




White continues to play as if the moves 8.a4 b4 have not been played,
and this slight detail is the main cause of their loss.

After 10...bxc3 and the following text moves, the squares b3 and b4,
and the pawn a4 become very weak. The long dark diagonal will eventually
open to the Black Bishop and White has no compensation at all.

10.d5 would lead nowhere, due to  10...b7 followed by 11.dxe5 xd5

It seems that 10.h3 was preferable, leaving Black with a weak pawn at b4
and the need to find a suitable square for the light square Bishop. Black could have played 10...xd4 11.xd4 exd4 12.xd4 c5 13.d3 b7 14.-- d5 but the game is now more or less equal.

10...bxc3 11.bxc3 g4 12.e3 exd4

If 12...xe4 13.d5 d7 14.dxe5 and White is better.

Note the curious variation 14...c5 15.xc5 dxc5 16.h3 xf3?? 17.xf7+ winning Black Queen.



White misses the last chance to maintain equality. After the text move, the
white central pawns become too weak. They should have played

13...d5 14.exd5

This move had to be played due to the weakness of the squares c3 and b4.

In the standard line (without the moves 8.a4 b4), White could now play e5,
and if Black replies e4, White could play c3, threatening the Knight at e4
and the pawn at d5. Black would have no other choice than the exchange of the
Knights, that would increase the strength of white central pawns.

This line is now impossible, due to the missing pawn at b2.

On the other hand 14.e5 e4 15.bd2 would be bad due to 15...b4 

14...xd5 15.c2

White has no good move to play. If 15.bd2 b4 


This move maintains the central tension, which favors Black, that has a
better development of the pieces - White Rook at a1 and Knight b1 are out of the play.

is bad due to 16.xc6
15...xe3 16.xc6 f5
is better, but Black would have no more than an equal game.

16.e4 d7

16...c8 would be better in some variations, but White could have continued
with 17.d1 and save the d pawn and maintain an equal game.

After 16...d7 the move 17.d1 would be bad due to 17...f5 18.f4 c2
19.xc2 xc2 20.a2 6b4 21.b2 xa4
and Black has won a pawn, while
maintaining a strong attack on the queen side.

17.d5 a5 18.d1

If 18.e5 f5 19.xg4 xg4 (19...xe5 would be bad due to 20.d2) 20.xg4 xb3
21.a3 c2
and Black wins the exchange and the game.

18...f5 19.e5

The only move. If 19.d4 d3 wins


The best reply. If 19...c8 White seems to be hopeless after
20.d4 d8 21.c3 c5 22.d2 f6 23.f3 c4 24.e2 d3

In fact, White can save the game with 23.g4 Black would win a pawn,
but it would be difficult, if not almost impossible to win the game, due to the
bad position of the Black pieces.


20.xd7 fe8!!



Black Rook threatens the opposing rook through the three Bishops!

The position of the Knight at d7 has become difficult and White cannot
avoid anymore some loss of material. The pawn d5 is lost and Black can
win a second pawn after  ...f5 followed by ...f6. Again the long dark diagonal !


This is not the best move, and loses very quickly.
White had probably overlooked the very strong 22nd move of Black. 

21.d2 was better. Black would have replied 21...d6 with the
threat ...f5.(A strange variation would occur after 21...f5 22.xe7 xe7
23.xb4 xd7 24.xa5 xd5 25.f3 ad8 26.xd5 xd5 27.d2 f6
and Black wins the piece back.
It would however be difficult to win the game, due to the opposite color Bishops.


21...cxb6 22.xe4 f5!

Otherwise, White could protect the Knight with g4.



23.e6 was a little better, but the outcome of the game would have been the same
23...ad8 24.e5
(24.xb6? f6 wins at once.) 24...f6 25.xe8+ xe8 26.f4
and Black wins two pawns.


23...ad8 24.e5 f6 25.f4 xd5 26.g3 xf4 27.gxf4 xd1+ 28.g2 b3




 A very instructive game about the Ruy Lopez.  



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