Correspondence Chess Reminiscence N8


By Eric Ruch



Brilliancy prices in Correspondence
Chess during the 19th century.


There is no doubt that the beauty is one of the major difference between chess and other games. Brilliancy in a chess game and much more than just playing correct moves: the chess player has to become a real artist!


In his book published in 1939 Les Prix de beaut aux Echecs, Franois Le Lionnais has not only defined the major rules that define a brilliant game, but he has also published an anthology of the chess games that have been awarded a brilliancy price, from the years 1870, when the concept of brilliancy prize has been introduced in the practice of chess tournaments up to the publication of the book. Unfortunately, some of the earlier master pieces played by Cocrane, La Bourdonnais, Anderssen, Kieseritzky or Morphy could received their deserved prices.


I will now present you some of these masterpices that have been played by correspondence during the 19th century.


The supplice of Tantale


This game has obtained the brilliancy price of the best King Gambit game played in the correspondence tournament organized by the Cincinnati Commercial Gazette.  George Tatnall lived in Wilmington (Del.)/ The umpire of tournament was M. Reichhelm.



Kittson George Tatnall [C37]


Annotations by Franois Le Lionnais "Les Prix de Beaut aux Echecs"



1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.f3 g5 4.c4 g4 5.e5 h4+ 6.f1 h6 7.d4 f3

The Silberschmidt gambit is a kind of Cochrane gambit.
is differed and prepared by 6...h6.


The most tempting move 8.gxf3 has been refuted by Staunton.


8...h3+ 9.f2 g2+ 10.e3 f5 11.c3

And not 11.exf5? that would expose the white King to a strong attack.

11...c6 12.d3

In the past 12.d3 was used to be played. The text move introduces a new idea
that seems correct: restrict and capture the black Queen. Correspondence chess
is the right place to test the soundness of such a plan.

12...fxe4 13.f4

The black Queen is now in jail. 

13...f5+ 14.xe4 d5+ 15.xd5 cxd5+ 16.cxd5 d6+ 17.d3 f2

Tatnall was in a hurry to escape, but he did not analyze correctly the position.
As was indicated by Reichelm,
17...f5+ 18.c3 f2 19.c7+ d7 20.xa8 xc2
was much stronger.


If 18.c7+ d8 19.xa8 White would concede for having capture the Rook a8. 

18...f5+ 19.c3 b5+ 20.b3

By playing 20.c4 White could prevent the following combination, but the white King would have been exposed to killing checks. It seems that White will now obtain what he wanted.





This move completely changes the situation of the game and
allows the Queen to be safely exchanged


21.xc2 xe3+!! 22.xe3 xd4+ 23.c3 xc2 24.xc2

Black is now a pawn ahead. 

24...h5 25.ed5 a6?

c7+ had to be prevented, but not with the text move, but by playing 25...d6 developing the Bishop. And it would have been Black who has obtained the brilliancy prize!! 

26.ae1+ f7 27.e5 c8+ 28.b1 c5 29.f5+ g8

If 29...g7 30.e6+; or 29...e8 30.e1+ etc.


This move, threatening to capture either the Bishop or the Rook, wins at least a pawn. 

30...h6 31.xf8 xd5 32.xd5 xf8 33.h3 b4 34.f5+ g7 35.hxg4 hxg4 36.d1!

Very well played. If 36.xh6 xh6 Black would have had good prospects on the King side.

 36...g6 37.b5 f2

The sacrifice of the Knight is not good. White can safely take it and
will have time enough to stop the f pawn.

38.xb4 g5 39.f4 h2 40.f1 g2 41.4xf2 xg3 42.f7 g2 43.xb7 1-0


 The next game has obtained the brilliancy prize in the second correspondence tournament organized by the Globe of Saint-John in Canada.

J.-B. Stebbins lived in New-York and James-Ephraim Narraway in Ottawa.



J.-B. Stebbins, - James Ephraim Narraway [C22]


Annotations by  Franois Le Lionnais "Les Prix de Beaut aux Echecs"


 1.e4 e5 2.d4 exd4 3.xd4 c6 4.e3 g6 5.d2 g7 6.c3 d6 7.f4 f6

7...ge7 is usually played in order not to obstruct the long diagonal for the Bishop at g7.


As the Knight f6 can go to g4 to threaten the Queen, it would have been
perhaps better to play
8.e2 -- 9.f3 -- 10.ge2

 8...d7 9.f3 b4 10.a3 xd3+ 11.xd3 e7 12.0-0-0 0-0-0

With the move 7.f4 White was expecting to attack the King on the King side.

 13.c4 c6 14.he1 he8 15.d5 d7 16.d4?

This attack is premature and cost some tempi and a pawn.

 16...xe4 17.xf6 xf6 18.xe4 xe4 19.b5 d5!

This nice move outplays White plan.


It was not possible to play 20.xa7+? b8 and the Knight is lost.

 20...a6 21.c3 f5 22.g1 d4!

Black has first stopped Whites army, and now starts the counterattack.


White should have moved the knight. But White had no idea of Black next move 




A bad surprise. But, as we have already explained, this is not a real Queen sacrifice,
since Black gets Rook, Knight and pawn for the Queen.

 24.xd7 cxb2+ 25.b1 xd7 26.g4

To prevent 26...g4 followed by 27...d1+




A another sacrifice, even more beautiful as the previous one. If White does
not capture the Rook, Black will play ...xa3 followed ...a1 mat.


White could have resigned the game. If 27.cxd3 xd3+ 28.a2 b1+ 29.xb1 xb1+ 30.xb1
and Blank has a winning endgame. If 27.gxf5 xa3 wins.
27.c5 e4 28.e1 c3 29.-- d2 wins.

 27...bxc1+ 28.xc1 d4 29.e1 e3 0-1

If 29...e3 30.b4 c5 etc.


 This game has obtained the special prize of the most brilliant Vienna Gambit in a correspondence tournament organized by the Southern California

M. Cecil F. Pierce lived in Los Angeles and M. W. Bennett in Phoenix.



Positional play in a romantic gambit!


Cecil F. Pierce W. Bennett [C25]


Annotations by Lipschutz published in the "Times Democrat"

and by Franois Le Lionnais "Les Prix de Beaut aux Echecs" 


1.e4 e5 2.c3 c6 3.f4 exf4 4.f3 g5 5.h4 g4 6.g5 h6

The following continuation, even less played, is safer: 6...d6 7.c4 e5 8.b3 h6

 7.xf7 xf7 8.d4

This move introduces the  Thorold attack in the Allgaier Gambit.
It is also the best move in the Hampe Allgaier Gambit.


8...f3 9.gxf3 e7 is better than the text move.

 9.xf4 f6 10.c4+ g7 11.0-0 e7 12.d2 d7 13.e5

A very strong move after which it seems difficult to find a correct defense.
Black has to exchange the pawns immediately.

 13...dxe5 14.dxe5 g8

The best move. If 14...c5+ 15.e3 and if 15...xe5 16.xc5 xc4 17.d4 e6 18.e4
would recover the piece with a better position.


Stronger than 15.g3


If 15...xe5 16.d4 f6 17.xf6 xf6 18.f1 -- 19.xe5

 16.e2 h5 17.ad1 c8 18.f2 h6 19.d5 g3

Cleverly, Black sacrifices a pawn to get their Queen into play. A detailed
analysis of the position would demonstrate that there is nothing better

If 19...f8 20.xh6+ xh6 21.e3+ g7 22.xe7 xf1+ 23.xf1 xe7
24.g5+ g6 25.f6+ h7 26.f5
and wins.

 20.xg3+ g4 21.xh6+ xh6 22.xe7

Well played. Black cannot capture the Queen due to 23.f5+ winning a piece.

 22...xe7 23.f2 c6 24.d4 g6 25.g4

Very nice style. The sacrifice of the pawn forces the win of a piece. If White had played
Black would have had some chances to secure a draw 25...g8 26.xg8 xg8
27.f5 h8 28.g5 e6 29.f8 h7



25...hxg4 26.f7+ xf7 27.xf7+ h8 28.xe7 xh4 29.d5 d8 30.c4 h5 31.g2 b5

Black tries to exchange the pawns to obtain an endgame with Rook against Rook and Bishop.

 32.xc7 xe5 33.xc6 bxc4 34.c5 e2+ 35.g3 xb2 1-0

White announces a mate in 16 moves!

Mate in 16 moves !



This game has obtained the special prize of the most brilliant Cunningham Gambit in a
correspondence tournament organized by the the Sourthern California  in 1894 - 1895.


 W. Bennett - Sheldon [C35]


Annotations by Lipschutz published in the "Times Democrat"

and by Franois Le Lionnais "Les Prix de Beaut aux Echecs" 


1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.f3 e7

This move is weak and seldom used in a match.

 4.c4 h4+ 5.f1

5.g3 -- 6.0-0 is also played, but the attack is probably not as strong as after the text move.

 5...d5 6.xd5 f6 7.c3 xd5 8.xd5 0-0 !!

A wonderful Queen sacrifice (F. Le Lionnais).

 9.xh4 xh4  




Si 10.xc7 c6 11.xa8 d4 12.c7 g4 13.e1 e2+
14.xe2 xe2 15.xe2 h5+
and wins (F. Le Lionnais).

 10...c6 11.xf4 f5 12.e5 g5

Black starts an attack that is maybe too risky (F. Le Lionnais).

 13.g3 h6 14.d4

It would be dangerous to capture the c pawn, in view of the reply 14...f4 followed by ...f3.

 14...f4 15.f2 f3 16.h3 g4

This seems to be a strong move winning a pawn, but Black Bishop is blocked.
A better continuation would have been
16...fxg2+ 17.xg2 xh3+ 18.xh3 xf2+ 19.xf2 xh3

 17.g3 xh3+ 18.g1 g4 19.d3 g7 20.e1 ad8 21.e4 d7

Black has probably overestimated the strength of their position when giving the exchange.

 22.f6+ xf6 23.exf6 xd4 24.d1 c5 25.c3 e2+ 26.h2 c7 1-0

White announces a mate in 7 moves.  

The superiority of Whites position comes from the inactivity of the
Black Bishop and from the fact that the Knight is too far away to protect his King.

26...c7 27.e6+ h8 (27...f7 28.xd8#; 27...f8 28.xc5+ etc.) 28.xc5 -- 29.d4 etc....


Mate in 7 moves.




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