CHESS

Click to follow
The Independent Culture
THE TIME has come to hang up my pawns. After many decades' involvement in the game, as player, writer and guru, I recently made a discovery so horrifying that I doubt I shall ever be able to touch a chess piece again. What I found was nothing less than Adolf Anderssen's deathbed confession in which he explains what really happened in the game known as the "evergreen". And it exposes the most brilliant game in chess history as a sham and a travesty. This revelation has ruined everything for me. As far as chess is concerned, I wish, in future, to be known only as Colonel Walter Polhill (rtd) (rtd). Here is the evidence:

White: Adolf Anderssen

Black: Jean Dufresne

Berlin 1852 (offhand game)

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.b4 Bxb4 5.c3 Ba5 6.d4 exd4 7.0-0 d3 8.Qb3 Qf6 9.e5 Qg6

At this stage, Anderssen says that he was hoping he might regain one of his pawns, then scrape a draw in the endgame.

10.Re1 Nge7 11.Ba3 b5

"I now realised I had gone hopeless- ly wrong," Anderssen admits. "When his bishop comes to b7, it will join the queen to menace g2. I should not have pushed the pawn to e5."

12.Qxb5 Rb8 13.Qa4 Bb6 14.Nbd2 Bb7 15.Ne4

"Played more to block the long diagonal than with any aggressive intent."

15...Qf5 16.Bxd3 Qh5 17.Nf6+

"Rashly played," Anderssen says.

17...gxf6 18.exf6 Rg8 19.Rad1

This move, so widely praised as a touch of genius, was a "Fingerfehler". Anderssen had intended the desperate 19.Rxe7+ Nxe7 20.Re1, but touched the wrong rook first.

19...Qxf3 (See diagram.)

"With g2 under assault on the file and diagonal, my sole concern now was to ruin the game with a sequence of stupidities that would preclude its publication."

20.Rxe7+ Nxe7 21.Qxd7+ Kxd7

"My intention here had been to play 22.Be2+ and struggle on in an endgame some pieces behind. Then I saw something."

22.Bf5++ Ke8 23.Bd7+ Kf8 24.Bxe7 mate.

"All cheered and my opponent congratulated me. How could I confess my victory was pure luck?" Anderssen concludes.

Comments