Click to follow
The Independent Culture
Pusillanimous is the only word for it. As the many tedious draws in the recent Chess Olympics testify, the young players of today are too cautious for their own good. Can me a nostalgic old fool, but times were more exciting when the game was ruled by giants such as Wilhelm Steinitz, who never feared a bloody nose, let alone a backward pawn. Take this game, for example.

White: Mikhail Chigorin

Black: Wilhelm Steinitz

15th game, world title match, 1889

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.b4 Bxb4 5.c3

When this same Evans Gambit appeared in the Gunsberg-Steinitz match the following year, the champion - always a man of high principle - said, "if you are expecting me to continue with my own defence, then I shall do so." He promptly repeated the variation of the present game and lost in 24 moves. What a player!

5...Ba5 6.0-0 Qf6 7.d4 Nge7 8.d5 Nd8 9.Qa4 Bb6 10.Bg5 Qd6 11.Na3 c6 12.Rad1 Qb8 13.Bxe7 Kxe7 14.d6+ Kf8 15.Nxe5 (see diagram)

With his king a displaced person, and queen rook and bishop incarcerated on the Q-side, Black's game looks the picture of misery - which is when the fight really begins.

15...f6 16.Nf3 Bc5 17.e5!

A correct sacrifice. Maintaining the pawn on d6 is more important than defending against the threat of b5.

17...b5 18.Bxb5 cxb5 19.Nxb5 Ne6! 20.exf6 gxf6 21.Qh4 Kf7!

After 21...Qxb5? 22.Qxf6+ Kg8 23.Ne5, Black must surrender.

22.Qh5+ Kg8? 23.Qg4+? Kf7 24.Qh5+

Planning to meet 24...Kg8 with 25.Qe8+! Kg7 26.Qe7+ Kg8 27.Ne5! fxe5 28.Rd3, but Steinitz gives him no second chance.

24...Kg7! 25.Nfd4?

White could not bring himself to take a draw with 25.Qg4+, letting Black get away with his extravagant play .

25...Bxd4 26.Nxd4 Rf8! 27.Rd3 Bb7 28.Nxe6+ dxe6 29.Rh3 Be4 30.Qg4+ Bg6

Finally, Black's defences are secure and he must win with his extra piece. He ends with a neat bank-rank mating flourish.

31.Qxe6 Qb6 32.Qd5 Rad8 33.Rd1 Rfe8 34.c4 Rxd6! 35.Qf3 Rd3! 36.Qg4 Re4! White resigned.