chess William Hartston

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Celebrations have been held this year to mark the centenary of the great Hastings tournament of 1895 and the bicentenary of the death of Philidor. Yet another bicentenary falls this year which has been oddly neglected, the birth of Louis de la Bourdonnais, the strongest player in the world from around 1820 until his death in 1840. His most famous encounter was a series of matches in 1834 with Alexander McDonnell. They played 85 games over four months, with La Bourdonnais winning 45, drawing 13 and losing 27. During the games, according to a contemporary account, he "talked and laughed a good deal at intervals and swore tolerably round oaths... when fate ran counter to his schemes". Here is their 16th game:

McDonnell-La Bourdonnais: 1 e4 c5 2 f4 Nc6 3 Nf3 e6 4 c3 d5 5 e5 f6 6 Na3 Nh6 7 Nc2 Qb6 8 d4 Bd7 9 Ne3 cxd4 10 cxd4 Bb4+ 11 Kf2 0-0 12 Kg3 Rac8 13 h4 fxe5 14 fxe5 Rxf3+! 15 gxf3 Nxd4 16 Bd3 Rf8 17 f4 Bc5 18 Rf1 Bb5 19 Bxb5 Qxb5 20 Kh3 Ne2 21 Ng2 Nf5 22 Kh2 Neg3 23 Rf3 Ne4 24 Qf1 Qe8 25 b4 Bd4 26 Rb1 Qh5 27 Rb3 Rc8! 28 Be3 Rc2 29 Kg1 Nxe3 30 Rfxe3 Nd2 31 Qd3 Rc1+ 32 Kh2 Nf1+ 33 Kh3 Nxe3 34 Nxe3 Qf3+ 35 Kh2 Rh1 mate.

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