Sunday, August 26, 2007

Regal Games from the Realms of Yore: La Bourdonnais vs McDonnell 1834

Today, in our Sunday series Regal Games from the Realms of Yore, we feature the famous fiftieth game of the McDonnell-La Bourdonnais Championship Match of 1834. Wikipedia says of the match:

It was the first match of any importance in the history of chess and is still referred to today as the World Championship of 1834. The games were published widely, and were annotated and discussed by enthusiasts all over Europe. In the course of the mammoth encounter, both players introduced several innovations, a few of which are still seen today. It might even be said that the modern era of chess began with the McDonnell-La Bourdonnais match of 1834.

Like the first game in the Regal Game series (Celebrated Chess Games from History - Stefan Levitsky vs Frank James Marshall 1912), this is one of the earliest "classic" games I remember playing through. The game was included in the Random House book The World of Chess by Anthony Saidy and Norman Lessing, which is where I came across it in 1974.

Like Chernev and Reinfeld did earlier, Saidy and Lessing hooked me into playing over this game with an intriguing statement:

McDonnell sacrifices his queen on the 13th move, a sacrifice that only leads to fruition twenty -three moves later.

White resigns - he is helpless against the threat of ...Ng2 check followed by ...Rh3 mate.

The authors conclude:

Beyond inserting a number of exclamation points it is useless to try and analyze the wildly uninhibited game. Howard Stauntion, the famous English player, made the attempt some years later, only to give up with the historic remark: "It seems uttertly impossible for either player to save the game!"

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