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Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Arturo Quiroga's Missed Brilliancy?!

     I doubt anybody has ever heard of Arturo Quiroga, but according to an article in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle back in 1922, when a team of masters from the Manhattan Chess Club contested the first Pan-American cable match against a team from the Argentine Chess Club in Buenos Aires on April 23rd, Quiroga...well, you can read what the article said about the game for yourself.  More on this at the end of this post. 
     On the US end the Manhattan Chess Club's home was in the Hotel Sherman Square where a cable operator sat near the player and a teller would relay the moves which were then sent to main office from where they were cabled to far away Buenos Aires. 
     The match was terminated at two o'clock in the morning after fourteen and a half hours play and the time didn't include a break of an hour and a half for supper! Club officials in New York finally stepped in and proposed that the match be called to a halt even though only two games of the six board match had been completed. Those two games had been drawn. The four remaining game were all adjourned in complicated positions and they were to be sent to Capablanca who was the official adjudicator, but at the time he was in Paris. However, it was generally agreed that the New York team would be victorious by a final score of 4-2. 
     The only game in which the Manhattan team had even looked like losing was the Schroeder – Quiroga game which in the afternoon had been given up as lost, but fate intervened when Quiroga supposedly missed his chance. 
     The first game to actually reached a conclusion happened when Albert Marder agreed to a draw against Rolando Illa, ex-champion of Buenoes Aires after 26 moves. 
     The game between Oscar Chajes, former Manhattan club champion against Julio Lynch, regarded as the best player in Buenos Aires at the time was agreed drawn in 38 moves. 
     At second board Roy T. Black, former New York state champion was playing white against Benito Villegas. Black, who had traveled all the way from Syracuse, New York for the match, opened with the Ruy Lopez and succeeded in breaking up his opponent's K-side Pawns and at move 28 won one of them which gave him a decided advantage. 
     At board 4, Jacob Rosenthal, another former state champion, was playing Arnoldo Ellerman, a famous problem composer and one of the best players in Buenos Aires. For a long time they maneuvered cautiously behind their own lines and the outcome looked drawish. But, Rosenthal had two Bs against two Ns and thought that adjudication should result in his being awarded the point. At midnight Ellerman cabled that he had to stop play and Rosenthal agreed. 
     At board 6, Harold M. Phillips, president of the Intercollegiate Chess League met Belgrano Rawson's Caro-Kann with aggressive play and by advancing his h-Pawn had managed to break up Rawson's K-side. Their game was one of the two that continued all the way to two o'clock I n the morning.  Phillips had not yet managed to score the point, but it was believed he was very close to doing so. 
     After play had stopped Robert Raubitschek, chairman of the Manhattan's tournament committee that was in charge of the match, made an effort to come to an understanding with the captain of the Buenos Aires team to reach an agreement on the results of the unfinished games without sending them to Capablanca, but the Buenos Aires team was unwilling to accept the conclusions of the Manhattan team. It was expected that Capablanca's reply would take 4-5 weeks, but the Manhattan team was confident that they would win 4-2.
     Eventually a post card was received from Capablanca and he had awarded wins to Black and Phillips for Manhattan and Quiroga for Buenos Aires.  Capa singled out Phillips' game for his interesting and well-played game. 

Bd. 1) Chajes vs. Lynch drawn 
Bd. 2) Black vs. Villegas adjudicated as a win for Black 
Bd. 3) Marder vs. Illa drawn 
Bd. 4) Rosenthal vs. Ellerman adjudicated as a draw 
Bd. 5) Schroeder vs. Quiroga adjudicated as a win for Quiroga 
Bd. 6) Phillips vs. Rawson adjudicated as a win for Phillips 
Final score: Manhattan 3.5 Buenos Aires 2.5 
Buenos Aires had white on odd numbered boards 

     What's interesting is that everybody, including Capablanca, was wrong about the Schroeder vs. Quiroga game as analysis with Stockfish 9 shows. According to Stockfish, not only did Quiroga NOT have any advantage at move 19; he was actually lost as early as move 15. And, in a Shootout from the adjourned position at move 36 which Capablanca adjudicated as a win for black, all five games were drawn. 
    After playing over the game with Stockfish, I even went back and double checked the newspaper article just to confirm that I had it right. Indeed, in the Daily Eagle Helms had claimed that Quiroga missed an immortal brilliancy, but it never said how. And, in his published notes Schroeder not only never made any such claim, he didn't even comment on move 19. Conclusion: never believe everything you read in the paper.

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