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Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Dobbs Ferry 1899

     Finally, a short chess break! Between replacing drywall and flooring the waterproofers tore up, finishing the remodeling project and tending to the outside yard work, it's finally possible to spend some time blogging which is not only easier, but a lot cheaper! 
     I have been browsing through the 1899 editions of the American Chess Magazine. The magazine was published monthly by New York publisher William Borsodi. The magazine was one of several excellent US chess magazines published in the 1800s; others included Fiske's Chess Monthly, Brentano's Chess Monthly, Steinitz's International Chess Magazine and The Columbia Chess Chronicle. Borsodi's magazine enjoyed only a brief life from June 1897 to December 1899.
     Each issue had about 60 pages and included a lot of photographs, chess news from home and abroad, tournament and match reports, games, problems, correspondence chess, obituaries, book reviews and brief biographies. 
     Over the July Fourth weekend in 1899 the magazine sponsored a tournament played at the Glen Tower Hotel in Dobbs Ferry, New York. The town (2010 population was 10,875) is located on the Hudson River about 25 miles north of New York City. 
     The hotel is gone now, but according to the July 3, 1898 issue of the New York Journal, the hotel, just 85 minutes from the city, was cool, comfortable and an ideal summer place where cultured and refined people could golf. Plus, the hotel featured four clay tennis courts, a gymnasium, a swimming pool and billiards and pool tables. There were magnificent roads that offered opportunities for driving and cycling (the American Chess Magazine even mentioned that the hotel was on a main road that made cycling up from New York City possible). Boating was also available. 
     If all that that wasn't enticing enough, the hotel had just added electric bells and...this is a big one...there was public sanitary plumbing throughout the hotel. Although the smaller than expected turnout was disappointing, the room in which the event was held was pleasant, airy and it had electric lights. The tournament room also housed a college library and had tables with filed with magazines, but American Chess Magazine lamented the fact that few of the players took advantage of any of that! 
The final standings were: 
1-2) Gustav Koehler 4.5 
1-2) Eugene Delmar 4.5 
3-5) Harold M. Phillips 3.0 
3-5) James Hanham 3.0 
3-5) Harry Zirn 3.0 
6-7) E.M. Stoehr 2.0 
6-7) Edward Behr 2.0 
8) F.J. McRickhard 1.0 
9-10) A.H. Bierwith 0.0
9-10) C. H. Pratt 0.0 

     One of the more interesting games from the event was between Hanham and Delmar. Major James M. Hanham was born in Woodville, Mississippi on January 4, 1840 and died December 30, 1923 in New York City. 
     Between 1884 and 1889 Hanham participated in many US and international tournaments. In the international tournaments he performed respectably but not spectacularly, usually finishing in the bottom half. 
     Although from the South, during the Civil War Hanham fought for the North. After the war, he moved to Manhattan and a writer in the New York Times, described him as "...a little, nervous man, who hates to sit still. He won his title during the war of the rebellion. He was one of the dudes of the tournament and was always dressed in the latest style, with a carefully polished silk hat and neatly trimmed beard." 
     Today he is remembered today for several innovations in the opening, particularly the Hanham Variation of the Philidor Defense. He has also been credited with inventing what today is known as the Grand Prix Attack against the Sicilian (1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.f4), the Indian Opening (1.e4 e5 2.d3), and the Hanham Variation of the French Defense (1.e4 e6 2.d3), often referred to today as the King's Indian Attack. 
     For over 50 years Eugene Delmar (September 12, 1841 - February 22, 1909, 67 years old) was one of the leading players in the United States. A Brooklyn Chess Club champion, in 1876 he tied for 2nd place in the New York Clipper tournament. In 1879, he defeated Sam Loyd in a match in New York (+5-1=2). In 1885, he won the Manhattan Chess Club championship. In 1888, he defeated Samuel Lipschutz in a match (+5-3=0). In 1890, 1891, 1895 and 1897 he won the New York State Chess Association championship. In 1904, he finished in last place at Cambridge Springs (+3-9=3).

James Hanham - Eugene Delmar

Result: 1/2-1/2

Site: Dobbs Ferry, New York

Date: 1899

Sicilian, Alapin Variation

[...] 1.e4 c5 2.♘f3 ♘c6 3.c3 This is the deferred form of the Alapin which for many years was not held in high esteem, but today it is considered to be one of the most solid and respectable anti-Sicilians. 3...g6 4.d4 cxd4 5.cxd4 ♗g7 6.♘c3 d6 7.♗e3
7.h3 ♘f6 8.d5 ♘e5 9.♘xe5 dxe5 10.♗e3 O-O 11.♗e2 Positionally white has the better game. Petr,M (2526)-Docekal,J (2307)/Czech Rep 2012
7...e6 8.♗e2 ♘ge7 9.O-O O-O 10.♖c1 ♗d7 11.a3 ♖c8 white stands well. Hayes,M-Ziolkowski,M/ICC INT 2009
8.d5 ♘e5 If black wants to play this he should first play 8...Bxf3 9.♘xe5 This must have been something of a surprise, but in reality it offers white no more than a draw.
9.♗d4 ♗xf3 10.♕a4+ ♔f8 11.♗xe5 ♗xe5 12.gxf3 Black is better. Ton Nu Hong,A-Luong Nhat Linh/Hue 2005
9.♗b5+ Best as it give white a slight plus. 9...♔f8 10.♗e2 ♗xf3 11.gxf3 ♘f6 12.f4 White is better. Rodriguez Cespedes,A (2495)-Ibrahim,S/Dubai 1986
9...♗xd1 10.♗b5+ ♔f8 11.♘d7+ Hanham was expecting his opponent to take the draw by 11...Ke8 12.Ne5+, etc. 11...♕xd7 After this white is better. 12.♗xd7 ♗c2 13.♔d2 This allows black to equalize.
13.f3 ♘f6 14.♗b5 a6 15.♗e2 ♘d7 16.♔d2 ♗xc3+ 17.♔xc3 ♖c8+ 18.♔d2 ♗a4 and white is better.
13...♘f6 14.♔xc2 ♘xd7 15.♖ad1 a6 16.♗d4 ♖c8 17.♔b1 ♖c4 18.♘e2 ♘c5 19.f3 ♖b4 20.♖d2 h5 21.♖c1 So far the maneuvering has been pretty boring and after 21...Bxd4 the game looks drawish. 21...b6 But this move is a serious mistake which Hanham fails to take advantage of.
21...♗xd4 22.♖xd4 ♖xd4 23.♘xd4 a5 Securing the Ns position. 24.a3 a4
22.♗xg7+ ♔xg7 23.♘d4 Threatening to win a P with Nc6. 23...♖e8 24.♘c6 ♖b5 25.b4 a5 26.a3 axb4 27.♘d4 ♖a5 28.axb4 wins
(22.♗c3 is also good. 22...♗xc3 23.♖xc3 ♔g7 24.♘d4 ♖e8 25.♘c6) 22...♖a4 Neither player seems to be aware of the danger black is in on the Q-side.
22...♖xd4 was his best chance although after 23.♘xd4 ♗h6 24.♖dc2 ♗xc1 25.♔xc1 white has a strategically won position because his R will penetrate on the c-file and his N is more actively placed.
23.♔a2 Not bad but 23.Bxg7+ was more forceful. (23.♗xg7+ ♔xg7 24.♔a2 ♘xe4 25.fxe4 ♖xe4 26.♖c7 with a won position.) 23...♖xd4 24.♖xd4 ♗xd4 25.♘xd4 a5
25...h4 26.b4 ♘d7 27.♖c7 ♘e5 28.♖c8+ ♔g7 29.♖xh8 ♔xh8 30.b5 If black play 30...axb5 the white simply marches his K up and captures the Q-side Ps. If black plays 25...a5 then 26.Nc6 wins.
26.♖c3 This is a elementary mistake that allows black to secure his N on c5 and keep the c-file closed.
26.b4 driving the N away wins outright after 26...♘d7 27.♖c8+ ♔g7 28.♖xh8 ♔xh8 29.♔b3 Black's N is useless and his K is too far away to be of any good.
26...a4 27.♖c4 ♔g7 28.♘c6 ♖e8 29.♖b4 e6
29...f5 was better because after 30.exf5 gxf5 31.♖xb6 ♔f6 32.♖b5 e5 (32...e6 33.♖xc5 dxc5 34.d6 wins) 33.dxe6 ♖xe6 black has activated all of his pieces and should be able to draw with little difficulty.
30.dxe6 fxe6 31.♖xb6 White's more active pieces assure him of the advantage. 31...♔f6 32.♘a5 ♖d8 33.♘c4 ♔e7 34.♖c6 Threatening to win a P by 35.Nxd6 34...♘d3 35.♘b6 ♘e1 36.♘xa4 ♘xg2 37.b4 ♖f8 38.♖c7+
38.b5 was faster 38...♘f4+⁠−39.♖c7+ ♔d8 40.b6
38...♔d8 39.♖g7
39.♖c6 packed more punch. After 39...♘e1 40.♖xd6+ ♔e7 41.e5 ♘xf3 42.♘c5 ♖f5 43.♖xe6+ white wins easily.
39...♖xf3 40.♖xg6 ♘f4 41.♖g8+ ♔c7 42.b5 ♘e2 White now has an easy win by simply pushing his b-Pawn. 43.♖g7+ With this unfortunate move almost all of white's advantage evaporates.
43.b6+ ♔b7 44.♖g7+ ♔b8 45.e5 Very nice! If black captures the P then white can play the crushing 46.Nc5 45...♖d3 46.♖h7 ♘c1+ 47.♔b2 ♖d4 48.exd6 ♘d3+ 49.♔c3 ♖xd6 50.♖xh5 with a won ending.
43...♔b8 44.♖g8+
44.e5 was worth a try though it's not as potent as earlier. 44...dxe5 45.♘c5 ♘c3+ 46.♔b2 ♘d1+ 47.♔c1 ♖c3+ 48.♔xd1 ♖xc5 49.♖g8+ ♔b7 50.a4⩲
44...♔b7 A draw was agreed. The game was played out afterward and Hamham thought he demonstrated a win. While does have a slight advantage there does not seem to be a forced win. In Shootouts both Stockfish and Komodo scored +1 -0 =4 in favor of white. My guess is that between humans white may very well be able to pull off the win
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