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Re: Sir George Alan Thomas

Posted: Tue Jan 14, 2014 6:14 pm
by Matt Mackenzie
That game with Alekhine was the only win Keres ever had against him in serious play :shock:

Re: Sir George Alan Thomas

Posted: Wed Jan 15, 2014 2:11 pm
by Gerard Killoran
Tim Harding wrote:
O.G. Urcan wrote:I'd like to make some points about various issues in this discussion:

1. The Lasker vs Thomas game is in K. Whyld's 1998 book on Lasker, with a slightly different date: 17, not 18, April 1896.

2. On 5 January Tryfon Gavriel referred to Capablanca's "3rd wife". He was married twice.

3. It's good to see so much scepticism being expressed here about the site.

- Olimpiu G. Urcan
1. Though somebody else found a source (Hampshire Telegraph, 25 April 1896) which gives the Lasker-Thomas simul game and says it was played "on Saturday", I note that other newspapers included in the British Newspaper Archive also mention the simul.
The Standard, Monday 20 April, says that Lasker gave a 28-board simul on the evening of Friday 17, at the Victoria Hall, Criterion, scoring 20 wins. 2 losses and 6 draws. Opponents' names are not mentioned but it's unlikely he gave another simul there the next day. So from this it seems likely Whyld was right. We need another reliable primary source to determine which is the right date. Unfortunately I don't have access at home to BCM etc for that year but maybe somebody else would like to check.
The Belfast News-letter, 23 April, also says Lasker's simul was on the Friday.
The Newcastle Courant, 25 April, gives more details but neglected to state the date of the simul. However various references to times in the evening point to Friday as a Saturday event might have been played earlier in the day.
The Saturday is a less plausible date because various reports show that on the 18th the City of London Club had a match over 19 boards, so Lasker would have deprived himself of one source of opponents had he chosen that day.

2. Personally I have not researched Capablanca but I tend to believe Mr. Urcan here. Chapter and verse anyone?

3. I agree. It seems that Mr Gavriel is in a minority of almost only one on this site in defending the indefensible. Look at for "infotainment" if you must but give it zero credence for historical source value.
This is a great example of how historical research works. I found one contemporary report - which was possibly inaccurate. A real chess historian has now quoted other sources to challenge a detail of my version of events. If proved wrong I will amend that detail. Getting the small details right is a guarantee of getting the big details right too. It is also a warning about reliance on a single source e.g. Olga Capablanca.

Re: Sir George Alan Thomas

Posted: Wed Jan 15, 2014 3:50 pm
by Geoff Chandler
Hi Gerrard.

You are correct and in theory that is how it should work. Speculation and Correction.

What we need now is a 'search & replace' feature that runs through the entire net looking for the mistakes and correcting them.

Alas it won't work.
Once some piece of fabrication has escaped it's so hard to stop it.

For example:
After all the condenming of chessgames I had a look at my pet correction.

Wilhelm Steinitz vs Curt von Bardeleben, Hasting 1895.
And the correct reason why von Bardeleben left the playing room. has 7 pages of kibitzing, the last one was posted just a few days ago.

The myth about him being a sore loser soon crops up as does von Bardeleben's suicide/accidental death.
This prompted one nutter to post:

"He lived like a dog and he died like a dog! So be it!"

The link to Edward Winter putting them right as to the true reason why von Bardeleben left finally appears on page 5.

Alas on page 6 it's up and running again this time with von Bardeleben's butler
delivering a hand written note to Steinitz telling him he had resigned.

Personally I only hit chessgames if I quickly need a game/position. I rarely read the kibitizing
and have never dived into the site to see what else is there.
Maybe I should next time I'm stuck for a column idea.

I get my inpiration from RHP and Here.
The next blog (just polishing it up at the moment - I'll add a link later, I only logged on to find out
how long Queen Isabella I reigned for and nick a map a the world.)
It's all about showing a golden oldie to the modern players plus a wee piece of chess history and
it came from this thread!

I've run into a wobbly.

Chosen game is Spielmann-Tarrasch San Sebastian 1912.
(I'll take a look at chessgames as I need some help)

Nothing of help there. They have not looked at the game properly.

Here White to play. Tarrasch has just played 38...Qb2-b5

38...Qb5 lets the miserable b1 Bishop out onto a2 and the variation giving by Tarrasch
was something I was looking forward to showing.

That is so unclear. I cannot find the clockwork win I like (must) show my readers.
Loads of lines where the Rook, almost study like, Harpoons the Bishops.
(I use harpoon instead of fork and skewer if the attacked pieces are of the same value.)

I spent ages at work looking at this with another lad.
It's too messy for me. I cannot leave my readers in that position after c2.
I'll get 100's of PM's.

I might bug out and just glide past it and show the brillo-mungo finish.

But I wanted so much to write that 'Tarrasch, whose game sprinkle with humour,
On move 18 he traps the sad Bishop on b1 only to release on move 38 so it can take part in White's downfall.'


Re: Sir George Alan Thomas

Posted: Wed Jan 15, 2014 4:01 pm
by Peter Sowray

41... Bd3.



Re: Sir George Alan Thomas

Posted: Wed Jan 15, 2014 4:09 pm
by Roger de Coverly
Geoff Chandler wrote: Here White to play. Tarrasch has just played 38...Qb2-b5

38...Qb5 lets the miserable b1 Bishop out onto a2 and the variation giving by Tarrasch
was something I was looking forward to showing.

That is so unclear. I cannot find the clockwork win I like (must) show my readers.
I'd be inclined to suggest that Black finds ways to improve his position before forcing the win of the Bishop. So a move 43 that isn't c1=Q. I don't think White can do anything constructive while the pawn sits on c2. Finding a strong square for the Black King comes into consideration.

Your suggested 45. b4 presumably with Ra2 to follow looks to give White activity, particularly on the White squares which the Bishop on e4 is unable to influence.

Re: Sir George Alan Thomas

Posted: Wed Jan 15, 2014 4:16 pm
by Geoff Chandler
Hi Peter and Roger.

No back-tracking. Tarrasch in 'The Game of Chess' (the very last game)
Tarrasch gives the 41...Rxb3 line as winning.

Same in 'Diemoderne Schachpartie' (game No.31) after Black plays c3-c2.

"und Scwarz behalt die beioden Laufer fur den Turm."

And Black has two Bishops against the Rook. (or something like that).

Reinfeld copies Tarrasch notes and just says after c3-c2 Black wins.

Re: Sir George Alan Thomas

Posted: Wed Jan 15, 2014 4:21 pm
by Geoff Chandler
Harpoons everywhere.

Re: Sir George Alan Thomas

Posted: Wed Jan 15, 2014 5:57 pm
by Stephen Saunders
Geoff, if you want to show readers a "clockwork win" you have to point out that Tarrasch's 38...Qb5 is actually a mistake, and the cleanest win is 38...Qxb1 39.Rxb1 Rxb1 when White has no defence against ...Rc1xc2 followed by march of the c-pawn. There must be numerous similar instances where the winning blow isn't seen until one move *after* it becomes available.

The win isn't spoiled - as Peter Sowray points out, 41...Bd3 still wins the c-pawn. So Tarrasch's analysis as well as his play was faulty. Nothing unusual about that. Even the very strongest can rarely achieve perfection!

Re: Sir George Alan Thomas

Posted: Wed Jan 15, 2014 10:15 pm
by Geoff Chandler
Hi Stephen.

I had mentioned that already in a sub variation. I rarely do re-writes.
Guess I was just having a rant because I missed it first time round.

If I see a mistake or a dodgey note I mark it with a pen.
That game in my Reinfeld's Tarrasch is unmarked except to say 'Beautiful'.
I nooded along with everyone else. I hate nodding along with everyone else.

In the end I blame me for Tarrach's mistake! ... postid=157

At least now you will know what to say when you are in the kitchen at parties.

Re: Sir George Alan Thomas

Posted: Thu Jan 16, 2014 10:51 am
by Gerard Killoran
Back on topic - which in case you've forgotten - is about the game won by the young G A Thomas against Lasker; I have one more contribution.

The boy George's victory reached our colonial cousins down under, who reprinted the game with the following introduction:

The Queenslander (Brisbane, Qld. : 1866 - 1939) Saturday 27 June 1896 p 1212

Defeat of the World's Chess Champion by a boy of 14 years of age.

Mr. Lasker took a novel and enterprising step (says the "Daily News”) in giving a public exhibition of simultaneous play on his own account at the Victoria Hall, Criterion Restaurant, London, on 17th April last. His appeal to players to meet him over the board was well responded to by the large number of twenty-eight opponents, who faced the champion at 8 p.m. when play began. Four of that number were members of the Ladies' Chess Club. At 9 p.m. there was an interval of ten minutes, and play was resumed and continued till 11.30, by while time four games were finished. Messrs. Tinsley and Gunsberg adjudicated on the unfinished games, the result being that two of the remaining games were given as lost against Mr. Lasker, the champion winning about twenty, and drawing five or six. One of the two games lost by Mr. Lasker was won by Mr. George Allan Thomas, son of Lady Thomas. He conducted the game with very good judgment, showing him to be a player of talent and promise for the future. One of twenty-eight games contested in Mr. Lasker's simultaneous performance at the Criterion on Saturday:-

So there you have it. Proof that the game took place on Friday 17th April 1896...

... and the Saturday.

Re: Sir George Alan Thomas

Posted: Thu Jan 16, 2014 11:52 am
by Stephen Saunders
I must admit I'd never heard of the Lasker-Thomas simul game before I encountered this thread. Lasker won their game at Nottingham 1936. Is waiting forty years for revenge a record? Or did they play other games in the interval?

Re: Sir George Alan Thomas

Posted: Thu Jan 16, 2014 12:38 pm
by Geoff Chandler
Hi Stephen.

Yes, smashing piece of research by Gerard.

Cannot find another game. So it does appear it is a 40 year gap.

(unless you want to count that famous 5 minute's a joke) :)

A one minute search on the net was all it took to find at least one site that has this one wrong.

Emanuel Lasker vs. George A. Thomas, London, 1912

Although there is a correction on the site naming White correctly
as Edward Lasker the main banner has not been corrected.

Re: Sir George Alan Thomas

Posted: Thu Jan 16, 2014 1:17 pm
by Stephen Saunders
Geoff, I suppose the fact is their careers didn't overlap all that much. Despite his 1896 success, Sir George didn't play regularly in international tournaments until the 20s, and Lasker was effectively retired after Moscow 1925, until Nazi activity forced him back to the chessboard.

I should love to know if Lasker remembered Thomas from their earlier game, or if he said something about it to him!

Re: Sir George Alan Thomas

Posted: Sat Feb 01, 2014 4:50 pm
by Simon Spivack
We live, dead to the land beneath us,
Ten steps away, no one hears our speeches,

But where there's so much as half a conversation
The Kremlin's mountaineer will get his mention.

His fingers are fat as grubs
And the words, final as lead weights, fall from his lips,

His cockroach whiskers leer
And his boot tops gleam.

Around him a rabble of thin-necked leaders-
Fawning half-men for him to play with.

They whinny, purr or whine
As he prates and points a finger,

One by one forging his laws, to be flung
Like horseshoes at the head, the eye or the groin.

And every killing is a treat
For the broad-chested Ossete.

Max Hayward's translation of Osip Mandelstam's poem be found on page 13 of Nadezhda Mandelstam's Hope Against Hope - ISBN 0 14 00 3789 5.
O.G. Urcan wrote:
Leonard Barden wrote:There is no evidence that Stalin personally cared about or played chess. As for his friendship with Krylenko, that didn't prevent K being purged and shot in 1938. The Stalin hiding behind a curtain to watch the games story remains a fiction of Olga Capablanca, for whom Winter seems to have a soft spot. As for other Russians throwing games to Botvinnik, Moscow 1935 was just as important as Moscow 1936 and there Botvinnik lost twice to compatriots, Kan and Bogatyrchuk.
I completely disagree. While it is no secret that oral history type of accounts require much care, I think Mr Winter's handling of the material he obtained (from a direct - and important - source) was faultless.
I'm not certain I understand what purpose is served by the adverb completely in Olimpiu's text, some of what Leonard wrote is incontestably true. I presume Olimpiu is trying to say he believes this story of Stalin hiding behind a curtain. Certainly, nobody, as far as I can see, disputes that Edward Winter conscientiously recorded what he was given by Olga Capablanca.

Nonetheless, without wishing to be unkind, the objections to Leonard's interpretation appear to be based on excessive faith in testimony and written records, as opposed to a good grounding in the history of the period. The latter makes it close to a cast iron certainty, in the absence of convincing corroboration contrariwise, that this story is, at best, a figment of the imagination.

This is not an adverse criticism of Olimpiu or anyone else, we all have our weaknesses. Writing about chess history imposes huge linguistic, cultural, geographical and historical challenges. Collaboration is essential. Indeed, Edward Winter himself is vulnerable. I could go further and say I am not convinced that he always explains all that he should do, and, at other times, gives too much. To give an instance of the former, one is entitled to query C.N. 8220. The note reads Tomasz Lissowski (Warsaw) reports that Arthur Tartakower is buried in Kotowice Cemetery. He goes on to give a reference. I had never heard of Kotowice, I have learnt that there are villages bearing that name; nonetheless, I strongly maintain that there is ample scope for confusion with the better known Katowice, which I had heard of. Incidentally, I've asked a few Poles in London, not one of them thought of these villages, they all assumed that the city was correct. One could add that Winter gives (CN 4089) Voronkov’s article ... mentioned Tartakower’s brother Artur ... He died on 19 November 1914 on the battle-ground near Katowice (in Silesia, ...

Returning to the matter at hand, I should say that I've read quite a few books about Stalin and Russian history; I cannot recall one of them mentioning that this expelled seminary student ever evinced an interest in chess: unlike Lenin or Trotsky. Whether Stalin was ever capable of a normal friendship from the mid-1930s (If you are a traitor, I shall kill you, as he said to his soon to be late "friend" Kosarov, the then leader of the Komsomol) is something I'll leave to psychiatrists, it is sufficient to note that if anyone could have laid title to have been friends of his, it was the Alliluyevs. So let us consider what Adam Ulam had to say in his book on Stalin, ISBN 0 7139 0506 9. On page 142, writing of the year 1917: Anna Alliluyeva remembers the Stalin of those days as often smiling. He adopted the Alliluyevs, and when they moved to a flat in a modern apartment building, he asked them to keep a room at his disposal. In 1948 Stalin ordered the arrest and exile of his two sisters-in-law, Anna Alliluyeva and the widow of Paul Alliluyev (See page 673). On pages 34-5 there is Sergei Alliluyev ... encountered the man with whom his connection was to bring his family so much tragedy. Stalin's future father-in-law ... by his own accounts had a quick temper ... In the evening of his life the old revolutionary occasionally visited his son-in-law's Kremlin quarters, waiting meekly in line for a chance to speak to him but then hurriedly taking his leave when Stalin arrived ...It is a measure of Russia during the 1930s that this man of fierce temperament and strong loyalties could not or would not dare to intercede on behalf of threatened members of his own family ... On page 354, Among the casualties ... was Stalin's wife, who took her own life on the night of November 8-9, 1932 ... she shot herself with a revolver given to her by her brother Paul. A further Ulam quote is: Considerations of sentiment played a scant role for the man who imprisoned or destroyed most of his in-laws by both marriages and who joked about his eldest son's unsuccessful attempt at suicide. Roy Medvedev, incidentally, devoted an entire chapter to the suicide of Nadezhda Alliluyeva.

A further example of someone, who in the mid-1920s could reasonably have claimed to have been a good friend of the Man of Steel, was Bukharin, the Darling of the Party. Indeed, it has been suggested that Bukharin made a significant contribution to Stalin's treatise on nationalities, code for the allegation that Koba (as Stalin was sometimes addressed by Bukharin, e.g. Koba, why did you need my death?) lacked the intellectual hinterland for such a paper.

I find it extremely difficult to recognise the relationship between Stalin and Krylenko in the mid-1930s as being a "friendship", it was certainly not a close one. For sure, they knew one another; however, Krylenko was much more closely associated with Lenin (one can read this, for instance, in The Soviet Union, a Biographical Dictionary, edited by Archie Brown, ISBN 0-297-82010-9). For example, shortly after the Bolshevik coup, Ensign Krylenko was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the soon to disappear Russian Army.

Stalin, who was physically impaired, made certain that his public appearances were carefully managed. He also loved to play cruel tricks on his victims, sometimes telephoning them during the weeks and months in which they were being hounded by the Chekha. It is also true that he had a direct link to the Show Trials. During the Bukharin trial the wires from the microphone were extended to the Kremlin (see Medvedev, Let History Judge ISBN 0 19 215362 5, page 371). Note as well, that the deification of Stalin began in earnest after the Seventeenth Party Congress of 1934 (e.g. Volkogonov's book on Stalin, page 217). One can add that Stalin was far from an indolent dictator, he wouldn't have had the time for something he wasn't interested in; Colonel-General Volkogonov, on page 240 of Triumph and Tragedy, ISBN 0 297 81080 4, wrote: I estimate that he read between one hundred and two hundred documents a day, ranging from one page to whole files. Observe, as well, that Soviet children were indoctrinated with Stalin is thinking about us (Volkogonov, page 242). It is easy to imagine omnipresence; although, certainly, such an argument would not necessarily have applied to either of the Capablancas. Further cause for doubting this story is that Stalin, the "supreme genius of mankind", who, "if only he had had the time" would have been good at anything, would not have been able to engage in such play-acting over the chessboard. In summary, it makes no sense whatsoever for him to have hidden behind a curtain over something he was indifferent to.

Re: Sir George Alan Thomas

Posted: Sun Feb 09, 2014 3:59 am
by O.G. Urcan
Thanks for the interesting post, Simon.

Obviously, the "I completely disagree" bit from my text referred to Mr Barden's speculative comment about Mr Winter's alleged soft spots...Mr Winter has done nothing more than to simply reproduce an account he obtained from Olga Capablanca. While reading that text, why would/should one assume/speculate a complete approval from Mr Winter with everything she recounted? I did not. Perhaps some readers would have wanted to hear more from him on the topic but I am sure there were readers who appreciated him not speculating at all...

Like with other similar cases, on the specific matter if Stalin had any liking or connections to chess whatsoever: I have not done any sort of research on that subject so, unsurprisingly, rather than speculating, I will choose the most sensible thing to do: refraining from any commentary on this. However, I must say that I would certainly read with interest any research piece that would be well anchored in first-hand primary and (reliable) secondary material.