Winning against both Capablanca and Fischer

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Gerard Killoran
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Re: Winning against both Capablanca and Fischer

Post by Gerard Killoran » Wed Apr 30, 2014 5:26 pm

From Francis Wheen's 'Karl Marx':

How could he be so wrong and yet so right? When he is in prophetic mood, Marx sometimes thinks like a chess player devising a fatal pincer movement on the black king six moves hence - not noticing, all the while, that his opponent can mate him far sooner. If the other player makes a mistake, Marx's calculations will be vindicated. And even if Marx loses, he can argue that he would have been proved right if only the battle had continued for a few minutes longer.

We know these chess players well - brilliant strategy, fragile tactics - and Marx was indeed one of them. Though unbeatable at draughts or checkers, he lacked the artful patience required for the infinite complexities of the chessboard. His style was noisy, argumentative, hot-tempered. In the early 1850s, soon after his arrival in London, he ended many an evening in wild fury as yet another German exile cornered his king. ‘One day,’ Wilhelm Liebknecht recalled, ‘Marx announced triumphantly that he had discovered a new move by which he would drive us all under cover. The challenge was accepted. And really - he defeated us all one after the other. Gradually, however, we learned victory from defeat, and I succeeded in checkmating Marx. It had become very late, and he grimly demanded revenge for next morning, in his house.'

At 11 a.m. the following day Liebknecht duly presented himself at Marx's rooms in Dean Street, to find that the great man had sat up all night refining and perfecting his ‘new move’. Once again, it seemed to work at first, and Marx celebrated his victory by calling for drinks and sandwiches. But then the struggle commenced in earnest: throughout the afternoon and evening the two men faced each other grimly across the black-and-white battlefield until, at midnight, Liebknecht succeeded in checkmating his opponent twice in succession. Marx was ready to continue until dawn, but his strong-willed housekeeper Helene Demuth had had enough: `Now,' she ordered the bleary-eyed contestants, ‘you stop!’

Early the next day Liebknecht was roused from his bed by a knock on the door. It was Helene, bearing a message: ‘Mrs Marx begs that you play no more chess with Moor in the evening - when he loses the game, he is most disagreeable.’

Liebknecht never played chess with Marx again; but his description of the Marxian technique – ‘he tried to make up what he lacked in science by zeal, impetuousness of attack and surprise’ - might be applied to the Communist Manifesto. Kings, queens, bishops and knights would all be forced into submission sooner or later, beaten down by the sheer determination of their challengers. Like the `new move' of which he was so proud, the manifesto was a weapon of revenge against his smugly superior adversaries, forged and fashioned during sleepless nights of brooding rage. His equally smug detractors today are therefore missing the point.

Unfortunately no game of Liebknecht seems to have survived, nor sadly does Wheen tell us what this 'new move' could have been. However Wheen gives the following as Marx's only recorded game, played at a party given by the German Gustav Neumann, who was of grandmaster strength. Is it genuine?

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IM Jack Rudd
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Re: Winning against both Capablanca and Fischer

Post by IM Jack Rudd » Wed Apr 30, 2014 7:06 pm

The game doesn't look like one you'd go to the effort of composing, so I'd think it was played; whether it was played by Marx and Meyer is anyone's guess.

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John Clarke
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Re: Winning against both Capablanca and Fischer

Post by John Clarke » Wed Apr 30, 2014 8:42 pm

Assiac includes the Marx game (with White's 3rd and 4th moves transposed) in The Delights Of Chess. There's no attribution other than saying his source for it was Shakmaty, and that it might have been played during Marx's London years. But he too was highly sceptical about the game's authenticity.
"The chess-board is the world ..... the player on the other side is hidden from us ..... he never overlooks a mistake, or makes the smallest allowance for ignorance."
(He doesn't let you resign and start again, either.)

Tim Harding
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Re: Winning against both Capablanca and Fischer

Post by Tim Harding » Wed Apr 30, 2014 10:39 pm

James Pratt wrote:which player beat Adams and Blackburne? (presumably in a simul or friendly). It is still unbelievable, :shock: yet..
Which Blackburne? Which Adams (Weaver? Jimmy? Michael?)

I doubt your answer "A. R. B. Thomas" if you mean J. H. Blackburne. Chapter and verse please.

In his book "Chess for the love of it" Thomas includes a DRAW against Blackburne from a Liverpool simul said to be autumn of 1920.

Can anyone supply a precise date for that simul please?
Tim Harding
Historian and Kibitzer

Author of 'Joseph Henry Blackburne: A Chess Biography' and 'Eminent Victorian Chess Players'

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