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Vienna-Paris Postal Chess

The following game is one of two annotated by Wilhelm Steinitz in the January 1886 issue of the International Chess Magazine. Here we can see Steinitz at work as a chess journalist, facing deadlines and other pressures - yet observe the care and thoroughness taken with his analysis. Both games are given in ChessBase format for download on the web page given in The Collected Works of Wilhelm Steinitz CD, for which complete details may be found there. Hundreds of games were annotated by Steinitz in this manner, which together form the basis of modern chess.

Vienna-Paris, 1885

[Event "inter-city corr."] [Site "corr."] [Date "1885.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "CITY Vienna"] [Black "CITY Paris"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "E14"] [Annotator "Steinitz, W."] [PlyCount "122"] [EventDate "2004.06.23"] [EventType "match (corr)"] [Source "Pickard & Son"] [SourceDate "2004.09.25"] 1. c4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Nc3 Be7 {[The best post for the second player's King's Bishop in this opening, which having taken its ordinary turn, is now transformed in a Queen's Gambit position.]} 5. e3 O-O 6. Be2 ({But we believe that it is more advantageous in most cases for the first player to place the King's Bishop at} 6. Bd3 {In the present game White has subsequently to lose a move with this Bishop.}) 6... b6 7. O-O Bb7 8. b3 Nbd7 ({Usually} 8... c5 {is played at this point, followed by 9...Nc6. But M. Rosenthal opines that the Queen's Knight is better placed at d7 with the view of bringing it to g6 via f8 after removing ...Re8, or else in order to support a center attack at f6 after playing ...Ne4.}) 9. Bb2 c5 10. Bd3 ({Which is already a confession of error on the sixth move, for which, however, there was no necessity. We believe that White in this and similar positions may safely exchange both center pawns, commencing with} 10. cxd5 {If then Black, in the usual way, retake both pawns with a pawn} exd5 11. dxc5 bxc5 {then White might proceed with} 12. Ne1 {followed by} -- 13. Nd3 {[%cal Ye2f3] and 14.Bf3, after which White may strengthen the attack accordingly by Nf4 and Rc1. If Black can be compelled to advance one of the center pawns, it can then either be isolated by exchanging, or else it may be left in a weak condition without exchanging according to circumstances.}) 10... Ne4 11. cxd5 Nxc3 12. Bxc3 Bxd5 13. e4 ({We prefer} 13. Qe2 {in which case Black could not well advance} f5 { for then the game might proceed thus:} 14. Nd2 Nf6 15. dxc5 Bxc5 16. e4 {with the better game.}) 13... Bb7 14. Re1 ({If} 14. Qe2 cxd4 15. Bxd4 Nc5 16. Bxc5 ( {best, for they can still less afford to allow the exchange of their King's Bishop for the Knight, nor can they well retreat} 16. Bc2 {on account of the reply} Ba6) 16... Bxc5 {with the better game. (Rosenthal.)}) 14... cxd4 15. Bxd4 Bc5 16. Bb2 Qe7 17. a3 ({A weak move which is the cause of great trouble to Vienna. We understand from M. Rosenthal's remarks that Vienna wished to avoid drawn positions in the present game at all hazards, as seemingly the other game was lost for them at this stage. We, however, believe that they would have run no risk at all and would have kept a good game in hand with a prospect of attack by} 17. e5 {when the following was a probable continuation:} Bb4 18. Re3 Nc5 ({Or} 18... Bc5 19. Nd4 Qg5 20. Rg3 Qxe5 21. Qd2 {[%cal Yd4f5] and wins. For if} Bxd4 ({or} 21... f6 22. Nxe6 {which can not be retaken} Qxe6 {on account of the reply} 23. Bc4 {If any other 21st move for Black, then follows 22.Nf5, etc.}) 22. Bxd4 {and the Queen dare not retake} Qxd4 {on account of} 23. Bxh7+) 19. Bc2 {[%cal Ya2a3] threatening 20.a3, and Black dare not answer} Rad8 {on account of the reply} 20. Qb1) 17... a5 ({Nor does this meet with our approval. We think that} 17... e5 {was the only correct play, and if then} 18. b4 Bd6 {[%cal Ya7a5] followed by} 19. -- Rfd8 {or 19...a5, with an excellent game.}) 18. Qe2 (18. e5 {was even now preferable.}) 18... Rfd8 19. a4 {[It has taken them two moves to advance this pawn, and, moreover, their position on the Queenside becomes worse, if anything, thereby.]} Nf8 20. Bc1 {[We agree with M. Rosenthal who disapproves of this move and maintains that the Bishop was necessary on his previous diagonal in support of and eventual advance of the e-pawn.]} h6 21. Be3 Bxe3 22. Qxe3 Nd7 23. Bc4 Nc5 24. Nd2 ({Disastrous.} 24. e5 {followed, should Black answer} Bd5 {by} 25. Nd4 { would have given them a defensible game. (Rosenthal.)}) 24... Rd7 25. Nf3 ({No doubt the Vienna party had a difficult game, but we do not think that the sacrifice of the pawn was absolutely necessary. We would have preferred defending by} 25. f3 {[%cal Yd2b1,Yb1c3,Yb1a3] followed by 26.Nb1 and then accordingly either by Na3 or Nc3.}) 25... Bxe4 26. Ne5 Rdd8 ({If} 26... Rd6 27. Qf4 Bg6 ({best; if the Bishop retreat anywhere else, White may answer 28.Nxf7, for instance, if} 27... Bf5 28. Nxf7 Kxf7 29. Qxf5+ {etc.}) 28. Nxg6 {and Black's superiority of pawns is no more as compact as before.}) 27. Qf4 Bb7 28. Be2 ({Unsatisfactory as this is, they seem to have had no better prospect of continuing the attack on the Kingside.} 28. Re3 {looks the most feasible continuation, but, as M. Rosenthal proves, it would not have made any lasting impression. We extract from his analysis the following main variations:} Rd2 29. Rg3 Rad8 30. Qxh6 f6 31. Qh4 Rd1+ 32. Rxd1 ({or} 32. Bf1 Rxa1 33. Ng6 ({if } 33. Rh3 {then Black wins in a similar manner by} Rxf1+ 34. Kxf1 {followed by} Ba6+ 35. Ke1 {and} Nd3+) 33... Rxf1+ 34. Kxf1 Ba6+ 35. Ke1 Qd6 36. Qh8+ Kf7 { and wins, for the Knight can not check at} 37. Ne5+ {as Black would take it} Qxe5+ {with a check}) 32... Rxd1+ 33. Bf1 Ba6 34. Nc4 Qd7 35. Qg4 ({or} 35. Qh5 Nxb3 {and wins}) 35... f5 36. Qe2 Qd5 {threatening 37...Nxb3, and wins.}) 28... Nd7 ({If} 28... Nxb3 29. Bh5 Rf8 ({or} 29... g6 30. Rab1 Bd5 31. Re3 {with a fine attack. (Rosenthal.)})) 29. Ng4 Nf6 30. Ne5 Rac8 31. Rac1 ({We agree with M. Rosenthal that} 31. Bc4 {was much better.}) 31... Nd5 32. Qg3 Qf6 ({Paris could here have exchanged Queens by} 32... Rxc1 33. Rxc1 {followed by} Qg5 { but their council had determined to aim at the exchange of the Knights in the first instance, for otherwise White could create many difficulties in the ending.}) 33. Bc4 ({If} 33. Bh5 Nf4 34. Rxc8 Rxc8 35. Bxf7+ Qxf7 36. Nxf7 Ne2+ {and wins. (Rosenthal.)}) 33... Qf4 ({We believe that} 33... Nf4 {was stronger, e.g.} 34. Ng4 Qd4 35. h4 {[%cal Yb7d5] and now M. Rosenthal justly rejects 35.. .Bxg2, on account of the reply 36.Kh2, with a good attack. Again} Nxg2 {would not be good, on account of} 36. Nxh6+ Kf8 37. Nxf7 Nxe1 38. Nxd8 Nf3+ 39. Qxf3+ {and wins. But we propose, instead of either of the above lines of play, 35... Bd5, which gives Black an excellent game.}) 34. Qh3 Rd6 35. Rcd1 ({If} 35. Nd3 Qg5 36. Bxd5 Rxc1 37. Bxb7 Rxd3 {and wins. (Rosenthal.)}) 35... Rcd8 36. Rc1 Nf6 37. Qg3 ({If} 37. g3 Qg5 38. Nxf7 Kxf7 39. Rxe6 Qxc1+ 40. Re1+ Qxc4 {and should win. (Rosenthal.)}) 37... Qxg3 38. hxg3 Nd7 39. Nxd7 ({The exchange could not well be avoided. If} 39. Nd3 Rd4 40. Re3 ({or} 40. f3 Bd5 41. Bxd5 Rxd3 {etc.}) 40... Be4 41. Nb2 Nc5 {etc. (Rosenthal.)}) 39... R6xd7 40. Bb5 Rd2 41. Rc7 Bd5 42. Rc3 Rb2 43. Rd1 (43. Ree3 {followed by} -- 44. Be2 {[%cal Yf2f3] and f2-f3, gave them a better defensive chance. (Rosenthal.)}) 43... g6 44. g4 Kg7 45. Rdd3 Rf8 46. Re3 f5 47. Bd7 f4 48. Red3 Rb1+ 49. Kh2 Kf6 50. Bb5 Rg8 {[%cal Yh6h5] [A powerful move which threatens to open the game by 51...h5. ]} 51. Rd4 g5 ({We think that} 51... Kg5 {[%cal Yh6h5,Yg8h8] was preferable, for unless White gave up a second pawn, they could not long withstand the adverse attack by ...h6-h5, followed by ...Rh8.}) 52. Bc4 {[Black has tried for a long time to force the adversaries to this move, which is clearly disadvantageous for Vienna, as will soon be proved by the energetic line of action taken on the Paris side.]} Rc8 53. f3 ({If} 53. Rcd3 Bxc4 54. bxc4 Rc6 55. Rh3 Ke5 56. Rhd3 Rb4 {etc. (Rosenthal.)}) 53... Bxc4 54. Rdxc4 Rxc4 55. bxc4 Rb4 56. c5 bxc5 57. Rxc5 Rxa4 58. Rc7 Rb4 59. Rh7 Rb6 {[An excellent move which decides the battle.]} 60. Ra7 ({If} 60. Rxh6+ Kg7 61. Rh5 Rb5 62. g3 a4 63. Kg2 a3 64. Rh1 a2 65. Ra1 Rb2+ 66. Kh3 Kf6 67. gxf4 gxf4 68. g5+ Kf5 69. g6 Kxg6 70. Kg4 e5 {and wins. (Rosenthal.)}) 60... Rb5 61. Ra6 Re5 0-1

This game was thoroughly annotated by Steinitz in his International Chess Magazine, and shows a working chess journalist plying his craft. The two games of this match form the center of January's ICM for 1886, and Steinitz clearly put extraordinary effort into them as seen by the depth of his commentary. Even borrowing from Rosenthal as he did, one feels that Steinitz himself always maintains the larger view and keeps the overall scheme of the game more clearly in view - not losing himself in tactical squabbles at every turn. In any case, his analysis of these two games is worthy of the best chess magazine of any age.