London (1892) – Quintangular — the BCM view

An important tournament – marking the first encounter of Lasker and Blackburne, and demonstrating Lasker as a force, not just of the future, but of the (then) present day:

BCM v12

BCM v12 (Apr 1892) p154/183

In the just  concluded Master Tournament of the  B.C.A., Messrs. Bird,
Lasker,  and Mason  had a  nicely balanced  account in  their personal
engagements;  Bird beating  Lasker,  Lasker beating  Mason, and  Mason
beating Bird.  This gave  rise to  a desire  that a  little triangular
match should  be arranged between  these three masters.  Ultimately it
was thought well if Blackburne  and Gunsberg could participate in this
encounter. The result  is that a tournament has  been arranged between
these five  players, to  be played  at the British  Chess Club,  at an
early date. Mr. Geo. Newnes,  M.P., with his usual generosity provided
£50 as  a prize  fund, and  this will be  distributed amongst  all the
players, according to the Sonneborn-Berger  system. Two rounds will be
played between each pair of players, and the time limit will be twenty
moves per hour. The first round  was played on 28th March, when Lasker
beat Bird,  and Blackburne  beat Gunsberg,  and Mason  had a  bye. The
second  round, played  on the  29th, resulted  in Mason  beating Bird;
Gunsberg and  Lasker drew.  In the  third round,  played on  the 30th,
Lasker beat Blackburne, and Gunsberg beat Mason.


BCM v12 (May 1892) p200/231

A  Handicap Tournament  is proceeding  at Simpson's,  and most  of the
strong players have entered. Play began on 25th of April.

Herr  Lasker's  double victory  naturally  caused  commotion in  chess
circles here, and rumours of matches at once began to circulate. These
rumours proved  not to be  groundless, for  a match has  been arranged
between Blackburne and Lasker, to be  commenced about 16th May, at the
British  Chess Club.  The  match  is for  seven  games  up, draws  not
counting, and the stakes £50 a-side.

BCM v12 (May 1892) p201/232
BCM v10 (Jul 1892) p201 - fig 1                    THE GREAT QUINTANGULAR MATCH.

The important quintangular match at  the British Chess Club, which was
brought to  a successful  conclusion on the  8th April,  has certainly
been one of  the most interesting events that the  English chess world
has seen for  some time past. Indeed, the great  interest shown in the
encounter goes far to prove  that the best appreciated tournaments are
those wherein none but masters of  the highest rank compete. In such a
case everything,  as a matter  of fact,  conspires to bring  about the
success. The quality  of the games is higher, chance  does not play so
great a  part in deciding the  final position of the  leaders, and the
attention is  not distracted by games  by weaker players. All  this is
very different  in a tournament where  some of the players  are almost
Pawn and move weaker than others, and it is to be hoped that in future
high-class  tournaments efforts  will  be put  forth  to restrict  the
entries to really foremost men.

Like the B.C.A. tournament, the  quintangular match has ended with the
success of  the young master, Herr  E. Lasker. His play  right through
has been of a high order, and,  considering his age and looking at his
play over  the board, every doubt  as to his proper  position is swept
away. One thing is certain, and  that is that never since Morphy's day
have we  had so  young a man  with such outward  and visible  signs of
being a great genius at the game. Playing over his games does not give
anyone a full idea  of the player. It was the  ease, the quietude, and
the exactness  that he displayed  throughout the play that  showed his
wonderful skill.  We have several  players amongst us whose  powers of
beneficially dissolving an intricate position are not inferior to his,
but  in  those far-reaching  powers  of  combination, by  which  these
positions are brought about, Lasker has no superior.

To  commence with,  Herr  E.  Lasker played  right  through the  match
without  losing a  single  game, though  he was  opposed  by the  four
strongest players now in this country. His  score of 6½ was made up of
two wins against Blackburne, two draws against Mason, a win and a draw
against  Gunsberg,   and  two   wins  against  Bird.   He  encountered
Blackburne, for the  first time, in the third round,  and, as they had
not met before  over the board, great curiosity was  naturally felt as
to the  result. The game was  a Four Knights opening.  The second game
occurred in the eighth round. Blackburne, having the move, played that
form  of  the  Vienna  which  he  handled so  ably  in  New  York  and
Manchester, but  Lasker was equal  to the occasion and  evidently well
versed  in that  variation.  Both  games will  be  found  in the  Game
Department of the present issue.

Both Lasker's  games with Mason  ended as  drawn, the first  one after
only twenty-two moves had been made. It  must be borne in mind that in
each half of the contest Mason was  the last drawn to play against the
formidable young master, and that in each half the draw was sufficient
to give Lasker a practical lead.  The first game, played on 1st April,
was a Ruy  Lopez of a most orthodox type.  Pieces were duly exchanged,
and at  move 22 the  following position occurred, when  Lasker offered
the draw, which Mason accepted:—
BCM v10 (May 1892) p202 - fig 1
The second  game, played on  the 8th April,  was a much  more animated
affair. It  was a  Four Knights opening,  defended very  stubbornly by
Mason for some time; then Lasker got  a passed Pawn and began to force
the play. We  give a diagram of the position  after Mason's 32nd move.
The game went on: 33 Kt x P, Q x Kt; 34 B x Kt, Kt x B; 35 Q x Kt, Q x
Q; 36 R x Q, B x P; 37 P—K 5, K-K 2; 38 R—B 6, R—Kt 4; 39 R x R P, B —
Kt 7 ch;  40 K—R 2, P—Kt 4; 41.   Q R—K Kt sq Q R—Kt  sq, 42.P—Q 6 ch,
K—Q 2; 43.P x P, P x P; 44 B x P ch, B—B 3; and Lasker offered a draw,
which was accepted.

In his first game with Gunsberg,  played on 29th March, Lasker adopted
a  Two  Knights  defence,  wherein  Gunsberg  got  a  slightly  better
position.   At move  20  Lasker did  not take  full  advantage of  the
position. Appended is a diagram at this crisis :-
BCM v10 (May 1892) p202 - fig 2
Lasker should now have played 20...,  R—Kt sq, but, instead, he played
20..., P—Q R  4, and the game went  on: 21 P—Q 4, P—K 5;  22. Kt—K sq,
R—Kt sq; 23 P—Q B 3, P—B 4; 24 P—K Kt3, P—Kt 4; 25 Q x P ch, Q x Q; 26
B x Q, R x  P; 27 B—R 5, R—K 3; 28 B—B sq, R—Q  Kt 3; 29 Kt—Kt 2, Kt-K
2; 30 B—R 3, R (K3)—Q B 3; 34 Kt—B 4, B—K Kt 2; 35 Q R—B sq, B x P; 36
Kt x P, Kt x Kt;  37 R x Kt, R x R; 38 R x B,  B—Q 2; and the game was
drawn on  the 45th move. In  his second game with  Gunsberg the latter
adopted a French defence, and,  playing very carefully, allowed Lasker
no chance until  the above position occured. The game  now went on: 63
Kt x Kt, P x Kt; 65 P—Kt 3, P x  P; 66 P x P, P—K 7; 67 K—Q 2, K—Kt 5;
68 P—B 4, P  x P; 69 P x P, K  x P; 70 P—B 5, P Queen's ch;  71 K x Q,
K—B 7; 72 P—B 6, P—Kt 5; and Lasker Queened first and won.

Lasker had  to meet Bird in  the first round, played  28th March. Bird
played  a Sicilian,  and speedily  dashed on  with his  Pawns on  both
flanks, "neck or nothing." As it  happened, it came to nothing. Bird's
attack  at one  time was  a fierce  one, and  at move  21 Lasker  took
considerable time over the position, afterwards starting that the move
he selected was the only safe one.  We give a diagram at this stage of
the game. The move
BCM v10 (May 1892) p203 - fig 1
selected was 21  Q—Q 3 !, and the  game went on 21..., Q—R 4;  22 Kt x
Kt, P  x Kt; 23 Q—Kt  5 ch (this is  where the force of  the 21st move
comes in), K—B  2; 24 Q x Q  ch, Kt x Q, and Bird's  attack was broken
and Lasker won. The second game  between the veteran and the stripling
was played  on the 2nd  April. Bird opened  with Queen's Pawn  and got
what seemed  a strong centre,  but this Lasker  broke up at  the right
time. Above  is position of the  second game at a  critical point. The
game went  on 1..., Castles (Lasker  is of opinion this  is really the
only safe move); 2  R—Q sq, P—Kt 3; 3 Q—B  2, Q x Q; 4 K  x Q, Kt—Kt 5
ch; 5 K—K 2, P—B 3; 6 B—B sq, K—Kt 2, and Mr. Bird ultimately lost the
BCM v10 (May 1892) p204 - fig 1Mr.   J.  H.  Blackburne,  the hero  of so  many  tournaments, was  an
excellent second to Lasker, being only half a point behind him. Unlike
the  leader, he  made  no draws,  but  cleared the  board  of all  his
opponents except Lasker.  In the  first game, played 31st March, Mason
defended a King's gambit very awkwardly, and seemed in danger of early
losing the exchange;  this he skilfully prevented,  and an interesting
game  resulted, which  will be  found in  the Game  Department of  the
present issue.  The second game,  played on the  6th April, was  a Ruy
Lopez, of  the recent Steinitz-Tschigorin type,  with little advantage
on either side till Mason at move  25 allowed Blackburne to play B–R 3
with advantage.  He again played somewhat weakly on 3oth move in above
position.  The game went on 30 Q—Kt 5, Q x Q; 31 P x Q, K–Kt 3; 32 K R
x P, R–R sq;  33 R x R, R x  R; 34 K–B 2, K x P;  35 Kt–B sq (possibly
Kt–K 2 would have been better), Kt–B 3;  36 R–Q sq, Kt–Q 5 ! ; 37 Kt–Q
2, R–B sq ch; 38  K–K 3 (no going to Kt 3), K—R 5; 39  R– K Kt sq, P–B
4; 4o  Kt–B sq, P—Kt  6, and Mr. Mason  resigned, for there  is really
nothing to be done.

The first  game Blackburne  had with  Gunsberg was  a Ruy  Lopez, very
equally played,  but towards  the 20th move  Gunsberg was  pressed for
time and  played hastily.  We  give the  game in full  elsewhere.  The
second game between these  two masters was a very short  one. It was a
Giuoco Piano,  wherein Gunsberg  early drifted to  leeward. We  give a
diagram on Black's 15th move. Blackburne  played 15..., P–Kt 4; 16 B–Q
5 (if B–Kt 3, then the Q is lost), B–Kt 3; 17 Q–Kt 4, P–Q R 4; 18 Q–Kt
3, P–R  5; 19  Q–R 3,  R–Q Kt  sq.; 20  P– Q  4, P  x B,  and Gunsberg
resigned on his 27th move.

In his first  game with Bird, played on 1st  April, Blackburne adopted
the From gambit against Bird's P—K  B 4 opening, thereby giving up two
Pawns, but  obtaining a  dangerous attack.   He subsequentlysacrificed
another Pawn to keep the attack going. On the 14th move, however, Bird
could have made  a sortie with his  B to Q 7, which  would have forced
Mr.  Blackburne to look  at home and almost to play  for the draw. Mr.
Bird,  thinking his  position with  three  Pawns up  warranted him  in
trying  to do  better  than draw,  played to  win,  and the  following
position resulted :—
BCM v10 (May 1892) p205 - fig 1The game now went on: 23..., B x Kt; 24 R  x B, R x R; 25 P x B, Q x B
P; 26 K—Q 2,  Q x R;  27 K x R,  Q x B; 28 K—Q 3, R—B 6  ch; 29 K—Q 2,
R-B 7; 30 K—Q 3, Q—R 6 ch;  and Mr. Bird resigned.  In his second game
with the veteran, Mr.  Blackburne got  off with still better luck, for
Mr. Bird not only missed an easy win, but in another move or so turned
a draw into an  absolute loss.  Mr. Blackburne had played 1  P—K B 4 —
Bird's Opening, so-called — but certainly  got a bad position. We give
above a diagram of the game at the 4oth move. The game now went on: 41
Kt—K 2, Q x P? (instead of this, the surface move of 41..., Kt (K 5)—B
7, wins right off);  42 B x P, P x  B ; 43 Q—Q 8 ch, K—Kt  2; 44 Q—K 7
ch, K—R  3?? (a  momentary chess  blindness must  here have  come over
Mr. Bird, for K—Kt sq leaves only a draw by perpetual check); 45 Q—B 8
ch, K-R 4; 46 Kt—B 4, mate.
BCM v10 (May 1892) p205 - fig 2James Mason's score of 4 was made  up of two draws against Lasker, one
win against Gunsberg, and two wins against Bird. Of the two draws with
Lasker we  have dealt.  In  his game  with Gunsberg the  latter played
utterly below his  strength, as the game  itself shows.  It was  a Q P
opening, in which  Mason got a fair development. We  give a diagram of
the game on  the 14th move.  The game  now went on: 15 Kt—K  5 BxQ; 16
KtxQ,  R—R 3;  17  K R—K  sq,  B x  P ch;  18  K— R  sq,  B—Kt 4;  and
Mr. Gunsberg resigned.  Mason, in his  first game with Bird, played on
29th March,  had to face one  of Bird's fierce attacks  springing from
1—K  B 4.   Defending coolly,  he not  only stemmed  the current,  but
picked up  one or two of  Bird's Pawns. I  give a diagram at  the 21st
BCM v10 (May 1892) p206 - fig 1The game went on: 22 P—K Kt 4, P—R 3; 23  P x P, P x P; 24 P—K 5, Q Kt
x P; 25 Kt x Kt, Q x Kt; 26 Q  R–K sq, Q–Kt 4; 27 Q–Kt 3, Kt—K 5; 28 R
x R, R x R ; 29 Q—Kt 2, Q–B 3; 3o R–K B sq, Q—Q 5; 31 R x R, K x R; 32
Q—R 3, K—Kt 2; 33 P—Q  3, Kt—B 3; 34 Q—B 3, Kt x P; 35  Q x Kt, Q x Kt
ch; and  Mr. Mason won.  In  their second game, Bird  adopted a Centre
Counter, and  early lost a  Pawn.  Then he  played very well  for some
time, and Mason had to keep his  weather eye open to avoid danger. The
end was singular,  for Bird had a  dead draw in the  position shown on
the diagram above.  The  game went on: 76 P-R 6 ch, K—B  2 (here K—R 2
would have drawn easily, but hours of play had evidently told upon the
older man); 77 Kt—R  2, K—B sq; 78 K—B 6, K—Kt sq;  77 K—Kt 6, K—R sq;
8o Kt—Kt 4, K—Kt sq;  81 P-R 7 ch, K—R sq.; 82 Kt—B  6, P—R 7; 83 Kt—Q
5, and Mr. Bird resigned.

Gunsberg's was altogether  a disappointing score, as  it only totalled
24, made up of a draw against  Lasker and a win each against Mason and
Bird. The  game with Mason took  place on the 30th  March. The opening
was 1 P—Q 4, but as Mason was half-an-hour behind time in starting, he
had to  play the early moves  very hastily, and hence  got an inferior
position. We give a diagram on the 34th move:
BCM v10 (May 1892) p207 - fig 1
The game now went on 35 Kt—K sq, R—B 6 ; 36 P—Kt 4, Q—K 2 ; 37 P—Kt 5,
Q—R 6; 38 Kt—K 2, Kt x Kt; 39 Q  x Kt, Q x R P ; and, though Mr. Mason
defended ably,  he had to  resign on the 60th  move. In his  game with
Bird, Gunsberg had a stroke of luck. Bird opened with his favourite, 1
P-K B  4. The  game early  got somewhat blocked,  and then  Rooks were
exchanged and Gunsberg offered a draw,  but Bird refused, and the play
went on till  the position as above diagrammed  resulted. Here, again,
Bird seemed to lose all sight of the board for a moment, for he played
1 Kt—B  2 P,  and Gunsberg seized  his chance, and  the game  went on:
1..., B x P ! ; 2  P x B, P-B 6 ! ; 3 Q—K 2, B—B 5; 4  Q x B, P x Q; 5
P—Q 5,  P—B 7 queening next  move, and wins.  Herr  Lasker pointed out
afterwards that White got a chance  of counter-attack and drawing by 4
Q—B 2,  Q—Kt 7; 5 Q—Q  sq, for if  now 5..., P—B  7; 6 Q—K Kt  sq, and
White will get perpetual check  if Black Queen's.  Black, however, can
play 5..., K—Kt 2; sollowed by 6..., P-R 3.
BCM v10 (May 1892) p207 - fig 2
Bird's score was  lowest of all, comprising only a  single win against
Gunsberg, but, as will be seen,  his score would have been much larger
had  he taken  full  advantage  of his  positions  in  several of  the
games. Bird played a Centre-Counter  against Gunsberg and got a fairly
good position. We give a diagram at  the 26th move.  The game went on:
27 B—B 4, Q—K B sq.; 28 Q—R 4, Q—K 2 ; 29 P—Q Kt 3, Q x Q P; 30 R x Q,
P—K Kt 4; 31  R—R 6?, Kt—B 5 !; 32  Kt—K 8, R—K 2 ; 33  Kt—B 6 ch, K—R
sq; 34 P-Kt 3, Kt—Kt 3; 35 Kt x P ?, K—Kt 2 ; 36 R—R 3, P—Kt 5; 37 R—R
5, Kt x  P; 38. Kt—Kt 5,  K—Kt 3; 39 Kt x  P, K x R;  and Mr. Gunsberg
resigned on the 44th move.

We append the full score:—
BCM v10 (May 1892) p208 - fig 1
The prizes were  divided according to the  Sonneborn-Berger system, in
the following proportions:—

     Lasker,      £ 21  1s.  8d.
     Blackburne,  £ 15  7s.  3d.
     Mason,       £  8  2s.  8d.
     Gunsberg,    £  4  7s.  4d.
     Bird,        £  1  1s.  1d.

BCM v12 (July 1892) p289/326

In  the great  Quintangular Tournament,  a full  account of  which was
published in the May number of the B.C.M., p. 201-208, it was resolved
to distribute the £50 prizes according to the Sonneborn-Berger system,
and the result  was that Lasker received £21 1s.  8d.; Blackburne, £15
7s. 3d.; Mason, £8 2s. 8d.; Gunsberg, £4 7s. 4d.; and Bird, £1 1s. 1d.

Now this  distribution was  not quite correct,  as the  appended table
will show:—

BCM v10 (Jul 1892) p289 - fig 1etc.

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