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A Forgotten Westcountry Chess Master.

An almost forgotten Westcountry chess master of the 19th century was William Henry Krause Pollock (1859-1896). He was born in Cheltenham, son of the Rev. W. J. Pollock and was educated at Clifton College, Bristol and Somersetshire College, Bath. In 1882 he qualified as a doctor in Dublin, but chess took precedence from then on, becoming Irish Champion. He then spent time in the U.S. and Canada, before returning to England to play in the great Hastings International Tournament of 1895, one of the strongest tournaments ever held up to that point.  However, he was already in the grip of that scourge of 19th century chessplayers, TB, and his play there was irregular and fitful, though there were occasional glimpses of the old fire when he beat, among others, the English veteran H. E. Bird, the recently deposed World Champion, Steinitz, and in this game, the great Dr. Siegbert Tarrasch. Notes adapted from those by Pollock himself.

White: W. H. K. Pollock. Black: S. Tarrasch.

French Defence [C00]

1.e4 e6 2.e5 Tarrasch was a leading theoretician on the French Defence, and Pollock intended to take him out of the book immediately. 2…f6 3.d4 c5 A premature attempt to break up White’s centre. In a close game like the French the pawn centre is paramount. 4.Bd3 f5 Black has followed a line that Blackburne played, and lost, against Pollock 3 years earlier, that Tarrasch was fully aware of but played it anyway. 5.g4 Black now has to decide whether this advance is sound or not, and if not, how to prove it. 5…cxd4 6.gxf5 Qa5+ 7.c3 A key move, which White had thought through to his 10th move. 7…Qxe5+ 8.Ne2 Nc6 9.0–0 Bc5 So far, Tarrasch had spent 1 whole hour over his nine moves. 10.Re1 Qf6 11.Nd2 exf5 12.cxd4 Be7 Recapturing with 12…Bxd4 wins a piece. 13.Nxd4+. 13.Nf3 Kd8 Slightly better might have been 13…Kf8. 14.Bg5 As Tarrasch’s discomfort increases, so does the crowd of spectators around the board, wondering what is going on. 14…Qf7 15.Bxe7+ Ngxe7 16.Qd2 Occupying important diagonals and uniting the rooks. 16…h6 17.Ne5 Nxe5 18.dxe5 b6 19.Nf4 The game is now virtually won. 19…Bb7 20.Bb5 Nc6 21.e6 Qe7 22.Ng6 Qg5+ 23.Qxg5+ hxg5 24.Nxh8 Nd4 25.e7+ 1-0. Resigns, for if 25…Ke8 26.Bxd7+ Kxd7 27.Rad1 Rxh8 28.Rxd4+ Ke8 29.Rd8+.

Pollock’s health went rapidly downhill from then on, dying on 5th October 1896 aged just 37 and was interred in Arno’s Vale Cemetery, Bristol.

One obituarist wrote of him, “As a chess expert he was brilliant rather than profound; a fanciful player delighting in prettiness, apt to lose to dull players of the exact school”.

In last week’s position, White won by 1.Rg8+! RxR (forced) 2.Qf6+ and White will mate on g7.

In this position, White has just lost his queen. Surely he should resign, shouldn’t he?

Should White resign?

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