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The Rise and Fall of a Dawlish Girl.

The August issue of Chess will contain a short biography of a Dawlish girl, born Rhoda, the youngest of 7 daughters to William Knott a local tailor, who rose to fame in the chess world and became a pioneer of female emancipation, before tragically dying in obscurity.

She founded the Ladies Chess Club in London, a social phenomenon at the time, and in 1897 organised the 1st Ladies World Championship, won by the Bristolian, Mary Rudge. In the process of all this she became a great friend of the great American Grandmaster Harry Pillsbury. No one is suggesting that he let his fondness for her influence him in any way when he awarded her the Brilliancy Prize at the 1st Devon Congress in 1902; it’s a smart sacrificial attack that wins the game, which Pillsbury annotated in the British Chess Magazine.

White: Rhoda Annie Bowles. Black: Ellison Pearse (Devonport)

Ruy Lopez – Modern Steinitz Defence. 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nge7 A variation favoured by Steinitz, it being one of his many attempts to establish a valid defence to the Lopez attack. 4.0–0 Probably stronger would be 4.Nc3 and eventually d4 reserving the option of castling on either side at a later stage. 4…d6 5.d4 a6 6.Ba4 Using wide discrimination in not exchanging pieces and queens, as it would rather be to Black’s advantage to remain with his king in the centre. 6.Bxc6+ Nxc6 7.dxe5 Nxe5 8.Nxe5 dxe5 9.Qxd8+ etc. Possibly some would prefer 6.Bc4 for if Black continues 6…b5 7.Be2 and Black’s queenside would be weak. 6…b5 7.Bb3 Bg4 A distinct error. The only continuation from this point giving Black a playable game is 7…Nxd4 8.Nxd4 exd4 9.Qh5 (not 9.Qxd4 c5 and …c4 wins.) 9…Ng6 for if 10.Qd5 (or if 10.f4 Be7 11.Bxf7+ Kxf7 12.f5 Bf6 13.fxg6+ hxg6 14.Qd5+ Be6 15.Qxd4 Kg8 and White has no advantage.) 10…Be6 11.Qc6+ Bd7 drawn. 8.Bxf7+ Better than 8.dxe5 Bxf3 (Of course, if Black plays 8…Nxe5 White wins by 9.Nxe5) 9.Qxf3 Nxe5 10.Qg3 etc. 8…Kxf7 9.Ng5+ Kg8 Bad, although after 9…Ke8 10.Qxg4 Nxd4 11.Na3 (safest). Also, White can venture 11.Nc3; 11.Ne6 might easily lose as follows: 11…Qd7 12.Nxg7+ Bxg7 13.Qxg7 Rg8 14.Qxh7 Rxg2+ with a winning game. 10.Qxg4 Qc8 If now 10…Nxd4 11.c3 h5 12.Qh3 Ne2+ 13.Kh1 Qc8 (if 13…Rh6 14.Ne6 and wins.) 14.Qf3 Nf4 15.g3 winning a piece. 11.Qf3 Qe8 12.Qb3+ d5 13.exd5 g6 For Black’s obvious reply was 13…Nxd4 although even then White should win being a pawn ahead and positional advantage. 14.dxc6+ Kg7 15.Ne6+ Kf6 The mate following or decisive win of material is forced. 16.Bg5+ Kf5 17.Qh3+ Ke4 18.Qf3# 1–0

In last week’s position, White was on the brink of defeat but had 1.QxN+ to which Black has two options; 1…RxQ 2.Re8+ or 1…Kg8 2.Ne7 mate.

Like last week, Black is poised to mate on e1, but it’s not his move. What should White do?

What is White's best continuation?

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