Category Archives: Players

Neumann, Hirschfeld and Suhle : 19th Century Berlin Chess Biographies with 711 Games

Neumann, Hirschfeld and Suhle : 19th Century Berlin Chess Biographies with 711 Games
Neumann, Hirschfeld and Suhle : 19th Century Berlin Chess Biographies with 711 Games

Neumann, Hirschfeld and Suhle : 19th Century Berlin Chess Biographies with 711 Games : Hans Renette & Fabrizio Zavatarelli

Hans Renette

Hans Renette
Hans Renette

Neumann, Hirschfeld & Suhle. Sounds like a Berlin law firm, doesn’t it? In fact they were 19th century Prussian born chess players with Berlin connections, all active in the 1860s. You tell me you’ve never heard of them? One of them may well be the strongest (for his time) player you’ve never heard of.

Let me take you back to the year 1860. Morphy’s short career in competitive chess had already come to an end, and Steinitz (strange to think he was a year older than Morphy) was just a fairly promising youngster. Anderssen was still active, along with younger players such as Kolisch and Paulsen, but, if you remove Morphy from the equation, there was no clear number one player.

Among those just below the top was (Carl Friedrich) Berthold Suhle (1837-1904), the first of this book’s joint protagonists. Suhle had a very brief chess career spanning the late 1850s up to 1865, when he returned home from Berlin, choosing to focus instead on family life and his career as an academic specialising in Ancient Greek.

Enter Philipp Martin Hirschfeld (1840-96), who, when he arrived in Berlin in 1859, already had a reputation as a theoretician. He was as yet no match for Suhle, though: in a nine game match in 1860 he could only muster two draws. (Note that Jeff Sonas, on his Chessmetrics site, mistakenly dates this match to 1865, causing him to overstate both Hirschfeld’s rating in the early 1860s and Suhle’s rating in the late 1860s.) Like Suhle, Hirschfeld decided to concentrate on his career rather than become a chess professional. Joining his father’s business, he set up a tea company, travelled widely and lived in London through much of the 1870s and 80s. He maintained his interest in chess for the rest of his life but never took part in international tournaments.

The main part of the book is devoted to Gustav Richard Ludwig Neumann (1838-81), who, for a few years round about 1870 was one of the best three or four players in the world. Neumann was a real chess addict who decided to make a living through his favourite game. His first international tournament was Paris 1867, where he finished 4th behind Kolisch, Winawer and Steinitz. Later the same year he won a small but strong tournament in Dundee, this time ahead of Steinitz. It seemed like a new star had arrived, but at the end of 1869 he suffered a mental breakdown and was taken to an asylum. He recovered well enough to be released the following April and that summer resumed his tournament career at Baden-Baden, where he finished 3rd behind Anderssen and Steinitz, and level with Blackburne. Sadly, his mental illness returned at the end of 1872, putting an end to his chess career. Neumann was one of the great might-have-beens of chess, but you’ve probably never heard of him.

The two authors of this volume are both respected chess historians who have written other biographies for McFarland. Hans Renette has penned excellent books on Henry Bird and Louis Paulsen, while Fabrizio Zavatarelli has published a book on Ignaz Kolisch. In 2015 they discovered that Hans was researching Neumann while Fabrizio was studying Suhle and Hirschfeld. Given the overlap in time and place they decided it would make sense to pool their resources.

If you’re familiar with McFarland biographies you’ll know what to expect and won’t be disappointed. A sturdy, large format hardback which will sit impressively on your bookshelf, 711 games with annotations taken from contemporary sources and computer-aided updates from the authors, many atmospheric photographs and outstanding historical research, The English is not always entirely idiomatic, but no matter.

Although the book probably won’t do much to improve your rating, lovers of attacking chess will be delighted to see a lot of Evans Gambit and King’s Gambit games, with the Ruy Lopez in third place.  By today’s standards these players were not so strong, but all of us, from Magnus Carlsen down to the humblest patzer, are standing on the shoulders of giants. If you value the history and heritage of our wonderful game you’ll want to find out more about Suhle, Hirschfeld and Neumann, all of whom part of what makes us what we are.

Here’s a crazily complicated game from the book. You’ll have hours of fun spotting the missed opportunities for both players.

 

Richard James, Twickenham June 7 2019

Richard James
Richard James

Book Details :

  • Hardcover : 384 pages
  • Publisher: McFarland (30 July 2018)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1476673799
  • ISBN-13: 978-1476673790
  • Product Dimensions: 22.2 x 3.2 x 27.9 cm/li>

Official web site of McFarland Books

Neumann, Hirschfeld and Suhle : 19th Century Berlin Chess Biographies with 711 Games
Neumann, Hirschfeld and Suhle : 19th Century Berlin Chess Biographies with 711 Games

Birthday Wishes to GM Jonathan Levitt

GM Jonathan Levitt
GM Jonathan Levitt

From Wikipedia :

Jonathan Levitt , Jon, (born in 1963) is a British chess player . In 1984 he became a FIDE International Master and in 1994 a FIDE Grand Master.

Levitt wrote chess anecdotes on the (no longer existing) chess portal kasparovchess.com . He also has a chess column in “Oxford Today”. Levitt is also known for his talent tests and he is also a chess teacher. Moreover, he is a master in endgame studies. He takes chess photos, some of which can be seen in Wikipedia. Levitt is also the author of several chess books: “Secrets of Spectacular Chess”, “Genius in Chess”, “Advice on Improving Your Game”. He also makes chess videos for the internet.

Genius in Chess
Genius in Chess
GM Jonathan Levitt
GM Jonathan Levitt

Many Happy Returns Nigel Short !

GM Nigel David Short
GM Nigel David Short

From Wikipedia :

Nigel David Short MBE (born 1 June 1965) is an English chess grandmaster, columnist, coach, commentator and, since October 2018, Vice-President of FIDE. Short earned the Grandmaster title at the age of 19, and was ranked third in the world by FIDE from January 1988 to July 1989. In 1993 he became the first English player to play a World Chess Championship match, when he qualified to play Garry Kasparov in the World Chess Championship 1993 in London, where Kasparov won 12½ to 7½.

Nigel Short
Nigel Short
Nigel Short
Nigel Short

Happy Birthday IM John Cox

IM John Cox
IM John Cox

BCN sends best wishes to IM John Cox on his birthday, this day, in 1962.

From Wikipedia :

John J Cox (22 May 1962) is a British chess player who holds the title of International Master which he earned in 2005.[1] His peak Elo rating of 2423 was achieved in January 2006.

Cox was among the strong juniors in the 1970s and 1980s and finished tied for first in a British U18 championship. The need to earn a living made Cox leave the chess scene for several years. During this time he also played bridge. He eventually returned to chess after the hiatus.[1]

Books
Cox has written a number of well-received chess books, and he has contributed to the New in Chess yearbooks.

Four of his books were published by Everyman Chess, three of them introductory level books in the Starting Out series. His 2004 book on the Alekhine’s Defence, Starting Out: Alekhine’s Defence was credited by Watson as his main source on the Alekhine,[1] and Carsten Hansen’s review for the Chess Cafe credited the book for readability, an easy-going tone, and excellent annotations.[2] Since the book was written, Cox has largely abandoned the Alekhine because of perceived trouble for Black in the Four Pawns Attack variation. Cox has since taken up 1.e4 e5.[1]

A manual for Black on Queen’s Pawn Game sidelines such as the Colle System and Trompowsky Attack was published in 2005 under the title Dealing with 1 d4 deviations.[3] The idea of this book was proposed by Cox who believed there was a niche for a book on how to deal with these openings which are common at the club level.[1]

The 2006 White opening repertoire book Starting Out: 1 d4! also received high marks in reviews by Hansen and Watson, despite some skepticism of Cox’s opening selections which included highly theoretical and complex variations. Cox recommended playing to use mainline openings and to avoid deliberately playing inferior sidelines.[3][4] Watson also remarked the recommendation of such difficult lines for an amateur audience, but Cox notes that the complex mainlines may well appeal to players of club level strength.[1]

The 2007 book Starting Out: Sicilian Sveshnikov also received top marks from Hansen, who praised Cox’s communication of the difficult lines which are a feature of the Sveshnikov line.[5]

Cox’s book for Quality Chess, The Berlin Wall which is about the solid Berlin Variation of the Ruy Lopez got top marks for its writing and thoroughness.[6]

Starting out  1.d4 ! by John Cox
Starting out 1.d4 ! by John Cox

Many Happy Returns IM Andrew Martin !

IM Andrew Martin
IM Andrew Martin

BCN wishes IM Andrew Martin many happy returns on his birthday.

From ChessBase :

Andrew David Martin (born 18th May 1957 in West Ham, London) is an English chess player with the title of international master. Martin has won various national and international tournaments. He has been playing for years in the Four Nations Chess League, at present (July 2009) for Wood Green Hilsmark Kingfisher, previously for the Camberley Chess Club. Martin received his title as international master in1984. He earned his first grandmaster norm in the British Championship of 1997 in Brighton. Martin was a commentator on the chess world championship between Kasparov and Kramnik in 2000.
On the 21st February 2004 Martin set a new world record for simultaneous chess. He faced 321 chess players at the same time. His result was: 294 wins, 26 draws and only one loss. Martin is known as a professional chess teacher and head trainer of the English youth team. He trains eight schools (Yateley Manor, Aldro, Millfield, Sunningdale, Waverley School, St Michael’s Sandhurst, Wellington College, Salesian College). Martin is a chess columnist, an author of chess books and the author of various instructional videos. He was the publisher of the series Trends Publications. Martin lives in Sandhurst, England, is married and the father of two daughters and two sons. His present Elo rating is 2423 (as of July 2009).

Happy Birthday GM James Howell

GM James Clifford Howell
GM James Clifford Howell

BCN wishes GM James Clifford Howell best wishes on his birthday, this day (May 17th) in 1967.

From Wikipedia :

James Clifford Howell (born May 17, 1967) is an English chess grandmaster and author. He earned his international master title in 1985 and his grandmaster title ten years later, in 1995. He reached his peak rating in July 1995, at 2525.[1] He became inactive in 1996.

Essential Chess Endings
Essential Chess Endings