Thursday, February 15, 2007
Not Some Boy Off the Street
Having discovered I am a near neighbour of Gunsberg's old house (we're separated by two hundred yards and one hundred years), I've been doing a bit of thinking about the total omission of his match with Steinitz from Kasparov's My Great Predecessors
Looking him up in Tartakower and Du Mont’s classic 500 Master Games of Chess, I found just five of his games – and that includes two that only make it so far as notes to the games of other players.
The games, all defeats, are:-
(71) Yates 1-0 Gunsberg, Chester 1914
(167) Gunsberg 0-1 Weiss, New York 1899
(409) Pillsbury 1-0 Gunsberg, Hastings 1895
[this is the game that led to the ending mentioned by Justin in the comments to the original post]
From the notes of other games there's:-
(497) Bird/Dobell 0-1 Gunsberg/Locock, consultation game Hastings 1892
(30) Gunsberg 1-0 Steinitz, World Championship Match New York, 1891
[This is the game at the top.]
It’s remarkably few given that Gunsberg is one of just five men to have played a match for the World Title prior to the 20th century.
T and D M allocate Chigorin 17 of their main games with 3 others in the notes while Tarrasch (one spanking by Lasker) gets 40 and Blackburne (no World Championship matches and beaten by Gunsberg 8-5 in Bradford, 1887) gets 17 all told.
To put all this in perspective, Gunsberg gets the same attention as one Reverend G. Atwood. Who the hell is he? He doesn't even have a wikipedia entry!
Perhaps Gunsberg was seen as slightly dull or just didn’t play that many publishable games? Certainly, having played through some of the Steinitz match, it seems Gunsberg's style was what might charitably be called "very steady". True, he played the Evans Gambit four times (+2 = 1 - 1) but that was only from game 12 onwards when he was already two points down in a 20 game match. His choice of that opening was 'punt and hope' more than taste I would think.
Which brings us back to the game at the top, which is game 16 of the match. At the end Steinitz chucked in the towel because after
21 ... Qe3
catching the Queen mid-board and it's Good Night Charlie (or Wilhelm in this case).
Finally, there's the consulstation game from Hastings 1892. It's a total hack and not in the least like Gunsberg's usual style but still ...
Not remembered much today perhaps, but Gunsberg was certainly not just some boy off the street.
Posted by Jonathan B at 9:30 am