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Howard Staunton vs Adolf Anderssen
London (1851), London ENG, rd 3, Jun-??
Italian Game: Giuoco Pianissimo (C50)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
Jul-06-06  aragorn69: No comment yet on this historical game??

Staunton's attack probably never was going anywhere fast. Though that would be interesting to check with a computer...

Jul-18-07  benba57: After seeing moves 20 through 40, I've concluded that Anderssen had much of his nervous system removed. I would've been twitching if I had to play that position over the board!
Jul-27-09  Knight13: <Staunton's attack probably never was going anywhere fast. > Indeed. As soon as Anderssen counterattacked in the center with 35...e4!! White's pieces were so uncoordinated to deal with it that he had to crack.
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: Part I

This was the second game of the minimatch, Anderssen having crushed Staunton in game 1. I give Staunton's notes <in brackets> and some comments from Shredder and me in plain text below.

In reading this, you need to remember that Staunton had the black pieces, even though he moved first.

The opening is a Giuouco Pianissimo. (I wish Staunton had played the English against Anderssen; I'm sure Anderssen would have countered more aggressively than Horwitz did in this famous encounter: Staunton vs Horwitz, 1851).

Anderssen allows Staunton to double the pawns in front of his king, as he also did in the following game. There follows a long Somme of a battle in which Anderssen presses forward in the center while Staunton advances on the white king. Eventually Anderssen pushes his e-pawn to victory while Staunton misplays his assault.

As usual when he lost, Staunton annotates the game as an easy win ruined by a couple of blunders. Judge for yourself.

11….f5 is strongly met by 12.Qh5. Instead, with 11….c6 Anderssen meets a wing attack with a center advance.


Shredder prefers 14….Kh8, after which 15.Qh5 Ng6 16.Nf5?! Bxf5 17.exf5 Nf4 18.Qf3 Rg8 and it is White and not Black who will henceforth do the attacking.


Provocative! Anderssen gives Black the makings of a strong kingside attack but gets a center pawn majority in exchange. Instead after …d4 the engine thinks White is very slightly better.

20….Ng8?! Unnecessary, the engine thinks.

After 21.f4

<Willing to sacrifice this pawn for the sake of shutting out the adverse bishop, &c.>

Staunton speaks! f2-f4 is an interesting idea that the engine doesn't particularly like, though it doesn't seem to be able to come up with a compelling plan for Black.

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: Part II


Now Staunton's fancy takes flight, drastically overestimating his position after the alternative 22.Rf3 as we will see. Still, 22.fxe5, undoubling White's pawns and giving his kingside some air, is certainly not the best move.

<It is obvious that, even thus early, Black has an attack which, had he been in ordinary play, nothing could resist.  I give a diagram of the position before his 22nd move, which, instead of P. takes P., should have been K. R. to K. B's 3rd.>

<Let us suppose--
22.K. R. to K. B. 3rd 22….P. to K's 5th <??>(or A.) 23.K.R. to K.R.'s 3rd 23….P. to K.R.'s 3rd (forced) 24.Q. to K. Kt.'s 4th 24….B. to K. B.'s 7th (best) (This is to prevent the fatal move of R to K. Kt's 3rd, which Black threatened).

25.P. takes K.P. 25….P. takes P.

He appears to have no better move, as Black can otherwise play R. to K.B.'s 3rd and win the bishop, or, if the B. retreats, play R. to K. Kt.'s 3rd, mating next move.  White may, indeed, retire his Q to Q. Kt's sq., with the view of supporting the bishop, but then Black has merely to play P. to K's 5th, followed by P. to K.B.'s 6th, and the game is won.

26.Kt. takes K.P., winning.>

This (22.Rf3 e4 23.Rh3 h6 24.Qg4! Bf2 25.dxe4 dxe4 25.Nxe4 in mod-schak-sprak -- we sure do save a lot of space!) is correct as far as it goes, but 22….e4 is wholly unmotivated suicide. Below Staunton analyzes the superior 22….exf4, but does a very bad job.

<(A.)  22….P. takes K.B.P. 23.Q.R. to K.B.'s sq. 23….B. to K's 6th. (best) (If …R. to K's 7th, Black wins the R. by moving R. to K.R's 3rd.)

24.R to K. R.'s 3rd 24….P. to K.R.'s 3rd. 25.Kt. to K.B.'s 3rd.

With an irresistible attack.>

Shredder refutes this easily:  22….exf4 23.Raf1 Qe5! 24.Rh3 h6 25. d4 Qe2, with a sizable advantage after the exchange of queens.  But even after Staunton's 23….Be3 White is fine:  24.Rh3 h6 25.Nf3 d4! and Anderssen can resist -- and counterattack -- quite successfully.

<Black may also vary his 23rd move and prevent the adversary's B. coming into play at all, by moving P. to Q's 4th, &c.>

Here again, White is fine after 23….Re3. Staunton doesn't say anything else until move 33, but quite a lot happens.

23.Rf3?! f6. Instead Anderssen can scotch the attack with …Qh6, but he is playing to win.

25.h4 Shredder doesn't like this at all, now rating White more than a pawn better. Because White is constantly threatening to break through in the center, Staunton can't feed pieces to the kingside to support his attack.

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: Part III

26….Rd8. Here Anderssen has the remarkable 26….e4! 27.dxe4 dxe4 28.Nxe4 Qf4 29.g5 (29.Re1 Rfe8 or …Rd8 win) 29….Rd8!! 30.Kg2 Rxd1 31.Qxd1 Rxe4 32.Bxe4 Qxe4+, with a winning advantage.

27….Rg7 (again …e4 or …c5 give a sizable advantage).

28….Rdd7. Now finally White gets an edge.


<Anticipating White's attack on the pawns.>


<The coup juste.  Black has again obtained an easy winning position.>

Actually, Shredder thinks 34.Nf1 is inferior and …c5 in response leads to equality. Instead Staunton keeps a slight, but by no means winning, advantage after White's …Nc8.

35….e4. The cavalry! Now things get very complicated.

37….e3? Premature!


<Here the game is literally in Black's hands.  Returning the Q to K's 2 here leaves White almost without resource.> Staunton is right! Black's threat here is simply to push his h-pawn, and there is no completely adequate response, e.g. 38….Ne7 39.h5 h6 40.Ng4.

38….Qd3? Instead 38….Nd6 attacking the f-pawn keeps the balance.


<This was absolutely suicidal.  B to K's 6th, Q to K's 2nd, Q. to Q.'s square, would any one of them have won the game, but taking this pawn loses it.>

Staunton was evidently unsettled by Anderssen's queen sortie (even though it is objectively wrong), and now he really does throw the game away.

Shredder sees 39.Rd1! Qe4 40.Qg4 Qxg4 41.Nxg4 hxg6 42.Nxf6 . Staunton's suggestions, on the other hand, lead only to equality. 39.Qd1 is met by 39….Qe4 40.Qg4 Nd6!,


<After this unexpected escape, Mr. Anderssen's play is excellent.>


Black could struggle on in a very bad ending after 40.Qf3 Nd6 41.Bc2 Qxf3 42.Nxf3 Rxh7. Now he gets to lose right away, as White's center pawn charges to victory.


<The best move.>


<If he had played B. to K.B.'s 7th, White could have taken it with impunity, since if the Q. took the R., mate followed in four or five more moves.>

45.Ng5. Black has no decent defense to …Bf2.


<The coup de grace.>

Quite a battle!

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <28….Rdd7. Now finally White gets an edge.>

I meant Black, of course. Very hard to keep the colors straight! Anderssen caused himself some trouble by putting his rooks in harm's way.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: Hi K.P.

Moot point but in the actual tournament book by Staunton here.

click for larger view

Black played 20...Rae8 and then 21...Ng8 transposing back into the game on here.

Hey, maybe Shredder was trying to tells us something with the note:

"20….Ng8?! Unnecessary, the engine thinks."

as it not played till a move later.

Jun-02-16  sneaky pete: <Sally Simpson> Who knows the truth? I don't. Do you?

Yes, Staunton published this game with 20... Rae8 and 21... Ng8. But Schachzeitung (February 1852, page 45 and July 1852, page 235) has 20... Ng8 and 21... Rae8. Editor Anderssen added a note explaining 20... Ng8: white intends to play f4 with Rf1-f3-h3, so black retreats the Knight to be able to play .. h6 to parry this mating threat.

I don't know which one of these two respectable gentlemen is the most trustworthy in this case.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: Hi Sneaky Pete,

I've know idea who was right.

As I said it just a moot point.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Diademas: To kill a mockingbird.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Diademas: <<sneaky pete>: I don't know which one of these two respectable gentlemen is the most trustworthy in this case> Neither do I, but my money is not on Staunton...

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