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Napoleon Bonaparte vs Henri Gatien Bertrand
St. Helena (1820) (probably analysis), St Helena
Scotch Game: Napoleon Gambit (C44)  ·  1-0



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Premium Chessgames Member
  Penguincw: Wow. He's pretty good.
Aug-15-12  Pirandus: Fake?
Aug-15-12  thomastonk: Here one can find some facts on Napoleon and Chess and on this game in particular:
Dec-13-13  RedShield: <You and whose army!?>
May-29-15  siegbert: It is a nice combination which finishes the game.
May-29-15  Zonszein: Napoleon is overrated
As many of these so called "geniuses"
May-29-15  Granny O Doul: The game title makes no sense. He seems to have been quite able long after leavig Elba.
Jun-10-15  siegbert: its a pun!!
Jun-10-15  Petrosianic: No, no, no' a pun. What's that thing what spells the same, backwards and forwards?
Jun-10-15  A.T PhoneHome: Palindrome?
Jun-10-15  paavoh: @Petrosianic: That is a palindrome, I believe.

Note added later: earlier pages contain discussion on this: this is a reversal, a form of palindrome.

Jun-10-15  Petrosianic: It's no' a palindrome, the palindrome of Bolton would be Notlob!

(Sorry, nobody picked up on the Python reference so I had to finish it myself.)

Jun-10-15  paavoh: Bolton - Notlob: why, that's a semordnilap if I ever saw one :-)
Jun-17-15  morphyesque: Post script to my post of March 12 2010, the games which were filmed were all based on Irving Chernev's 1954 book "The 1000 Best Short Games of Chess".Curiously there was a filming error of "There's Many a Slip" which portrays Andrews vs Janssens London 1864.In Chernev's book the correct score is shown to include the vital 10.bb5+.I love Chernev's pithy comment introducing each game.
Jan-16-16  zanzibar: Looks like Edward Winter will have to edit his page on Napoleon.

Thanks to <jnpope> and the O'Keefe project I've found another 1862 reference to this game (perhaps the earliest know thus far?), in G.B. Fraser's 2nd article in the <Dundee Courier and Argus>:

Fraser claims the game was play in St. Helena, about 1817.

I don't believe Winter makes any mention of this reference.

Jan-16-16  thomastonk: <zanzibar: perhaps the earliest know thus far?> No.

Winter quoted from BCM 1900, pages 53-56 and corrected a date for a source as follows: "This will be found reprinted in Waifs and Strays, the second edition of which does not give the date and place of first appearance of the sketch, but a footnote indicates that this must have been the American Chess Monthly, in which case the date cannot have been earlier than 1857 <[July, 1860, in fact]>."

That means, he knew .

Jan-16-16  zanzibar: OK, H.J.R. Murray’s account should be corrected.
But certainly Winter could have written a more clear account of which source was first (with the explicit quoting of material given in the original source you link, and not via this circuitous route:

BCM Social Chess (1900) unnamed reviews refers:

"Waifs and Strays" (2e unknown date) which contains a footnote referring to

ACM 1857

But no explicit citation, just a statement about the earliest it could <possibly> have been. I assume the 1857 used is the start of publication? And the parenthetical, [July, 1860, in fact] was introduced by Winter?

Why didn't Winter spell it out, instead of burying the primary source in an obscure parenthetical to an obscure footnote.

BTW - the BCM review contains this:

<To conclude, the game may very well have been actually played – by someone; but we suspect that the military rank of the winner was considerably below that of a general officer.’>

Jan-16-16  zanzibar: I just went through all the kibitzing, and no one has previously identified the source of this game, as played by Napoleon. So, our exchange documents, to the best of our knowledge today (I suppose), the sourcing of this game as attributed to Napoleon.

It's nice to spell it out explicitly.

Thanks for the ACM ref.

Please see this comment, and the posts it references, for the possible actual source of the game itself, with proper attributions:

Napoleon Bonaparte vs General Bertrand, 1820 (kibitz #108)

As I've said, <CG> kibitzing can be a good source of information - at less for suggesting avenues of investigation.

Premium Chessgames Member
  al wazir: This game has to be phony. 13...a5 makes no sense. Black could have defended with 13...Qxe5.
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: Napoleon would never have played like this. 2. Nf3? <When you set out to take Vienna, take Vienna> indicates <2. Nc3> (a Vienna game).
Premium Chessgames Member
  Bishoprick: Able was I ere I saw Elba
Jan-08-23  generror: Another game doubtfully ascribed to Napoleon. It has been claimed to prove that he was an able chess player. Was he?

Well sure, assuming he actually played this game, he was able to play chess. He knew the rules (though some say he bent them to his will, knowing nobody would dare to protest). But he wasn't great or even good. He was just an average patzer like you and me.

The first moves are okay (which is already quite surprising). <5...Bc5?> is a mistake, but Napoleon plays <6.c3?>, missing the pawn-winning <6.Bxf7+!> (Black can't take <6...Kxf7> because of <7.Qh5+>, winning the bishop and the central pawn).

<9...cxb2??> looks awesome, but it turns out to be a blunder, because after <10.fxe5! bxa1=Q 11.Qd5> (D) Black will have severe problems not to get mated or have his kingside eaten. However, instead, "Napoleon" plays the painfully obvious trap <10.Bxf7+?>

click for larger view

And then we've got <13...a5??>, one of the absolutely worst moves in all times. It is so bad that it makes me doubt the authenticity of the whole game, it makes it look much more like someone found that mate in that position and just needed Black to do *some* move -- and if patzers don't know what to move, they push an edge pawn. But <13...Qxe5> is just painfully obvious and would have been played even by beginners, making the whole mate impossible. Or -- assuming this is authentic -- did Napoleon subtly indicate that he wanted to win now and Black did him that little favour?

The five-move mate itself is really nice, beginning with a rook sacrifice. But again, I have strong doubts that Napoleon actually found and played it. On the whole, this is another classic early game that turns out to be not only probably unauthentic, but also just isn't very good, even if it's me saying so.

(Oh and by the way, I haven't got anything special against Napoleon, he was just another power-hungry narcissist; I just really dislike this tendency to mythologize historical figures. Napoleon played chess, but he wasn't any better than you and me.)

Premium Chessgames Member
  Korora: <generror> In C. S. Lewis book The Great Divorce (about souls from Hell that are offered a chance to stay in Heaven, but most refuse because they refuse to part with something they absolutely have to if they are to be capable of joy or selflessness), Napoleon is incapable of doing anything anymore except march around chanting, "It was Soult's fault. It was Ney's fault. It was the fault of the Russians. It was the fault of the English."
Jan-08-23  Granny O Doul: A similar ...a5 move is the clearest sign that that EZ Adams-Carlos Torre game is fake. Though maybe since so many beginners open the game with that move, it's an unconscious way to return to one's youth.
Jan-08-23  generror: <Korora> I like that :D Thanks for pointing me to that book!

<Granny> An interesting parallel. But on first look, <...a5> in the Torre game is at least halfway understandable, there's nothing Black can really do, so he may have thought what the heck, I'll attack on the queenside. Here even beginners would probably play <13...Qxe5>, just because "I can win a pawn!"

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