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Vera Menchik vs Eero Einar Book
"Of Mice and Menchik" (game of the day Jan-30-2008)
Margate (1938), Margate ENG, rd 9, Apr-28
Semi-Slav Defense: General (D43)  ·  1-0



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Given 7 times; par: 76 [what's this?]

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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 2 OF 2 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Feb-16-04  AdrianP: <Honza> The final position is nice as well... whichever of the four squares available to the B king B chooses, he's going to (at least) lose one of his bishops...
Jan-30-08  posoo: THIS PUNN is disgrace. WHY pun on Menchik when here is a player named EERO BOOK?
Premium Chessgames Member
  An Englishman: Good Evening: If poor Book didn't have bad luck, he'd have no luck at all. The database's collection of his games shows he finished +1 at Margate, but no one remembers the 3 wins, just the two losses; a game where he joins the Vera Menchik Club, and a loss to some unknown named Alekhine, who played rather above his abilities that day.
Jan-30-08  paavoh: <posoo> His surname is written with umlauts, i.e. double dots on top of both o's (Böök).
Jan-30-08  FHBradley: There are a number of chess players who are best remembered for their spectacular losses. Mr. Bo(e)o(e)k is one member of this Kieseritzky-club, although he was quite a solid player in the late 30s and late 40s.
Jan-30-08  kellmano: Yes the funny thing about Kieseritzky of course is his manner of resignation. I read that he climbed out the bathroom window. If he did, that's genius.
Jan-30-08  sfm: 34.b3(!!) I must admit it would have been one of the last moves I'd have thought of. There's everything wrong with it. Blinds the a2-g8 diagonal for the queen. Weakens the c3 square. Obviously accomplishes nothing, on a part of the board where nothing goes on...
Jan-30-08  JG27Pyth: <sfm: 34.b3(!!) I must admit it would have been one of the last moves I'd have thought of.>

Thanks for pointing that out! That has to be one of the most devious little traps I've ever seen. A poisoned knight fork. I hope Vera shook her head sadly and sighed after she made the move, maybe muttered under her breath "oh nooo..." or, "ooops..." -- Upon my word that is a dreadful here's-a-pointless-blunder looking move and the combinatorial sting it conceals is quite hard to find. Ms. Menchik was on her game that day! I wonder if Book sensed the trap but couldn't find it... I mean there's really no reason to push that pawn <except> to allow the knight fork.

And the way Menchik seals the win nabbing the kingside pawns with the N sac allowed by the multi-faceted Queen fork... Wow she's seeing deep and clear. Awesome creative tactics.

Nice game CG. Great GOTD choice -- Super game that I'd be unlikely to find on my own.

Jan-30-08  JG27Pyth: < I wonder if Book sensed the trap but couldn't find it... I mean there's really no reason to push that pawn <except> to allow the knight fork.>

No... I take that back, the queen snagging combination isn't _that_ hard to find if you're looking for moves for the Queen after the N fork... I think Book must have thought Menchik pushed b3 to let the Queen defend the seventh rank particularly the f2 pawn... just enough justification to not set off major alarm bells for Book. Who knows, maybe a little sexism came into play, too... How believable to a man of the day that a woman would make such a blundher. If Alekhine had pushed b3, I'll wager Book would have looked a little harder.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Jimfromprovidence: Black ignored immediate problems after move 34 b3. (position below.)

click for larger view

Specifically, white's immediate threat is Bg6, skewering queen and rook.

Black also had to keep his rook on the e file, in order to avoid Be6, pinning and winning black's queen.

Instead, he took the bait.

34 ...Qf6 or Re5 would have held.

Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: An alternate pun:"Eero,don't be a billy".

Black is actually material ahead,but will soon lose a bishop-resulting in a lost,broken position.

Jan-30-08  drpoundsign: wow! polgar before polgar
Premium Chessgames Member
  Domdaniel: <kevin86> Heh. "Eero, don't be a billy" is simply *brilliant*.
Jan-30-08  JG27Pyth: <Jim from Providence: Black ignored immediate problems after move 34 b3. (position below.)>

Good lord, I didn't play through the game to that point just looked at b3 and went wow... but with that skewer just sitting there? to play b3!!! that's really odd... I feel like there must be more I'm missing in this position... I just can't believe someone would prefer the trappy b3 (or find it)... <ahhhh wait it's all becoming clear>... the b3 push is what makes the skewer possible. Prior to b3 white answers Bg6 with Qxf2+, the b3 push isn't an unobvious move at all! ... the b3 push lets the Queen defend f2 establishing the skewer as a threat, as Jim's diagram shows.

Oh this makes _much_ more sense!

I'll bet Menchik found b3 thinking about the skewer and then noticed the N fork and thought about the consequences of N fork vs B skewer... and that's when she saw the queen winning combination. Book expected the skewer as the reply to the N fork I'd imagine.

Jan-30-08  rozumim: I second Domdaniel's comment: kevin86, that was a bit of genius! Only thing I don't like about it is that *I* didn't think of it!
Jan-30-08  Jason Frost: I guess b3 wasen't book.
Jan-30-08  jovack: Black never had time to reorganize his pieces and the queen dominated the open king with all sorts of tactics. If he only had some sort of pawn to run around black could have generated something perhaps.
Jan-30-08  Cibator: As Paavoh correctly points out, EB's last name is spelt with two umlaut'ed O's, making the pronunciation something pretty close to "berk" .... which in UK English is not a very desirable thing to be called! Certainly worse than "book".
Apr-18-08  posoo: EITHER way. BUUUUOOOK
Apr-18-08  FHBradley: There may be umlauts in Eero's name, but that doesn't mean the pronunciation would be anywhere close to "berk". If you want to pronounce his name correctly, I suggest you try pronouncing it the way you would pronounce the name "Beck".
Apr-29-08  paavoh: <FHBradley> I agree with <Cibator> here: pronunciation of "berk" indicates a longer wovel than "beck", just like the double umlaut calls for - at least to a native Finnish/Swedish speaker. A minor matter anyway.
May-11-08  FHBradley: <paavoh:> You may be right about the length, but there's nothing in "Bo[umlaut]o[umlaut]k" that gets pronounced like the "r" in "Berk". So, even if it's strictly speaking wrong, it's less wrong that what you get if you imitate the pronunciation of "Berk", imo.
Jan-26-09  NickAlex: What a mensch!
Feb-21-09  WhiteRook48: white has a Book win
Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: Baruch Harold Wood in the <Illustrated London News>, March 1978, p.82:

<There's more in chess than making good moves. How you make them can sometimes make a huge difference. This was first impressed on me a long time ago. I was watching a game between Vera Menchik, then women's champion of the world, playing Finland's leading player, Eero Böök, in the Margate international of 1938.

click for larger view

Here each had seven moves to make before the time control. For these seven moves Miss Menchik had barely 5 minutes, Böök a good 20. It was Miss Menchik to move.

I became more and more puzzled as she gazed and gazed at the board, with all the signs of increasing agitation, yet not making a move, while minutes ticked away. At last, with only a few seconds left for six more moves, she came to life:

34 P-QN3!?

Böök , who had been strolling around, came back to the board, sat down, surveyed the situation briefly, played the obvious

34 ... N-B6

rose again and, as he walked past me, murmered [sic] “Zeitnot!” indicating, in the German which we had found to be our best common language, that the good lady had blundered through shortage of time. But she had already replied:

35 Q-B2!

Now it was Böök’s turn to exhibit all the signs of agitation. After using up almost the whole of his remaining time, he decided to take the rook.

35 ... NxR

Vera Menchik’s next five moves came like bursts from a machine gun, well within those few seconds.


By playing 34 P-N3, White protected her KBP, so renewing the threat of B-N6.

Had she played 34 P-N3 in a normal way Böök would undoubtedly have examined 34...N-B6 calmly in the ample time at his disposal and noticed the pitfall.

By running within seconds of losing on time, Vera tempted him into overconfidence and increased the tension - it is notorious how often a player who is not in time trouble gets more excited than an opponent who is.

Undoubtedly her slight gesture of annoyance completed the build-up.>

Deceit, thy name is woman.

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