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Player: United  KeSetoKaibaChessHere Gold Member Subject: Chess From Prince Charming

2021-09-01 22:23:24
Chess From Prince Charming

This is a beautiful chess game which I believe captures the essence of “Romantic era chess.” Objectively, it is not the best play possible; however, it is instructional in elements such as pushing your own agenda and not being too rigid with material values. This game is sometimes dubbed “Prince Charming” so without further ado, let us get into some details.

First of all, just who is this royal-blood prince? Prince Andrey Dadian was born (1850) into a Mingrelian princely family (Western Georgia) and graduated from Heidelberg University of Law in 1873. Later in life, he also served in the Russian Army as a lieutenant-general.

Dadian learned how to play chess from his parents and later became a chess player, sponsor and organizer.

Much less is known of his opponent, Boulitchoff. Let us digress back to the game:

This game was played in St. Petersburg in 1882. Prince Andrey Dadian of Mingrelia had the White pieces and Boulitchoff had the Black pieces.

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. b4 Bxb4 Giuoco Piano Game: Evans Gambit, which of course is a well known opening. Accepting the pawn with 4…Bxb4 seems most common, although declining the gambit pawn with …Bb6 is occasionally seen as well.

The modern interpretation is currently accepting the pawn 4…Bxb4 5. c3 Ba5 or 5…Be7.

5. c3 Ba5 6. d4 exd4 7. O-O d6 This is all still following modern opening theory, but we must remember that this game was played back in 1882! This variation of the Evans Gambit Accepted is the Pierce, Waller Attack. Interesting was 8. Qb3!? with initiative against f7, but one can’t complain as the game will continue in a highly theoretical opening.

8. cxd4 Bb6 9. Nc3 Na5 This is all still “book” as they say. This variation is (get ready for this long name) “Giuoco Piano Game: Evans Gambit Accepted, McDonnell Defense, Morphy Attack 9…Na5.”

The next move meets the standards of “romantic-era chess”, yet the sacrifice was not necessary (nor was it objectively best). Perhaps the simple 10. Bd3 is better with a possible continuation being 10. Bd3 Ne7 11. Qc2 or 10. Bd3 Ne7 11. Bb2.

We have to give the prince one thing though; his play does have courage; I’ll give it that.

10. e5 dxe5? We must examine the position more closely to see what is really going on here. 10. e5 may not look instinctual; doesn’t Prince Dadian see that his c4 Bishop is under attack by the a5 Knight?

Well, yes, but 10. e5 Nxc4 11. Qa4+ forks the King and c4 Knight. Calculating deeper, 10. e5 Nxc4 11. Qa4+ c6 12. Qxc4 dxe5 13. Nxe5 Be6 14. d5 Bxd5 gives a sharp continuation where the game is about equal (d5 was played to give back the material since …Qxd4 would be immensely strong for Black, since the e5 Knight loses its defender and the c3 Knight is in danger.

However, this line doesn’t need to be played. Black can improve on move 12. In this variation, Black can play 12…d5! (instead of 12…dxe5) and can comfortably prepare to castle Kingside with a pawn advantage in material.

I find it fairly likely that Boulitchoff calculated, yet didn’t see 12…d5! They instead believed their opponent and thought that the c4 Knight couldn’t be touched.

IM Jeremy Silman talks about this psychology in How To Reassess Your Chess (4th Edition). One place is “The Curse of ‘I can’t’ (p. 167).” Just because your opponent decides a move is sound (like our prince leaving c4 hanging), this doesn’t mean they correctly analyzed the position and it is up to the chess player to determine for themselves if a move is playable or not! As Silman says (p. 170), “Don’t give up on [the move you want to play] unless you’ve completely proven that it’s bad!”

11. Bxf7+! Kxf7 White would have an enormous advantage after 12. Nxe5+ Ke8 13. Qh5+ g6 14. Nxg6! hxg6 15. Qxh8

12. Ng5+?? Ke8 Too eager to create a romantic masterpiece by declining material (the e5 pawn) as sometimes just taking the material offered is part of the objectively best strategy. As my variation above noted, 12. Nxe5+ was tactically correct with the thematic Nxg6 due to the h7 pawn being pinned. After 12. Ng5+?? Ke8, then Black’s King is safe enough as there is no clear cut continuation of attack and Black is simply up a ton of material.

13. Nce4 Qxd4? Black plays a natural-looking plan. They are up by a lot of material, so they seek to simplify and exchange the Queens off of the chess board. 13…Bxd4 was better, since the discovered attack by removing the Bishop is dangerous.

14. Qh5+ g6 15. Qf3 It is apparent how White has no good continuation of attack and the material deficit should give the Black pieces an easy theoretical win - a winning position is not as good as a position already won though. This next blunder is evidence of that.

Nh6?? This tries to prevent Qf7+ in an incorrect manner and now the advantage is back on White! Both 15…Bf5 and 15…Qd7 leave White with no real progress to be made.

16. Ba3 This is an important move because the intention is to keep the enemy King from castling to safety. Other moves which accomplish the same goal were also winning such as 16. Nf6+. In situations like these, labeling the uncastled King as a target is crucial and then it is just a matter of getting pieces over there to attack once the King is stranded in the center.

Nc4?! I’m not too critical due to the fact that Black was losing in this position any way. However, this now allows a pretty mate in 3 sequence.

17. Qf7+! Nxf7 More testing to accept the Queen and have White prove they calculated enough to justify the sacrifice. 17…Kd8 runs into the immediate 18. Qe7#

18. Nf6+ Kd8 19. Nxf7# A picturesque finish with a cunning Queen sacrifice; this is the kind of thing romantic chess is all about!

Now that we have seen what romantic chess a prince is capable of, there is no reason all of us can’t adopt these same elements into out own chess. Pushing our own agenda and keeping the initiative may give us equally beautiful checkmates; it is simply a matter of trial and error and long-term chess improvement.
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