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An historic game at Knight odds

By Tim Harding

The game presented here, played at the odds of a knight, is a little treasure. It was perhaps never published since its first appearance in a newspaper of 1834.

The winner, Louis Charles Mahé de la Bourdonnais (1797-1840), was probably the world's strongest chess player for most of the 1820s and 1830s. In the summer of 1834 he paid an extended visit to England, when he played his celebrated matches against Alexander McDonnell.

The following game, just discovered in the Morning Post of Saturday 14 June 1834, must have been one of his earliest games in England before he played the Irish master. It is not in George Walker's collection Chess Studies, nor in the Oxford Encyclopaedia of Chess Games etc.

"CHESS. The votaries of this noble and fashionable recreation will thank us for presenting them with a game played at the Westminster Chess Club on Saturday last between one of the first players in Europe and a Gentleman holding no mean rank among the scientific body of amateurs of which the Westminster Chess Club is composed. The superior player, designated as White, gave the odds of the Queen's Kt., which must, therefore, be taken off the board on commencing the partie."

Here is the bare score of the game. Note that White started without his Queen's Knight.

White: De la Bourdonnais. Black: Anonymous amateur.

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. b4 Bxb4 5. c3 Bc5 6. O-O d6 7. d4 exd4 8. cxd4 Bb6 9. h3 Nf6 10. e5 dxe5 11. Ba3 Nd5 12. Qa4 Nc3 13. Nxe5 Be6 14. Bxe6 fxe6 15. Qc4 Nxd4 16. Rfe1 Ncb5 17. Ng6 Nxa3 18. 18. Rxe6+ Kf7 19. Re7+ Kxg6 20. Qf7+ Kh6 21. Qxg7+ Kh5 22. g4+ Kh4 23. Qh6 mate (1-0).

Play through this game in an HTML/Javascript page (including the original notes from the Morning Post).

Download in PGN.