February 21, 2012

In praise of madmen

London Chess Club, 1912.  Young German guy walks in, looking for a game.  George Thomas, a British master with a ripping mustache obliges him.  Thomas loses in 18 moves on a queen sacrifice, in one of the most celebrated miniatures in chess history.

After winning the game, Lasker (not the World Champion Emanuel, the other one, Edward) went on to write the diverting Chess for Fun and Chess for Blood (link), which also has some good clues on living the right way, e.g., "I do not blame anyone for wasting his time the way he likes it best; although, of course, it is my own private opinion that my own time wasting plan, which includes a moderate dose of Chess, is the best."  Edward was limited in his chess career, however, because he was working full-time as an engineer, inventing (for example) the breast pump.

Thomas was also not without merit - eventually a British champion in both chess and badminton, he spent World War I with the 6th Hampshire Regiment in Mesopotamia.  The madman Bill Wall elaborates with this Sir George Thomas miscellany.

"But wait," you say, "is that game score accurate?  Has anyone ever gone through the different accounts of the game and checked to see if the move order is correct?  Has anyone taken the trouble to consult primary sources and verify that the game occurred exactly as  represented above?"

Why yes, as a matter of fact, someone has.  The madman Edward Winter has done exactly that.  There were a number of things that needed to be sorted about this game, and he has sorted them out.  And, in 2010, he appended, triumphantly, the ultimate confirmation of his cherished hypothesis.

Life would be so much less interesting without people like this.



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