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Horwitz and Kling.

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When I go on holidays I like visiting bookshops and having a look at the Chessbook section. Yes, today you can get anything anywhere, and more through the web, but … This September I found a book the second edition of which appeared in 1889 published in London by G. Bell and Sons. The title is CHESS STUDIES AND END-GAMES and contains the studies and endgames composed by Josef Kling (1811-1876) and Bernhard Horwitz (1808-1885) . The original first edition was published by the authors in 1851 and the 1889 edition was a revised and corrected one by Revd. William Wayte. The book has two parts, one of them devoted to “Chess Studies” and the other being a “Miscellany of Endgames”.

Many people think these type of books are useless: a lot of diagrams featuring composed positions to solve and nothing more. A quick glance at one or two of the positions , a possible (and most likely wrong) solution by seeing the apparent (and probably wrong) first move  and a boring sneer. (It’s much better a book full of opening variations outdated since the very moment it goes to press, isn’t it???). Wrong approach.

I must confess there was a time I had that stupid attitude… Later, I realised how valuable solving studies,problems and endgame compositions  to train one’s tactical skills is … I think it was Botvinnik who pointed out that there was no strategy in studies. As in most of the topics he wrote about he was right. You cannot solve a study or a problem by using strategical ideas or looking for deep strategical plans. These things have to do with pure calculation. Alexander Kotov , the man whose books taught how Chess is played to several generations of players, said that any work on this field was beneficial and useful to the player. 

I have opened the book at random and found the following position:

endgame pos

Would you like to spend some time trying to solve it? White to move wins. This does not have  a long solution. Apart from problems featuring mate in three, four moves I think it is not necessary (unless you were a genuine Chess study fan) to torture yourself trying to solve positions with solutions which may have nine, ten and even more moves (curiously enough, I have seen columnists which offer their readers combinative positions from actual games and the solution has seventeen, twenty and in some case over 25 moves (!!). These are, clearly,  cases of sheer incompetence: you cannot pretend people to guess 20 moves in GMs’ games offering the position as a case of “combination”… )

But this book provoked a curious feeling on me: These two authors lived in the 19th century. Obviously they had their own lives, fears, pains, happiness, hobbies ,etc. though they  devoted their lives to Chess. Over a century has passed and we know of them because of their work in Chess… What do we really know about those who preceded us in say, the last years of the 19th century and the first two or three decades of the 20th century?. All of them are now dead (I am speaking of those who lived in those years not of those who were born then). We read about their Chess lives, study their games and perhaps try to know what the places where they played were like in those years… But the man himself?. Of course the private lives of some of them are relatively well-known . Other ones’ are not so .

Solution to the study:

1. e5, Kd5 /2. Kf2, Ke4 /3. Kg3, Kf5/ 4. Kf3, Kg6/ 5. Bxe7 winning.



Written by QChess

September 23, 2013 at 2:35 pm

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