Monday, July 22, 2013

The Inspirational Jacques Mieses

I haven't played much chess this year (well, not so much serious chess) and the club I've been helping to set up is due to start a round robin event this week which should see fields of players fairly evenly matched. I have to admit, I'm feeling a bit out of form. I've played a bit online though it isn't the same. Nevertheless, it's still better than not playing at all.

Playing fast games online is a good way to force yourself to work hard tactically, and can hone your openings. I'm usually not a big advocate of fast games. I personally believe that the best way to improve at playing long play chess is by playing long play chess, and working as hard as possible at the board. But there are, of course, other methods including studying games and positions, solving tactical puzzles and, (ok, I admit it) playing fast chess. But I qualify these methods by saying that there has to be an objective involved with each training method.

Jacques Mieses (from Wikipedia)

Anyway, I played a game on using a favourite old opening variation of mine....not that it's good, but it is interesting. I was white in the 5-2 game which started 1.e4 d5 [and I already wished I'd opened with 1.d4] 2.exd5 Qxd5 [I'd almost forgotten that this could be played, expecting 2..Nf6. I've never really put much work into the Scandinavian which I suppose is due to it being considered a pile of rubbish when I was growing up. Now, besides being considered respectable, or possibly dangerous there are also large opening roadmaps to guide players.] 3.Nc3 [I think I read somewhere that 3.Nf3 is more accurate, but whatever!] 3..Qa5 4.Nf3 [I think I should look at some mainlines with 4.d4, but as Bigdatabase 2013 has over 30,000 games from this position, it makes things a bit daunting]  4..Nf6 5.Be2 [Very conservative play, but there's a reason for this. I'm waiting for black to move the light squared bishop] 5..Bg4 [...and there it is]

6.b4 [Ths move was a favourite of maverick German born player Jacques Mieses. Mieses was a pretty formidable player who liked some strange openings. In 1895 he drew a match with David Janowsky and  then played at the super strong Hastings tournament of that year. He played in some of the strongest tournaments of the next 10 years such as Paris 1900 and Cambridge Springs 1904 and won a strong tournament in Vienna 1907 ahead of Tartakower, Maroczy, Duras, Vidmar and Schlecter. In a time when positional chess was gradually taking over from the old swashbuckling school of the 1800's, Mieses still played Centre Games and Danish Gambit's, Vienna Gambit's and Scotch Gambits, King's Gambit's and as black he championed the Scandinavian. So it is always interesting to see what a player chooses against their favourite opening.] 6..Qh5 [I remember when I first saw this type of idea, in the 1990's, the choice for black always seemed to be between 6..Qb6 and 6..Qxb4. After taking on b4, white gets a great initiative on the queenside. 6..Qxb4 7.Rb1 Qd6 (or 7..Qa5) 8.Rxb7 and black's usual plan of queen side castling and attacks on opposite sides is immediately thwarted; 6..Qb6 is the safest and black should be ok with moves like ..c6, ..Nbd7, ..e6 and ..Bd6.] 7.0-0 Nbd7 [Persisting with hopes of queen side castling? I'm not sure. As black, I'd have been tempted to play 7..e6, put my bishop on d6 and castle king side, getting on with things. After 7..e6 white has to consider the safety of his b-pawn]
8.d4 [It's odd that I should really have been worried about my position here. I mean, black has played 3 queen moves, has a central king and lacks any meaningful development. However, white isn't really looking too hot either. I desperately wanted to put the question to black's light squared bishop with 8.h3, but was worried about a sacrifice on h3 to open my king up. It surely is not enough, but anything can happen in a 5 minute game] 8..e6 9.h3 [I couldn't resist. I didn't really believe in the bishop sac on h3 last move, and my opponent didn't try it instead playing...] 9..Bxf3 but after 10.Bxf3 winning time by hitting black's unfortunate queen again, I grasped the initiative and eventually went on to win this game.

It is always good to find an imaginative player and look at their games. It helps if the player is strong. Mieses was one of FIDE's original Grandmasters in 1950. He moved to England in the 1930's and his name has recently come back to prominence with his variation of the Scotch Opening back in vogue (1e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nxc6 bxc6 6.e5). This comes from his use of this opening at Hastings 1895, where Mieses didn't perform too well, but he still drew with Lasker and Chigorin in this variation which is no mean feat.

1 comment:

  1. Well as far as I can see his draw with Chigorin in the Hastings tournament was NOT in this variation of the Scotch (check the game notation Jacques Mieses vs Mikhail Chigorin Hastings (1895) Scotch Game: Horwitz Attack (C45) 1/2-1/2 eg ..1. e4 Notes by E. Schiffers 1... e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 ed4 4. Nd4 Qh4 5. Nb5 Qe4 6. Be2 In my opinion, after 6 Be3, White obtains a much better chance of a successful attack. 6... Bb4 7. Bd2 Kd8 8. O-O Bd2 9. Nd2 etc).

    I've searched the chess databases for examples of Mieses Scotch variation own games and found only 3 or 4! Only one wine vs Bernstein in 1904. J H Blackburne had more games in this Scotch variation before Mieses games and this totally baffles me why this variation is named after Mieses when there are so little recorded games with him playing it!