Chess Archaeology HomeChess is a scientific game and its literature ought to be placed on the basis of the strictest truthfulness, which is the foundation of all scientific research.W. Steinitz

The McConnell Family Notebooks, Part I
Researched by John Paul Phillips

Item #2:
Game played between James McConnell Sr. and Wilhelm Steinitz.
Gamescore
Game played at New Orleans in 1886
between Messrs McConnell and Steinitz
White James McConnell
Black W. Steinitz
1
 P-K4
2
 P-K5 (b)
3
 P-Q4
4
 QP x P
5
 QKt-B3
6
 QB-KB4 (d)
7
 Q-Q2 (e)
8
 Q x B
9
 K-Q2 (f)
10
 Kt-Kt5 (g)
11
 Kt-Q6 ch
12
 B x Kt
13
 Q-B5
14
 P x P (h)
15
 B-R6 ch
16
 P-KR4 (j)
17
 Q x Q
18
 P-Kt4 (l)
19
 Kt-R3 (n)
20
 R-KBsq
21
 R-B7
1
 P-K3 (a)
2
 P-KB3
3
 P-QB4
4
 B x P
5
 Q-B2 (c)
6
 Q-Kt3
7
 B x P ch
8
 Q x P
9
 Q x R
10
 QKt-R3
11
 K-B sq
12
 P x B
13
 Kt-K2
14
 P x P (i)
15
 K-Kt sq
16
 Q-K4 (k)
17
 P x Q
18
 R-Kt sq (m)
19
 B-Kt2
20
 B-Kt7 (o)
21
 Kt-Kt3
White announced mate in 6 moves (p)
Page 1
(1)
*
(a) 
As is well known Mr Steinitz never adopted this defence excepting in the present game where it had been agreed that the line of play which occurred in the first tie game of the Vienna tournament of 1882 between Steinitz (White) and Winawer (Black) should be followed by the two parties up to Whites 14th move from which point Mr McConnell claimed that the game could be won by White in a manner that had escaped the attention of all analysts who had commented on that game including the writer.
(b) 
This line of play was introduced by Steinitz in the above named tournament and was his favorite attack in this opening at that time.
*
Page 2
(2)
*
(c) 
The attack here initiated gains material but too much at the expense of time and position. 5...Kt-B3 was superior.
(d) 
Obviously the loss of forces could be avoided by P x P but White prefers giving up virtually at this point the exchange of his Pawns for an attack which ought to have succeeded by proper play.
(e) 
Only consistent with the previous play.  7 KKt-R3, 7 Q x P; 8 Kt-Kt5, 8 B-Kt5 ch; 9 K-K2, 9 QKt-R3; 10 QR-Kt sq, 10 Q x R P; 11 R x B, 11 Kt x R; 12 Kt-B7 ch was not as good although White wins a piece temporarily for his Kt becomes immediately subject to loss by P-QKt3 which also opens measures against Whites King.
(f) 
Natural enough as any attempt to save the R would have left Black with two Pawns ahead and a comparatively very easy game.
(g) 
To all appearances the most direct route to a succesful [sic]
*
Page 3
(3)
*
but the bad position of Blacks Q and his exposed K side might have been also utilised in other ways for instance by 10 Q-Kt3 with the following interesting possibilities: 10...Q x B (or 10...P-KKt4; 11 P x P, 11 Kt x P best; — if 11...P  x B; 12 Q-Kt4 threatening P-B7 ch — 12 B x Kt, 12 Q x Kt ch; 13 Q x Q, 13 Kt-K5 ch; 14 K-K sq, 14 Kt x Q; 15 B-K5 and wins) 11 KKt-K2, 11Q x R; 12 Q x P, 12 Kt-B3; 13 Kt-Kt5, 13 Kt x P; (if 13...P x P; 14 B-Kt5 and wins) 14 Kt-Q6 ch, 14 K-Q sq; 15 Q-K8 ch [sic], 15 K-B2; 16 Kt-K 8 ch and wins in a few moves.
(h) 
In the game above referred to White here played 14 Kt-K2 and after 14...Q x R; 15 P x P, 15 P x P; 16 B-R6 ch, 16 K-Kt sq; 17 Q-Q4.  This last move was a fatal error as Blacks answer Q x R P showed.  However Mr McConnells ingenious plan disguised this point.  The late Mr Zukertort who saw this game played had strongly expressed the opinion
*
Page 4
(4)
*
that Black had a winning position at this juncture and for my part I am inclined to think that Black ought not lose at any rate.  The result of this game and the examination of the variations arising therefrom convinced me however that Mr McConnells idea was as sound as it was deep and clever.
(i) 
If 14...Q x P (B3); 15 B-Kt5, 15 Q-B8; (or 15...Q-Kt3; 16 KKt-K2, 16 P-KR3; 17 R-B sq ch, 17 K-Kt sq; 18 B x Kt, 18 K-R2; there seems nothing better 19 Kt-B4, 19 Q-Kt5; 20 P-KR3, 20 Q-Kt6; 21 R-B 3 with a winning game. This variation was pointed out to me by Mr McConnell.) 16 Kt-K4, Q x P ch;  17 Kt-K2, 17 P-KR3; 18 Q x Kt ch, 18 K-Kt sq; 19 Q-K8 ch, 19 K-R2; 20 Kt-B6 ch, 20 PxKt; 21 Q-B7 mate.
(j) 
A remarkably fine move which forms the root of a variety of combinations demonstrating the winning superiority of Whites position although
*
Page 5
(5)
*
Black is the exchange and two Pawns ahead and can force the exchange of Queens.
(k) 
The Black K is so dangerously surrounded the exchange of Queens seems the only relief. Other feasible moves provided however no better result for instance 16...P-B4; 17 R-R3, 17 Q-B3; 18 B-Kt5, 18 Q-Kt2; 19 R-Kt3 &c.  Or 16...Kt-Kt3; 17 R-R3, 17 Q-K4; 18 Q x Q, 18 P x Q; 19 P-R5 and wins.
(l) 
This precaution is most important in order not to allow the Black Kt to enter at KB4 which would break Whites attack.  This had to be provided for in the forecast of the combinations which formed Whites plan and is therefore all the more murderous.
(m) 
No better was 18...Kt-Q4; 19 Kt-R3, 19 Kt-B5; (or 19...Kt-B3; 20 R-B sq, 20 Kt x P; 21 R-KKt sq and wins.) 20 R-KB sq, 20 Kt x Kt; 21 R-B7 and the mating position which appears at the end of this game is now produced although White is a clear R behind.
(n) 
The details of Whites plan are carried out with great foresight, it is necessary to select this plan
*
Page 6
(6)
*
for the development of the Kt in order to prevent Black from blocking the KB-file subsequently by Kt-B5.
(o) 
20...B-Q4 might have prolonged the fight a little but the game could not be saved.  White would then equally play R-B7 followed by Kt-KKt5 and then with a series of checks his R would reach Q-B7 [sic] in which situation the battle would be decided by Kt-B8 preventing R x Kt as well as to reach K8 with the R after a series of checks.
(p) 
A pretty so called seesaw of checks finishes the game thus 22 R-Kt7 ch, 22 K moves; 23 R x QP ch, 23 K moves; 24 R-Kt7 ch, 24 K moves; 25 R-QKt7 disch, 25 K moves; 26 R x R ch and mates next moves.
*

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