Kamikaze King and Queen

segelvfox Segel – Fox

Antwerp, 1900

Black to play

 

     23…Qxg3+! 24 Kxg3 Rg8+ 25 Kh4 Ng6+ 26 Kh5 Nf4+

segelvfox1

     27 Kxh6 Ne6+ 28 Kh5

segelvfox2

    28…Rh8 mate

The winner of this game, Albert Whiting Fox (1881-1964), is one of the forgotten masters of American chess. A journalist for the Washington Post and later a lawyer, the Bostonian outshone several of his better known countrymen in what was a relatively short chess career.  In his Essays in American Chess History (Caissa Editions, 2002) John Hilbert writes that Fox ‘had a most interesting life of his own and deserves a biographer in his own right’ (p.72).

Albert_Whiting_Fox

Albert Whiting Fox

Fox rarely met world-class opponents but on his first international outing at Cambridge Springs in 1904 he caused a sensation. Drafted in as a last-minute replacement, he defeated four of Europe’s leading players: Schlechter, Teichmann, Janowski and Chigorin. Only the first win was a fluke – the Austrian pressed the self-destruct button with a kamikaze king charge.

foxvschlechter

Fox – Schlechter

Cambridge Springs, 1904

Black to play

 

Two pawns down, Fox is on the brink. After 33…b5 and 34…a5 he would have no answer to the further advance of the a and b pawns. Only a remarkable stroke of luck saves him.

     33…Kh4?? 

Aiming for a back-rank mate by advancing his king to g3, Schlechter overlooks a vital detail.

    34 Qxh6+ Kg3 35 Nd3!

The versatile move Schlechter missed. The knight covers the mating square c1, the escape square f2 and forces the queen from the h2-b8 diagonal. Suddenly the vulnerable king is Black’s, not White’s.

foxvschlechter1

   35…Qe3 36 Qd6+ Kh4 37 Qh6+ Kg3 38 Qd6+ Kh4

Scarcely believing his good fortune, Fox repeats the position.

   39 Kh2!

Black cannot prevent the White queen delivering the final blow on the h-file.

foxvschlechter2

   39…Be6 40 Qf8 g4 41 Qh8+ Kg5 42 Qg7+ 

foxvschlechter3

After 42…Kh5 43 hxg4+ Bxg4 44 f4! wins.

1-0

essays in American chess history

See also Edward Winter, ‘The Fox Enigma’.

 

 

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