Sunday, 25 March 2007

Archive: UNCUT! 59

The Sean Marsh
Chess Column

*Column 59*
**May 2007* *

Dear Readers,

It somehow seems quite a while since the last UNCUT! but perhaps it’s just the approach of the end of the season and the onset of the summer months.

Anyway, there’s plenty been going on and not only in the world of chess. Sports fans would have been pleased to see the annual Boat Race yet been bemused at the same two teams reaching the final yet again. The Iranian Boat Race was much more fun until the opposing team strayed a little too close and were taken hostage on grounds of territorial infringement.

Aficionados of English Literature had the opportunity to watch new televised versions of several Jane Austen classics. Unfortunately I managed to miss these modern adaptations which is a great shame; as a Dr. Who fan I was quite looking forward to seeing Billie Piper’s Fanny.

Anyway, what has all this got to do with chess? Nothing really, I’m afraid. Yet it can be surprising how often chess and ‘real life’ do cross-pollinate. For example, what has the Petroff Defence got to do with Napoleon Bonaparte?

Take a look at this position and all will be explained…

White to play and…
….Find Paris and then boot Boney back!

Alexander Petroff, who gave his name to the great counter-attacking weapon (it was! - go and look at the games of Marshall and Pillsbury if you don’t believe me) now known as the Petroff Defence, composed this intriguing problem. The inspiration was Napoleon’s enforced retreat from Russia in 1812. Napoleon, currently occupying Moscow (h7) is eventually run ragged all the way back to Paris by a combination of Russian partisans (the Bishops) and the Cossack cavalry (the White Knights).

So…can you marshal the might of Moscow, force Napoleon on a long march back home and then ensure that he suffers the ignominious fate of being checkmated in 12 moves from the diagram? Of course you can! (Solution next time).

PS: For the real story of Napoleon’s defeat and retreat you really should read
1812: Napoleon's Fatal March on Moscow by Adam Zamoyski

Sean Marsh
10th May 2007


Anonymous said...

Are you sure that's the actual problem Petrov composed? I remember seeing this at and it's totally different there.

Sean Marsh said...

There does indeed seem to be some confusion over this; a google search produces both problems as 'the one'. I shall investigate further!

Sean Marsh said...

Investigation complete!