Thursday, January 5, 2012

The most famous study with a Chicago connection?

Emanuel Lasker & Gustavus Reichhelm
Chicago Tribune, 1901
White to play and win

This is probably the second-most famous study with a World Champion as (co-)composer (Lasker's famous 1890 rook ending gets top honors).  Solution here: block an hour out of your schedule and allow yourself to be mystified.  (But try it yourself first: if the White king makes it to b5, Black has no defense.  And if the White king makes it to g5, Black has no defense.)

HHdvIV gives the source as "Literary Digest 1901," but according to one Wikipedia editor, this version (with kings on a1 and a7) was first published in the Trib.  

Does this study have something to say about the postmodern condition?  (Two fools wandering aimlessly in a barren landscape?)  Marcel Duchamp co-authored a book with the endgame composer Halberstadt that was inspired by this study, L'Opposition et les cases conjugées sont réconciliées (not to be confused with the 1980s electronic music album of the same name by the French band Etant Donnés!).  Andrew Hugill has persuasively suggested that the theory of coordinate squares influenced Samuel Beckett's Endgame.  (Beckett, a chess player, knew Duchamp.)

And please: Vladimir Nabokov composed problems, not studies.

And have I indulged in enough pointless blather for one morning?

No comments: