Friday, 20 June 2014

Graves of Famous Chess Players - No 2 in a series of ....... ?

Well, this is almost as much of a surprise to me as it is to you, but against all the odds, this thread has acquired a second article. Alright, he's not as famous as Morphy, I'll grant you, (see No 1 in the series), but at least he's rather closer to home than New Orleans, in Kensal Green cemetery, London. (Grave 392/182/PS), very near the western entrance. Luckily for all, I decided against taking a selfie of me at the graveside. A replacement headstone has been installed relatively recently, though there is no indication as to exactly when, or by whom.

Alexander McDonnell (1798-1835, born in Belfast) was the strongest "British" player of his time, and owes his chess fame to a mammoth series of games with the French player Louis Charles de la Bourdonnais that was, to all intents and purposes, an unofficial world championship. In total the two played 85 games across 6 matches between June and October 1834, all in London. According to the Irish Chess Union, the two men played almost every day except Sunday, with games starting at noon and lasting as long as seven hours. McDonnell won the second match (meaning he was, briefly, unofficial world champion) and was ahead in the last when it was broken off. The overall score for McDonnell, though, was +27 -45 =13, showing de la Bourdonnais to be the clearly stronger player. (They didn't draw many in those days, did they?!)

One of McDonnell's best games was the 50th:-

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