Thursday, June 23, 2005

Lake Hopatcong 1923

Only New York (with tournaments in 1924 and 1927) and Atlantic City (1921, documented by Hilbert) are about as close to Kenilworth as Lake Hopatcong, where two relatively major historical tournaments were held in 1923 and 1926. So it makes sense to put these materials together for our site. In fact, I imagine there are players attending our club who have often visited New Jersey's largest lake without ever suspecting that two major U.S. tournaments were conducted on its shores in the now vanished Hotel Alamac.

The proprietors of the Alamac sponsored both Lake Hopatcong events as well as the New York 1924 tournament (at a city hotel of the same name). Looking through the history of these tournaments, you recognize that they could never have happened without the help of interested philanthropists. We need to do more to cultivate such support from well-off chessplayers today.

Here is one of the 42 games I've unearthed from the 9th American Chess Congress at Lake Hopatcong 1923. It is introduced nicely by Hermann Helms in his August 13, 1923 column in the Brooklyn Eagle thus:

"What Janowski can do when at his best was shown in his game with Morrison, the Canadian champion, in the fifth round of the chess tournament at Lake Hopatcong. The latter, at London, distinguished himself by making a great fight against Capablanca, even though he finally lost. He was as clay in the potter's hands when it came to meeting the French champion [Janowski was from Paris - MG]. The game went to 33 moves and ended in a forced mate, but all the way through one could discern the master hand that was gradually enmeshing the man from the Dominion across the border. His 11th move was a sheer loss of time, and that sort of thing bodes ill for a player in a game of such importance.

"As soon as Janowski had posted his Queen and two Rooks on the open King's file, the end was in sight. A curious feature was that Janowski had a forced mate in two moves at his 31st turn but overlooked it. The checkmate, however, was delayed for only a couple of additional moves."

[Event "9th American Chess Congress"]
[Site "Lake Hopatcong, NJ USA"]
[Date "1923.08.12"]
[Round "5"]
[White "Janowski, David"]
[Black "Morrison, John S."]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "D30"]
[Annotator "Goeller,Michael"]
[PlyCount "65"]
[Source "Brooklyn Eagle"]

1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 e6 3. c4 c5 4. e3 Nf6 5. Bd3 {In such a sharp symmetrical position, this would seem to risk wasting a tempo. But the Bishop has no better square, and an exchange of pawns in the center will clarify things in White's favor.} Nc6 6. O-O Bd6 (6... Nb4 $5) 7. Nc3 O-O { Black continues the symmetry, which is always risky for the second player.} 8. b3 b6 9. Bb2 cxd4 {Black finally breaks the symmetry to close down the dark-squared Bishop's long-diagonal by settling a pawn on d4.} 10. exd4 Bb7 ({ The Bishop could also develop differently with} 10... Ba6 { though the position is sharp after} 11. Nb5 $5 (11. a3) 11... dxc4 (11... Bxb5 $6 12. cxb5 Ne7 13. Ne5 $14) (11... Be7 12. Ne5 $14) 12. bxc4 Bxb5 $1 13. cxb5 Nb4 $11) 11. Re1 Rc8 $6 {Black makes the first innacuracy.} 12. cxd5 exd5 13. Bf5 $1 Ra8 14. Ne5 g6 15. Bh3 Re8 16. Nb5 Bb4 17. Re3 a6 18. Na3 Ne4 19. Nc2 $1 ({Less accurate is} 19. Bd7 $6 Nxf2 $1 20. Kxf2 Rxe5 $1 21. dxe5 Qxd7 $44 { which appears to give Black sufficient compensation for the exchange.}) 19... Nxe5 (19... Bd6 20. f3 Nf6 21. Qe1 $14) 20. Nxb4 Nc6 21. Nd3 f5 22. g3 { A multi-purpose move, keeping Black's Queen out of h4, providing the Bishop a retreat square, and strengthening White's grip on the dark squares.} Qf6 23. Nf4 Ne7 $2 {A critical error which gives White a powerful grip on the e-file which decides the game.} (23... Rad8 24. f3 (24. Bg2 g5 $5) 24... Ng5 $11) 24. f3 Ng5 25. Bg2 b5 $2 ({Black would only lose a pawn after} 25... Nc6 26. Nxd5 Qd6) 26. Qe2 $1 Qd6 27. Re1 {A powerful line-up of the heavy pieces which some have called "Alekhine's cannon."} Kf8 ({Necessary was} 27... Ne4 28. fxe4 dxe4 {though this seems tanatamount to resignation.}) 28. Ne6+ Nxe6 29. Rxe6 Qb4 ( 29... Qd7 30. Ba3 $1) 30. Qe5 Bc6 $2 {Defending the Rook with the hope of moving the Knight, but this allows a speedy finish.} ({ Janowski must have expected the superior 30... Kg8 {when he would win with} 31. Bc1 $1 $18 { and this may explain his next move, overlooking a quicker finish.}) 31. Bc1 $6 {This adds quite a few extra moves to the finish. Black could have been mated immediately with} (31. Qh8+ $1 Ng8 (31... Kf7 32. Rf6#) 32. Rf6#) 31... Ng8 32. Bh6+ Nxh6 33. Qh8+ {and mate next move.} 1-0

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