Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Hamppe - Meitner Motif

hamppe - meitnerHamppe - Meitner, Vienna 1872
1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Bc5 3.Na4?! Bxf2+?!

I have posted analysis of "The Hamppe - Meitner Motif," which begins with a definitive consideration of Hamppe - Meitner, Vienna 1872, and then explores some related lines, especially with colors reversed.

Even Steinitz appears to have recognized that White should have won "The Immortal Draw" game and computers help to show that Hamppe missed a few possible improvements, especially at the critical point after 1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Bc5 3.Na4 Bxf2+ 4.Kxf2 Qh4+ 5.Ke3 Qf4+ 6.Kd3 d5 7.Kc3 Qxe4 8.Kb3 Na6 (see diagram).

After 8.Kb3 Na6

White here played 9.a3?! to prevent Qb4# and open an escape hatch for the King, but after the amazing 9...Qxa4+!! Black had a forced draw (see the analysis for details). Two more promising ideas have been suggested in 9.d4 and 9.c3, both of which seem to secure White a winning edge. This hardly detracts from the beauty of the game, but it does tell us that Hamppe's tricky 3.Na4 may be useful on occasion as a way of drawing the opponent's fire to advantage.

An interesting example of the motif occurs after 1.e4 e5 2.f4 Nc6 (the Adelaide Counter Gambit) 3.Bc4 when playable seems to be 3...Na5!? Now a White player familiar with the Hamppe - Meitner Motif might be tempted by 4.Bxf7+? (better 4.Be2! =), but that would be a real mistake because of the unique features of the position. Black plays 4...Kxf7 5.Qh5+ g6! 6.Qxe5 (see diagram).

And now Black saves the piece by 6...Qh4+ 7.g3 Qh5! (7...Qe7!? is also playable) because White's Queen is trapped after 8.Qxh8? Bg7 -+.

White runs into a similar trap after 1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Na5!? when again the tempting 4.Bxf7+ is in error due to 4...Kxf7 5.Qh5+ g6 6.Qxe5 Nc6! because White encounters real trouble extricating his Queen after 7.Qxh8?! (see diagram).

hamppe - meitner
Black plays 7...h6! (note that White's Knight on c3 blocks the Queen's usual escape square!) 8.Qh7+ Bg7 and White must sacrifice a piece to rescue her by 9.d3 Nf6 10.Bg5 hxg5 11. Qh3 d5 12. Qf3 Kg8 =+.

I hope you enjoy the games and analysis as much as I did researching and annotating them. As always, I offer the PGN file for those who want to do their own investigating. (Thanks to John Moldovan, by the way, for providing me a copy of Andy Soltis's excellent article on Hamppe - Meitner in Chess Life, September 2002.)

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