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THE MONKEY AND THE GASCON CHESS KNIGHT.
“...Al ajedrez la fuerza es relativa.”
In times gone by there dwelt in the good city of Bordeaux a chess-player, whose skill in the royal game had gained him the uni versal cognomen of the “Chevalier de l'Echiquier.” No rival had he met with in all his native province of Gascony; and to contest a game at all with him, or even to merit his approbation, was deemed high honor by the most illustrious in the game. In all chess matters his word was law, and he could not touch a pawn without eliciting bursts of applause from the by-standers. Our Gascon was enjoying the plenitude of all this glory, when there chanced to pass through Bordeaux a certain Spanish Cavalier, who hearing of our hero's great skill, sought an opportunity of judging of his prowess in the game. He accordingly was presented, and having premised his wish to be admitted to the honor of contending with the renowned professor, by stating that the best player in Spain usually gave him the odds of the Rook, and played without seeing the board, our knight unhesitatingly bowed assent, removed his Queen’s Rook from the board, retired to an opposite corner, and addressing his opponent, Sir Cavalier, said he, I give you the Rook, the move is mine; King's Pawn two sq. . . . May I inquire whether you have many very strong players in Spain? — Many Sir. . . . King's Pawn two sq. K. B. to Q. B. 4th sq. Please name them. Since the death of our celebrated Ruy Lopez, Don Diego de Lucena, whose grandsire was one of our earliest writers on the game, has not degenerated from the parent-stock. He is unquestionably a
— Q. B. P. one . . Can it be that his fame has never reached you!
—Never, his residence 2 . . K. B. P. two sq. Seville, and the finest players in Spain have all visited him in turn. . . Q. Kl. P. two. (a) K. B. to Q. Kl. 3d. (musingly) Rojas' Rojas . . . and do they never win? Alas! no, they all leave him crest-fallen, and forced to acknowledge no chess player in the universe can compete with Don Gabriel de Rojas. . . Q. R. P. two sq. You inspire me with the greatest desire to make his acquaintance; and if we ever meet, despite the opinion of your Castilian players, I may not unworthily maintain the honor of our escutcheon of Gascony. . . Q. R. P. two. In this manner they continued playing and conversing, the game meanwhile running thus:
(a) Q. P. two sq. would have been better play.
(b) He would have lost at least a piece by taking the King's Pawn with Queen's Knight, because the first player, after capturing King's Kt. with Bishop, upon Black's taking the Bishop with his Knight, could then have taken Q. B. P., checking, and winning a Rook.
(c) With so much advantage in force, our Castilian should have proffered to exchange Queens at Q. 5th sq.
(d) Badly played.—By moving K. to R. sq. he might probably have saved the game.
At this point our hero rose saying, “You have lost Sefior: the mate is now forced in exactly three moves.”
Aster this conversation the Chevalier de l'Echiquier became an unhappy man. The idea that he had a rival, and perhaps a master, embittered every triumph, and the laurels of the Sevilian Miltiades banished sleep from the lids of this new Themistocles. This state of uncertainty became finally so insupportable that he resolved to end it, and having made his arrangements he departed for Seville. No sooner had he reached that city than he hastened to the residence of Don Gabriel de Rojas. He found the great man intent upon a game of chess; a monkey with a grave phiz occupying the seat opposite him, and looking for all the world like an adversary. “Sefior,” said the French champion, “drawn hither by the renown of your skill in the noble game of chess, I dare present myself as an aspirant to compete with you on the chequered field, if you will admit me to so great an honor. In Bordeaux I enjoy some reputation, and I may even venture to say that no players in that city can dispute the palm with i.e.”—“Come sir,” replied the Spaniard, smiling, “be seated, I shall endeavor to prove worthy of the favor you confer.”
The two champions fairly “en présence,” the game began; but hardly had a dozen moves been played, when Don Gabriel rose suddenly and said to the astonished Frenchman, “It is useless, Sir, to continue; you cannot play with me. . . . You are at most a match for my monkey.” “What!” replied the Chevalier; “do you mean to insult me?”—“By no means,” answered the Spaniard; “know that Monito is a finished player, and you need feel no humiliation in being placed on a level with him. I should even bet against you.”
(a) The best mode of winning—Instead of this move, had White ventured to take K. B. P. checking, Black could not have moved King to corner without losing his Queen. The student will easily discover why.
(b) Had the first player attacked the adverse Queen with his Knight be would have lost the game.