Karl Marx Plays Chess

Justin Schwartz jschwart at freenet.columbus.oh.us
Sun Feb 4 07:53:11 MST 1996

Thanks. I'm no chess grandmaster, obviously, just a casual low-level fan.

> About the notation--yes, it's correct the way it is. The system used is 
> called algebraic notation. 1. e4 e5 means that White moves his king pawn 
> two spaces, and Black responds in kind. In algebraic notation, the pawn 
> moves are given without a designation for the piece. In the older system 
> that would have appeared as 1. P-K4 P-K4.
> Since the section on Marx's game is so brief, I may as well reproduce 
> most of it here:
> "[...] And then there was Karl Marx. He played a good deal of chess, 
> especially after fleeing the Continent following the failed revolution of 
> 1848. How do you suppose he started a game? With the new ideas of his 
> time, like the English Opening? Or the hear-headed Queen's Gambit, or 
> some strange flank attack with a double fianchetto of bishops? 
> 	"No. The great materialist played perhaps the most unlikely of 
> openings, the Muzio Gambit." [game follows]
> "Yes, the Muzio, that magnificent dinosaur.[a variant of the King's 
> Gambit, looks like] At the time Marx played it, Howard Staunton (who 
> preferred the English) was the world's best player and he stated with 
> authority that the Muzio was 'the most daring and brilliant, and at the 
> same time, as modern discoveries have shown, the most sound and enduring 
> method of attack yet known.'
> 	"That was in the days when it was considered chivalrous to attack 
> at all cost and crass to count material. The spirit of the gambit 
> infected everyone who played it, even Marx. Players could see themselves 
> as heroic figures when they sacrificed that knight with 5. O-O.
> 	"Here is how Joseph Henry Blackburne, Staunton's successor as 
> England's best player, got carried away as he recalled offering the Muzio 
> knight in an 1882 game: It was 'like Ivanhoe challenging Bois-Gilbert in 
> the lists at Abby,' Blackburne wrote. 'But we were nothing if not daring 
> in those days, and the cautious modern safety-loving youth of today had 
> not yet evolved.' (He meant the youth of 1895 or so)."
> What follows after that is more about the 400-year-old history of the Muzio 
> Gambit, but nothing more about Marx, except that the first 13 or so moves 
> of his game were often played automatically in a typical game of about 1850.
> Well, that was more evidence of Marx the Romantic. If you want to see how 
> Dialectical Materialists played chess, the Soviet Union did indeed 
> completely dominate the game for most of the time since WWII. And 
> Kasparov, the current world champion and considered by most experts to be 
> the strongest player who has ever lived, is himself a product of that 
> formidable Soviet School of Chess, however much he himself professes to 
> loathe Communism.	
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