Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Kentucky Opening (Part 3)

Readers who have been following the saga of the Kentucky Opening (see Part 1 and Part 2) may have already found themselves protesting: but I never knew that 1.e4 e5 2.Qh5 was called the Kentucky Opening!

Likely they are more familiar with references like the one below, from Bill Wall, chess author and investigator of both games short and openings unusual (and, at least on one occasion, someone willing to play the Jerome Gambit!)

Danvers Opening - 1.e4 e5 2.Qh5
by Bill Wall

The opening 1.e4 e5 2.Qh5 was probably first named in the early 20th century as Danvers Opening. It is mentioned in the American Chess Bulletin with that name in 1905. The Danvers opening was named after a hospital.

The opening also has names such as the Queen's Attack or Wayward Queen's Attack or Queen's Excursion or the Patzer Opening or the Terrorist Attack. In Indiana, it is Parham's Opening, named after former Indiana State Champion Bernard Parham, who plays 2.Qh5 on almost any Black reply. ECO name is C20.

The attack with the queen is tried mostly by beginners. It is really not very good to bring out the queen early, and many beginners do, hoping for an early mate.

The first game with this opening may be the following:

Adov - Borisov, St Petersburg 1889

1.e4 e5 2.Qh5 Nc6 3.Bc4 g6 4.Qf3 Nf6 5.Qb3 [5.Ne2] Nd4 6.Qc3 [6.Qd3] d5 7.Bxd5? [7.exd5] Nxd5 8.exd5 Bf5 9.d3 [9.Na3 Bxa3 10.bxa3 Qxd5] Bb4 0-1

Well, as we've already seen, there have been earlier, if not well-known, examples of the Kentucky / Danvers Opening.

What about Wall's reference to the opening being named after a hospital? The March 1920 issue of the American Chess Bulletin carried a remembrance of "The Late Dr. Elmer E. Southard" – "The famous Harvard varsity [chess] player, who was assistant professor of psychology at Harvard"

Dr. Southard attained distinction in his chosen profession, as a writer of books and assistant editor of the Journal of Nervous and Mental Diseases, and will be remembered as the most brilliant player who ever represented Harvard in the annual tournaments with Columbus, Yale and Princeton in New York and who, in the days of two-men teams, played for the Crimson in 1895, 1896, 1897 and 1898...

In due course of time Dr. Southard took his place in the front rank of Boston's chess experts, and more than once was nominated substitute on the American teams which played in the Anglo-American cable matches. The Danvers opening (1. P-K4, P-K4; 2.Q-R5, etc.) was originated by him during the period of 1906-9, when he was assistant physician and pathologist in the Danvers State Hospital for the Insane.

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