The Campbell Report
Correspondence Chess
"On the Square" Article

John Hilbert

Thanks to chess historian John Hilbert for providing another excellent article on the history of correspondence chess, the 12th article he has written for The Campbell Report. For more information on John Hilbert please check his previous articles in the On the Square Menu. For your convenience, the links to his other articles are also given at the bottom of this page. In addition, the games in the article are provided for download in PGN format or you can view the games in a separate window using the ChessBase JavaScript Viewer.

A number of John Hilbert's articles on this site have been reprinted in his excellent book Essays in American Chess History (Caissa Editions 2002), winner of the 2002 Cramer and Chess Journalists of America Award for Best Book of the Year. Congratulations to John Hilbert for his well-deserved recognition by the Cramer Committee and the CJA.

John Hilbert hasn't rested on his laurels, though, and has had three more books published recently. If you're interested in American chess history check out these new Hilbert books:

  • New York 1940 (Caissa Editions)
  • Young Marshall (Publishing House Moravian Chess)
  • Walter Penn Shipley: Philadelphia's Friend of Chess (McFarland)

You can obtain these books from Chess Cafe and other chess book suppliers.

Download games in PGN format

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John Hilbert can be reached at: Jshchess@aol.com

Hermann Helms (left)
and Hartwig Cassel,
taken from the 1905
American Chess Bulletin

Hermann Helms and
Correspondence Chess Coverage
in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle

by John S. Hilbert

Few if any men have given as much to the chess culture of the United States as did Hermann Helms. Born on January 5, 1870, in New York City, and dying in that same city a day after his ninety-third birthday, Helms was actively involved with chess, chess play, and chess reporting for an incredible seventy years. He has, directly or indirectly, played a major role in several of the correspondence chess essays I have written for this website. In June 1904, as many know, Helms and his business partner, Hartwig Cassel, released their first issue of the American Chess Bulletin, publishing in that issue all 120 games from Cambridge Springs 1904, as well as the 7 Rice Gambit consultation games the international stars played while staying at the Hotel Rider. Helms continued to publish the Bulletin until the very month of his death, in January 1963.

What fewer know is that for nearly eleven years prior to the inaugural issue of the American Chess Bulletin, Hermann Helms had pursued a career as a chess columnist in the pages of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. His Eagle column would run, with minor interruptions, until the paper folded in 1954, over sixty years later. During his long and distinguished career as a newspaper columnist, Helms would also make significant contributions to a host of area papers and magazines, including the Evening Post, New York Sun, New York Times, New York World-Telegram & Sun, Pulitzer's Magazine, and the Sunday World. It is unlikely anyone has ever shown such dedication to reporting on the game over the course of so many decades. He followed chess in many of its forms. Not surprisingly, Helms was also a friend to correspondence chess. He played it quite well, too.

When Helms ran his first regular column in the Eagle, on October 25, 1893, the Continental Correspondence Chess Association Tournament was still in the organizational stage, with play beginning only on January 1, 1894. Helms as well as his younger brother, Charles, competed in the Continental, with seventy participants the largest correspondence chess tournament yet held in the United States and Canada. As early as in his March 7, 1894, column, Helms published a game played in the third preliminary section of the tournament, one of the first games finished, and won by C.W. Macfarlane of Virginia over Dr. S.T. King of Brooklyn.

Helms continued his coverage of correspondence chess in the pages of the Eagle throughout the 1890s. Before the Continental had finished, indeed just at the start of the tournament's final round in 1896, Helms published in his March 26, 1896, column his announcement of the formation of the Pillsbury National Correspondence Chess Association in Chicago. Helms even gave the correspondence between the organizers, led by Edward T. Runge, the PNCCA's first president, and Pillsbury himself, who by way of letter dated March 23, 1896, just three days before Helms' Eagle column published it, had given permission for his name to be used by the newly forming group. For a time, then, both the Continental tournament (the group had organized for the tournament, but in truth was never a full-fledged Association with continuous membership, regardless of its name) and the PNCCA held center-stage in correspondence chess. As Helms would write that September, "At present there are two organizations in existence, rivals in a certain sense, but both doing excellent work in helping to spread the chess gospel." Indeed, as with many organizations with fervently held beliefs, the PNCCA was doing all it could to increase its membership throughout the land.

In his November 27, 1896, column, Helms announced that three days hence, on December 1, 1896, the first tournament of the PNCCA would commence. Entrants were still being accepted, though, upon payment of the fifty cent dues and a like amount for entry in the tournament, with interested parties urged to contact the PNCCA's Secretary, Edward J. Napier, older brother of Brooklyn's Boy Wonder, William Ewart Napier. In very small print, Helms published not only a letter from the tournament committee, but all twenty-two of the detailed rules for the first PNCCA event. Although scheduled to begin December 1, the tournament in fact did not begin until December 5, when 111 participants-a new national and indeed continental record for correspondence play in one event-were paired in eight divisions. Every name and division was listed in the Eagle on December 10, 1896. Helms himself played in the Eastern Division, Section One. The Eastern Division was one of only two of the eight divisions requiring further breakdown into sections, with four sections filled with a total of 40 players. The Central Division had two sections, with 22 players. A second, "auxiliary" tournament, as it was referred to, was begun by the PNCCA October 1, 1897, not long after President Runge, due to declining health, had turned over the management of the organization to Edward Napier.

While Helms maintained his regular Thursday column in the Eagle, reporting on happenings around the chess world, in January 1900 Helms also began a Sunday column devoted entirely to correspondence chess. No doubt thanks to Helms's long-time support of correspondence play, as well as his ability to devote precious column inches to the subject, the thirty-year-old columnist had taken upon himself the demanding task of writing about correspondence chess news as "the official organ" of the PNCCA. The result was something that should stagger the imagination of today's correspondence chess enthusiast, who no doubt will look in vain for significant coverage of his favorite pastime in his local paper.

Helms more than warmed to the task, and during the year 1900 alone published over 80 correspondence chess games on behalf of the organization. Short of publishing their own journal, it is hard to imagine where else the PNCCA members could have found a more accommodating outlet for their efforts. Helms's January 6, 1901, Eagle column provided an index of every correspondence game published the year before, the date of its publication, the player's names, the opening, and the result. A summary of opening statistics was also given, with the Ruy Lopez leading the way with 19 appearances, followed by 7 French, 6 Scotch, and 5 Petroff, with many fewer queenside openings being represented.

According to Helms, the games had been selected by the Eagle (in other words, by Helms) and the PNCCA game committee, largely "at random, due regard being paid to quality." However selected, five of his own games were published that year among the 85 correspondence chess games in the Eagle. In fact, more than one of Helms's games appeared in the pages of his Eagle correspondence chess column only indirectly, as it were, by way of their appearance in other contemporary sources. Take, for example, the following game, with the introduction Helms gave it. Although Helms does not give a date for the game, Bryce Avery in his Correspondence Chess in America (McFarland 2000) notes at p.12 that the first PNCCA Grand National ended in 1897, won by Dr. Otto Meyer of Richmond, Virginia. It is likely the game below was started sometime in late 1896, and concluded early the following year.

Helms - Lissner [D00]
First PNCCA Ch., Semi-Finals, 1897
The following game was played in the semi-finals of the first championship tournament between H. Helms of Brooklyn and M. Lissner, the Manhattan problem composer, the notes being from the Illustrated London News. 1.d4 d5 2.e3 e6 3.Bd3 Nf6 4.Nd2 Be7 5.f4 This is known as the stonewall variation of the Queen's pawn game. The intention is to form a strong center, following up with Nf3 and Ne5. Black can only succeed if he forcibly attacks and breaks up this center of pawns by ...c5, etc. 5...b6 6.Qf3 c5 7.c3 cxd4 8.exd4 0-0 9.Ne2 Ba6 The object of developing by ...b6 is to play ...Bb7. It is useful both for attack and defense, and the exchange weakens Black's queenside too much. 10.Bc2 Bxe2 11.Qxe2 Nc6 12.Nf3 Qc7 13.Ne5 g6 14.0-0 Nh5 15.Nxc6 Qxc6 16.f5 A very forcible move. If either pawn captures, Black loses a piece. 16...Rfe8 17.g4 Nf6 18.fxg6 fxg6

Position after 18. ... fxg6

19.Ba4 Very clever. Black is almost compelled to take, and then follows the pretty attack on the King's position, which soon settles matters. 19...Qxa4 20.Qxe6+ Kh8 21.Bg5 Rad8 22.Rae1 Nxg4 23.Bxe7 Qd7 24.Qf7 It is merely a matter of a few moves before the climax must come. If Black now plays 24...Rc8, then follows: 25.Re6 Rc7 26.h3 h6 (He cannot play 26...Rxe7, because of the mate at f8.) 27.Rfe1 and now it's all over with Black. 1-0

Brooklyn Daily Eagle,
Jan. 21, 1900

While the game above came to the pages of the Eagle by way of an English publication, the next game first appeared in the Pittsburg Dispatch, in a chess column started not long before by Helms's most accomplished young friend, William E. Napier. Helms's introduction to the game is included here. The notes are Napier's own from his second column, which appeared October 22, 1900, just six days before Helms republished it in the Eagle.

Professor R.B. Lloyd - Helms [D37]
Third PNCCA Ch., Semi-Finals, 1900
In giving the first example of correspondence play, the Pittsburg Dispatch, whose chess column is in charge of W.E. Napier, formerly of Brooklyn, selects a game from the Eastern Division's semi-finals in the third tournament, won by H. Helms of Brooklyn from Professor R.B. Lloyd of Trenton, N.J. Introducing it, the exchange referred to says: "The following game is from the Pillsbury National Correspondence Association, third tourney, semi-finals. It is an excellent specimen of Helms's play and will serve to show that chess by mail is neither uninteresting nor unduly conservative." 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Nf3 Nbd7 5.e3 b6 6.Be2 Bb7 7.b3 White develops after the manner of Zukertort, but surrenders the initiative in so doing. 7...Ne4 8.Nxe4 dxe4 9.Nd2 Bd6 10.Bb2 Qg5 11.Bf1 White's game is hopelessly immature. 11...f5 12.Qc2 a5 Anticipating an attempt on White's part to dislodge the bishop on d6 by c5, also played with an eye to queenside attack. 13.a4 0-0 14.g3 e5 15.d5 Nc5 16.0-0-0 c6 17.dxc6 Bxc6 18.Rg1 If 18.Nb1 Nd3+ 19.Bxd3 exd3 20.Qxd3 Bxh1 21.Qxd6 Bf3 22.Qe6+ Kh8 23.Rd7 and White stands better than in the text, though the exchange minus. Or 18.Nb1 Nd3+ 19.Bxd3 exd3 20.Qxd3 Rad8 21.c5 bxc5 22.Qc4+ Kh8 23.Rhe1 with a fighting chance and material even. 18...f4 19.Re1 fxe3 20.fxe3 Rf2 21.h4 Qh6 22.Kb1

Position after 22.Kb1

22…Rxd2 Well conceived. Black gets more than an equivalent in pawns for the exchange sacrificed. 23.Qxd2 Nxb3 24.Qd1 Nc5 25.Rg2 Nd3 26.Ree2 26.Bxd3, followed by 27.Rf2, is more promising. 26...Qe6 27.Qb3 Rb8 28.Rd2 Bb4 29.Rd1 Nc5 30.Qa2 Bxa4 31.Rd5 Bb3 32.Qa1 b5 This opens the b-file with immediately fatal results. 33.Rxe5 Qf7 34.Be2 bxc4 35.Rg5 c3 36.Bxc3 Ba2+ Winning the Queen at least. 0-1

Brooklyn Daily Eagle,
Oct. 28, 1900

In addition to his duties as chronicler of the PNCCA, Helms of course published a great deal more chess, including correspondence play not connected with that organization. For example, he published a two game, friendly correspondence match between two of the area's long-time chessplayers. The match was somewhat unusual in that for the winner, who was then in his mid-forties, it was his very first effort at correspondence play. It was also unusual in that the loser was in fact part of a consultation correspondence team composed of himself and his brother.

The winner of the first correspondence game below, William M. de Visser, was a strong player in both New York and Brooklyn chess. De Visser was born in New Orleans on November 5, 1855, and so was forty-six years old when he began to play his first correspondence games. Early in life he moved to New York. By the time of his death in 1923, de Visser had been involved with the Manhattan Chess Club for nearly forty years, and with the Brooklyn club almost as long. De Visser's associations with chess extended well beyond the board, though. His father-in-law was Charles A. Gilberg, the well-known chess problemist and a driving force in the New York chess community.

Something of de Visser's strength as a chessplayer was demonstrated locally when on the night of April 19, 1890, he was the featured simultaneous player at the closing reception of the season at the Brooklyn Chess Club. Unlike many club simuls of the time, de Visser's was played against what was considered one of the strongest teams the Brooklyn club could put up. He finished 10-1, with 1 draw. During the club's 1891-92 season, which saw the membership climb to 125, a series of players gave monthly simultaneous exhibitions, including both de Visser and Philip Richardson, along with the likes of Steinitz and Chigorin. Both de Visser and Richardson were honorary club members, a distinction given to very few chessplayers of the time.

In January 1894 Helms, who by then had started his regular column in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, could write that "The following very interesting game was played in New York last week between Messrs. W.M. de Visser and Taubenhaus, the Parisian expert. Mr. de Visser is one of the best known and strongest chess players that Brooklyn can boast of, and he has many a time upheld the honor of this city on the checkered battlefield. The game, an offhand one, is a good specimen of his skill. de Visser - Taubenhaus, New York, Offhand, January 1894, 1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.f4 exf4 4.Nf3 g5 5.h4 g4 6.Ng5 h6 7.Nxf7 Kxf7 8.d4 d5 9.Bxf4 Nf6 10.e5 Nh5 11.Be2 An ingenious time-saving device. In openings of this character, especially when a piece is sacrificed, everything depends upon the attack being pushed with the greatest vigor and with the least possible loss of time. 11...Nxf4 12.0-0 Rg8 13.Rxf4+ Ke8 14.Qd3 Be6 15.Raf1 Qe7 16.Bxg4 Very fine. If 16.Bxg4 Rxg4 17.Rxg4 Bxg4 18.Qg6+ etc. If 16.Bxg4 Bxg4 17.Nxd5 and wins. 16...Rd8 Probably as good as any move at his disposal. If 16...Kd7, White, of course, wins the Queen by 17.Rf7. If 16...Kd8, 17.Bxe6 and Black cannot retake on account of 18.Rxf8+. 17.Bh5+ Kd7 18.Rf7 White's play is exceedingly strong and accurate. Black's Queen is lost, although he gets two rooks in exchange. 18...Bxf7 19.Rxf7 Kc8 20.Rxe7 Bxe7 21.Bf7 Rg7 22.Be6+ Winning a most important pawn, after which Black's game is hopeless. 22...Kb8 23.Nxd5 Bxh4 24.a3 Rf8 25.Bf5 Rg5 A blunder, as Mr. de Visser quickly demonstrates. 26.Nf6 Ka8 27.Qh3 Bg3 28.Qxh6 1-0 Brooklyn Daily Eagle, January 10, 1894. Jean Taubenhaus (1850-1919), the Warsaw-born master who had emigrated to France well before this game was played, holds an Elo historical rating of 2480.

A few years later, although de Visser was finding his place in the hierarchy of Brooklyn chess challenged by young players such as Napier and Marshall, he still was capable of a very delicious sting, as the then-current Brooklyn Chess Club champion found out: "In a game contested at the Brooklyn Chess Club recently between W. M. de Visser and F.J. Marshall, the club's champion, lately returned home from Montreal, de Visser showed some of his old-time fire, bringing about a victory in the following clever style: De Visser - Marshall [C29], Brooklyn Chess Club, 1898, 1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.f4 d5 4.d3 Bg4 5.Be2 Bxe2 6.Ncxe2 dxe4 7.fxe5 Ng4 8.d4 e3 9.Nh3 Qh4+ 10.Ng3 Nxh2 11.Bxe3 Qxg3+ 12.Bf2 Qxg2 13.Rxh2 Qxh2 14.Qf3 Nc6 15.0-0-0 g5 16.Nxg5 Qh6 17.Qxf7+ Kd8 18.Be3 Kc8 19.Qe8+ Nd8 20.e6 Bg7 21.Qd7+ Kb8 22.Bf4 a6 23.Qxc7+ Ka7 24.d5 1-0 Montreal Daily Witness, Nov. 19, 1898. Clearly de Visser was a player worth reckoning with for many years.

De Visser's opponents in the set of correspondence games given below were Philip Richardson and his younger brother, Robert D. Richardson. While little is known regarding Robert Richardson, other than that he was born on February 20, 1848, over six years after his older brother Philip, and that he likely was born in England, as his older brother was born in London, Philip Richardson was long a fixture on the New York chess scene. Indeed, born on November 12, 1841, fourteen years and one week before de Visser, it is not surprising to learn Philip Richardson's association with the local chess community began well before de Visser's. Both Philip and Robert were professional photographers, according to Helms's later commentary in his December 1909 issue of the American Chess Bulletin. The brothers moved to the United States with their parents, arriving on March 2, 1851, "after a tedious and tempestuous passage of seventy-one days" (Brentano's Chess Monthly, March 1882, p.572). Three years later, in 1854, the family moved to Brooklyn, where for many years the elder brother was a strong player in the city. Philip was also known as a chess problem composer, having won first prize in a New York Clipper problem contest for what Helms noted was a twenty-three move Self-Mate.

But it was for his chess play that Helms and others admired Philip Richardson the most. Richardson learned the moves from his father in 1856, and the next year caught the Paul Morphy chess bug, which swept the nation at the end of the 1850s. In 1859 he made his way to the chess rooms at the corner of Fulton and Nassau Streets in New York City, where he lost his first game, at rook odds, to the dashing play of Eugene Delmar, who though only two months Richardson's senior had greater chess experience. The next day, however, Richardson returned and won every game at the same odds against his opponent. Before long he was holding his own with Delmar and the other city players. In 1860, James A. Leonard, the brilliant young player who would die two years later, before reaching age twenty-one, received much of his chess training from Philip Richardson, and that year the two played a great deal of chess at the Morphy Chess Rooms in New York.

Entering business in 1863, Richardson largely gave up chess for the next four years, until he returned to the game and entered a handicap tournament at the old New York City Chess Club in 1867. The tournament was won by George H. Mackenzie, with the out-of-practice Richardson and his early opponent, Delmar, tying for second place. Again business occupied much of Richardson's time for the next six years, although he did play chess from time to time. Here, for example, is an attractive early miniature he played against Eugene Delmar over thirty years before playing his first correspondence chess game: Richardson - Delmar [C42], Café International, New York, 1871, 1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.Nf3 Nxe4 4.Nc3 Nxf2 5.Kxf2 Bc5+ 6.d4 exd4 7.Re1+ Kf8 8.Ne4 Bb6 9.Qd3 d5 10.Qa3+ Kg8 11.Bxd5 Qxd5 12.Nf6+ gxf6 13.Qf8+ Kxf8 14.Bh6+ Kg8 15.Re8 mate 1-0 The Turf, Field and Farm, March 24, 1871.

An interesting tidbit is how Richardson got his chess nickname. According to Brentano's Chess Monthly, Richardson found time to visit the Café International, where the game above was played. However, "His visits to that place were always made on rainy days, owing to the fact that he was a photographer and, consequently, was released from his duties at the camera in stormy weather; the coincidence of storms and his visits soon attracted notice, and he was promptly dubbed 'the Stormy Petrel' by Capt. Mackenzie, and this soubriquet has clung to him to this day." In addition, Richardson was known for an innovative attack, named, not too surprisingly, the Richardson Attack, in the Evans' Gambit. Here, in what was said to be his first use of the opening attack later to bear his name, Richardson takes apart a player who became rather well-known in his own right: Richardson - James Mason [C52], Cafe International, 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.b4 Bxb4 5.c3 Ba5 6.0-0 Nf6 7.d4 0-0 8.Nxe5 Nxe5 9.dxe5 Nxe4 10.Qd5 Bxc3 11.Nxc3 Nxc3 12.Qf3 Na4 13.Qg3 Kh8 14.Bg5 Qe8 15.Rfe1 Nb6 16.Bd3 Qe6 17.Qh4 h6 18.Bf6 Kg8 19.Qg3 g6 20.Bxg6 1-0 Brentano's Chess Monthly, March 1882, p.574. Not surprisingly, Brentano's could report that Mackenzie, the nation's champion, in the early 1880s named Philip Richardson "the most formidable antagonist he had met in this country." Although Richardson never tried to tax his ability to play blindfold chess, it was reported he could face four strong antagonists simultaneously with considerable success in this form of chess entertainment. With but a common school education, Richardson taught himself and became quite well-versed in English literature, philosophy, logic, the sciences, and mathematics. He was, by all accounts, a universally admired and accomplished amateur chessplayer.

Such were the men that Helms wrote about in presenting the two correspondence games that follow. When Philip Richardson teamed up with his younger brother to face de Visser in correspondence play, he was sixty years old and had by then moved from New York to Hyannis, Massachusetts, where he would live until his death eighteen years later, on September 29, 1920, at age seventy-eight.

Helms introduced the first game to his readers in the Eagle as follows: "William M. De Visser, best known to the chess world for his strength in crossboard play and as an organizer, has concluded his first game by correspondence. Opposed to him were the Richardson brothers, Philip and Robert D., residing at Hyannis, Mass. The former of these is the noted Brooklyn veteran, who has recently made New England his home. The contest, one of a series of two, was of a highly entertaining character, as will be seen from the score and thorough analysis contributed to the Eagle by the winner and appended herewith." The Richardsons' first move, to say the least, is rather unusual.

Philip and Robert D. Richardson - William M. de Visser [A00]
Correspondence Match Game 1, 1902
1.h3 Mr. Richardson inaugurates the game on his theory that his strongest attack is a well played defense. 1...e5 2.e4 Nc6 3.Nc3 Bc5 4.Nf3 d6 5.Na4 f5 6.Nxc5 dxc5 7.Bb5 Qd6 8.Qe2 Nge7 9.d3 0-0

Position after 9. ... 0-0

10.Bg5 It is doubtful if the attack, which White might here begin by 10.Bc4+, followed by Ng5, etc., would be enduring enough in a correspondence game. By playing conservatively, White is at least consistent with his original plan. 10...Nd4 11.Bc4+ Kh8 12.Nxd4 cxd4 13.exf5 Nxf5 Black might win a pawn here by ...Qb4+, but the inferiority of position he would have justifies him in declining the offer. 14.0-0-0 Castling on the kingside would have subjected him to considerable attack by ...Qg6, etc. 14...Bd7 15.Rhe1 It would seem as if the other rook to this square were better, but Mr. Richardson preferred this move for the reason that he thinks that Black might gain time at a later stage by attacking the h-rook with the bishop at c6, had the h-rook remained at h1. 15...Rae8 16.g4 Qg6 17.Qd2 It is questionable whether this is as good as 17.Bd2. The position of this bishop is later on a source of weakness, as White is obliged to lose time in bringing the bishop into safety before the Queen can be put in action. 17...Nd6 18.Bd5 Though this appears to lose time it is not really so, since it takes away the protection of the knight, and also obstructs the movement of Black's bishop later on. 18...c6

Position after 18. ... c6

19.Bb3 Had White now retreated his bishop to g2 or h1, the following might have occurred: 19.Bh1 Qf7 20.Qb4 Nb5 21.a4 a5 22.Qc5 b6 23.Qxb6 Qa2 24.Re2 Nc3 25.bxc3 dxc3 26.R on d1 moves, Rb8. 19...Rf3 20.Rh1 a5 21.Bh4 b5 22.a4 bxa4 23.Bxa4 Nb7 24.Bg3 It is doubtful if this move is as good as 24.Bb3. It is a challenge to Black to sacrifice the a-pawn, which, up to this time, could not be taken without the loss of the Queen's bishop. 24...Nc5 25.Qxa5 This is now practically obligatory, for 25.b3 would certainly be bad, and, if 25.Bb3, Black replies with 25...Rxd3, etc. 25...Qd6 26.b4 Nxa4 27.Qxa4 Rb8 I am inclined to think this is not the best move at this point, although the result might justify it. I believe that 27...Qh6+, followed by 28...Rb8, if White played 28.Kb1, or by 28...R3f8, if White played 28.Rd2, is stronger and should win.

Position after 27. ... Rb8

28.Qa7 This is an error, after which I believe White's game is lost. Mr. Richardson characterizes it as a case of mental blindness. At the time he believed that if Black replied 28...Qxb4, he could capture the bishop, which, of course, cannot be done on account of 29...Ra8. 28...Qxb4 29.Qa1 Neither can White now play 29.Bxe5 because Black then has a forced mate in ten moves, beginning as follows: 29...Qb1+ 30.Kd2 Rxf2+ 31.Ke1 Qxd1+ etc. Undoubtedly White's best move at this point was 29.Rhe1 and in the subsequent analysis it would seem that Black is put at once on the defensive and, with his best play, could hope for no more than a draw. It is on account of White's possible move of 29.Rhe1 that I consider that ...Qh6+ was better for Black on the twenty-seventh move than the move actually made. 29...c5 30.Rhe1 c4 31.Bxe5 cxd3 32.Rf1 There is actually nothing to be done. If 32.Bxb8 Black plays 32...Rxf2; if 32.Bxd4, Black plays 32...dxc2; or if 32.Rd2 Black plays 32...Rxf2. 32...d2+ 33.Rxd2 Ra3 0-1

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Oct. 5, 1902
annotations by de Visser

The second game of the match ended in a draw. Philip Richardson annotated it for Helms's readers. As the introduction to the game suggests, it is unclear whether Robert D. Richardson played this game as well. Helms does not mention the younger brother in introducing this game, but it is just as likely that, with the two months separating the appearance of the two games in print, Helms simply forgot that Philip Richardson had some assistance during play. In any event, Helms wrote that "The match of two games by correspondence between William M. de Visser of Brooklyn and Philip Richardson of Hyannis, Mass., has terminated in a victory for the former by a score of 1½-½. The first game, won by de Visser, has already appeared in the Eagle. The second, which was drawn, after a hard fight, is presented herewith, annotated by Richardson."

William M. de Visser - Philip and Robert D. Richardson [D25]
Correspondence Match Game 2, 1902
1.d4 d5 2.c4 dxc4 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.e3 Bf5 Not finding it in the books, I adopted this to see what would come of it. 5.Bxc4 e6 6.Nc3 Ne4 Probably not as good as 6...c6. 7.Qb3 The best reply, apparently. 7...b6 7...Nd6 would allow 8.e4. 7...Qc8 is better, I believe. 8.d5 This is a little premature. 8.g4 leads to a very interesting position, and 8.Ne5 is also better. 8...Nc5 With this move Black acquires slightly the better game. 9.Qd1 If 9.Qb5+ c6 10.dxc6 Qc7, or if 9.Bb5+ c6 10.dxc6 Qc7 11.Qd1 a6, in each case having a superior position.

Position after 9.Qd1

9...c6 This, I believe, is the only move to preserve the slight advantage Black may have. 10.Nd4 In my opinion best; if 10.dxc6 Qxd1+ 11.Nxd1 (11.Kxd1 Nxc6 12.Bb5 0-0-0+ followed by 13...Nb4) 11...Bd3. 10...exd5 11.Bxd5 Black will get an inferior game if he takes the bishop. 11...Bd7 This is the best move. Any other leads to inferiority. 12.Bf3 a5 With an eye to the endgame. 13.0-0 Be7 14.Qc2 Qc8 15.Ne4 Nba6 16.Bd2 0-0 17.a3 a4 18.Bc3 Ra7 19.Rad1 b5 20.Nxc5 Bxc5 21.Be2 Rb7 22.Bd3 g6 22...f5 is very hazardous. 23.Qe2 Be7 24.Nf3 Nc5 25.Bb4

Position after 25.Bb4

25…Be6 If 25...Nxd3 (25...Re8 is better than the move actually made), 26.Bxe7 Re8 27.Bd6 wins. 26.Bxc5 Bxc5 27.Rc1 Bd6 28.Nd4 Bd7 29.Nxb5 Bxh2+ 30.Kxh2 Qb8+ 31.g3 cxb5 32.Be4 Rb6 33.Qd2 Rd6 34.Qb4 Bg4 To induce f3, which allows Black a strong attack. 35.Rc6 Rxc6 36.Bxc6 Be2 37.Re1 Bc4 38.Rd1 Qe5 39.Bf3 Qf5 39...Qf6 prevents the exchanges that follow. 40.Kg2 Rc8 41.Qe7 Kg7 42.Rd8 Rxd8 43.Qxd8 Qe5 43...Qd3 leads to an exchange of Queens and a better chance for White. 44.Qxd3 Bxd3 45.Bd5 and if the bishop retains command of c6, Black cannot win. 44.Qd2 h5 45.Qc3 Qxc3 46.bxc3 Kf6

Position after 46. ... Kf6

47.Be4 This, I think, is the only move to draw. 47...Ke6 48.Bc2 Kd5 49.f4 f5 50.Kf2 Kc5 51.Ke1 If 51.e4 Bb3 52.Bd3 fxe4 53.Bxe4 Kc4 54.Bxg6 Kxc3 55.Bxh5 b4 and wins. ½-½

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Nov. 30, 1902
Annotations by Philip Richardson

As both games between de Visser and the Richardson brothers and Helms's own games suggest, Hermann Helms provided correspondence chessplayers an incredible service not only in writing a column used as the official publication for the early PNCCA, but perhaps even more so in following his own love of correspondence chess, and sharing that pleasure with his readers. Helms has long been called the Dean of American Chess. The variety of his chess interests, and his active help in promoting so many of them for so many decades, certainly suggest this title a well-deserved one. Correspondence chessplayers in particular owe more than a passing nod to this early proponent of chess by mail.

© 2003 John S. Hilbert, All Rights Reserved.

John Hilbert's other articles at The Campbell Report
27-Jan-03 Howard Staunton and Chess by "Electric Telegraph"
23-Oct-2000: A Correspondence Chess Historian Meets the Computer Age
5-Dec-99: Mordecai Morgan: Mystery Man Of Correspondence Chess
3-July-99: Emil Kemeny and the Value of Correspondence Chess: An Historical Perspective
2-May-99: "To Checkmate the Kaiser": American Correspondence Chess at the Conclusion of the Great War
30-Nov-98: Oh, Brother: The Duffer's Guide to Handicapping
Correspondence Chess Siblings
6-Sept-98: "Emanuel Lasker, Vol. I (1889-1907)" by Egon Varnusz
2-Jul-98: Chess Columns: Now and Then
4-Jun-98: A Century Ago in Correspondence Chess
29-May-98: Two Generations, Generations Ago
28-Apr-98: Stalking the Blue-Eyed Chess Score

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