Staunton Could See The Future

Staunton Could See The Future

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In the first part of this article, we saw numerous examples of Howard Staunton's sparkling attacks. 

Yes, he knew how to attack, but there were many players who could do it as well if not better than him (Paul Morphy instantly comes to mind here). So, what sets the great Englishman apart from most of his contemporaries?

The short answer is that he foresaw the future! I already mentioned in last week's article the gold standard of the modern tournament chess: the Staunton chess set. But besides his famous chess set, Howard Staunton introduced something no modern world championship match can be imagined without.

I bet you won't guess what it was. You can check the correct answer at the end of this article.

Talking about Staunton's chess heritage, we cannot miss the fact that his understanding of closed positions was ahead of his time by about 100 years! Many of his deep positional concepts were reused by other great chess players many years later. 

Staunton via Wikipedia. 

Look at the following game. There Staunton introduced the concept of a blockade as well as the opening that was later christened the Nimzowitsch-Larsen Attack.

Look at the pathetic black bishops and hopeless doubled pawns c6 and c5. Staunton produces one of the best examples of chess blockade about 85 years before Nimzowitsch revealed it to the chess world in his famous book My System. We already discussed this concept here and here. Play through the games that we analyzed in these two articles and you will see that Nimzowitsch just successfully borrowed and developed Staunton's idea!

Positional Exchange Sacrifice

When we talk about a positional exchange sacrifice, the first name that comes to mind is the great "iron" Tigran. Indeed, the world champion Petrosian loved to sacrifice an exchange for purely positional benefits, like in the following game:

Now look at the next game. Don't you think that just like Aron Nimzowitsch before him, Tigran Petrosian also borrowed the idea from Staunton?

Hypermodernism and the Reti Opening

Hypermodernism as a school was established in 1920s. It denounced the old guideline that you must grab the center with your pawns in the opening. Instead the hypermodernists allowed the opponent to build a pawn center in order to attack it later. The Reti opening became a true anthem of hypermodernism.  

A good modern example of this opening is the following game. Notice how Black's solid center slowly disappears and at the end it is White who completely dominates there!

The game is very cool indeed, but Howard Staunton played this way about 130 years before the above-mentioned game!

As you can see, Howard Staunton was way ahead of his time and his input into the modern chess is still underappreciated.

By the way, to answer the trivia question from the beginning of the article, Howard Staunton was the first chess player ever who invited seconds to assist him, namely in his second match vs. Saint Amant in 1843. Therefore Thomas Worrall and Harry Wilson, who helped Staunton convincingly win the match (13-8), became the first seconds in the chess history!

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