No, this isn't a story about Alexandra Kosteniuk (pictured) or even Arianne Caoili, the femme fatale behind Gormallygate. It's about queens, and the part they play in the royal game. Sometimes there can be too many queens on the board, sometimes we'd rather they went away and got on with their knitting, and sometimes we ignore them when there's one standing at the door waiting to come in.
The first game could almost be titled Ménage à l'échecs as Edward Lasker's king found himself receiving close attention from not one queen but four. He had an attack of the vapours and expired on the side of the board but, hey! what a way to die! (If you don't want to play through the whole game you can go straight to the critical position by clicking on the final move.)
I know that Feminism doesn't necessarily expect the kind of “women and children first” consideration that was taken for granted in days of yore, but surely the misogynistic high-handedness with which Edwin Ziegler Adams treated his queen should enrage even the mildest of hearts. He valued her so little that he tried to give her away. Six times! His opponent, Carlos Torre-Repetto, was obviously a gentleman and kept refusing but he resigned when he couldn't avoid the capture any longer.
The Australian expression “fair dinkum” is usually taken to mean that something is true or can be trusted. So if a man is “fair dinkum” he is as honest as he appears to be. But there's another meaning of the word and, followed by an exclamation point and a couple of queries (!??) it means, “You've gotta be kidding me, right?” “Fair dinkum!??” following Mr Wiede's third move in the next game is a cry of total incredulity.
In this super-brevity Black shows his total disregard for the queen's status when, instead of playing 7...gxh1=Q he opts for a lackey instead. Mind you, it was a very versatile lackey!
From my own games, my best Queen memory resulted in me becoming a Hungarian—if only for a year or two. It happened during my second year of competition and I was playing for Sydney's Maroczy Chess Club in the annual interclub competition.
I was in the B-Reserve team (equivalent to a modern Under 1400 team) and, as winners of the Eastern group, we had to play St. George who won the Southern area and Parramatta who won the West. After the play-off we were still tied with St. George and backed up for one more match.
I had played my opponent four times previously and had lost every time and on this occasion, with all the other games finished and the team score level at 2-2, I was losing again.
Everybody was gathered around the board and Col attacked my bishop. I saw a glimmer of hope, and with more luck than judgment, pushed a pawn. After he captured my piece he realised he couldn't stop the pawn and it queened. It's the only time that, under competition conditions, I've had two queens on the board at the same time. It felt great!
There was much merriment, bottles of Tokaji were produced, and I was declared an honorary Hungarian for the remainder of my stay with the club.