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What's in the name?

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  • What's in the name?

    From old posts ->

    @ CookieMonster:
    There is also Traxler's line which is 4. .. Bc5!? <-- This is given a !? in theory because even theorists are not sure it's perfect.
    Ps. I thought You were an American, Cookie? Then why all this talk about Traxler? I have a nice book with a Burger in the cover that says: " The Real American Wilkes-Barre." Should be the better mouse trap.
    On the Traxler question? I am American. I am not really sure if the distinction between Traxler, and "Wilkes-Barre" is American vs Non-American. I have always heard it called Traxler even as a child. And I still don't know what Wilkes Barre refers to and I am "assuming" it's the other name for Traxler. Maybe it was the area I grew up in. Maybe it was laziness of my contemporaries. I guess this spawns the question.. Since you assessed Wilkes-Barre.. Are you American?
    <- End of old posts. Returning to matter at hand.

    Sorry, took a while to dig the Wilkes-Barre book under the cobwebs. It has most interesting genealogy, though.

    First of all my memory tricked me - there was no "Burger" on the cover. Instead "American Wilkes-Barre" was written with stars and stripes letters. Very patriotic.

    First of all you would like to know about Wilkes-Barre. What sort of a chess master he was, any relation to Milner-Barry perhaps? Well, I am happy to tell you "he" was no chess player and no relation to Milner-Barry. In the year 1769 a small settlement was established on a bank of Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania. The settlement was named after two British Colonels, John Wilkes and Isaac Barre and is today a city of approx. 40 000 inhabitants in Luzerne County, PA.

    Evidently the members of this town's chess club studied the variation of two knight game: 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Ng5 Bc5!? to some degree, being not aware of the couple games of Karel Traxler starting the same way. So they named this system Wilkes-Barre variation of the two knights defence.

    The booklet I have is titled "The Real American Wilkes-Barre" and is written by Kenneth F. Williams (55 year member of Wilkes-Barre Chess Club), edited by Bob G. Dudley and published in 1979 by Chess Enterprises, Inc. Coreapolis,PA (ISBN0-931462-03-7).
    There are less than 60 pages in the booklet covering subvariations: 5.Nxf7 Bxf2+, 5.d4 d5 and 5.Bxf7+ Ke7 from black's point of view. So why *The Real American..*? Let us see...

    Act 1: It all started with blessed Bliss.

    Around 1960 Robert Bliss was a young chess player, who became fascinated with W-B variation and decided to write a definitive book on the variation. Naturally he sought help from Ken Williams, one of the original W-B club members and one time North American corresponding chess champion. Mr. Williams was only glad to help with the history of the variation and with his several articles and further research on the subject. Also Chess Enterprises was ready to publish the work once it was completed.
    So, everything went fine. Mr Bliss even compiled excellent MCO-type tables of all variations to go with the book. Only a bit of narrative text was missing to complete the work. Now we need to know that by this time Mr.Bliss was blessed with a loving wife and two beautiful children. He was not, however, blessed with graduation from his college studies. He properly felt that he has to set his priorities right. So the book project went on the back-burner, where it still remains...

    Act 2: Enter Estrin, Yakov.

    Correspondence chess grandmaster Yakov Borisovich Estrin was a well-known and respected figure in his special field and even became later the 7th World Champion in correspondence chess (1975). He was also regarded as a specialist in Two Knights Defence.(I happen to have his book "Partiya Dvuh Konya",Moscow 1970). Anyway, during his tour in the US GM Estrin met with the representatives of Chess Enterprises, whose project with Bliss had just stalled. They asked Estrin to write a small opening pamphlet of his own selection and promised to publish it in the US. So, time went by month after month with no word from Estrin. Then, suddenly a post parcel from Moscow arrives. It contains a booklet manuscript titled "The Traxler Counter-Attack". Sacrilege! Abomination! The publisher could not have been more surprised. He was able to persuade Estrin to change the title to the proper "Wilkes-Barre Variation" for the second edition. The book proved to be very popular.

    Act 3: Feathers get ruffled, Patriotism on the rise...

    With Bliss' book stalled, Williams felt that the true version of the history and development of the Wilkes-Barre must be recorded and number of analytical errors in Estrin's book must be corrected. And thus we have now "The Real American Wilkes-Barre" - a third book on this variation from relatively small publisher. Let us see what Kenneth F. Williams has to say in his Preface:

    "We now have a book devoted solely to the Wilkes-Barre by Y.Estrin, who writes that this book encompasses the best of analyses current to December, 1977....It presents the last word of the Continental analysts." and then comes the following shot:
    "Estrin's book is so consistently flawed that it is difficult to find more than rare instances where the analysis he has passed the stage which the Wilkes-Barre Chess Club reached some thirty years ago".

    After the preface the book continues with eight "Challenge problems", each of which shows how Estrin's analysis failed in his book and are corrected in the real American booklet.

    Final words:

    I have to say that the printing of the booklet leaves more than little to be desired. Especially the diagrams, where there are black pieces on black squares, are virtually unreadable. I must have purchased my copy somewhere in London (probably Foleys), as there is a small sticker inside the cover stating: "Distributed in the U.K. by Brian Eley & Co." So I guess my chances to return the book as unreadable to mr.Eley are pretty small, as he is already sought after by several others including - but certainly not limited to- the Interpol.

    Now, I am curious to know how many of you are the "real Americans" and know this variation as Wilkes-Barre?
    There are only three kinds of chessplayers: Those who can count and those who cannot.

  • #2
    I know this as W-B variation but I'm a fake American.
    Skype chess coaching? Send a message!
    Ever heard of The Hook and Ladder trick? Please refer to the famous game by Andriej Hook and James Ladder.
    Play as if you didn't understand chess. People always fear what they don't understand.


    • #3
      I call it the Traxler, or the Trash variation, but I'm a fake hypocite.
      Have you read the Forum rules?

      Queeg: Pawn to King Four. Holly: Horsie to King Bish Three.
      Rimmer: It's called a "knight," actually, Holly...
      Queeg: Knight to King Bishop three. Holly: Queen to Rook Eight. Checkmate.
      Queeg: That's an illegal move. Holly: Oh, sorry. Queens don't move like that. I was thinking of poker.
      Holly: Cleudo? You could be Colonel Mustard.
      Cat: If it's any help, I've been studying his tactics and there's a pattern emerging: Every time you make a move, he makes one too. *Winks to Holly*
      Holly: *Winks back* Thanks, Cat.
      --Red Dwarf


      • #4
        For History's sake.
        Wilkes-Barre Variation- As indicated by Fine in PCO.
        Wilkes-Barre was not a person but a Pennsylvania Chess Club which analyzed the Two Knight variation. (Tarrasch called the Ng5 a "Duffer" move. Traxler- Fine gives one line from a Traxler game. Karel Traxler was a chess player, composer and Catholic Priest from Czechoslovakia.
        And there is the Lewis' variation.
        I think Chess Digest sold the Estrin book also. Somewhere I have a copy of it.
        Chess Digest, (Ken Smith).
        Ken Smith of the Smith Morra Gambit.
        Chess Poster avoids the argument. They call the Two Knight Defense lines as the Wilke-Barre-Traxler Variation.
        They might as well add Weaver Adams to the debate. He played the Two Knight Defense more than several times.
        And against Grandmasters.


        • #5
          In a book by Estrin, The Two Knight Defense.
          Page 67, Part Two. Chess Ltd. Sutton Coldfield, England No date given. Probably in the 70's. Called Chess for modern times series: BH Wood editor.
          Estrin called it the Wilkes-Barre Variation (Traxler Counter-Attack) He indicated Traxler introduced the variation in 1890.
          Interesting is the Bibliography:
          Bilguer 1839 The Two Knight Defense (In German(.
          And 34 other books including his own up to 1970.
          When I was a kid learning chess I was fascinated not with the Traxler variation, but the Max Lange. Kids love gambits.