1904 Cambridge Springs International Chess Congress
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Rice Gambit

The Rice Gambit is a variation of the King's Gambit promoted by the New York financier Prof. Isaac Leopold Rice (1850-1915) around the time of the Cambridge Springs tournament. Reportedly, this gambit has been called "a grotesque monument to a rich man's vanity" (source unknown). The moves leading to the key position are: 1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 g5 4.h4 g4 5.Ne5 Nf6 6.Bc4 d5 7.exd5 Bd6 8.O-O.

Encyclopedia of Chess Openings classifies this variation under C39. Footnote 28 gives the following main line: 8...Bxe5 9.Re1 Qe7 10.c3 Nh5 11.d4 Nd7 12.dxe5 Nxe5 13.b3 O-O 14.Ba3 Nf3+ 15.gxf3 Qh4 (Rosenbaum - Napier, 1904). It appears that Rice's "piece sacrifice" is only temporary, as Black returns the extra piece in a few moves. The Rice Gambit is not commonly seen in modern master play.

The following two paragraphs are from the July 1997 issue of En Passant, the journal of the Pittsburgh Chess Club.

"Being wealthy and eccentric, Rice used a portion of his wealth to promote "his" gambit. He paid top players to write analysis about "his" gambit, and paid for the publication of several books on it, some of which are in the Club library. The first such book appeared in 1898. Indeed he printed so many copies of these books that I was able to purchase one when I began tournament play sixty-five years after it was printed. He also sponsored "Rice Gambit" tournaments in which all games were required to begin with the moves of the gambit."

"His philanthropy was not just limited to self-promotion via the Rice Gambit, but extended to other chess activities. For instance he was the principle [sic] backer of the 1904 Cambridge Springs tournament. And, his giving extended to non-chess causes, such as funding John Holland's work on submarines. In 1916, shortly after Rice's death, a book honoring the opening, "Twenty Years of the Rice Gambit" was published by some of his devotees."

It is interesting to note that this book can still be found in used bookstores, often priced in excess of $100! The Bibliofind website (now part of Amazon.com) is helpful in locating a copy of this book.

According to "The Golden Treasury of Chess", the following consultation game was played on April 12, 1904 during the trip across the ocean, enroute to Cambridge Springs (1904). According to Soltis in Chess Life, December 1994 (page 16), this game last three days (!) and was sponsored by Rice. (A New York Times article from April 1904 refers to this game lasting four days. White was the team of Lasker, Tchigorin, Marshall and Teichmann. Black was the team of Janowski, Marco, Schlechter and Lawrence.
Allies - Allies
[C39] King's Gambit Accepted: 3 Nf3 g5 4 h4

Analysis by Fritz 6 (presented below without editing). (Click here for access to a site containing a PGN download -- the first game is an annotated version of the following game.)
1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 g5 4.h4 g4 5.Ne5 Nf6 6.Bc4 d5 7.exd5 Bd6 8.0-0? [8.Bb5+ would keep White in the game 8...Bd7 9.Nxd7 Nbxd7 10.0-0 =] 8...Bxe5 (-/+) 9.Re1 Qe7 10.c3 Bf5?? gives the opponent new chances [10...Qc5+ Black had this great chance 11.d4 Qxc4 (-/+)] 11.d4 (=/+) Nbd7 12.dxe5 Nh5 13.e6 fxe6 14.dxe6 0-0-0 [14...Nb6 15.Re5 Qf6 16.Rc5 (-/+)] 15.exd7+ (=/+) Rxd7 16.Qe2 Qxh4 With the decisive threat g3 17.Qf2 g3?? letting the wind out of his own sails [17...Ng3 18.Qxf4 Be4 (-/+)] 18.Qxa7= The mate threat is Qa8 18...Rd3?? a transit from better to worse [18...Qh2+ 19.Kf1 Qh1+ 20.Qg1=] 19.Nd2 [19.Qa8+ Kd7 20.Bb5+ (20.Qxb7 fails to the following nice mate 20...Qh2+ 21.Kf1 Qh1+ 22.Ke2 Re8+ 23.Be6+ Rxe6+ 24.Qe4 Rxe4+ 25.Kxd3 Qxe1 26.c4 Re5+ 27.Kd4 c5#) 20...Kd6 21.Qxb7 Qh2+ 22.Kf1 Qh1+ 23.Ke2 f3+ 24.Qxf3 Rxf3 25.Rxh1 Rf2+ 26.Ke1 (-/+)] 19...Rxd2 20.Bxd2 Qh2+ 21.Kf1 f3 Do you see the mate threat? 22.Qa8+ Kd7 23.Qa4+ c6 24.Re7+ Kxe7 Threatening mate: Qh1 25.Bg5+ Kd7 26.Rd1+ Kc7 27.Qa5+ Kb8 28.Qe5+ Ka8 29.Qxh8+ Ka7 30.Qd4+ b6 The mate threat is Qxg2 31.Ke1?? White loses the upper hand [31.Rd2 White has the better game 31...f2 32.Rd1 Qh1+ 33.Ke2 Qxg2 34.Ke3+-] 31...fxg2= 32.Be3 Threatening mate: Qxb6 32...c5 33.Qe5 Do you see the mate threat? 33...g1=Q+ 34.Bxg1 Qxg1+ 35.Kd2 Threatening mate... how? 35...Qf2+ 36.Be2 g2 37.Qe7+ Kb8 38.Qe3 [38.Qe3 Qxe3+ 39.Kxe3+-] 1-0
The above game, along with a brief introduction, can be found in All About Chess by I.A. Horowitz (Collier paperback, 1971). See discussion of this game on ChessGames.com (18...Rd5!! is recommended as the winning move for Black).

A Rice Gambit team tournament (consultation games) was held at Cambridge Springs on April 30, May 7 and May 14. The rules permitted the players to make reference to "published play" at any stage of the games. The composition of the teams was as follows:

Apparently not wanting to be left out, Janowsky joined Team 4 in Round 2. In Round 3, the players regrouped and played three games, with two players on each side. The moves of two of these games can be found at Bill Wall's site, mentioned above.

NYTimes Rice Gambit

A Rice Gambit tournament was held in 1904 in Monte Carlo and Napier used the variation in a tournament in London in the same year. Marshall annotates two of the games from Monte Carlo in his book My Fifty Years of Chess: Marshall-Von Scheve and Mieses-Marshall. Marshall comments, "The tournament was somewhat out of the ordinary as well. Because of Professor Rice's interest in his brain child, he showered generous payments on the analysts, who turned up the most marvelous attacks which were then followed by the most ingenious defenses, which in turn led to even more marvelous attacks, and then... but you get the idea! This was all great fun, but playing the gambit in a tournament was quite a job: you had to remember so much that a game with this opening was like an examination on French verbs"!

According to the Chess Life article cited above, Marco and Janowsky played a thematic match on the return trip to Europe (sponsored by Rice). Games began with a different variation: 1.e4 e5 2.f4 Bc5 (King's Gambit Declined, [C30]). Soltis lightly annotates game four of this match. Janowsky won the match 4-2, with no draws.
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