American Chess Bulletin (Vol. 20, No. 4) April 1923


By Leander Turney

   The writer has just been in San Francisco, and found the better players of the Mechanics Institute Chess Club busily discussing the New Chess, which is the invention of Mr. Hugo Legler. Already a quadrangular tournament at it has been played, with Gruer, first; Fink second, and Clarke and B. Smith tied. Another tournament is in progress, with another group of players, with Chilton, first at present, with no losses, one draw, and only one or two left to play.

   The new game is intensely interesting. The only changes are that the QKt is called an Archbishop, and has the added power of a B-that is, it can move either as a B or a Kt, or check, or capture either way. The Archbishop alone can mate, if the opponent's K is in a corner. The OR is called a Chancellor. Twenty-five or thirty years ago Foster, of St. Louis, tried to introduce "Chancellor Chess;" but he added an extra file to his board, to make room for the Chancellor. This piece has the powers of R and Kt. Mr. Legler's game is better than Foster's was, because it is possible to play it without any changes in the board or pieces, aside from making the QR and QKt strongly, so that they will be easily distinguished at a glance; and also because the Archbishop is a most interesting and versatile piece.

   The new game completely disorganizes all known openings. Probably no approved opening can safely be attempted beyond two or three moves. The French formations for Black are condemned generally by the better players at Mechanics Institute, who have had some experience. The Ruy Lopez cannot be played at all, for the Archbishop would simply take White's KB in reply to B-Kt5 (A5, in the new way of writing the score). However, without enough experience to more than state an impression, the Kings Gambits appear to suffer less than any other openings from the innovation. The writer played a number of games at the New Chess, losing all but two or three of them. He never has been a first-class player, and was in atrociously bad form at the time; which two facts disqualify him from judging of Mr.Legler's innovation, but not from forming opinions.

   In the writer's opinion it would be better to put the Archbishop on the King's side, so that the distribution of the heavy forces should be more even across the board. The development would be rather more normal, and easier. The Mechanics Institute has had pieces turned for the new game, but the Archbishop is a failure, looking like an old-fashioned, French-Pattern, high knight. The Chancellor piece is all right, being a horse-head mounted on a rook. I think a split mitre, possibly surmounting a horse-head on a heavy base, and attaining a total height equal to that of the queen, would be more appropriate for the Archbishop.

   The new game is logical enough. It is much more complicated than the old, and fuller of surprises. If it were played for a few hundred years, it would doubtless be reduced to some degree of system, as chess is now; and if so, a generation from now, our descendants would be having their brilliant geniuses at it - their Labourdonnais, MacDonnell, Andersson - until the methodizing and analyzing Steinitz of that period, should appear; and ultimately the New Chess masters would become "drawing masters." Meantime, those who care to play it now have an opportunity to find pleasure in their own inexperience, and to indulge their love of discovery to the utmost.

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