Pierre Charles Fournier de Saint-Amant

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Pierre Saint-Amant
Pierre St Amant c1860.JPG
Pierre Saint-Amant
Full name Pierre Charles Fournier de Saint-Amant
Country France
Born (1800-09-12)12 September 1800
Died 29 October 1872(1872-10-29) (aged 72)
Algeria

Pierre Charles Fournier de Saint-Amant (12 September 1800 – 29 October 1872) was a leading French chess master and an editor of the chess periodical Le Palamède. He is best known for losing a match against Howard Staunton in 1843 that is often considered to have been an unofficial match for the World Chess Championship.

Saint-Amant learned chess from Wilhelm Schlumberger, who later became the operator of The Turk.[1][2][3] He played at the Café de la Régence, where he was a student of Alexandre Deschapelles.[1][4] For many years he played on level terms with Boncourt, a strong player, and received odds of pawn and two moves from Deschapelles and Louis-Charles Mahé de La Bourdonnais.[3] In 1834–36, he led a Paris team that won both games of a correspondence chess match against the Westminster Club, then England's leading chess club.[5] After La Bourdonnais' death in 1840, he was considered the country's best player.[1][3] In December 1841 he revived Le Palamède (at its inception in 1836 the world's first chess periodical),[6][7] which ran until 1847.[4][8]

He played two matches against Staunton in 1843. The first, in London, he won 3½–2½ (three wins, one draw, two losses), but he lost a return match in Paris just before Christmas 13–8 (six wins, four draws, eleven losses).[9] This second match is sometimes considered an unofficial world championship match.[1][4]

In 1858, Saint-Amant played in the Birmingham tournament, a knockout event. He won in the first round, but lost in the second by a 2–1 score to Ernst Falkbeer.[10] Returning to Paris, he witnessed the adulatory reception accorded Paul Morphy at the Café de la Régence.[11][12] The score of one game between them is known, a 22-move rout by Morphy of Saint-Amant and his consultation partner, given as "F. de L." or "F. de L'A".[13][14][15]

Outside of chess, Saint-Amant became a government clerk in Paris at an early age.[3] He then served as the secretary to the governor of French Guiana from 1819 to 1821.[3][4] He was dismissed from that appointment after he protested against the slave trade that still existed in that colony.[2][3][16] After that, he tried his hand as a journalist and actor, then became a successful wine merchant.[2][3][16] He was a captain in the French National Guard during the 1848 revolution. For his role in saving the Palais des Tuileries from destruction by the mob, he was made its Governor for a few months.[3][4][16] In 1851–52, he was the French consul to California.[3][16] Upon returning to France he spent some years writing well-regarded works on the French colonies, and a treatise on the wines of Bordeaux.[3]

In 1861 Saint-Amant retired to Algeria.[1][2][4] He died there in 1872 after being thrown from his carriage.[1][4]

Notable games[edit]

Saint-Amant vs. Staunton, 1843
a b c d e f g h
8
Chessboard480.svg
c8 black queen
f8 black rook
g8 black king
b7 black bishop
c7 black rook
f7 black pawn
g7 black pawn
a6 black pawn
b6 black pawn
d6 black bishop
e6 black knight
h6 black pawn
d5 white pawn
f5 white bishop
b4 white pawn
e4 black pawn
a3 white pawn
f3 white knight
h3 white pawn
b2 white bishop
d2 white queen
e2 white rook
f2 white pawn
g2 white pawn
e1 white rook
g1 white king
8
7 7
6 6
5 5
4 4
3 3
2 2
1 1
a b c d e f g h
Position after 22.d5!
a b c d e f g h
8
Chessboard480.svg
d8 black queen
f8 black rook
g8 black king
b7 black bishop
c7 black rook
f7 black pawn
g7 black pawn
a6 black pawn
b6 black pawn
d6 black bishop
e6 white rook
h6 black pawn
d5 white pawn
f5 white bishop
b4 white pawn
a3 white pawn
f3 black pawn
h3 white pawn
b2 white bishop
d2 white queen
f2 white pawn
g2 white pawn
e1 white rook
g1 white king
8
7 7
6 6
5 5
4 4
3 3
2 2
1 1
a b c d e f g h
Position after 23...Qd8

Reuben Fine writes that although Saint-Amant lost his epic match against Staunton, in the 13th match game, playing White, "he at least had the satisfaction of winning the most brilliant game."[16]

1. d4 e6 2. c4 d5 3. e3 Nf6 4. Nc3 c5 5. Nf3 Nc6 6. a3 Be7 7. Bd3 O-O 8. O-O b6 9. b3 Bb7 10. cxd5 exd5 11. Bb2 cxd4 12. exd4 Bd6 13. Re1 a6 14. Rc1 Rc8 15. Rc2 Rc7 16. Rce2 Qc8 17. h3 Nd8 18. Qd2 b5 19. b4 Ne6 20. Bf5 Ne4 21. Nxe4 dxe4 22. d5! (see first diagram) exf3?

22...Bf4! was essential.[17]

23. Rxe6! Qd8 (see second diagram)

Of course not 23...fxe6 24.Bxe6+, winning the queen.

24. Bf6!! gxf6 25. Rxd6! Kg7

If 25...Qxd6, 26.Qxh6 forces mate. Black could resign here.[17]

26. Rxd8 Rxd8 27. Be4 fxg2 28. Qf4 Rc4 29. Qg4+ Kf8 30. Qh5 Ke7 31. d6+ Kxd6 32. Bxb7 Kc7 33. Bxa6 Rc3 34. Qxb5 1–0

In the 9th match game, Saint-Amant had pulled off a swindle that grandmaster Andrew Soltis considers the greatest ever perpetrated in match play.

See also[edit]

A depiction of the chess match between Howard Staunton and Pierre Charles Fournier Saint-Amant, on 16 December 1843 by Jean-Henri Marlet.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f David Hooper and Kenneth Whyld, The Oxford Companion to Chess (2d ed. 1992), pp. 350–51. ISBN 0-19-866164-9.
  2. ^ a b c d Harry Golombek (editor), Golombek's Encyclopedia of Chess, pp. 283–84. ISBN 0-517-53146-1.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Philip W. Sergeant, A Century of British Chess, David McKay, 1934, p. 54.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Anne Sunnucks, The Encyclopaedia of Chess, St. Martin's Press, 1970, p. 419.
  5. ^ H. J. R. Murray, A History of Chess, Oxford University Press, 1913, p. 881. ISBN 0-19-827403-3.
  6. ^ Hooper & Whyld, p. 56.
  7. ^ Murray, p. 886.
  8. ^ Hooper & Whyld, p. 350.
  9. ^ Sergeant, pp. 55–56.
  10. ^ R. D. Keene and R. N. Coles, Howard Staunton: the English World Chess Champion, British Chess Magazine, 1975, pp. 21–23.
  11. ^ A correspondent for the American Chess Monthly wrote, " 'Does anybody believe,' exclaims St. Amant, 'that it is not the season and that there is nobody in Paris? Let them go to the Café de la Régence and glance at the throng of spectators who look on in admiration while Morphy, the young American, displays his wonderful attainments.' " Philip W. Sergeant, Morphy's Games of Chess, Dover Publications, pp. 150–51.
  12. ^ According to Morphy's biographer, "Saint Amant wrote that [Morphy] supplied a want which Paris had felt for a long time—the want of a hero." Frederick Milne Edge, The Exploits & Triumphs in Europe of Paul Morphy the Chess Champion, Dover Publications, 1973, p. 171. ISBN 0-486-22882-7.
  13. ^ J. Löwenthal, Morphy's Games of Chess, George Bell and Sons, 1909, pp. 232–33.
  14. ^ Sergeant, pp. 150–51.
  15. ^ Saint-Amant–Morphy, Paris 1858. ChessGames.com. Retrieved on 2009-02-12.
  16. ^ a b c d e Reuben Fine, The World's Great Chess Games, Dover Publications, 1976, p. 9. ISBN 0-486-24512-8.
  17. ^ a b Fine, The World's Great Chess Games, p. 10.

External links[edit]