Joseph Bertin

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Joseph Bertin
Full name Joseph Bertin
Country  France
 England
Born 1690s
Died c. 1736

Captain Joseph Bertin (1690s – c. 1736) was one of the first authors to write about the game of chess.[1] David Hooper and Kenneth Whyld in The Oxford Companion to Chess call his book The Noble Game of Chess "the first worthwhile chess book in the English language".[2] B. Goulding Brown, writing in the December 1932 British Chess Magazine, called it the first original English chess book.[3]

Bertin was a Huguenot born at Castelmoron-sur-Lot in the 1690s. He came to England during his youth, became a naturalized citizen in 1713, and married in 1719. In 1726, he joined a line regiment serving in the West Indies. He was later promoted to the rank of Captain, and ultimately was released from the Army as an invalid.[2] In 1735 he published a small volume entitled The Noble Game of Chess.[2][3] In the same year, he was recommissioned in a Regiment of Invalids and, according to Hooper and Whyld, "In all probability he died soon afterwards."[2]

The Noble Game of Chess was sold only at Slaughter's Coffee House.[2][3][4] It contained opening analysis and useful advice about the middlegame, and laid down 19 rules for chess play. Most of them are still useful today. Some examples:

"2. Never play your Queen, till your game is tolerably well opened, that you may not lose any moves; and a game well opened gives a good situation."
"3. You must not give useless checks, for the same reason."
"8. Consider well before you play, what harm your adversary is able to do to you, that you may oppose his designs."
"18. To play well the latter end of a game, you must calculate who has the move, on which the game always depends." (This is a reference to zugzwang.)[5]

Bertin attached great value to maintaining White's first-move advantage.[6] The book also contained 26 games, with each variation analyzed being treated as a separate game.[7] They were divided into "gambets" and "the close-game".[6]

Problem[edit]

a b c d e f g h
8
Chessboard480.svg
a8 black bishop
c8 black rook
d8 black king
e8 black rook
c7 black bishop
e7 black pawn
f7 black knight
a6 white rook
d6 black pawn
e6 white queen
e5 white pawn
f5 black pawn
h5 black pawn
a4 white knight
d4 white pawn
f4 white pawn
b3 white knight
e3 black queen
g3 black pawn
h3 white pawn
g2 white pawn
d1 white bishop
f1 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
Bertin, White to play and win
a b c d e f g h
8
Chessboard480.svg
c8 black rook
e8 black rook
c7 black bishop
e7 black pawn
f7 black knight
a6 white rook
c6 white bishop
e6 black king
d5 white pawn
e5 white pawn
f5 black pawn
h5 black pawn
f4 white pawn
e3 black queen
g3 black pawn
h3 white pawn
g2 white pawn
f1 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
Bertin, final position

At left is a chess problem from page 54 of Bertin's book. White wins with 1.Qd7+! Kxd7 2.Nbc5+ Kd8 3.Ne6+ Kd7 4.Nac5+ dxc5 5.Nxc5+ Ke8 6.Ne6+ Kd7 7.Ba4+ Bc6 8.Bxc6+ Kxe6 9.d5#.[8]

References[edit]

  1. ^ I.A. Horowitz, Chess Openings: Theory and Practice, Simon and Schuster, 1964, p. VII.
  2. ^ a b c d e David Hooper and Kenneth Whyld, The Oxford Companion to Chess, Oxford University Press, 2nd ed. 1992, p. 38. ISBN 0-19-866164-9.
  3. ^ a b c Philip W. Sergeant, A Century of British Chess, David McKay, p. 23.
  4. ^ H. J. R. Murray, A History of Chess, Oxford University Press, 1913, pp. 846-47. ISBN 0-19-827403-3.
  5. ^ Hooper & Whyld, pp. 38-39.
  6. ^ a b Murray, p. 847.
  7. ^ David DeLucia, David DeLucia's Chess Library: A Few Old Friends (2nd ed. 2007), p. 65.
  8. ^ A.J. Roycroft, Test Tube Chess, Stackpole Books, 1972, p. 73. ISBN 0-8117-1734-8.