Chess Puzzle of the Week (25)

puzzle24

Last week I left you with this position, asking you how the Richmond Chess Club President beat one of the all-time greats from this position.

The Richmond President in this case was Thomas Francis Lawrence (1871-1953), one of the strongest London amateurs of his day, and, for some years at the beginning of last century, President of Richmond Chess Club. That’s TF Lawrence, not TE Lawrence and certainly not DH Lawrence.

Lawrence had a rather unusual chess career. Apart from appearances for Richmond, he played regularly in the (very strong) City of London Chess Club championship, and in the Anglo-American cable matches which were an annual event for several years. His only international tournament was, unexpectedly, Cambridge Springs 1904, where he was, for some reason, the English representative.

Our puzzle is taken from his game in this event against the great Harry Pillsbury, who was suffering from the syphilis which would claim his life two years later. It shouldn’t be too hard to spot Nxf7 here, meeting Qxf7 with Bxg6 and Kxf7 with Rf3. Full credit for h4, again with the idea of Rf3 which also wins. Lawrence had also met Pillsbury twice in cable matches, the Edwardian equivalent of cyberspace, in both 1902 and 1903, drawing both games.

An insurance clerk by trade, Lawrence lived in 1911 at 132 Palewell Park, East Sheen with his wife and three young daughters. Although he was well over 40 at the time, he signed up to serve his country in World War One and never returned to the chessboard, later retiring to Kent.

puzzle25

This week my offering is a rook and pawn ending. White to move: would you play a5 or gxh5? Red or blue pill? The result of this critical London League match rests on your decision.