Jules Arnous de Rivière

Jules Arnous de Rivière (1830-1905), also known as Arnous-Rivière, was perhaps the strongest chess player in France between the mid 1850s and the mid 1880s. He was ranked in the world’s top 20 for some time, his highest position, according to Rod Edwards’ retrospective analysis, being 11th with a rating of 2556 in 1859. By today’s reckoning then, somewhere between IM and GM strength, although standards then were much lower than they are today.

He was a friend of Morphy and played a series of games against him in Paris in 1858, and again in 1863. Although he lost most of the games he scored a few wins when Morphy overreached.

Here’s one of their 1863 games: a wonderfully chaotic King’s Gambit typical of the period. I’ll provide some brief comments here: Stockfish 15’s views are given below.

1. e4 e5
2. f4 exf4
3. Bc4 Nf6
4. Nc3 Bb4
5. Nf3 O-O
6. Nd5 Nxd5
7. exd5 Re8+
8. Kf2 d6
9. d4 Qf6?!

This move loses a piece to a queen fork. An oversight or a speculative sacrifice? Who knows? It’s very easy to miss queen forks of this nature, as readers of Chess Tactics for Heroes will be aware.

10. c3 Ba5
11. Qa4

This is it! Hitting a5 and e8. But it’s not so easy to play: Black has some attacking chances on the kingside.

11.. Bd7
12. Qxa5 b6
13. Qa3 g5
14. h3 h5
15. Bd2 g4
16. hxg4 hxg4
17. Ng1 b5
18. Bd3?!

18. Be2 was winning: perhaps not so obvious, though.

18.. Bf5
19. Bxb5 Nd7
20. Qa4 Rab8

A very complicated position, so it’s hardly surprising that both players went wrong. Black should have preferred 20.. g3+ 21. Kf1 a6 or Nb6: if the bishop moves off the f1-a6 diagonal he’ll have Bd3+. Now White should have played 21. Ne2 when Black doesn’t have enough. Instead he greedily captures a second piece, allowing his king to be driven up the board.

21. Bxd7 g3+
22. Kf3 Be4+
23. Kg4 Bxd5?

23.. Qg6+ 24. Kxf4 Bxd5 25. Bxe8 Qe4+ leads to perpetual check. Now White has several ways to win: 24. Rh5! or 24.. Bf5, for example.

24. Bxe8? Qg6+
25. Kxf4 Qe4+
26. Kg5 Kg7?

26.. Qg6+ was again a perpetual check. This is asking far too much of the position, but then it was only a casual game.

27. Rh6 Be6
28. Rxe6 Qxe6
29. Qd7 Rxb2
30. Nf3 1-0

I guess the most important lesson from this game is to look out for queen forks. We all know that Loose Pieces Drop Off, and one of the most common ways in which this happens is through double attacks by the queen.

You might also be interested in learning more about Jules and his family. He had a daughter named Hélène Arnous-Rivière (1862-1951) who married a German Baron, Hubert Theodore Marie Charles de Pfeffel. They had a daughter, Marie Louise Caroline Hélène de Pfeffel, who in turn married Stanley Fred Williams, a Lloyds underwriter. Stanley and Marie’s daughter Yvonne Eileen Irène Williams married the Anglo Turkish Osman Ali Kemal, also known as Wilfred Johnson. Wilfred was the father of Stanley Patrick Johnson, and the grandfather of Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, who, at least at the time of writing, is Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Which makes Boris a direct descendant of Jules Arnous de Rivière.

Richard James

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Richard James

Author: Richard James

Richard James is a professional chess teacher and writer living in Twickenham, and working mostly with younger children and beginners. He was the co-founder of Richmond Junior Chess Club in 1975 and its director until 2005. He is the webmaster of chessKIDS academy (www.chesskids.org.uk or www.chesskids.me.uk) and, most recently, the author of Chess for Kids and The Right Way to Teach Chess to Kids, both published by Right Way Books. Richard has been a member of Richmond & Twickenham Chess Club since 1966. Richard is a published author and his books can be found at Amazon. Richard is currently promoting minichess (games and puzzles using subsets of chess) for younger children through his website www.minichess.uk, and writing coaching materials for children (and adults) who want to start playing serious competitive chess, through www.chessheroes.uk. View all posts by Richard James

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