Serious, but friendly – a postscript

My article on Milner-Barry’s private games has brought two interesting responses. One came from my old Oxford University colleague, FM Peter Sowray. Peter advises that there were rather more regular Kottnauer-Milner-Barry games than the two I alluded to in my article. In the early 1970s, along with several other promising London juniors, Peter had a few coaching sessions with Cenek Kottnauer, and he recalls them looking at several of these games against Milner-Barry. One apparently started (Kottnauer was Black) 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 b6 (as Peter notes, Kottnauer was too wily to enter M-B’s famous gambit variation!) 4.c3 Qd7 5.Nf3 Ba6, and Black went on to win.

The other game Peter recalled is the one below, which was published by Kottnauer in the Dutch magazine article referred to in my previous blog entry.  This had a curious aspect to the opening. Kottnauer’s 6th move was prompted by his not knowing the theory of this variation, which was relatively trendy at the time. He had apparently completely missed White’s response, which wins a pawn, but it turned out that Black gets reasonable positional compensation for the pawn, and he went on to win in excellent style.

Peter commented that “My impression at the time was that he was on very friendly terms with Sir Stuart, but was a class above him in playing strength”. I think that is right. Kottnauer was a strong master indeed, and I shall return to him in a future blog entry.

[Event: Blackheath]
[Date: 1974]
[White: Milner-Barry]
[Black: Kottnauer]
[ECO: B02]

1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Nf6 3. Nc3 Nxd5 4. Bc4 Nb6 5. Bb3 c5 6. Qh5

6…c4!?

As I said above, this was an accidental gambit!

7. Bxc4 Nxc4 8.Qb5+ Nc6 9. Qxc4 e5 10. Nf3 Be7 11. O-O Be6 12. Qe2 Bg4 13. Qe4 f5 14. Qd5 Qxd5 15. Nxd5 Bxf3 16. gxf3 Rd8 17. Nxe7 Kxe7

Clearly, Black has enormous positional compensation, and White’s game is totally unenviable. Kottnauer never relaxes his grip.

18. d3 Kf6 19. b3 Nd4 20. Bb2 Nxf3+ 21. Kg2 Nd4 22. Rae1 g5 23. Re3 Rhe8

24. c3 Ne6 25. d4 Nf4+ 26. Kh1 exd4 27. cxd4 Nd5 28. Re5 Rxe5 29. dxe5+ Ke6 30. Rd1 Rd7 31. Bc1 g4 32. Re1 Nb4 33. Be3 a6 34. Kg2 Nd3 0-1

The pawn on e5 will be lost, without White achieving a hint of counterplay.


I am very grateful to Peter for sharing his recollections of Kottnauer with me.

The other response came from Ray Keene, who has sent me the scores of two such games he played against Milner-Barry. One of these will be featured on the blog shortly.

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