Jozsef Szen Is Born

József Szén (9 July 1805, Pest, Hungary – 13 January 1857) was a Hungarian chess master.

He obtained a law degree and later became the municipal archivist for the city of Pest. He often played in the café Worm of Pest, playing with any opponent for a stake of 20 Kreuzers. Very strong in the endgame, he was given the nickname of the Hungarian Philidor. In 1836 Szén played a match in Paris with Louis-Charles Mahé de La Bourdonnais in which La Bourdonnais gave him odds of pawn and two moves. Szén won with 13 wins and 12 losses, and no draws.

A pawnless chess endgame is a chess endgame in which only a few pieces remain and none of them are pawns. The basic checkmates are a type of pawnless endgame. Generally endgames without pawns do not occur very often in practice except for the basic checkmates of king and queen versus king, king and rook versus king, and queen versus rook (Hooper 1970:4). Other cases that occur occasionally are (1) a rook and minor piece versus a rook and (2) a rook versus a minor piece, especially if the minor piece is a bishop (Nunn 2007:156-65).

The study of some pawnless endgames goes back centuries by players such as François-André Danican Philidor (1726-1795) and Domenico Lorenzo Ponziani (1719-1796). On the other hand, many of the details and recent results are due to the construction of endgame tablebases. Grandmaster John Nunn wrote a book (Secrets of Pawnless Endings) summarizing the research of endgame tablebases for several types of pawnless endings.

The assessment of endgame positions assumes optimal play by both sides. In some cases, one side of these endgames can force a win; in other cases, the game is a draw (i.e. a book draw).