19 September 2021

The Battle of Braine-l'Alleud

Belgians like to point out that the battle of Waterloo was not fought at Waterloo; it was fought at Braine-l'Alleud. Chess historians like to point out that the chess games attributed to Napoleon are undoubtedly specious. I like to point out interesting chess images that I find on Flickr. Here's the latest.

Napoleon Loses a Match © Flickr user Stuart Rankin under Creative Commons.

The description of the photo adds,

Detail of a painting of a chess match between a cardinal and Napoleon, which Napoleon seems to have lost.

The full painting is also available on Flickr at Check, Napoleon and the Cardinal. The description there adds,

Check • Napoleon and the Cardinal • Oil on Panel • 29 x 38 ½ in • Undated • 1931.391.150 • On display in: McKee Room • Another of Vibert’s very detailed re-creations of historical episodes, Check depicts an event from the life of Napoleon Bonaparte. [...]

That description is originally from The Haggin Museum - Collections: Art: Jehan-Georges Vibert: Check ( A more recent version of the page is at Check - Haggin Museum (hagginmuseum.org).

For more about Napoleon and chess, see Napoleon Bonaparte and Chess (chesshistory.com; Edward Winter). Did I say 'more about'? Make that 'all about'. I referenced the same page in Napoleon and Josephine Biscuit (July 2017).


Later: The detail on the high resolution copy of the Flickr photo is enough to work out the position on the board. Napoleon (playing White, on move) is in trouble.

FEN: 6k1/1p4pp/2p5/p1P3n1/P1K3P1/1PN4P/8/8 w

Thanks to AL for sharing this discovery.

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