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David Janowski vs Manuel Marquez Sterling
Paris (1900), Paris FRA, rd 13, Jun-11
Sicilian Defense: Paulsen. Normal Variation (B45)  ·  1-0


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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: A sloppy and flippant win by Janowski redeemed by a cute closing combination.

Janowski--always mercurial--plays as if he knows he is going to win. Sterling at this stage of the tournament had a record of one win and 10 loses and was to end up tied for last place at 1-15. Janowski, in a strange cycle, repeatedly obtained winning positions after errors by Sterling, appeared to lose interest in the game and threw away his advantage, and then got a winning position again, and so on. It is always hard to know what to make of Janowski.

1. e4 c5
2. Nc3 e6
3. Nf3 Nc6
4. d4 cxd4
5. Nxd4 Bc5

5...Nf6, 5...Qc7, and 5...a6 are more popular choices, but the text is definitely playable. Sterling's problems don't begin until his next move.

6. Nbd5 a6

He should either deal with the "hole" on d6 by playing 6...d6 or just damn the torpedoes and develop with 6...Nf6. The text only speeds up the invasion of the White Knight on d6. Morphy in his match with Paulsen in 1858 obtained the same sort of advantage Janowski gets here when allowed to get his Knight to d6 against an e6 Sicilian.

7. Nd6+ BxN

Letting White's Queen post on d6 is so bad for Black that Sterling should probably have played the noxious 7... Kf8. Bad as that would have been for Black, the text leads to something even worse.

8. QxB Nge7

After this poor move, Sterling has what looks like a strategically lost position to me:

click for larger view

It is remarkable how quickly Janowski--trying for haymakers--manages to ruin his overwhelmingly superior position.

9. h4?!

Also inferior is 9. Bd3?! as proposed by Rosenthal in the Tournament Book (it blocks the d-file White should want to have at his disposal). By contrast, the Karpovian 9. Be3 would allow Janowski to strangle Sterling at his leisure.

9... b5
10. h5 h6
11. Bd2

Not a blunder, but why on earth would Janowski want to put his dark-square Bishop here. Instead of misplacing his Bishop, Janowski might have hindered Nb4 with 11. a3.

11... Bb7

Janowski has done nothing to hinder this quasi-freeing move by Sterling.

12. Qg3 Rg8
13. Bd3

Janowski seems to be playing by rote. 13. 0-0-0 is the most obvious move on the board.

13... Nb4
14. Ne2

Another move by Janowski I am unable to fathom. 14. a4 was one of a number of viable plans for White here.

14... NxB+
15. cxN

Janowski still has somewhat the better of the position,but compare his position now with what he had after move 8:

click for larger view

15... Rc8
16. Bc3

Since he obviously didn't intend to capture on g7, the point of this move escapes me. 16. Rc1 or 16. Nd4 seemed reasonable alternatives.

16... Qc7
17. Qe3

As Rosenthal pointed out in the Tournament Book, 17. Be5 would lead to nothing more than equality for Janowski, i.e., 17...Qa4+ 18. Bc3 [not 18. Nc3? f6 19. Bd4?? (White is already in trouble here, but needed throw away the game. 19. Bf4 keeps White afloat for a while,but Rosenthal's move loses immediately to the simple forking 19...Qb4)] 18...Qc7 (but not Rosenthal's alternative move 18...b4 which leaves Black in an inferior position after 19. Bd2).

17... Qc5
18. Qd2 Qg5
19. QxQ hxQ

Janowski now has an endgame with at most a tiny advantage:

click for larger view

The ups and downs were to continue, as I will show in my next post on this game.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post II

After 19...hxQ play continued:

20. Ng3 Kd8?

Rightly called "weak" by Rosenthal in the Tournament Book, whose proposed 20...d6 is certainly better than the text. Perhaps best for Black here is 20...f6.

Sterling's move is all the worse since it is the beginning of a plan to bring his King to the b8 where it allows Janowski to exploit a nasty pin and other tactical chances.

21. h6?!

Again looking for a haymaker when a careful build-up was the better plan. 21. Kd2 was best.

21... gxh6
22. Rxh6 Ng6
23. Bf6+ Kc7?

Marching off to doom. The King should shun the b8-h2 diagonal, but that is exactly where Sterling brings it. 23. Ke8 was best.

24. Bxg5

Among other things, Sterling's poor play has allowed Janowski to win a pawn. Had he played 23...Ke8, 24. Bxg5 could have been met by 24...Ne5!

24... Kb8

Continuing his death march. 24...Ne5 (though unpleasant after 25. Bf4 d6) was relatively best.

Aided by Sterling's feats of self-destruction, Janowski is now once again poised for victory:

click for larger view

25. Kd2! would defend everything in the White camp and allow Janowski to win with his pawn plus and superior position. But instead...

25. Rc1?

Like magic, Janowski's win has vanished. With the simple 25...Ne5, Sterling would regain his pawn and have--if anything--the better game. Instead...

25... RxR+?
26. BxR

And now, Janowski (whose Bishop was no longer undefended on g5) has the game in hand once again.

26... Ka8?

One of the worst moves on the board. 26...Rc8 would at least threaten something.

27. d4

Not awful, but 27. Rh7! would have been crushing (and a move Janowski would doubtless have made had he had his head on straight in this game).

27... f5
28. f3?

Now the win is probably gone once again. 28. exf5--another obvious move--would have left Janowski in the driver's seat.

For the next few moves, Sterling overlooks the crushing nature of exf5 and repeatedly fails to play 28...fxe5 or 29...fxe5, and Janowski, perhaps wanting to prolong Sterling's agony, fails to play 28. exf5 or 29. exf5 or 30. exf5.

28... Ne7?
29. Bf4? Nc6??
30. d5? Nb4

Only here, where Sterling happens to make the best move, does Rosenthal in the Tournament Book pipe up and recommend the (how inferior) 30...fxe5.

31. Bd6?

Overlooking the far better 31. Bd2! (31...Nd3+ 32. Kf1 RxN loses to 33. Rh8!)

31... Nd3+
32. Ke2 Nxb2
33. dxe6 dxe6
34. Rxe6 fxe4
35. fxe4 Nc4
36. Bc7

The position was now:

click for larger view

Janowski has the advantage, but it is far from clear that he can win with best play. But in the diagrammed position Sterling blundered and Janowski unleashed a gorgeous winning combination as I will show in my next post on this game.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post III

In the last diagrammed position in my previous post, Sterling--who had been hanging on by his fingertips, erred badly with:

36... Na5?

Best was 36. a5. The text gave Janowski the chance to conclude the game brilliantly. While Janowski was lethargic for most of this game, in this final stage he does not disappoint.

37. BxN RxN

The position was now:

click for larger view

White to move and win.

When presented in this format, the solution is not very difficult. But it is gorgeous:

38. Re8+ !

Driving the Black king into a mating net.

38... Ka7
39. Be1!

Threatening both the Rook and mate (with Bf2+). Sterling had no choice if he wanted to continue, and so sacrificed the exchange:

39... Rxg2+
40. Bf2+

It is not often that an escape from check so crushes the opponent.

40... RxB+
41. KxR

The position was now:

click for larger view

The game is now essentially over. But Sterling plays on just long enough to allow Janowski to finish with a flourish.

41... Kb6
42. Ke3 Kc6
43. Kd4 a5
44. Re5 Ba6

This left:

click for larger view

Janowski now ended the game with 45. Re6+.

Sterling resigned here in light of 45...Kb7 46. e5 b4 47. RxB KxR 48. e6 and White Queens"

click for larger view

A nice finish by Janowski.

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