|KEG: A spectacular closing combination combination makes this miniature a classic. While close analysis reveals that Burn erred badly at a few points, the refutation by Marshall is among the great moments in chess.|
1. d4 d5
2. c4 e6
3. Nc3 Nf6
4. Bg5 Be7
5. e3 0-0
6. Nf3 b6
6...h6 or 6...Nbd7 are better, but the text is certainly playable, though the commitment to putting Black's light-square Bishop on b7 is questionable at best.
7. cxd5 immediately is simplest, but Marshall has an attacking variation in mind with the text. His plan worked brilliantly here!
Rosenthal in the Tournament Book said that 7...Nbd7 was correct. While this is probably true, the text is consistent with Burn's 6th move and is a reasonable alternative (although, as noted above, it is highly questionable whether the Bishop belongs on this diagonal here).
8. cxd5 exd5
The position was now:
click for larger view
"Introducing a similar attack to the 'Fritz Attack' in the French Defense. Though not strictly correct, it offers nevertheless many potential chances" (Schlechter).
"In former years, this exchange was employed, with preference, by Blackburne. The opinions of the masters on the value of this mode of play seem to be far apart. Some, such as Marco and Maroczy, believe that Black has nothing to fear from the following attack, since he has the two bishops and prospects of organizing an attack on the enemy center with c5. Others mention that White's attack is very strong, indeed even resounding. Under the influence of [this game] and Marshall-Marco [played in the following round] have become convinced that Black must lose. But even these two games prove nothing, since, in both cases, Black collapses by a great blunder" (Marco).
Marco and Schlechter are almost certainly correct that the text is--theoretically--inferior to such moves as 9. 0-0, 9. Qc2, or even 9. Qb3. But as a practical matter, and before players had the chance to dissect Marshall's variation with careful home analysis and later with computers, Marshall's plan presented serious attacking chances for White and tough defensive issues for Black. Indeed, Marshall wiped out Burn in this game (in 17 moves) and Marco in the following rounds (in 23 moves) with 9. BxN. While Marshall's victories in these two games can be traced to serious defensive lapses by Marshall and Marco, this does not detract from Marshall's brilliance and creativity.
"The threat is 11. Bxh7+ KxB 12. Ng5+, known as the 'Pillsbury Attack,' " (Marshall).
"This method of attack leads to an exceedingly interesting game" (Marco) -- What an understatement.
10. 0-0 is the soundest and theoretically best move. But Marshall's move makes this game the classic that it is--not to mention its success in the very next round against Marco despite the improvement Marco cooked up for Marshall after seeing this game.
This much-criticized move in fact was not all that bad. Hoffer, in his commentary on this game, called 10...g6 a "bad move" and said that 10...h6 was "compulsory." But 10...g6 is far inferior to the text, and Burn would have had to work hard to defend his game after 10...h6 11. g4!.
Tartakower-DuMont suggest 10...Re8, and that is arguably better than the text, though White would still have attacking prospects after 11. Ng5.
The best move for Black here has (10...c5), so far as I can determine, been identified only by Rookfile and patzer2 on this site. As patzer 2 has correctly noted, after 10...c5 Marshall's intended 11. Bxh7+ would lose to 11...KxB 12. Ng5+ Kh6! [though I disagree with patzer2's follow-up, since 13. Qg4 should be answered by 13...Nc6 or 13...Qd7 rather than by patzer2's 13...g6 which allows White chances after 14. h5]. Best for White after after 10...c5 is patzer2's 11. dxc5 which--as patzer2 notes, equalizes for White.
While 10...c5 does seem best, Burn's actual 10...g6 was not all that bad, and there is no reason he should have lost the game at this point. Indeed, Marco, who had seen Marshall's win here and prepared a "refutation," played 10...g6 in the next round.
The position after 10...g6 was:
click for larger view
As I will attempt to show in subsequent posts, Burn's loss here was the result of his weak play from this point on.