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Mikhail Chigorin vs Geza Maroczy
Paris (1900), Paris FRA, rd 13, Jun-11
Italian Game: Italian Variation (C50)  ·  1/2-1/2


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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: After fine play by both sides, an even ending is reached. Tchigorin presses too hard and gets into trouble, but manages to obtain a draw when Maroczy misses a few winning lines.

1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 Nc6
3. Bc4 Bc5

Maroczy indicates he is willing to face an Evans Gambit, an opening in which Tchigorin excelled.

4. Nc3

Not this day. Tchigorin decided to try his hand in a Giuoco Piano, and in a very tame version of this opening.

4... d6
5. d3 Nf6
6. Be3

6. Bg5 is most usually played here and yields a small edge to White. Tchigorin decides to get rid of the White dark-square Bishop even though this gives Maroczy a good game.

A good alternative is 6. Na4.

6... Bb6

6...BxB seems best, but Maroczy decides not to fall in with whatever Tchigorin had in mind.

7. Qe2

One of those Tchigorin moves that defy the understanding of lesser mortals. 7. BxB or 7. a3 were best.

Rosenthal in the Tournament Book, mysteriously, suggested 7. Ne2

7... Be6

Maroczy apparently decided to try to avoid a tactical skirmish with Tchigorin, else he might have played 7...Nd4.

8. 0-0-0

Tchigorin wants an unbalanced game and so forgoes 8...BxB (b6) and 8. 0-0.

8... BxB(e3)+

8...0-0 immediately may have been slightly better.

9. QxB

One might have expected Tchigorin to play 9. fxB to get an open file, forestall Nd4, and prepare for d4. But Tchigorin, as will be seen, has an eventual f4 in mind.

9... 0-0
10. h3 Re8

A strange and seemingly useless move, especially given his decision on his very next turn. It appears that Maroczy was biding his time waiting to discover Tchigorin's plan.

11. BxB fxB
12. Rhe1

12. d4 immediately seems more in keeping with White's game.

The position was now:

click for larger view

12... Nh5

Better than 12...d5, not because of 13. exd5 (as proposed by Rosenthal in the Tournament Book) but 13. d4!.

13. Ne2 Qf6
14. d4 exd4
15. Nexd4

If the game score is correct, it is hard to understand why Tchigorin didn't play 15. Nfxd4.

15... NxN

Once again I question the score. Isn't 15...Nf4 better here (if the moves were correctly transcribed)?

16. NxN Qf4?

Trying hard to simplify, Maroczy plays to trade instead of the far better 16...Nf4. An endgame is reached, but one in which White has a definite edge.

17. g3 QxQ+
18. RxQ

This left:

click for larger view

Tchigorin had better chances at this point, but Maroczy--as will be discussed in my next post--played active defense and soon restored the balance. The following endgame--though not flawlessly played--was fascinating, instructive, and exciting.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post II

18... a6

Preventing 19. Nb5, but 18...Re7 was perhaps simplest.

19. e5!

Tchigorin immediately acts to exploit the weak Black pawns.

19... d5!

Undoubtedly best, but leaving Maroczy with a weak e-pawn.

20. f4

20. Rc3 was a fine alternative, but Tchigorin is aiming for a King-side storm.

20... c5!

20...g6 immediately may have been most prudent, but Maroczy's active defense in a tough position is worthy of notice and study.

21. Ne2

Defending the f-pawn so he can start his king-side pawn advance.

21... g6
22. g4!

The steamroller begins.

22... Ng7
23. Ng3

Stronger was the wild 23. c4. But Tchigorin has a single-minded plan...crush Black on the King-side.

23... Rf8

Cold-blooded defense.

24. Rf3

He again might have played 24. c4, but Tchigorin is not to be distracted.

24... Rad8

Perhaps the only really poor move played by Maroczy at this stage of the game. 24...b5 would have yielded excellent counterplay. Sometimes, the best defense is a good offense.

25. Kd2?!

The King is an attacking piece in the endgame, and Tchigorin is throwing everything into his planned attack. Otherwise, he might have considered playing 25. c4.

25... b5

More fighting defense from Maroczy. The position was now:

click for larger view

26. Ke3?!

Throwing everything including the kitchen sink into his attack. 26. Ne2 seems more prudent, but Tchigorin is not interested in half measures here.

26... Kf7

Bringing his King to the fray as well.

27. h4?!

Once again, Ne2 was more prudent.

27... Ke7
28. h5!

Playing for wild complications, but by now it was too late to turn back. Tchigorin is prepared to sacrifice a pawn or two to break through Maroczy's defenses.

28... gxh5

The position was now:

click for larger view

29. f5!

What a cut and thrust ending this was!

29... hxg4
30. f6+ Kd7
31. Rf4 Nf5+
32. NxN

An amazing alternative I have been playing around with is 32. RxN?! This would have been fascinating, but tough to try over the board.

32... exN
33. Rxf5 Ke6
34. Kf4 d4
35. Rh5

Rosenthal's contrary commentary notwithstanding, 35. Rg5 was equally good, and would have led to equality after 35...Rg8 36. Rh5 Rd7 (or 36...d3).

35... Rf7

The position now was:

click for larger view

What a thrilling double Rook ending! But starting here, Tchigorin went overboard and nearly lost the game, as will be discussed in my next post.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post III

36. Rg5

Tchigorin underestimated Maroczy's counterplay and started to get into trouble. 36. b3 or 36. Rdh1 were better.

36... c4!

Now Black's center pawns become a real threat.

37. Rxg4

Still underestimating Maroczy's chances. 37. Rd2 (or even 37. Kxg4) was better.

37... d3!

After this powerful advance the position was:

click for larger view

38. c3?

Tchigorin's prior two moves could be called presumptuous, but this was a serious mistake that should have lost him the game, since Maroczy now got a protected passed pawn on d3. For better or worse, Tchigorin had to play 38. cxd3.

38... h5!

Maroczy, who played this portion of the game extremely well, now has multiple threats.

39. Rg6?!

An amazing tactical resource! 39. Rh4 was another possibility and perhaps sounder endgame strategy, but Tchigorin is not going down without a fight.

39... Rh7!

Fighting endgame play by both sides!

40. f7+!

Tchigorin's idea!

40... Kxf7
41. Rxa6

This left:

click for larger view

41... Ke7?

Rosenthal in the Tournament Book stated that 41...h4 would favor White. But his analysis was wrong and incredibly sloppy. In fact, 41...h4 would have won for Tchigorin. After 42. Ra7+ Rosenthal's line beginning with 42...Kg6 is nonsense since Tchigorin would then have had mate in four after 43. Rg1+ [43...Kh6 44. Ra6+ and mate in two]. Instead, Maroczy would doubtless have won with 42...Kg8 after which Tchigorin would have been crushed, the position then being:

click for larger view

But--returning to the actual game, after 41...Ke7? Tchigorin had new life, the position now being:

click for larger view

42. a4?

Giving Maroczy another chance. He should have played 42. Ke6!

42... Rf7+?

Letting Tchigorin off the hook for the final time after which the game quickly ends in a draw. But 41...h4! would have given him excellent winning prospects.

43. Ke4 Rf2
44. Ra7+ Ke6
45. Ra6+ Ke7
46. Ra7+ Ke6

If 46...Kf8 47. axb5 (and not 47. e6? Re2+ and White again faces trouble).

1/2 -- 1/2

An exciting game.

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