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Heinrich Wolf vs Amos Burn
Munich (1900), Munich GER, rd 10, Aug-04
Spanish Game: Berlin Defense. Nyholm Attack (C65)  ·  1/2-1/2


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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Wolf got into trouble on the Queen-side against Burn and was probably lost by move 16. But Burn allowed Wolf to reduce to a Bishops of opposite colors ending (with four Rooks on the board). Burn tried long and hard, but could not find a way to win. He traded off a pair of Rooks, but that only made the draw inevitable. Burn struggled on to move 83, but victory was beyond his grasp.

Burn had no draws going into this game. He had gotten off to a bad start (1-2) and had fought hard after that, winning five of his next six games. He was within a half point of fourth-place Marco going into this game, and could have caught Marco (who was held to a draw this round) if he had been able to win.

1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 Nc6
3. Bb5 Nf6

The Berling Defense was often played at Munich 1900.

4. d4

The more usual 4. 0-0 is probably best.

4... exd4

4...Nxd4 was perhaps slightly more accurate.

5. 0-0

5. e5 was a good alternative.

5... Be7

5...a6 was probably an easier good to equality.

6. e5

Sharper than the arguably safer 6. Nxd4.

6... Ne4

7. Nxd4 0-0
8. Nf5

Thus far the game is identical to the first game of the 1907 Lasker-Marshall match. In criticizing this move in the later game in which Marshall had White, Tarrasch in his typical caustic style said that: "Nothing is gained by this wandering about by the Knight--other than exchanging, development of Black, and loss of time."

The main alternative was 8. Bf4, which does not appear to be an improvement on the text, Tarrash's snide comments notwithstanding.

8... d5

Of course not 8...Nxe5?? 9. Qd5.

9. NxB+

Marshall here played 9. BxN against Lasker. The text is better. 9. exd6 e.p.

9... NxN

The position was now:

click for larger view

Chances were about equal at this stage.

10. f3

Somewhat timid. Slightly better were 10. Re1; 10. Bd3; and 10. Nc3. Spielmann played 10. Bd3 in 1922 against Vidmar in this position and played 10. c3 eight years later. The best choice here is a matter of style.

10... Nc5

10...c6 as played by Rosenthal against Zukertort back in 1880 was the main alternative and perhaps better.

11. b4

The first step by Wolf in his weakening of his Queen-side that eventually landed him in trouble. Wolf had many safer and better options: 11. Be3; 11. Re1; 11. Be2; and 11. c3. The text was not a new move, having been played at least twice by Zukertort.

11... Nd7

"!"--Tournament Book.

The text was a new move. 11...Ne6 was played twice previously against Zukertort. 11...c6 may be best.

12. f4

Consistent with his prior play. The alternative os 12. Qe1.

12... Nb6

This small misstep gave Wolf his first and last chance to obtain an edge. 12...a5 was best.

13. Bb2

"?"--Tournament Book.

While inferior to 13. a4 which should give White the advantage, the text is not as awful as the Tournament Book suggests.

13... Nf5

13...c6 was also reasonable.

14. Qe2 c6
15. Bd3 Na4

15...Nc4 may have been slightly more accurate.

The position was now:

click for larger view

The position had become double-edged. It was beginning here, as I will discuss in my next post on this game, that Wolf went astray and Burn quickly obtained a strategically won game.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post II

16. BxN?

With his weakened Queen-side and his exposed King (as a result of 12. f4), Wolf couldn't afford this exchange here. With 16. Ba3 or 16. Bc1, he would still enjoy near equality.

16... Qb6+

"!"--Tournament Book.

Did Wolf overlook this intermediate move? Or did he think Burn would fall into a skewer on move 18 by grabbing the White b4 pawn.

17. Kh1 BxB
18. Bc1

18. Ba3 was better. But perhaps Wolf thought he was setting a trap for Burn, the position now being:

click for larger view

If 18...Qxb4?, Wolf would have a skewer with 19. Ba3. But even if Burn had fallen into Wolf's little trap, Wolf would still have the worst of it: e.g., 19...Qd4 20. c3 Qd3 21. QxQ BxQ 22. Rd1 BxN 23. BxR Bf5 24. Bb4 a5 25. Bd6 Nxc3 26. Rd2 Ne4 and Burn would have two passed pawns for the lost exchange with good prospects for a win, the position then being:

click for larger view

And bear in mind, this is the position Wolf would have gotten had Burn erred on his 18th move. In fact--and to return to the actual game--Burn's actual 18th move was much better than 18...Qxb4:

18... Qd4

And--just to show how bad Wolf's 16. BxN was, Burn's 18...Qd4 was not even best play for Black. Burn could have done even better with 18...f6! or 18...a5; and perhaps even 18...g5.

But even after the text, Wolf was probably lost.

19. c3 Nxc3

19...Qc4 may have been even better.

20. NxN QxN

This left:

click for larger view

So Burn has won a pawn and should win, right? But it was not that easy. The potential of a Bishops of opposite colors ending is rearing its ugly head. One thing seems obvious--Burn should avoid the trade of Queens.

21. Bd2 Qd3?

Why allow this relief to Wolf. Did Burn see a way to win the opposite color Bishops ending? He should have played to keep the Queens on the board with 21...Qb2 or 21...Qc2.

22. Qf2?

It is hard to explain why Wolf didn't jump at the chance to trade Queens.

22... Rfe8

22...d4 or 22...Rfd8 would have been better.

23. Rab1?

Missing his chance. Wolf should have played 23. Be3.

23. Rfd1, though not best, would have been superior to Wolf's actual move, which gave Burn various ways to win.

The position was now:

click for larger view

As I will discuss in my next post on this game, it was beginning here that Burn missed his chance to win and wound up in a Bishops of opposite colors ending in which--though up a pawn--it does not appear that Burn had a win.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post III

23... Re6?

Burn had two good ways to win here:

A) 23...d4 followed by 24...f6.

B) Best of all was to to pick up two Rooks for the Black Queen. Instead of the difficult or impossible to win ending with two Rooks each plus opposite color Bishops, Burn would have reached the following position:

click for larger view

With two Rooks against Wolf's Queen plus his monster protected passed d-pawn, victory would be in sight for Wolf.

But--returning to the actual game--matters were not so rosy for Burn:

24. Rb3!

Not giving Burn a second chance to trade Queen for two Rooks. Suddenly, it is not clear that Burn can win.

24... Qc2

24...Qa6 and 24...Qe4 were the alternatives, but it is not clear that either of these moves would have been much better than the text.

25. Ra3

Hardly best. Wolf should have exploited the difficult position of the White Queen with 25. Be3.

25... a6

Burn was seeing ghosts. The a-pawn was not truly hanging. Had Burn played 25...Qb2, he would retain good winning chances after 26. Qxa7 RxR 27. QxR h5 (the mating threats prevent Black from snatching the Bishop) and Wolf would have nothing better than 28. Qe3 Qxa2 (going a pawn up once again) and Burn's Queen is on the loose again leaving Burn with decent winning chances.

26. Be3!

Now Burn has to trade Queens. If 26...Qc4 27. Rc1.

26... QxQ
27. RxQ

The position was now:

click for larger view

The drawing potential of Bishops of opposite colors is one of the unfair features of chess. You outplay your advantage, get ahead by a pawn or two, and then find you still can't win.

The balance of this game consists of Burn trying to win a game that probably can not be won. Much of what followed was tedious. Apart from being unfair, Bishops of opposite color endings can be BORING.

In my remaining comments on this game, I will try to point out where Wolf made his defense more difficult or where Burn missed chances to make Wolf's defense more difficult. But all these comments should be tempered by the fact that, whether good or weaker moves were played (as they were throughout the next over 55 moves), it is not clear that Burn ever had a theoretical win or even a position with good practical chances of winning.

27... Rae8

27...h5 was probably the best way to seek imbalances that might create winning chances.

28. Bd4

The White (dark-square) Bishop paralyzes Burn's passed pawn--and his entire Queen-side.

28... Rh6
29. Kg1 h5
30. h4

Creating needless weaknesses on the King-side. While Wolf was (just barely) able to defend, he should not have created the problem. He had plenty of waiting moves. In this kind of position, Wolf didn't need to do much of anything to hold the game.

After 30. h4, the position was:

click for larger view

As I will discuss in my next post on this game, Burn tried but failed to exploit 30. h4.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post IV

30... Rg4

This looks like the best method for Black.

31. g3 Re6

But here 31...f6 appears to offer more prospects (but a win still looks doubtful).

32. Rd2 Kh7

f6 was still best for Black.

33. Kf2 Kg6
34. Re3 Be4

The position was now:

click for larger view

Wolf here decided to play to lock up the Queen-side. This does not appear to be necessary, but Burn found no way to punish Wolf for this, and I have not been able to find a winning counter for Black either.

35. a4 Kf5
36. a5

I prefer 36. Rc3. The problem with the text is that it gives up the chance to play b5. But Burn found no effective counter.

36... f6

Perhaps not the ideal time for this pawn push, but Burn would eventually have to play f6 to have any real chance to win.

37. exf6 gxf6

After this pawn exchange, the position was:

click for larger view

Burn had not made much progress.

38. Rd1 Re8
39. Rc1 Rg6
40. Kg1 Reg8
41. Rcc3 Re8
42. Rc1 Re6
43. Rce1 Re8
44. Rc1

This is triple repetition. Wolf either didn't notice or else--as appears to be the case in other games at Munich 1900--the triple repetition rule as we know it was not in effect in this tournament.

44... Rg7
45. Ra1 Rge7
46. Rae1 Re6
47. R1e2

This left:

click for larger view

Having had little success in breaking down Wolf thus far in this ending, Burn now tried a different approach: a King march into the White camp. This plan could have led to trouble, and accomplished nothing for Burn.

47... Kg4
48. Re1 Kh3?!

This foray could have simplified Wolf's efforts to draw, and could have led to worse for Burn if he wasn't careful.

49. R1e2

49. f5 would have been interesting, e.g., 49...Bxf5 50. RxR RxR 51. RxR BxR and Burn, though two pawns up, would have little or no chance of winning:

click for larger view

Even after Wolf's actual 49. R1e2, Wolf got nowhere.

49... Rg8

The position now was:

click for larger view

As I will discuss in my next post on this game. Wolf could have taken advantage of the position of Burn's King and drawn the game without having to fight on for another 34 moves.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post V

In the diagrammed position with which I ended my last post, Wolf could have achieved a relatively painless draw with 50. f5! Rd6 Rd8 51. Rh2+ Kg4 52. Rf2 leaving:

click for larger view

And now to avoid getting mated Black has to repeat the position with 52...Kh3.

But, in the game, Wolf played

50. Rh2+ Kg4
51. Rhe2 Kf5

Burn decided to retreat his King and try something else.

52. Re1 Kg6
53. Rf1 Bf5

This left:

click for larger view

Wolf thus allowed the exchange of one pair of Rooks. Wolf was happy to make this trade:

54. RxR BxR
55. Re1 Kf7
56. Re3 Bf5

It was far from clear that the trade of Rooks had brought Burn any closer to winning:

click for larger view

57. Kf2 Be4
58. Rc3 Ke6
59. Re3 Kf5
60. Re1 Rc8
61. Rc1 Bd3

Perhaps Burn hoped to catch Wolf napping and manage to seize the e-file and then invade with his king. But Wolf was not sleeping:

62. Re1 Be4

Oh well.

63. Rc1 Rg8
64. Rc3 Re8
65. Re3 Re6
66. Re1 Kg6
67. Re3 Kf7
68. Re1 Ke8

Burn tried everything, but there was no win to be had despite his pawn plus.

The position was now:

click for larger view

Wolf now had a good drawing line beginning with 69. f5. If then 69...Bxf5 then Wolf would simply trade Rooks and draw easily: 70. RxR BxR 71. Bxf6 arriving in a simple ending down a pawn which White would have no way to win.

Wolf's actual move, though not at all fatal, allowed Burn to struggle on in search of a way to win for a short while:

69. Re3 Kd7
70. Ke2 f5

Now the pawns are locked and blocked and a draw was inevitable:

71. Kd2 Re8
72. Kc3 Ke6
73. Re1 Rc8
74. Re3 Rd8
75. Re1 Kd7
76. Bb6 Rg8
77. Re3 Ke6
78. Kd4 Rg7
79. Bc5 Rg8
80. Bb6 Ra8
81. Re1 Kd7
82. Re3 Rg8
83. Bc5

1/2 -- 1/2

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Featured in the Following Game Collection [what is this?]
Round 10 (Saturday, August 4)
from Munich 1900 by Phony Benoni

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