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David Janowski vs Ignatz von Popiel
13th DSB Kongress (Hanover) (1902), Hanover GER, rd 17, Aug-11
Sicilian Defense: Closed Variation. Traditional (B25)  ·  1-0
ANALYSIS [x]

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Kibitzer's Corner
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Jan-03-08
Premium Chessgames Member
  Domdaniel: <dzechiel> Thanks. I also tend to start by checking the material balance -- unless a combination pattern jumps out immediately. Which may happen here on Mondays but not sufficiently often in my own games...
Jan-03-08  Steve Case: I got it (-:

I never noticed my rook under the gun. After all this is a puzzle and I'm going for the kill. So I got all three moves, but I had to do a little analysis before I realized that black resigned because it was a forced mate at that point.

Jan-03-08  Harpenden woodpusher: I tried instead
20. Qh6 Bxc2
21. Rxe7
If 21...Rxe7 22. Bf6 and black runs out of checks.
If 21...Qxe7 22. Nd5 seems to win.

Or have I missed something?

Jan-03-08
Premium Chessgames Member
  YouRang: <DarthStapler: Can black defend with 20... e6 21. Qe5 f5 (allowing the queen to protect the 7th rank?>

I think white would just take the bishop with 21. Rxd1, going up the exchange.

Also, if white does play 21. Qe5?, then instead of 21...f5, black should play 21...f6!, attacking the queen and giving black time to extract his bishop.

Jan-03-08
Premium Chessgames Member
  YouRang: <Harpenden woodpusher: I tried instead 20. Qh6 Bxc2
21. Rxe7
If 21...Rxe7 22. Bf6 and black runs out of checks.
If 21...Qxe7 22. Nd5 seems to win.

Or have I missed something?> I'm afraid so. :-(

After 20. Qh6 Bxc2 21. Rxe7 Rxe7 22. Bf6, it looks like white has sacrificed material to get a mating attack.

But black can counter with: 22...Re1+! 23. Kh2 <forced> Qb8+! <putting queen on 8th rank with tempo> 24. g3 Qf8!

...and there goes white's mating threat. Meanwhile, white is down serious material.

Jan-03-08  Harpenden woodpusher: To YouRang. Thank you for pointing out the flaw in my analysis.
Jan-03-08  alphee: 19.♗xg7 did look as the only valuable move with ♕e5 coming next whether black plays ♔xg7 or not ... but I completely missed black playing ♗xd1.
Jan-03-08
Premium Chessgames Member
  InspiredByMorphy: Would 19. ...Bxg2 20.Bh6 (Qh6 Bh1) Bxh3 have been better for black than the text?
Jan-03-08
Premium Chessgames Member
  Jimfromprovidence: <DZ> <A good question. I suspect it's because once one player achieves a significant advantage, and the opponent has no counter-play, that the side with the advantage can typically make moves that involve no risk to himself and that force his opponent concede more and more of the board, or allow exchanges which increase the percentage advantage, until checkmate looms.

This is frequently called "technique".>

Thanks for the very succinct, yet lucid explanation.

So today, If 20... Qc6, black should keep going, I would imagine.

Jan-03-08
Premium Chessgames Member
  zenpharaohs: I didn't get this problem, and I don't get this problem yet. After a very long Rybka calculation White gets a bishop and knight for his rook, and it's pretty hard to say with the Queens still on the board. Rybka gives the White +1.80 for this. I'm not so sure that if exchanges can be well managed that White might not have a better endgame.

So after a relatively long think for Rybka:

19 Bxg7 Bxd1
20 Bh6 Qc6 (not Bxc2?)
21 Rxd1 f6
22 Rd4 Rac8
23 a4 bxa4
24 Rxa4 Rb8
25 Qc1 Kf7
26 Qa1 Ra8
27 Be3 Red8

Rybka values this position as +1.80

I don't see anything particularly strong or forcing yet.

Jan-03-08
Premium Chessgames Member
  zenpharaohs: dzechiel: "But once all the CP disappears, you are only torturing yourself by playing on."

Whatever happened to "fighting for the draw"? This position is not like white is grinding out some winning attack, at least not such that I can see. I'll keep looking, but keep in mind that the chess engines might be their weakest in this sort of game, where both sides have lots of moves of nearly equal value, there are still quite a few pieces and pawns on the board and no simplifying exchanges are worth forcing.

There might be a win by calculation, but it's not jumping off the silicon at me.

Jan-03-08  UdayanOwen: <YouRang: Actually though, I was a little more worried about 19...Bxg2, threatening ...Bh1 and ...Qg2#.

However 19...Bxg2 20. Bh6 Bh1 is nicely blocked by the interference move: 21. Nd5!, and white still goes up a piece and simplifies the ending: 21...Bxd5 22. Qe5 f6 23. Qxd5+ Qxd5 24. Rxd5.>

White also has the prosaic 21.Qg3, when black has nothing on the light squares to compensate for the piece.

Your move has the advantage of forcing the endgame.

Jan-03-08
Premium Chessgames Member
  whiteshark: <Calli: Popiel had to try 18...Bxf6, although 19.Nd5 is advantageous for White.> A bit more than 'microscopically small' ?
Jan-03-08
Premium Chessgames Member
  YouRang: <UdayanOwen> Yes, I hadn't noticed 21. Qg3 before, but that also appears to work. For that matter, so does 21. Ne4.

But, I still prefer 21.Nd5 myself, which (as you are aware) trades off pieces and queens into an piece-up endgame.

Jan-03-08  UdayanOwen: <Domdaniel: I'm curious. Is this a practice that's taught as the best way to begin? Is it something to do while you scan the position for the things that really matter?>

Asessing the material balance first, whilst elementary, is necessary. For example, a tactic that wins a bishop may be winning with material equality but not necessarily if you are already behind on material.

A related and important theme if the attacker is behind on material is to burn material as part of an effective defense. If you calculate options without starting with an awareness of the material balance, a player might not consider for example a defense where the defender loses a piece, when in fact this might lead to material equality and a complete rebuttal of the attack.

Finally, top class players do advocate for the assessment of material imbalance before doing concrete analysis. For example, outstanding writers on chess thinking such as Kotov and Silman argue that a range of strategical factors need to be assessed first.

Material imbalance is simply one strategical factor, which interacts with other factors like space, development, open lines, pawn structure, initiative, etc. When trying to find the best move in a chess position, it is not just about forcing and brute calculation... it is also about understanding the ways the strategical aspects of the position interact, and using this to guide your ideas about concrete analysis.

Jan-03-08  UdayanOwen: <DarthStapler: Can black defend with 20... e6 21. Qe5 f5 (allowing the queen to protect the 7th rank?>

<YouRang in response: I think white would just take the bishop with 21. Rxd1, going up the exchange.

Also, if white does play 21. Qe5?, then instead of 21...f5, black should play 21...f6!, attacking the queen and giving black time to extract his bishop.>

YouRang's analysis about 21...f6 is a good point that I missed in a previous analysis.

Black has several ways to defend against white's threats to the king on move 20..., but 20...e6 is not best because it further weakens the dark squares. <Terry McCracken's> 20...Qc6 is a move I also missed and is definitely best, since other moves are damaging to the already bad kingside pawn structure.

Jan-03-08  UdayanOwen: <InspiredByMorphy: Would 19. ...Bxg2 20.Bh6 (Qh6 Bh1) Bxh3 have been better for black than the text?>

It would have been better than the text after 20...Bxc2?? 21.Qe5, but it is bad because after 19...Bxg2 20.Bh6 Bxh3 21.Qxh3, black only has two pawns for two pieces. The open white king does not offer compensation in this position.

The right defense is 19...Bxd1 20.Bh6 Qc6 21.Rxd1, when white has two pieces for the rook and a clear strategical edge. With high level players, white will win probably somewhere between 90 and 99 percent of the time at a high level in this position, whereas white will win 100 percent of the time in the 19...Bxg2 line.

Jan-03-08
Premium Chessgames Member
  Calli: "whiteshark: <Calli: Popiel had to try 18...Bxf6, although 19.Nd5 is advantageous for White.> A bit more than 'microscopically small' ?"

Maybe not. I thought the Bishop might be captured with a poor game for Black, but it appears that 19...Bh4! and if 20.Qh6 e6 21.Qxh4 exd5 and Black is OK.

Jan-03-08  UdayanOwen: <Jimfromprovidence: in positions where one player may gain a slight advantage in position or material many kibitzers say it's only a matter of technique and the losing side should immediately resign because ______ is such a great player.

I donít get this line of thinking. If the great players can make gross errors, they surely will make smaller ones as well.

Why resign?>

I don't recall many kibitzers arguing that players should resign in technically lost but not crushing positions. I think the debates tend to revolve much more around whether or not the position IS technically lost or not (and hence, whether the puzzle solution is theoretically winning or just leading to advantage). Certainly in this game no one has argued that white should automatically resign if he concedes the two pieces for rook. Kibitzers like myself and <alphastar> have only argued that it is highly likely that white will go on to win.

I agree with you that for many of the positions and subvariations lately, the "losing" side in a technically lost position could definitely play on and make the winner prove it with good, strong chess and no blunders.

The position here after 20...Qc6 is defnitely a case in point. With best play I'd be shocked if it is not winning. However, with strong players I think white would win this somewhere between 90 and 99 percent of the time. Even if white is 'winning' after 20...Qc6, there is definitely a small chance of a swindle (or a bigger chance if the players are less advanced).

Jan-03-08  UdayanOwen: <Zenphaorohs: This position is not like white is grinding out some winning attack, at least not such that I can see. I'll keep looking, but keep in mind that the chess engines might be their weakest in this sort of game, where both sides have lots of moves of nearly equal value, there are still quite a few pieces and pawns on the board and no simplifying exchanges are worth forcing.

There might be a win by calculation, but it's not jumping off the silicon at me.>

I'd judge the advantage for white at around at least +2.0. I do think white has a strong attack here, but it is based on strategical grounds not calculation.

Black's kingside dark squares are weak (particularly h6), and whilst 21...f6 guards one of them it creates a hole on e6 and weakens g6. Then the kingside can be further weakened with the plan of h3-h4-h5. If black plays e5 at some point to deny white some space and make occupation of e6 very difficult, this weakens f6.

White has four pieces to maneuver on the kingside, and the rooks are cumbersome defenders for this type of position. Assessing the relative strength of the rooks as kingside defenders, versus the minor pieces as attackers, I think the rooks are not much better (if at all) than the knight or bishop. So in a deep strategical sense, with regard to the kingside attack white is kind of a piece up.

Based on this strategical analysis, I think the idea that white has only a slight material and positional advantage is an underestimation.

I also think this reasoning leads to the conclusion that white's best way to try and win is to attack the king, not to try and get to the endgame. The latter would diminish white's strategical edge, since the kingside structure is weak in the middlegame but no problem in the endgame.

Having said all this, black has play on the queenside, so it's not like all he can do is sit and watch white build up a 'winning' attack on the kingside. But if he counterattack's there he will be thinner for defenders on the kingside, and since killing the king ends the game, white would be extremely likely to win in this opposite sides attacking situation.

Jan-04-08  vibes43: Good puzzle. Didn't get it but learned from it.
Jan-04-08  Sularus: <jimfrom> well, there are those who do not resign and fight on.

and of course there are those who would rather conserve their strength for other games (in tournaments, for example).

Jan-05-08  bigpawn: Blunders are great! You cant get rid of them. Even the very best players of all time suffered from the occasional gross blunder. So we can always, and rightfully so, hope for our opponents to blunder especially when we are behind. There's an interesting short article about blunders at http://onlinechessstore.com/
Jan-06-08
Premium Chessgames Member
  zenpharaohs: OK I have spent a couple days working out whether white wins after

19 Bxg7 Bxd1
20 Bh6 Qc6 (not Bxc2?)

I used many hours of extensive calculations from Rybka 2.3.2a and Shredder 11. It is a little tricky to get a computer to look for a draw, but I tried to direct the analysis for black toward that objective.

The answer is probably white does win, but against good play it seems to takes about 30 moves before the advantage really bears fruit. White can get the queens off reasonably quickly, but black has good play for his rooks until white has a serious promotion threat.

There are some good tricks for black that come up in the variations - like whether black can trap the bishop at h6 by pushing f6 and g5 (depends on the fate of white's h pawn). But there seem to be no variations where white can force any major increase in advantage in less than about 30 moves.

Over the board, no way I would resign the position for black until about 35 moves later, if white maintains the advantage.

Jan-07-19  HarryP: A final position that should be savored. Popiel could have done a spite check with Qxg2+, but of course he resigned. He had class.
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