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Curt von Bardeleben vs David Janowski
Munich (1900), Munich GER, rd 11, Aug-06
Spanish Game: Morphy Defense. Steinitz Deferred (C79)  ·  1/2-1/2


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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: A truly bizarre game.

Going into this contest, Janowski was having a bad tournament, having scored only 5.5 out of 10, leaving him out of contention for a top prize. He still had chances of a decent finish however, and must have expected an easy win against Bardeleben who had lost 9 of 10 games, including two games in which he resigned in which his position was not lost (one because of illness and one because he apparently misjudged the position). Indeed, as of this point Bardeleben was the only player at Munich 1900 not to have drawn a game.

Perhaps because of the above, Bardeleben played all out here for a draw while Janowski was playing for a win. That would not be so strange except for the fact that Janowski blundered a pawn in the opening giving Bardeleben what was probably a winning (or nearly winning) advantage by about move 10. Yet from there on Janowski, despite his pawn minus fought furiously for complications and a win while Bardeleben just wanted a draw. Ultimately, Bardeleben was successful in his modest ambitions.

1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 Nc6
3. Bb5 a6
4. Ba4 Nf6
5. 0-0 d6

This modified version of the Modern Steinitz Defense (in which d6 is played on move 4) is a reasonable defense to the Ruy Lopez.

6. d4

More frequently played here, and probably somewhat better, are 6. BxN+ , 6. c3, and 6. Re1. 6. Qe2 and 6. c4 also have their points. MCO-13 calls the text, which is perhaps premature, "satisfactory for Black." It yields at most a small advantage for White.

6... b5!

click for larger view

7. dxe5

In his desire for an early trade of Queens, Bardeleben plays this potentially drawish line instead of the more natural and better 7. Bb3. The move was not a novelty. Indeed, Janowski himself had played it against Lasker earlier that year at Paris 1900 (in a gamer Janowski eventually lost). Marshall was to try the move at Monte Carlo 1903 against Wolf, and more recently, Beliavsky tried it against Boris Spassky (the latter two games both being drawn).

7... dxe5
8. QxQ+

Janowski here played 8. Bb3 against Lasker. Both moves have their points. With Bardeleben apparently hell-bent on playing for a draw, his choice was predictable.

8... NxQ
9. Bb3 Bd6
10. Bg5

"!"--Tournament Book.

Both Marshall and Beliavsky played this move in the games mentioned above. 10. Nc3 and 10. Re1 (and perhaps 10. a4) are good alternatives.

The position was now:

click for larger view

In this position in which chances are about even, Wolf played 10...Nb7 against Marshall and Spassky played 10...Ne6 against Beliavsky.

10...Nxe4? here loses to 11. BxN followed by 12. Bd5.

Janowski, however, while avoiding 10...Nxe4, committed a different bad blunder with:

10... Nd7?

"??"--Tournament Book.

This loses a pawn by force.

11. BxN KxB

Janowski could have made the best of his probably lost position with 11...f6. Bardeleben's next move should not have been a surprise for him.

12. Ng5

This is much better than 12. Bxf7 Bb7

12... Ke7

Black has nothing better here.

13. Nxf7 Rf8

Possession of the f-file is Black's only compensation for the lost pawn.

14. NxB

Since Bardeleben was playing for a draw, such exchanges were doubtless welcome.

14... cxN

This left:

click for larger view

As I will discuss in my next post on this game, what followed was truly surreal: Bardeleben--up a pawn--played to draw, while Janowski--down a pawn and perhaps theoretically lost--played all out for a win.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post II

15. Nc3 Nf6
16. Nd5+

Consistent with Bardeleben's strategy of playing for a draw (or was he still ill and just looking for end the game quickly?). The best ways to try to win would have been 16. Nd1 or 16. f3.

16... NxN
17. BxN

This left:

click for larger view

17... Ra7

17...Rb8 was better.

18. Rad1

18. c3 was best. If Bardeleben wanted to put a Rook on the d-file, 18. Rfd1 would have been better.

18... Rc7

A move of doubtful utility. 18...b4 was much better. 18...Be6 and 18...a5 were also possibilities.

19. c3 g5!

While passive play, e.g., 19...Bd7 may be theoretically best, I give this move an "!" because it is the best way to play to win. Janowski's bold--if sometimes reckless--play after his early blunder is what gives this game some interest.

20. Rd3 h5!

Here comes Janowski!

21. Rfd1 h4?!

21...g4 or 21...Rf6 may have better suited Janowski's uber-aggressive strategy. 21...Bd7 would perhaps be better for a player with less ambitious goals.

22. h3 Rf6
23. f3

Creating a pawn-chain that will be difficult for Janowski to breach; not that this discouraged Janowski.

23... a5

Playing on both sides of the board.

24. Kf2 Ba6

Creating a discovered attack on the d3 White Rook which Bardeleben immediately addressed.

25. R3d2 Bc8
26. Rc2

Not even pretending that he is playing for a win.

26. Bd7
27. Rcd2

Almost akin to a draw offer--despite his pawn plus and winning position.

27... Rc8

I am surprised that Janowski didn't play 27...b4 here. As will be clear from his next move, however, Janowski's zeal to play for a win was far from extinguished.

28. Bb3

As the Tournament Book correctly pointed out, 28. Ke3 (getting out of the pin on the King-side) was best (assuming White wants to play for a win).

The position was now:

click for larger view

28... a4!

Putting the question to the White Bishop before continuing operations on the other wing.

29. Bd5 g4?!

Going for the gold and exploiting the pin. But 29...a3 was stronger.

30. hxg4 Bxg4
31. Ke3

Getting out of the pin.

31... Bd7

The position now was:

click for larger view

The game is still almost certainly a theoretical win for White. But, as I will discuss in my next post on this strange game, Bardeleben remained focused on not losing and Janowski was still itching for a fight--especially now that he had an open g-file with which to work.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post III

Beginning in the diagrammed position with which I ended my last post, both players decided to beef up on the h-file.

32. Rh1 Rh8
33. Rh2 Rg6

He perhaps should have continued to build up on the h-file with 33...Rfh6, or else tried the more flexible 33...Rff8. As matters develop, however, the g-file becomes a venue of important action.

34. Rd1

Had Bardeleben been playing to win, 34. b4 would have been best.

34... Rh7

I do not understand this move. Assuming that Janowski wanted his Rooks on the g and h files, why not 34...Kf6 to hold the h4 pawn?

35. Rdh1

Again ignoring the chance to force action with b4.

35... Rg3

35...Kf6 or 35...Rhg7 look better.

The position was now:

click for larger view

Bardeleben could here have maintained his winning advantage with 36. Kf2 or 36. b4. Instead, he opted for exchanges that let Janowski back in the game (though perhaps the best way to bring the game to a close and secure a draw):

36. Rxh4 RxR
37. RxR Rxg2

This left:

click for larger view

The weaknesses on White's Queen-side back a win for him problematic (not that this necessarily bothered Bardeleben!).

38. Rh7+ Kd8
39. b4

With a Black Rook now poised on the second rank, this move no longer had the power it would have had a few moves ago.

39... Rc2!

Janowski can now harass White's c and f pawns, though to his chagrin his winning chances were just about nil.

40. Kd3

Bardeleben might have tried 40. f4?! if he were playing for a win (hoping for 40...Rxc3+ 41. Kd2 with good winning chances). But 40...exf4+ 41. Kxf4 Rxc3 42. e5 probably would not have led to much.

40... Rf2

Apparently reconciling himself to a draw.

41. Ke3 Rc2
42. Kd3 Rf2
43. Rh8+ Kc7
44. Rh7 Kd8

Bardeleben, had he noticed, could have claimed a draw by triple repetition here.

45. Rh8+ Kc7
46. Rh7 Kd8

And again here.

47. Rh8+

And here.

47... Kc7

1/2 -- 1/2

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Featured in the Following Game Collection [what is this?]
Round 11 (Monday, August 6)
from Munich 1900 by Phony Benoni

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