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Geza Maroczy vs Heinrich Wolf
Munich (1900), Munich GER, rd 9, Aug-03
Bishop's Opening: Vienna Hybrid (C28)  ·  1-0


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Kibitzer's Corner
Jun-04-10  zb2cr: 14. ... Be6 allows White to win a Pawn. The game had been pretty equal or even slightly in Black's favor until that move. 14. ... Nxc4 would have avoided the loss of a Pawn.

17. ... a6! would have complicated matters.

After Black's 23rd, his Rooks are just about doomed to stay passive and disconnected. (At least, I can't find anything. Improvements, anyone?)

Then, Maroczy made his advantage tell. 34. ... Rb6; 35. Rxb6, Kxb6; 36. c4! looks very strong for White. Instead, Black tries something different, but by move 40, with a pair of advanced connected passed Pawns, White has an overwhelming edge. 40. ... Kd7 would be met by 41. Rg6, Ke8; 42. e6, Rc7. 40. ... Rd7 is answered by 41. Ke4! And 40. ... g5 is swatted down by 41. Rg6, Rf3+; 42. Kd4, Rg3; 43. c4.

43. ... Kf8; 44. e6, Rf4+; 45. Kc5 looks strong for White.

After 44. d6, Rd7 is probably least bad. 44. ... Rf7; 45. e6, Rf4+; 46. Ke5, Rf2; 47. Rxg7, Re2+; 48. Kd5, Kf8; 49. Rxb7, Kg8; 50. d7, Rd2+; 51. Ke5, Re2+; 52. Kd6, Rd2+ 53. Ke7, Kg7; 54. d8=Q, Rxd8; 55. Kxd8+, Kf6 is obviously lost for Black.

However, Black resigned in view of 45. Kd5, Rf7; 46. e6, Rf5+; 47. Ke4, Rf2; 48. Rxg7, Kf8; 49. Rxb7, Re2+; 50. Kd5, Rh2; 51. Rb8+, Kg7; 52. e7, Rh5+; 53. Ke6, Rh3; 54. Rg8+, Kxg8; 55. e8=Q+.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: A fine game by Marco, who had the game pretty much in hand by about move 18, and who finished off Wolf in an instructive example of how to win a double Rook ending when up a pawn. Such endings can be tricky (see the painful display of Burn winning such an ending against Bardeleben in the same round at Munich 1900). At Hastings 1895, even so fine an endgame player as Pillsbury actually lost a double Rook ending in which he had been a pawn ahead to Emmanuel Lasker.

Most of the key points in this game were spotted and noted on this site by zb2cr back in 2010.

1. e4 e5
2. Nc3

The Vienna Game. At the time this game was played, Mieses had developed the Vienna Game into a formidable attacking weapon. Maroczy, however, got little or nothing from the opening here, but was seemingly content to obtain a roughly even position, apparently confident in his ability to outplay Wolf. Indeed, as zb2cr correctly noted on this cite, the game was about even before Wolf's poor 14th move (though as we will see both sides had chances before then).

2... Nf6
3. Bc3 Nc6

3...Nxe4?! can lead to wild and crazy complications, including a Rook sacrifice by Black. But Wolf is satisfied to play the solid text which tends to approximately even chances.

3...Bc5 is another normal and good choice for Black.

4. d3 Bb4

4...Na5 is more usual here, but the text is also entirely fine and also often played.

5. Bd2

Unambitious, but solid. MCO-13 gives 5. Bg5. The most usual--and perhaps the best--choices here are 5. Nge2 ("equal"--MCO-13) or 5. Nf3.

The text was a way for Maroczy to avoid any prepared variations while not compromising White's position in any serious way.

5... d6

5...Na5 is probably stronger, but the text is also solid and sufficient for approximate equality.

6. Nge2 0-0
7. 0-0 Kh8

A needless precaution at this stage. 7...Na5; 7...a5; 7...Ba5 and even 7...h6 were probably better. But the game was so placid at this point that Wolf did not lose much with the text.

8. Ba5

Accepting the loss of tempo in light of his 5th move.

8... h6

8...BxN immediately was somewhat more accurate.

9. BxN QxB

The position was now:

click for larger view

Maroczy had a small edge here thanks to Wolf's questionable 7th move, but neither side was in any real danger. The best way for Maroczy to have followed up was 10. Nd5. Wolf would have had to retreat with 10...Qd8 after which Maroczy would have had some initiative and prospects of center control with 11. c3. Instead, Maroczy tried a questionable pawn advance that should have allowed Wolf to get a good game.

10. f4?! BxN

This was a safe option for Black. 10...Bg4, however, was stronger and would given Wolf good play.

11. fxe5

A tricky intermediate move, but the simple 11. bxB was best.

11... Qg5

"!"--Tournament Book.

Creative, but 11...Qxe5 would have given Wolf the better game. Sometimes, as here, the most obvious move is in fact the best one.

12. NxB Nxe5

The position was now:

click for larger view

Chances were about even at this point, and neither side had any serious threats. But beginning in this position, as I will discuss in my next post on this game, play became complicated and--as so often happens in such positions--the stronger player [in this case Maroczy] quickly seized control.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post II

13. Qc1

Maroczy was seemingly so delighted to get Wolf into an endgame he was willing to lose his Bishop for Wolf's Knight and have his Queen-side pawn structure ruptured a bit.

Objectively, 13. Bb3 looks best.

13... QxQ

Either here or after the trade of Queens, Wolf should have traded off his Knight for Maroczy's c4 Bishop.

14. RaxQ

This trade left:

click for larger view

As zb2cr has noted, chances were about equal before Wolf's next move. With 14...NxB, Black should have been fine. He would not have had any real advantage since Maroczy's Queen-side pawns would constrict the movement of the Black Bishop. But Wolf should not have feared this ending, which would certainly have been better for him than what he got after his actual 14th move:

14... Be6?

"?"--Tournament Book.

As zb2cr notes, this probably loses a pawn by force. But--as discussed below--it is far from clear that Wolf's game was beyond salvage at this point.

15. BxB fxB

The position was now:

click for larger view

If Maroczy had a win after 14...Be6, the crucial variation was 15. RxR+ (better than Maroczy's actual 15. Nb5) RxR 16. Nb5 Kg8 18. Nxc7 (18. Nxa7? loses the Knight to 18...c6) Rc8 19. Nxe6 Nxd3 20. Rd1 Nxb2 21. Rxd6 Kf7 22. Nd4 Rc7

This would have left:

click for larger view

White is indeed up a pawn here, but his three isolated pawns make any win problematic at best.

In any case, Maroczy did not choose this most promising line, and instead played the inferior:

16. Nb5

After this second-best move, Wolf can avoid loss of a pawn by 16...RxR+ 17. KxR Rc8 (since 18. Nxa7 drops the Knight after 18...Rf8+ 19. Kg1 c6).

16... Rfc8

16...RxR+ was better in light of the above-cited line. But the game was probably still saveable for Wolf even after the text.

17. d4

What proved to be the key position in the game was now reached:

click for larger view

As I will discuss in my next post on this game, it was here that Wolf made his fatal mistake after which Maroczy never let him catch his breath.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post III

Maroczy had a definite advantage after 17. d4, but Wolf was far from lost. As both the Tournament Book and zb2cr on this site have pointed out, Wolf should have played 17...a6. Play could then have gone 18. Nxd6 cxN 19. dxN dxe5 leaving:

click for larger view

White is surely better here, but Black is definitely not lost (and is far better off then Wolf was in the actual game).

Alternatively, after 17...a6, Maroczy could have tried 18. Na7!? RxN 19. dxN with a better--but hardly--winning position for White.

Wolf's actual move, by contrast, was a disaster:

17... Nc4?

"?"--Tournament Book.

Any illusions Wolf may have harbored about the soundness of his 17th move must have been immediately dispelled by Maroczy's powerful response:

18. Rf7!

A glance at the position tells the tale:

click for larger view

If there was a way for Wolf to save the game from this point, I have been unable to find it. The win for White is far from easy, although Maroczy's persistent logical play made it look easy.

18... Kg8

The best chance was probably 18...c6. Play would then have been fascinating: 19. Nc7! Rf8! 20. Rd7 Rad8 21. RxR RxR 22. Nxe6 Re8 23. d5! cxd5 24. exd5 Ne3 25. c4 leaving Maroczy a pawn up in a Rook and Knight ending.

The move selected by Wolf gave Maroczy a somewhat "easier" task:

19. Re7 Re8
20. Rxc7

The position was now:

click for larger view

20... a6
21. RxN

This leaves White a pawn up and certainly seems to win and was probably simplest. Another possible even stronger (but more complicated) winning line was 21. Na7 Nxb2 22. Rb1 RxN 23. RxN and White's Rooks rule the board and must win material in fairly short order. Over the board, however, Maroczy's plan seems best.

21... axN
22. Rb4 Rxa2
23. Rxb5 Re7

23...Ra4 may have been slightly better.

After Wolf's actual move (23...Re7), the position was:

click for larger view

Double Rook endings are really tough, even when one player is a pawn ahead. This makes Maroczy's means of finishing off Wolf all the more impressive and delightful to watch. I will discuss how Maroczy went about clinching the win in my next post on this game.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post IV

Going into this 10th round contest, Maroczy was tied for 3rd with Marco a full point behind Pillsbury and Schlechter. With Pillsbury and Schlechter paired against each other and drawing their game in this round, and with Marco being held to a draw by Cohn, Maroczy had a chance to take sole possession of 3rd place and move to within a half-point of the two leaders by beating Wolf. This Maroczy did by exploiting his secret weapon in the Munich 1900 tournament--his endgame play. Maroczy had been down material against two tough competitors in this event: Burn and Pillsbury. He scored an incredible 1.5 points in these two tough games (beating Burn from a what was probably a losing position and drawing with Pillsbury in a classic ending).

In the current game, Maroczy was up a pawn against Wolf. Small wonder that he got the win he needed to stay in contention for first place.

In the position with which I ended my last both (i.e., after 23...Re7), Maroczy had just about everything going for him. He was up a pawn and, to quote zb2cr's analysis on this site: "[Black's] Rooks are just about doomed to stay passive and disconnected." zb2cr states that he was unable to find a saving plan for Wolf. I was not able to find anything good for Black here either.

24. Rb6!

Maroczy's technique is a wonder to behold in this game. His 24th move paralyzes Black's game.

24... Kf7?!

24...Rd7 was probably more solid. But Wolf may have been trying to distract Maroczy by letting him snatch the d6 pawn. After 25. Rxd6 Rxb2, Wolf would have counterplay. But Maroczy refused to be distracted.

25. Kf2 Ke8

Again allowing Maroczy to capture the Black d6 pawn. And yet again Maroczy was not to be tricked (although White would also be in good shape here after 26. Rxd6 Rxb2).

26. Ke3

Maroczy's endgame play here remained clear and relentless.

26... Kd8?

Wolf here pushed the envelope a bit too far. He needed to defend his d6 pawn with 26...Rd7.

27. Rd6+!

Maroczy recognized that now was the time to grab the Black d-pawn. He also recognized that though his Rook will wind up trapped on d6 for a while, this will not be a problem.

27... Kc7
28. e5


28... Rxb2

The position was now:

click for larger view

Did Wolf have any chance to hold this position? As Maroczy proceeded to demonstrate, the answer was an emphatic "No."

29. Kd3 Rb4

I looked at 29...h5 and 29...Rb5, but neither these not anything else seems to work.

30. h4

Having chased the Black King away from b2, Maroczy now went to work on the King-side. There were undoubtedly other winning procedures here (e.g., 30. Ra1 or 30. Rf1), but Maroczy's line worked beautifully.

30... Rb5
31. g4

31. Ra1 also looks good. The text, however, presented Wolf with multiple threats. Once again, a diagram tells the tale:

click for larger view

Thus far, Wolf had defended his difficult endgame well. But from this point on, as I will discuss in my next post on this game, Wolf weakened and Maroczy's task (which he had been handling quite well even against tight defense) became easier.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post V

In the diagrammed position with which I ended my last post, Wolf faced the impossible task of dealing with Maroczy's many threats. Maroczy had pushed his g and h pawns, obviously intending to use one or both of these pawns as a way to allow his c1 Rook to penetrate. Had Wolf here played 31...g5 (to stop 32. g5), Maroczy would simply play h5 and then penetrate along the f-file with his c1 Rook. 31...Ra5 would allow 32. Rb1; and 31...b6 would run into 32. Ra1.

The only thing Wolf had going for him was that Maroczy's d6 Rook was at least temporarily stalemated.

Faced with the above unappetizing prospects, Wolf effectively gave up with the hopeless:

31... Rb2?

Now, Maroczy could choose his winning methods. 32. Ra1 would be crushing. 32. Rf1 was probably even better. But Maroczy simply continued with his King-side pawn advance--another winning method. With Wolf's Rook out of play on b2, he was essentially helpless.

32. g5 hxg5

32...Rb6 33. gxh6 and 32...Ra2 33. Rf1 were no better.

33. hxg5

This left Wolf in the following hopeless position:

click for larger view

The endgame had been interesting to this point, but here Wolf's best move was to resign. What followed was sheer hopeless desperation.

33... Rb4

If Wolf really wanted to continue the game, he had to play 33...Kb8 or 33...Ra2 (though 34. Rf1 would be murder against either of these moves).

34. Rf1!

34. g6 would also leave Wolf with no resource.

34... Ra4

This is useless, but nothing else would work either. As zb2cr has pointed out, 34...Rb6 would get killed after 35. RxR RxR 36. c4 [or, even better, 36. g6 or 36. Rf8].

35. g6!

Preparing for Rf7. The win is easy here, but watching Maroczy at work is still pleasing.

The position was now:

click for larger view

35... Ra3+

35...Ra8 or 35...Re8 might have prolonged the game, but were likewise hopeless.

36. c3 Ra2

This only speeds the end, but by now it hardly mattered.

37. Rf7

37. d5 also wins quickly.

37... RxR
38. gxR Rf2
39. Rxe6 Rxf7
40. d5

40. Rg6 also annihilates Black, but Maroczy's move made for a pretty picture:

click for larger view

40... Kc8

Equivalent to resignation. But, as zb2cr has shown on this site, everything else also loses for Black here.

41. c4

Maroczy was perhaps having a little fun here. 41. Rg6 was faster.

41... Kd8
42. Rg6 Ke8
43. Kd4

43. e6 was even better, if that is possible when comparing winning moves.

43... Rc7
44. d6


The final position was:

click for larger view

For those who want to see how Maroczy would have crushed any further effort at resistance, zb2cr has provided an excellent autopsy.

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