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Geza Maroczy vs Georg Marco
Munich (1900), Munich GER, rd 7, Jul-31
Four Knights Game: Spanish Variation (C49)  ·  1-0
ANALYSIS [x]

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Kibitzer's Corner
Oct-27-18
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: By move 22, the game had been reduced to a Rook and pawn endgame. Marco's inexplicable error on move 22 lost a pawn after which Maroczy slowly but mercilessly ground on to a win. A nice example of Maroczy's endgame prowess, and a fine game to analyze to brush up on Rook and pawn endgame technique.

Going into this game, Marco was tied for first with Pillsbury and Schlechter (at 5-1) with Maroczy a half-point behind. With this win by Maroczy, he pulled into third place and remained just a half-point behind Pillsbury and Schlechter, while Marco (now at 5-2) found himself tied for fourth with Burn one point behind the leaders.

1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 Nc6
3. Bb5

Maroczy decides to try a Ruy Lopez.

3... Nf6

Marco opts for the Berlin Defense.

4. Nc3

At first blush a strange choice for someone fighting to regain the lead, since the Four Knights Game is drawish. But back in 1900, it was often played with an eye to winning based on possible symmetrical formations with White a tempo ahead. In the case of Maroczy, he may have fancied an opportunity to win in the endgame, as he had done well in endgames thus far in this tournament, winning an endgame from a pawn down against Burn in Round 2 and managing to squeeze out a draw from a very difficult endgame against Pillsbury. On the other hand, Marco was no slouch in the endgame either, and he was apparently not fearful of squaring off against Maroczy in that realm of the game.

4... Bb4
5. 0-0 0-0
6. d3 BxN
7. bxB d6
8. Bg5


click for larger view

This is one of the standard positions in the Four Knights Game.

8... Ne7

Most usual here is 8...Qe7---planning an eventual Qe6 to unpin the f6 Knight (the so-called "Metger unpin"). 8...Bd7 and 8...h6 are also good options. 8...Ne7 has also often been played. The weakness of the text is the chance it yields White to saddle Black with doubled f-pawns and a potentially dangerous open g-file.

9. Nh4

MCO-13 gives the text. An immediate 9. BxN is also good.

9... c6

Called "risky" by MCO-13, which recommends 9...Bg4. 9...d5 seems most logical and best.

10. Bc4 d5
11. Bb3

This is the formation MCO-13 called "risky" for Black. While White is doubtless for choice here, any edge for White is small and (so long as Black is willing to endure the shattering of his king-side pawns) this opening line can be considered OK for Black.

11... dxe4

"?"--(Tournament Book).

While this hardly looks best, the Tournament Book's reaction seems extreme. The Tournament Book rightly prefers 11...Qd6 avoiding doubled pawns. 11...Be6 is also better than the text. In either case, White retains a small advantage. But Marco's plan here, as will be seen, is a whole-sale trade of pieces. As will also be seen, Maroczy consents to all of Marco's trading ventures, trusting that he can win a slightly superior endgame.

12. BxN

12. dxe4 immediately was more accurate. The opportunity to mess up Black's King-side pawns will not run away.

12... gxB
13. dxe4

This left:


click for larger view

13... QxQ

"?"--(Tournament Book).

I see no basis for criticizing this move. Marco's chances of holding the game would not be improved by keeping Queens on the board.

14. RaxQ

In order to retain the chance to play on the b-file, I prefer 14. RfxQ.

14... Ng6

Still seeking trades. 14...a5 (or perhaps 14...Kg7) look better, though Black is still basically OK even after the text.

15. NxN hxN
16. Rd6

This left:


click for larger view

This was apparently the position towards which both sides were aiming. White, with his Rook on d6 and Bishop on the a2..b8 diagonal, has some initiative. Black has a better pawn structure. On balance, Maroczy (White) probably has a small overall edge. The topsy-turvy manner in which this position morphed into a winning endgame for Maroczy will be discussed in my next post on this game.

Oct-27-18
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post II

Through 16. Rd6, the game had been a fairly placid affair. Now matters got interesting.

On his 16th turn, Marco played the solid and predictable:

16... Kg7

This looks logical; it protects the threatened f6 pawn and gives Black options, including the possibility of play on the h-file.

There was, however, another possibility" 16...a5!? Had Maroczy responded 17. a4, the game would have returned to where it had seemed headed after 17...Kg7. But had Maroczy tried to nab a pawn with 17. Rxf6, Marco would have had fine compensation with 17...a4 18. Bc4 Kg7 19. Rf3 b5 20. Bd3 Rd8 resulting with approximately equal chances. This is just one example of the nuances in this seemingly simple but unbalanced endgame.

17. f4?!

Now in an endgame, Maroczy decided to strike out. However, 17. f3 or 17. a4 would have given him a small edge without much risk. After the text, things got complicated.

17... exf4

Natural-looking and not bad, but Marco might have tried for more with 17...a5!? After the text, White has a small but definite advantage.

18. Rxf4 Be6

18...f5 would also have been good. The Tournament Book suggests this would have led to trouble, but after 18...f5 19. exf5 Bxf5 20. g4! Be6 (better than the Tournament Book's 20...Bc8) Marco would be no worse off than after his actual move. And even had Marco played the inferior 20...Bc8, he would have had near equality had Maroczy played the Tournament Book's suggested 21. Rdf6 (which would be answered by 21...Bf5 (Maroczy would, however, have then had the best of the ending with 21. Kf2.

Marco's actual move (18...Be6) involved the sacrifice of a pawn. But, as will be seen, Maroczy was looking for more.

19. BxB fxB

This left:


click for larger view

As noted above, Maroczy could here have won a pawn with 20. Rxe6, but then Marco would have had some compensation after 20...g5, or 20...Rf7, or 20...Rad8 and a draw would have been a possibility. Nonetheless, this was (theoretically at least) Maroczy's best chance. In trying for more, he lost whatever edge he had enjoyed.

20. Rd7+

"?"--(Tournament Book)

In this case, I must agree with the Tournament Book.

20... Rf7
21. RxR KxR
22. e5

The position now was:


click for larger view

With 22...f5, Marco would have a completely equal position and a draw would be the likely result.

22... Rd8?

The counterplay Marco obtained with this inexplicable move was quite inadequate, and the game--that seemed headed for a draw--was suddenly a clear win for Maroczy.

23. Rxf6+ Kg7

This may be a theoretical win for White, but Rook endings are always tricky, and there was much work ahead for Maroczy.

24. Rxe6 Rd1+

Marco presumably counted on this resource and his ability to clean up the weak White Queen-side pawns. But neither the text nor 24...g5 (the only other plausible try) were sufficient to make up for the lost material Black must sustain.

25. Kf2 Rd2+
26. Kf3

This left:


click for larger view

As I will discuss in my next post on this game, the above diagrammed position was to be the last chance Marco had of offering any serious resistance.

Oct-27-18  0ZeR0: Instructive and interesting analysis. Maróczy seemed to regularly find great success in the endgame throughout his career. On your last diagram 26...g5 rather than what was played seems possible with the idea of keeping the king closer to the middle of the board: 27. Re7+ Kg6 28. Rxb7 Rxc2 29. Rxa7 Kf5
Oct-27-18
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post III

<OZeRO>Excellent point! BRAVO!!

In the diagrammed position with which I ended my last post, Marco played:

26... Rxc2

This allowed Maroczy to clean up (though it involved a long operation, the result after this move was never really in doubt). But after your excellent 26...g5! Marco would at least have had counterplay because--as you rightly note--his King would have played a role rather than being marooned. Thus (as per your analysis): 26...g5! 27. Re7+ Kg6 (the key) 28. Rxb7 Rxc2 29. Rax7 Kf5!! leaving:


click for larger view

White probably still has a win here with 30. Ra3 (defending) or 30. g4+ (attacking), but in either case Black is not condemned to utter passivity. A shame Marco did not try your line.

Oh well...back to the game.

27. Re7+ Kf8

27...Kf8 might have been slightly better.

28. Rxb7

This left:


click for larger view

28...a5 was the closest thing to a fighting chance Marco still had. Alternatively, he might have tried to hold his a-pawn with 28...Rxa2. But instead Marco played:

28... Rxc3+

Now Maroczy's King joins the fray while Marco--besides being a pawn or so down--has his King locked on his back rank.

29. Kf4 Rc2

Marco was now playing listlessly. If he wanted to continue (and given that the game went on for another 27 moves, he obviously did!) Marco should at least have tried 29...Ra3. The text was hopeless.

30. Rxa7 Rxg2

The position was now:


click for larger view

Now, given the awful position of Marco's king, it was simply a matter of technique. But, as I noted before, Rook endings--even clearly winning ones--are always tricky. So let's see how Maroczy converted his winning advantage.

31. h4

31. a4 was also good. Maroczy has too many threats for Marco to handle given the dreadful position of his King.

31... Rf2+

Another reflex move. Given his plight, Marco should--if he didn't want to resign--at least have tried to mix things up with 31...c5.

32. Kg5 Rf5+
33. Kxg6 Rxe5

This left:


click for larger view

Since Marco was obviously determined to play this game out to the bitter end, Maroczy still had to work overtime. But, as I will discuss in my next post on this game, the result was now no longer in much doubt.

Oct-28-18
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post IV

From the point at which I ended my last post, we can sit back and watch Maroczy's endgame technique in action, albeit facing a less than formidable winning procedure:

34. Kf6

34. Ra8+ Ke7 (34...Re8 35. RxR+ would leave White with an easily won King and pawn ending) 35. h5! was also crushing.

34... Re8

Forced. If the Rook leaves the e-file Maroczy mates immediately with 35. Ra8; and if the Rook goes anywhere else on the e-file 35. Ra8+ forces a Rook trade leading once again to an easy King and Pawn ending.

35. Rc7

35. a4 and 35. Ra5 also win. But Maroczy decides to win a second pawn.

35... Kg8

He cannot save a pawn by 35...Ra8 since then 36. Rxc6 precludes 36...Rax2 because then 37. Rc8 mate.

36. Rxc6

36. a4 was in fact a faster route to victory, but winning the c-pawn also works.

36... Ra8
37. Rc2

Simple and logical, but 37. Kg6! is much faster. Maroczy, however, was seemingly in no hurray.

37... Kh7
38. Ke7

Maroczy's King is now headed for the Queenside to support the Queening of the a2 pawn, and there is nothing Marco can do about this.

38... Kh6
39. Kd7 Kh5
40. Kc7 Ra3

Temporarily blocking the a2 pawn from advancing, but--as Maroczy shows--this is easily countered. Of course, had Marco played 40...Kxh4 41. Rc4+ followed by 42. a4 would have won easily.

41. Rh2

Since 41...Kxh4 was not really a threat (see above comment), 41. Kc6 or 41. Kb6 were faster ways to finish the game.

41... Ra7+
42. Kb6 Ra8

This all left:


click for larger view

43. Rd2!

There are other ways to win, but this is the prettiest. Once again, Rxa4 by Marco was no real threat because of 44. Rd4+ and 45. a4.

43... Rb8+

This only hastens the end.

44. Ka7 Rb4
45. Ka6 Kxh4

This is hopeless, but nothing else was any good. The position was now:


click for larger view

The rest, of course, was easy:

46. Ka5 Rb8
47. a4 Kg5
48. Rf2 Kg6
49. Ka6 Rb4
50. a5 Rb8
51. Ka7 Rb5
52. a6 Kg7
53. Ka8 Rb6
54. a7 Rb1
55. Rc2


click for larger view

Getting ready to build the "bridge"; a very easy procedure here with the Black King so far from the scene.

55... Kf6
56. Rc8

Or 56. Rc7

1-0

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Featured in the Following Game Collection[what is this?]
Round 7 (Tuesday, July 31)
from Munich 1900 by Phony Benoni


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