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Frank James Marshall vs Jose Raul Capablanca
Max Lange thematic m (1910), New York, NY USA
Italian Game: Scotch Gambit. Max Lange Attack Long Variation (C55)  ·  1-0


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Kibitzer's Corner
Aug-12-04  Saruman: Great game by Marshall!
Jul-31-05  gambitfan:

The Kibitzer by Tim Harding

The Eternal Appeal Of The Urusov Gambit

Last month's column dealt with the opening 1 e4 e5 2 Bc4 and I mentioned that one option for White, after Black's normal reply 2...Nf6, is the central strike, 3 d4. I promised to come back to this, so here we are.

I got onto the Internet, around New Year 1996, and discovered the University of Pittsburgh Archive. One of the very first things I discovered there was an article about the Urusov Gambit, which caught my eye because this was one of the little-known gambits that featured in my very first chess book, "Bishop's Opening" 25 years ago.

There were several Russian chessplayers called Urusov. The gambit 1 e4 e5 2 Bc4 Nf6 3 d4 exd4 4 Nf3 is named after Prince Sergey Semyonovich Urusov who was born on August 3, 1827 and lived until November 20, 1897 (old-style calendar, I think). (See Diagram)

Sergey Urusov, who became a Major-General in the Army, was the elder brother of another strong player, Dmitry Urusov (1829-1903). Interestingly, the Soviet Chess Encyclopaedia describes Sergey as a friend of Tolstoy and an originator of new ideas in various classical open games including the King's Gambit and the Scotch. Unfortunately games of his with the gambit do not appear to have survived.

Dmitry is described as a player of positional style - and a friend of the writer Turgenev! (In a later generation, but not mentioned in the Encyclopaedia, was N. Urusov who played at least one correspondence game against Alekhine in the first decade of the 20th century.)

Jul-31-05  Koster: Without getting too deep into theory 16...Bd6 looks much better than Be7. White has to trade N for B and after black recaptures with the Q the e pawn is free to advance. Very complicated still but black seems no worse.
Oct-19-06  Bishoprick: Urusov Gambit? Why does it look so much like the Max Lange?
Nov-17-06  syracrophy: <bishoprick> The Urusov Gambit is: 1.e4 e5 2.♗c4 ♘f6 3.d4!?
Apr-01-07  beginner64: I like how white allows black to capture the pawn on a3, knowing that bishop then has to make many moves to get back to g file. I don't think in such an open game it would have been possible for either side to calculate the pawn progression path after 46..Bxa3, but I think white just knew that g file pawn would be unstoppable after that.
Nov-17-08  hrvyklly: <Koster: Without getting too deep into theory 16...Bd6 looks much better than Be7.> I don't know, ask Tarrasch... Marshall vs Tarrasch, 1910
Mar-03-09  Owl: I don't think Capablanca ever lost a (Capa)Rook -Bishop vs. Rook-Knight endgame. It shows how skilled he was with the Bishop kind like Bobby Fischer
Oct-21-09  The Chess Express: The position after 21. Qe3 Bc5 22. Rxe5 Bxe3 23. Rxd5 Bxh6 24. Rxd7 Kxd7 25. Nxc4 Rxg7 26. h3 is probably winning for white.

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Black's d-♙ is lost. It seems to me that this tactical sequence works much better if black first plays 21...b5! to stop white's ♘ from taking on c4. Now if 22. b3 Bc5 23. Rxe5? doesn't work anymore. For example 23...Bxe3 24. Rxd5 Bxh6 25. Rxd7 Kxd7 26. Ne4 Rxg7 27. h3

click for larger view

Black has an easy win. After 21. Qe3 b5 22. b3 Bc5 White should probably try 23. Qg3 when one sample line might go 23...Nf7 24. bxc4 bxc4 25. Be3 Rxg7 26. Bxc5 Qxc5 27. Rxc4 Qe5

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In this complicated position I prefer black.

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