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Ignatz von Popiel vs Franz G Jacob
Munich (1900), Munich GER, rd 1, Jul-23
Ponziani Opening: Jaenisch Counterattack (C44)  ·  1-0


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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: The slashing no-holds-barred King-side attack by von Popiel makes this a pleasing game to play through, but the errors by von Popiel and the very poor defense by Jakob guarantees that this game will never make into any anthologies.

1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 Nc6
3. c3

Ponziani's Opening, an old line that can trip up an unprepared Black but is not well suited to yield any lasting edge for White against good play.

3... Nf6

3...d5 is another good response.

4. d4 d5

4...exd4 (which could transpose to the Goring Gambit if White is so inclined) is best. The text allows von Popiel to seize an advantage he never relinquished (thanks in part to poor play by Jakob).

5. Bb5

The alternative is 5. Nxe5. Either move gives White a small advantage.

5... Nxd4

5...exd4 was much better, though MCO-13 calls the text a "possible" move.

6. Nxe5 Bd7

6...a6 (perhaps best) is the alternative, and leads to some fun play after 7. BxN+ bxc6 8. Qa4. In either case, White is better.

7. NxN

MCO-13 gives 7. Qb3 as best here, but Black seems fine to me after 7...NxN. The text is surely best, MCO-13 notwithstanding.

7... QxN
8. 0-0 Be7

Very passive. 8...0-0-0 or 8...a6 are more promising for Black.

9. Nd2

This Knight is always a problem-child for White in the Ponziani opening. The text, which looks best, belatedly brings the Knight into play and seeks to solve White's only real problem in the position.

9... Nd6

Weak play. 9...a6 was best.

10. Ba4

von Popiel rightly declines to trade minor pieces, but d3 was a better place to put the Bishop.

The position was now:

click for larger view

Black is at the crossroads here. Which way should he castle? I have reached no compelling conclusion. But one thing is for sure, Jakob's decision to castle short decides the themes of the balance of the game.

10... 0-0
11. Nf3

11. Qf3--putting the question to Black right away--was probably best.

11... Qd8

Another weak--though not yet losing--selection by Jakob. He had many better plans at his disposal: 111...b5; 11...Bf6; 11...f6 among others.

12. Qb3

A wasted move that simply loses time. 12. BxN or 12. Re1 were both much better.

12... c4!

Jakob's best move of the game.

13. Qd1

Effectively admitting that his 12th move was a lemon.

13... Bf6

Jabok now has a reasonable (albeit inferior) game.

14. Bc2

Getting his Bishop on the diagonal on which it should have been placed back on move 10.

14... Ne7

14...g6 or 14...Re8 were both better. It should have been apparent to Jakob that a King-side attack by White was forthcoming, and he should have started to take preventive measures. Jakob certainly still has a defensible position here, but was beginning to lose the thread of the game.

15. h4?!

Ready or not, here comes von Popiel.

The position at this stage was:

click for larger view

von Popiel's intentions were now crystal clear. The following moves that I will discuss in my next post on this game soon turned the game decisively in favor of von Popiel and his attacking scheme.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post II

After 15. h4, battle lines were clear. The question was: would von Popiel's King-side attack prevail?

15... Re8

Jacok must take precautions. The principal alternative was 15...g6.

16. g3

One of the few tentative moves by von Popiel in this game. 16. h5, or perhaps 16. Re1, were more consistent with von Popiel's attacking scheme.

16... Qd7

16...c6 or 16...g6 would have provided better chances of defense.

17. Kg2

No doubt now about von Popiel's plan to build up on the h-file. Perhaps the soundest preparatory move was to get rid of the c4 Knight with 17. b3.

17... Nf5

Active defense. 17...Rad8 was more solid.

18. Rh1

Again by-passing the chance to play b3 and focusing all his attention on the h-file.

18... g6
19. h5

Onward on the h-file marches von Popiel.

The position was now:

click for larger view

19... Re7?

The beginning of Jakob's downfall. This move contributes nothing to Black's defense and results in the loss of a piece. Best was 19...Rac8, preparing for counterplay on the c-file.

20. b3

At last!

20... Ncd6

The Tournament Book faults this move by Jakob, but I see nothing better. Black is destined to lose material in any case. The real problems stemmed from Jakob's bad 19th and 21st moves.

21. g4!

von Popiel's advance continues. This left:

click for larger view

21... Kg7?

Feeble. Black is going to lose a piece, but he could have done so on his own terms with the dynamic 21...Nxd4! This would allow him to gobble up a number of pawns for the piece or to force White to return material (e.g., 21...Nxd4 22. NxN c5 23. hxg6 fxg6 24. Nf5 [returning the piece for a powerful attack] fxN 25. Qxd5+ with excellent winning chances, but hardly as bad for Black after the text move.

22. g5!

Jakob is obviously in major trouble now.

22... Qg4+

Black has to lose a piece. The text of 22...Nxh5 immediately were the best available to Jakob.

23. Kf1 Nxh5
24. gxB Nxf6

The position was now:

click for larger view

So Jakob has two pawns for the lost piece. He still has some counterplay, so resignation at this point would have been premature. But from here--as I will discuss in my next post on this game--von Popiel almost flubbed his chances, but Jakob's dreadfully poor defense landed him in a hopelessly lost position shortly thereafter.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post III

25. Bg5 Qe6
26. Ne5

26. Bh4 was better.

26... Rae8

26...Ree8 was best.

27. Qf3

von Popiel is well on his way to throwing away his winning advantage. 27. Kg2 preparing for a King-side assault was correct.

27... Nde4

27...Nfe4 was far better.

28. Bc1?

Very weak. 28. Qf4 or 28. Qe3 were better.

The position was now:

click for larger view

All of a sudden, Jakob is getting back in the game. But from here he went to pieces .

28... Rd8?

Jakob could have played 28...c5 or 28...h5.

29. Kg2 c6?

Missing his chance yet again, and this time he gets no further chances. Jakob should have played 29...c5 or 29...Nd7 (or perhaps even 29...h5).

30. Ba3 Ree8

Although probably too late now, Jakob again should have played 30...c5.

31. Rh6

Needlessly creating problems for himself, but in fact luring Jakob to a quick defeat. Theoretically best was 31. Qf4.

After the text, the position was:

click for larger view

31... Nh5?

Mistakenly thinking he can usefully trap White's Rook, whereas in fact von Popiel now has an easy win. 31...Nd7 was the only chance.

32. Rh1!

Piling up on the h-file is the winning line, and von Popiel sees the way.

32... Qf6

If 32...Nef6 33. R(either)xN NxR 34. RxN and now if gxR 35. Qxh5 and Black has no defense. If 34...c5 in this line 35. Rh1 and White has three pieces for a Rook and a crushing attack.

33. BxN

33. R6xN also wins.

33... Qg5+

If Jakob thought he could win material with this, he was sadly mistaken.

34. Kf1 RxN

Perhaps only now Jakob noticed that 34...QxR loses to 35. Qxf7+ Kh8 36. Bf3.

The position after 34...RxN was:

click for larger view

As I will show in my next and final post on this game, von Popiel now closed out the game nicely.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post IV

The finale by von Popiel--though not always conducted in the most expeditious manner--was nonetheless fast and brutal.

35. R(6)xN

This pretty sacrifice does the trick, but even faster and prettier would have been: 35. Rxh7! (and if 35...KxR 36. Qxf7+ Kh6 [36...Kh8 37. Bxg6] 37. Bb1).

35... gxh

Theoretically "better" was 35...QxR 36. RxQ RxR 37. Bd3, but that line obviously holds out no hope for Black.

The position was now:

click for larger view

36. Bxh7+ KxB
37. dxR

Time to resign?:

click for larger view

37... Qg6
38. Qxh5+

This leaves White a piece ahead and therefore wins, but 38. Rxh5+ was even more crushing.

38... QxQ
39. RxQ+ Kg6

This left:

click for larger view

Since Jakob seemed hell-bent on playing on to the bitter end, von Popiel decided to get cute here.

40. Rg5+

There are obviously many ways to win here, but this is pretty.

40... KxR
41. Be7+ Kf5
42. BxR

Time to resign yet?:

click for larger view

Nope. Jakob played on:

42... Kxe5
43. Ke2 c5
44. Ke3 b5
45. Nc7+ Ke6
46. b4

And here, at long last, Kakob decided to give up the ghost.


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