|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
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...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).
The alternative is 5. Nxe5. Either move gives White a small advantage.
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.
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.
8. 0-0 Be7
Very passive. 8...0-0-0 or 8...a6 are more promising for Black.
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.
Weak play. 9...a6 was best.
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.
11. Qf3--putting the question to Black right away--was probably best.
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.
A wasted move that simply loses time. 12. BxN or 12. Re1 were both much better.
Jakob's best move of the game.
Effectively admitting that his 12th move was a lemon.
Jabok now has a reasonable (albeit inferior) game.
Getting his Bishop on the diagonal on which it should have been placed back on move 10.
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.
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.