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Georg Marco vs Heinrich Wolf
Munich (1900), Munich GER, rd 5, Jul-28
Philidor Defense: Exchange Variation (C41)  ·  1-0


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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Wolf blundered on move 7 and erred badly on move 8. The balance of the game was a moping up exercise by Marco, who never let Wolf back in the game or gave him the slightest chance from that point.

This win put Marco (at 4-1) in a three-way tie for second with Pillsbury and Schlechter after four rounds, a half-point behind Maroczy (4.5-0.5).

Wolf was a capable player, but showed none of his talent in this dismal performance.

1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 d6

Philidor's Defense. Hardly the most dynamic choice for Black but certainly playable.

3. d4 exd4
4. Nxd4

In the mid-nineteenth century, there was a furious debate concerning the respective merits of the text and 4. Qxd4. Morphy preferred the text, and it is definitely unobjectionable.

4... Nf6
5. Nc3 Be7
6. Bd3

6. Bf4 and 6. Be2 are probably better. 6. g3 is another good choice.

6... 0-0
7. 0-0

The position was now:

click for larger view

At this point, Marco had at most a small advantage, and Wolf would have had a decent position with 7...Nc6 or 7...h6. Instead, he blundered with:

7... d5?

It is rare in a major international tournament to see such a mistake and resulting lost game as early as move 7. The position after Wolf's lemon being:

click for larger view

Wolf apparently overlooked the upcoming Queen fork on move 10:

8. exd5

This--as the game went-- won a pawn and yielded what looks like a won game for White. But Marco had an even better move: 8. Nxd5 this would give White an overwhelming position--despite the material equality--after 8...NxN 9. exN Qxd5 10. Nb5 (10. Re1 immediately was also good) Qd7 11. Re1.

In fairness to Marco, however, the text was also a likely (albeit hardly a certain) win:

The position now (after 8. exd5) was:

click for larger view

8... Nxd5?

The game is now lost for Wolf. He had to try 8...Nbd7 after which 9. Re1 Nb6 wins back the pawn with an inferior but not necessarily lost game. The text, by contrast, loses a pawn for nothing. 8...Bg4 was also much better than the text.

After the text, the position was:

click for larger view

This is probably too easy to give as a problem, since the winning combination is easy to spot:

9. Bxh7+ ! KxB
10. Qh5+

Wolf must have overlooked this resource.

10... Kg1
11. NxN

This left:

click for larger view

Marco was now a pawn up with clearly the better game. The contest, effectively was over, though the position is probably not quite ripe for resignation by Black. I will address how Marco went about converting this to a win for White in my next post on this game.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post II

Marco had a won game after 11. NxN. Now came the part which commentators often denigrate by saying "the rest was a matter of technique." The ability to win a won game is often as hard or harder than obtaining a won game in the first place.

11... c6

11...Bc5 looks better and at least temporarily avoids the exchange of Black's Black-square Bishop. At this stage, exchanges favored Marco.

12. NxB+ QxN
13. Be3

An alternative method of development was 13. b3, although I would opt for the text.

13... Rd8

Better was the developing 13...Na6 or the defensive 13...f6. The active 13...Qe4 was another option.

Wolf's plan, however, was to try to exploit the vulnerable position of the White Queen. Marco gave this plan some traction with his doubtful 15th move.

14. Nf3 Rd5

Continuing with his (theoretically doomed) plan. Developing with 14...Be6 or 14...Nd7 was an alternative (and probably better) strategy.

15. Ng5

15. Bg5 was better. Marco's clumsy mating threat was clearly going nowhere, and the tangling of White's pieces after the text gave Wolf a glimmer of hope.

15... Bf5

This forced move put an end to Marco's mating threats and left White with the task getting his Queen out of jeopardy. Marco quickly got himself back on track.

16. c4!

Forcing the Black Rook to seek refuge elsewhere on the d-file, thus giving White the time to re-position his forces. But Wolf was over-eager to keep his Rook on the 5th rank--leading to catastrophe for him.

The position after 16. c4 was:

click for larger view

16... Re5?

Now Wolf's position was truly hopeless. He had to try 16...Rd3 or 16...Rd7.

17. Nf3

Now Wolf must lose the exchange. He could probably have safely resigned here. For whatever reason, Wolf prolonged the game another 21 moves, although his position only deteriorated in the face of Marco's relentless play.

17... g6

Wolf--if he wanted to play on-- should have accepted the inevitable and just played 17...RxB rather than further weakening his King-side.

18. Qh6 Nd7

Needless to say, an attempt to save the Rook with 18...Re6 would run into 19. Ng5! winning the Rook anyway (Black has to avoid mate) and leaving Wolf's position in even greater shambles than after the text.

19. NxR

Marco could also have won with the fiendish 19. Bd4! But he no longer needed to find clever tactical shots.

19... QxN

This left:

click for larger view

The balance of the game (which I will cover in my next post on this game) was not of much interest.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post III

20. Rad1 c5
21. Rd2

21. Rd5 was more forceful and might have wrapped matters up faster.

21... Re8
22. Rfd1 Nf6

22...Nf8 was better if Wolf wanted to prolong the game.

23. h3!

23. Rd8 was also good, but it is always sensible in a winning position to eliminate any hint of risk to one's King.

23... Be4
24. Rd8

Trading Rooks was a simple way to prevent Wolf from generating any counterplay.

24... b6?

It may seem harsh to criticize a move in a lost position, but 24...Bc6 was the only conceivable way to organize some semblance of a defense. From here on, the game was target practice for Marco.

25. Bg5 Bc6
26. BxN

This wins easily, but 26. R1d6! would have ended the game immediately.

26... QxB
27. Qd2 Qh4

He might as well have played 27...Kg7 to break the pin.

28. RxR+

Leaving Black with nothing to play for.

28... BxR
29. Qd8

29. Re1 was more brutal, but Marco was content to win simply.

29... Qe4
30. f3 Qe2
31. b3 Kg7
32. Qd2 Qe5
33. Re1 Qb8
34. Qd5

Again choosing the simple path and eschewing lines beginning with 34. Qe2 or 34. Qe3.

34... Kf8

Equivalent to resignation.

35. Qe5

If Marco really wanted to torture Wolf for playing on in a lost game, he could have played the crushing 35. Qg5. But Marco was satisfied to trade Queens and await Wolf's resignation.

35... QxQ

He obviously had to prevent 36. Qh8 mate.

36. RxQ

This left little reason for Wolf to play on:

click for larger view

36... Bd7
37. Kf2 Be6
38. g4

Marco could even have won with 38. RxB?!



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Round 5 (Saturday, July 28)
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