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Jackson Whipps Showalter vs Heinrich Wolf
Munich (1900), Munich GER, rd 11, Aug-06
Queen's Gambit Declined: Albin Countergambit (D08)  ·  0-1
ANALYSIS [x]

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Kibitzer's Corner
Feb-20-02  knight: White's losing move was probably Nf3? ! as this commits him to a piece sacifice(there is no good square for the knight to move to after 4...e4)that can be questioned on the general ground that white is not developed well enough.
Jul-02-10  WhiteRook48: lol what about 4 dxe5?
Feb-16-19
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: This game--despite the later tactical fireworks--was effectively over after Showalter blundered away a piece on move 6.

1. d4 d5
2. c4 e5?!

The Albin Counter-Gambit, which was adopted a few times at this tournament. As is obvious from what follows, Showalter was not prepared to face this variation.

3. cxd5

Inferior to the normal 3. dxe5. I am not sure if Showalter simply erred here or perhaps decided to avoid any prepared lines by Wolf.

The text is good for at least equality, but it makes no real effort to punish Black for his temerity in playing 2...e5?!

3... Qxd5

3...Bb4+ is also good for Black here.

The position was now:


click for larger view

4. Nf3

"?"--(Tournament Book).

knight on this site calls this probably White's losing move since it "commits him to a piece sacrifice (there is no good square for the knight to move to after 4...e4) that can be questioned on the general ground that white is not developed well enough.

WhiteRook48 suggests 4. dxe5. The Tournament Book also calls 4. dxe5 the correct move.

I respectfully dissent from the above views. 4. Nf3 is a good natural developing move that in no way compels White to sacrifice his Knight (see my comments below concerning move 6).

If instead 4. dxe5 Black plays either 4...Bb4+ or even 4...Qxe5 with an equal or nearly equal game in either case. 4. Nf3 seems clearly best. The only question was how to follow it up.

4... e4

4...exd5 was a reasonable alternative.

5. Nc3 Bb4

The position--in which it has been claimed White had to sacrifice his Knight--was now:


click for larger view

6. Ne5?

"??"--Tournament Book.

White had no need for this. After 6. Nd2 White is absolutely fine (e.g., 6...Qxd4 7. e3 and White soon wins back the pawn with a somewhat better game. White could also play (though it is not as good as 6. Nd2) 6. Qa4+ and then after 6...Nc3 7. Nd2 and if now 7...Qxd4 8. e3.

The Tournament Book recommended 6. Ng1 (as well as 6. Nd2). 6. Ng1 looks awkward. White is still OK (unlike 6. Ne5?), but this line forfeit any real chance for White to play for an edge.

After 6. Ne5?, White loses a piece and is lost. While the game lasted another 27 moves and had some exciting moments, Wolf--though not always finding the most forceful continuations--never let Showalter back in the game.

6... BxN+
7. bxB f6

This left:


click for larger view

The White Knight is trapped and the game is effectively over, though Showalter created some excitement.

8. Qa4+?!

Being lost, Showalter can not be faulted for trying to create complications. His best try to hang on for a while was 8. c4 (e.g., 8...Qe6 9. Qa4+ c6 10. Nxc6 QxN 11. Qb3 and White though down a piece for a pawn has some counterplay).

8... b5!

White is busted.

9. Qa5 fxN

Black also wins with 9...Ne7, since there is no need to grab the Knight yet. Either line wins for Black.

10. Qxc7

Black's position, though he is up a piece, is ugly:


click for larger view

Though White is lost, resignation would be premature. As I will discuss in my next post on this game, Wolf had more than a little bit of trouble in finishing off Showalter from here, and what follows provides a number of tactical points and was therefore not without interest.

Feb-16-19
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post II

After 10. Qxc7, Wolf had both short-term and long-term problems to solve before he could chalk up a win. He would have to decide how to clean up his pawn structure. He also had to being developing his minor pieces and to free his corner-dwelling Rooks from potential attack. First, however, he had to deal with the White Queen on c7 and the attack on g7.

10... Nd7

The text, 10...Bd7, and 10...Ne7 were all reasonable ways to protect g7 and begin his development.

11. e3

Showalter also--and especially having sacrificed a Knight--had to develop his Bishops. On the understanding that he would be bringing his c1 Bishop to a3, the text was the best way to bring out his reinforcements.

11... Bb7

Ugly and disjointed. 11...Ne7 or 11...exd4 were both much better ways to attempt to convert his material advantage.

12. Ba3

Right spot for the Bishop but poor timing. Showalter should have seized the chance to play 12...c4 with perhaps some chances to fight his way back into the game.

12... Ne7

12...Rc8 immediately chasing away the White Queen was better. 12...exd4 was also better than the text.

13. Rd1?

Very weak (and as 15. Rb1 shows a waste of time). Showalter should either have gotten in 13. c4 here or else tried to develop and prepare for castling with 13. Be2.

13... a6

This did not blow the win, but that is about the only nice thing to be said about this move. 13...Rc8 was best. 13...Qc6 was also better than the text.

14. c4!

Finally!

14... bxc4

14...Qc6 was simpler and better.

15. Rb1

Setting up a combination on the b-file that ultimately gets him nowhere. The obvious 15. Bxc4 was best.

The position after 15. Rb1 was:


click for larger view

By whatever means, Showalter had built up threats on the b-file. How should Wolf have responded?

15... Rc8

"!!"--(Tournament Book).

This spectacular move involves a willingness to give up BOTH Black Rooks in order to get rid of the White Queen and pursue an attack with the passed pawn on c4. This move--which must have been difficult as hell to calculate over the board--was indeed sufficient to win. But 15...Bc6 would have been even better and have avoided all the pyrotechnics (not to mention the risk of a miscalculation), e.g., 15...Bc6 16. dxe5 Qxe5 17. QxQ NxQ. Now things got thrilling for a while:

16. QxB

This allowed the flashy continuation, but it loses quickly by force. 16. Qd6 was probably a better way to hang on for a little longer.

16... Rb8

The series of exchanges from here through move 18 were forced.

17. QxR+ NxQ
18. RxN+ Kd7

Showalter was now at the cross-roads, the position being (White to move):


click for larger view

19. RxR looks obvious, but it loses, e.g., 19. RxR Qa5+ 20. Kd1 Qa4+ 21. Kd2 (21. Ke1 QxB 22. g3 Qc1+ 23. Ke2 Qc2+ 24. Ke1 Qb1+ 25. Ke2 Qxa2+ 26. Ke1 Qb1+ 27. Ke2 Qc2+ 28. Ke1 exd4 is a massacre) 21...QxB 22. Bxc4 Qb2+ 23. Kd1 exd4 24. exd4 Qxd4+ 25. Ke2 QxB+ and wins.

19. Rb2

"!"--(Tournament Book)

Better than 19. RxR, but 19. Rb1 was the only move that gave White any serious chances.

19... exd4
20. exd4

This left:


click for larger view

It should have been clear sailing for Wolf from here, but--as I will discuss in my next post on this game-- inaccuracies that ensued both extended the game and made for some further interesting tactical displays.

Feb-17-19
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post III

20... Nc6

While this hardly imperils Black's win, 20...Nf5 was a killer. 20...e3 was also better than the text.

21. Bc5 c3!

Well-timed and deadly. Was Wolf finally back on track? His next move suggests the answer was No.

22. Rb7+ Kc8

"!"--(Tournament Book).

Sorry but I can't accept the "!" for this lemon of a move which walked the Black King into trouble. 22...Ke8 (or even 22...Ke6) would have won quickly.

23. Bxa6?

Pursuing the wrong first target. Showalter should have played 23. Rb3

A quick word about the errors in the closing stages of this game. In real over-the-board play, it is very difficult to play tough chess in a lost situation. While there have been a few champions (e.g., Lasker, Fischer) who were able to play well in terrible positions and remain ready to spring when a chance presents itself, most of the rest of us find it difficult to play rationally in a lost position. Conversely, when a game is a clear win, it is easy to get lazy and just go with the flow. Thus, many of my criticisms of Showalter and Wolf may seem churlish. My defense for what I am presenting is that this game presents tactical lessons. It is sometimes as productive to learn from a game with lots of errors as from a flawless gem.

23... Nb8

23...Qxa2 was perhaps more accurate, but the text also does the job.

The position was now


click for larger view

24. Rb6+

This move appears to be indicated but in fact led to immediate loss. For better or worse, Showalter had to get rid of Black's c-pawn with 24. Rb3+, despite the loss of a piece.

24... NxB
25. RxN Qc4

"!"--(Tournament Book).

For once I agree with the Tournament Book. 25...Qc4! apelled fini, the position now being:


click for larger view

Wolf handled the remaining mop-up operation nicely.

26. Rc6+ Kd7

The Tournament Book says that 26...Kb7 was better, but either move was sufficient to finish off Showalter.

27. Rd6+ Kc7
28. d5

Playing his remaining trump card: his passed d-pawn. But Showalter's King was in a mating net and it was too late for any tactical jokes.

28... Qd3!
29. Rc6+ Kb7
30. Rb6+ Ka8

The checks had now run out for White and the game was over:


click for larger view

31. Be3 c2
32. Bd2 Rc8
33. Rc6 Rb8

This left:


click for larger view

0-1

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