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Wilhelm Steinitz vs Maximilian Fleissig
Vienna (1873), Vienna AUH, rd 3, Jul-29
French Defense: Classical. Steinitz Variation (C11)  ·  1-0


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Kibitzer's Corner
Dec-23-10  markbstephenson: Steinitz finds himself down a piece for 2 pawns but wins anyway when Fleissig can't find a way to blockade them. Wouldn't 24..Ra8 have been a better idea?
Premium Chessgames Member
  Big Pawn: Steinitz realizes he canít do 21. Qxc5 as planned because of ...Qe4+ and ...Qxb1.

In the first few games in this tournament, Steinitz plays some dreadful chess as black against Blackburne (two games) and as black against Fleisig in the prior game, and here heís totally busted as white in 20 moves. He must have been very rusty because this looks as bad as my chess.

In his Match against Anderssen in 1866 Steinitz played brilliantly! Here, in his famous Vienna 1873 tournament heís playing at less than master level so far imo. Iíve never actually gone through all of his games at Vienna 1873, so Iím playing through one or two a night very slowly, getting into the games, trying to guess the moves for both sides like a tournament game, and I hate to admit Steinitz looks horrible so far.

I suspect his play drastically improved because he won this tournament famously.

In all honesty, looking at these games this far, I think Morphy would have trounced Steinitz. Steinitz plays like a club champion and Morphy plays like Stockfish.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Big Pawn: 24...Ba7 - black steps all over his own feet in a few more moves and the bishop doesnít seem to belong here.

24...Be7 gets it out of the way.

This is like the Nimzovich idea of restraining these pawns. Now white canít play 25. b4 with tempo and his a4 pawn would hang. So if White wants to mobilize this pawn phalanx heíd need to play, perhaps,

25. Ra1.

Then with the a4 pawn covered, white threatens b4. Black would like to play ...d4 to undermine the b4 square and further restrain whites pawn phalanx but d4 is solidly covered. In the French Black often plays ...g5, ...g4 to drive the Knight away from the center and then follow up with ...d4 or ...f6. So,

25...g5 and if

26. b4 then ...Ra8

avoiding the fork, and now whiteís b4 pawn may be weak if black gets ...d4 in. How does white defend against ...g4? How does white maintain mobility in his phalanx?

If 27. h3 then Ng6 increases the pressure strongly with ...f6 and ...Bxf6 to follow, easily winning.

Therefore if,

27. a5 then ...g4
28. Nd2 d4

Now there appears to be no way for White to shore up his once dangerous and threatening pawn phalanx.

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