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Albin - Marco Match

Georg Marco6/10(+4 -2 =4)[games]
Adolf Albin4/10(+2 -4 =4)[games] Chess Event Description
Albin - Marco (1901)

Carlsbad, Bohemia (Austro-Hungarian Empire); 31 July 1901—12 August 1901

1 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 Score ————————————————————————————————— Marco ½ 0 ½ ½ 1 0 1 1 ½ 1 6 Albin ½ 1 ½ ½ 0 1 0 0 ½ 0 4 ————————————————————————————————— Format: Ten game series. Time Control: 45 moves first three hours then 15 moves per hour. Prizes: 30K for a win, 15K for a draw.

"A Match has been arranged by the Municipality of Carlsbad and the Carlsbad Chess Club between Herren Albin and Marco, of Vienna. Ten games are to be played (probably the best out of ten games); five play days per week, forty-five moves for the first three hours, and fifteen moves for every subsequent hour."(17)

The match took place in the Bohemian spa resort of Karlsbad (at the time part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, now in the Czech Republic and known as Karlovy Vary). "Along with Vienna and Prague, over the past few years Carlsbad has developed to be an equally important Austrian chess centre. It has through its vigorous chess club and its tireless director of the match, Herrn. Senior Tax Inspector Tietz, become a magnet towards which chess master events are powerfully attracted." (1) Viktor Tietz saw that he could combine the promotion of chess and of Karlsbad as a resort for the well-heeled. The match went from July 31 to August 12, 1901 in the Kurhaus (2) spa hotel, during the middle of the social season. (3) For Tietz, this was the first of his increasingly ambitious chess projects at Karlsbad. The year after, the chess club and the city council financed the more ambitious Schlechter - Janowski (1902) match, and in 1907 they instigated their first international tournament (Karlsbad (1907)). The tournament attracted top players who generated significant publicity, and it established the spa as a host for very strong grandmaster events: Karlsbad (1911), Karlsbad (1923), and Karlsbad (1929).


The cost of the match was sponsored by the town council and the Karlsbad Chess Club. The players received an appearance fee of 50 Krowns, plus 30 Krowns for a win and 15 for a draw. Pražské Šachové criticised the purse of 400 Krowns as being "not very much". (4) Hence, as it turned out: Albin, 2 wins and 4 draws = 50 + (2 x 30) + (4 x 15) = 170 Krowns, and Marco, 4 wins and 4 draws = 50 + (4 x 30) + (4 x 15) = 230 Krowns.

The players

Adolf Albin "... was born at Bucharest, Roumania. He was educated at Vienna for a mercantile career, and filled an engagement with the German railway king, Dr. Stroussberg, (6) till his downfall. Herr Albin, however, kept up his end of the see-saw for a few years by returning to Vienna. He now represents New York". (7) "The goddess of chess did not make his acquaintance till he was a well-grown man, but so great was his aptitude that, never too old to learn, he quickly came to the front and, after winning several first prizes in Vienna tournaments, he entered the Masters' Tournament at Dresden in 1892, and surprised the world by giving Siegbert Tarrasch his only defeat in a very fine game (Albin vs Tarrasch, 1892). His style of play is ingenious and picturesque, with a pleasing dash of rashness, perhaps deficient in book knowledge but showing a keen appreciation of the leading principles of the game. His other chief successes are: 1893, second prize at New York; following Emanuel Lasker a drawn match with Albert Hodges of New York; and a win versus Eugene Delmar." (7) Albin was fifteen years older than his opponent. His peak period was in the mid 1890's, and his best performance was in New York - see Game Collection: New York 1893, The Impromtu Tournament. (8) Returning to Europe, after two years as a chess professional in the United States, to play in Hastings (1895), he finally settled in Vienna. Although he was not to win any major tournament, he was a dangerous opponent.

Georg Marco was "a man of considerable stature and fine muscular appearance, so much so that he has been jokingly termed 'the strongest chess-player of the world.' He won the first prize finely in the last Amsterdam National Tournament without losing a game, and coming out ahead of Max Weiss, Carl Schlechter, Berthold Englisch, etc. His general appearance is very German, with but little of the bandbox about him. (9) One of the chief favorites with the visitors, and apparently on good terms with the masters also, he was largely the life of the Tourney, always bubbling over with fun, and cracking jokes with any and all who could understand his language ... His style of game also might be called playful, delighting in comical and puzzling positions of a problematic type." (10) Marco was a strong player peaking at ninth in the world in 1900. (11) His best results were in the early years of the twentieth century until the First World War. He was an influential man in the chess world. He had originally gone to Vienna to study medicine, but had become seriously ill with pneumonia and pleurisy, and had to abandon his studies. Instead he built a career combining chess administration, playing and journalism. In 1893, he became secretary of the Vienna Chess Association (Wiener Schachgesellschaft), (12) and he was editor of the Wiener Schachzeitung from 1898 to 1916. (13)

Before this match, the two had played seven times with Marco having the advantage (+3 -2 =2). Edo Chess indicates that at the time of the match, and for some years before, Marco was the higher rated player. (14) In the Vienna Chess Club Winter Tournament (1900/01), they had shared 3rd and 4th prizes behind Schlechter and Semion Alapin. (15) Albin was not able to sustain his position in the rankings, probably due to advancing age.

Progressive scores

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 Marco ½ ½ 1 1½ 2½ 2½ 3½ 4½ 5 6 Albin ½ 1½ 2 2½ 2½ 3½ 3½ 3½ 4 4

Marco had white in the odd numbered games. Albin was twice in the lead. After Game 7, the score was level. Marco then won with Black in Games 8 and 10.

The Games
Game 1
Marco had white, and played a Ruy Lopez. Albin used a defence with which Harry Nelson Pillsbury had achieved a terrific attack (Showalter vs Pillsbury, 1898), but Marco played carefully, and a draw should have ensued. He then misplayed a King and pawn endgame, but with victory in sight Albin stumbled, losing a tempo with

click for larger view

44...Kf6? Instead, 44...c4! wins, after 45.g5 d4 46.cxd4+ Ke6 (not 46...Kxd4? 47.g6 c3 48.g7 c2 49.g8=Q c1=Q =) 47.Kh5 c3 48.g6 c2 49.g7 Kf7 50.Kh6 c1=Q+

Game 2
Albin, with his first white of the match, played a Stonewall with obvious intentions of a King-side attack in the manner of Pillsbury (Pillsbury vs D G Baird, 1893). Marco was too strong and experienced to succumb to such a rustic opening, and gradually took over the initiative. He was happy to repeat his play three years later (Showalter vs G Marco, 1904). In a good position, he threw his work away with

click for larger view

34...Rxb2?, most probably believing he would be giving mate to the White King.

Game 3
Marco again used the Ruy Lopez, and Albin defended with an uncommon continuation similar to Bird's Defence. Albin had all but equalized when he gave Marco an unwarranted opportunity. By allowing him to position his rook on the sixth rank, he could have played

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29.Rxa6. Marco exchanged Rooks instead, and the game was eventually drawn.

Game 4
Albin changed to a King-pawn opening with a Giuoco Piano. The players followed the famous Steinitz vs Von Bardeleben, 1895 to move 10. Neither player made a conspicuous error, and the game progressed to a drawn Rook and pawn ending.

Game 5
This game marked the start of a turbulent period with four successive decisive games. Albin chose to introduce the French Defence into the match. Albin lost with the careless move

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22...Rc4, handing the initiative to Marco. Albin's king was stranded and vulnerable in the centre of the board. Marco had now managed to catch up with his opponent.

Game 6
Albin again chose to open with 1.e4, but Marco varied, defending a Ruy Lopez. Albin established a dangerous passed pawn at <c7>, and Marco had to give up material. Once again Albin was ahead in the match.

Game 7
Despite his setback in Game 5, Albin again chose the French Defence, but varied by exchanging central pawns and posting a Knight on <f6>. Albin had seen Delmar play in this manner (S Ricardo-Rocamora vs E Delmar, 1894). In a minor piece ending, mutual blunders led the advantage veer one way and then the other before Albin made the last mistake.

Marco had a decided view about luck in chess: "...any unbiased chess friend will have come to the conclusion that in a game of chess chance rules almost as often as in a game of roulette. Nor is there anything surprising in that; the probability that in a given critical position a chess master will select the best move ... is easy to show that the values of these powers diminish very rapidly, and the probability of always finding the correct move diminishes in a very alarming way. Now consider physical weakness; exhaustion after a protracted struggle; tendency to light-heartedness when the position is favorable; tendency to dejection when the position is critical, and it will be clear that absolute correctness is an ideal at which everybody aims, but which nobody attains, or ever will attain." (16)

Game 8
No longer a point ahead, Albin played the solid Giuoco Piano, which was part of his usual repertoire. In the early middle game, he played passively, and Marco had some initiative on the White squares, preventing Albin from castling. Albin could not untangle himself, and lost a pawn. He was then unable to prevent Marco queening his <a> pawn. Marco was now ahead for the first time in the match.

Game 9
Marco with White played a Ruy Lopez. He attempted to attack on the King-side by allowing the opening the <g> file in front of his castled King. Albin played calmly, and was able to exchange material to create a drawn minor piece ending. He remained a point behind, but had White in the final game.

Game 10
Albin played a non-theoretical opening, Nf3 and e3 followed by Ne5 and f4, and a reversed Dutch Stonewall pawn structure developed. As in Game 2, Marco had little problem with this line. He created vigorous Queen-side counterplay, before Albin could establish any attack on the opposite wing.

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Having to win to tie the match, Albin attempted to engineer a King-side attack, but Marco had no weakness there. Instead, Marco was now able to penetrate Albin's position on his weak white squares. He attacked, won a key pawn on the Queen-side, and was able to create an unstoppable passed pawn. Albin later refined his opening play to defeat Marco the next year (Albin vs G Marco, 1902).

(1) Wiener Schachzeitung, Nos. 7-8, July-August 1902, pp. 163-164,
(2) Z historie šachu v Karlových Varech, by Josef Halla, p
(3) The social season at Karlsbad "begins on April 1st and lasts till November" - North Devon Gazette, 12th February 1901. See Wikipedia article: Season (society)
(4) Z historie šachu v Karlových Varech, by Josef Halla,
(5) 1 Pound sterling = 23.97 Kr. (see Wikipedia article: Austro-Hungarian krone), and for relative values see
(6) Wikipedia article: Bethel Henry Strousberg
(7) The Hastings Chess Tournament 1895, edited by Horace Cheshire. Chatto & Windus, 1896, p. 359.
(8) Chessmetrics Player Profile: Adolf Albin -
(9) The phrase alludes to being smartly dressed, e. g. being as smart as something fresh out of the box.
(10) The Hastings Chess Tournament 1895, edited by Horace F. Cheshire. Chatto & Windus, 1896, pp. 359-360.
(11) Chessmetrics Player Profile: Georg Marco -
(12) Wiener Schachzeitung, January-February 1915, pp. 2-12,
(13) Wikipedia article: Georg Marco
(14) Edo Historical Chess Ratings,
(15) Edo Historical Chess Ratings,
(16) Georg Marco quoted in the British Chess Magazine, December 1907, p. 558.
(17) London Field, 1901.08.10, p261.

This text by User: Chessical. The original collation of the games was completed by User: Pawn and Two.

 page 1 of 1; 10 games  PGN Download 
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. G Marco vs Albin ½-½571901Albin - MarcoC84 Ruy Lopez, Closed
2. Albin vs G Marco 1-0391901Albin - MarcoD00 Queen's Pawn Game
3. G Marco vs Albin  ½-½531901Albin - MarcoC70 Ruy Lopez
4. Albin vs G Marco  ½-½591901Albin - MarcoC53 Giuoco Piano
5. G Marco vs Albin 1-0341901Albin - MarcoC13 French
6. Albin vs G Marco 1-0531901Albin - MarcoC77 Ruy Lopez
7. G Marco vs Albin 1-0571901Albin - MarcoC10 French
8. Albin vs G Marco  0-1421901Albin - MarcoC53 Giuoco Piano
9. G Marco vs Albin  ½-½371901Albin - MarcoC78 Ruy Lopez
10. Albin vs G Marco 0-1371901Albin - MarcoA06 Reti Opening
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2)  

Kibitzer's Corner
Jul-11-17  offramp: Blimey; there is a tremendous amount of work in the intro. Many tanks to User: Chessical.
Jul-11-17  offramp: ...And to User: Pawn and Two!

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