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Geza Maroczy vs James Mason
Paris (1900), Paris FRA, rd 1, May-17
Queen's Gambit Declined: Modern Variation (D50)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Tentative play by Mason allows Maroczy to spring a devastating combination that should have ended the game sooner than it did.

Maroczy did not play the opening stages of the game very well. His Queen-side pawn advance in response to Mason's 5...c6 beginning with 6. c5 and followed by 7. c4 and 8. b4 was part of a bad plan.

Rather than swapping Rooks beginning with 9...axb4, Mason should have maintained the tension with 9....0-0 or 9...h6 and had the better game.

Maroczy's 15. Nge2 was also poor (15. Nf3 was best), but Mason--instead of the simple 15...Bb7 as suggested by the Tournament Book--retreated his Bishop to 15...Bd8 and then allowed Maroczy to trade Queens exactly when it was least in his interest by playing 16...Qa5 (instead of 16...Be7 or 16...Bb7). Once Queens were off the board, Maroczy had a strategically won game, especially once Mason's minor pieces were placed on hopelessly useless squares. Here was the position after Mason's awful 25...Ng8:

click for larger view

In this position, Maroczy should have prepared an invasion with his Knight beginning with 26. Na2. Instead, he played 26. f5. Mason could now have taken a stab at repairing his position beginning with 26...Rc8. A long battle seemingly loomed.

But Mason slipped with 26...exf5?, leaving the position as follows:

click for larger view

Maroczy now broke the game open with his crushing 27. Nxd5!! Mason now--instead of trying to salvage something with 27...Ra7, blundered again with 27...cxN? Now, after 28. BxN Ba7 29. Bxf5 Maroczy was up a pawn and poised to win the exchange. After Mason's 29...Ke8? (29...g6 was "best") Maroczy could have commanded the board with 30. Bg3.

Maroczy nonetheless won the exchange and soon traded down to what should have been an easily won endgame after 42. RxB:

click for larger view

I am unable to understand what now transpired. White marched his King to h4 and--if the published score as it appears on this site and in the Tournament Book is to be believed--could have captured Black's h-pawn on moves 46 and 47. But Maroczy--according to the score--did not take the h-pawn and allowed Mason to set up a blockade that caused the game to be extended for more than thirty moves. I am guessing that the score is fouled.

In any case, Maroczy eventually brought his Queen to the King's side behind Mason's fortress. Had Mason hung tough with 66...f5, the game might have been prolonged for another thirty move. But his 66...Kf5 shortened proceedings and allowed Maroczy to penetrate his blockade.

Most of the last part of the game is insufferable, but playing through to the end brings those who make it through a final reward. With 72. Re6+, Maroczy offered to sacrifice the exchange. Of course, Mason would have been doomed had he played 72...BxR 73. KxB Kxe3 74. Kxd5. But his 72...Kd3 was also hopeless, and the game finally ended four moves later. A nice final touch by Maroczy.

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