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Manuel Marquez Sterling vs Geza Maroczy
Paris (1900), Paris FRA, rd 3, May-21
Sicilian Defense: French Variation (B40)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Maroczy outplayed Sterling in the opening, had a won game by about move 15, and--with the exception of a glitch on move 20--never let Sterling back into the game. But saying that victory was "just a matter of technique" does not capture the hard work Maroczy had to do, and the pitfalls he had to avoid, to win this game.

Sterling's play against Maroczy's Sicilian Defense was poor. His 4. Ne2 gave him a bad game from the very start. His 7. Be3 allowed Maroczy to seize the initiative with 7...c4, and his 15. Rae1 got his position fatally tangled up (15. Rfe1 was clearly much better). After Maroczy's 15...h5, Sterling had to play 16. h4 to halt the advance of Black's h-pawn. After 16. h3, Sterling was busted:

click for larger view

Had Maroczy played 16...h4, Sterling would have been tied up in knots. But, curiously, Maroczy played 16...Bf4 here and did not--though he should have--play h4 on moves 17, 18, 19, or 20. Note that had Maroczy played 20...h4, 21. Nxh4 by Sterling would have allowed mate in 1 with 21...Bh2 mate!

Maroczy's 20...Qd7 was a mistake, and Sterling had his first and only true chance to get back in the game with 21. Ng3. Sterling's inferior 21. Ne5 allowed Maroczy to unleash a brilliant winning combination. After 21. Ne5 NxN 22. dxN the position was as follows:

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Maroczy here played 22...Bxh3!! Had Sterling responded 23. gxB he would have been blown away with 23...Qxh3 24. Ng3 h4!

Sterling actually played 23. Bf3, and was thereupon down a pawn in a lousy position after 23...Be6.

Game over? Hardly. Sterling refused to concede and made Maroczy work very hard over the course of the next 31 moves to close out what looks like a routine win.

I will detail the problems Maroczy had to over come to win this "won game" in subsequent posts.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: After 23...Be6 (23...Bg4 would have been even better), Maroczy seemingly had the game in hand. But, while never relinquishing his winning advantage, Maroczy missed opportunities to finish the game quickly. His 25...h4 (a move Maroczy should have played much earlier) was inferior to 25...Bd8, and his seemingly routine 26...Bxh4 missed the much stronger 26...Bf4.

But Sterling allowed Maroczy to trade Queens beginning with 29...Qg5 and reach a winning endgame. Sterling should clearly have declined Maroczy's pawn sacrifice (32...d5) and played 33. Ne2. When he played 33. Rxd4 Maroczy was on the verge of finishing off the game after 33...RxR 34. cxR c3. After Sterling's 35. d5, the position was as follows:

click for larger view

Had Maroczy played the simple 35...Bf5, it is hard to see how Sterling could have survived for very long. But Maroczy played the tempting 35...c2, and suddenly the game got interesting.

After 36. dxB c1(Q) 37. exf7+ Kxf7 38. e6+ (38. RxQ was better) Ke7 39. RxQ BxR 40. Bb7 Bxa3 41. Bxa6 Rb8 42. Ne2 the position was as follows:

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According to Rosenthal in the Tournament Book, Maroczy didn't dare play 42...Bxb4 here because 43. Nd4 would have allowed Sterling to save the game after 44. Bxb5. But this is wrong. Maroczy could have won most simply bu playing 42...Bxb4, since after 43. Nd4 Rb6 44. Bxb5 he could have snuffed out resistance with 44...Bc5 (the move Rosenthal apparently missed) 45. Nc6+ Kxe6 46. Bc4+ Kf5 47. Na5 Rb2.

Maroczy apparently also thought that 42...Bxb4 was a mistake and played 42...Rb6. Now, though Maroczy still had a win, the battle was still not over as I will show in a later post.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: After Maroczy's 42...Bxb4 43. Bc8 Bxb4, Sterling's theoretically best move was probably 44. Bd7. But he decided to try a desperate swindle that might well have worked against a player less careful than Maroczy.

Sterling played 44. Nf4?! and after 44...Rb8 45. Bd7 Bd6 46. Nxg6+ Kf6 47. Nh4 Be5 the position was as follows:

click for larger view

The game appear to be over, but Sterling had a trick up his sleeve. He played 48. Nf5. As Rosenthal points out in the Tournament Book, had Maroczy responded 48...KxN? Sterling would have had a draw with 49. e7+ and 50. e8(Q).

Maroczy saw the danger and played 49...b4, and cruised to victory. Sterling had to retreat his Knight and give it up for the b-pawn. Maroczy was soon up a Rook for a pawn, and the rest was easy.

Aug-02-17  Saniyat24: Although he lost the match, I liked the playing style of Manuel Sterling...Maroczy was just relentless... I used to pronounce Maroczy as Marcozy...!!
Dec-10-18  Saniyat24: Sterling to Forint...!

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