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Leon Rosen vs Georg Marco
Paris (1900), Paris FRA, rd 5, May-25
Philidor Defense: General (C41)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: A methodical win by Marco against a weaker opponent. Marco plays an usual opening line to get Rosen out of the books, equalizes within a few moves, misses a chance to get a better game after Rosen's weak 19th move, and then efficiently closes out the game after Rosen's mistake on move 30. Nothing brilliant, just a veteran beating up on a less experienced player.

1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 d6
3. Bc4

3. d4 is of course more usual, but the text also gives White good chances.

3... c6

3...Be7 (recommended by the Tournament Book) or 3...Nc6 are both theoretically better, but the text is playable and avoids any likely prepared lines by Rosen.

4. 0-0 Be7
5. d3

5. d4 was definitely better, but Rosen seemingly wants to avoid tactical battles with his dangerous opponent.

5... Nd7
6. Nc3

6. a4, to prevent 6...b5, was better.

6... b5

Taking advantage of Rosen's failure to play 6. a4

7. Bb3 Nc5

Not best. Marco should have played 7...a5 or 7...Ngf6.

8. d4 NxB
9. axN Qc7
10. d5

This achieves nothing for White. Rosen should have played 10. Qd3

10... b4

Driving away the c3 Knight and obtaining a fine pawn wedge on the Queen-side.

11. Na2

Rosenthal in the Tournament Book claims that 11. Ne2 was best, but after 11...Nf6 Black would clearly have the better game.

11... c5

Fritz says 11...Rb8 is correct, but I like the pawn chain Marco gets with the text.

12. c3

Since Marco was obviously not going to play 12...bxc3, the text accomplishes nothing and weakens White's Queen-side.

12... a5

Of course!

13. Qc2 Nf6
14. Bd2

Threatening 15. cxb4 axb4 16. Nxb4! (exploiting the pin on the c-file). But Marco was hardly likely to fall for such a transparent trap. The simple 14. Be3 was therefore best.

14... Qb7

Easily parrying Rosen's threat.

15. Nc1 0-0
16. Ne2 Bd7
17. Ng3 Ra7
18. c4

Rosenthal claims that 18. Ne1 was better, but this makes no sense, since after 18...bxc3 19. bxc3 Rb8 White would have problems dealing with Black's control of the b-file.

18... Rfa8

This allows 19. Nf5. Marco should have played 18...g6.

19. Ne1

Very bad. Rosen should have played 19. Nf5. Now Marco could have obtained King-side chances with 19...h5

19... a4

Missing his chance to play 19...h5.

20. bxa4 Rxa4

This seemingly automatic move forfeits any advantage Marco had enjoyed. Best was the intermediate move 20...b3.

21. RxR RxR
22. b3 Ra1

This looks stronger than it is.

23. f4

Rosenthal in the Tournament Book condemns this move, but it looks fine to me. It definitely is better than Rosenthal's proposed 23. Nd3.

23... Qa6
24. Nf3

Consistent with his last move, Rosen should have played 24. fxe5 or perhaps 24. h3.

24... Qa2

Another move that looks much stronger than it is. Best was 24...exf4 or 24...RxR+.

25. Qd3

As Rosenthal notes in the Tournament Book, best was simply going for the ending with 25. QxQ+

25... Qb2

Once again, 25...exf4 or 25...RxR+ were better.

26. fxe5 dxe5
27. d6

Rosenthal says that h3 was correct, and that was certainly a reasonable option, but the advance of the d-pawn here is also quite good and presents problems for Marco.

27... Bd8

27...Bf8 was better.

28. Be3

Rosen should probably have played 28. h3, but the text is certainly sufficient for equality.

28... Bb6

28...Ra2 would probably have led to a draw after 29. Rf2 Qa1+ 30. Rf1 and is thus theoretically best. But Marco was not interested in a draw against this opponent.

After 28...Bb6, Rosen had at least equal chances. But his game fell apart very quickly thereafter as I will show in my next post on this game.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post II

After Marco's 28...Bb6, the position was as follows:

click for larger view

Both sides have threats, and chances are about equal.

29. Bg5

Rosenthal in the Tournament Book calls this move a "mistake," and claims that 29. h3 was correct. In fact, White is fine after either the text or after 29. h3. Contrary to what Rosenthal suggests, 29. Bg5 is not why Rosen lost the game.

29... Ra2

This "threat could have been easily parried by Rosen by playing 30. Bd2.

30. Nh4?

It is this ugly move that loses the game for Rosen. After the text, Rosen is lost.

30... Qd4+

Of course.

31. QxQ cxd4
32. BxN fxB

This is sufficient for victory, but much better was the intermediate move 32...d3+. The text gives Rosen the chance to play 33. h3.

33. Nh5?

Very bad. 33. h3 was essential. After this lemon, Marco never gives Rosen a chance.

33... d3+
34. Kh1 Bd8
35. h3

Rosen of course cannot win the f6 pawn because of the bank-rank mate that would follow.

35... Bc6

Even more decisive would have been 35...Rb2

36. Ng3

"Of course if 36. Nxf6+ BxN 37. RxB Ra1+ 38. Kh2 d2" (Rosenthal in the Tournament Book).

Perhaps 36. Rd1 was "best" for White here, but the game is over in any case.

36... Rb2

With the fall of the b-pawn, White is finished. The remaining moves are of little interest. Rosen resigned after Marco's 47th move.

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