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Jackson Whipps Showalter vs Amos Burn
Paris (1900), Paris FRA, rd 5, May-25
Russian Game: Modern Attack. Center Variation (C43)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: A tactical skirmish in which Showalter comes out on top, but takes far too long to win what should have been a routine Rook and pawn ending.

1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 Nf6
3. d4

3. Nxe5 is more usually played in the Petroff, but the text is a good alternative.

3... Nxe4
4. Bd3 d5
5. Nxe5 Be7

The symmetrical 5...Bd6 is best, but the text is quite playable.

6. 0-0 0-0

Better is 6...Nd7

7. c4 c6

Rosenthal in the Tournament Book prefers retreating with 7...Nf6, but the text move, which supports the d-pawn, looks best.

8. Nc3 NxN

Rosenthal again claims that retreating the Knight to f6 is best here, but the text which cuts down on White's attacking prospects is best.

9. bxc3 Nd7
10. Qc2 Nf6

A mistake. Burn should have eliminated Showalter's e5 Knight with 10...NxN.

11. c5 !

Well-played. The bind on Black's position is strengthened, and White's attacking chances are now excellent.

11... Re8
12. Re1 g6

Rosenthal in the Tournament Book says that 12...Bd7 was the correct move, but then 13. Rb1 would create problems for Black. Showalter's move was best in his difficult position. The King-side assault had to be anticipated, and creating weaknesses on the Queen-side was not the solution for Burn.

13. Rb1 Qc7
14. Bf4

Showalter has played very well to this point, but the text allows Black an easy way to defend himself (14...Nh5). Best here for White was 14. Qe2.

14... Nh5
15. Qd2 Qd8

Best was 15...NxB. The Tournament Book claims that this would lose to 16. QxN Be6 17. Nxg6!, but Black can avoid this with 16...Bd8

16. Bh6 Bf6
17. f4

Showalter falters again. Best was 17. c4 eliminating Black's strong pawn on d5.

17... Bg7

Burn should have traded off White's Knight at e5 with 17...BxN.

18. Bg5

Missing the powerful shot 18. f5!. With the text, White's advantage is gone.

18... Qc7

Burn would have had a good game with 18...f6 19. Bh4 Bh6. (If here 19...Qc7 20. Nxg6! with good chances for White). Now White is winning again.

19. g4 Nf6

Black is in trouble here. His best chance was to sacrifice the exchange with 19...RxN, though his game would still be very difficult.

20. f5!

Black is busted.

20... b6

Black's best chance here was 20...Ne4, but he would still be lost.

21. fxg6?

Chess can be a cruel game. This slip by Showalter (he should have increased his pressure with 21. Qf4) could have cost him the game.

21... fxg6
22. Qf4

One move too late. 22. Bf4 may have been slightly better here, but the damage is done.

22... Rf8
23. Nxg6

Pretty, but it is no longer sufficient to win against best defense.

23... QxQ
24. Ne7+ Kh8
25. BxQ bxc5

The losing move. 25...Nxg4 is the only defense.

26. NxB RaxN

The only hope of salvation lay in the problem-like 26...Nxg4!

27. Bf5 Rce8

27...Rcd8 also loses quickly (to 28. Bc7). The best try is 27...cxd4.

28. Bd6 RxR+

The game is going downhill fast for Burn now. 28...Rg8 was the only possible means of offering further resistance.

29. RxR Rg8
30. Bxc5 Nxg4

This temporary piece sacrifice is as good--and as hopeless--as anything.

31. BxN Bf6
32. h3 h5
33. Re6


33.... Bg7
34. Rxc6

Since the Bishop could not be saved because of the discovered check with the g7 Bishop, White simply gobbles up Black's pawns. Black could now safely resign.

34... hxB
35. hxg4 Kh2
36. Ra6 Rb8
37. Rxa7 Kg6
38. Kg2

38. a4 would have been more precise, but White's win is hardly in doubt even with the text.

38... Bf8

Equivalent to resignation.

39. BxB RxB

The position was now as follows:

click for larger view

Looks like an easy win! But Showalter needed another 28 moves to clinch the game, and Burn managed to work up drawing chances.

The conclusion of this game, hardly a model of end-game play by Showalter, will be discussed in a later post.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post II

Showalter never let his win slip, but his road to victory was slow and cumbersome. After:

40. Ra5 Rd8

40...Rc8 would have been more accurate if Burn really wanted to play on in this hopeless position.

41. Kg3 Rd6

Once again, 41...Rc8 is the only way to activate the Rook and obtain anything close to counterplay. The position was now as follows:

click for larger view

42. a4 Kf3

"Of course, if 42...Kg5 43. c4 and wins." (Tournament Book).

43. Kf4 Ke6
44. Rc5

Why not simply 44. g5?

44... Rb6
45. h5 Rb1
46. Rc6+ Kd7
47. Rb6 Ra1
48. a6 Kc7
49. Rh6 Rc1
50. Ke5

50. g5 seems more logical and is a faster way to wrapping up this game.

50... Rxc3
51. Kxd5

Instead of wasting time with this capture, White should have simply played 51. g5 shortening the seemingly inevitable outcome.

51... Ra6
52. Ke5 Re3+
53. Kf4 Rd3
54. Ke4 Rg3
55. Rg6 Rg1
56. g5


56... Re1+
57. Kd5 Ra1
58. Ke5

58. Rc6+ is faster.

58... Re1+
59. Kf6 Rd1
60. Rg7+ Kg8
61. Rd7 Ra1

While 61...Rf1+ appears more logical (though entirely hopeless), Burn is trying to spring a stalemate trap. As will be seen, the idea is flawed and Showalter could have won even if he had fallen into the "trap." Nonetheless, this is the only thing that gives this otherwise tedious endgame even a semblance of interest.

62. g6

Best. According to the Tournament Book, Burn could have drawn by setting up a stalemate position after 62. a7+ Ka8 63. g6 (63. Rd5 is faster) with 63...Ra6+ 64. Kf7 Rf6+

The position would then have been as follows:

click for larger view

But contrary to what Rosenthal claims in the Tournament Book, White can escape stalemate here with 65. Ke7 Re6+ (or 65...Rf7+ 66. Kd8 Rf8+ 67. Kc7) 66. Kd8 Re1+ 67. Kc7. Showalter's actual move avoids this excitement, and finally brings this game to its logical conclusion.

62... Rxa6+
63. Kf7 Ra1
64. g7 Rf1+
65. Ke8 Rg1
66. Kf8 Kc8
67. Rf7


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