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Georg Marco vs Mikhail Chigorin
Paris (1900), Paris FRA, rd 6, May-28
Spanish Game: Closed Variations. Center Attack (C84)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Both sides miss chances in this back and forth tactical struggle which sees Marco on the attack sacrificing the exchange against the usually aggressive Tchigorin. When Tchigorin (who had been outplayed earlier in the game) gets his counter-attack going, Marco is blasted off the board, though Tchigorin misses some lovely winning variations that might have ended the game even sooner.

1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 Nc6
3. Bb5 a6
4. Ba4 Nf6
5. 0-0 Be7
6. d4

The Center Variation. The usual move today is 6. Re1, but there is nothing wrong with the text.

Marco may have been spurred to play the text in light of Marshall's victory in the prior round against Brody with the same 6. d4 line. Tchigorin, however, was a far more dangerous opponent than Brody.

6... 0-0

Brody's move against Marshall. This is entirely playable, though 6...exd4 may be best.

7. dxe5

Marshall played 7. d5 against Brody. The Tournament Book recommends 7. c3 here, but that is hardly an improvement on either Marshall's move or that of Marco. Best is probably the simple 7. Re1.

7... Nxe4
8. c4

Rosenthal in the Tournament Book recommends 8. c3, but that gets White nowhere after 8...d5. The text move is logical and best.

8... Nc5
9. Bc2

Worse than useless. Marco should have continued developing with 9. Nc3

9... Nb4

A surprising move coming from Tchigorin, who usually preferred Knights to Bishops, yet here moves his Knight a second time solely to exchange it for Marco's Bishop.

9...d6 was far better than the text.

10. Nc3

Since White may now want to develop his b1 Knight to d2, best was 10. Be3.

10... NxB

A shocking decision by Tchigorin (trading his Knight for Bishop when there was a far better alternative). Best was 10...d6. Tchigorin is getting a bad game as a result of the time he wasted "achieving" this trade.

11. QxN d6
12. b4 Ne6
13. Rd1

Far better than 13. Nd5 as recommended by Rosenthal in the Tournament Book. Rosenthal's idea was to trade off Black's e7 Bishop, but why on earth would Marco want to do that? The e7 Bishop is hardly doing much for Tchigorin in this position.

13... Qe8
14. exd6 Bxd6
15. c5 Be7
16. Nd5 Bd8
17. Bb2

Misplacing the Bishop. 17. Bd2 was better. Best of all was probably 17. a4

17... f6
18. Rd2

Continuing to ruin what had been a better position. 18. Re1 was better here.

18... a5
19. a3

Marco continues to flounder. Better here was 19. Ba3 or 19. Bc3

19... axb4
20. axb4?

This lemon could have lost the game for Marco.

20... RxR+
21. BxR

The position was now as follows:

click for larger view

21... Qb5?

21...Ng5! was best, after which Marco--threatened with mate and with having his King-side pawn structure messed--would have been in serious trouble. After the text, Marco is fine again.

22. Qc3

22. Bc3 was far better

22... Re8

Tchigorin should have dislodged Marco's Knight with 22...c6

23. h4

Beginning a King-side attack that will soon become the main theme of this game.

23... Qa4
24. h5 h6

The game here is about even. The true battle, however, is about to begin, as I will discuss in my next post on this game.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post II

After Tchigorin's 24...h6, the position was as follows:

click for larger view

Now the fun began.

25. Bb2 Qa2?

This threatens Qb1+ followed by Qf5, but the threat is easily parried. The Queen is misplaced on a2, and Marco may well have a won game here.

26. Qd3?

Rosenthal said this was "forced," but 26. Qc2 was far better.

26... Qa4

Perhaps recognizing that his last move was in error, Tchigorin extricates his Queen while the going is good.

27. Nh4?

Rosenthal correctly calls this premature, and recommends instead 27. Bc3. While that is better than the text, White should play 27. Qf5 which would give him much the better game. After the text, any advantage Marco had gained from Tchigorin's poor 25th move is gone.

27... c6

Seeking to drive away the d5 Knight. But matters are not so simple, as we will see.

The position was now as follows:

click for larger view

Marco here had an interesting piece sacrifice (28. Nxf6+) that was probably best. Rosenthal in the Tournament Book claims that 28. Nxf6+ loses, but his analysis was flawed. After 28. Nxf6+ BxN 29. BxB gxf6 Rosenthal is correct that 30. Qg3+? loses to 30...Ng7. But 30. Nf5! seems to give White at least a draw.

Instead of trying 28. Nxf6+, Marco pursued an alternative way to attack on the King's side. As will be seen, however, Marco's idea was fatally flawed.

28. Ne3 Qxb4

Tchigorin can safely pick up this pawn, and now has the better game. He has judged (correctly) that Marco's king-side attack can be blunted.

29. Qg6?!

A wild and unsound Rook sacrifice by Marco. He should have played 29. g3 retaining attacking chances without going over the deep end.

29... Rf8

Tchigorin chickens out. He should just have taken the Rook. Apparently, he decided not to take chances over the board and to secure his position with the text.

But Marco's fireworks were just beginning, as I will show in my next post.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post III

After Tchigorin's 29...Rf8, the position was as follows:

click for larger view

Marco, down a pawn, found an interesting way to continue his attack.

30. RxB! NxR

Better than 30...RxR, which--contrary to Rosenthal--does not lose. After 30...RxR 31. Bxf6 Tchigorin would have been OK after 31...Qe1+ (rather than Rosenthal's awful 31...Rf8?, which does indeed lose to 32. Ng4. But 30...RxR leads only to equality for Black, while the text allows Tchigorin to retain winning chances.

31. Nhf5 BxN
32. NxB Ne6

Parrying Marco's mating threat. The position was now:

click for larger view

Marco here had an interesting chance with 33. Nxh6+, after which he would have more than a fighting chance: e.g., 33. Nxh6+ Kh8 34. Nf7+ RxN 35. QxR QxB 36. QxN (36. Qe8+ is also possible after 36...Kh7 37. QxN [and not Rosenthal's awful 37. Qg6+? Kg8 which loses]) Qc1+ 37. Kh2 Qxc5 and White, though down a pawn, has chances in the Queen ending.

Instead, Marco played the far inferior:

33. Bd4

This protects the Bishop, but gives Tchigorin the chance to defend everything.

33... Qd2
34. Be3 Qd7

Now Marco is down the exchange and Tchigorin is able to defend everything. But Marco is not quite done yet.

35. Bxh6 Qf7

Since the exchange of Queens would end Marco's attack, he is forced to retreat.

36. Qg4 Kh7
37. Be3 Ng5
38. Nd6 Qe6


39. Qb4 Nf7

A momentary lapse by Tchigorin, who has been defending brilliantly for the last ten moves. Better was 39...Qe7, defending the b7 pawn, which Marco could now grab.

40. Qb1+?

Marco should have snatched the b7 pawn with 40. Qxb7. Marco may well now be lost.

40... Kh8
41. Nf5

Marco had to play 41. Qxb7 here. Now the game is gone. (Needless to say, and as Rosenthal points out in the Tournament Book, 41. Nxb7? loses immediately to 41...Rb8)

41... Qa8

Good enough, but 41...Rd8 was even more crushing.

42. Kh2

If Marco wanted to continue, he had to go for broke with 42. h6

42... Ra4!
43. g3

43. h6 was still the best chance, but Marco is lost now.

43... Ne5!
44. Bf4

Hopeless. 44. h6 was the only (albeit tiny) chance.

44... Ng4+

The party's over!

45. Kg1 Qe2

Good enough, but 45...Nxf2! was prettier and faster. I am surprised Tchigorin missed this.

46. Be3 NxB

46... Ra3 was faster.

47. NxN Ra2

47...Qxh5 was immediately decisive. The text, obviously, also wins easily.

48. Qf5 Qe1+
49. Kg2

As Rosenthal correctly notes, 49. Nf1 is "better," but by now it hardly matters. After the text, Tchigorin is up a Rook, and all he has to do is extricate his King from the spite checks by Marco's Queen.

49... QxN
50. Qc8+ Kh7
51. Qf5+ Kg8
52. Qc8+ Kf7
53. Qxb7+ Kf8
54. Qc8+ Qe8

Now the checks are at an end and Marco can resign.

55. QxQ+

Equivalent to resignation.

55... KxQ


Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: One correction to my comment on Marco's 6th move (6. d4):

Marshall did indeed play 6. d4 against Brody in the prior round, but Marshall did not win that game. That game was drawn. Marshall did win the replay the following day, but he had Black in that replay.

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