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Carl Schlechter vs Amos Burn
Paris (1900), Paris FRA, rd 6, May-28
French Defense: Classical. Steinitz Variation (C11)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: I am a great admirer of Schlechter, but this game is one of his weaker efforts. He mishandled the opening, pursued a faulty King-side attacking strategy, and sulked through the last 20+ moves of the game after he was lost and missed a couple of opportunities to try to fight his way back into the game.

Burn, despite a few hiccups, did what he had to do against an opponent who was having a bad day at the office.

1. e4 e6
2. d4 d5
3. Nc3 Nf6
4. e5

The Steinitz Variation. It is playable but inferior to the more usual 4. Bg5.

4... Nfd7

"The fixed pawn structure gives Black sufficient counterplay."

5. Nce2

A known line in the Steinitz variation of the French, but not one I like at all. It is too slow and passive. 5. f4 seems best. Alternatively, if White wants to be frisky, 5. Qg4 is an option.

5. c5
6. c3 Nc6
7. f4

Gligoric, in his book on the French Defense says that 7. f4 is best here, but 7. Nf3 seems much more solid in this line.

7... Be7

Gligoric prefsrs 7...f5 or even 7...f6, but the text looks much better. There is plenty of time for f5 or f6 when that is the best plan.

8. Nf3 0-0
9. g3

Rosenthal in the Tournament Book says that 9. g4 was best, but that looks highly risky after 9...f6. I see nothing wrong with the text. 9. Be3 looks like a reasonable alternative.

9... f5

9...Qb6 looks better.

10. exf6 e.p.

This is contrary to the theme of the Steinitz Variation which involves a pawn chain with a pawn at e5. Better therefore was 10. Be3

10... Nxf6

The position was now as follows:

click for larger view

As is obvious, White has gotten nothing out of the opening. His game is still playable, but any advantage lies with Black.

Perhaps Schlechter was planning to post his Knight on e5. If so, it is strange that he soon passed up two opportunities to do so.

11. Bg2 Qb6
12. 0-0 Bd7
13. Kh1

Too slow and passive. If Schlechter was thinking of posting his Knight on e5, this was a good time for it.

13... Rae8

With Schlechter's failure to play 13. Ne5, Burn should have tried 13...Ne4.

14. b3

Passing up another chance to play 14. Ne5

14... cxd4
15. cxd4?

Needlessly creating a weakness that later comes back to haunt him. Schlechter should have played the simple and seemingly obvious 15. Nexd4

15... Ne4
16. Be3

16. Bb2 was a much better way to defend the weak d-pawn he has just created.

16... Ba3

The position was now as follows:

click for larger view

Schlechter has clearly been outplayed, but he is far from lost. Beginning here, however, he fell off the deep end trying a ill-advised King-side assault as I will discuss in my next post on this game.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post II

17. g4?!

Recognizing that he has a bad game, Schlechter decides to go for broke. But 17. Ng5 was much better, pressuring Black's weak points without committing himself to a wildcat King-side assault.

17... Rc8

This looks reasonable, but 18...Nb4 was much stronger.

18. Ng5

One move too late. Having played 17. g4?!, Schlechter should now play 18. Ng3

18... Nf6

A good move by Burn. Schlechter is now in big trouble.

19. Ng3

"A mistake which compromises his game" (Rosenthal in the Tournament Book). The text is indeed a mistake, but Rosenthal's proposed 19. h3 is not much better. Having committed himself to a King-side storm, Schlechter might as well have continued 19. f5

19... Bb2

Burn decides to play to win the d-pawn. This undoubtedly is a winning plan, but 19...Nb4 would be even stronger.

20. Rb1 Bxd4
21. Bd2 e5

This is not bad, but Burn could effectively put the skids on Schlechter's planned attack with 21...Ne7

22. f5?

Unnecessary. Schlechter should have exploited Burn's last move with 22. fxe5 followed by Nf5.

22... e4

Again missing a chance to put the kabosh on Schlechter's plan. Best was 22...Ne7. Schlechter--though still probably lost--could now have created some serious headaches for Burn with 23. Ne6!

23. Bf4

Missing 23. Ne6! But, as will be seen, Schlechter is setting a trap for Burn.

23... Ne5!

An excellent move combining offense and defense.

24. BxN

24. Ne6 was better, but Schlechter is hoping to catch Burn napping (see his next move).

24... BxB

The position was now as follows:

click for larger view

25. Nh5

The trap is set. Schlechter is hoping that Burn will play 25...NxN after which--as Rosenthal notes in the Tournament Book-- Schlechter can save the game with 26. Qxd5+ Kh8 27. QxB (d7) [even better than Rosenthal's 27. QxB(e5)].

But the wily Burn sees and avoids Schlechter's little snare.

25... Qd3

This avoids Schlechter's trap and is good enough to win, but 25...Qc6 keeping the Queen off a possible pin on the d-file was best.

26. NxN+ RxN

Obviously not 26...BxN?? 27. Nxe4! and White wins.

27. Rc1

Better, though insufficient to save the game, was 27. Rf2 indirectly defending the h2 pawn, since if then 27...Bxh2 28. Bxe4!

27... RxR
28. QxR Bxh2?

Sloppy play by Burn and giving Schlechter a final chance to get back in the game.

The position was now as follows:

click for larger view

29. Nh3?

Hard to believe, and tantamount to resignation. Come what may, Schlechter had to play 29. Nxe4! follows by Rd1 and KxB.

29... Be5

Burn is not going to give Schechter a second chance.

30. Qd2

30. Qe3 was somewhat better, but the game is now lost.

30... Bb5

30...Rh6 would be crushing, but Burn's plan to post his Bishop on d3 is sufficient to win.

31. Rd1 Bd3

Completing his plan, though 31...Bc6 conceding that his last move was a mistake would be better.

The game is now effectively over, though there were a few tactical points in the remaining play that I will cover in my third and final post on this game.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post III

After Burn's 31...Bd3, the position was as follows:

click for larger view

Schlechter is down two pawns, and is clearly lost.

32. Rc1

If Schlechter wanted to play on against the tough veteran Burn, he should have played 32. Qe3 to maintain the chance of exploiting the pin on the d-file.

32... Rf8
33. Qh5

A forlorn hope. Better to try to revive the d-file pin with 33. Rd1.

33... a6

Defends the threatened a-pawn and sufficient to preserve his win, but the brutal 33...Be2 was even better.

34. Qc5 h6

34...Be2 was best--the same theme as on the last move.

35. QxQ

The ending offers little hope for Schlechter, but neither did anything else.

35... BxQ
36. Nf2

Hoping for a miracle.

36... Bb5

Burn won't give him a scintilla of a chance.

37. Rd1

Given that he is well and fully busted, perhaps Schlecher--if he wasn't ready to resign--should have tried 37. Nxe4?!

37... Bg3

More than sufficient to win, but 37...Bb8! would have been neat. [If 38. Rxd5 e3!]

38. Kg1

Once again, how about 38. Nxe4?! The text offers no real resistance. Better to go down all guns blazing at this point.

38... Bc6

38...e3! would be pretty. If 39. Rxd5+ Kh7 White is toast.

The rest does not warrant comment.

39. a4 a5
40. Kf1 h5
41. Bh3 g6
42. gxh5 gxf5


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