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Manuel Marquez Sterling vs Frank Marshall
Paris (1900), Paris FRA, rd 8, May-31
Russian Game: Modern Attack. Center Variation (C43)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
Sep-24-06  woodenbishop: 39. ...Bxg2!

Good game by Marshall.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Penguincw: < woodenbishop: 39. ...Bxg2!

Good game by Marshall. > Yes.A good game indeed.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Sterling manages to achieve an even position against Marshall with opposite color Bishops. Marshall tried to complicate, but Sterling just shuffles his pieces back and forth in a seemingly safe position. But then Sterling blunders on move 33 and Marshall blows him away quickly. His final move (39...Bxg2!) is indeed brilliant as previously noted on this site by woodenbishop and Penguincw.

1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 Nf6
3. d4

A reasonable alternative to the more usual 3. Nxe5 that was played in this tournament by Brody against Marshall (a game Marshall won) and by Maroczy against Showalter (which Maroczy won the same day as the instant game when Showalter hung his Queen).

3... Nxe4
4. Bd3 d5
5. Nxe5 Bd6

As played by Marshall and Showalter in the above-mentioned games. 5...Nd7 is probably best.

6. 0-0

As played not only in the two above-cited games, but by Tahl against Benko at Hastings 1973-1974.

6... 0-0
7. c4

Tahl played 7. Nc3 here.

7... c6

Better than 7...Nf6 as suggested by Rosenthal in the Tournament Book, but probably sightly inferior to 7...c5. Marshall played 7...c6 against Brody as did Showalter against Maroczy.

8. Nc3

Better than 8. Qc2 as played (unsuccessfully) by Brody against Marshall in Round 5 of this tournament.

8... NxN

Better than 8...BxN as played by Showalter against Maroczy.

9. bxN Nd7
10. Bf4

10. f4 as recommended by Rosenthal in the Tournament Book definitely seems better, but Sterling is looking for a boring drawish position to blunt Marshall's attacking skills. The text does indeed achieve a seemingly lifeless/drawish middlegame.

10... dxc4
11. Bxc4 Nb6

Marshall is playing for complications and therefore spurns the equalizing (and theoretically better) 11...NxN.

12. Bb3 Nd5
13. BxN cxB
14. Qb3 BxN
15. BxB

15. dxB probably gives White better theoretical chances, but the text is more drawish and that apparently is what Sterling wants.

15... b6
16. Rfe1 Be6

16...Ba6 seems to offer better chances for Black.

17. Bg3 Rc8
18. Rac1 Qd7
19. Qb2 Rc4

Trying to create some action on the Queen-side. But Sterling declines all possibilities for complications.

20. Bf4 Rfc8
21. Bd2

Unambitious but sound.

The position was now:

click for larger view

The question now confronting Marshall was how to play for a win against an opponent who was avoiding risk and complications at all costs. How Marshall went about this, and where and how Sterling went wrong, will be covered in my next post on this game.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post II

Marshall decided to commence attack on the Queen-side as the best chance of breaking down his draw-minded opponent.

21... Qc6
22. Qb3 b5

The b-pawn will be the key to Marshall's idea to create winning chances for himself.

23. Qb2 a6
24. a3 Bf5
25. Re3 a5
26. Ree1

Sterling is merely shuffling his Rook back and forth, ignoring any effort to play for a win or seek any chances of his own. His position is so solid that this strategy seems destined to succeed. But Marshall perseveres.

26... h6
27. Re2?

The first serious mistake by Sterling in this game, giving Marshall a chance to obtain an advantage.

27... Bd3?

Marshall misses 27...b4!

28. Rc3 Bf5
29. Ree1

Back to his shuffling strategy.

29... Qd7
30. Re3 b4

Trying desperately to make something happen on the Queen-side.

31. Ree1 Qa4

31...R8c6 or 31...R8c7 were somewhat better.

32. axb4 axb4

The position was now as follows:

click for larger view

33. Ra1?

The losing move. Sterling had to play 33. cxb4. But Sterling has cracked under the pressure exerted by Marshall.

33... Qc6!

Now Marshall has monstrous pressure on the c-file. White has no defense to this attack.

34. Be3

Making a bad situation even worse. But if 34. cxb4 (best), Marshall had an almost certain win with 34...Rc2!

35. Qe2 bxc3

Marshall now has won a pawn, and it is moving inexorably towards the Queening square. The end is near.

35. Qe2 Re8
36. Qf3 c2!

White is busted. Black's Bishop is hanging, but of course it cannot be taken.

37. Rec1

Of course, and as Rosenthal noted in the Tournament Book, had Sterling captured Marshall's hanging Bishop with 37. QxB he would be crushed by 37...c1(Q) 38. RaxQ (38. h3 avoids mate but leaves White a Queen down) RxR 39. RxR (39. Rf1 avoids immediate mate, but is hopeless) QxR+ and mate next move.

37... Be4
38. Qg3

38. Qf4 is a bit better, but also hopeless.

38... Re6

An error at the finish line by Marshall. 38...Rb4 ends the game quickly. Now Sterling, though still lost, could have played on for a while. But...

39. h3?

39. Qb8+ was the only way to prolong the game.

The position was now:

click for larger view

Now Marshall ended the game with:

39... Bxg2!!



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