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David Janowski vs Jackson Whipps Showalter
Paris (1900), Paris FRA, rd 9, Jun-01
Four Knights Game: Janowski Variation (C49)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: For the first 26 moves Showalter played carefully and correctly and held the game in balance, avoiding every effort by Janowski to complicate. Then he lost patience with his awful 27...g5?--a move that should have lost instantly. But Janowski--usually a fine tactician--missed one tactical chance after another to put the game away and almost let Showalter back in the contest. On his part, Showalter seemed to fall to pieces after his blunder on move 27, and gave Janowski numerous chances to finish him off. Finally, after Showlater's poor 40th move, Janowski woke up and closed out the game with a neat combination that included a Queen sacrifice.

1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 Nf6

The Petroff Defense. Janowski decided to convert this to a Four Knights' Game, an opening not then deemed as drawish as it is today. In any case, Janowski finds no way to crack Showalter's position until the latter's mistake on move 27.

3. Nc3 Nc6
4. Bb5 Bb4
5. 0-0 0-0
6. d3 BxN
7. bxB Ne7
8. Re1 Ne7
9. d4 Bd7
10. Rb1 c6

Showalter has played careful chess to this point, but 10...b6 was more accurate here though the text is also playable as Showalter proceeds to demonstrate.

11. Bf1 Qc7
12. Bg5 Ng6
13. Qd2

Janowski is beginning to flounder and seems unable to find a decent plan. 13. Nh4 was more promising.

13... Nh5
14. Nh4 Rae8

14...Be6 targeting White's weak a-pawn gains time and is better.

15. NxN hxN
16. Red1 Bc8
17. Be3

This move accomplishes little. Janowski should be taking care of his Queen-side with 17. a4.

17... Rd8
18. Bd3 b6
19. f4

Janowski decides to force matter, but this advance and the resulting exchanges help only Black. Much better was 19. a4.

19... exf4
20. Bxf4 NxB
21. QxN

After the foregoing not very inspiring or exciting opening, the following position was reached:

click for larger view

Given Janowski's weak a-pawn, Showalter has a small advantage here. Janowski's efforts to force the action have gotten him nowhere---yet.

21... Qd7.

21...c5 was better, but Showalter seems content to exchange Queens and play for a draw.

22. Rf1 Qg4

"Would you care to exchange Queens Mr. Janowski?"

23. Qe3

Janowski most definitely does not want to exchange Queens. Objectively, 23. a4 was stronger.

23... Rde8
24. Rf4

Another useless effort. Janowski is grasping at straws. 24. a4 was much better.

24... Qe6

24...Qg5 was a better way to exploit Janowski's last move. But Showalter has decided to target Janowski's a-pawn.

25. Rbf1?

This sacrifice of the a-pawn is reckless and unjustified. In his effort to concoct a King-side attack, Janowski is getting into trouble:

click for larger view

25... d5

This move is sufficient to hold the balance, but--as Rosenthal pointed out in the Tournament Book--Showalter should have accepted the challenge and taken the offered pawn with 25...Qxa2.

26. Qg3

Another wild effort from Janowski. 26. e5 or 26. h4 were much better.

26... Qe7

Seeking safety at all costs. 26...dxe4 was stronger and would have given him the better game.

27. e5

The position was now:

click for larger view

As a result of his hyper-cautious play and his thoughtless advance of his d-pawn, Showalter is now somewhat worse. But his position certainly had resources. Yet it was here that Showalter made his first misstep and immediately plunged himself into a hopelessly lost position. How this came about and the repeated failures of Janowski to exploit Showalter's mistakes for the next approximately 13 moves will be discussed in my next post on this game.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post II

Showalter had played cautiously and reasonably well and had arrived at a defensive but defensible position. But then he lost his mind and played:

27... g5??

After this lemon (which should lose instantly, the position was:

click for larger view

This could be presented as a puzzle for intermediate players: White to move and win. The solution is not all that hard when presented as a problem, but Janowski, Showalter, and Rosenthal (in his very poor commentary on this game in the tournament book) all missed the correct move.

28. R4f2?

A shocking oversight from a tactician like Janowski. 28. Rf6! forces mate or the immediate ruinous loss of material. Showalter would doubtless have resigned on the spot. Instead, after Janowski's oversight, Showalter--though still probably lost--had at least a fighting chance, and the game continued.

28... c5!

Showalter has life!

29 Bf5?

Another awful move by Janowski, whose winning edge is now gone. He should have played 29. Bb5 and after 29...Bd7 [if 29...Rf6 30. Rf6! is murder] 30. BxB QxB 31. Rf5

29... cxd4?

Missing the chance Janowski's last two moves has given him to recover from his awful 27...g5. With 29...BxB Showalter would have been very much back in the game. But now Showlater has created a new weakness, he has isolated his d-pawn, a theme that will come back to haunt him very soon.

30. cxd4 Ba6?

Again missing his chance to trade Bishops with 30...BxB. Now Janowski is back in the driver's seat.

31. Qh3! g6


32. Bd3!

Now that Showalter's King-side has been fatally compromised, Janowski is prepared to trade off his previously deadly Bishop. Showalter has no choice.

32... BxB
33. QxB Qd7

Another weak move. 33...Qc7 was much better.

34. Rf6! Qg4?

Showalter appears to have been shell-shocked after his 27th move. His only (slim) hope here was with 34...Re6 or 34...Re7(or perhaps a heroic 34...g4). Now, the game should be over, the position being:

click for larger view

Janowski has two winning lines here: 35. Rxf7! or 35. e6! Instead, he comes up with yet another lemon:

35. h3?

Janowski still probably has a winning position, but once again Showalter has some chances.

35... Qe4
36. Qd2?

We all know that Janowski loathed the endgame, but after 36. QxQ dxe4 his chances of attacking Showalter's many weaknesses should have been sufficient for him to hold his nose and reach a likely winning endgame. Now, however, he has given Showalter new life and very real chances to save the game.

36... Qh4
37. c3

Another second-best move by Janowski. 37. Qb4 was better.

37... Kg7?

But just as he was getting real chances to save himself, Showalter tries a very bad plan, and is dead-lost once again. 37...Re6 was clearly best, and would have given him real chances. Now, the position was as follows:

click for larger view

38. Qe3!!

I love this move. It completely stops Showalter's chances of counter-play and clears the way for a winning assault.

38... Re7
39. Rd6?

Missing yet another crushing winning line. Black has no answer to 39. e6!

39... Rc7?

Missing his best chance yet again. 39...Rc8 might have given Showalter a fighting chance.

But the game still had a few twists and turns, as I will discuss in my next and final post on this game.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post III

After Showalter's 39...Rc7?, the position was:

click for larger view

40. Rxd5

Janowski had a pretty win here with 40. e6! Instead, he decided to snatch the isolated d-pawn. This is another road to victory, but it gives Showalter a moment to breathe. But Showalter errs yet again:

40... Rfc8?

Hoping for some kind of miracle counter-attack that will never materialize. His best chance for counter-play lay in 40...g4. The position was now:

click for larger view

41. e6!

Absolutely crushing!

41... Rxc3
42. Rxf7+ Kg8
43. QxR!

Ending the game with a nice (if obvious) Queen sacrifice. Of course, if 43...RxQ 44. Rd8 mate.


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