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Jacques Mieses vs Amos Burn
Paris (1900), Paris FRA, rd 9, Jun-01
Bishop's Opening: Blanel Gambit (C23)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  Sneaky: After Bxb3, White's attack ran out of steam.

I think Mieses might have missed his chance with 11. g5 For example ...Qxd5 12. Nxc7+ Kd8 13. Qxe6

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: The whole sequence with both sides' bishops running amuck from moves 10-14 is one of the funnier things I've seen on a chessboard.
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: A thrilling and fascinating game. As Alapin noted in his commentary: "This game cannot be counted amongst the most correct of the tournament, but certainly amongst the most interesting."

Mieses was 6-1 going into this game and was tied for the lead with Lasker, Janowski, and Marshall (and in a virtual tie with Pillsbury). The loss here by Mieses was followed by consecutive losses to Pillsbury, Marco, and Maroczy, thus ending Mieses' chances for a high prize (he ended up in a three-way tie for 7th with Marco and Schlechter).

The game itself is a delight to play through. To the extent there were errors, they only made the tactical complications all the more enchanting.

1. e4 e5
2. Nc3

The Vienna Game, a favorite weapon of Mieses. He knew this opening well and was very formidable in handling its nuances. Mieses beat Marshall three times in five games (with one draw) using this opening in their match (which Marshall won by one game); and beat the Akiba Rubinstein twice in four games (with one draw) using the Vienna Game in their match.

Burn surely knew he was in for a fierce struggle, but--as will be seen--had some ideas on how to handle the Black side.

2... Nf6
3. Bc4 Nxe4

A well-recognized line still approved in opening manuals, but Burn doubtless knew the wild complications he would face using this move against Mieses. Had Burn wanted to avoid the craziness that followed, he could have played 3...Bc5 or 3...Nc6.

4. Qh5

Threatening mate on the move. This mating theme dominates play for the next several move.

4... Nd6
5. Bb3

5. Qxe5 leads to equality and simplification. The text, however, is often given as best in modern opening manuals. Alapin, in his contemporary commentary on the game said 5. Qxe5 was simplest and best and mocked the text as "only a trap." As will be seen, 5. Bb3 is a good deal more than that. Teichmann in his commentary on the game said that "5. Qxe5 leads to a drawn position. The move made initiates a premature though embarrassing attack which is well defended by Mr. Burn."

5... Nc6?!

All of the contemporary commentators denounced this move as a blunder and insisted that 5...Be7 was correct. Indeed, and as will be discussed below, 5...Nc6 is often played with a view to sacrificing the exchange and launching a counter-attack. That, however, was not Burn's plan, and thus it can be argued that his choice here was not best. Modern opening manuals (e.g., MCO-13) give both 5...Be7 and 5...Nc6 as reasonable options, albeit leading to drastically different kinds of positions.

6. Nb5

Threatening the d6 Knight that is protecting Black from mate.

6... g6

Black has little choice.

7. Qf3

Renewing the threat.

A critical moment in this opening and in this game has now been reached, the position being:

click for larger view

Black has two options here.

Option A was to play 7...f5 and sacrifice the exchange. At the time this game was played, many commentators considered 7...f5 to be a gross blunder in light of 7...f5 8. Qd5 Qf6 9. Nxc7+ Kd8 10. NxR b6 leaving the following position:

click for larger view

Black has indeed lost the exchange, but White is undeveloped and will soon face a strong attack. As a result, many modern opening manuals (e.g., MCO-13) state that: "Black has good compensation for his lost material."

Burn, however, decided not to go in for this sacrificial line and instead chose Option B:

7... Nf5

This avoids the loss of the exchange, but leaves Black with an inferior (though defensible) position. Burn, as we will see, had some definite ideas on how to handle the Black side.

8. Qd5

Renewing the mating threat on f7 (and probably just the move that Burn expected). It is the only move given for White here in MCO-13. However, 8. g4 as recommended by Rosenthal in the Tournament Book and by Alapin in his commentary (both over a century ago) seems clearly better and the best way for White to exploit the position of the Knight and the mating threat. Indeed, after 8. g4, Black would have to sacrifice his Knight, for the position would be:

click for larger view

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post II

Mieses preferred to be the attacker rather than the attacked, and thus played 8. Qd5, leaving the position as follows:

click for larger view

Now the fun began!

8... Nh6
9. d4 d6

"The saving clause; Black now completely turns the tables." (Teichmann).

keypusher has well-described what follows over the course of the next five moves as follows: "The whole sequence with both sides' bishops running amok from moves 10-14 is one of the funnier things I've seen on a chessboard."

10. BxN Be6

The position was now as follows:

click for larger view

11. Qf3?

An error that seems to have been overlooked by all the commentators until it was spotted by Sneaky on this site. Correct is 11. Bg5!! (I assume that Sneaky's reference to "g5" was a typo]. After 11. Bg5!!, play would likely go as follows: 11...QxB 12. Nxc7+ Kd8 13. NxB+ fxN 14. Qxe6 Qxg2 15. Bd5 Qg5 and would have left the position as follows (and a small advantage to White):

click for larger view

Bravo <Sneaky> . By contrast, after the text (11. Qf3) White[s advantage was gone for good.

11... BxB (b3)

As Sneaky has noted, after this move White's attack "ran out of steam." Of course, if 11...BxB(h6)?, White would win immediately with 12. d5. (Rosenthal in the Tournament Book).

12. BxB Ba4!

12...Bc4 was also good.

The position was now as follows:

click for larger view

What a wild position! And the action was only beginning, as I will show in my next post on this game.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post III

After 12...Ba4 [please note that the final position I gave in my last post was BEFORE 12...Ba4), chances were about even in this wild battle. But from here Mieses faltered and Burn played magnificently.

13. Bg7 BxN!

"A very good move which, however, seems forced as 13...Rg8 would be met by 14. Bf6 securing a piece." (Teichmann).

The position was now as follows:

click for larger view

14. BxR?

The first in a series of five consecutive bad moves by Mieses that land him in a dead-lost position. He should have played 14. 0-0-0 rather than looking to snatch the Rook here.

14... Nxd4!

Now, Mieses is in trouble, though not necessarily lost yet.

15. Qc3?

As Alapin noted, Mieses should have played 15. Qf6 and after 15...Nxc2+ 16. Kd2 NxR 17. Nf3. After the text, his position was precarious.

15... Qg5

The position was now:

click for larger view

16. g3?

Rosenthal claimed that it was "difficult for White to find a good move" here. While that may be true, the text is awful and creates weaknesses that will haunt Mieses until the end of the game. 16. Nf3? would also be bad here and indeed White would be lost after 16...Qxg2 17. NxN QxR+ 18. Kd2 Qd5! (but not 18...QxR? 19. NxB).

Mieses' one chance to save the game here was to play 16. Qxc7. True, Black would then be better after 16...Bc6 [not Rosenthal's proposed 16...Qf5], but now Mieses is lost, especially with the mercilessly accurate upcoming play by Burn.

16... 0-0-0!

As Alapin stated: "White's game looks hopeless."

17. Nf3?

Making matters worse. Best, though almost certainly insufficient to save the game was 17. f3. Alapin's suggested 17. f4 was also much better than the text.

17... Qg4!

The game is now as good as over. Mieses makes his position even more horrific with his next awful move:

18. Ng1?

A sad and disastrous retreat. If Mieses wanted to continue the game, he had to play 18. Bf6. As Rosenthal pointed out in the Tournament Book, 18. NxN exN 19. Qd2?? [19. f3 is "better but hopeless] Re8+ leads to mate.

18... Qe4+

The position was now:

click for larger view

Mieses is nominally up a Rook for two pawns, but he is obviously about to lose major material and is thoroughly busted. Burn, however, after playing so well to this point, failed to find the fastest route to closing out the game, and the contest was (needlessly) extended another 19 moves as I will discuss in my next post on this game.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post IV

After 18...Qe4+, it appeared the game was nearly over. In fact, Burn never truly let Mieses back in the game from this point on. However, he missed a number of tactical possibilities that should have enabled him to finish off the game faster. Several of these points are worthy of study.

19. Kd2 RxB

It was surely tempting for Burn to want to regain material, but the best and fastest way to conclude the game was with 19...Qd5! And if Burn did want to stop his crushing attack to regain material, 19...QxR 20. Bf6 Re8 was a much better line than the text. In fairness to Burn, however, the move played still wins the game. It just makes Burn's task a little more difficult.

20. f3 Qd5
21. Ke1

Mieses definitely had to get his King off the d-file, but 21. Kc1 was the better way to try to hide.

21... Re8
22. Rd1 Kb8!

Well played! Burn recognizes the need to get his King off the c-file (especially given his plan to advance his c-pawn), and further recognizes that this is more important than going pawn-hunting with 22...Qxa2.

23. be c5
24. a4?

A terrible move that drives Black's Bishop to a better square. Much better was 24. Qd2.

The position was now:

click for larger view

24... Bc6

This is a great perch for the Bishop where it helps target the pawn on f3 and the Rook on h1. But Burn had a wonderful tactical opportunity here with 24...e4! Indeed, White is a dead duck after this move, e.g., 25. axB Nxf3+ 26. Ke2 Nd4+ 27. Kd2 e3+ 28. Kc1 QxR. But once again, Burn's move, though not the cleanest route to victory, is sufficient to keep his winning edge.

25. Kf2 e4!
26. Re1 Re6
27. h4

As Rosenthal pointed out in the Tournament Book, if 27. f4 e3+ followed by Qg2+ ends the game.

27... exf3
28. Rh2

It must have been tempting for Mieses to get his h1 Rook off the fatal diagonal, but 28. RxR immediately was a better chance for trying to save the game.

28... Qf5

28...RxR was a better and faster route to victory.

29. RxR fxR
30. b4

Perhaps 30. Qd3 offered better chances.

30... Bxa4

The brutal 30...Nxc2 was even better.

31. bxc5 dxc5
32. g4

Losing patience in a lost position. Of course, 32. Nxf3? loses a piece to 32...Bc6. But White would have had a better chance of at least delaying the inevitable with 32. Qd3.

32... Qf4

Better than 32...Qxg4 33. Nxf3 (which also wins for Black).

33. Rh3 Bc6

33...Qxg4 is not a very inspiring move, but sometimes such butchery in chess is best, as it is here (though Burn's move still clearly maintains the win).

34. Rg3

Mieses' patience in waiting to get demolished has come to an end, hence this poor (but understandable) move. If he wanted to sit it out and try to hold on, Mieses might have played 34. Qe3.

34... e5!
35. Qd3

This is sheer suicide. But Mieses' position is so bad it hardly matters. Mieses now quickly puts Mieses out of his misery.

35... e4!
36. Qc3 b6

36...Nxc2 is faster.

37. Nh3

Allowing a pretty finish:

click for larger view

37... QxR+


If 38. KxQ Ne2+

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