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Carl Schlechter vs Georg Marco
Paris (1900), Paris FRA, rd 9, Jun-01
Spanish Game: Morphy Defense. Tarrasch Variation (C77)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: An impressive end-game win by Marco, who prevails in an opposite-color Bishops endgame that Schlechter surely thought was a dead draw.

Going into this game, Marco was 5-2, only a point behind Lasker, Janowski, Marshall, and Mieses. With his win here, he momentarily appeared to be in contention for a high prize (but his loss to Lasker the following day no doubt brought Marco back to earth).

1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 Nc6
3. Bb5 a6
4. Ba4 Nf6
5. Nc3

This older more has long been out of fashion and is contrary to the usual modern theory of how to handle the White side of the Ruy Lopez. But there is nothing wrong with the text providing one is not looking for much more than equality, and Schlechter was very experienced in its nuances.

5... Bb4

5...Bc5 (probably best), 5...Be7, and 5...b5 are more usually played, but the text is a reasonable alternative for Black.

6. Nd5 Be7

If 6...NxN (which along with 6...Bc5 seem best), then 7. exd5 Nd4 (far better than 7...e4 as given by Rosenthal in the Tournament Book). The text, however, is also quite reasonable.

7. 0-0 0-0

If 7...Nxd4 White gets much the better game after 8. d4 (stronger than Rosenthal's 8. Re1 which also gives White the advantage).

8. d3 d6
9. NxN+

9. NxB+ seems better, but the text is sufficient for equality.

9... BxN
10. h3

A listless move, but adequate if White has no winning ambitions. 10. c3 is better.

10... Be6
11. c3 d5
12. Be3 dxe4
13. dxe4 Bc4
14. Re1 QxQ
15. RexQ

The position was now:

click for larger view

Not a very exciting position, and a draw seems the likely outcome, especially with Schlechter (the drawing king) at the helm. But, as will be seen, Maroc is not satisfied with a draw and presses hard for complications.

15... Rfd8

This looks like a (small) mistake, since Schlechter could now mess up Marco's Queen-side with 16. BxN.

16. Rd2

Hard to understand why Schlechter didn't play 16. BxN. Perhaps he was sure the game was drifting towards a draw and didn't want to to anything to unbalance the position.

16... RxR
17. RxR Bd3

Though it doesn't look like it yet, this Bishop will be a thorn in Schlechter's side until the end of the game.

18. f3

This was Schlechter's last chance to mess up Marco's Queen-side with 18. BxN

18... b5
19. Bb3 Na5
20. Rd1 Be2
21. Re1 Bd3
22. Kf2 Rd8
23. Rd1 NxB

The position--with Schlechter still to recapture, was as follows:

click for larger view

This position still does not appear to hold many prospects for either side, and with 24. NxN a draw still seems to be in offing. But here Schlechter played:

24. axN

This move can hardly be called a mistake, but it ultimately creates possibilities for Marco which lead to Schlechter's defeat. The game is still even even after the text, on perhaps Schlechter thought there was no way he could lose. But Marco has other ideas.

24... a5!

The commencement of Marco's Queen-side attack. It should probably not have led to anything with best play, but these are the kind of positions that Magnus Carlsen handles brilliantly. In this game at least, Marco plays like Carlsen, pressing very hard in a seemingly drawn endgame.

25. Ra1 Ra8
26. b4

Needlessly giving Marco Queen-side targets. 26. c4 would have led to equality and a likely draw.

26... a4

Marco presses on!

27. Nb3 Be7
28. Nc5

28. Na5 was a little better. Now Marco gets the position he apparently wanted.

28... BxN
29. BxB

The position was now:

click for larger view

Marco has some pressure, but the game--with Bishops of opposite colors--still seems a very likely draw. How Marco pressed his tiny advantage and how Schlechter went wrong and suffered defeat will be discussed in my next post on this game.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post II

After 29. BxB, it looked as if Marco, despite his small advantage, had no real chance to win given the Bishops of opposite colors. But between moves 29 and 45--i.e., before Schlechter's blunder on move 46), Marco made slow but steady progress, and Schlechter seemed not to recognize the danger he faced for quite a while.

29... Bc2

Preparing for his further Queen-side advances.

30. Be3

30. Re1 immediately was perhaps more accurate, but Schlechter is still fine after the text.

30... f6
31. Re1

Schlechter might have considered 31. g4, limiting Marco's options on the King's side and preparing to defend that wing if and when Marco's Rook invaded the White realm.

31... a3

Now Marco's Rook joins the attack.

32. bxa3 Rxa3

The position now was:

click for larger view

Although the position can still be held, life for Schlechter is clearly becoming less comfortable. He will have to defend carefully from here on to escape defeat.

33. Bd2 Kf7
34. Rc1 Bb3
35. Ke3 Bc4
36. Rc2

Given Marco's obvious plan, 36. g4 was probably best. But Schlechter's position remains defensible.

36... Ke6

36...h5 immediately was a bit more forcing.

37. Be1

Schlechter's position continues to weaken. He should have played 37. Be1 or 37. g4.

37... c5!

Marco continues his assault. The position was now:

click for larger view

As is obvious, Marco has made considerable progress. But the position is still probably not winnable because of the Bishops of opposite colors. But now a single slip will doom Schlechter.

38. Kf2!

Well played. Schlechter by now realizes his peril. Had he played 38. bxc5? he would have lost after 38...b4! 39. Rb2 (39. Kd2 is not better) b3 as Rosenthal pointed out in the Tournament Book.

38... Bd3
39. Rb2 c4!
40. h4

40. g4 or 40. Kg3 were better.

40... Ra1

40...h5 was even stronger.

41. g4

41. h5 was somewhat better.

41... g6
42. Bd2 h5
43. gxh5 gxh5
44. Kg2 f5!
45. exf5+


45... Kxf5

Marco is pressing hard, and Schlechter is hanging on by his fingertips--but he is hanging on. The position was now:

click for larger view

Schlechter has defended heroically for the last few moves. But here he finally cracked and blundered, after which Marco quickly marched to victory. This concluding phase of the game will be covered in my next post on this game.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post III

After having staved off Marco's attack, Schlechter finally erred--and then lost almost immediately.

46. Bg5?

The Bishop could not be spared at this point, and thus this move is fatal. Schlechter could probably have held the position with 46. Kg3 or 46. Kf2. (Rosenthal, it should be noted, lets this move by Schlechter pass without comment in his commentary on this game).

46... Ra3!

Marco takes immediate advantage of Schlechter's error.

47. Bd2 Rb3!

"Very well played. This move forces the win of the game." (Rosenthal).

The position was now:

click for larger view

48. Bc1?

Contrary to what Rosenthal claims in the Tournament Book, Schlechter's best chance was to trade Rooks here. After 48. RxR cxR 49. Bc1 e4 (This is Rosenthal's move. Marco probably still had a win with 49...Ke6) Schlechter might still have had a draw with 50. Kf2 (rather than Rosenthal's suicidal 50. fxe4+ which loses immediately to 50...Bxe4+ 51. Kh3 Bd5). In this line, the position after 50. Kf2 would have been:

click for larger view

After 50...exf3 51. Kxf3 Be4+ 52. Ke3 Schoechter could probably have held on. After the text (48. Bc1?), however, he was sunk.

48... Rxc3

The position was now clearly hopeless for Schlechter:

click for larger view

The rest was easy for Marco:

49. Bg5 Ra3
50. Rd2 Rb3
51. Be7

51. Ra2 might have allowed Schlechter to hold on a bit longer, but would not have saved the game.

51... e4!
52. fxe4+ Kxe4
53. Ra2

This move simplifies Marco's task, but 53. Rf2 would have only prolonged Schlechter's suffering.

53... c3
54. Ra8 Rb2+

54...c2 also wins.


"White can no longer save the game. If 55. Kg3 c2 56. Rc8 Bc4 and wins. (Rosenthal). An impressive endgame performance by Marco.

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