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Jacques Mieses vs Georg Marco
Paris (1900), Paris FRA, rd 10, Jun-05
Vienna Game: Stanley Variation. Monster Declined (C27)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Both players were 6-3 going into this game and--while not in serious contention for 1st place, vying for a prize (they wound up tying for 7-9th place with Schlechter). Marco got in trouble yet again playing his favorite opening---the Vienna Game. He was in trouble by move 6 and never thereafter achieved equality--not much of a recommendation for this opening.

By move 31. Mieses reached a Bishop and pawn ending in which he was on the ropes. Perhaps Lasker, Capablance, or Rubinstein could have held this ending. But Mieses lost patience on move 32 and Marco never gave him a chance after that. For a while, Marco--who played the ending with outstanding patience and resolve, seemed unsure exactly how to proceed. But Mieses lost his head on move 59 and allowed Marco to reduce to an easily won pawn endgame. Mieses could have spared himself the last 13 moves of the game.

1. e4 e5
2. Nc3

Mieses had started off the tournament with six wins in seven games (losing only to Lasker) and seemed poised for a top prize. But he then lost in the 8th and ninth rounds to Pillsbury (in a replay of their drawn game) and Burn. In both of these two loses, Mieses had White and tried the Vienna Game. Now, for the third game in a row--and notwithstanding the results in his last two games, Mieses played the Vienna Game once again against Marco. As the game will show, Marco had studied Mieses' game against Burn (in Mieses had an advantage early on) and had found an improvement for which Mieses was not prepared.

2... Nf6
3. Bc4 Nxe4
4. Qh5 Nd6
5. Bb3

5. Qxe5 is simplest but drawish and hardly to the liking of an attack demon like Mieses.

5... Be7

Burns had played 5...Nc6 here against Mieses and got an inferior game after 6. Nb5! Marco had apparently taken heed, and found an improvement that gives Black approximately equal chances.

The position was now:

click for larger view

Remarkably enough, this proved to be the turning point of the game. With the simple 6. Qxe5 Mieses (after the likely 6...0-0) would have a safe position, albeit with few attacking chances. So he decides here to play in true Gambit style. MCO-13 calls the game after 6. Qxe5 "completely equal." That, perhaps needless to say, is not what Mieses wants. So...

6. Nf3

MCO-13 gives this as the main line, primarily because why else would someone play the Vienna Game? But now Black gets the better of the opening.

6... Nc6
7. d3

Making an already inferior position worse. MCO-13 here recommends 7. Nxe5. Now, Mieses does indeed find himself a pawn down. If he wanted to play a gambit opening, he now has his chance.

7... g6
8. Qh3 Nfd4
9. g4

Ready or not, here comes Mieses!

9... Nfd4
10. Bh6

Although this move seems to have confused the usually unflappable Marco, objectively it is inferior to 10. NxN which would have given Mieses a difficult game, but one with possibilities.

10... Rg8

Hard to understand, especially from Marco. 10...NxB was much better.

11. Bd2

Waste of time. 11. NxN or 11. 0-0-0 were better and more in the spirit of the gambit Mieses is playing.

11... Rh8!

Marco has exorcised whatever demons were haunting him on his last move and rectifies his mistake. He once again has much the better prospects, given his pawn plus.

12. 0-0-0

Rosenthal in the Tournament Book recommends 12. Qg3, but I fail to see how that is any improvement over the text after 12...NxB. Mieses's best chances here lay with 12. NxN.

12... NxB+
13. axN h5

Well played by Marco, who has messed up Mieses' pawns on the Queen-side and taken steps to prepare for any attack on the other wing. His only problem is his undeveloped Queen-side, a problem he begins to address on his next move.

14. g5

In for a penny, in for a pound. Perhaps 14. Qg3 was a little better. But Mieses is not interested in half measures here.

14... d6

Marco now develops his Queen-side. With his extra pawn, he has something close to a strategically won game at this point. It would take all of Mieses' attacking prowess to make something of his position now.

15. Qg3 Be6

15...Bg4 was perhaps even better.

The opening is now over, and the question at hand is what compensation does Mieses has for the pawn he has sacrificed. I will address this in my next post on this game.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post II

After 15...Be6 the position was:

click for larger view

At this juncture, as Mieses had to find a way to justify his pawn sacrifice, the play by both sides--if the score is to be believed--became incredibly sloppy. I say "incredibly" because I question the correctness of the recorded text of moves 16 through 18. The play here hardly seems worthy of Mieses and Marco. The analysis below assumes that the text as it has come down to us is correct--but I don't believe it.

16. d4

Not the way to make progress. 16. Nh4 was definitely better. After the text, Marco has a powerful and likely winning move (16...h4) but misses it.

16... exd4

This may also be sufficient for Marco to win, but 16...h4 (and if 17. Nxh4 Nxd4) was ever so much better.

17. Nb5 Qd7

Missing a chance to mess up White's position with 17...d3.

18. Nfxd4?

Hard to believe! Why not 18. Nbxd4. The text, however, should have lost a piece immediately. But--if the text is to be believed--Marco missed a pretty simple win here. [While I have not figured out exactly how to reconstruct the text, I am guessing that Mieses' actual move here was 18. Nbxd4).

18... NxN?

Missing (assuming the accuracy of the text) 18...a6. If White then tries to save the piece by 19. NxB Black simply plays 19...axb5 and White has no time to rescue the Knight on e6 because of the threatened mate in one on a1.

19. NxN 0-0-0
20. NxB

20. Rhe1 seems more in the gambit spirit here than trading minor pieces.

20... fxN

The position now was:

click for larger view

The question remains: Does Mieses have sufficient compensation for his sacrificed pawn? How can he make progress? What counterchances does Marco have?

21. Rhe1 e5
22. Qe3 Kb8
23. f4 Rhe8
24. fxe5 dxe5

The position now was:

click for larger view

Can Mieses simply grab the e5 pawn with 25. Qxe5? If not, how if at all could he make progress? I will address these issues in my next post on this game.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post III

As Rosenthal point out in the Tournament Book, Mieses could NOT have played 25. Qxe5 and survived. Marco would then have played 25...Bb4 and then:

(A) If then 26. Qf4 Black wins with BxB+ and then if 27. QxB [White could stave off mate a few moves longer with 27. Kb1 but obviously be lost] QxQ+ 28. RxQ RxR(e1)+ and mate next move.

(B) BxB QxR+ 27. RxQ RxR+ 28. KxR RxQ and wins; or

(C) 26. QxR (not considered by Rosenthal and comparatively "best" though still hopeless RxQ 27. BxB RxR 28. RxR

Mieses saw the problem and played:

25. Qe4

This led to simplifying exchanges in which White did wind up winning the e5 pawn at the cost of reaching an inferior endgame:

25... Qe6
26. Qxe5 QxQ
27. RxQ Bd6
28. RxR RxR
29. h3 Kc8

The position was now:

click for larger view

Black can probably hold this position, but it requires great skill and patience.

30. Rf1

Not a great start, especially since it offers the exchange of Rooks which is all to Black's advantage. Better was 30. Rg1.

30... Rf8
31. RxR+ BxR

So now the players face a tough Bishop and pawn ending, the position being:

click for larger view

White faces two problems: (1) his doubled pawn [a minor problem); and (2) his weak pawns on the King-side (a major problem). White's Bishop is obviously unable to attack the Black pawns on g6 and h5. By oontrast, Black's Bishop can target White's g5 pawn--and the h-pawn if it has the temerity to move to h4 to support its g5 companion.

How to handle this ending? Can White hold?

32. Bf4?

The losing move, both tactically and because it reveals Mieses' mis-evaluation of the position. The game will be won or lost on the King-side. The c7 pawn that Mieses targets with this move is comparatively unimportant, as Marco goes on to demonstrate.

The move is a tactical mistake because White's King needs to rush to the King-side. The text loses a tempo--and thus the game.

But though the game may now be theoretically won for Marco, that doesn't mean the task is an easy one. And while Marco probably never let the win slip, he certainly didn't wrap up the game as quickly as he might have.

The saga of this endgame will continue in my next post.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post IV

The position after 32. Bf4? was:

click for larger view

32... Kd7

Grabbing the extra tempo Mieses' last move gave him. The winner, Marco realizes, will be the one who finishes first in the race to the King-side.

33. Kd2

One move too late.

33... Ke6

"Very well played. This move gives Black the advantage, as will be seen from the following play." (Rosenthal in the Tournament Book).

The text is a clever pawn sacrifice by Marco that causes White to lose another tempo on the King-side if accepted. Mieses gives in to temptation and:

34. Bxc7?

If the game wasn't lost for White before this,it is now. with the text one of Mieses' King-side pawns must fall, and the pawn won by Mieses on the Queen-side is of no significance.

Better was 34. Ke3 or 34. Ke2.

Rosenthal's analysis here is dreadful. He claims that after 34. Ke3 Kf5 35. Kf3, Black should play 35...h4? But now 36. Bxc7 would indeed draw for White. In this line, Black wins (eventually!) with 35...Bg7.

34... Kf5

Marco has won the race and is ready to gobble a King-side pawn, and White is helpless to stop him.

35. Ke3 Bc5+

35...Kxg5 immediately was better. Now the win gets harder.

36. Kf3 Kxg5
37. c3 a6

Now all of Black's pawns are on White squares and invulnerable to attack by Mieses' Bishop.

38. b4 B37
39. b3?

Better hopes of resistance were offered by 39. Bg3.

39... Kf5
40. Bb6 g5

Let us now take stock, the position now being:

click for larger view

Black has an extra pawn on the King side and White has no threats on the Queen-side. With proper play, Black must win. But it's not easy.

41. Bc7?

White cannot afford this and Black now has a clear road to victory. Mieses should have played 41. Bf2

41... Bf6?

Marco misses his chance. With 41...g4! Black would have matters all his way (e.g., 42. hxg4+ hxg4+ 43. Kf2 Bg5+ with 44. Bf4 to follow. After the text, however, the win is still highly difficult for Marco.

42. c4 Be5
43. Bd8

Trading Bishops here would obviously be hopeless for White.

43... Bf4
44. b5 axb5
45. cxb5 g4+
46. hxg4 hxg4+

The position was now:

click for larger view

Looks good for Marco here, but Mieses still had a few tricks up his sleeve, as will be discussed in my next post on this game.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post V

Can Marco make progress with his g-pawn? Can he cut off White's Bishop? What resources does Mieses have?

47. Kg2 Ke5

47...Bg5 seems a better way forward (aiming at Bh4.

48. b6 Kd5
49. Bc7

Mieses' idea. Needless to say, 49...BxB would now lose to 50. bxB and White Queens. So Black's Bishop must either move or be protected.

49... Bd6
50. Kf2 Ke6
51. Bd8!

The only chance. If 51. Kg2 Black trades Bishops and wins on the Queen's side.

51... Kf5
52. Bc7 Be7
53. Kg3 Bb4
54. Kf2 Bc5+
55. Kg3 Be3
56. Bd8 Bf4=
57. Kg2

Stiffer resistance would have been offered by 57. Kf2. Marco is clearly having a hard time finding a winning line. This slight error by Mieses helped him along.

57... Bg5!
58. Bc7 Bh4

The position was now:

click for larger view

59. Bg3??

Hard to believe!! Marco still had some heavy lifting to do in the Bishop ending. Now, however, he gets a King and pawn ending that a beginner should be able to win. 59. Bb8 or 59. Bh2 would have made Marco's task far more difficult.

59... BxB
60. KxB Kg5

The position now was:

click for larger view


The winning procedure is pretty easy. Force White's King back--into stalemate if necessary until White is forced to advance his b3 pawn to b5, then abandon the g-pawn and pick off both of White's b-pawns, being careful not to allow White to achieve a drawing opposition. The procedure is actually easier to play than to describe. Mieses could have safely resigned here.

61. Kg2 Kf4
62. Kf2 g3+
63. Kg2 Kg4

63...Ke5?? would blow the win, since White would have time to capture the g-pawn and still seize the opposition and stop Black's pawn from advancing. The White King needs to be driven back one more rank. But this is not very difficult.

64. Kg1

If 64. b4 Kf4

64... Kf3
65. Kf1 g2+
66. Kg1 Kg3

With the White King stalemated, White's b-pawn must march to its doom.

67. b4 Kf3
68. b5

Of course, if 68. Kh2 Black Queens with 68...Kf2. But after the text, Black can easily pick off the White b-pawns without allowing White time to obtain the opposition on the Queen-side.

68... Ke4
69. Kxg2 Kd4
70. Kf2 Kc5
71. Ke2 Kxb6
72. Kd2 Kxb5
73. Kc2 Kb4


Premium Chessgames Member
  Mateo: <KEG> 50.Bxd6 is a draw after 50...Kxd6 51.Kg3 Kc6 52.Kxg4.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Mateo: And 51.Bxd6 was a draw too.
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: <Mateo>You're right! Great catch. Thank you. (Don't know how I missed this).

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