|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
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.
3. Bc4 Nxe4
4. Qh5 Nd6
5. Qxe5 is simplest but drawish and hardly to the liking of an attack demon like Mieses.
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...
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.
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.
8. Qh3 Nfd4
Ready or not, here comes Mieses!
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.
Hard to understand, especially from Marco. 10...NxB was much better.
Waste of time. 11. NxN or 11. 0-0-0 were better and more in the spirit of the gambit Mieses is playing.
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.
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.
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.
In for a penny, in for a pound. Perhaps 14. Qg3 was a little better. But Mieses is not interested in half measures here.
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.