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Carl Schlechter vs Frank Marshall
Paris (1900), Paris FRA, rd 10, Jun-09
Queen's Gambit Declined: Albin Countergambit. Fianchetto Variation (D09)  ·  1/2-1/2



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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: An interesting but strange game.Schlechter outplays Marshall in the opening and gets a strategically won game. But Marshall gets Schlechter into a tactical rumble and claws his way back into the game. Schlechter still had the edge until he--uncharacteristically-- tried a wild attack that gave Marshall chances he did not exploit. The game reduced to an ending in which Schlechter had an extra pawn but--for reasons I cannot explain--made no effort to win.

1. d4 d5
2. c4 e5

The Albin Counter Gambit. Marshall had carelessly lost a drawn position to Showalter the day before and perhaps felt he needed a win to have any chance at catching Lasker or Pillsbury.

3. dxe5 d4
4. Nf3 Nc6
5. g3 Bc5

5...Nge7 is sounder, but Marshall is playing for complications.

6. a3

An effort at a Queen-side demonstration that Marshall counters with ease. 6. Nbd2 was better.

6... a5

Effectively nixing whatever Schlechter had in mind with 6. a3. But from here, Schlechter completely outplays Marshall approximately ten moves.

7. Bg2 Nge7
8, Nbd2 Bg4

Marshall is keen to attack, but more the solid 8...0-0 or 8...Be6 were better.

9. 0-0 0-0
10. h3 BxN

Why play the Bishop to g4 only to exchange it off here? 10...Bf5 was better.

11. NxB Ng6

Another poor choice by Marshall, who apparently overlooked Schlechter's e6 plan. 11...Re8 or 11...Qc8 would have been better.

The position was now:

click for larger view

From here Schlechter took charge:

12. e6!

Driving a dagger into Marshall's King-side. Marshall is getting into trouble as of this point.

12... fx6

Black has nothing better here.

13. Ng5!

Threatening just about everything in sight.

13... Re8
14. Qb3

Strong, but 14. Qc2 or 14. Be4 were even better.

14... Ra6?

After this weak move, Marshall was probably lost. Best was 14...Nge5

15. Qb5!

Schlechter now controls the board, the position being:

click for larger view

15... a4

As Rosenthal pointed out in the Tournament Book, 15...Qe7? gets crushed by 16. Nxe6 (with Bd5 to follow).

16. Bd2

16. Qxb7, though not a losing blunder, loses the Queen (for decent compensation) after 16...Rb6. 16. QxB is even worse and lands White in trouble after 16...Ra5

16... d3

16...h6 may be sounder, but the text is pure Marshall--inviting the kind of tactical battle in which he excelled.

The position was now:

click for larger view

Schlechter almost certainly has a winning position here, but Marshall has ignited a storm of complications. As will be discussed in my next post, Schlechter, who had played so excellently to this point, missed his chances to win, and the game turned into the kind of struggle Marshall relished.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post II

In the last diagrammed position in my previous post, Schlechter faced a key decision:

17. QxB?

It was tempting to snatch Black's Bishop, but this loses the exchange. Schlechter had correctly foreseen that White would still have the advantage with his two Bishops sweeping the board even after losing the exchange, but with the simple 17. exd3 he would have had a winning game and without needing to sacrifice material.

17... exd2
18. Bc3!

Best. If 18. Rfe1 QxB 19. Ne4 (not Rosenthal's very bad 19. Qe3 QxQ [and certainly not Rosenthal's 19...Qxb2? 20. Rab1] and White is better) chances would be about equal. With the text, Schlechter--despite loss of the exchange--has the better of the position.

18... exR(Q)+
19. RxQ Nce5

A mistake. 19...Nf8 was much better.

The position was now:

click for larger view

The power of White's Bishops is impressive. This more than outweighs the lost exchange. But Black is still very much in the game.

20. f4

Better than 20. BxN QxN 21. Qb5 Raa8, though Rosenthal's claim in the Tournament Book that the resulting position favors Black is wrong.

20... Nd7

20...h6 seems better.

21. QE3

21. Qb4 was even stronger.

21... Nf6?

Marshall wants to attack, but 21...c6 was the prudent choice.

In what follows, Schlechter repeatedly ignores the chance to win the Black b7 pawn. Assuming the score is correct, I find this curious. Was Schlechter frightened by the tactical prowess of Marshall that had defeated both Lasker and PIllsbury in this tournament.

22. Qf3?

Why not 22. Bxb7?

22... Rd6

And here, why not 22...Rb6 to guard the bb7 pawn.

The position was now:

click for larger view

23. f5?!

Again ignoring the chance to win the b7 pawn (23. Qxb7). The attack Schlechter initiates with the text only lands him in potential trouble, and ends his winning chances.

23... exf5
24. Qxf5 c6?

The final major mistake is this tipsy-turvy game. Marshall should have played 24...Re7, after which he would have had fair chances of coming out on top. After the text, the game reduces to an ending in which only White has any realistic chance to win.

25. Ne4 Rde6
26. BxN gxB
27. Nxf6+ RxN
28. QxR QxQ
29. RxQ

After the dust cleared, the position was:

click for larger view

It is not clear that White can win, but I cannot explain Schlechter's failure even to try to avoid a draw.

29... Re2
30. Rf2 Re3
31. Rf3

Why not try 31. Kh2 or even 31. g4?

31... Re1+
32. Rf1 Re2
33. Rf2

And here why not try 33. Rb1?

33... Re3
34. Rf3 Re1+
35. Rf1 Re2

1/2 -- 1/2

It was finishes like this that helped give Schlechter the title of the "drawing" king.

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