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Carl Schlechter vs James Mortimer
Paris (1900), Paris FRA, rd 11, Jun-07
Philidor Defense: Hanham. Sharp Variation (C41)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Though the opposition here was weak, it is always a pleasure to watch Schlechter's logical mind at work. Here--without doing anything flashy--he grinds down Mortimer with clear, precise play. He dominated the board soon after the opening, had a strategically won game by move 12, won a pawn on move 22, and then carefully nursed his winning advantage to victory. There were points at which Schlechter could have ended resistance faster, and he missed a lovely closing sacrificial combination, but after about move 12 he never once gave Mortimer even a ghost of a chance to get back in the game. An excellent example of how to win a won game without taking any chances whatsoever.

1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 d6
3. d4 Nd7

3...exd4 is more usual in the Philidor's Defense, but there is nothing wrong with the text so long as Black is prepared for slow defensive play.

4. Bc4 Nb6

MCO-13 gives 4...c6 as best, and that is probably right. But the text is certainly playable.

5. Bb3 exd4
6. Qxd4 Be6

6...Nf6 was better. The text, though not fatal, further condemns Black to a difficult defensive stand, and allows Schlechter to create weaknesses that plagued Mortimer for the rest of the game.

7. BxB

Rosenthal in the Tournament Book says that 7. Nc3 was better, but Black then gets good play with 7...c5. Schlechter's move is far better, and creates problems Mortimer was unable to solve.

7... fxB
8. 0-0 e5?

Giving Schlechter a hole at d5 for his operations. Best for Black was 8...Qd7, though even a defensive genius such as Karpov would have had to strain his resources to hold such a position against Schlechter.

9. Qd3 Qd7
10. Nc3

Eyeing the weak d5 square.

10... Nf6
11. a4

Forcing new weaknesses in Mortimer's already bad position.

11... a5
12. Be3 c5

Rosenthal is correct that this is a poor move that "weakens the center. But his suggested 12...Nc8 is not much better (Schlechter would then have all sorts of chances--one idea being 13. Ra3 and letting his Rook wreck havoc on the third rank, a tactic often used by Lasker). Mortimer's best chance was 12...Be7 (or perhaps 12...Qc6).

13. Nd2!

It is such simple moves and clear planning that makes it such a pleasure to play over Schlechter's games. The Knight is headed for c4 to eliminate the Black Knight at b6 and thus allow White to pile up on d5.

13... Rc8

Mortimer is probably already lost, but this move makes matters worse. His only chances lay in 13...Qc6 or 13...Be7

14. Nc4 NxN
15. QxN

A diagram will show how Schlechter, without doing anything spectacular and without (yet) winning any material, has managed to control the board--and prepare to exploit the weak d5 square.

click for larger view

Helped in part by further weak play bu Mortimer, Schlechter soon converted this position into a won endgame in which he was up a pawn. How Schlechter did this will be covered in my next post on this game.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post II

Mortimer was already in deep trouble after 15. QxN. Things went downhill badly for him from there:

15... Be7

15...Qf7 would have lost the a-pawn after 16. b5+. The text, however, which allowed Schlechter to tie Black up in knots, was even worse.

16. Rad1

Schlechter fixes his laser-like attention on d5.

16... Rc6
17. f3

One of Schlechter's few second-best moves in this game. He could have steam-rolled Mortimer even more effectively with 17. f4.

17... Qc8

Mortimer fails to defend the threats on either wing. Relatively best was 17...h6.

18. Nb5!

Schlechter turns up the pressure another notch.

18... Qb8

He might have tried to hold onto the a-pawn while still protecting the d-pawn with 18...Ra6.

19. Bg5

Schlechter correctly diagnosed that Knights are stronger than Bishops in this kind of position. But 19. f4 would have been even more crushing.

19... Rf8
20. BxN

With Mortimer deprived of his Knight, he has no long-term way to hold off Schlechter's carefully planned assault.

20... RxB

All recaptures were bad, but Mortimer chose the worst of the lot.

Mortimer's "best" option was 20...gxB, though Schlechter would then have an overwhelming advantage with 21. f4 )even better than Rosenthal's suggested 21. Qe6, which is probably also sufficient to win).

20...BxB was bad, but better than the text. It would have lost to 21. Qe6+.

Mortimer's move (20...RxB) loses a pawn immediately and wrecked Black's position beyond any chance of repair.

The position after Mortimer's 20...RxB was:

click for larger view

Now the floodgates opened:

21. Qg8+ Bf8
22. Qxh7 Qd8
24. Qh7 Qe7

Allowing Schlechter to trade Queens ended any real chance of counterplay, but Mortimer had nothing better.

25. QxQ

Schlechter could also have won with 25. Qh4, but Schlechter decided to keep it simple. The text is probably not the fastest road to victory (given Mortimer habit of playing on to the bitter end), but if is consistent with Schlechter's method of giving his opponents not the slightest hope once he had achieved a winning position.

25... KxQ
26. c4 Bh6
27. Rd3 Bf8

27...Ke6 was perhaps slightly better.

28. h4

Toying with his prey. 28. Nc3 (aiming at d5) was simpler and faster.

28... Kf7

Mortimer had a knack of finding bad squares for his pieces. 28...Ke6--though holding out scant hope of survival--was better.

29. g3 Bh6
30. Kg2 Ke7

More dithering. 30...Re6 or 30...Ke6 were better.

31. Rh1

31. Nc3 was again a faster route to putting Mortimer out of his misery.

31... Rf7
32. b3 b6
33. h5!

Schlechter decides to get down to business, and begins the final assault.

33... g5

This is suicide, but Mortimer was lost anyway. Schlechter--in addition to his pawn plus and his control of the board, now gets a monstrous passed h-pawn. The position was now:

click for larger view

34. Rhd1 Rf6
35. Nc3 Kd7

35...Ke6 or 35... Rf7 might have delayed the deluge a bit.

36. Nd5 Re6
37. Ne3

37. Kh3 was another--and perhaps faster--way to close the show.

37... Kc7

Awful, but it no longer matters.

38. Nf5 Rf6

Rosenthal notes that 38...Bf8 was "better." That is true, but only in a grossly relative sense, since 39. Kh3 or 39. Rh1 would allow the h-pawn to march to victory.

39. Kh3

Rosenthal criticizes this move, claiming that Schlechter should have played 39...Ne7 to win the exchange. But Schlechter is after bigger game, and his move was best.

39... Kd7
40. Kg4

The position was now:

click for larger view

Schlechter's King march is crushing, and the game is clearly over. But there was an amusing potential finale to this game that I will cover in my next post on this game.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post III

Rather than resigning after 40. Kg4, Mortimer decided to sacrifice the exchange--which got him exactly nowhere:

40... RxN
41. KxR

41. exR also wins.

41... Ke7

There is no defense here, but the text gave Schlechter the chance for a closing flourish.

The position was now:

click for larger view

Schlechter here played:

42. Rd5 and Mortimer (finally) resigned.

While Schlechter's move absolutely wins, a nicer conclusion would have been:

42. Rxd6 RxR
43. RxR KxR
44. Kg6

The position would then have been:

click for larger view

Schlechter would now have won after 44...Bf8 45. h6 Bxh6 46. KxB


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