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Leon Rosen vs James Mason
Paris (1900), Paris FRA, rd 12, Jun-09
Spanish Game: Schliemann Defense (C63)  ·  1-0

ANALYSIS [x]

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Kibitzer's Corner
May-25-18
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: This game was a replay of the 12th round draw between these same players eight days earlier. By the time of this replay, both Rosen and Mason were long out of contention for even a minor prize and had terrible records (2-12 for Rosen; 4.5-8.5 for Mason). This perhaps explains Mason's choice of the Schliemann Defense to the Ruy Lopez and the generally listless play until Mason lost a pawn on move 19 and went into a losing endgame. From that point on, Rosen never relinquished his winning advantage, After Rosen's desperate 30...Rg7?! failed to yield results, the balance of the game was a useless exercise. Rosen's exchange sacrifice on move 43 was pretty, but he had the game in hand well before then (and in fact had two previous chances for unleash this concluding sacrifice). Mason could have spared himself the final 13 moves of the game, and probably should have resigned even before then.

1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 Nc6
3. Bb5 f5?!

In addition to his other woes in this tournament, Mason had to return before the final round to play off another earlier draw (this one against Burn). Perhaps Mason wanted to force a quick crisis and avoid a long game. If so, his choice of openings failed doubly, since he lost a long game anyway.

4. d3 Nf6?!

Mason apparently wanted to avoid known lines. 4...fxe4 is most usual and best, though White still has an advantage.

5. 0-0

5. exd5 is doubtless stronger, but the text is solid and allows Rosen to maintain a definite edge.

5... fxe4
6. dxe4 d6
7. Qd3

7...Bc4 is perhaps a little better.

7... Be7
8. Qc4 a6
9. BxN+ bxB

The position was now:


click for larger view

10. Rd1

10. Qxc6+ Bd7 11. Qb7 Rb8 yields at least equal chances for Black. But best here was 10. Nc3.

10... Bd7
11. Nc3 Qc8

A useless move. 11...a5 (to stop 12. b4) or 11...h6 were better.

12. Ng5

Rosen misses his opportunity. He should have played 12. b4. Any advantage Rosen had enjoyed from the opening has by this point been dissipated.

12... Rf8
13. f4?!

Misguided. 13. b4 was correct. The text practically invites Mason to play 13...Ng4 with advantage.

13... exf4

Mason also seems to be asleep at the switch, and misses 13...Ng4.

14. Bxf4 Nh5?

This weak move was the source of many of Mason's subsequent troubles. It accomplished nothing (White's Bishop in better on e3) and gave White a loose piece to exploit. Mason should have tried to work on the open b-file with 14...Qb7 or 14...Qb8.

15. Be3 h6?

Needlessly creating weaknesses on his King-side. Mason should have swallowed his pride and played 15...Nf6

The position was now:


click for larger view

16. Nf3?

Rosen overlooks 16. Nh7! which would have left Mason in desperate trouble.

16... a5

Rosenthal in the Tournament Book was correct that 16...c5 was bad, but it is doubtful that White would have anything approaching a fast win after 17. e5 Be6 18. Qe2 (18. Nd5 was better than Rosenthal's move, but hardly leading to a win) since Mason could then play 18...Rb8.

17. a4

Another weak move by Rosen. 17. e5 was indicated.

17... Rb8

17...Qa6 was stronger.

18. Nd4

The simple 18. b3 was better.

The position was now:


click for larger view

After the preceding weak play, Rosen's advantage was long gone. But Mason's poor play over the next few moves left him in a lost endgame, as I will discuss in my next post on this game.

May-25-18
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post II

Rosen's 18. Nd4 offered a poison pawn (at b2) to Mason. Had Mason taken the bait with 18...Rxb2, he would have been in big trouble (and probably lost) according to Rosenthal in the Tournament Book after 19. Nxc6 Rxc2? 20. NxB KxN? 21. Nd5+ "followed by QxR and wins." Mason could have improved on Rosenthal's line with 19...Bg5 but would still probably be lost. [20...KxN? was a blunder, but even after the "better" 20...Rxg2+ BlRxb2 Black is dead].

But Mason did not fall for Rosen's trap and instead of 18...Rxb2 played:

18... c5

This is better than 18...Rxb2, but hardly best. Mason should have played 18...Rb4 after which he would have had approximately equal chances. The text leads to trouble, especially given Mason's very poor next (19th) move.

19. Ndb5

The position was now:


click for larger view

19... Be6?

This allows Rosen to play a pretty combination that leads to an endgame in which he is a pawn ahead.

Once again, Mason should have acknowledged that moving his Knight to h5 was a mistake and played 19...Nf6.

Although the game lasted another nearly forty moves, from this point on Mason was lost.

Rosenthal in the Tournament Book claimed that the right move was 19...Nf4, but that would have been even worse than the text [19...Nf4 20. BxN RxB (20...BxN was better but also hopeless) 21. Qg8+ Bf8? (Rosenthal's move which would get crushed by 22. Nd5. 21...Rf8 was better but also unavailing].

20. QxB!

20. Nxc7+ ! was another way to pick up a pawn and reach the identical winning endgame [20. Nxc7+ Kf7 21. NxB QxN 22. QxQ+ KxQ 23. Nb5.

20... QxQ
21. Nxc7+ Kd7
22. NxQ KxN
23. Nb5

This left:


click for larger view

Mason was always a tough man to defeat in a endgame, so the pawn plus might not have been sufficient for Rosen to prevail. But Rosen's advantage is more than just his extra pawn; his Knight is powerfully posted, and Black has numerous pawn weaknesses. Absent a miracle, Mason must lose. As will be seen, however, Mason--recognizing his peril--hatches a plan to try to lead Rosen astray.

23... Rb7

Here again, 23...Nf6 was better, though now Black's game is beyond repair.

24. Bd2

A reasonable winning plan, but faster and better was 24. Ra3.

24... Ra8

Mason is fishing for complications. But, on any reckoning, 24...Bd8 was much better.

25. Ra3 Nf6
26. Re3

Sufficient, but more enterprising were 26. Rg3 or 26. Rf3. In either case, 26...Nxe4 would be met by 27. Re1.

26... Ne8
27. Bc3 Bf6

The defensive task is wearing Mason down. The trade of Bishops only benefits White. Mason might have tried 27...Ra6 or perhaps 27...Rd7.

28. BxB gxB

28...KxB was surely better theoretically, but Mason decides to go for broke and--even at the cost of another pawn--try to get counterplay on the g-file.

The position was now:


click for larger view

As is apparent, Mason's game is hanging by a thread. But it was here that he tried his final swindle in an effort to save the game, as I will discuss in my next post on this game.

May-26-18
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post III

As Rosen methodically went about his business of attacking Mason's weak squares and pawns, Mason plotted his desperate hopes for counterplay.

29. Rh3 Rh7
30. Rd5

30. Ra3 and 30. b3 were also good alternatives.

The position was now:


click for larger view

The obvious (and probably the theoretically "best") move here for Mason was 30...Rd8 (or maybe 30...Rc8), but Mason instead decided to abandon his h6 pawn and try to get some activity for his pieces with:

30... Rg7?!

A desperate bid, but Mason preferred going down with his boots on than lying down and awaiting slow but sure defeat.

31. Kf2!

"Well played." (Rosenthal in the Tournament Book).

I agree with Rosenthal's assessment. The text declines the immediate win of the Black pawn on h6 in order to have the White King enter the fray and be prepared in some variations to defend the White pawn on e4.

But Rosenthal goes too far in opining that White would have lost his winning chances had he taken the h6 pawn. Rosenthal claims that after 31. Rxh6 Rg4 32. Nc3 [32. Rh8 is probably even stronger, but 32. Nc3 is certainly sufficient to win] Rxe4 33. NxR KxR Black can hold, but White has a clear win here with 34. Nxf6+ NxN 35. RxN leaving White two pawns up in a Rook ending (with two outside passed pawns). I fail to understand how or why Rosenthal thought Black would expect to hold this position.

31... Rg5?!

31...Rh7 or 31...Rg6 were the only hope to hold the h6 pawn, but Mason obviously recognized that this form of defense was hopeless. But his desperado plan got him nowhere against Rosen's accurate play.

32. c4

Rosen could also just have taken the h6 pawn (32. Rxh6) but the text is another winning method.

32... RxR

Mason obviously did not like having a White Rook on d5 tying up his game, but his "remedy" here of trading Rooks was worse than the disease. He might have tried 32...Re5, though his chances would still have been about nil.

33. exR+ Ke5

The defensive 33...Kf7 seems more logical, but Mason's position--two pawns down--is hopeless.

34. Rxh6

This left:


click for larger view

Mason now tried one last effort to save himself--activation of his Knight. Mason's spunk here was admirable, but this plan, like his pawn sacrifice a few moves earlier, only made things worse for him.

34... Ng7

If Mason really wanted to play on in this lost endgame, he might have tried 34...f5 or 34...Kf4, hopeless as those endeavors would have been.

35. Rh7

Rosen could have shortened matters with 35. Kf3.

35... Nf5

35...Rg8 was the other (also hopeless) way to seek counterplay.

36. g4 Nd4
37. Re7+ Kf4
38. Nxd6 Kxg4
39. Re4+ Kg5

39...Kh5 perhaps would have allowed him to prolong the struggle.

40. h4+ Kg6

The position was now:


click for larger view

The only remaining interest in the game is Rosen's elegant winning combination. I will cover that in my next post.

May-26-18
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post IV

By move 41, Rosen was up two pawns and should have won even without any flare of pretty combos. But the fastest way to victory was to play RxN and then win with the two White passed pawns in the center. Rosen could have done this on move 41 or on move 42, but delayed until move 43 to finish off poor Mason.

41. Rg4+ Kh5

41...Kh6 was slightly better, though by this stage it hardly mattered.

42. Rf4 Kg6

42...Rb8 was the best he had, but would have been unavailing.

43. RxN

"This move finishes the game at once." (Rosenthal in the Tournament Book).

43... cxR

This left:


click for larger view

Material is nominally even, but Rosen's two passed pawns in the center coupled with his passed h-pawn and the weak Black pawn on d4 that must fall sooner or later, Rosen had a clear win here. Mason decided to carry on for a while, but from here the outcome was never in doubt.

44. c5 Rb8

"If 44...Rd8 45. c6 RxN 46. c7 and wins." (Rosenthal in the Tournament Book).

45. Nb5

45. c6 also wins.

45... Kf5
46. c6 Ke5
47. d6

47. c7 also wins.

47... Rh8

Useless, since Black has no time to take the h-pawn. But everything else was hopeless too.

48. d7

48.h5 and 48.c7 also would have won.

48 Ke6
49. Nxd4+

With the fall of the d-pawn, Mason had nothing left to play for. But he soldiered on for a while.

49... Kd6
50. Kf3 f5
51. h5

The position was now:


click for larger view

51... Rb8

As Rosenthal pointed out in the Tournament Book, 51...Ke7 would have lost to 52. Ne6+ followed by 53. d8(Q).

52. h6 Rh8
53. Kf4 Rf8
54. h7 Rh8
55. Kxf5 Kc7
56. Ne6+

The position was now:


click for larger view

In this utterly hopeless position, Mason finally called it a day.

1-0

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