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Jackson Whipps Showalter vs Georg Marco
Paris (1900), Paris FRA, rd 13, Jun-11
Queen's Gambit Declined: Semi-Tarrasch Defense (D40)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: There were a number of fascinating endgames at the Paris 1900 tournament, not all of which were handled well. Showalter's game provide good examples of what occurred.

In his two previous games, Showalter had: (i) won an ending against Marshall that Marshall should have been able to draw; and then (ii) drew an ending against Mason he should have won. Now in Round 13 at Paris 1900 Showalter lost an endgame against Marco in which he had--if anything--the better chances.

1. d4 d5
2. c4 e6
3. Nc3 Nf6
4. Nf3 c5

So we have a semi-Tarrasch Defense. Rosenthal in the Tournament Book thought this--now standard--treatment was a mistake.

5. cxd5 cxd4

5...Nxd5 is most usual, but there is nothing wrong with the text.

6. Qxd4 exd5
7. Bg5

7. e4 is more forceful. The text yields only about even chances for White.

7... Be7
8. e3

As Rosenthal points out, 8. BxN BxB 9. Qxd5?? [best here would be 9. Qa4+] loses immediately to 9...BxN+

8... Nc6
9. Bb5 0-0
10. Qd2

10. Qa4 is the only move if White is seeking any kind of opening advantage.

10... Be6
11. 0-0 Qb6

11...h6 was a bit better.

12. Nd4

Giving up his sole trump--the fact that only Black as an isolated d-pawn. Slightly better here therefore were 12. BxN (c6) or 12. Rac1.

12... NxN
13. exN

Heading for an endgame with 13. QxN was more accurate, though any advantage for White is now gone.

13... Kh8

This is the first true "mistake" in the game. As Rosenthal pointed out in the Tournament Book, 13...Rfc8 was better than the useless text. Better still would have been 13...h6.

14. Rfe1 Rac8
15. Bf1 Ng8

15...Rfe8 was better.

16. BxB NxB

The position was now:

click for larger view

Thanks to Marco's 13th and 15th moves, Showalter again has a slight edge. He now makes a serious push to control the board.

17. Na4!

The beginning of a forcing sequence which yielded Showalter good chances.

17... Qd6
18. Nc5 b6
19. NxB fxN
20. Ba6

20. Re2, building pressure on the weak pawn on e6, was somewhat better.

20... Rcd8

Giving Showalter control of the c-file. 20...Rc7 was much better.

21. Rac1

Showalter happily seizes the open file.

21... Rf6
22. Qc3 Rdf8
23. Qc7

A good move, but perhaps not as strong as Showalter thought it was.

23... QxQ
24. RxQ

The position was now:

click for larger view

Given what happened from here, my hunch is that Showalter thought this was a winning position. He apparently didn't notice Marco's strong response. And from here Marco began playing much better and Showalter fell apart. How this came about will be covered in my next post on this game.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post II

Showalter certainly had much the better position in the last diagrammed position in my previous post, but from here it was all downhill for Showalter.

24... Nf5!

Perhaps Showalter missed this saving resource in his calculations. His play from this point was poor.

25. Rd1?

This timid move virtually gives away the entire advantage Showalter enjoyed. He should have played 25. Rxa7 and after 25...Nxd4 defended with 26. f3. The chances would all have been with him after that.

25... R8f7

All of a sudden, Marco has defended all his weak points.

26. Rc8+ Rf8
27. f3?

Allowing Marco to trade off the powerful White Rook on c8 was clearly misguided. Now, Showalter will have to play well just to survive, since all the chances now lie with Marco.

27... RxR
28. BxR

The position now was:

click for larger view

A comparison of the above position with that at move 24 reveals just how thoroughly Showalter has ruined his winning chances. Any advantage now lies with Marco.

28... Kg8

28...g5 was stronger.

29. Kf2 Kf7
30. Ba6 Ke7
31. Rd3

As Rosenthal correctly noted in the Tournament Book, 31. g4 was better. But Rosenthal's analysis of the move is flawed. After 31. g4 Nd6 (much better for Black would be 31...Nh4 32. Be2 Kg6 [or 32...Rf4] with only a slight edge for Black). 32. Kg3 (very weak, 32. Rc1 would have been better and given White some advantage) 32...g5 33. Rf1 gives--contrary to Rosenthal--some edge to Black after 33...Rf4 or 33...h5.

31... Kd6
32. f4 Rf7

32...h6 was better.

33. g4 Ne7
34. Kg3 Nc6
35. a3

33. Bb5 was better.

33... Rc7

Surprisingly timid. 35. Nb8 driving away White's Bishop was much better. All of a sudden, chances are about even. But from here Showalter collapses.

36. Rd2

Rosenthal's proposed 36. b4 would have been even worse, since--even crediting his line--Black is much better after 36...Nb6 37. Bb5 (37. b5 is a bit better) a6 38. Ba4 b5 39. Bd1 Rc4.

But Showalter could have maintained the balance with the simple 36. Bb5

36... Na5!

Heading for a perch on c4.

37. Bf1?

Needlessly burying his Bishop. Rosenthal's suggested 37. Be2 would have been better, though Marco would still have excellent winning chances with 37...Rc1. Showalter's best chance was to play 37. b4.

37... Rc1!

The position was now:

click for larger view

In the course of 13 moves, Showalter has transformed his superior endgame to the above lost position.

What followed is almost painful to watch, as Showalter's weak play continued and Marco mopped up. I will review this final stage of the game in my next post.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post III

Showalter was probably lost after 37...Rc1! To the extent there was any doubt, his listless play from this point soon left no doubt as to the outcome.

38, Bh3?

Rosenthal in the Tournament Book says that 38. Be2 was "better." That is true, but Showalter would still have been sunk after 38...Nc4! His best chance at offering resistance was 38. Bb5.

38... Re1!

"Well played. If 38...Nc4 39. Re2 Rd1 40. g5 defending the position." (Rosenthal). While I agree that the text is much better than 38...Nc4, in the line Rosenthal gives White would still be dead lost after 40...Rd3+ 41. Kb4 Re3!


Hopeless. 39. Rd3 was the best chance.

39... exf5

This is sufficient to win, but Marco could have closed out the game more efficiently with 39...Re3+ followed by Nb3 and Nxd4 defending the pawn at e6.

40. gxf5 Nc4

Needlessly complicating his own task. 40...Nb3 o4 40...Re3 check were better.

41. Rf2 Re3+
42. Kg2?

He might still--in light of Marco's inaccuracies--have been able to put up a fight with 42. Kg4 or 42. Kh4

42... Ke7
43. a4?

43. f6+--freeing the Bishop on the h3-c8 diagonal--was the last hope.

44... Kf6!

Extinguishing Showalter's last chance.

45. Bg4?

"White can no longer save the game" (Rosenthal). Rosenthal is certainly correct, but the text only makes mattrs worse. If he wanted to play on, Showalter should have played 44. Rc2

45... Re4

45...Rd3 was faster, but the text is also murderous.

45. h3?

It is hard to call almost any move by White here a mistake, but the text is entirely misguided. 45. Be2 was all that was left.

45... Rxd4

click for larger view

Resignation is overdue, but Showalter suffered on for one more move.

45. Kg3 Nd6


Showalter showed none of his talents in this endgame.

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