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James Mason vs Lucien Didier
Paris (1900), Paris FRA, rd 14, Jun-13
Scotch Game: General (C45)  ·  1-0

ANALYSIS [x]

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Kibitzer's Corner
Mar-31-18
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Poor Didier. His record going into Round 14 was a dismal 0-12. He should have won his game with Mason, but let Mason off the hook. The following day, the game was replayed (draws were replayed with colors reversed at Paris 1900), this time with Mason as White (the game shown here) and Didier played poorly and lost. He blundered away a piece on move 16 (which should have lost him and game then and there) and missed chances to get back in the game later on when Mason badly mishandled his winning position.

All in all, not a very good game.

1. e4 e5
2. Nf6 Nc6
3. d4

Ths Scotch Game. This opening had not yet fallen into disfavor at the time of this game. It later nearly disappeared from top-level chess until Kasparov and others brought it back to life in the 1990's. Kasparov shocked Karpov and the world when he played it in his 1990 World Championship match (winning a key game), and Susan Polgar used the Scotch with great success in winning her Women's World Championship match in 1996.

The Mason-Didier game, however, is no model for this opening.

3... exd4
4. Nxd4 NxN

Hardly best, since Black trades off his only developed piece. More usual and better here are 4...Nf6 and 4...Bc5. For those inclined to seek wild uncertain positions, 4...Qh4 is a possibility. Didier, however, just seems to want to trade pieces, and soon gets in trouble.

5. QxN Qf6
6. Qc4

Mason is as disinclined to trade off pieces as Didier is anxious to do so. 6. Be3 seems a bit more logical, giving White a far more developed position should Black persist in trading Queens.

6... c6

Rosenthal in the Tournament Book said that 6...Qc6 was best, but the text seems much better. At some point Black needs to start developing pieces and contesting the center. Shuffling his Queen on his third rank in the hope of trading pieces can't be right. Had Didier played 6...Qc6 as Rosenthal recommended, Mason could have obtained a fine game with 7. Nc3, leaving Black even farther behind in development if he chose to trade Queens.

7. Nc3 d6

This blocks the one Black piece that had any scope (i.e., the Bishop at f8). Didier should start developing his game with 7...Bd3. 7...b5 was another possibility, exploiting the position of the White Queen.

8. Be3 Qe6

Still itching for a Queen trade. At this stage, I suppose Didier might as well try the text in order either to cause White either to lose another move with his Queen or to allow the development of the Black Bishop at c8.

The position was now:


click for larger view

9. Qa4 Bd7
10. Qa5

Very weak. Mason should have continued to build up his already formidable position with 10. 0-0-0. Another possibility was 10. f3 strengthening his center. The Queen foray accomplishes nothing useful.

10... Nf6
11. Bd3

Missing another chance to play 0-0-0.

11... Be7
12. h3

The negative progress Mason has made can be seen by comparing his position after 12. h3 with the position (shown above) after 8...Qe6.


click for larger view

Any advantage Mason has enjoyed is now gone. But now Didier manages to ruin the Black position in just a few moves.

12... b5

Needlessly creating weaknesses for himself. Rosenthal in the Tournament Book recommends 12...0-0-0 for Didier here, but that move happens to be illegal!! Best for Didier were probably 12...Bd8 or the simple 12...0-0

13. a4 Bd8
14. Qa6 b4

Having said "A" (12...b5), Didier decides to say"B" (14...b4), but this leaves himself open to a powerful retort by Mason--which Mason in turn misses. 14...bxa4 was best, though Black would still have a significantly inferior game.

15. Ne2?

15. Qb7 looks awfully good for White. By contrast, the wimpy text forfeits any edge Mason had obtained thanks to Didier's weak play.

15... 0-0
16. 0-0

The position was now:


click for larger view

Chances appear about even. But here, as I will discuss in my next post on this game, Didier blundered and was quickly lost.

Apr-01-18
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post II

What had been an approximately even game turned into a won game for Mason with Didier's poor 16th move in the diagrammed position that concluded my last post:

16... Nxe4?

Rosenthal in the Tournament Book recommended 16...c5, and while this would surely have been better than Didier's actual move, it would--with best play--have yielded an advantage to White after 17. Rfe1 (much better than Rosenthal's proposed 17. Qb7 after which Black could get near equality with 17...Rc8 (better than Rosenthal's 17...Bb6.

Best play for Black in the diagrammed position was 16...Bb6 which would have given him approximately even chances (if then 17. BxB axB 18. Qxb6 , Black has excellent counterplay with 18...c5!).

The text (16...Nxe4?) was an oversight by Didier that loses a piece and should lose the game.

17. BxN QxB
18. Qb7!

The position at this point wasa;


click for larger view

Black has temporarily won a pawn, but now must lose a piece. Didier quickly makes the situation even worse for himself:

18... Bb6?

The only chance of obtaining anything close to reasonable compensation for the lost piece was with 18...Bxh3! 19. gxh3 Bf6. With the text, Black is--or should be--toast.

19. QxB(d7) BxB
20. fxB Qxe3+
21. Rf2 Qc5

The dust has now settled and Mason has a clearly won game:


click for larger view

But from here, step-by-step, Mason ruins his winning position until Didier is back in the game.

22. Qf5?

22. Ng3 solves many of White's remaining problems and was far better than the text (which in fairness should have won almost as easily).

22... d5!

Didier is lost, but now puts up excellent resistance, and--with some help from Mason--gets himself real chances to save the game.

23. Qd3 Rae8
24. Raf1

Mason is losing his grip on the position. 24. Nd4 was best by far here.

24... Re4
25. Kh1

Another second-best move. Mason here should have played 25. c3

25... Rf38

Little-by-little, Didier is building up attacking prospects. He is still far from out of the woods, but Didier has definitely been fighting valiantly since his poor 16th and 17th moves to turn the tide.

26. Qf3

26. Rxf7 would forfeit all of White's advantage after 26...RxN.

26... f6

The position was now:


click for larger view

Despite his doubtful play since winning a piece, Mason has not seriously spoiled his winning chance. His next move, however, does place the win in jeopardy:

27. Nf4?

Mason should have played 27. Ng3. Now, though he still has a significant advantage, the win has become uncertain at best:


click for larger view

From this point on, as I will show in my next post on this game, play became extremely ragged, Mason nearly blowing the win, and Didier completely losing the thread of the game and nearly handing Mason victory.

Apr-01-18
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post III

Mason's 27. Nf4? gave Didier chances, but what followed for Didier was instead was a complete debacle; a sequence of awful play that led to his swift defeat:

27... Re1?

This could and should have led to a lost position for Didier. 27...Qd4 or 27...a5 both would have given him chances to save the game.

28. Nd3 RxR+
29. RxR Qxc2

The position was now:


click for larger view

Mason can now win with either 30. Qg3 or--better still--30. Qf5. But Mason instead played:

30. Nxb4?

Didier again had a chance to get back in the game with 30...Qc4. But he in turn blunders again, and this time Mason made no mistake and finished off the game nicely:

30... Qxa4?

This left:


click for larger view

31. Qc3!

"Very well played. This move finished the game brilliantly." (Rosenthal in the Tournament Book).

31... Re4

This only makes things worse for Didier (whose every move from this point on was a lemon). In fairness, however, it is doubtful that even the "better' 31...Qb5 would have saved him.

32. Nxc6!

This set up Mason's final winning combination.

32... Rc4?

Didier obviously didn't see the KO punch that was coming. If he had and still wanted to play on for a bit, he would presumably have tried 32...Qa6 or 32...Qb5. With the text, Didier wins a piece temporarily, but is a dead duck.

33. Ne7+ Kf7

The position was now:


click for larger view

34. Qf3

34. Qg3! would have been even more crushing, but the text is good enough.

34... KxN?

Didier still doesn't see what is coming. If he had, he would either have resigned here or--if he wanted to suffer a little longer--played 34...Qd7.

35. b3


click for larger view

Ouch!

1-0

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