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Leon Rosen vs Carl Schlechter
Paris (1900), Paris FRA, rd 15, Jun-14
King's Gambit: Accepted. Bishop's Gambit Cozio Defense (C33)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: What can we say about a game in which Rosen as White so misplays the opening that he is lost by move 4, and then goes downhill from there?

We can say two things: (a) Rosen played like a lunatic throughout the game and continued on long after any sensible player would have resigned; and (b) Schlechter played like a seasoned pro dismantling a crazed amateur. Rosen's play was bizarre throughout, and Schlechter was cool and calm at every stage of the game and never gave Rosen a ghost of a chance.

1. e4 e5
2. f4 exf4
3. Bc4

The Bishop's Gambit. It's soundness is questionable, but Bobby Fischer used it to surprise and defeat Larry Evans in the second round of the 1963 US Championship (en route to his 11-0 finish). The merits of this variation cannot be evaluated based on what happened in this game given Rosen's incredibly poor play.

3... Nf6

"The strongest reply." (Korchnoi/Zak in their book on the King's Gambit). The move is said to go back to 1561, and modern theory has come around to recognizing what was worked out over 450 years ago.

4. d4?

"Weak." (Rosenthal in the Tournament Book).

"This move leads to the loss of the game." (Schlechter).

Every commentary I know calls 4. Nc3 the right move here.

After the text, the position was:

click for larger view

White must now lose material and--with good play by Black--should lose the game as well. Incredible that Rosen chose to play an opening line that leaves him lost by move 4.

4... Nxe4

Schlechter was cool as a cucumber throughout this game. He exploits every misstep by Rosen--and there were plenty of them.

5. Bxf7+?!?

A crazy move that--though looking clever at first sight--virtually forces Black to obtain a clearly winning position.

The position was now:

click for larger view

The moves that follow were all virtually forced:

5... KxB
6. Qh5+ g6
7. Qd5+ Kg7
8. QxN Bb4+
9. Kf2

If 9. Kd1 or 9. c3, then 9...Re8 wins White's Queen (if the Queen moves 10...Re1 would be mate).

9... Re8

The position was now:

click for larger view

Rosen has won back his sacrificed piece, but is now simply down a pawn with an utterly undeveloped game and thus no compensation.

In what followed, as I will show in my next post on this game, Rosen managed to make his position even worse, but played on--going from one bad move to another. A bizarre exercise in masochism.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post II

It was all downhill for Rosen after Schlechter's 9...Re8. He was already lost, but any tiny chances he had of survival were snuffed out by his awful play.

10. Qd3?

"A mistake which loses the game." (Rosenthal in the Tournament Book).

While Rosenthal was correct that Rosen was lost after 10. Qd3?, and while 10. Qf3 was--as Rosenthal claimed--the best move at Rosen's disposal here, the claim by Rosenthal that Rosen could have saved the game with 10. Qf3 is plainly wrong, as is apparent from a review of Rosenthal's analysis: 10. Qf3 Qh4+ (good enough to win, but 10...Be1+ was even better) 11. g3 fxg3+ 12. hxg3 Qxd4+ 13. Kg2 [13. Be3 RxB (much better than Rosenthal's proposed 13...Be1+, which also wins easily)] 14. Bh6+ Kg8 15. Nc3 (Rosenthal's move, which is inferior to 15. QxQ, which also loses) leads--Rosenthal notwithstanding-- to a dead lost (three pawns down) position for White after 15...Qxc2+.

Anyway, let's get back to the actual game after Rosen's very bad 10. Qd3?:

10... Qh4+

10...Be1+ also wins, but the text by Schlechter is simpler and quite a killer.

11. g3 fxg3+
12. Kg2 gxh2

The position was now:

click for larger view

As is evident, Rosen has played a gambit opening but yet as of move 12 the only piece he has developed is his Queen (which is not doing much). Bad as this position is for White, Rosen promptly managed to make it far worse with his next three moves.

13. Nf3?

The only (tiny) chance lay in 13. Rxh2. Rosenthal, in his poor commentary on this game, suggested 13...Qe4+ as a response. Schlechter's commentary, however, identified the killer response: 13...Qg4+ (14. Kh1 Re1 15. Rg2 [15. Bh6+ was somewhat better, but also hopeless] Qh5+ 16. Rh2 Qd5+).

13... Qg4+
14. Kf2

As Rosenthal pointed out, White gets mated after 14. Kxh2 Bd6+ 15. Ne5 RxN!.

14... Bd6!

"After this move, White could resign." (Schlechter).

The position was now:

click for larger view

"Best" for White here--if he really wanted to play on--was 15. Rxh2, though the game would still be effectively over after 15...Bg3+.

15. Nxh2? would, as pointed out by Rosenthal, have been crushed by 15...Bg3+ 16. QxB (16. Kg2 was not much better after 16...BxN+) Re2+ 17. Rf1 QxQ 18. KxR Qg2+.

Rosen, however, came up with a very different--and entirely crazy--move:

15. Bh6+

"A useless sacrifice." (Schlechter).

15... KxB
16. Rxh2+

16. Nxh2 would--as noted by Schlechter-- get crushed by 16... Bg3+ 17. QxB [17. Kg2 would lose to 17...BxN+ 18. KxB Re2+) 17...Re2+.

16... BxR
17. NxB Qh4+
18. Kg2 Qg5+

Even better was 18...Qe1.

The position was now:

click for larger view

It is hard to explain why Rosen--down a Rook and two pawns, wanted to play on.

What was left of this sorry game will be covered in my next and final post on this game.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post III

Like a punch-drunk fighter coming up to be decked yet again before being KOed, Rosen played on after 18...Qg5+.

19. f2 d5

19... Rf8+ was another way to demolish White.

20. Nf3

A misguided concept, but by this point Rosen's position was so bad that criticism of his remaining moves is pointless.

20... Rf8

20...Qh5 was another way to close out the game.

21. Nbd2

Developing his b1 Knight long after it could do him any good.

21... Qh4+
22. Ke3

Perhaps the worst square to which he could have moved his King.

22... Re8+
23. Ne5 Nc6

23...Bg4 might have been an even faster way to end the game.

24. Ndf3 NxN

24...RxN+ was prettier, but Schlechter has no chance at a brilliancy prize at this stage.

25. dxN

25. NxQ loses immediately to 25...NxQ+ (Rosenthal). The text is also hopeless.

25... Qe4+

25...Qh5 was more brutal, but Schlechter must have expected that Rosen would resign after the text, especially since he is running out of pieces.

26. QxQ dxQ
27. Kxe4

The remaining carcass of this game was now:

click for larger view

By this stage, Schlechter must have been wondering what Rosen was smoking.

27... Bd7
28. Re1

A move that has the virtue of allowing Schlechter to clean off what little remained of Rosen's depleted army.

28... Bc6+
29. Ke3 Re7

29...g5 was another way to wipe out what little remained of the White forces.

After 29...Re7, the position was:

click for larger view

Rosen here finally threw in the towel...only about 20 or so moves too late.


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