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Amos Burn vs James Mortimer
Paris (1900), Paris FRA, rd 16, Jun-15
Queen's Gambit Declined: Harrwitz Attack (D37)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: This game was played in the penultimate round of Paris 1900. Players are understandably tired at the end of a long and arduous tournament, especially where, at Paris, draws all had to be re-played once. As a result, Mortimer wound up playing 18 games (instead of just 16) and Burn 19. This fact may explain the ragged play here. Another factor may have been Burn's belief that all he had to do was wait for Mortimer to blunder.

1. d4 d5
2. c4 e6
3. Nc3 Nf6
4. Nf3 Be7
5. Bf4 a6

Mortimer here plays a la Janowski. 5...0-0 is normal.

6. cxd5

Rosenthal in the Tournament Book said that "Correct was 6. c6," but this is unnecessary and too committal. The text is better. Perhaps best of all would be the natural 6. e3.

6... Nxd5
7. Bg3

Burn 7. NxN (which was probably best), perhaps thinking the text would give Mortimer more room to err.

7... f5?!

Creating a hole on e5 for Burn to exploit as well as a weak pawn on e6. Best was the simple 7...0-0.

8. e3

Careful and steady seemed to be Burn's plan for this game against a much weaker opponent. He thus shuns 8. e4?! or any other effort to try to punish Mortimer for his temerity in playing 7...f5?!

8... 0-0
9. Bd3

9. Be2 was better (the Bishop winds up retreating there four moves later). Another idea to squeeze Mortimer was 9. Rc1.

9... c5!

A good way to attack Burn's center control, and apparently (from his next move) not anticipated by Burn.

10. Be5

Waste of time. Burn should have continued with his build-up with either 10. 0-0 or (if he truly feared an isolated d-pawn) 10. dxc5.

10... Nc6
11. 0-0 NxB

Sufficient for equality, but--in light of Burn's poor 10th move--Mortimer might have tried for more with 11...b5.

12. dxN?

It is hard to understand why Burn voluntarily weakened his pawn structure and abandoned his efforts to control the center. 12. NxN was best. Among other things, putting his own pawn on e5 makes it difficult for Burn to attack Mortimer's weak pawn at e6.

The position was now:

click for larger view

While the White pawn on e5 does somewhat constrict Black, on balance Burn has clearly gotten the worst of the opening.

12... Nb4
13. Be2 QxQ

Mortimer had no reason to fear the resulting endgame, but he might have tried the more ambitious 13...Qc7, since the presence of Queens on the board favors Black here.

14. RfxQ

This left:

click for larger view

Both sides have strenghts and weaknesses in their positions. Chances are about even.

14... g5?!

While Burn is trying to avoid complications, Mortimer (perhaps thinking this was his best chance against a stronger opponent) plays to mix things up on both sides of the board. While there is nothing terribly wrong with the text, 14...Rb8 might have been a better way to prepare a pawn advance (on the Queen-side), especially given that Mortimer in fact played b5 two moves later.

15. Nd2 Nc6

Once again, Rb8 would have been better here.

16. f4?!

Trying to fortify his e5 pawn which is now attacked by Black's c6 Knight, but 16. Nc4 was a better and less committal way to do this.

16... b5

Yet again, the preparatory 16...Rb8 was better. Another good choice was 16...gxf4.

17. Nb3

More strange play by Burn. While the text is not a serious mistake, it is hard to see why Burn did not play the stronger 17. Bf3.

17... Rd8

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, Rb8 was again better for Black here.

18. RxR

18. Bf3 was better, but Burn apparently reckoned that he could win an even endgame against the weaker Mortimer and decided to avoid middle-game risks.

18... NxR

18...BxR? would have failed against 19. Bf3!

The position was now:

click for larger view

Chances are still about even, but from here Mortimer began to falter badly and had a lost game withing a few moves, as I will discuss in my next post on this game.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post II

As Burn seemingly anticipated, the endgame proved difficult for Mortimer.

19. Rd1

Perhaps better were 19. Kf1 or 19. g3.

19... Bb7

As Rosenthal correctly pointed out, 19...gxf4 was better. Also better than the text was 19...c4

20. Na5

Having played 19. Rd1, why didn't Burn play the stronger 20. Rd7?

20... Rb8

Mortimer, who should have gotten his Rook on b8 several moves earlier, now plays this move at the very time he needed to play 20...Bc8 (to keep Burn's Rook off d7).

21. Kf2

Again missing the chance to seize control with Rd7. What was Burn waiting for?

21... gxf4
22. exf4

The position was now:

click for larger view

22... Ba8?

Hard to know what Mortimer was thinking. 22...c4 was best. Burn now finally plays Rd7, and Mortimer's position goes on the critical list.

23. Rd7! Kf8
24. Ra7!

Burn's attack now almost plays itself.

24... c4

Too late! 24...Bc6 was now better.

25. Rxa6

The position was now:

click for larger view

Burn has won a pawn and Mortimer's position seems ready to crumble. A swoft conclusion could now reasonably have been diagnosed. But from here Burn seems to have lost the thread of the game, and manages to lose his entire advantage in just a few moves.

25... Bc5+
26. Kg3

An alternative plan was to hold the King back with 26. Kf1. The text, however, need not have ruined Burn's game is followed up properly. As will be seen, the problem with the text is that it was the beginning of a bad play by Burn.

26... Ke7

26...Bd5 was much better.

27. Kh3?

This King excursion was misguided. Burn's winning plan was to play on the Queen-side with 27. a4!

27... Bd5
28. g4

Burn had better options at his disposal (28. Nxd5+ or 28. a4). The text, though poor, nonetheless does not ruin Burn's winning chances (yet).

28... Be4

Rightly called "weak" by Rosenthal in the Tournament Book, who recommended the better 28...fxg4+. Best for Black here, however, was the problem-like 28...Bh1. (In fairness to the players, this is a computer move championed by both Fritz-15 and Stockfish).

29. NxB fxN

This left:

click for larger view

Play has been a bit ragged for the past few moves, but Burn is still up a pawn in a winning position. Here, , as I will discuss in my next post on this game, Burn missed the winning 30. g5! and instead blundered, letting Mortimer back in the game--until the latter blundered twice in return, leaving his position beyond repair.

This unhappy conclusion to this uninspiring game will be discussed in my next post.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post III

Just as Burn seems poised for victory, he played not the winning 30. g5 but:

30. a4??

This lemon turns the game upside down. Mortimer now has a draw in hand with 30...bxa4 31. Nxc4 a3 32. bxa3 Rb3+ 33. Kg2 Rc3

But Mortimer missed this opportunity and played:

30... Be3?

From this point on, Mortimer was never given another chance to save himself.

31. Kg3 h5?

This only makes matters worse for Mortimer.

31...bxa4 or 31...c3 would have been better, though hardly sufficient to end the game. After the text, Burn now--in addition to everything else, gets a killer passed pawn on the King's side.

32. g5

This was one way to get a passed pawn. Even better was 32. gxh5. In either case, Mortimer is busted. Among other things, he now loses another pawn.

The position was now:

click for larger view

What follows is little short of a massacre.

32... Bd2
33. Bxh5 BxN

This trade only simplifies Burn's task.

34. RxB

This left:

click for larger view

Mortimer apparently decided to stake all on a do-or-die push of his b and c pawns. Burn soon disabuses him of any illusions in that regard.

34... b4

34...bxa4 was all that was left for Mortimer. The rest is simple for Burn.

35. Rc5 c3
36. Rc7+ Kf8

The position was now:

click for larger view

37. b3

This ends Mortimer's hopeless dream. But, despite the comments by Rosenthal in the Tournament Book, 37. bxc3 would also win easily (37...b3 38. Bg6!)

37... Rb7

After the exchange of Rooks, Mortimer could resign. But I see nothing better for him here.

38. RxR NxR

Mortimer was just one move shy, but unfortunately it was Burn's move here:

click for larger view

39. Bd1!

Forced, but a killer. The rest of the game does nor warrant any comment.

39... Na5
40. Kf2 Kg7
41. Ke3 Kg6
42. Kxe4 Nc6
43. h4 Kg7
44. h5


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