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Jacques Mieses vs Frank Marshall
Paris (1900), Paris FRA, rd 16, Jun-15
Vienna Game: Anderssen Defense (C25)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Going into the 16th round at Paris 1900, Marshall (with a score of 11-3) was locked in a battle for second place with Pillsbury (10.5-3.5) and Maroczy 9.5-3.5 with one game to be replayed). Since Pillsbury had two easy games remaining (Brody and Rosen) and Marshall had two difficult opponents on his card (Mieses and Maroczy) and had Black in both of these games, the prizes were very much up for grabs. Meanwhile, Mieses (at 9-5) still had a shot at a high finish (and could even have caught Marshall if he won both his games and Marshall lost both of his).

The game itself is very much in the spirit of what onlookers must have expected, a no-holds barred tactical prizefight. In this instance, the better tactician (Marshall) came out on top, but not without a few dicey moments at the outset.

1. e4 e5
2. Nc3

As always, Mieses played his beloved Vienna Game. In their 1908 match (won by Marshall 5-4 witih 1 draw), Mieses played this opening all five times he had White, winning three, losing one (the tenth and decisive game) and drawing one.

2... Bc5

Marshall played this moved in all five games in which he had Black in the aforesaid 1908 match.

3. Bc4

Mieses played 3. g3 in four games in the 1908 match (going 2-1-1) and 3. Nf3 in one game (which he won). The text is also OK, and can lead to very sharp play, as it did here.

3... Nc6

Marshall could have avoided the attack that Mieses now unleashes with 3...Nf6 (which is probably the theoretically best move). Most likely, however, Marshall knew exactly what he was getting into--and relished the prospect.

4. Qg4

4. d3 or 4. Nf3 are sound and steady lines, but who would expect this from Mieses? The text is perfectly reasonable and the best way to "mix it up,": just what Mieses and Marshall both probably wanted.

The position was now:

click for larger view

4... Bf8?!

Better were the solid 4...g6 (as recommended by Rosenthal in the Tournament Book) or perhaps the wild and crazy 4...d6?! (5. Qxg7 Qf6).

The text certainly looks bad, but Marshall once again almost certainly knew what he was doing, and anticipated the coming storm (given Marshall's follow-up moves)

5. Qg3

He needs to guard against 5...d5.

5... Nf6

Most players would play the seemingly obvious 5...d6 and probably obtain near equality. But the young Marshall had his own ideas, and was fearless.

6. Nf3

The position was now:

click for larger view

6... Nh5?!

Yet again Marshall shuns the seemingly obvious move (6...Nxe4) and seeks wild complications. I doubt there is anything I could say about the problems with 6...Nh5?! that Marshall did not know full well, and I doubt any of my arguments would have tempted Marshall to change course.

7. Qg5!

Marshall must have known this was coming.

7... QxQ
8. NxQ

This left:

click for larger view

8... f6?

Marshall's play to this point was combative and risky, but this just seems wrong. 8...Be7 [9. Nxf7 Rf8] or 8...Nd8 [9. Nb5 Bd6] were the sensible options. Now Marshall should lose (though the game did not turn out that way, as I will show in my next post).

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post II

After Marshall's 8...f6?, the position was:

click for larger view

9. Nf7

Rosenthal in the Tournament Book claimed that 9. Bf7+ was better, but after 9...Kd8 10. BxN fxN 11. d3 h6 12. Be3 Nd4 (better than Rosenthal's 12...Bb4) White's advantage is minimal, whereas Mieses' actual move should have brought him victory.

9... Na5
10. NxR

Another option discussed by Rosenthal was 10. Bd5 c6 11. NxR cxB 12. Nxd5 (but 12. Nb5 or 12. exd5 were better and give White a likely winning advantage).

10... NxB

This left:

click for larger view

Marshall probably went into this line believing that--with White's Knight out of play on h8--his four minor pieces would rule the roost, especially while Mieses figured out how to save his wayward Knight.

It is doubtful if Marshall could have survived here with best play by Mieses. But the game is already complicated--and gets more so very soon--so anyone calling this a clear win for White in over-the-board play would be misguided.

11. d3 Nb6

11...Bb4?! is the sort of move I would have expected from Marshall here. It messes up White's pawn structure and allows him to win the h8 Knight fairly quickly.

If Marshall chose to avoid the maniacal line after 11...Bb4?!, I would have expected him to try 11...Nd6. Now, with best play, Mieses would seem to be able to get Marshall on the ropes. But...

12. g4?!

A wild coffee-house attacking move by Mieses. However, and as Rosenthal pointed out in his commentary, 12. Nb5 was far better. The text gives Marshall chances, and he leaps at the chance.

12... Nf4!

All of a sudden, Marshall is back in the game. He may still be theoretically lost, but now Mieses needs to watch his back.

13. BxN exB

The position was now:

click for larger view

14. h4?

In his zeal for a King-side attack and rescue of his h8 Knight, Mieses misses his final chance to preserve his winning chances. As Rosenthal correctly pointed out, 14. Nb5! was best here.

14... Bb4

It is wonderful to see how Marshall begins to turn around the game from this point. Also good was 14...d5.

15. h5?

Still pursuing a bad plan. Mieses would still have had play to save his h8 Knight with 15. g5. As is obvious, the game is slipping away from Mieses.

15... Kf8

Going after the Knight before Mieses' troops can rescue it. 15...d5 was another strong move.

16. 0-0-0

The position was now:

click for larger view

16... BxN?

Wrong plan for Black. Marshall should have played either 16...d5 or 16...Kg8.

17. bxB d6

This left:

click for larger view

From here, Mieses' game went steadily downhill. In the above-diagrammed position, he was certainly not worse. But this was the last time in the game that would be true. As will be covered in my next post on this game, Mieses' play collapsed from this point on, and he was lost within a move or two and Marshall thereafter raced on to victory--and one step closer to 2nd place behind Lasker (a prize he lost when he was defeated by Maroczy in the final round).

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post III

After 17...d6, Mieses seemingly fell apart.

18. h6?

White would still have held the edge after 18. Rdg1 (e.g., 18. Rdg1 Kg8 19. g5 KxN 20. gxf6 gxf6 21. h6). But now, especially after Marshall's devastating reply, Mieses was at best on the ropes and at worst lost.

18... g5!

Now not only is the Knight at h8 lost, but Marshall's counterattack is ready to carry the day.

The position was now:

click for larger view

19. f3?

Now the game is lost for White for sure, and Marshall's vigorous play never gives Mieses a chance.

Essential here was 19. Ng6+ Kf7 [obviously, as Rosenthal pointed out in the Tournament Book, 19...hxN would lose immediately to 20. h7!] 20. Nxf4 gxN. White might or might not be able to hold this position. With Black's King-side pawns shattered, he would not be able to generate the sort of attack which soon wins Marshall the game.

19... Kg8

19...Be6 would also have been good for Black here.

20. d4?

This only makes things worse for Mieses, since it now creates a weak square (c4) that Marshall is able to exploit. Mieses should have tried 20. Ng6+ to give himself at least a scintilla of a threat with his h-pawn.

20... Nc4

Jumping at the opportunity to use c4 as a base of operations, and holding the threat of Ne3 over Mieses' head. 20...KxN was also strong and sufficient to win.

21. e5 fxe5

Taking the Knight immediately was probably most accurate. Marshall's move does not truly imperil his win, but it allows Mieses the chance to create some threats.

22. Rh5!

His best chance.

22... KxN
23. Rxg5 Be6
24. Rg7 Ne3

24...Rc8 was also strong, but Marshall--reasonably enough--wants to get his Knight on the powerful post e3 that Mieses' sloppy play has afforded him.

25. Rd2

25. Rd3 was slightly better.

25... Bd5

A crusher. The Bishop is now poised (a) to capture White's pawns at f3 and/or a2; (b) defend the Black pawn at b7; and/or (c) defend the h7 pawn from e4 if permitted to capture on f3. White has no way to deal with all these threats.

26. dxe5 dxe5

The position was now:

click for larger view

27. Rxc7?

The rest was easy for Marshall. Mieses had to try 27. Re7 to stop Marshall's coming pawn steamroller.

27... Bxc3
28. Rdd7 Be4

This left:

click for larger view

Marshall's Bishop at e4 is a true monster, defending b7 and h7 while also positioned to support the devastating advance of the f-pawn. White has no defense.

I will discuss the concluding moves of the game in my next post.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post IV

Marshall wrapped up the game nicely after 28...Be4, and Mieses' desperate attempts to complicate got him nowhere.

29. g5?!

A final effort to accomplish something on the King's side before Marshall makes a new Queen. 29. Kd2 might have allowed Mieses to prolong the game, but would not have changed the outcome.

29... Rf8

One of many roads to victory. Other winning methods include 29...Bf5, 29...f3, and/or 29...a6.

30. Rf7 Rg8

With Mieses' Rook off the d-file, Marshall can safely attack White's g-pawn.

31. c4

A hopeless idea. "Best" was probably 31. Rfe7 or 31. Kd2.


Putting an end to any illusions Mieses may have had about a King-side attack and getting ready for the winning advance of his e and f pawns.

32. Rfd7

32. Rf6 was the only even slim hope remaining. Now Marshall wins in a cakewalk.

32... f3!

The position was now:

click for larger view

White has no defense. Mieses could safely have resigned here.

33. Rf7

As Rosenthal pointed out in the Tournament Book, if 33. Rd2 Marshall would have played e4 followed by Ng4 and e3 winning.

The text, of course, leaves Marshall up a full piece in addition to his devastating threats to advance his pawns.

33... BxR
34. RxB e4

Mieses should have spared himself. Marshall was hardly going to blow this one.

35. Kd2 Nxc4+
36. Ke1 Rxg5
37. Rxb7 Rg1+


The final position was:

click for larger view

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