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Jacques Mieses vs James Mason
Paris (1900), Paris FRA, rd 17, Jun-20
Bishop's Opening: Vienna Hybrid. Spielmann Attack (C26)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: This was a replay of a final round draw between Mieses and Mason. It allowed Mieses a share of 7th place with Marco and Schlechter.

The game itself featured another Vienna opening by Mieses and one of his typical king-side storms. Mason defended competently for a while, but his poor 11th move gave away any edge he had enjoyed, his 13...Rh7 got him into major trouble, and his 15...Qa5? and 16...Bd4? left him open to a slashing attack by Mieses and ultimately down a Rook. Mason did wind up with four extra pawns in the endgame for the lost Rook, so the game was extended for a while. But once Mieses side-stepped a potential pothole on move 21, the result was never in doubt (though he could have wrapped up the game much sooner if not for his error on move 22).

1. e4 e5
2. Nc3

As usual, Mieses plays the Vienna Game, an opening that brought him many a brilliant win.

2... Nf6
3. Bc4 Bc5
4. d3 d6
5. f4?!

There were many good alternatives here for White: 5. Bg5; 5. Na4; and--perhaps best of all--5. Nf3. But Mieses was a wizard in the f4 variations of the Vienna Game, and the text could hardly have been a surprise for Mason (especially since Mieses had won with the same opening in Round 14 against Janowski).

5... Nc6

This is playable, but 5...0-0 or 5...c6 were better.

6. f5

"The early advance of the f-pawn is strong when White has not yet played the Knight to f3 and is therefore able to follow it by g4 and Qf3 at once." (Teichmann).

Teichmann's comments and Mieses' brilliance notwithstanding, 6. Nf3 was best. But it is much easier for me to say that perched comfortably in my home and not facing the ferocious Mieses across the table with the clock ticking.

6... h6

Janowski here played 6...Na5 against Mieses. 6...Nd4 was a good alternative.

7. g4?!

This is true to Mieses' style, but the stolid 7. Nf3 was much better. Mieses' attack looks scary, but it was premature should not prevail against best defense.

7... Na5

7...h5 was much better. Rosenthal's comment that it leads to a better game for White after 8. g5 Ng4 9. Nh3 is clearly wrong, especially if Black plays 9...g6.

7...Nd4 was also superior to the text. But even after 7...Na5, Mason had the better chances.

8. Qf3

8. Bb3 or 8. g5 were better, but the text is very much in Mieses' style, and no spectator knowing Mieses could have expected anything else.

8... NxB
9. dxN

The position was now:

click for larger view

9... c6?

This relinquishes most of the advantage Mason had enjoyed to this point. Kasparov would have played 9...b5! like a shot and seized the initiative after 10. bxb5 Bb7.

10. h4?!

Here comes Mieses! 10. g5 was another way to ram Mason's King-side.

10... h5

This and 10...Qb6 were reasonable ways to defend. Another plan (my favorite here) is 10...d5?! leading to chances and counter-chances for both sides.

11. gxh5 Nxh5

Seemingly obvious but not best. 11...Qb6 or 11...b5 were ways to fight for the initiative. Mason was still OK after the text, but his advantage was gone.

12. Nge2

12. Bg5 was a good alternative, but Mieses idea of getting his Knight into the game can hardly be criticized.

12... Bd7

12...Qb6 was again a reasonable alternative.

13. Ng3 NxN
14. QxN

The position was now:

click for larger view

Chances are about equal here. But this is the type of position in which Mieses excelled, and the brilliant ease with which he converted his attacking chances will be discussed in my next post on this game.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post II

In the diagrammed position with which I ended my last post (i.e., after 14. QxN), Mason as Black had a tenable position, but he had immediate and long-term issues he needed to address: (a) the attack on his g7 pawn; (b) the risk he would fall into a mating net; and (c) the question of how he could obtain counterplay. Mason's choice of moves here did not stand him well given there criteria:

14... Rh7?

This protects the g7 pawn for now, but does not solve this problem long-term. More seriously, the move does not help protect his King from the assault Mieses is obviously planning (in fact, by removing his h8 Rook from his first rank, Mason left open a possible killing check on g8 once the g7 pawn was displaced. Finally, the text did nothing to foster counterplay.

Best by far for Mason here was 14...Qb6. Mieses would then have to play 15. b3, and both sides would have chances. If Mieses responded to 14...Qb6 by trying to snatch the g7 pawn with 15. Qxg7, he would face seriously problems after 15...Bf2+ 16. Ke2 0-0-0.

After the text, Mieses was in his element.

15. Bg5

Mason now faces a crisis. Mieses could now play 0-0-0 in response to Qb6. So what to do?

15... Qa5?

Not this. The refutation by Mieses was swift and brutal.

Mason had to play the ugly looking 15...f6 16. Bd2 Ke7. His position would then have been less than ideal, but at least his King would not be facing a mating net.

After his actual move, Mason was probably lost.

16. h5!

This is even stronger than 16. 0-0-0. The following diagram reveals how badly Mason has mangled his position in just two moves:

click for larger view

16... Bd4?

It is hard to come up with a feasible defensive scheme for Mason at this point, but the text is certainly not the answer to his woes.

16...f6?? would be even worse, as Rosenthal noted in the Tournament Book: e.g., 17. Bxf6! gxB Qg8+ is murder, and 17...Kf8 18. Qg6 would have been even worse,

"Best" for Mason was probably to admit error with 16...Rh8 or to try a desperate counterattack with 16...Qb6. Neither plan held much hope of salvation, but the text got crushed by Mieses.

17. h6!

17. 0-0-0 looked like the killer to me until I saw Mieses' brilliant follow-up. Most likely, both moves win. Mieses' actual move is definitely prettier.

17... gxh6

Once again it is hard to find a good move for Mason. Probably 17...BxN+ immediately was best. In any case, to save his King, Mason will have to give up his Bishop with an eventual (or immediate) Bxf5.

Mason could have considered resigning here.

The gruesome (for Mason) position was now:

click for larger view

The elegant manner in which Mieses now finished off poor Mason will be discussed in my next post on this game.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post III

Mieses after 17...gxh6 played the elegant:

18. Bf6!

The position now is so extraordinary it deserves its own diagram:

click for larger view

Care to find a move for Black here? Mate in one is threatened, neither his King nor his h7 Rook has anywhere to go.

Mason, not willing to lower his flag yet, made a mandatory sacrifice:

18... Bxf5

18...BxN+ first was the only real alternative.

19. Qg8+!

Mieses could snatch a Bishop with 19. fxB, but he is after bigger game.

19... Kd7
20. QxR BxN+

This left:

click for larger view

It was in this position that Mieses revealed just how carefully his attack had been planned.

21. Kf1!

21. bxB?? actually loses: 21. bxB Qxc3+ 22. Kd1 [22. Kf2 analyzed by Rosenthal in the Tournament Book would be suicide in light of 22...Qd4+ 23. Kf1 Qxc4+ 24. Kg1 Qd4 25. Kf1 QxR+ 26. Ke2 Bg4+ 27. Kd2 Qd4+ (and not Rosenthal's inferior 22...Qd2+ 23. Kf1 after which Whhite survives)] 22...Qd4+ 23. Kc1 QxR+ 24. Kd2 Qd4+ 25. Kc1 Bxe4.

Mieses' pretty move avoided this mess, and left Mason without resource.

Perhaps even better than Mieses' 21. Kf1 was 21. Ke2!

Anyway, back to the game. Mason now found himself with both Bishops en prise:

click for larger view

21... Bxe4

Best under the circumstances.

Mieses now had a won game and should have finished off Mason in just a few moves. But here, as I will discuss in my next post, Mieses erred and had to play out a long endgame to end this contest.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post IV

After 21...Bxe4 the position was:

click for larger view

Mieses here could have ended Mason's resistance with the lovely 22. Qf8!

His actual move didn't blow the win, but it meant Mieses would have a long day at the office:

22. Qxb7+ Qc7

Anything else would be suicide.

23. QxQ+ KxQ

This left:

click for larger view

24. Rh4!

Mieses perhaps thought this move, after which one of the Black Bishops must fall, would end the game. But Mason now made like Pac-Man and started eating pawns as he lost his Bishop, ending up with four pawns for a Rook and a reason (if you're a masochist) to play on for a while.

24... Bxb2

24...Bxc2 was hardly much better.

25. Rb1 Bxc2
26. RxB Bd3+
27. Kf2

So now we have:

click for larger view

Here's something we don't frequently see...four pawns for a Rook in an endgame. And so the game continued. Now it was Mieses' chances to play Pac-Man and gobble up pawns until Mason resigned.

27... e4?

If Mason was to survive, he had to prevent c5 by Mieses and the shattering of what is left of his pawn structure. He had to play 27...c5 here. But...

28. Ke3?

Missing his chance to play 28. c5, and giving Mason a chance to hold out for a while with 28...c5.

28... h5?

Again missing his chance.

29. c5!

At last.

29... dxc5

The alternative, 29...a5, was not pleasant. Even worse would have been 29...d5? 30. Be5

The position after 29...dxc5 was:

click for larger view

Mason now had two choices: (a) resign; or (b) watch Mieses play Pac-Man. He chose the latter. I will cover the mopping-up operation in my next post on this game.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post V

Welcome Pac-Man fans to the account of how Mieses systematically ate up Mason's pawns until the latter resigned:

30. Bbh2 Rh6
31. Be5+ Kd7
32. Rxh5

Had enough yet? Mason hadn't:

click for larger view

32... Rg6

Maybe he should have slowed down the Mieses steamroller with 32...RxR, but that--like the text--held out little hope.

33. Bb8 c4
34. Rf2

34. Bxa7 would have given Mason a hint of play after 34...c3

34... f6
35. Rh7+ Ke6
36. Rc7 Rg8
37. Rxc6+ Kd7
38. Rc7+ Ke6
39. Bxa7

click for larger view

Resignation time? Nope. Mason had one last trick up his sleeve that perhaps might have given him a chance against a beginner.

39... Rg3+
40. Kf4 Rh3
41. Kg4 Rh6

If he really wanted to play on, he might as well have tried 41...Kd6

42. Rc6+

42. Rb2 was more precise, but the text also does the job.

42... Kf7

Seemingly suicidal, but Mason has his desperate idea still in mind, else he would either have resigned or played 42...Kd5.

43. Be3

43. Bd4 was even stronger. The position after the text was:

click for larger view

My hunch is that Mason was planning a swindle here beginning with 43...Be2?!?! hoping for 44. RxB [44. Kf5--which Mieses would surely have played--would have ended the game] f5+ 45. Kxf5 RxR but now probably noticed that after 46. Kxe4 he would still have been dead lost. So:

43... Rg6+

A spite check ending a very bad tournament for Mason at Paris 1900.

44. Kh5

The final position was:

click for larger view


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