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Manuel Marquez Sterling vs Leon Rosen
Paris (1900), Paris FRA, rd 11, Jun-07
Queen's Gambit Accepted: Showalter Variation (D24)  ·  1/2-1/2



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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: This game between tow of the players from the bottom of the draw (Sterling and Rosen have each won one game and lost eight going into this round) was not particularly inspiring. Sterling lost a pawn but had some compensation. Rosen's efforts to capitalize were flawed, and Sterling clinched a draw with a game-ending Queen sacrifice that Rosen could not dare accept.

1. d4 d5
2. c4 dxc4

Remarkably, Rosenthal in the Tournament Book rated this (i.e., the Queens Gambit Accepted) as a losing move! Bizarre!

3. Nf3

Rosenthal considered this very normal move to be a mistake and claimed a win for White with 3. e3 b5 (Black of course has many better options here that Rosenthal did not consider,such as Nf6, Be6, e6, and e5) 4. a4 c6?? (4...b4 is obviously better, while Rosenthal's move is a losing blunder) 5. axb5 cxb5??? 6. Qf3.

What to make of this awful analysis? Obviously opening theory in the QGA was in its infancy. For the most part, Rosenthal's analysis proves only that any opening loses if the player makes a series of terrible blunders.

Now let's return to reality--and the game.

3... Nf6
4. Nc3

4. e3 is better

4... a6
5. a4

5. e4 is much better.

5... Nc6
6. e3

Sterling seems clueless in this opening. 6. e4 again is clearly much better.

6... Na5
7. Ne5

Setting a little trap. The position was now:

click for larger view

Had Rosen here been sloppy and played 7...Nb3??, he would lose immediately to 8. Bc4! as noted by Rosenthal in the Tournament Book.

Rosen, however, does not fall into this transparent trap.

7... c5

7...Be6 is better than the attractive looking text.

8. Nxc4 cxd4
9. exd4

White now has an isolated d-pawn, presenting the age-old question, is this a strength or a weakness. In the instant game, Black is certainly better at this stage.

9... Bg4
10. f3 Bf5

This gives Sterling good chances to equalize. Better was 10...Be6

11. NxN QxN
12. Qb3 Qc7
13. Be3 e5
14. Be2 Bd6
15. dxe5

Sterling is understandably anxious to rid himself of his isolated d=pawn. But in this case the remedy was worse than the disease. 15. Rc1 was better.

15... Bxe5
16. Bb6

This must have looked good at first sight to Sterling, but had Rosen responded more strongly it could have led to trouble for White.

16... Qb8

Very weak, and giving the advantage to White. Black is in excellent shape with the seemingly obvious 16...Qe7

17. Bc5 Nd7

Another bad move by Rosen. 17...Qc7--despite the loss of time--was best. It is, however, always hard for a player in effect to admit that his/her last move was a mistake.

18. Bf2

As Rosenthal correctly points out in the Tournament Book, 18. Ba3 was much better and White would then have much the better game. After the hyper-cautious text, Sterling gets into trouble.

18... 0-0
19. h3 Re8

The position was now:

click for larger view

It was at this point that the game became interesting, as I will discuss in my next post on this game.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post II

Following Rosen's 19...Re8, Sterling wanted to Castle but faced the seemingly daunting threat of 20...BxN leaving the White Bishop hanging on e2. So, Sterling played a move with which he "only" lost a pawn:

20. Ne4

What Sterling overlooked is that he could have played 20. 0-0 with impunity since after 20...BxN he had the amazing retort 21. Bc4!

Both of the players--as well as Rosenthal in commenting on the game in the Tournament Book--missed this possibility. As a result, Sterling lost a pawn--though with some compensation.

20... Nf6


21. 0-0

Of course not 21. NxN+ BxN and the pin on the e-file becomes fatal. So Sterling submits to the loss of a pawn.

An alternative to the text, and maybe a better one here for Sterling, was 21. Bc4, though this might well have transposed into the line actually played.

21... NxN
22. fxN

The position was now:

click for larger view

Here Rosen chose to take the undefended pawn immediately with:

22... Bxe4

This, however, allowed Sterling to get some compensation for the lost pawn. Better was 22...Be6, eliminating the threat of Bc4. The weak, isolated e-pawn will not run away.

Now Sterling gets attacking chances which he only partially exploits.

23. Bc4 Bg6
24. Rad1

Right Rook, wrong file--as Sterling apparently recognized two moves later. His compensation for the lost pawn is now tenuous.

24... Qc7
25. Bb6 Qe7
26. Rde1

Implicitly conceding that his 24th move was a mistake.

26... Rf8

Unduly defensive and giving Sterling more fuel for his attack. Much better was 26...h6 or 26...Rac8 or even 26...Rab8. Rosen's move was especially bad considering his follow-up on the very next move.

27. Qe3

Sterling's attacking instincts are correct here, but he first should have gotten his King to safety with 27. Kh1. The attack on Black's e5 Bishop is an illusion--that apparently fooled both players.

27... Rfe8

Missing his chance. There was no need to defend the Bishop. Instead, Rosen should have played 27...Qb4! with chances of exploiting his pawn plus.

28. Kh1

What was right on the last move is wrong here. Sterling should have played 28. Qb3 with good counterplay for the pawn.

28... Qh4

Again missing a chance. This Queen move accomplished nothing. By contrast, 28...Qd7 would have made Sterling scramble.

29. Qb3

Setting a trap!

29... Bf6

Rosen sees it! Had he played the superficially tempting 29...Qg3 Sterling would--as noted by Rosenthal in the Tournament Book--have had excellent chances with 30. Bxf7+ BxB 31. QxB+ Kh8 32. Bg1!

30. Bf2 Qf4
31, Bg1 Qc7
32. Bd5 Rab8

As pointed out by Rosenthal, 32...Reb8 would have led to trouble after 33. Bh2! But to call White's position here winning--as does Rosenthal--is clearly an overstatement.

After Rosen's actual move, the position was:

click for larger view

Sterling here ended the game with a neat little drawing Queen sacrifice:

33. Qxb7!

Rosen, of course, could not play 33...RxQ because of 34. RxR mate. And after 33...QxQ 34. BxQ a5 35. RxR+ RxR the game should be drawn. (But not on Rosenthal's awful 35. Ba6 in this line which would have allowed Rosen excellent winning chances after 35...RxR 36. RxR h6.

In any case, the players here--not unreasonably--agreed to a draw (which meant the game would be replayed with colors reversed two days later--an encounter in which Rosen prevailed).


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