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Geza Maroczy vs Carl Schlechter
Paris (1900), Paris FRA, rd 12, Jun-08
French Defense: Exchange Variation (C01)  ·  1/2-1/2



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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: A lifeless draw in which neither player made any serious effort to win. Indeed, the position was exactly symmetrical until Schlechter chose to play 15...fxB instead of 15...hxB.

Remarkably, the game is identical through 13. Bg3 with Capablanca-Maroczy, Lake Hopatcong 1926. That game, however, was played in the final round and Capablanca needed only a draw to clinch first place.

Commentary on such a game seems almost superfluous. I will confine myself primarily to identifying times when one of the players might have chosen more enterprising play.

1. e4 e6
2. d4 d5
3. exd5

The Exchange Variation. To quote Gligoric: "This exchange gives up the tension in the center and usually leads to rapid equality. Because of this drawing tendency the line has few adherents."

3... exd5
4. Nf3

"4. Bd3 is the usual move here." (Gligoric). 4. Nc3 is also fine. None of these moves, however, promise much more than sterile equality.

4... Bd6

The symmetrical 4...Nf6 is probably theoretically best, though MCO-13 gives only the text.

5. Bd3

The best chance to play for any sort of advantage here seems to be 5. c4. MCO-13, however, gives only the text.

5... Nf6
6. 0-0 0-0
7. Bg5

Rosenthal in the Tournament Book says that 7. Nc3 was correct, but this blocks the advance of the c-pawn and accomplishes nothing that I can discern. MCO-13 gives only the text.

7... Bg4
8. Nbd2

Rosenthal says that 8. Nc3 was better, but--as pointed out in my last note--Rosenthal's move blocks the c-pawn. MCO-13 gives only the text.

8... c6

Here and on moves 9, 10, 11, and 12, Schlechter might have tried h6, though this would not have given him more than equality. It at least might have broken the boring symmetry.

9. c3

9. h3 followed by c4 looks better. Indeed, Maroczy could have tried h3 not only here but on moves 10, 11, and 12 and obtained perhaps a small advantage.

9... Nbd7
10. Qc2 Qc7
11. Rfe1 Rfe8
12. Bh4

Other than as a tacit offer of a draw, I see no reason for this move. 12. h3 was best.

12... Bh5
13. Bg3 BxB

Maroczy here played 13...Bg6 against Capablanca (and drew the game shortly thereafter). The text seems slightly better, since White after 12...Bg3 can obtain a small edge with two exchanges of Bishops. After the text, any remaining life is soon drained from the position.

14. hxB Bg6
15. BxB fxB

This ends the symmetry, but accomplishes nothing useful. The symmetrical 15...hxB seems better, though the game ends up drawn even with Schlechter's curious move.

16. RxR+

16. Rac1 with a view to c4 (or to a4 after 16...b5) might have added a glimpse of life to the position, but a draw would still seem inevitable.

16... RxR
17. Re1 RxR+
18. NxR Qd8
19. f3

19. Nd3 or 19. Nf1 might have offered some slight chance at play, but the game by this point is probably well past any chance of any result other than a draw.

19... Qe7

19...c5 might have breather a momentary breath of excitement to this corpse of a game.

20. Kf2

1/2 -- 1/2

Both sides played for a draw, and both sides got the short day at the office they apparently wanted.

Under the rules in effect at Paris 1900, drawn games had to be replayed. So five days later, Schlechter and Maroczy crossed swords again, this time with Schlechter as White. The replay was another Exchange Variation of the French and another short sterile draw (this time lasting 21 moves--one move longer than this earlier game).

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