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Jacques Mieses vs Carl Schlechter
Paris (1900), Paris FRA, rd 13, Jun-11
Bishop's Opening: Vienna Hybrid (C28)  ·  1/2-1/2

ANALYSIS [x]

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Kibitzer's Corner
Mar-03-18
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: A game that exemplifies many of the strengths and weaknesses of Schlechter. In this encounter with the fine tactician Mieses, Schlechter beautfully outplayed his opponent in one of the latter's favorite openings, the Vienna Game, and seemed to have the game well in hand on several occasions. But each time Schlechter was on the verge of winning, he backed off and headed for the safety of equality. The game was ultimately drawn, which represented the loss of a full point for Schlechter since draws were replayed at Paris 1900 and Mieses won the replay five days later.

I am constantly awed by much of Schlechter's play as I go over his games at this tournament. In many ways--not least the drawn World Championship Match of 1910--Schlechter was the near equal of Lasker, Pillsbury, Tarrasch, and Capablanca. But he lacked one quality these champions all had: a ruthless determination to crush their opponents and their willingness to press for a win even when this involved some risks.

1. e4 e5
2. Nc2

The Vienna Game, which Mieses played repeatedly at Paris 1900 with mixed success.

2... Nf6
3. Bc4 Nc6

Declining to take on the potentially wild complications after 3...Nxe4. The text is sound, safe, and probably best.

4. d3 Bb4
5. Nge2

MCO-13 says the text leads to equality and gives 5. Bg5 as the main line. Mieses' choice seems best to me.

5... d5
6. exd5 Nxd5
7. 0-0

This is plainly better than MCO-13's 7. BxN.

7... Be6
8. NxN BxN
9. a3

The beginning of a series of surprisingly timid moves by Mieses that allow Schlechter to obtain the better game.

9... Be7
10. BxB QxB
11. Nc3 Qd7

The position was now:


click for larger view

Mieses generally got the upper hand in the Vienna Game. But as a result of Schlechter's careful, logical play he has here--if anything--the batter chances.

12. f4?!

Very much in Mieses' style, but premature as Schlechter demonstrates. 12. Re1 or 12. Rb1 were better.

12... exf4
13. Bxf4 0-0

13...0-0-0 was more dynamic and probably better, but the text is very much in Schlechter's safety-first style.

14. Qh5 f5!

Nicely preventing Mieses' intended 15. Nd5.

15. Ne2

Mieses is losing the thread of the game here as a result of Schlechter's iron logic. Better was 15. Qf3, even though it would concede the uselessness of his prior play. Until this move, Mieses's position was at worst slightly inferior. Now he gets into trouble.

15... Rae8
16. Kh1

Planning one of his patented attacks, but the position does not warrant it, and Schlechter was an especially unlikely victim. Better was 16. Rae1

16... Bf6!

All of a sudden, Schlechter's army controls the board:


click for larger view

17. Ng3?

Misguided. 17. Rab1 was best. The hanging b-pawn should have cost Mieses the game.

17... g6
18. Qf3

The position was now:


click for larger view

Schlechter should be able to grab Mieses' b-pawn and prevail. But this was one of the first times in the game when Schlechter missed a chance to win, as I will show in my next post.

Mar-03-18
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post II

Sometimes the most obvious move is best. Such is the case here. With 18...Bxb2, Schlechter would have had the game well in hand.

Rosenthal in the Tournament Book calls 18...Bxb2 "the correct move," but errs in his proposed follow-up. Rosenthal gives the following variation: 18...Bxb2 19. Rab1 Bxa3 20. Rxb7 Bd6 21. Qd5+ Rf7. This would have left the position as follows:


click for larger view

Black is up a pawn here and may well have a won game. But White has some counterplay. It may well have been this variation that persuaded Schlechter to favor 18...b6, a move that leaves Black with the better position but does not win a pawn.

What Rosenthal (and perhaps Schlechter) overlooked is that after 18...Bxb2 19. Rab1 Black has a clear path to maintaining his pawn plus without allowing White counterplay with 19...Bd4! Now White dare not capture the pawn on b7 because Black had then trap the Rook with Bb6.

Whether because he missed 19...Bd4! or for some other reason, Schlechter played the hyper-cautious:

18... b6?

This left:


click for larger view

Black is still better, but now White can save his b-pawn, as in fact he did:

19. c3

Play continued:

19... Ne5
20. BxN BxB
21. d4 BxN

Rosenthal in the Tournament Book appends "!" to this move, but it was hardly best. Schlechter's Bishop was far superior to Mieses' Knight, and he should have played 21...Bd6.

22. QxB

The position was now:


click for larger view

Schlechter still had somewhat the better of the position, but Mieses was no longer in any real danger. Schlechter then gave away most of what remained of his advantage with another hyper-cautious move:

22... Re4?

It is hard to explain why Schlechter didn't play the seemingly obvious 22...Re2.

In fact, Schlechter's move worked out just fine because Mieses proceeded to misplay his position, as I will discuss in my next post on this game.

Mar-04-18
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post III

After Schlechter's 22...Re4 the position was:


click for larger view

Mieses had seemingly survived his earlier indiscretions and had nearly equal chances. But he promptly began unwarranted efforts to attack and was soon in trouble again.

23. Rad1

Mieses should have sought exchanges by getting one of his Rooks on the e-file with 23. Rae1 or 23. Rfe1. Now Schlechter has the e-file to himself and once again has the upper hand.

23... Rfe8

Schlechter could have played 23...Re2 immediately, but the text is also good.

24. Qd3

Tempting fate again. Mieses should have swallowed his pride and played 24. Rde1.

24... Re2

Better late than never! Schlechter now has a dangerous attack. But Mieses ignored the dangers and threw caution to the wind.

25. Qc4+?

25. Rd2 may have been Mieses' last legitimate chance to hold the position.

25... Kh8

25...Qf7 was simplest, but the text is also good.

The position was now:


click for larger view

Mieses is obviously in trouble here.

26. b4

He had to play either this or 26. Rb1 (an unappealing move to an attacking player such as Mieses).

26... Qe7

This may not ruin Schlechter's chances, but 26...R8e3 was the way to tighten the screws on Mieses.

27. Rg1 Qd6
28. a4

Making a virtue of necessity, Mieses tries to attack on the Queen-side. 28. h3 or 28. Rd3 were perhaps more prudent.

28... R8e4

A solid choice, but 28...R8e3 was stronger.

29. h3

29. Rd3 getting a Rook on the third rank immediately was probably best.

The position was now:


click for larger view

29... R4e3?!

With the nasty threat of 30...Rxh3+ 31. gxR Qh2 mate.

Clever as this was, Mieses was sure to see the threat and take measures. Schlechter should have avoided back-rank checks with 29. Kg7 and then slowly closed in for the kill.

30. Rd3!

"This move is forced." (Rosenthal in the Tournament Book).

30... Re8

30...Re7 was better.

31. d5

Attack, attack, attack was Mieses' strategy. But here the preventive 31. Rf3 was much better.

31... Re1

Why seek exchanges here? Was Schlecter already resigned to playing for a draw? 31...R8e4 was best

32. Rd1 Qg3?

Effectively offering a draw when he had by far the superior position. 32...R8e4---and just about anything else--was better.

33. Qd4+ Kg8
34. a5?

Courting trouble once again. He should have traded off Rooks and headed for a dead-even Queens ending. With the text, he once again gave Schlechter chances.

34... f4?

Now Schlechter's winning chances are gone for good. With 34...R1e4, he would still have had reasonable chances.

35. d6

He could also have simply traded off Rooks, but the text is also sufficient to draw.

35... RxR(d1)

As Rosenthal pointed out in the Tournament Book, 35...f3 would have accomplished nothing in light of 36. Qd5+ Kg7 37. Qxf3 (37...RxR[g1] + 38. KxR Re1+ 39. RxR QxR+ 40. Kh2 Qe5+ 41. Qg3 Qxd6 yields equality whether White trades Queens or not).

36. QxR cxd6
37. Qd5+ Kh8
38. axb6

38. Qf7 was the only move to give White any (slight) chances to win.

38... axb6
39. c4 f3
40. Qxf3 QxQ
41. gxQ

This left:


click for larger view

Although Black superficially seems to have some edge, this is in fact a barren draw. Mieses, however, tried hard to make something out of White's seemingly placid position here and the game continued for another 19 moves that I will discuss in my next post.

Mar-04-18
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post IV

One would have thought that Mieses, having survived poor positions throughout the game, would have happily accepted a draw after 41. gxQ. But--though the game indeed ended in a draw, and though neither side truly came close to getting any real advantage, it was Mieses who pressed for a win. One would not have guessed that from the position.

41... Re3

The best try for Black to exploit the weaknesses in White's pawns.

42. Rd1

As Rosenthal correctly pointed out in the Tournament Book, both 42. Kg2 and (especially) 42. Kf1 would allow Black--if not winning chances--a chance to harass White seriously with 42...Rc3

As is so often the case in Rook endings, active play is the best defense, as displayed by the text move by Mieses here.

42... Rxf3

42...Rb3 would be equally good.

43. Kg2 Rc3

As Rosenthal also points out, if 43...Rf6 White holds the game with 44. Rd5. I would add that 44. Kg3 would also suffice in this line.

44. Rxd6 Rxc4
45. Rxb6

45. b5 would also do the trick here. The position was now:


click for larger view

This certainly looks like a draw, but Mieses tried to make something of his passed b-pawn, while Schlechter allowed his King to get stuck on his back rank.

45... g5

While this move holds the draw, I was shocked that Schlechter allowed his King to get bottled up instead of playing the seemingly obvious 45...Kg7. With the text, Schlechter allowed Mieses to make the game a bit interesting (though probably not to endgame specialists, who will know Black is still fine).

46. Rb7

Locking up Black's King.

46... h5
47. b5 Rb4
48. b6 Kg8

Schlechter now has to march his King across the board to dislodge Mieses' Rook and free his King.

49. Kf2 Kf8
50. Ke2 Ke8

Sufficient but sloppy in my book, since Mieses could now have played 51. Rg7 creating some mild threats. Simpler were 50...Rb2+ or 50...Rb3.

51. Kd3

This abandons his chance to play 51. Rg7, but Mieses has one last trick up his sleeve.

51... Kd8
52. Rb8+ Kd7
53. d7

The position was now:


click for larger view

Had Schlechter lost concentration here and played to win White's h-pawn, he would lose, i.e., 53...Rb3+ 54. Ke4 Rxh3 55. Rg8. but--needless to say--Schlechter was not about to fall for a patzer trick like this.

53... Kc7
54. Rh8 Kxb7
55. Rxh5 Kc6

Cute. If now 56. Rxg5 Rb3+

56. Ke2 Rb3
57. Kf2 Kd6
58. Kg2 Rb5
59. Kg3 Ke6
60. Kg4 Kf6

1/2 -- 1/2

In addition to letting Mieses off the hook at least twice in this game, Schlechter not only allowed (under the rules at Paris 1900) Mieses to have a replay (with colors reversed), he also set a tough burden for himself. There were now four rounds to play in nine days. Lasker had by this stage completed 13 games and thus had only three games left (actually four, since he had to replay his draw with Tchgorin). Schlechter, by contrast, who had not yet had his bye round, would have to play at least six more games (actually seven, since he drew another game in Round 14) in the same nine days. Small wonder that Schlechter--saddled with this onerous schedule, played some short draws (including a 21-move listless affair with Maroczy) and wound up losing his replay with Mieses.

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