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Carl Schlechter vs Miklos Brody
Paris (1900), Paris FRA, rd 14, Jun-12
Spanish Game: Fianchetto Defense (C60)  ·  1/2-1/2



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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: To call this just another drawn game by the "drawing master" Schlechter would be seriously misleading. While Schlechter allowed Brody to exchange off Queens and Rooks and reach a theoretically drawn minor piece ending, there was far more to Schlechter's play than that. What he noticed (that neither Brody nor Rosenthal in his commentary in the Tournament Book seem to have recognized) was that White's better pawn structure in this seemingly placid Ruy Lopez gave White definite winning chances even in the seemingly harmless ending that was reached. Schlechter got the kind of position he seems to have loved, an endgame in which he had winning chances but no risk of loss. To hold the game, Brody would have had to play extremely carefully. When in practice Brody erred, Schlechter took control and soon had a clear win. Sadly, Schlechter's careless 44th move threw away the fruits of his fine endgame play throughout most of the game. On the positive side for Schlechter, when the game was replayed six days later (draws were replayed at Paris 1900), Schlechter crushed his overmatched opponent.

1. e4 e5
2. Mf3 Nc6
3. Bb5 g6

The King's Fianchetto Defense to the Ruy Lopez. Brody makes this look like an easy route to equality.

4. d4 exd4
5. Bg5

A tricky intermediate move. Other reasonable options here were 5. c3?! and 5. Nxd4.

5... Be7

MCO-13 gives 5...f6, but the text looks fine.

6. BxB QxB
7. 0-0 Qc5
8. BxN dxB

The position was now:

click for larger view

9. Qxd4

Rosenthal in the Tournament Book claims that this move was "played to obtain a draw" and contends that 9. Nxd4 was better. What Rosenthal overlooks is that Brody's doubled c-pawns give Schlechter an advantage in the endgame. Brody, of course, had no choice and had to trade Queens after 9. Qxd4. He thereafter seemed to think that all he had to do was trade off pieces and get a draw with Schlechter. While the game is indeed probably a theoretical draw, Black has a lot of work to reach that goal, especially against so profound a positional player as Schlechter.

9... QxQ
10. NxQ Bd7
11. Nc3 0-0-0
12. Rad1 Nf6
13. f3 Rhe8
14. Rf2

Schlechter is happy to play for exchanges, rather than try something more aggressive such as 14. Kf2. This may have lulled Brody into a sense that he had nothing to fear.

14... c5!

Dynamic play. Brody at this stage seems to be feeling his oats, not suspecting the problems Schlechter intends to pose for him.

15. Nb3

15. Nde2 would be more enterprising, but Schlechter sticks to his guns. Exchange pieces and try to exploit his better pawn structure.

15... b6
16. Rfd2

Preparing to trade off all four Rooks, rather than seeking active middle-game play with 16. Re2 or 16. Nc1.

16... Bc6

Brody is happy to trade off the Rooks.

17. Kf2 RxR+

17...Ng8 was perhaps safer, but Brody sees no risk if he trades off Rooks.

18. RxR

18. NxR would have been better if Schlechter weren't set on his plan.

18... Rd8
19. Ke3 RxR

19...Ne8 might have been more prudent, but Brody seems confident a draw is on the horizon.

20. NxR Kd7

The position was now:

click for larger view

So the endgame towards which both players have been pointing has been reached. Is it a flat draw, or can Schlechter exploit his pawn structure? As I will show in my next post on this game, Black will have to play very carefully to keep out of trouble. But Brody did not see what Schlechter had apparently long foreseen, and was in big trouble within four moves and dead lost within eight moves. Watching Schlechter nurse his small advantage here is a pleasure to behold.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post II

The stage of the game in which Schlechter outplayed Brody and obtained a winning position is instructive:

21. e5

21. g4 or 21. h4 may be the best way to begin exploiting White's 4 versus 3 pawn majority on the King's side, but Schlechter decides to tangle up Black's position first.

21... Ng8
22. Nde4 h6
23. f4

A subtle move that creates a seeming opportunity for Black that is in fact illusory. Brody gets taken in, and lands in trouble almost immediately.

23... Ke6
24. g4

Schlechter slowly but surely advances with his King-side majority. The position was now:

click for larger view

Brody could hold his position by sitting tight with something like 24...Ne7, 24...Bb7, or even 24...a5. Instead, he apparently thought he saw a chance to break up Schlechter's approaching phalanx, and therefore erred with:

24... g5?

This may not necessarily lead to loss of the game, but it gives Schlechter the opening he sought.

25. fxg5

This left:

click for larger view

Brody already has to be careful. He could have lost immediately had he played the reflexive 25...hxg5 which runs into 26. Nxg5+ Kxe5 27. h4! or 27. Nf3+ (but not 27. Nxf7+ as given by Rosenthal in the Tournament Book which lets Black to create problems for the White Knight and thus save the game with 27...Kf6!)

As the above variations show, Schlechter's subtle play has already required Brody to avoid fatal pitfalls. He did, however, pass this first test when he played:

25... Kxe5!

Then followed:

26. h3 a5
27. gxh6

Homer nods. Schlechter should have stabilized the Queen-side first with 27. a4 or 27. a3. Now, Brody has a chance to defend himself against Schlechter's King-side threats.

27... Nxa6
28. Nd2

The position was now:

click for larger view

It was here that Brody cracked and gave Schlechter the opening he needed to overwhelm the shaky Black position:

28... Ng8?

As Rosenthal pointed out in the Tournament Book, 28...Bg2 was no better and loses to 29. Nf3+ (29. Nc4+ Ke6 30. Kf4 Bc6 [30...Bxh3 31. Ne3 loses a piece] 31. Ne3 is even better than Rosenthal's line) 29...Ke6 (29...Kd6 would be slightly better but inadequate after 30. Ne4+) 30. Kf4 and White has not only the "advantage" as Rosenthal says but indeed a won endgame.

The only saving move for Brody was 28...f5! forcing Schlechter into either allowing a pawn trade or a dangerous passed pawn of his own.

After the text (28...Ng8?) the position was:

click for larger view

From here, as I will try to show in my next post, Schlechter carefully advanced his g and h pawns and (with a few hiccuhs along the way) had a fairly easy win until he fell from grace and blew his chances with his very bad 44th and 46th moves.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post III

Beginning with move 29, Schlechter tightened the noose on Brody and increased his already winning (or nearly winning) advantage:

29. Nc4+

29. h4 was probably better, but Schlechter's move is sufficient to maintain his significant edge.

29... Ke6

A small mistake but a serious one. Brody should have played 29...Kf6.

30. h4

The King-size assault continues!

30... f6
31. Kf4 a4?

Black doesn't have time for this. He needed to deal with the King-side threats beginning with 31...Nh6

32. a3

Once again Schlechter takes the slow road to victory instead of the stronger 32. Na3.

32... Be8?

Again missing the chance to play 32...Nh6. The text is, at best, pointless.

33. Ne3 Ne7
34. h5!

The position was now:

click for larger view

That Black is in trouble is now obvious.

34... Bc6
35. Ne4 Kf7
36. Ng3

36. c4! was strongest, but Schlechter's move is plenty good enough.

36... Bd7?

Another misguided move by Brody that further compromises his already poor position. 36...Bb7 was best.

37. Ngf5!

Crushing. Schlechter doesn't give Brody the tiniest chance at this stage of the game or a moment's peace.

37... Nc8?

More bad play by Brody, who seems to have given up. 37...BxN or 37...Be6 offered better (albeit slim) chances.

38. g5

A good move, but 38. h6! would have shortened the struggle.

38... fxg5+
39. Kxg5 b5

This attempt at a Queen-side demonstration offered little hope, but it is difficult to suggest anything better.

The position was now:

click for larger view

40. h6! Kg8
41. Nd5 BxN
42. KxB

This left:

click for larger view

42... Nd6+?

With every move Brody marches to his doom. 42...Kh7 was essential.

43. Kg6 Nc4?

Throwing everything into his Queen-side attack, but leaving himself naked on the King-side.

The position was now:

click for larger view

Black now has the sad choice of watching White's h-pawn Queen or getting mated. Black has no defense. But though White has an easy win, Schlechter here took his eye off the ball, and in a twinkling of an eye Schlechter's win is gone.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post IV

After 43...Nc4, Schlecther had an easy win with 44. Nf6+ which leaves Black with two horrible choices: 44...Kh8 (leading to the loss of material on the Queen-side) or a mating net; or 44...Kf8 after which Black would find himself in a mating net if he tried to stop the h-pawn from Queening.

But instead of the winning 44. Nf6+

44. h7+??

This wins a pawn but allows Brody excellent chances to escape with a draw. Chess can be a cruel game. Schlechter had completely outplayed Brody, and now with a single slip probably had nothing more than a draw in sight.

44... Kh8
45. Nxc7 b4!

Clever play by Brody. This move was his only chance, but it worked like a charm, especially when Schlechter responded with a second bad mistake.

The position was now:

click for larger view

46. Nd5?

Now Schlechter's chances of winning are gone entirely. He needed to try 46. Ne6, or perhaps 46. Nb5. After the text, Brody has time for his Queen-side counterplay to work.

46... Nxb2!
47. axb4 a3

47...cxb4 also draws here.

48. Kh6

This left:

click for larger view

White is threatening mate in two [by Nf4 and Ng6 mate], so Brody has only one way to save the game, which he finds.

48... Nc4!!

Here the players agreed to a draw, the position now being:

click for larger view

Had they played on, as Rosenthal noted in the Tournament Book, Schlechter would have been forced to play 49. Nc3! to avoid immediate defeat. If instead 49. Nf4 Black wins quickly with 49... Ne5, and if 49. Ne7 Black also wins with 49...Ne5, in either case Black Queens his a-pawn while White's mating net is foiled.

After 49. Nc3 Brody would (again following Rosenthal's analysis) have to play 49...cxb4 after which 50. Na2 leads to a dead draw:

click for larger view

Quite an interesting endgame, but a shame Schlechter' previous fine play was not rewarded with victory.

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