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Moritz Billecard vs Amos Burn
Munich (1900), Munich GER, rd 7, Jul-31
Queen's Gambit Declined: Orthodox Defense. Botvinnik Variation (D60)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Burn got off to a poor start at Munich 1900, losing two of his first three games. He had struck back in the following three rounds, winning all three of these games and thus had a record of 4-2 going into this 7th round encounter with Billecard, who was only half a point out of the cellar. Standing just one point out of first place, Burn needed a win in this game. He obtained the full point, but only after a long often dreary contest with the hapless Billecard. For much of the game, Burn played listlessly, seeming to be waiting for Billecard to blunder. The game becomes interesting after exchanges reduce material to a Queen and Bishop versus Queen and Knight ending. Billecard continued to hang on even then until move 74, when he finally blundered, giving Burn the opportunity for which he had been waiting.

Not an aesthetically pleasing win for Burn, but it got the job done after a long day at the office.

1. d4 d5
2. c4 e3
3. Nc3 Nf6
4. Bg5 Nbd7

Setting a beginner's trap [5. cxd5 exd5 6. Nxd5?? NxN 7. BxQ Bb4+ winning a piece].

5. e3

Billecard did not fall for it!

5... Be7
6. Nf3 0-0
7. Bd3

7. cxd5 or 7. Rc1 were more accurate.

7... b6

An older version of the Tartakower Defense to the Queen's Gambit Declined. 7...h6 or 7...dxc4 were better.

8. 0-0

Again missing the chance to play cxd5, which would cause White to lose a tempo.

8... Bb7

8...dxc4 was yet again better. 8...c5 was another good option.

9. Qe2

Missing a third chance to play 9. cxd5.

9... Ne4

Akin to what later became known as the Lasker Defense.

10. Bf4

Missing cxd5 for a fourth time.

10... a6

10...NxN followed by dxc4--causing White to lose a tempo--was better.

11. Rfd1

For a fifth time, Billecard missed the chance to play cxd5.

11... Nd6

Very weak. 11...NxN was again better for Burn.

12. cxd5

At last!

12... exd5
13. Rac1 Nf6

Inferior to 13...g6. Through his thoughtless play, Burn had allowed Billecard to get the better game:

click for larger view

14. Na4

To prevent c5. 14. Ne5 and 14. h3 were other good moves.

14... Nde8

Feeble play by Burn. 14...g6 or 14. Re8 or 14. h6 were all better than the text.

15. Qc2 Bd6
16. BxB

Relinquishing much of his edge. 16. Ne5 or 16. Re1 or even 16. h3 were all better.

16... QxB
17. Qb3

17. Ne5 or 17. h3 were better.

17... Nd7

More bad play by Burn, who seems to have thought that some kind of hedgehog formation would cause Billecard to overplay his hand, the position now being:

click for larger view

As I will discuss in my next post on this game, Burn continued to flort with disaster, but Billecard returned the favor by missing the best continuations, confirming Burn's apparent assumption that he just had to keep the game going and await a blunder by Billecard.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post II

In the diagrammed position with which I ended my last post, Billecard could have presented major problems for Burn with 18. Nc5! But Billecard missed this chance, and instead played:

18. Bf5

The Tournament Book, also missing 18. Nc5, gave the text a "!."

18... Ned6

Burn's play during the first half of this game is unrecognizable. 18...Rb8 or 18...Ra7 (protecting the b7 Bishop and breaking up the pin) were much better. Even 18...Ndf6 was better than the text.

19. Rc2

Billecard would have had excellent (theoretical) chances of winning with 19. Qc3 or 19. Qa3 (e.g., 19...QxQ 20. bxQ Rac8 21. Ne5 Rfd8 22. Rc2).

19... Ra7

Another awful move by Burn that would have led to trouble against a stronger opponent. 19...Bc6 or 19...g6 (or perhaps 19...Rab8) were all much better.

20. Rdc1

20. Qa3 was another good choice here. But Billecard decided to build up pressure on the c-file--a reasonable plan had he followed it up properly.

20... Ba8

Burn had no good responses. Perhaps 20...Rd8 was somewhat better. After the text, the position was:

click for larger view

Billecard had something close to a strategically won game at this point, but as the sequel shows he had no idea on how to press his advantage.

21. Ne1

Too slow. Billecard should have played 21. Qa3 here, after which Burn would have been hard pressed to keep his head above water, 21...b5 or 21...QxQ were the best--though hardly very satisfactory--responses.

21... g6
22. BxB

Seeking exchanges rather than a way to play for a win.

22... NxB
23. Nd3 Rc8

Another wooden move by the usually more reliable Burn. 23...a5 was indicated.

24. Rc3

Again missing an excellent chance (24. Qb4).

24... Kg7
25. Qc2 h6
26. a3 Kh7

Burn's plan at this stage is hard to fathom. He should have considered 26...Nf6 or 26...a5.

27. Nb4

The Tournament Book assigned a "?" to this move, but it was not all that bad and retains some advantage for White.The arguably superior options were 27. Qd1, 27. h4, or 27. b4.

27... Nb8

Not a happy move to have to make, but he had to protect against 28. Nc6.

The position was now:

click for larger view

Burn's position at this point was constricted but probably defensible. There were to be a few ups and downs from this point, but--thanks in large part to more sloppy play by Billecard--Burn, as I will discuss in my next post on this game, fought his way back into the contest.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post III

28. Nd3

Planning to post the Knight on e5, a questionable plan for which Burn could have taken counter-measures.

28... a5

Best in light of Billecard's obvious intention was 28...Nd7.

29. Ne5

The Tournament Book assigns a "?" to this move, but Ne5 was certainly logical after 28. Nd3 and after Burn's failure to play 28...Nd7. The alternatives to 29. Ne5 were 29. f4 and 29. h4.

29... c5

"!"--Tournament Book.

This was doubtless best, but fairly obvious and hardly worthy of a "!"

30. b3 Rg8

Another thoughtless move by Burn. 30...Re8 or 30...Eac7 were clearly better. Through this point, Burn still appeared to be playing on auto-pilot, waiting for Billecard to hand him the game.

The position was now:

click for larger view

31. Qa2

The first of a number of poor moves by Billecard that turned a strong position for White into a good game for Black. Billecard had a number of good possibilities here, e.g., 31. Nf3 or 31. h4 or 31. Qd3. Other than turning the c-file over to his Rooks, Billecard's Queen does little here on a2.

31... cxd4
32. exd4 f6
33. Nf3

33. Ng4 was the only way for Billecard to try to retain an advantage.

33... Re7
34. R3c2

Another nothing move by Billecard (who had apparently decided the most important thing to do was to retreat his Knight to c3). He might have tried something like 34. b4.

34... Rge8
35. Nc3

Continuing with his mindless non-plan.

35... Bc6

The Bishop did not belong here (although Billecard's response made the move look better). 35...Bb7 or 35...Na6 were better.

36. Ne2

Rightly assigned a "?" in the Tournament Book. The move didn't result in loss of material or a lost game, but it gave Burn the chance to begin to seek the initiative for the first time in this contest. 36. h4 or 36. b4 would have given Billecard some chances to seek some edge.

36... Bb5

Mysteriously assigned a "!" by the Tournament Book. 36...Bd7 was more useful. Alternatively, Burn might have gotten his King off the b1...h7 diagonal with 36...Kg7 (not that Billecard ever tried to exploit this possibility).

37. Ng3 Nc6
38. h3

This left:

click for larger view

The play to this point had been dismal, thoughtless, and wimpy. From here, however, Burn and Billecard actually tried to attack. There efforts were misguided, but at least some interesting possibilies developed.

38... a4?!

A clumsy effort to make something happen on the Queen-side. He should have re-positioned his Knight with 38...Na7 or 38...Nd8 before undertaking an attack, or at least gotten his King to g7.

39. b4

Why not just repair his position by taking the a-pawn?

39... Bc4

At first blush, this looks good, the position now being:

click for larger view

In fact, as I will discuss in my next post on this game, gave Billecard an opportunity to create some action. 39...Na7 or 39...Kg7 were better.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post IV

Billecard's position had been drifting downhill for the last 9-10 moves, but 39...Bc4 gave him an interesting opportunity: 40. RxB!? This could have led to some chances for White after 40...dxR 41. Qxc4. Burn would have had to play 41...Na7 to maintain any real advantage after which 42. Qd3 would at least be a starting effort to punish Burn for leaving his King on h7. While this would get nowhere against a computer, it seems better than being docile and submitting to the bad position Billecard had created for himself. With the benefit of hindsight, however, and in light of Burn's coming miscues, Billecard's decision not to sacrifice the exchange came up smelling like a rose.

40. Qb2 b5
41. Rd2 Nd8

A thoughtless retreat that should have cost Burn most or all of whatever advantage he enjoyed here. 41...Qf4 anybody?

42. Rdd1

Billecard seemed also to be playing in a fog. 42. Qb1 getting his Queen on the b1...h7 diagonal was surely best.

42... Ne6
43. Re1 Nf4
44. RxR+ RxR
45. Re1

It is hard to understand why Billecard wanted to trade off the last pair of Rooks. The resulting position was hardly likely to be good for him (but perhaps he expected Burn's poor 47th move).

45... Nd3

Another move by Burn that looks strong on first glance but in fact was part of a bad plan.

46. RxR+ QxR
47. Qd2

This left:

click for larger view

47... f5

Losing his good position in just one move. Why allow Billecard to get his Knight to e5?

For whatever reason, after Burn's poor 47th move, the players suddenly seem to have awakened from their stupors and (finally!) treated us to some exciting and first-rate chess.

48. Nf1

Anticipating f4.

48... f4!

Burn's first real fighting move of the game. At long last, he beings to seek play on the King-side.

49. N1h2!

I love this move, which is probably the only way to maintain equal chances in light of Burn's threatened assault.

49... h5!

Among other things, this helps set up a nasty trap.

50. h4

Billecard could also have played Ne5 immediately here.

50... Kg7

The position was now:

click for larger view

51. Ng5? here loses to 51...Qe1+ 52. Nf1 (52. QxQ NxQ with Nc2 to follow would be even worse) QxQ 52. NxQ Kf6 and White's position is en prise. Billecard, however, avoided this trap.

51. Ne5!

This forking move broke up the strong position held by Burn's Knight and Bishop on the Queen-side. True, it cost Billecard a pawn, but the resulting endgame gave him sufficient counterplay with his Queen that should have allowed him to hold the game:

51... NxN

Anything else loses.

52. dxN Qxe5

This left:

click for larger view

Burn was now up a pawn, but as I will discuss in my next post on this game, Billecard easily equalized. But endings with Queens are always tricky, and this game was no exception.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post V

53. Nf3!

The only move, but a good one that gave Billecard equal chances despite the pawn minus. There is now no way to prevent the White Queen from penetrating and harassing Burn's King with checks and threats.

53... Qf6
54. Qe1

Billecard's Queen now can invade on the e-file, giving him what should have been a clear road to a draw.

54... d4

Burn's only even plausible way to win was to advance his d-pawn and hope for the best. It would take a while, but his hopes in this regard would ultimately work out just fine (with the help of Billecard's careless 74th move).

55. Qe8 Qd6
56. Qa8 d3

Continuing to press his one and only chance to win (and hoping Billecard would screw uo).

57. Qa7+

Billecard must play with great care here. Any more other than this or 57. Qb7+ would have lost immediately.

57... Kf6

The position was now:

click for larger view

58. Nd2!

Forced, but obvious. With Burn's d-pawn blocked, Billecard was safe.

58... Ke6
59. Qg7 Kf5

This left:

click for larger view

60. Qc3

Sloppy play that gave Burn some chances to make his life tough. 60. Qb7 or 60. Qh8 or even 60. Kh2 were all sufficient to hold the balance.

60... Qe5

Missing his best chance: 60...Qf6.

61. Qc1!

Forced. Anything else would have lost immediately; e.g., 61. QxQ+ KxQ 62. Kf1 Kd4 63. Ke1 Kc3 and Black cleans up.

61... Qe6
62. Nf3

Threatening the nasty Knight fork Nd4+.

62... Kf6

This loses the f4 pawn. Burn's only chance to try for a win (small as it was) lay in 62...Qe7.

53. Qxf4

Billecard's trouble now appeared to be over and the game seemed destined to end in a draw.

53... Kg7
64. Qd4+

This left:

click for larger view

In this position, however, as I will discuss in my next post on this game, Burn (who had to move out of check) courted trouble and the hunter nearly became the hunted.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post VI

In the diagrammed position with which I ended my last post (i.e., after 64. Qd4+) [sorry for the typos giving 63. Qxf4+ and 63. Kg7 as "53. Qxf4" and 53...Kg7"], Burn had only to play 64. Kg8 to maintain the balance, but instead he erred with:

64... Kf7?

Now Billecard could have made serious trouble for Burn with 65. Ng5+ (65...Kg8 66. Ne4 both halting Burn's d-pawn and positing threats to Burn's naked King). Burn might well have still held the game, but he would have had to sweat. However,

65. Qf4+

This let Burn off the hook for his careless 64th move. Billecard still had a draw for the taking, but he would not have any more winning chances after 65. Qf4+.

65... Ke8
66. Qb8+ Ke7
67. Qc7+ Kf8
68. Qf4+ Kg8
69. Qb8+ Kg7
70. Qc7+ Bf7

The position was now:

click for larger view

The game still seemed headed for a draw. But here, for whatever reason, Billecard decided to play for a win and played:

71. Ng5?!

Although this loses a pawn, Billecard could still have held the draw if he kept his head. But he apparently thought a win was to be had. The mistake here was therefore not so much in 71. Ng5?! but in the faulty idea behind it.

71... Qe1+
72. Kh2 Qxf2
73. Qc3+ Kf8

This left:

click for larger view

Billecard was now down a pawn, but he would have been just fine after 74. Qh8+ or 74. Nh7+ or 74. Nf3. But instead, Billecard committed the fatal blunder for which Burn had been waiting since the beginning of the game. [I have no evidence concerning the time on Billecard's clock, but the move 75 time control was approaching and thus time trouble might well have been at least a partial explanation].

74. Qc8+??

This left:

click for larger view

Black to move and win.

74... Be8!

Oops! Billecard has no Queen checks, and the d-pawn is poised to advance towards Queening.

75. Ne6+

Billecard panicked. 75. Nf3 was the only even remote chance to hang on. Now, Burn had a clear road to victory, and never let Billecard off the floor.

75... Ke7!

Game over.

76. Qd8+ KxN

With the elimination of Billecard's Knight, the game was effectively over.

77. QxB+ Kd5!
78. Qxb5+ Ke4!

This left:

click for larger view

I will cover the balance of the game (now a clear win for Burn) in my next post on this game.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post VII

The rest was easy:

79. Qc4+

This only hastened the end. Billecard might have hung on a little longer with 79. Qc6+, but this would not have altered the outcome.

79... Qd4

Of course! Billecard could safely have resigned.

80. Qc6+ Ke3

The d-pawn can not be stopped.

81. Qf3+ Kd2

This left:

click for larger view

82. Qg3 Kc2
83. Qxg6 Qxh4+
84. Kg1 Qd4+
85. Kf1 Kb2

click for larger view

86. Qxh5

Burn now finished neatly:

86... Qf4+
87. Ke1

If 87. Kg1 Qc1+ 88. Kf2 Qc2+ 89. Kg3 Kxa3.

87... Qe3+
88. Kf1 Qc1+

The position was now:

click for larger view


If 89. Kf2 Qc2+ 90. Ke3 d2

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