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David Janowski vs Isidor Gunsberg
Monte Carlo (1902), Monte Carlo MNC, rd 1, Feb-03
French Defense: Rubinstein Variation. Blackburne Defense (C10)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  Honza Cervenka: If 20...hxg6, then 21.Qxg6+ Kh8 22.Ng5 with a mate in the next move.
Premium Chessgames Member It would make a nice puzzle, except that the immediate 20.Ng5 is also very strong.
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: A sparkling finish by Janowski, but contrary to what is suggested in the Tournament Book, Janowski did not have the game in hand (despite some earlier questionable play by Gunsberg) until Black's blunder on move 18.

1. e4 e6
2. d4 d5
3. Nc3 dxe4

This later came to be known as the Rubinstein Variation. It is cramping but sound,

4. Nxe4 Nd7
5. Nf3 Be7

5...Ngf6. The text, which can transpose into the 5...Ngf6 lines, is also reasonable. It was later a favorite of Seirawan. Gunsberg played this twice at Monte Carlo 1902 and got crushed in 20 moves both times, first here by Janowski in the opening round and later in his round 14 replay against Wolf.

6. Bd3 Ngf6

Thus transposing back to the more usual 5...Ngf6 lines.

7. 0-0 NxN
8. BxN Nf6
9. Bd3

click for larger view

White is a little freer, but thus far there was not all that much wrong with Gunsberg's position.

9... c6

"A surprising suicide for the Bishop on c8. 9...0-0 followed by b6 was better." (Tournament Book)

9...0-0 was indeed better (as was 9...c5). But the Tournament Book's description of the text as "suicide" for the Black c8 Bishop was over the top. While I don't much fancy Black's position after 9...c6, Gunsberg was nowhere near lost at this point, his position now being:

click for larger view

10. Qe2 0-0
11. Bf4 b6

Beginning an awkward process of freeing his c8 Bishop. 11...Nd5 or 11...a5 or 11...b5 were all somewhat more dynamic. But, yet again, though cramped, Gunsberg's position remained difficult but tenable.

12. c3

Too slow to pose much of a threat to Black. White had to get his Rooks on e1 and d1 to make progress.

12... Bb7
13. Rad1

click for larger view

13... Qd5

The Queen needed a safer post, so 13...Qc8 was best.

14. Be5

Pointless. Having played 13. Rad1, Janowski should now have continued with 14. Rfe1.

click for larger view

14... Rae8?

Very weak. With 14...c5, Gunsberg would have solved most of the problems that had plagued him since his 9th move. Now, though probably not lost, Gunsberg faced serious difficulties--until Janowski's response.

15. Bb1

Mmore dithering by Janowski that let Gunsberg back into the game. Janowski would have had much the better game after 15. Ng5 or 15. c4.

15... c5

"The Bishop is now free, but by c7-c6-c5 Black has lost two moves." (Tournament Book).

Actually, he had lost one move. And after the text, Gunsberg's position was not all that terrible:

click for larger view

From here, however, Gunsberg collapsed, and was forced to resign after Janowski's 20th move. How this occurred will be the subject of my next post on this game.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post II

16. Rfe1 g6

Instead of immediately making this weakening move, Gunsberg might have played 16...c4. But the text was hardly fatal.

17. h3

"!"--(Tournament Book)

"Preparing Qe3 which, if played immediately, would be answered by Ng4." (Tournament Book)

All true, but Janowski could have simplified the process and just played 17. Qd2. In either event, White is somewhat better, but Black was not in any serious jeopardy---yet.

17... Qc6

"?"--(Tournament Book)

Once again, I agree that the text is probably not best. But the Tournament Book's suggested 17...Nd7 looks awful, especially after 18. dxc5 Qc6 19. Be4 QxB 20. QxQ BxQ 21, RxN Bc6 22. Rc7 BxN 23. gxB bxc5 24. Rxa7 and White should win.

Best for Black here was probably either 17...c4 or 17...Rd8. Even after the text, Gunsberg's game was not so bad. Indeed, the only losing move on the horizon was the Tournament Book's suggested 17...Nd7.

18. Qe3

click for larger view

18... Nd5??

An inexplicable blunder which loses straightaway.

The Tournament Book was correct that 18...Nd7 would have been better, but entirely wrong in stating that White can then obtain a "decisive advantage." The line it gives is flawed top to bottom: 18...Nd7 19. Qh6 (White can obtain the better game, but with 19. Be4, not with the suggested 19. Qh6) 19...NxB 20. RxN (White is still OK after 20. dxN) f5 21. d5 (White would only be slightly worse with 21. dxc5) after which--far from enjoying a "decisive advantage," White would have to fight to save the game: e.g., 21...exd5 22. Rde1 Bf6 23. Ng5 (best) BxN 24. QxB RxR 25. RxR Qf6 and White has little to show for his pawn minus.

Best for Black here were 18...Qb5 or 18...Qc8.

After the text, Black is busted:

19. Qh6

click for larger view

There is no escape for Black.

19... f6

This only hastened the end, but--in fairness to Gunsberg--19...Nf6 20. d5! would not have been much fun for Black either.

20. Bxg6!


As <Honza Cervenka> pointed out on this site over a decade ago, Black can not avoid mate.

As was also mentioned on this site, White can also win with 20. Ng5, but Janowski's move is even faster.

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