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Ignatz von Popiel vs Heinrich Wolf
13th DSB Kongress (Hanover) (1902), Hanover GER, rd 1, Jul-21
Ponziani Opening: Vukovic Gambit (C44)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
Nov-11-20  offramp: These two gruff Plattdeutschers found themselves opposed to each other in round 1 of this major tournament.

I think Von Popiel was thinking of an easy day against his fellow Austrian, and he opened with one of the dullest openings ever used in any western European boardgame: the Ponziani.

Wolf was having none of it. His Teutonic eyes were aflame as he he gave up a piece on move 5 and waded in with 6...Bxf2+.

Von Popiel had a stropiel of luck.

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Black should have castled, with a strong attack. Instead he played 9...Nxd2?
Here is the crucial position.

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White's queen is attacked and should move to a5. That would probably win.
Instead Von Popiel played
19. Nxe4!?
And Black replied
19... Bxa4. He <has> to take the queen. He must have wondered what was going to happen next.

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There is a great possibility here:
20. Nd6+ Kf8 <20... Kd8 21. Nf7#>
21. Bh6+ Bg7
22. Bxg7+ Kxg7
23. Re7+ Kf6.

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24. Rf7+ Kg5
25. Nxc8 Bxb3+
26. axb3 Raxc8

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27. Rxd7 <with total equality!!>
But instead of 20. Nd6+ = von Popiel thought he saw something better.
He played
20. Nxf6+? .

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20... Kd8
21. Nd5 Bxb3+. This bishop was so important to White, but now it is gone. Perhaps 21.Bxa4 was better.
22. axb3 Qa6
23. Bg5+ Kc8
24. Ne7+ Kb7.

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25. Rf4. This is an imaginative way to keep the game going.
26. Kc2 Qxe1
27. Rb4+ Ka6▢
28. Nd5!.

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The threat is 29.Nxc7+ Ka5 30.Rb5#!
29. Bd2 Rac8
30. c4 Rhe8
31. Rb5.

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Threatening 32. Nb4#!
31...c5 0-1
That really is it.

What a way to start a tournament.

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