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David Janowski vs Wilhelm Cohn
Munich (1900), Munich GER, rd 6, Jul-30
Queen's Gambit Declined: Marshall Defense (D06)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
Aug-27-02  morphynoman2: A curious queen's trap.
Mar-17-03  Bionic Brain: Yes, why did Black play 36...Ne8? losing the Queen?
Mar-17-03  bishop: That's what's called a mistake.
Mar-17-03  Bionic Brain: Really? I'd never have guessed that.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: Given Black's position at that point, I don't think any move which ends his suffering could be called a mistake.
Dec-25-10  bengalcat47: In his own comments on this game Janowski calls the final position a rare "stalemate of the queen."
Premium Chessgames Member
  wordfunph: black is still ok but suddenly the thunderous 36...Ne8?

..a help-trap of Queen.. :)

Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: Black is condemned to passive defense, so 36...Ne8 may have been a player assisted queen suicide.

Black must evacuate the queen first 36...Qh8 37 Na6 Ne8 38 Nb8 Rd8 and although Black's position is inert, White must figure out how to win.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: As of the end of 1899, Janowski had established himself as one of the top players in the world (and also one of the more unpredictable--capable of beating Lasker as of Nuremberg 1896 and also to losing to almost anyone on a given day). He took third place (behind Tarrasch and Pillsbury) at Vienna 1898 and then tied for second place with Pillsbury and Maroczy behind Lasker at London 1899. But then came Paris 1900 in which Janowski finished in a miserable tie for 10th place and then Munich 1900 in which he lost six games and finished with only an even record.

The game at hand was one of the few bright spots for Janowski at Munich 1900 (checkmating the opponent's Queen is always exhilerating) and adumbrated his coming triumphs: first at Monte Carlo 1901 ahead of Schlechter, Tchigorin, and Marshall; first place at Vienna 1902; a close third place at Monte Carlo 1902 behind Maroczy and Pillsbury and ahead of Schechter, Tchigorin, Tarrasch, and Marshall; a tied with Lasker for second place behind Marshall at Cambridge Springs 1904 ahead of Schlechter and Pillsbury; his second place finish (behind Maroczy) at Ostend 1905; all leading up to his fine tie for first place with Maroczy at Barmen 1905 ahead of Marshall, Bernstein, Schlechter and Tchigorin.

1. d4 d5
2. c4 Nf6

Schlechter in the Tournament Book was highly critical of this offbeat move by Cohn: "A bad move, as White obtains a strong center and gains a tempo for his development."

In fact, the move (while doubtless inferior to 2...e5; 2...c5; or 2...dxc4; is playable--especially if followed up more thoughtfully than Cohn did here.

The position after 2...Nf6 was:

click for larger view

3. cxd5 Nxd5

There was no rush to take the pawn. 3...g6 could have led to interesting play. Cohn would then have the possibility of an interesting pawn sacrifice: 4. Nf3 Bg7?! 5. Qa4+ c6 6. dxc6 Nxc6 7. Nc3 Bf5 and Black would have some counterplay for the lost pawn.

After the text, Cohn does lose the tempo mentioned by Schlechter.

4. e4 Nf6

4...Nb6 was somewhat better.

5. Nc3

Unfairly criticized by Schlechter in the Tournament Book, who called 5. Bd3 preferable ("preventing the threat e7-e5)." In fact, both Janowski's and Schlechter's moves are reasonable. I fed the position to Fritz 15 and Stockfish: Fritz prefers Janowski's move while Stockfish opts for 5. Bd3.

5... e5


IO agree that the text is probably best, but Janowski still had a fine game at this point.

6. d5?

Here is where Janowski lost his opening edge. Schlechter suggests that that 6. dxe5 gives White nothing, but after 6...QxQ+ 7. KxQ Ng4 8. Nd5 White surely has much the better game. Both 6. dxe5 and 6. Nf3 were much better than the text.

6... Bc5

6...c6 breaking up White's center was much better.

7. Bg5

This looks strong but allowed Cohn a chance for near equality. 7. Nf3 or 7. Be2 were both better.

7... Bg4

The coming trade of Bishops left Janowski better. Cohn should instead have tried 7...0-0 or 7...c6.

8. Be2

Schlechter's 8. Qb3 is interesting, but the text seems simplest and best.

8... BxB
9. QxB

This left:

click for larger view

White holds whatever edge there is in this position, but from here--as I will discuss in my next post on this game--Cohn began to set up a kind of hedgehog defense that landed him in a hopeless position.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post II

9... Nbd7

Cohn was understandably concerned about his undefended Bishop on c5 which seems vulnerable in some variations to a White Queen fork with Qb5+. But 9...h6 or 9...a6 were better, since Black can still protect against Qb5+ with Nbd7. The text is the beginning of a sad process by which Cohn buried his own Queen alive.

10. Nf3 0-0
11. 0-0 h6
12. Ba4 Kh7

A useless move. Cohn had many better options, e.g., 12...Re8; 12...a6; 12...Qe8 or even 12...Rc8.

13. Rac1

The beginning of a plan (executed with little sense of urgency by Janowski) to build up pressure on the c-file and ultimately doubling the White Rooks on this file.

The position was now:

click for larger view

13... g5

"Weakening the f5 point where a White Knight now threatens to establish itself. A better option would be 13...Be7 and Nf6-e8."--(Schlechter).

While 13...g5 was indeed bad, Schlechter's proposed 13...Be7 looks even worse, especially after 14. BxN BxB 15. Nb5.

13...Bd6; 13...Re8; and 13...Qe7 were all better.

14. Bg3 Qe7
15. Nd1!

15. Nd2 or 15. Na4 may perhaps be better, but the text both opens the c-file for White and starts the Knight on a possible journey to f5.

This left:

click for larger view

15... Ne8?

Very bad. This should have cost a pawn and the game. Cohn had many better choices: 15...Nh5; 15...Bb6; 15...Rac8; and 15...Rfc8.

16. h4?!

Consistent with Janowski's slashing and kill style, but here the prosaic (and childishly simple) 16. Nxe5 was the cleanest route to a quick victory. Amazingly, Schlechter did not mention this in his commentary. Did I miss something here. I checked this with both Fritz 15 and Stockfish, but of which played 16. Nxe5 in a nano-second.

16... f6
17. Ne3 Nd6
18. Nd2

18. Rc2 preparing to double Rooks on the c-file was a good alternative.

The position was now:

click for larger view

18... Rg8?

Another questionable move by Cohn, who could have had a playable (although inferior) game after 18...Qf7 or 18...BxN

19. h5

Another move in the style of Janowski, but 19...Ndc4 or 19. hxg5 were better.

19... Bb6

Either 19...Qf7 or 19...BxN would have been better.

20. Ndc4!

Janowski now had a fine--and possibly winning--position:

click for larger view

From here on, as I will at least attempt to begin to show in my next post on this game, Cohn played as if in a haze, and ultimately produced a curious form of self-mate--of his Queen!

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post III

Apologies for the mistaken diagram with which I ended my last post. White had a Knight on e3,not a Bishop, the position in fact being:

click for larger view

Cohn's position was already bad, but it went downhill (with a few hiccups by Janowski) from here:

20... BxN

Schlechter was correct in saying that Janowski would have answered 20...NxN with 21. Nf5! and 22. RxN. But 20...Nc5 was best.

21. NxB Nb6

Another weak move by Cohn, who should have played 21...Rac8 or 21...Nb8 or perhaps 21...Rgc8.

22. f3

A good prophylactic move, and probably sufficient to win, but 22. Rc2; 22. Rc3; or 22. Ng4 were all better.

22... Rac8
23. Be1 Qf7

Cohn would have had a better chance of resisting with 23...Rgd8 or 23...Qe8.

24. g4?!

Lunging forward in true gallant Janowski style. But 24. Bb4 was probably simpler and better.

The position was now:

click for larger view

24... Rcd8

More dithering by Cohn. He had to play 24...c5 here to have any real chance for counterplay against the strangulation tactics Janowski was applying.

25. Bb4!

Now c5 is not available to Cohn, and his game is strategically lost.

25... Nbc8
26. b3 Rg7
27. a4 Qd7

"Black is bound hand and foot" (Schlechter).

click for larger view

28. Rc3 Qe8

Cohn could only watch as Janowski built up his position further and prepared for the final onslaught.

29. Rfc1!

With Janowski's Rooks now doubled on the c-file, the end was clearly approaching.

29... Rdd7
30. Ba5!

30. Nd1 and 30. Nd2 were also good. That the end was near is apparent from the position shown below:

click for larger view

I will discuss how Janowski played to wrap up from here in my next post on this game.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post IV

Once again my closing diagram in my last post was flawed. I showed the position after 29...Rdd7 rather than after 30. Ba5! (Maybe I need to stop posting in the middle of the night!).

Perhaps depressed by the clogged arrangement of his pieces, Cohn's resistance from here to the end of the game was feeble.

30... b6

"A move like this which irrevocably weakens the queenside should be made only if absolutely necessary. In this case, 30...Qd8 was sufficient for the present." (Schlechter).

Another apt comment by Schlechter. 30...Nb6 was also to be considered.

31. Bb4 Qd8

"He should first have played a5." (Schlechter).

31...Qd8 does indeed look bad, especially in light of what ultimately happened in this game (i.e., the checkmating of Cohn's Queen). But has had no good options here.

32. Ba3 Rgf7
33. b4


The text, preparatory to the powerful Karpovian 34. b5, does indeed set nasty and probably unsolvable problems for Cohn. But 33. Qa6 looks even better.

33... Kg7

Cohn can only mark time.

34. b5!

Cohn's position was sad indeed after this move.

click for larger view

34... Kh7
35. Rc2


35... Kg7

Cohn had to play 35...Nb7 to have any real chance to survive.

36. Nb4!

This left:

click for larger view

36... Ne8?


A gross error, but the game was not to be saved anyway: 36...Kh7 [36...Ne7 or 36...Qg8 were probably "better" than this suggested move by Schlechter, but hardly sufficient to save the game for Cohn] 37. Na6 [this wins, but 37. Nc6 was even stronger] Ne8 [equivalent to resignation, but even the "better" 37...Rg7 would not have saved Cohn] 38. Nb8 (Schlechter).

tamar's heroic try, 36...Qh8 (avoiding loss of the Queen) also would not have rescued Cohn from his predicament. If 36...Qh8 37. Ne8 36. Nb8 Rd8 (tamar's line after which she says that "White must figure out how to win") Janowski would have 39. Nc6 Rdd7 (forced) 40. Qc2 Ncd6 (best but hopeless, if 40...Qg8 41. Nb8 Rd8 42. Na6 and Black is toast) 41. Nxa7.

In sum, Schlechter's statement that Cohn was lost even before 36...Ne8? seems clearly correct.

37. Nc6

"Delivering a smothered mate to the queen!" (Schlechter)

The position is so extraordinary it deserves another diagram:

click for larger view


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