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David Janowski vs Simon Winawer
Monte Carlo (1901), Monte Carlo MNC, rd 1, Feb-04
Spanish Game: Berlin Defense. Improved Steinitz Defense (C66)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  Chessical: Janowsky plays aggressively on the K-side against the Ruy Lopez using the <e4+f5> pawn manoeuvre made famous in: Lasker vs Capablanca, 1914

Winawer plays steadily as Black but misses <19...c4!> which seems to equalise, 20.bxc4 bxc4 21.Nf2 =

<20...Qa5> 21.Bc3 b4 22.Bb2 Qb6 23.Rh3 h6 24.Kh1 c4 is his last chance to generate counterplay and fater Janowsky's <21.Rh3> Winawer needs to be very careful.

<22...g5?> is, however, a panic move. Winawer had to create complications in the centre with <22...d5!> 23.Qxh6 dxe4 24.Bxf6 Qc7 25.Rg6 exd3

The end is: 25.Nd5 Qd8 (25...Qf8 26.Nc7) 26.Rf1 Re6 27.Nxf6+ Bxf6 28.Rgf3 Kg7 29.Rxf6 Rxf6 30.Rxf6 Qxf6

Premium Chessgames Member
  InspiredByMorphy: <Chessical> <19...c4! 20.bxc4 bxc4 21.Nf2 > Nice catch! Black attacks whites only weakness, the backward d pawn which unfortunately for white, is busy defending e4.
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: In a meeting between two tacticians, it was predictable that: (a) the game would be short and violent; and (b) the better tactician would win. Both expectations were borne out. Janowski had defeated Winawer in their four previous battles, and he won again here in this their final confrontation.

Contrary to what the Tournament Book said, the opening and middle game were closely contested. As only Chessical seems to have discerned, it was with his 19th move that Winawer got in trouble. He had, if anything, the better game until 19...f6? He may well have been lost after this, and was certainly doomed after 20...Qe7. His 22...g5? was, to quote Chessical, a "panic move." Janowski then finished off the game quickly (i.e., within three moves).

1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 Nc6
3. Bb5 Nf6

The Berlin Defense remained popular as of 1901.

4. 0-0 d6

4...Nxe4 (successfully played by Kramnik in several games in his 2000 match against Kasparov) is most popular and probably best. The text, however, is playable and was a favorite of Tchigorin. It was later played by Lasker in his match against Tarrasch (Lasker picking up two wins before switching to 4...Nxe4 in his other Berlin Defense games in the match, getting two draws and a loss). Lasker later tried the move against Schlechter in their 1910 match (Lasker drawing two and losing once). Lasker also lost after playing this move in his game against Dr. Bernstein at St. Petersberg 1914. [I am not saying 4...d6 was responsible for any of these wins or loses] The move was thereafter played in important games by Capablanca (including at New York 1924 against Lasker in a game they drew), and became a favorite of Max Euwe in the 1920's.

5. d5 exd4

5...Bd7 has been more frequently played here, but the text is definitely playable and gives Black a reasonable though passive position.

6. Nxd4 Bd7
7. Nc3

This transposes back to more normal lines.

7... Be7

This passive looking move is in fact probably best. It has been a favorite of Blackburne before this game was played, and was later played by Janowski himself and later--with great success--by Capablance (defeating Euwe at London 1922 and Alekhine at St. Peterburg 1914 and drawing with Emmanuel Lasker at New York 1924). Perhaps move famously, Bent Larsen lost a crucial game after playing this move against Mikhail Tahl in their 1965 match.

8. Nde2

Already contemplating King's side attack. Lasker won after playing this move against Walbrodt at Hastings 1895, and Schlechter lost to tail-ender Vergani at the same tournament. Capablance successfully played this move in several simultaneous exhibition games in 1911.

Alekhine tried the reckless 8. Nf5?! against Capablanca at St. Petersburg 1914 and lost quickly. Euwe played the time-losing 8. Re1 against Capablanca at London 1922 and lost. Lasker played 8. b3 in his drawn 1924 game against Capablanca, and Tahl won against Larsen,also after playing 8. b3.

Best here may be the simple 8. NxN (followed by 9. Ba4) or 8. Be3 (with perhaps 9. NxN to follow).

After the creative 8. Nde2, the position was:

click for larger view

8... a6

"Only driving the Bishop to a better square. The intention, however, was, as the sequel shows, to exchange Bishop for Knight; but the whole conception is erroneous since White establishes a strong center." (Tournament Book)

Actually, the minor piece trade initiated by this move made good sense, especially against a wizard of attack with two Bishops such as Janowski.

When I fed the position to Fritz and Stockfish, both thought the text was best.

In sum, the comment by the Tournament Book on this move was nonsense.

9. Bd3

"Ba4 is more common." (Tournament Book)

Since this exact position has rarely been reached (and never before this game so far as I can find), the comment is more nonsense.

9. BxN was a reasonable alternative.

9... Ne5

Continuing his plan to trade Knight for Bishop.

10. f4?!

Sharp and a bit reckless, but what else should we have expected from Janowski?

10... NxB

As per his plan.

11. cxN

The choice between the text and 11. QxN is close. Janowski played to open the c-file and secure his center.

After 11. cxN, the position was:

click for larger view

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post II

11... 0-0

11...c5 or 11...b5 were dynamic alternatives, but the text makes good sense--so long as Black remains alert to the likely upcoming King-side assault.

12. Ng3

The defensive 12. h3 or the immediate attacking 12. f5 were the moves to be considered.

12... b5

"?"--(Tournament Book).

"Also loss of time. He weakens the Queen-side and loses more time in maneuvering the Bishop to b7. But the opening was so mismanaged that it is difficult to suggest any valid emendation." (Hoffer)

More nonsense. Black had the better position at this point. The idea of a Queen-side advance was hardly bad, and the text was definitely better than the Tournament Book's suggested 12...Ne8 [which swings the game in White's favor after 13. Nd5].

The main alternatives to the text were 12...c6 or 12...Re8

To this point, however, Winawer had played well (Hoffer and the Tournament Book's criticisms notwithstanding).

After 12...b5 the position was:

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13. f5?!

More hyper-aggressive play by Janowski. The soundest (and probably better) alternatives were 13. Qf3 and 13. Qc2 and perhaps 13. h3.

13... Bc6

Still keen on getting his Bishop to b7. 13...c5 and 13...Re8 were both still stronger choices.

14. b3

Anticipating c4 from Black. 14. Qf3 were a reasonable choices.

14... Bb7

Mission accomplished!

15. Bb2 c5

This or the positional 15...Re8 were best.

click for larger view

The climax was definitely approaching. Janowski was ready to attack on the King-side. Winawer was set to invade on the other wing. Chances were about even.

16. Qe2

16. Qf3 was better.

16... Re8
17. Nd1?!

Janowski wanted to: (i) be able to play on the c-file; and (ii) wanted to get his Knight to e3 to be ready to hop to d5 or f5 (his main motive for this unlovely Knight move.

The above notwithstanding, 17. Rae1 was better than the ugly text, which left the position as:

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17... Bf8

Hardly best. He had to mobilize and seek counterplay with 17...d5!. This would have given Winawer much the better chances both on defense and on offense.

The text left the game very much in the balance:

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Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post III

18. Nh5

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"The final attack commences with this move." (Tournament Book)

The Tournament Book mistakenly believed that Janowski already had a winning attack. In fact, 18. Nh5 was premature and would have led to trouble for Janowski had Winawer responded properly.

18... NxN
19. QxN

click for larger view

19... f6?

As Chessical pointed out on this site about 14 years ago, Winawer would have been fine after 19...c4. This does more than just equalize (as Chessical suggests) but actually gives Black the better game. If then 20. bxc4 (as suggested by Chessical [20. Rb1 to defend the Bishop against nasty Queen forks is somewhat better] bxc4 21. Nf2 (to avoid losing the Bishop to Qb6+) Black is much better after 21...cxd3 (22. Nxd3 Qb6+ winning the e4 pawn).

Chessical has thus shown that 19...f6? was a major cause of Winawer's defeat and that he was just fine (and actually better in my view) after 19...c4.

Indeed, Winawer had an even better move than 19...c4. He should have played 19...d5! After this shot, Black would have been poised both to defend his King-side (the Queen has access to Black's third rank) and to counterattack. A possible continuation would be 19...d5 20. Qg4 (threatening mate in one) d4 (closing the dangerous diagonal) leaving Black much better situated.

After 19...f6?, however, Winawer was in trouble if not already lost.

20. Rf3

click for larger view

In contrast to just one move ago, Janowski's attack now looks overwhelming. The pawn on f6 completely hinders Black's defense.

Can Black save this position?

20... Qe7?

If there is a way for Black to stave off defeat, this ain't it. Janowski was now in his element and made short work of Winawer.

Chessical suggests 20...Qa5 as Black's "last chance to generate counterplay." This is definitely an improvement on Winawer's 20...Qe7?, but it does not appear to save the game. Chessical considers only 21. Bc3 for White after 20...Qa5. But the nasty 21. b4 is far more testing for Chessical's line. What is Black then to do? If 21...Qc7 22. Rh3, we are pretty much back where Winawer was in the game (with Black's Queen now on c7 instead of e7). If 21...Qxb4 22. Bc3 Qa4 [or 23...Qa3] 23. Rh3 Black's Queen is off on the King-side and unable to participate in the defense.

Returning to Chessical's line. If 20....Qa5 21. Bc3 b4! 22. Bb2 Qb6 23. Rh3 Black's best chance to save the game would be 23...c4+ followed by 24...c3 (e.g., 23...c4= 24. Nf2 c3 25. Qxh7+ Kf7 with chances of survival. But after Chessical's proposed 23...h6 White could simply pile up on his attack with 24. Nf2 (better than Chessical's 24. Kh1 which yields chances for Black after 24...c4.

In any case, Winawer was pretty much toast after his weak 20...Qe7?

21. Rh3 h6

I see nothing else.

22. Rg3

click for larger view

"Subtle, and preferable to the more tempting 22. Qg6 which wins the f-pawn but leaves Black...defensive chances." (Tournament Book)

22. Qg6? was indeed inferior, and after 22... Qf7 23. Rxh6 QxQ 24. RxQ Kf7 White has indeed won a pawn but Black's coming counterplay with d5 and d4 yield him approximately equal chances. Thus, 22. Qg6 appears to blow the win.

After 22. Rg3, however, I see little chances for Black. I will discuss Chessical's heroic suggestion for Black here in my next post on this game.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post IV

Winawer was almost certainly lost after 22. Rg3, but his next (awful) move left no doubt about the outcome:

22... g5?

"22...g5? is a panic move. Winawer had to create complications in the center with 22...d5." (Chessical)

I agree with Chessical that 22...g5 can best be described as a "panic move." I also like the idea of searching for some form of counterplay. But 22...d5 is bad and loses almost as quickly as the text. Chessical's analysis leaves Black in the contest only because he considers only the inferior 23. Qxh6 . 23. Ne3 (threatening Ng4) is completely crushing and ends the game almost immediately. Even on Chessical's 23. Qxh6 Black is toast. Best for Black would then be 23...Qc7, which would lose to 24. Rg6. Chessical'a 23...dxe4 for Black loses even faster to 24. Bxf6! (Chessical's move) Qc7 25. Rg6 exd3 26. Nf2 etc.

If Black wants to play on, best play--believe it or not--is the Tournament Book's 22....Kh8 [for once in this game the Tournament Book got something right], though after 23. Nf2 of 22. Ne3 it would only be a matter of time before Black crumbled in light of 24. Nxd4 25. Nxf6! etc.

In sum, Winawer would almost certainly have lost even apart from his awful 22...g5? After that move, he was dead:

click for larger view

What followed was carnage:

23. fxg6 e.p. Bg7
24. Ne3

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"Black cannot prevent the Knight from entering at either d5 or f5 with fatal effect." (Tournament Book)

24... Bc8

Hopeless, but so was everything else.

25. Nd5

click for larger view


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