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Jacques Mieses vs David Janowski
Monte Carlo (1901), Monte Carlo MNC, rd 6, Feb-12
Danish Gambit: Declined. Sorensen Defense (C21)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
Jun-20-07  Fourpointo: This is one of the uglier games I've seen on chessgames.
Aug-13-14  The Last Straw: Yes, it seems as if there were so many blunders in this game.
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: I think more of this game than do <Fourpointo> or <The Last Straw>. There were mistakes aplenty, but--as in any encounter between Janowski and Mieses--there was lots of action, not to mention an instructive ending.

Janowski and Mieses squared off 26 times, with Janowski ending up with a tiny edge of 11 wins against 10 losses and 5 draws. They played a match in 1895 which ended at 6-6 with 2 draws.

Going into this game, Janowski was in first place with a record of 4-1. He was one of only four players going into round 6 who had yet to play a draw. After this round, he stood alone: Blackburne and Reggio (who had been 3-2) draw their game while last-place finisher Didier, whose record had been 0-5, managed his only points (1/4 of a point to be precise) by drawing with Mason in this round.

This game had an eerie similarity to Blackburne-Reggio played at the same time. In both games, Black wound up in an ending with Rook and Knight against Rook (plus pawns on both sides). But while Reggio floundered and blew the win, Janowski--after considerable difficulty--managed to win. I wonder whether the players in these two games were keeping an eye on the similar game being played simultaneously.

1. e4 e5
2. d4

The Center Game, which later became a Mieses favorite. I doubt that this game was the reason he later decided to use this opening.

2... exd4
3. c3?!

And now a Danish Gambit.

3... d5?!

Most others would either have accepted the gambit with 3...dxc3 or tried 3...Qe7. Janowski, however, wanted to be the hunter, not the hunted.

4. exd5 Qxd5

The main alternative was the solid 4...Nf6. But Janowski, as always, wanted complications.

5. cxd4

One of a number of reasonable possibilities for White here. The other choices include 5. Bb5+; 5. Qa4+; and 5. Nf3.

5... Nc6
6. Nf3

"Probably a prepared variation for he could defend the pawn with Be3 followed by Nc3." (Tournament Book).

I don't understand this comment. 6. Nf3 looks like the most natural move here for White:

click for larger view

6... Bg4

6...Bb4+ is the main alternative. Both moves are playable, as are 6...Qa5+; 6...Be6; and 6...Qd6.

7. Nc3

"?"--(Tournament Book)

"7. Be2! must be played." (Tournament Book).

7. Be2 is the most solid choice, but the text is fine if properly followed up.

click for larger view

7... BxN

7...Qa5; and 7...Bb4 were both decent alternatives. The text leads to a series of exchanges that should result in a complicated but basically even game:

8. NxQ BxQ
9. Nxc7+ Kd7
10. NxR Bh5

10...Bg4 was also good.

11. d5 Nd4

"Threatening to win the Rook or mate in two!" (Tournament Book).

click for larger view

Interesting position! The next four moves were forced:

12. Bd3 Bg6
13. BxB hxB

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Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post II

Which side would you prefer to play in this position? Mieses is up the exchange and a pawn, but his Knight was seemingly trapped, and Janowski had scary attacking prospects. An exciting battle with two fine tacticians seemed to be brewing.

But from here five awful blunders (four by Mieses and one by Janowski) led to an ending Janowski should have been able to win. It was presumably this sequence of errors that led to the dislike of this game by <Fourpointo> and <The Last Straw>:

14. Bf4?

Janowski's threat of 14...Nc2+ was not exactly subtle. Mieses had to play 14. Kd1 here.

The Tournament Book's comment here was worse than useless:

"Intending to give back the exchange. 14. Be3 would have been better."

Nonsense. After 14. Be3? Black simply plays 14...Nc2+ 15. Ke2 NxB! 16, KxN Bd6 and Black ends up with two pieces for a Rook (since the White Knight is soon lost) and attacking chances that probably should yield a win for Black.

Perhaps, in the above variation, the Tournament Book thought Janowski would play the disastrous 15...NxR? which loses to 16. Bxa7! Bd6 17. RxN Ne7 18. Nb6+ rescuing the Knight and leaving White up two pawns in an ending that should be an easy win.

After 14. Bf4?, the position was:

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Now Black wins with 14...Nc2+. But Janowski decided to play the terrible:

14... g5?

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White to move and win.

15. Be5?

Missing 15. Bb8, and now if 15...Nc2+ (15...Bc5 would probably be Black's best try here) 16. Ke2 NxR 17. Bxa7 and now if Black tries to free his Knight with 17...Nc2 Mieses would tie him up in knots with 18. Rc1 Nb4 19. Nb6+ Ke7 20. Rc7+ Kd6 21. Rc8! and Black--though temporarily up a piece--is helpless.

After 15. Be5?, the position was:

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15... Nc2+
16. Ke2 NxR

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17. RxN?

17. Rc1 (giving some life to his a8 Knight) was the only real chance (17...Bd6 18. BxB KxB 19. Nc7 Rxh2 20. Ne8+ Kd7 21. Nxg7 Rxg2 22. Kf3 Rh2 23. RxN and White--though still in trouble--at least would have material equality.

17... Bd6

"!"--(Tournament Book)

18. BxB?

It may be too late, but Mieses should clearly have played 18. Bxg7. The game was now a theoretical win for Janowski.

18... KxB
19. Rc1 Ne7

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20. Rc7

"He now perceives that the Knight cannot be saved because if 20. Nc7 then 20...a6. Consequently, he must try for an equivalent in pawns." (Tournament Book)

20... RxN
21. Rxb7 Rc8

"!"--(Tournament Book)

click for larger view

"A very difficult ending presents itself now, requiring very careful play on the part of Black to avoid a draw." (Tournament Book)

One can debate just how difficult a task it is to win with Black here. One thing is certain, Janowski had trouble finishing off Mieses in this ending.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post IIA)

Department of Apologies and Corrections:

The bad analysis I quoted concerning the proposed 14. Be3? did not come from the editors of the Tournament Book but instead came from Hoffer and Rosenthal.

More importantly, the brilliant retort in the variation 14. Be3? Nc2+ 15. Kd2 of 15...NxB! instead of 15...NxR?? came from Janowski (from whose commentary I learned about this fine resource. To quote Janowski: "Nothing is so simple,is it? He takes, I take...etc., but masters are seldom so capricious, they do not always take what is there to be taken and in certain positions, instead of taking a Rook, they prefer to take a minor piece. That would have been the case in the variation suggested; instead of the bad move 15...NxR, Black would have played 15...NxB...remaining with an extra piece and, consequently, an easily won game."

Let credit be given to the correct source. It was Janowski who found 15...NxB. BRAVO Janowski.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post III

22. Rxa7 Rc2+
23. Kf3

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23... Rxb2

Not best. Much better was 23...g4+ (e.g., 24. Kxg4 Rxf2 25. Kh3 Rxb2.

24. Ra6+

click for larger view

24... Kxd5

Another reflexive second-best move by Janowski. 24...Kc5 is better, since the White d-pawn won't run away.

25. Ra5+ Ke6
26. Rxg5

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26... Nf5

The simple 26...Ng6 was more accurate.

27. g4 Nd4+

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28. Ke4

28. Kg2 or 28. Ke3 were both more accurate.

28... Rb4

"He could play Kf5 and Ne6." (Tournament Book)

The text looks fine to me.

29. Kd3

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29... Kf6

Continuing to make life difficult for himself. 29...g6 was best. 29...Ra4 was also superior to the text.

30. Ra5 Ne6
31. f3

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31... g5

"?"--(Tournament Book).

"A grave mistake. " (Tournament Book)

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I see nothing wrong with this move. As will be seen, it led Mieses into temptation and the loss of a pawn on his next move.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post IV

32. a4?

"?"--(Tournament Book)

"A gross error." (Tournament Book)

Incredible that so fine a tactician as Mieses overlooked the obvious retort.

32... Rxa4

click for larger view

33. RxR

Mieses should probably have kept the Rooks on the board with 33. Rf5+, but, as it turned out, Janowski had trouble winning the seemingly simple resulting ending.

33... Nc5+
34. Ke3 NxR

click for larger view

The major problem for Black here is that White can force a trade of a pair of pawns, leaving Janowski with a single pawn that he obviously can not afford to lose or trade off to have any chance of winning.

35. f4 Nc3
36. fxg5+ Kxg5

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How hard is this to win? Janowski struggle for quite a while. Fritz soon announces a forced mate in upteen moves, but this is not an easy win for most humans not named Magnus Carlsen.

37. h3 Nd5+
38. Kf3 Ne7
39. Ke3 Ng6
40. Kf3 Kh4

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41. Ke4

"It is no use defending the pawn, his only chance to draw being to reach the Black pawn." (Tournament Book)

41... Kxh3

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42. Kf5 Kh4
43. Kf6 Nh8

43...Ne5 also seems to win with some pretty play, since 44. KxN loses to the problem-like 44...Kg5! (of course not 44...Kxg4? 45. Kf6) 45. Kd5 Kxg4 and Black wins. If instead 44. g5 then 44...Kg4 looks lethal.

The ugly text also wins, the position now being:

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44. Kf5 Kg3

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"Quite an interesting study. Many amateurs would find it difficult to win this ending. As a matter of fact Mieses thought it a draw." (Tournament Book).

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post V

Mieses notwithstanding, Fritz announces mate in 20 for Black here.

But Janowski was not a computer, and found the win a chore.

45. Kg5 Kh3
46. Kf5 Kg3

Janowkski seems not to understand now to use tempo here. 46...Kh2 or 46...Kg2 were the express route to victory.

47. Kg5 Kf3
48. Kf5 Ke3

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"It looks almost as if Janowski [was] groping about for the right course." [Tournament Book]

49. Ke5 Kd3

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50. Kf5

"He cannot go any further with the King because of 50...Kg6." (Tournament Book)

50... Kd4
51. Kf5 Ng6+
52. Kf5 Ne5

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"Now the game is won." (Tournament Book)

53. Kf4

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53... Nxg4

"!"--(Tournament Book)

"The shortest way. The game could also have been won without the sacrifice." (Tournament Book)

54. KxN Ke4

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55. Kg3 f5
56. Kf2 Kf4


With this his fourth win in a row, Janowski got to 5-1, more than a pawn ahead of any of his competitors. But he was brought back to earth in the next round by Alapin, and Schlechter began his charge. Janowski eventually finished first, but he still had work to do.

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