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James Mason vs David Janowski
Monte Carlo (1902), Monaco MNC, Mar-06
Spanish Game: Closed Variations. Morphy Attack (C78)  ·  1-0



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May-10-06  Resignation Trap: <To make Janowski more disconsolate, Mason received the First Brilliancy Prize for this game and then defeated him again a few months later in the tournament at Hanover [Janowski vs J Mason, 1902 ] - and that, despite the fact that Janowski won the tournament ahead of Pillsbury, Marshall, Chigorin and Mieses, among others!>
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <Janowski was not the man to skulk away from a challenge. He considered himself the strongest player of all time - and unlike some others who have made the same claim - was always ready to take on anyone.>

Behold the power of positive thinking!

May-10-06  Resignation Trap: <Calli> The De Riviere scoring system tried to discourage draws. If the players drew, they received .25 points, then the game was replayed. The winner of the replayed game received .5 points more, while if they drew, they each received another .25 points (zero for the loser in the replayed game).

<keypusher> So chessmetrics places Janowski as #1 in the world for five months in 1904? I would have never suspected that!

May-10-06  Calli: <RT> Thanks for typing all that. As usual, the truth is far more interesting than the old standby "player was drunk..." story which seems to be told about numerous games and players. This time, however, they added a first place gravity to the game which you have proven totally false and thereby exposed the myth.

De Rivière was the TD and organiser for all the Monte Carlo events 1901-1904. By all accounts, he was an energetic, active man despite his age. Remember he was Morphy's opponent some 45 years before! People were shocked when he died suddenly at 75 in 1905. The Monte Carlo tournaments stopped at that point.

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <resignation trap> Me neither! But It appears to be a quirk of the chessmetrics system -- in the April 1904 list Janowsky was fifth at 2750, then got a bump from the Cambridge Springs tournament. Of the people ahead of him, Pillsbury and Chigorin's ratings declined because of the tournament, while Maroczy and Tarrasch were inactive. Lasker tied Janowsky for second at Cambridge Springs but was punished (by chessmetrics) for general inactivity after 1900.

Chess ratings from Staunton, Anderssen and Morphy's time are pretty meaningless because of years w/out ratable games, but even at the beginning of the 20th century, the leading masters just didn't play that often.

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: Lasker's chart makes for interesting viewing...looks like a slinky on steroids.

Between about 1890 and 1920, Lasker seems to have been #1 whenever he was playing, but he wasn't playing a lot of the time.

Jul-03-06  MrMelad: Indeed, a beautiful game. Mason gives his queen in an incredibly long combination resulting in a superior endgame after the queen is regained. Very good game.
Aug-14-06  Sleeping kitten: According to Le Lionnais this game was played on the March 6 1902.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: The Monte Carlo 1902 tournament book confirms that this game was played on March 6th, 1902, in the 19th of 21 rounds.

In the 20th round of the tournament, Mason and Eisenberg agreed to 2 draws without playing. In the final 2 rounds of this tournament, several other players, Popiel & Gunsberg (1 game); Eisenberg & Scheve (2 games) and Napier & Marco (2 games) also agreed to draws without playing their games.

In the 21st round, Mason had a bye.

This tournament had a very exciting finish. After 17 rounds Pillsbury was leading with 12 pts, followed by Maroczy with 11.5 and Janowski with 11.

In round 18, March 4th, Maroczy (b) beat Albin (w), Janowski (b) beat Marco (w) and Pillsbury (w) drew with Chigorin (b), after Pillsbury had acheived a clear winning position.

In round 19, March 6th, Maroczy (w) drew with Mieses (b), Janowski (b) lost to Mason (w) and Pillsbury (w) drew with Marco (b).

Next followed 2 days of replays. First on March 7th, Pillsbury (b) lost to Chigorin (w), after missing a draw in the endgame. Then the next day, Pillsbury (b) lost to Marco (w), and Mieses (w) lost to Maroczy (b), after Mieses missed a draw in the endgame.

In round 20, March 10th, Popiel (w) lost to Maroczy (b), Mortimer (w) lost to Pillsbury (b) and Janowski (w) beat Marshall (b).

In round 21, March 11th, Tarrasch (w) and Maroczy (b) drew, Teichmann (w) lost to Janowski (b) and Pillsbury (w) beat Marshall (b).

In the game, Tarrasch vs Maroczy, Tarrasch hung a pawn in the opening, but Maroczy overlooked it's capture and got a slightly inferior middlegame. Towards the end of this game (35 moves), Tarrasch missed a move where he could have applied additional pressure.

On March 12th, the replay of Maroczy (w) and Tarrasch (b) resulted in a 2nd draw. In this game, Tarrasch again got a more favorable middlegame position, but the resulting endgame with Bishops of opposite colors remained drawish.

Marozcy won this great tournament with a score of 14.75, followed closely by Pillsbury with 14.5 and Janowski with 14 points.

In the last 4 rounds, Maroczy had scored 3.25 points, while Janowki scored 3 points and Pillsbury 2.5.

I believe Pillsbury's poor finish was due to fatigue from a long tournament and the advanced stage of his fatal illness which would soon require him to retire from tournament play.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: Based on his tournament position, with only 3 rounds to go and trailing both Maroczy and Pillsbury, Janowski had to play for a win.

Certainly his 12th move 12...0-0-0, instead of 12...0-0, was very risky.

Tartakower had this to say about Janowski's 12th move.

<A most infrequent case of castling on the Q side for Black in the Ruy Lopez, but the originality of this plan does not signify its soundness. Castles KR is better.>

Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: In his above comment, FCLlove noted:

<36.b5!? is met by 36...c5!! 37.b5xa6 Qb6xa6 and black eventually advancing the c and d pawns, causing white a lot of trouble. a5 was to prevent those pawns bashing up his position.>

Actually, 36.b5! would be white's strongest continuation. After 36.b5! c5 37.Nc6 Re6 or Qb7 38.Rb2. After 37.Nc6, Fritz 9 rates white's position as (2.88) (16 ply).

Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: After White's 40th move, 40.Qe1, Tartakower states in, 500 Master Games of Chess:

<The unpinning of the Knight could have been effected more cautiously by 40.Qd2, for after the text move Black had a countercombination by 40...Bxb4, e.g. 41.Bxb4 Qxd4, etc., or 41.Nxc6 Kxc6 42. Bxb4 Qd4, etc.>

However, after 40...Bxb4 41.Bxb4 Qxd4, White is winning after 43.Bc3.

Even stronger for White is 40..Bxb4 41.Nxc6! Kxc6 42.Bxb4 Qd4 and now 43.Qh4! or 43.c3! is winning for White.

Both 40.Qe1 and 40.Qd2 are good moves, and Tartakower may be correct in stating that 40.Qd2 may be slightly preferable, however, the countercombinations he then provides for Black are clearly inadequate.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: Tartakower states in 500 Master Games of Chess that White's 41st move, 41.Nb3 was a trap.

Actually, this trap has a large flaw in it. Mason should not have played 41.Nb3. White has a strong advantage at move 41, but needs to find a different continuation for the win.

Tartakower states after 41.Nb3:

<A trap, e.g. 41...Bxb4 42.Bxb4 Rxb4 43.Nc5+ Qxc5 44.Rxb4 and White has won the exchange.>

However, after 41.Nb3? Bxb4! 42.Bxb4 Rxb4 43.Nc5+ Qxc5! 44.Rxb4 Qxc2! and the game is equal.

If 41.Nb3? Bxb4 42.Bxb4 Rxb4 43.Qc3 (best) Rb8b5 and again the game is equal.

If 41.Nb3? Bxb4! 42.Bd4 (best) Bxe1 43.Bxa7 Rxb3 44.cxb3 Bxb1 45.Bxb8 Be4. In this variation, White has won the exchange, but Black's bishops are so powerful a draw seems to be the likely result.

Mason's move 41.Nb3 was clearly an error, but Janowski's reply has set the stage up for a dramatic finish.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: Regarding the move 44.bxc5, Leopold Hoffer made the following comment:

<It was thought by the gallery that 44.Nxc5+ would be the better move, but Mason's continuation proved the more effective. 44.Nxc5+ Rxc5 45.bxc5 Qxb2 46.Rxb2 Rxb2 followed by Rxc2 or Bxc2 is not good for White.>

Tartakower in, "500 Master Games of Chess", makes no comment regarding White's move, 44.bxc5 or the alternative 44.Nxc5+.

I believe Hoffer's opinion regarding 44.Nxc5+ is incorrect.

After 44.Nxc5+ Rxc5 45.bxc5 Qxb2 46.Rxb2 Rxb2, White has a strong continuation with 47.Qh4. Then if Black continues 47...Bf5, 48.g4 hxg4 49.hxg4 Be6 50.Qh6 Rxc2 51.f5 can follow and White is winning.

If in this line, 49. hxg4 Be4+ 50.Kg1 d4 51.Qf6 Bd5 52.e6+, and again White is winning.

When Mason played 44.bxc5, Janowski should have played Kc8 and if 45.Qe2 then Qd7.

Fritz 9 rates 44.bxc5 as a very poor choice, which gives up most of White's advantage. 44.Nxc5+ was correct and winning per Fritz. After 44.bxc5?, Fritz rated the position as (.73) (18 ply), and gave the continuation 44...Kc8 45.Qe2 Qd7.

At his very next move, 44...Rb4, Janowski goes wrong again. As noted above, Fritz 9 indicates the correct move is 44...Kc8 and White would have a difficult time to prove a winning advantage.

The Deutsche Schachzeitung also had something to say about Janowski's move 44...Rb4.

<In spite of the pawn deficit, Black does not stand worse as White is tied up on the b-file. The text is not good. The rook is better placed on b5.>

There are many flaws in this game, but it is still an extremely interesting game.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: On moves 45 & 46, Janowski played two very good moves, 45.Kc8 and 46.Qd7, positioning his King and Queen on the squares also indicated by Fritz 9 as being the best defensive arrangement for Black.

On his 45th & 46th move, Mason completed his Queen maneuver of 45.Qh4 & 46.Qf6.

Tartakower spoke favorably of Mason's maneuver. After 45.Qh4, Tartakower stated:

<White gradually gains the initiative (45.Qh4)>.

and, < The beginning of a turning movement in the grand manner.>

Fritz 9 however, indicates that Mason's 45th & 46th gave away White's small advantage.

After 47.Kh2 (mate in two was threatened), Janowski played 47...Qe6?, an error that cost him the game.

Several suggestions have been given as improvements for Black at move 47.

Tartakower suggested 47...Kc7. However, that move would have been about as bad as 47...Qe6.

After 47...Kc7? (2.12) (17 ply) 48.Nd4! Rxb2 49.Rxb2 Rxb2 50.e6! fxe6 51.Nxe6+ Kc8 52.Qh8+ Kb7 53.Qxb2+ Ka8 54.Qf6 and White is winning.

The Deutsche Schachzeitung (DSz) recommended 47...Bxc2. After 47...Bxc2 (.66) (20 ply) 48. Rxc2 Rxb3 49.Re1 Qe6 50.f5 gxf5 51.Rcf2 Qxf6 52. exf6, a difficult rook ending ensues where Black has drawing chances.

Fritz 9, however, found 2 variations for Black that lead to complete equality.

47...d4 (.00) (21 ply) 48.Nd2 Rxb2 49.Rxb2 Rxb2 50.Nxe4 Rxc2 51.Nd6+ Kc7 52.Nxf7 Qd5 53.Qxg6 d3 54.Qd6+ Kc8 55.Qf8+

And, 47...Bf5 (.00) (21 ply) 48. Rf1 d4 49. Rfd1 d3 50.Ra2 Qe8 51.Nc1 dxc2 52.Rd6 Kb7 53.Ne2.

With his next three moves, 48.Qh8+!, 49.Nd4!+ and 50.Qxb8!, Mason finishes off the game with a beautiful winning combination.

Hoffer had this to say about Mason's combination:

<The sacrific of the Queen yields an ending of singular beauty, and forms a pendant to the beautiful ending which Mason played in the Vienna tournament, 1882, against Winawer.>

The ending that followed was completely hopeless for Janowski.

Hoffer notes the following after move 65.Kxf3:

<The game was adjourned here, it being the close of the seance, to be played out the following morning; but Janowski did not turn up, and the game was scored to Mason, his opponent's time having run out.>

A wonderful game, despite the errors.

Premium Chessgames Member
  GrahamClayton: Prince Andrey Dadian of Mingrelia awarded a prize of 500 francs for the best played game of the tournament to Mason for this victory.
Feb-04-13  SirChrislov: <GrahamClayton: Prince Andrey Dadian of Mingrelia awarded a prize of 500 francs for the best played game of the tournament to Mason for this victory.> In 1902 I think that was about $65.00 in US dollars. A lot of ka-ching for 1902!
Mar-17-14  LIFE Master AJ: # 100 In the Soltis book!!!!!!!!!
Mar-17-14  john barleycorn: < LIFE Master AJ: # 100 In the Soltis book!!!!!!!!!>

I guess this was checked with SEVERAL strong engines and we don't have to consult Mr. Winter.

Mar-18-14  LIFE Master AJ: I am sorry to say that most serious chess players have never even looked at this game.

It would be great if a GM (like Wesley So or GM Raymond Keene) could take a look at this game and render his opinion.

Mar-18-14  LIFE Master AJ: I think that we know Soltis's opinion of this game ... he included in his 100 Best.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: We have an alternate game score with <31.Qf2> instead of of <31.Qd2>, and the possibility needs investigation.

I noticed <31.Qf2> first in the "American Chess Bulletin", February 1905, p. 37. C. S. Howell's notes to the game include one based on the Nd4 not being pinned: <"Of course 38.Nxc6 loses a piece.">

<31.Qf2> is also seen in an early version of the score published in newspapers soon after the game was played; , e.g., "Philadelphia Times", April 20, 1902; "Brooklyn Daily Eagle", April 27, 1902; "New Orleans Times Democrat", April 27, 1902; "Boston Post" May 11, 1902;

<#1.Qf2> was also given in Tartakower & Du Mont's "500 Master Games of Chess", game 97, p. 123.

I don't want to submit a correction request until I see the evidence for <31.Qd2>, but none has surface as yet.

Admittedly, <31.Qf2> eventually transposes back to our score, though some some of the analysis on these pages may be invalidated.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: <Phony Benoni> A review of the "Deutsche Schachzeitung" for April 1902, pages 111-112, game 6876, Mason - Janowski, shows the moves in question as, 31.Qd4-f2 & 40.Qf2-e1.

A.J. Gilliam's tournament book, "Monte Carlo 1902", shows these moves as, 31.Qf2 & 40.Qe1. Gilliam states the game notes are from the "Deutsche Schachzeitung", and he included a few comments for the game by Hoffer.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: <Phony Benoni> The "Deutsche Schachzeitung" also includes a note, similar to the one you mentioned for move 38, regarding the loss of a piece for White, if he captures the pawn by 38.Nxc6.

I think it is clear White's 31st move is the move you have indicated, 31.Qf2.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: <Pawn and Two> Thank you. That does appear conclusive.
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