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Mikhail Chigorin vs Frank Marshall
Monte Carlo (1901), Monte Carlo MNC, rd 1, Feb-06
King's Gambit: Falkbeer Countergambit. Blackburne Attack (C31)  ·  1/2-1/2



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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: Instead of defending a poor position, with 21...Nf8, Marshall played 21...Nxd4??.

Chigorin could now win a piece with 22.Nd2!. However, he did not see it, and Marshall was back in the game. Fritz 9 evaluates the position after 22.Nf6+ as approximately equal.

Jul-04-09  Knight13: Too many weak spots on both sides.
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: For Frank Marshall, Monte Carlo 1901 was a cold shower after his triumph at Paris 1900 (where he tied for third and won his games against the two top prize winners Lasker and Pillsbury). At Monte Carlo 1901, Marshall finished 10th out of 14 (in a tournament which Lasker, Pillsbury, and Maroczy all sat out) and had seven losses against four wins (one of which was by forfeit).

Part of Marshall's problem at Monte Carlo 1901 (apart from what Soltis calls Marshall's "sophomore slump") was that he had a bunch of replays in the early rounds. At Monte Carlo 1901, each player was given 1/4 of a point for a draw and then had to replay the game with colors reversed to apportion the remaining 1/2 point. This worked horribly for Marshall, who drew his first three games, lost in Round 4 to Alapin, and then drew his 5th and 6th round games. As a result, on what were off days for other players Marshall had to show up and play a game in which only 1/2 of a point was at stake (i.e., 1/2 point to the winner and 1/4 point each for a draw).

Even if only the first two rounds are considered, the disadvantage Marshall faced was already dreadful. Marshall and Tchigorin had drawn their (very exciting) first round game. The other six games in Round 1 all had decisive results. Thus, only Marshall and Tchigorin had a game to replay at that stage. Before the replay occurred, Marshall drew his Round 2 game with Winawer. The only other drawn game in Round 2 was between Alapin and Mieses. Thus, after two rounds, Marshall had the strange score of 1/2 point with two replays. On February 6, Marshall and Tchigorin had their replay for their Round 1 draw (while Alapin and Mieses replayed their Round 2 draw). Marshall's game with Winawer had to be put off to a later date (in fact it was not played until February 20, after Round 10. Marshall's score by that point was dreadful:

Round 1--draw with Tchigorin
Round 2--draw with Winawer
Replay Round 1--draw with Tchigorin
Round 3--Draw with Gunsberg
Round 4--Loss to Alapin
Round 5--Draw with Schlechter
Round 6--Draw with Marco
Round 5 replay--Draw with Schlechter
Round 7--Loss to Mieses
Round 8--Loss to von Scheve
Round 3 replay--Loss to Gunsberg
Round 9--Win over Mason
Round 10--Loss to Blackburne
Round 2 Replay--Loss to Winawer

At this point, Marshall had won 1 game and lost 5, and still had to replay his Round 6 game against Marco.

Marshall then drew a 105 move game against Janowski, so he now had that game to replay as well. (He won his replay against Marco but lost against Janowski).

Marshall did get a respite in Round 13 when Didier (who finished dead last) forfeited his 13th Round game against Marshall, giving the latter a breather.

Marshall's play at Monte Carlo was spotty at best, and I doubt that he would have had a high finish in any case. But the replay rules in effect obviously forced him to play under a handicap

The instant replay game against Tchigorin exemplified some of Marshall's poor play at Monte Carlo 1901. He hung a piece on Move 21 allowing Tchigorin to win with a not too difficult combination to find (pointed out by <Pawn and Two> on this site over 12 years ago). Luckily for Marshall, Tchigorin missed the win. The game then reduced to what looked like a drawn ending. But both sides refused to back off, and Tchigorin erred, giving Marshall good winning chances which he failed to seize.

While the game is flawed, I enjoyed playing over the game and analyzing it. The game was exciting, and there were many points of interest, not least the Bishop against Knight ending both players tried hard to win.

The ending here reminded me of Fischer's last round game against Anthony Saidy in the 1963/1964 US Championship (in which Fischer went 11-0). That too was a Bishop against Knight ending that looked like a clear draw. Fischer, like Marshall was Black and was the one with the Knight. And Fischer, like Tchigorin and Marshall here, refused to concede a draw.

The difference, of course, is that Fischer played the ending brilliantly, and made no mistakes.

Warts and all, this was a fine--though flawed--battle. I hope my annotations convey the excitement the game must have created for the players and the spectators.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post II

1. e4 e5
2. f4

Tchigorin was very skillful in gambit play. He finished first in the 1903 Vienna tournament in which the King's Gambit Accepted was the obligatory opening (Marshall finished second) ahead of Marco, Pillsbury, Maroczy, Teichmann, Schlechter, and others.

2... d5

The Falkbeer Counter-Gambit. Marshall also like Gambit play and--as always--was keen for a tactical shootout even against so formidable a tactician as Tchigorin.

3. Nf3

3. exd5 is the main alternative. Both moves have their points, and the choice is primarily a matter of style.

3... dxe4

3...exf4 is more usually played, but the text is also a reasonable choice.

4. Nxe5 Bd6

4...Nd7 (MCO-13) is the "book" move. The text has been called "playable" by MCO-13. It was played by Pillsbury and was a favorite of Marco, and seems a decent alternative to the main line.

5. d4

"Black gets the better game after the sharp 5. Bc4." (MCO-13). The text and 5. Nc3 seem to be the most solid choices, and yield equal chances in the battle royale likely to follow.

5... Nf6

5...exd3 e.p., has been played here, but the text is also reasonable and, being the most aggressive choice, is what would be expected from Marshall.

6. Bc4

Tchigorin also selects the most aggressive (and probably best) option. 6. Nc3 is the safe and solid choice.

The position after 6. Bc4 was:

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Whatever one makes of this double-edged position, I doubt anyone expected the game to be drawn!

6... 0-0
7. 0-0

According to the Tournament Book, Tchigorin played 7. Nc3 and then played 8. 0-0 after Marshall's 7...Nc6, transposing to the identical position. The move order given on this site appears equally plausible.

7... Nc6

Assuming the move order was as given on this site, 7..,c5 looks like a good choice. [Given Marshall's tendencies,this suggests to me that the move order appearing in the Tournament Book is more likely what actually occurred.

8. Nc3

Both sources now have the same position, and there are no further discrepancies about the score of the game until move 28 [an issue i will discuss when we reach that stage of the game].

8... Qe7

Marshall might have considered 8...Nx5 or maybe 8...Bf5. 8...Be7 looks most solid. The text is also reasonable.

9. Kh1?!

An indication that Tchigorin was playing for a quick attack. 9. Be3 was the safe and solid choice, but such moves were not in the DNA of Marshall or Tchigorin.

9... Bf5

Marshall was also itching for a rumble. He night otherwise have tried 9...Kh8 or 9...Qe8 or 9...Qd8.

Both sides were now poised to do battle:

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Had I been a spectator back in 1901, I would have been on the edge of my seat waiting for hostilities to break out. I would not have had long to wait.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post III

10. g4!

Tchigorin here launched a powerful king-side attack. Marshall was hardly without resources, but it seemingly would require all his tactical skill--in defense--to stave off the brilliant Russian.

10... Be6
11. g5!

Continuing the assault.

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11... BxN

Stockfish here recommends 11...Nd7, but that looks too placid and defensive for my taste, and Marshall instead looked to cut down Tchigorin's forces with what looks like a better choice (endorsed by Fritz).

12. fxB Nd7

Only now did Marshall retreat. This looks like the best defense to me.

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Thus far, the game had been well-played by both sides. Tchigorin was on the attack, but Marshall seems dug in to resist and to try to exploit later the openings Tchigorin's advance had left on his King-side.

13. BxB?

Backing off from the indicated 13. Nd5!, which would have allowed Tchigorin's attack to continue, e.g., 13. Nd5 Qd8 [better than 13...BxN 14. BxB Rad8 15. Bxe4 Ndxe5 16. c3 Ng6 17. Qf3 (or 17. Re1 with further attacking chances and much the better chances)] 14. Bb3 BxN 15. BxB Nb6 16. Bxe3 Qxd4 17. QxQ NxQ leaving White--with two Bishops against two Knights--with better chances in the ending.

The text move pretty much dissipated any pressure Tchigorin had been applying.

13... fxB
14. Be3

14. Bf4 or 14. RxR+ also would not have yielded much of an edge to White.

14... RxR+

The double-edged 14...Qb4 was also an option, but Marshall reasonably enough decided to stabilize the King-side first.

15. QxR Rf8

15...Qb4 was again an option, but Marshall preferred to try his hand at using the open f-file.

16. Qg2

16. Qe2 looks more accurate, but the text seems sufficient for equality, and left the position as follows:

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16... Rf3?!

16...Qb4 seems to give Marshall good chances at counterplay and at least even chances. The text could lead to trouble.

17. Re1

I don't understand why Tchigorin decided to reduce his Rook to the role of defending his e3 Bishop. His position looks fine with 17. Bg1 or 17. Bf2, and White seems to have the best of the struggle following either of these moves.

17... Qb4!

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The game had now developed into the double-barreled struggle with action on both sides of the board that might have been anticipated when these two attacking geniuses squared off.

Tchigorin and Marshall would each be expected to prevail here with against most other opponents. With both Tchigorin and Marshall at the board, the result at this time was anyone's guess.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post IV

In a post over a decade ago, <Knight13> said that there were: "Too many weak spots on both sides" in this game. This assessment is fair, and as will be seen, in what follows both sides erred--often badly. But this can happen over the board when two attacking players lock horns. From where I sit, this game was even more fun to analyze and play over BECAUSE of the human imperfections that pop up. Both players tried plans that would not have worked against a high-powered computer, but that would have been difficult to meet over-the-board.

18. Qg4!?

Tchigorin would have held the game in balance with something like 18. Bf2 (if then 18...Qxb2 19. Nxe4 with much better chances for White). 18. g6 was also a good choice for White.

In playing over the game, I guessed that Tchigorin would play 18. a3?! leading to potentially thrilling play (e.g., 18...Qxb2 19. Nxe4 RxB! (what else would we expect from Marshall here!) 20. RxR Qa1+ 21. Qg1 Qxd4 22. Re1 Qd5 23. c4 Qxc4 24. Nf6+ Kf7 (not 24...gxN 25. gxf6+ with mate to follow) 25. NxB Qd5+ 26. Qg2 QxN after which White is up the exchange for two pawns and I have no idea who is better.

Tchigorin's move was also double-edged, and had the virtue of leading Marshall astray, the position after 18. Qg4 being:

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18... Qc4?

18...Rf5 was best, and would have led to fascinating play in which Marshall would certainly not have been worse: 19. g6! h5! 20. Qxe4 Nf8 21. Qd3 Nxg6 22. Rg1 Nh4 23. a3?! Qf8 (23...Qxb2 24. Bc1 would leave White better situated) 24. Ne2.

The hyper-defensive text left Marshall with a difficult position to defend and limited threats of his own.

19. Nxe4

19. Bg1 was stronger, but Tchigorin was also better after the text, which left the position as follows:

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19... Rf1+

This was undoubtedly the resource Marshall had banked on in playing 18...Qc4. It led to a position in which Marshall, though nowhere near losing, faced a tough road to equality.

20. RxR+ QxR
21. Bg1

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21... Nxd4??

As <Pawn and Two> pointed out long ago on this site, Marshall could have defended himself adequately with 21...Nf8. While the game could almost certainly have been saved with best play, Marshall would have had the kind of arduous defensive task he detested. He therefore looked for something else, and committed what should have been a losing blunder, the position now being:

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22. Nf6+??

I can do no better than quote <Pawn and Two> at this point:

"Tchigorin could now win apiece with 22. Nd2! However, he did not see it and Marshall was back in the game."

The position after Tchigorin's miscue was:

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22... NxN

22...gxN 23. gxf6+ leads to mate in three [23...Kf7 (or 23...Kf8) 24. Qg7+ Ke8 25. Qe7 mate].

23. gxN

This left:

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It was a whole new game.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post V

Who had the advantage after 23. gxN. Let's hear first from <Pawn and Two>:

"Fritz 9 evaluates the position after 22. Nf6+ [and thus after 23. gxN--KEG] as approximately equal."

Fritz has been upgraded since Pawn and Two wrote these words in 2007. Fritz 15 evaluates the game as very much in Black's favor [-0.89]. Stockfish concurs [-0.90]. But computer analysis does not come close to telling the tale, with Tchigorin and Marshall throwing haymakers and trying to win at all costs.

If Carlsen and Caruana played out this ending, I would predict a draw after White was forced to sweat a little. But we are dealing with very different sorts of players here, both of whom were prepared to risk losing in order to fight for a win.

23... g6

23...Nf5 was probably best for Black, but the text looks natural, and White still had an uphill task.

24. h3?

Tchigorin should theoretically have played 24. Qg2, which would have led to a trade of Queens and a complex Bishop against Knight ending [e.g., 24. Qg2 QxQ+ 25. KxQ Nc6 26. Kg3 Nxe5 27. Bxa7 Nc6 28. Be3 Kf7 29. Bg5 Nb4 30. c3 Nd3 31. b3 c6 after which White would still have to fight for a draw]. Tchigorin obviously didn't relish the prospect of an ending with no winning chances and a long fight for a draw, so he took a chance with the text, the position now being:

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24... Qf3+?

This blows the win. Marshall's best chance at winning lay in 24...Nf5. Perhaps he thought he could win the resulting endgame. As a theoretical matter, he was wrong. But the ending proved tricky, and Marshall's chances as a practical matter were very much alive.

25. Qg2!

This was far better than 25. QxQ NxQ 26. Bxa7 Nxe5 27. Bb8 Nc4 28. b3 Ne3 29. Bxc7 Nxc2 30. Kg2 Nb4.

After the text, a draw was very much in reach for Tchigorin, but that was not what he wanted!

25... QxQ+
26. KxQ Nxc2
27. Bxa7 Nb4

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Looks like a draw you say? But not so easy with these Tchigorin and Marshall at the controls.

But before proceeding to see how play developed from here, a preliminary issue has to be addressed: what moves were actually played?

The score appearing on this site matches the original score in the Tournament Book. But in a supplement, additional moves were supplied by "Jacqes N. Pope" based on "New-Yorker Staats Zeitung."

I have previously discussed my qualms about relying on this source, which provided doubtful lines in earlier games. According to this questionable source, the game now proceeded: 28. Bb8 Na6 29. Ba7 Nb4 30. Bb8 Na6 31. Ba7 Nb4 32. Be3 Nc6 33. Bf4 g5 [33...Nb4 seems better here]. Since this differing score ends up with the same position that actually occurred in the game, for purposed of my analysis, I will follow the original score [i.e., the one that appears on this site].

28. Be3

28. a3? obviously would lose to 28...Nc6.

28... Nc6

Taking the a-pawn would allow Tchigorin to lock up the Black Bishop [somewhat similar to what occurred later in the game] and obtain a likely draw and the only winning chances: e.g. 28...Nxa2 29. Bd2! Kf7 30. Kf3 c5 31. Ke4 b6 32. h4 h6 33. Bxh6 Nb4. So the text was best.

29. Bf4 g5

29...Nb4 looks simpler, but Marshall--like Tchigorin--was still playing for a win (!), and still sought complications.

30. Bg3 Nb4

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Still looks drawish? In fact, the game--and the thrills--were far from over.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post VI

31. a3 seems indicated, and Tchigorin seems well set to hold the position from there. But he was playing to win, and therefore sacrificed his a-pawn with:

31. Be1!?

The idea was to trap Marshall's Knight if he had the temerity to grab the White a-pawn. This almost certainly wouldn't win the Knight, but would give White chances while Marshall's Knight was marooned on a2.

31... Nxa2

Challenge accepted!

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32. Bd2

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For the sacrificed pawn, Tchigorin has trapped Marshall's Knight and kept the Black King stuck on or about g8 in light of the protected White pawn on f7. The game was now very much in the balance.

32... c5!

Marshall, who always preferred to be the one on the attack, in turn sacrifices his g-pawn to begin play on the Queen-side where he had a pawn majority.

33. Kf3

Tchigorin was also playing to win.

33... b5

click for larger view

This is probably still a theoretical draw, but all the tricks and threats makes this a nerve-wracking sort of position to handle over-the-board.

34. Ke4

Bypassing the chance to win his pawn back since 34. Bxg5 would allow not only 34...Nb4 but also 34...c4! 35. Ke3 [not 35. Bd2?? b4 36. Ke4 c3 37. Bxc3 bxc3 and Black wins!] Nb4 the the double-edged position--though still probably a theoretical draw--allows Black dangerous looking counterplay.

34... h6

He could also have played 34...Nb4 35. BxN cxB is also a likely draw, but looks scary to calculate over the board. Notice how Marshall now has play on both sides of the board, while Tchigorin still has pressure for the sacrificed pawn:

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35. Be3

Releasing the Knight but activating his Bishop.

35... c4

35...Nb4 36. Bxc5 Nd5 probably also holds, but Marshall preferred to keep as many of his pawns on the board as possible.

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36. Kd4?!

36. Bd2 was the logical way to hold the position, but Tchigorin was prepared to take risks in order to play for a win.

36... Nb4

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A key moment in the game. Tchigorin seemingly had to play 37. Kc5 after which a draw seems inevitable: 37. Kc5 Nd3+ 38. Kxb5 Nxb2 [or the melodramatic 38...Nxe5 39. Bd4 Nf3 40. Kxc4 Kf7 41. Bc3 h5 42. b4 g4 43. hxg4 hxg4 44. b5 g3 45. b6 g2 46. b7 g1(Q) 47. b8(Q)] 39. Bd4 c3 40. Kb4 [not 40. Bxc3 Nd3 and Blackk wins!] Nd3+ 41. Kxc3 Nf4.

Pretty exciting variations, but none of which lead to anything close to a win for White.

So here, as I will discuss in my next post on the game, Tchigorin embarked on a highly risky (or foolish?) line of play that brought him to the verge of defeat.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: 37. Bd2 ?!

In his zeal to press for a win, Tchigorin played recklessly. It almost cost him dearly (had he lost this game, Tchigorin would have finished fifth instead of tied for 3rd-5th in the final standings).

As noted in my last post, Tchigorin would have been OK with 37. Kc5. But now...

37... Nd3

Suddenly, Tchigorin seemingly faced an impossible problem. Already a pawn down, how could he defend both his b-pawn and his e-pawn?:

click for larger view

37...Na6 was also strong for Black here; i.e., 37...Na6 38. Bc3 h5 39. Bd2 g4 40. hxg4 hxg4 41. Be1 Kf7 42. Bg3.

But it seems hard to force a win in the above line, whereas after Marshall's actual move (37...Nd3), the game seems over. But...

38. b3!

A typically brilliant Tchigorin resource. I'm not certain that it saves the game against best play, but it gave Marshall something to chew over with the clock ticking:

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How should Marshall proceed from here?

We can dispose of 38...Nf4?? quickly. It loses to 39. BxN gxB 40. bxc4 f3 41. Ke3 bxc4 [trying to Queen first with 41...b4 leads to 42. c5 b3 43. c6 b2 44. c7 b1(Q) 45. c8 (Q)+ and White, Queening with check, soon picks up the black Queen via a skewer] 42. Kxf3 c3 43. Ke2 and White is just in time to catch the Black c-pawn.

38...Kf7 looks best [e.g., 39. bxc4 bxc4 40. Bc3 [White must protect his e-pawn] Nf4 and Black picks up the White pawn on h3 and should win.

Marshall tried another tack, which at first sight looks just as good. But looks can be deceiving. (According to Stockfish, the win is now gone).

38... Nf2
39. bxc4 bxc4
40. Kxc4 Nxh3

This left:

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Now the win doesn't look quite so easy, but Marshall at least started off on the right foot:

41. Kd3 Nf2+
42. Ke3 Ng4+
43. Ke4 Kf7

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With 44. Bc1 or 44. Be3, Tchigorin can probably hold the ending.

But now came another twist in this topsy turvy game. Given that the players were approaching the move 45 time control, time-trouble may be the culprit for the bizarre course of events over the course of the next two moves.

44. Bc3?!

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Now Marshall seems to have his choice of winning lines and the game looks over. But the surprises in this game were far from over. Is this really a simple win, or is there a snag awaiting Marshall?

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post VIII

44... h5?

I thought the win would now be trivial for Marshall. In fact,if there is a win for Black here, it must begin with 44...Nf2+ (e.g., 45. Kf3 Nf4 46. Kf3 Nf4 47. Kg4 Kg6 48. Kf3 h5 49. Bb2 Kh6 50. Bc3 Ng6 51. Ke4 g4 52. Ke3 h4 and the connected Black passed pawns win by forcing White to sacrifice his Bishop to pick up the pawns e.g., 53. Kf2 Kh7 54. Kg1 Kg8 55. Kf2 Kf7 56. Kg1 g3! 57. Kg2 Ng4+ 58. Kf3 h3! 59. Kxg3 [Not 59. KxN? g2 60. Bd4 h2] Ne2+ 60. Kxh3 NxB leaving a tedious but easy win.

But Marshall's move also looked good enough to win, the position after 55...h5 being:

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45. Bd2!

This position drove me crazy. It sure looks like a win for Black, but--after considerable anguish--I found the game reducing to a drawn Knight and Rook pawn against King ending: e.g., 45...h4 46. Bxg5 h3 47. Kf3 Nxe5+ 48. Kg3 h2 49. Kg2 Nf3 50. Be3 Kxf6 51. Bf4 e5 52. Bh6 Kf5 53. Be3 e4 54. Bf2 Kf4 55. Bc5 e3 56. Bxe3+ KxB 57. Kh1 leaving:

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Incredibly enough, Tchigorin seems to have saved the game!

Maybe Marshall saw all this coming. If so, that would explain his next move, which had the virtue of assuring himself that he would not lose:

45... Nxf6+
46. exN Kxf6


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From here, the result was not in much doubt:

47. Bc3+ Kg6
48. Ke5

"!"--(Tournament Book)

48... h4

A last bold try.

49. Kxe6 g4

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50. Bf5

"!"--(Tournament Book)

Actually, 50. Be5 also draws easily.

50... Kh5
51. Be5 Kg6

Seemingly resigned to the draw.

52. Bf6 Kh5
53. Be5 g3
54. Kf5

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The result left Tchigorin [who picked up 1/4 of a point for this 2nd draw with Marshall] tied for first place at Monte Carlo 1901 after three rounds with Mieses and Alapin (who drew their replay with much less fuss on the same day.

Marshall, also picking up 1/4 of a point for his efforts, had the strange total of 3/4 of point after two rounds with one outstanding game to replay with Winawer.

Three games played thus far by Marshall yielding three 1/4 point results. Thank God this scoring system was abandoned over a century ago.

Premium Chessgames Member

On the same day (February 6, 1901) that Tchigorin replayed their first-round draw; Alapin and Mieses replayed their second-round draw.

The score of the Alapin-Mieses replay, however, was not recorded in the original Tournament Book. The purported moves in this game, however, were given in the supplemental source cited in the updated Tournament Book. Given all the doubts about this source (which have been the subject of some earlier raves and rants by me), I am not surprised that this site does not present this questionable score.

We do know that this replay turned out to be a draw. I will comment briefly on the score of the game as given in the supplemental source.

The game (assuming as I will from here on that the source is correct) was a disappointing short (21 move) draw. Mieses briefly tried for complications with 15...f5 and 17...f4 (sacrificing a pawn), Alapin wanted no part of this and the game ended abruptly with repetition of moves and a draw. The game is of minimal interest, so my comments will be brief:

1. e4 c5
2. c3 e6
3. d4 d5
4. exd5 exd5
5. Nf3 Nf6

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6. Bb5+

Looking for exchanges. 6. Bd3 would have been more enterprising.

6... Bd7
7. Qe2+

Seemingly playing for a draw from the start. 7. BxB+ might have left White with a small edge.

7... Qe7

Inferior to 7...Be7. Now Alapin had chances.

8. Ne5

8. Be3; 8. BxB+; and 8. 0-0 were all better ways to play for an advantage. Perhaps Alapin wanted the day off and thought a quick draw was the best way to accomplish this.

8... cxd4

8...c4 looks like a better way to equalize.

9. NxB

Still looking for a quick draw, else he would probably have played 9. 0-0.

9... QxQ+

Mieses decided to chop wood since this is the best way to avoid trouble.

10. KxQ

Much better than 10. BxQ

10... NfxN
11. cxd4

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11... Nc6
12. Be3 Bd6

Mieses was still seeking complications, otherwise he would have played the "better" 12...a6; 12...Nb6; or 12...Rc8

13. Nc6 Nb6
14. Na4 NxN
15. BxN

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It looked here as if a draw was inevitable. But, as I will discuss in my remaining post on this game, Mieses here made a stab mixing it up.

Premium Chessgames Member

15... f5?!

15...0-0 or 15...Ke7 would have been safe and solid. But Mieses was still fixing for a rumble, so he decided to go for it. But, as will be seen, Alapin was hell-bent on a quick draw.

The position after 15...f5?! was:

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16. Rac1 Rc8
17. g3

Playing--not for the best chance for an advantage--but to prevent counterplay by Mieses:

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17... f4?!

Taking risks in an effort to create complications and instill some life into the game. Against a different opponent, this strategy might have proved costly; but it also might have resulted in the sort of double-edged position in which Mieses excelled.

18. gxf4

18. Bd2, keeping his pawn structure intact, was the way to try to punish Mieses' last move.

18... 0-0
19. Bb3 Rf5

click for larger view

White is at least theoretically better here, and with 20. Rhg1 or 20. h4 Alapin might have had some chances. Instead, he decided to suck the life out of the game:

20. Bc2 Rf7
21. Bb3 Rf5

1/2 -- 1/2

Oh well!

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