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Geza Maroczy vs Theodor von Scheve
Monte Carlo (1902), Monte Carlo MNC, rd 4, Feb-07
French Defense: Alapin Gambit (C00)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
Jan-27-19  zydeco: Don't know what happened to black in this game. Just 18....Qb6 defends the pawn.
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: <zydeco> is correct that 18...Rf7 was a blunder, but even the better 18...Qb6, though at least temporarily saving the pawn, still probably left von Scheve in trouble. He started to get into trouble with his ill-conceived 15...f5, and after 17...f4? was probably lost. He had the better game--in large part because of Maroczy's unusual opening play--but it looks as if Maroczy thought he could win by getting von Scheve in unfamiliar territory. If that was the plan, it worked well and once Maroczy won a pawn and had two powerful passed pawns in the center the outcome was not in doubt.

It appears that von Scheve played on until Maroczy made the move 30 time control, and then gave up the hopeless struggle.

1. e4 e6
2. d4 d5
3. Be3?!

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"Giving a pawn for the attack." (Gunsberg)

This line was favored by Mieses (who loved to attack) and Alapin. Janowski later tried it a couple of times. It theoretically leaves Black better situated, and Maroczy never played it again after this game.

3... dxe4
4. Nd2 Nf6
5. c3 Nbd7

5...Bd7 suggested by Gunsberg is likely better, as is 5...b6.

6. Qc2

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6... Nd5

Gunsberg criticized this second move by the same piece in the opening, but either this or 6...Ng4 (which also involves moving a piece twice) look best.

7. Nxe4 NxB
8. fxN

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White has a space advantage, but Black has the two Bishops. Maroczy probably fancied his chances in this little known position against a less experienced and less talented opponent.

8... b6

8...Qh4+9. g3 Qh6 is probably Black's best line here.

9. Nf3 Bb7
10. Bd3 Be7

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11. 0-0

It is always fascinating to see strong players decide which way to castle. My first impulse here would be to play 11. 0-0-0. Maroczy may have chosen the text to keep matters simpler against an opponent he reckoned to defeat with the White pieces.

11... h6
12. Rae1

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"It is quite evident that White has the better development." (Gunsberg)

True, but Black has the two Bishops and no real weaknesses. The game in fact was very much in the balance at this point.

From here, von Scheve tried to play aggressively, overreached, and was soon lost. Maroczy likely was counting on this.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post II

12... 0-0
13. Qf2 c5

Well-played by von Scheve, who was getting at least an even game with this move.

14. Qg3 c4
15. Bb1

15. Bc2 looks a little better. After the text, the position was:

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Thus far, von Scheve had handled Maroczy's unusual variation very competently and--Gunsber's commentary notwithstanding--had achieved at least equality. From this position, however, he badly misjudged and misplayed and quickly got into trouble and within a few moves was lost.

15... f5?

"Weakening his e-pawn. 15... Nf6 was preferable." (Gunsberg)

Gunsberg was correct about the merits of 15...f5, but his suggestion of 15...Nf6--though an improvement on the text-- is doubtful, since Maroczy would then have gotten the better game with 15. NxN+ BxN 17. e4. von Scheve should instead have continued his strong play on the Queen-side with 15...b5 which would have left Maroczy no edge I can discdern.

16. Ned2

Maroczy might also have played 16. Nf2, in either case with the best of the position.

16... b5

Better late than never.

17. e4

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17... f4?

Maroczy had seized the initiative, but von Scheve's game was far from lost and he need not have lost his head, as he seems to have done on this and his next several moves. He should have fought for the center with 17...e5 rather than help open lines for Maroczy to overwhelm him, not to mention giving Maroczy a dangerous and cramping e-pawn.

After the text, Maroczy easily rolled to victory.

18. Qh3

18. Qg6 or 18. Qg4 were perhaps even stronger. But for the balance of the game Maroczy played with a studied calm, keeping in control and giving von Schebe plenty of opportunity to fumble his way into even more trouble.

After 18. Qh3, the position was:

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18... Rf7?

Now von Scheve was definitely sunk since he now had a protected passed pawn in the center. But even after 18...Qb6 as recommended by <zydeco>, White is winning after 19. e5 Rf7 20. Nh4 BxN (or 20...Nf8 21. Qg4) 21. QxB Qd8 22. Qh5 Qg5 23. QxQ hxQ 24. Be4 Nb6 25. BxB RxB 26. Ne4 Nd5 27. Nxg5. In the variations resulting after 18...Qb6, White's game almost seems to play itself.

18...e5 was also better than the text, but also unavailing.

19. Qxe6

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Black is obviously busted. von Scheve played on until the move 30-time control, but his efforts from here only made things worse for himself.

19... Nf8

If von Scheve wanted to play on, he should have tried 19...Rc8 or 19...Rb8.

20. Qh3

Maroczy was in no hurry and perhaps had some time pressure and didn't want to calculate the effects of the much stronger 20. Qg4.

After 20. Qh3, the position was:

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Even with his less forceful last move, Maroczy--with a pawn in hand and with two passed pawns in the center--had a clearly won ga,e.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post III

20... g6?!

I'm not sure whether this was a blunder or a wild effort to create counterplay after 21. Qxh6 Rh7. On any theory, this is at best a desperate venture.

21. Ne5

21. Qxh6 is of course best, but over the board Maroczy--sitting with a winning position--probably didn't want to give von Scheve even a hint of counterplay.

21... Rh7

21...Rg7 is perhaps slightly stronger, but by now Maroczy was not to be denied and was not going to risk anything.

The position was now:

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22. Qg4

Once again, Maroczy played with extreme caution (and perhaps was in some time trouble), otherwise he would doubtless have just played 22. Rxf4.

22... Bg5
23. Qe2

"To prepare for Nef3." (Gunsberg)

23. Rxf4 BxR 24. QxB g5 25. Qf5 looks like murder, but Maroczy apparently saw no need to engage in clever sacrifices given his clearly winning position.

23... Qb6
24. Nef3

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24... Re8

24...Be7 may have been slightly better. In any case, after the text, the balance of the game was pretty much target practice for Maroczy.

25. e5

The passed pawns begin to roll.

25... Bd8
26. Be4 Bc8

Hunkering down and adopting a back-row defensive structure.

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27. Kh1

Continuing his policy of giving his opponent no chances at all, and perhaps waiting for the 30-move time control.

27... Rg7
28. d5

One of many ways to win. Maroczy's pawns look scary--because they are!

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28... g5

Opening new squares for Maroczy to use for his coming invasion. In fairness to von Scheve, however, I have no great ideas for Black here.

29. e6


29... g4

A final desperate effort.

30. Nd4

30. Ne5 was also a killer.

30... Bh4?

This runs into a nasty fork, but von Scheve was dead anyway.

31. Rd1

31. Nf5 would have been really nasty. But the text was certainly good enough.

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"Black's position is not tenable." (Gunsberg)


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