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Carl Schlechter vs Frank James Marshall
Prague (1908), Prague AUH, rd 16, Jun-08
Four Knights Game: Spanish. Symmetrical Variation (C49)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
Oct-28-03  Shadout Mapes: Marshall claimed after the game was adjourned after white's 32nd move, he sealed 32...Bg5. During his analysis, he studied 33.Qc8 but couldn't find a good followup, until a dead Steinitz visited him in his sleep and told him to make a pawn sacrifice.

Premium Chessgames Member
  amadeus: <Sometimes a player receives unsolicited advice. This, too, is illegal. However, the source of such advice is so unusual in rare cases that allowances need to be made.

In 1908, Frank Marshall was playing in a tournament in Prague. The time control was reached and the players adjourned the game. Marshall (as Black) sealed his move in an envelope and retired to his room to consider the adjourned position.

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Marshall had sealed 32...Bg5 to reach the following position:

Marshall spent most of the night trying to analyze the position after 33.Qc8 (which is what he anticipated his opponent Carl Schlechter would play), but came up dry. Finally, after hours of frustration, he decided to knock off and get a little sleep before the game was to be resumed.

As he lay down to get some shuteye, Marshall became aware of a presence in the room with him. A white amorphous shape was materializing nearby. It slowly came into sharper focus to reveal -- Wilhelm Steinitz, who had been dead for eight years!

Marshall wasn't sure whether to yell or run, when he was stopped in his tracks by the apparition's voice. It told Marshall to make a certain move -- a pawn sacrifice. Then the spectre vanished.

Marshall lit a candle, went to the chessboard, made the suggested move and saw that it made sense. He played it the following day and here's how the game ended:

33.Qc8 c5! 44.Qa8 Bxe3 35.Bxe3 cxd4 36.cxd4 c5 37.dxc5 Qc4+ 38.Kf3 d4 39.Bf4 Qxc5 40.Ke4 Kh7 41.Qd5 Qc3 42.e6 Qe1+ 43.Kd3 Qf1+ 44.Ke4 Qe2+ 45.Kf5 Qh5+ 46.Ke4 Qe2+ 47.Kf5 Qd3+ 48.Kg4 Qg6+ 49.Kf3 Nxe6 50.Bc1 Qd3+ 51.Kf2 Qc2+ 0-1

Marshall absolutely believed that he'd been visited by Steinitz' shade. For the rest of his life, he kept a pocket chess set next to his bed each night as he slept. However, there is no record of a second nocturnal visit by Steinitz' spirit.>

Aug-28-12  DanielBryant: The USCF rulebook, at least, devotes several pages to dealing with the giving of unsolicited advice, but this particular circumstance is not mentioned!
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  perfidious: Priceless story.
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: This was Schlechter's only loss in 1908 and it took supernatural assistance to get him over the edge.
Feb-08-16  ughaibu: But why was Steinitz a Marshal supporter? Some species of hetero-patriotism?
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: Marshall was Canadian and Steinitz was American, so there's a kinship there.
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfessor: Whatever Marshall may have believed, that tip clearly came from Marshall, not Steinitz.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: ***

I reacquainted myself with this tale in the Soltis book on Marshall.

Never mind scanning the players for electrical devices, I'm now thinking the whole playing hall should be exorcised by an ordained priest before each game.


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Featured in the Following Game Collections[what is this?]
33.c5!! by Steinitz's Ghost? Frank probably had a scotch or 3.
from My Favorite Marshalls by Calli
September, p. 181 [Game 186 / 1467]
from American Chess Bulletin 1908 by Phony Benoni
from Veliki majstori saha 14 MARSHALL (Petrovic) by Chessdreamer
Round 16 (Monday, June 8)
from Prague 1908 by Phony Benoni
Game 53
from My Fifty Years of Chess (Marshall) by fphaase
Marshall Martials
by chocobonbon
nocturnal visit by Steinitz' spirit
from Frank James Robbed Banks and Kings by fredthebear
from MARSHALL'S BEST GAMES OF CHESS/hitsujyun by fredthebear
Game 53
from My Fifty Years of Chess (Marshall) by Qindarka

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