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Frank James Marshall vs Edgar Thomas McCormick
"Field Marshall" (game of the day Jul-28-2013)
Marshall CC Championship (1938), New York, NY USA
English Opening: King's English Variation. Reversed Sicilian (A21)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
Sep-02-05  Gazman5: A highly entertaining miniature by Marshall. McCormick bravely attempts to fight fire with fire, but the great attacker is too much for him. 15.Qb5# or 15.Qf7# to follow.
May-20-09  randomsac: marshall just explodes after trading away the center pieces that would have helped black defend. Perhaps 7...Nb4 isn't so good since it effectively traps blacks knight while the huge swap combo leads to a bloody loss of the rook or mate.
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: Black exchanges off all his developed pieces.
Jul-28-13  Tim Delaney: While I am no opening theorist, it seems to me that 2. ...f5 is entirely too ambitious. Is this a move that is thought of as playable today? It seems to me that it only opens up attacking lines against the black king, while not controlling any squares that matter.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Sneaky: I think your hunch is right, that it's overambitious, but 2...f5 has a surprisingly illustrious history:
Jul-28-13  morfishine: <Sneaky> Interesting, thanks for posting games with 1.c4 e5 2.Nc3 2...f5

Here's one with Marshall playing the Black side: J Mason vs Marshall, 1902

Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: It looks like a Grand Prix attack reversed. That lost tempo might not matter so much if the centre stays closed, but starts to look risky after white gets in d4 and everything opens up.
Jul-28-13  sfm: <Tim Delaney: ... it seems to me that 2. ...f5 is entirely too ambitious. Is this a move that is thought of as playable today? It seems to me that it only opens up attacking lines against the black king, while not controlling any squares that matter.>

Almost invariably, moving the f-pawn in the first very few moves is not the best you can do and often almost deserves a (?). Openings like Bird's 1.f4, Dutch 1.d4,f5 are rare on top level, and the statistics shows why, and it should surprise nobody. As you say, it's weakening the king's position, and does not open diagonals that can be used for developing a piece.

But playable? Well, for most of us, sure. On the positive side, the pawn controls e5/e4. If it gets swapped there is an f-file to use for attack, or the f-rook can go to the third rank and further to the g- and h-file. At times the pawn is pushed further to attack.

As we all know, winning chess games has a lot to do with getting the opponent into positions where he is not having his strongest knowledge and experience. For this purpose, early f-pawn moves can be a damned good choice.

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: Black's second move has never had a good reputation according to theory, but the variation arrived at by transposition in the game (1.c4 e5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.Nf3 f5) is more common nowadays and far from bad.
Jul-28-13  celtrusco: "...15.Qb5# or 15.Qf7# to follow."
Ok, but 15.d5++ instead to 15.Qb5++ seems more"bonita".
Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: 2...f5 is frowned upon because of 3.d4! As <perfidious> says, the line Black transposed to (more often reached these days via 2...Nc6 3.Nf3 f5), has a decent reputation. After 4.d4 e4, Marshall's 5.Nd2 (5.Ng5 is the main line; for a fun game from Black's perspective, see Seirawan vs Browne, 1979) is no great shakes. Black should play 5...g6 when he's doing fine (White only scores 42.7% in 55 games in Mega Database 2013).
Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: Somewhat relatedly, I just received Sveshnikov's new book on the Grand Prix Attack against the Sicilian. Interesting book. I was surprised to see that he advocates 2.f4 allowing the Tal Gambit 2...d5 3.exd5 Nf6 rather than 2.Nc3 followed by f4.
Jul-28-13  Abdel Irada: Typically, in the Sicilian, if Black can safely play ...d5, he equalizes. In fact, if White's pieces are deployed to squares that are attacked after an exchange on d5 (with, say, a bishop on e3), Black often takes the initiative.

When White plays 2. f4, this is exacerbated. Since he has already spent a tempo to push the f-pawn, the strongest defenses unsurprisingly call for an early ...d5. (This is why White often prefaces the f-pawn advance with 2. Nc3.)

I have often played the Grand Prix myself, and I can tell you that I felt relief whenever my opponent *didn't* play for that early break.

Part of the reason for this may lie in the disruption of White's attacking plan, which requires not an exchange on e5, but a push to f5 followed by an attack on the kingside with pawns, minor pieces and queen (the latter usually via Qe1-g3 or h4). But this works only if White can maintain a strong c2-d3-e4-f5 pawn chain to secure the kingside pressure. If for any reason he must abandon this idea, the Grand Prix player is left groping for a new plan.

Of course this doesn't mean the Grand Prix *can't* be played positionally, nor that White is doomed after ...d5. But the psychological disorientation caused by blowing apart the opening's raison d'etre cannot be discounted.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Penguincw: Would anyone consider white's 10th move being POTD?
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: Black tried the clever 10...Nxe3, a desperado-type thang. But that N on d5 is his only good piece. James Mason would've tried 10...c6; then the game can continue.
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <FSR: 2...f5 is frowned upon because of 3.d4....>

True, though it did not stop this (A Shaw vs F Teuton, 1995) from happening to me some years back.

Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: <perfidious> Thanks. As you probably know by now, you were "supposed" to play 4.Qe3+ "with advantage." See the comment I just posted to Shaw-Teuton, where I give Houdini's analysis suggesting that White in fact has little if any advantage.
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <FSR>: In the 1987 version of the Marathon, I lost to Frank Sisto in 4.Qe3+ and won at least two games from Robert Feldstein in the same line that I remember from other Marathons.

Not sure why I did not play 4.Qe3+ against Teuton, though.

Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: Three moves -three mates.

14...♔e8 15 ♕f7#
14...♔e7 15 ♕f7# epaulette mate.
14...♔c6 15 ♕b5#

Apr-16-18  mifralu: According to the BDE, this game is from the Marshall CC Championship, and Black resigned after <12. Qh5+.>

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