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Georg Marco vs Jacques Mieses
Monte Carlo (1901), Monte Carlo MNC, rd 1, Feb-04
Sicilian Defense: Four Knights Variation (B45)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
Nov-29-11  Whitehat1963: What's the finish?
Premium Chessgames Member
  Sastre: 30...Qg3+ 31.Kh1 Qxh3+ 32.Kg1 Qg3+ 33.Kh1 Rh8#.
Nov-29-11  Whitehat1963: Ah. Too easy. (But not for me, obviously!) Thanks, Sastre!
Nov-29-11  Shams: 31...Re2 is less "forcing" and hence more sadistic, and also mates in two moves. Am I wrong?
Nov-29-11  Whitehat1963: I suppose there's a good Wednesdayish puzzle here after 26. Qxb7.
Nov-29-11  Shams: Addendum to my earlier post-- White can stretch things out a move with a Queen sac, of course.
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Marco and Mieses carried on a long rivalry at international tournaments for many years. Their games presented a contrast of styles: the positional acumen and superb endgame prowess of Marco against the tactical brilliance of Mieses. In this first-round game T Monte Carlo 1901, Mieses came on top when Marco blundered on move 27.

The Tournament Book and comments on this site suggest that Marco's 26th move was the losing blunder. In fact, as I will attempt to show, there was nothing wrong with Marco's 26th move. He error came on move 27 when he accepted Mieses' Rook sacrifice and needlessly fell into a mating net.

1. e4 c5

The Sicilian Defense had not yet become a frequent response to 1. e4 back in 1901.

2. Nf3 e6
3. d4 cxd4
4. Nxd4 Nc6
5. Nd3 Nf6
6. Nbd5 Bb4

6...d6 is more usual here, but the counterattacking text has also been frequently played and was more consistent with Mieses' slashing style.

7. a3

"7. Bf4 is best." (Tournament Book).

7. Bf4 yields no edge to White after 7...Nxe4, e.g., 8. Qf3 (if 8. Nc7+ Kf8 9. Qf3 NxN 9. bxN Qf6 and Black is, if anything, better) NxN 9. bxN Ba5 with about even chances.

Marco's move seems best,

7... BxN+
8. NxB d5
9. exd5 exd5

click for larger view

Marco now had the two Bishops and Mieses had a isolated d-pawn. The edge therefore theoretically lay with Marco. But Mieses' position had the sorts of tactical possibilities in which he reveled. Moreover, this position was known to him (see note below).

10. Bf4

At Paris 1900, Pillsbury played the wild 10. Bg5?! against Mieses The game ended in a draw. 10. Bd3 is best here. 10. Qe2+ is also a possibility, and is also superior to the text. Attack on c7 is not a serious threat here.

10... 0-0

Sounder than the wild 10...d4?!

11. Bd3

One move too late. The text allows Black to get the better game with 11...Re8+, which would leave White with unattractive choices.

11... Bg4

Missing 11...Re8+

12. f3

click for larger view

12... Bh5

Surprisingly playing to trade light-square Bishops instead of the better and more enterprising (and more in tune with Mieses' aggressove style) 12...Re8+ or 12...Nh5.

13. 0-0 Bg6

The text may well be best, but I would have expected 13...d4 or 13...Qb6+ from Mieses.

14. BxB

14. Bg5 was the way to retain what advantage White had.

14... hxB

click for larger view

The prospect of Qb6+ and Qxb2 for Black now loomed. Which side would that favor? The other major question was the fate of the isolated Black d-pawn. Both issues would be quickly resolved.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post II

15. Bg5

Daring Mieses to play to win the b2 pawn (and lose the Black d5 pawn).

15... Qb6+

Challenge accepted.

16. Kh1 Qxb2
17. BxN gxB
18. Qd2

Much stronger than 18. Nxd5 immediately.

18... Qb6

18...d4 was a sharper alternative.

19. Nxd5

click for larger view

"Into consideration came 19...Qd4 20. QxQ NxQ Nxf6+ 21. Nxf6+ [21. Rfd1 was better and would yield a small plus for White) Kg7 22. Ne4 Nxc2 and a draw is likely" (Tournament Book).

Perhaps best of all for Black here was 19...Qa5.

20. Rad1 Kg7
21. Qf4

This allows Black to equalize. The more flexible 21. Qf2 was much better.

21... Ne5

"Preventing Nc7." (Tournament Book).

But the better way to achieve that goal lay in 21...Rc8.

22. Qb4! Rh8

"!" -- (Tournament Book)

The menacing Black Rook on h8 was a theme of much of what followed.

click for larger view

23. h3

"?"-- (Tournament Book)

As the Tournament Book correctly noted, 23. f4! was best. If then, according to the Tournament Book, 23...Ng4 24. h3 Qc8 [this is a blunder in the Tournament Book's analysis] 25. Kg1 [25. f5 is crushing here, but the Tournament Book's line leads to a win as well] Nh6 26. Nxf6.

In the above line, the Tournament Book (correctly) claims a win also after 24...Rc8? 25. Kg1 [25. f5 is even stronger) Nh6 (25...a5 is better but still probably loses) 26. Ne7.

In the above line, Black can avoid immediate loss with 24...Qf8, though White would still be much better.

23... Qc8

"!"-- (Tournament Book)

"Attacking the c-pawn and threatening Rxh3." (Tournament Book)

click for larger view

24. Qe7

Marco could also have played 24. Nxf6, which would have resulted in a spectacular draw by perpetual check:

24. Nxf6 KxN 25. f4 Rxh3+ 25. Kg1 Kg7 27. fxN Rh5 28. Rd6 Rxe5 29. Rdf6 Qxc2 30. Rf7+ Kh6 31. Qf4+ Rg5 32. Qh4+ Rh5 33. Qf4+

After the text (24. Qe7), prospects were also about equal:

click for larger view

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post III

24... Qxf5

As the Tournament Book accurately noted, 24...Rxh3+ would have been bad because of 25. Kg1!

Remarkably, the idea of now capturing the Rook was overlooked by the Tournament Book (and by the players and by the commentators on this site) in analyzing the supposed brilliancy 26... Rxh3.

25. Kg1

25. Ne3 looks better, but as matters turned out having the King on g1 should have proved extremely useful to White two moves later.

25... Rae8

"!"--(Tournament Book)

25...Rae8 was also good, and might have nixed the saving resource White had available after Black's supposedly brilliang 26th move.

After 25...Rae8, the following critical position was reached:

click for larger view

26. Qxb7

"?"--(Tournament Book)

"In time trouble, White missed the combination"--(Tournament Book)

Remarkably enough, Fritz and Stockfish five the text as best!!

So who is right?

After 26. Qxb7 the position was:

click for larger view

26... Rxh3?!

"!"--(Tournament Book)

"An elegant finish" -- (Tournament Book).

But was this move a winner, and was it even best?

The answers to both questions are "No." The only way for Mieses to have legitimately obtained any advantage (albeit small) was with 26...Qxc2.

After the supposedly brilliant 26...Rxh3 the position was:

click for larger view

In this position, White would be fine with 27. Nc7! (e.g., 27...Nxf3+ 28. QxN RxQ 29. NxR+ Kf8 30. RxR Qc5+ 31. Kh1 KxN with a likely draw:

click for larger view

But instead of 27 Nc7, Marco (presumably because of time trouble) played the disastrous:

27. gxR??

Now the win was simple for Mieses:

click for larger view

27... Qg5+

27...Nxf3+ 28. RxN QxR would have been even better, but the text also wins quickly.

28. Kf2

As the Tournament Book demonstrates, 28. Kh1 and 28. Kh2 also lose. The text, however, walks into a mating net.

28... Nd3+
29. RxN

29. cxN was no better.

29... Qh4+
30. Kg1 Qg3+

click for larger view

Mate in three is forced (31. Kh1 Qxh3+ 32. Kg1 Qg3+ 33. Kh1 Rh8 mate.


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