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Ignatz von Popiel vs Georg Marco
"Ignatz is Bliss" (game of the day Jun-08-2011)
Monte Carlo (1902), Monte Carlo MNC, rd 1, Feb-03
Philidor Defense: General (C41)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 5 OF 5 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Jun-08-11  queenfortwopawns: I was kinda disappointed 21.Nxh6+ wasn't played.
Jun-08-11  TheTamale: At first the pun seems beneath contempt. But after you play the game through, it's actually pretty funny.
Jun-08-11  screwdriver: Very nice shot of Bg1. But, I'll admit I didn't see it and thought black was simply going to lose a piece. I would've resigned too. Even with the move, white would have a knight and a rook with 3 pawns versus a queen and 4 pawns. Obviously black should win, but who knows if you're not using a chess program.
Jul-24-12  rounak: marco the mad
Jun-15-15  Shoukhath007: Amazing move ' In my opinion greatest move in chess history' if he would have been played bg1.
Jun-23-15  Mating Net: Tough to find ...Bg1 given that it's not a check. Fortunately, we can learn from this failure and train ourselves to spot these types of moves.
Jun-12-17  Marcelo Bruno: The Argentinan-Brazilian author Idel Becker mentions in his "Manual de Xadrez" (Chess Manual) 1. ... Bg1 as the winning move that Marco missed.
Sep-17-17  Magnus Kasparov: I wonder if anyone ever showed Marco how he could've won this.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Penguincw: Video analysis of this game:
Jan-27-19  SpamIAm: Popeil pocket fishes a victory in troubled waters.
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: There were some bizarre finishes in the first round at Monte Carlo, including Schlechter agreeing to a draw after 37 moves in a position in which he had a winning endgame. But none of the other finishes were as strange as Marco's resignation in a winning position against von Popiel. Marco was better for most of this game, but then he snatched von Popiel's b-pawn, and then seemingly blundered away the game on his 34th turn. von Popiel--seemingly unable to bear his good fortune--blundered away the game on HIS 36th move (effectively hanging his Queen to a fairly obvious double threat) only to win anyway when Marco resigned, not realizing the game was his.

Lots of really bad chess in this game, the chief interest in which were the possibilities not pursued:

1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 d6
3. Bc4

A reasonable alternative to the more usual 3. d4 against Philidor's Defense.

3... c6

A barely playable alternative to the better and more usual 3...Nf6 or 3...Be7. Hanham and Marco both dabbled in trying this move. The resulting position is:

click for larger view

4. Nc3 Be7
5. d4 Nd7

click for larger view

The Tournament Book called this move "grotesque,' but suggested nothing better. While the position is hardly pretty for Black, I see no better alternative. 5...Nd7 was first played by Hanham in 1989. The move was a success here since von Popiel seemingly had no clue how to exploit Black's mangled arrangement and quickly got much the worst of the opening.

6. Be3

Whatever is the best way to try to build on White's undoubted advantage (maybe 6. a4 or 6. 0-0 or 6. dxe5), this ain't it.

6... Ngf6

6...b5 was much better.

7. Qe2

Pointless, since von Popiel didn't plan to castle long. In these circumstances, he should have played 7. a4.

7... Qc7

A strange choice, and further garbling his forces. 7...b5 or 7...0-0 immediately would have been better.

8. Ng5?

The beginning of an ill-conceived plan. von Popiel could still have retained the better game with 8. a4 or 8. dxe5.

8... 0-0
9. f4?

Continuing with his unsound attacking scheme. Better were 9. 0-0 or 9. a4. After 9. f4, the position was:

click for larger view

9... b5
10. Bd3 a6

"In order to play c5 when opportune." (Tournament Book).

10...b4 needed no preliminaries, but--as it turned out--von Popiel retreated his Kc3 Knight a few moves later anyway without any prompting by Marco.

11. 0-0

So 0-0-0 was never really in the cards for von Popiel.

11... Bb7
12. Rae1

von Popiel was apparently so concerned about keeping d1 open for his Knight he was willing to misalign his Rooks. 12. a4 or 12. Rad1 were better.

12... h6

Weakening his own King-side. 12...Rfe8 or 12...Rae8 were better.

13. Nf3 Ng4

This should not have accomplished anything for Black (since von Popiel could just have responded 14, Bd2). Black would still have been better with 13...exd4.

14. Nd1?

Quite bad. With 14. Bd2, White would have approximately equal chances. After the text, White's position was not a joy to behold:

click for larger view

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post II

Now Marco was able to reduce to a favorable position:

14... c5

This was the "opportune" time to play c5 to which Marco had looked.

15. c3 exd4
16. cxd4 NxB
17. NxN cxd4

17...Rfe8 was even stronger.

After 17...cxd4, the position was:

click for larger view

18. Nxd4

Missing the stronger intermediate moves 18. Nf5 or 18. Rc1.

18... Nc5

Again missing the stronger 18...Rfe8.

19. Nef5

Right square, wrong Knight. 19. Ndf5 would have left von Popiel with about equal chances.

19... Bf6?

And yet again missing 19...Rfe8. The position was now:

click for larger view

Marco had pretty much relinquished any edge, and his two Bishops were now balanced by his weak d-pawn and the pressure he faced from von Popiel's Knights. But von Popiel couldn't stand success, and quickly gave the advantage back to Marco.

20. Bb1?

Very weak. von Popiel would have had his own pressure and at least equal chances with 20. e5!

20... Rfe8
21. Qf3

<queenfortwopawns> wonders on this site about 21. Nxh6+, but that simply loses a piece after 21...gxN 22. e5 (or 22. Qg4+ Kf8 23. e5 [23. Nf5 Nxe4 is no improvement] dxe5) 22...dxe5 23. Nf5 e4 24. Nxh6+ Kf8 25. Qg4 Bg7.

After 21. Qf3, the position was:

click for larger view

21... Ne6

"?"--(Tournament Book)

The Tournament Book's critique of Marco's plan to snatch the b2 pawn was probably well-founded, but its suggestion of 21...g6 was entirely misguided. After 22. Nxh6+ Black must play 22... Kf8 with a small plus for White (and not the Tournament Book's disastrous 22...Kg7 which gets crushed by 23. Qc3! Bc8 (if 23...KxN? 24. Nf5+ and Black gets mated) 24. e5! with a likely win for White.

What Marco should have played was 21...b4! leaving Black with much the better game.

22. NxN fxN

click for larger view

23. Qb3

"!"--Tournament Book.

Exploiting the pin, but Black is still better.

23... Kh8?

Wimping out. Black can still press the issue, now with 23...d5!

24. Ng3

24. Ne3 would have gotten White out of trouble.

After 24. Ng3, things got interesting and complicated:

click for larger view

From here, play by both sides deteriorated, culminating in the final debacle.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post III

24... Bd4+?

Black would still be better with 24...Qc4. The text is not only bad in itself, but part of an entirely wrong plan by Marco.

25. Kh1 Qc4
26. Qd1

click for larger view

26... Bxb2?

Marco could still keep his head above water with 26...e5. After the text, he should have been busted, the position now being:

click for larger view

27. Qxd6?

But Marco was in luck, since von Popiel missed 27. e5! After the text, Marco was back in the game and even had the better chances:

27... Rad8
28. Qb6 Rd7
29. Qf2 Bd4
30. Qf3

click for larger view

30... Rf8?

Very weak again. Black has the better of the struggle with 30...Red8 or 30...e5.

31. Rc1

Missing the stronger 31. Qg4.

31... Qb4
32. Qd3

"!"--(Tournament Book)

The text was probably best, but the Tournament Book's belief that White was winning at this point was entirely mistaken:

click for larger view

32... e5

"He has nothing better, being threatened with annihilation by e4-e5." (Tournament Book)

The text is indeed best, but Black would also be fine with 32...Qe7.

33. fxe5

click for larger view

Play had been ragged to this point, but the true catastrophes were about to unfold.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post IV

Contrary to what was suggested in the Tournament Book, chances were about equal after 33. fxe5. But that all changed in a hurry, with both sides committing chess atrocities that swung the balance back and forth:

33... RxR+?

Black would be fine with 33...Rdd8. After the text, though Marco may not have been lost, he was in serious trouble:

34. RxR

click for larger view

34... Qe7?

Now the game is lost for Black. Marco had to play 34...Rd8 here. The game, after 34...Qe7? was there for the taking for von Popiel:

click for larger view

White to move and win:

35. Nf5

This probably does the trick, but the real killer for White was 35. e6 [e.g., 35. e6 since if then 35...Qxe6 (awful but anything else loses at least a piece immediately) 36. Rf8+ Kh7 37. e5+ g6 (everything else is even worse) 38. Rf6]

35... Qxe5

This left:

click for larger view

White to move and win:

The most obvious move on the board here is a killer: 36. Nh4 (threatening Ng6+ winning the Queen and thus forcing 36...Kh7 which gets creamed by 37. Nf3.

But von Popiel, instead, played the following winning blunder:

36. Rd1??!!??

This left:

click for larger view

Black can now win the Queen and the game with 36...Bg1!

But Marco didn't see this and so he resigned!!


That's one for the ages!

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <KEG.... But that all changed in a hurry, with both sides committing chess atrocities that swung the balance back and forth....>

In his day, your humble poster perpetrated not a few such abominations against our beloved game and somehow lived to tell the tale.

Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: <Magnus Kasparov: I wonder if anyone ever showed Marco how he could've won this.>

You can be extremely sure they did. This is easily the most famous resignation in a won position in history.

Mar-28-21  Retireborn: Did he need to be shown, though? Anecdotally he realized it himself almost at once.
Mar-28-21  Damenlaeuferbauer: Frederick Rhine's statement is absolutely right: This is the most famous game in chess history, where a player resigned in a completely won position.
Mar-28-21  Z4all: <<Dlb> This is the most famous game in chess history ...>

Now that's a concept - <"<the> most famous game in chess history">.

I hate to say it, but if I was to pick just one game to be the most famous it would be this one:

Deep Blue vs Kasparov, 1997

Of course, wiki maintains a long list of other contenders:

Someone might consider adding this game to the wiki list - it appears to be missing.

Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <Z4all>
It seems you missed the part about featuring resignation in a won position.
Mar-28-21  Z4all: No <beat>, I was off & running on the unqualified version from Dlb.

Still, qualified or not, it should be famous enough to be on wiki's list.

Aside- is Kramnik's game with a computer where he neglected a simple mate on the list? It's certainly famous enough to be.

(Wait a minute... maybe Wiki has a separate "infamous" game list?! (Tongue-in-cheek, of course))

Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <Z4all>
<the unqualified version> That version said <where a player resigned in a completely won position.> True, obscured by a misplaced comma, but the kibitzer's profile suggests that he's not a native English speaker.
Mar-28-21  Z4all: OK, I'll grant that leeway...

Still, "the most famous" is a fun side avenue, and it's interesting that wiki omits this game from it's list of contenders.

Mar-28-21  Z4all: beat> and you could also point out <dlb> was merely making a supportive seconding of <FSR>'s post (with its full and strictly correct qualifications).

OTH - I merely quoted a select part of <dlb>'s post, highlighted a concept contained within, and was off and running. The rest is inference on the part of the reader.

Mar-28-21  Z4all: Just a quick addition - here's a <CG> collection of games where a player resigned a winning position:

Game Collection: The Ultimate Blunders

This game heads the list.


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