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Georg Marco vs James Mortimer
Monte Carlo (1902), Monte Carlo MNC, rd 4, Feb-07
Spanish Game: Berlin Defense. Beverwijk Variation (C65)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Last-place Mortimer had his chances to win this game after Marco blew a win with his bad 20th move. But he botched several winning chances and soon was down a piece in a hopeless endgame. The final 20 plus moves were a waste of time, Marco holding an advantage that even a novice could win against Magnus Carlsen.

A few interesting moments, but by and large an entirely forgettable game.

1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 Nc6
3. Bg5 Nf6

Yet another Berlin Defense, which was still extremely popular in 1902.

4. 0-0 Bc5

Since the Kasparov-Kramnik match in 2000, just about everyone plays 4...Nxe4 here. The text, however, is--even if slightly inferior to 4...Nxe4-- certainly playable here.

5. Nxe5 NxN
6. d4 a6
7. Ba4

The usual move, but 7...Be2 is better.

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7... Qe7

The beginning of Mortimer's early troubles in this game. 7...b5 or 7...Nxe4 are normal and leave White with only a minimal edge.

8. dxB Qxc5
9. Nc3 b5
10. Bb3 Bb7
11. Be3 Qe7

Black's Queen maneuvers have allowed Marco to get much the better game.

12. Re1 0-0
13. Bg5

This Bishop venture accomplished nothing good for Marco. He should have consolidated his edge with 13. a4 or 13. f3.

13... h6
14. Bh4 g5

The beginning of a bad plan by Mortimer that nearly led to a quick defeat (had Marco followed up his chances properly)

15. Bg3 d6

Very weak. Black should play one of his Rooks to e8 and await White's response before committing himself with d6.

16. f4!

Exploiting Mortimer's weak play.

16... Ng6

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17. e5?

Giving Mortimer a chance to regroup. Marco would have been in strong shape with the simple 17. fxg5.

17... dxe5
18. fxe5

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18... Ne8?

This should have cost Mortimer the game. He had to play 18...Qc5+ after which he would have had a defensible position (e.g., 19. Kh1 Qc6 20. Qe2 Rae8 21. Qf2 Ng4 22. Qg1 Bc8 with a small edge for White).

After the text, Marco had a won game:

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19. e6!

"?"--(Tournament Book)

The Tournament Book recommended 19. Qh5, but after 19...Kh7 (better than the Tournament Book's suggested 19...Kg7) Black is out of the weeds.

By contrast, the text--wrongly condemned by the Tournament Book--leaves White in an overwhelming position.

19... f5

19...fxe6 would not save Black (e.g., 20. Rxe6 Qc5+ 21. Kh1 Kh7 22. Nd5 Ng7 23. Nf6+ Kh8 24. Nd7).

After the text, the position was:

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Beginning here, however, Marco seemed to lose his focus, and went from a winning edge to a dead lost position in just a few moves. Luckily for Marco, his opponent here was the hapless Mortimer, who found a way to lose the game despite all of Marco's mis-steps.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post II

20. Qh5?

"?"--(Tournament Book)

The Tournament Book got this one right. With either 20. a4 or 20. Nd5 (20...BxN 21. QxB Nd6 22. BxN cxB 23. Rad1 Black would be hard put to survive.

20... Kh7
21. Rad1 Nf6
22. Qe2

Implicitly conceding that his 20th move was an error.

22... Rad8

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"The game has become critical for White. The threat is c5-c4." (Tournament Book).

23. Be5?

"Setting his opponent a difficult problem." (Tournament Book)

Perhaps so, but the text was a blunder nonetheless. White had to play 23. RxR. After the text, Mortimer had a (rare for him) chance to score up a win.

23... Ng4

Of course not 23...c5?? 24. BxN QxB not because of 25. Nd5 as suggested in the Tournament Book but because of the crushing (and rather obvious) 25. e7.

The Tournament Book follows the above mis-analysis of 23...c5?? with some awful discussion of other possible moves for Black. Rather than engage in needless refutations, it suffices to say that the text (23...Ng4) was best and should have won the game for Mortimer.

24. Bg3

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24... Nf6?

Hard to believe. 24...Nf4 wins (e.g., 25. BxN gxB 26. Rd7 [might as well go down fighting] RxR 27. exR Qc5+ 28. Kh1 Ne3 after which White loses the d-pawn and gets overrun on the King's side).

Mortimer's week 24...Nf6? gave Marco a chance, the position now being the same as before his 23rd move.

25. Be5?

Repeating his bad 23rd move.

25... Ng4
26. Bg3

So here we are, back in the same position as after 24. Bg3. Once again, Mortimer could win with Nf4. This time, he came up with a move that gave away his entire advantage:

26... Qc5+
27. Bf2

Forced but sufficient to save the day. This left:

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27... NxB?

Mortimer would have been fine (i.e., about equal) with 27...Qe7. But beginning here he started digging a grave for himself from which he ultimately could not emerge.

28. QxN QxQ+

Reducing to an inferior ending. The alternative, 28...Qe7, was not much better.

29. KxQ

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All of a sudden, Marco's isolated advanced e-pawn has become a strength rather than a weakness. The ending is likely still savable for Black, but not the way Mortimer handled it:

29... Ne7?

29...RxR looks like the only legitimate chance to hold for Black.

30. Rd7

"!"--(Tournament Book)

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Matters had clearly improved drastically for Marco.

30... Rfe8
31. Red1

31. Rxc7 Bc6 32. Rd1 certainly looks simpler for White. But Marco still seems to have a win in sight. All that became moot, since fro the above position Mortimer fell apart and was dead lost in just a few moves, the position now being:

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Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post III

31... Rc8?

Just awful. 31...RxR 32. RxR Bc6 33. Rxc7 Kg6 34. Ra7 Kf6 35. Rxa6 Rd8 might not be a barrel of fun for Black, but at least he'd have practical chances. Now, Mortimer's position was beyond hope, as Marco (a strong endgame player) quickly demonstrated.

32. Bd5!

Black is utterly busted:

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32... c6

Everything else (e.g., 32...BxB 33. NxB) would be even more gruesome for Black.

33. RxB cxB
34. Nxd5


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34... Rxc2+
35. Kf1

35. Kf3 is more accurate, but it hardly mattered at this point.

35... Kg6
36. NxN+ Kf6
37. Nd5+

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Mortimer might have called it a day here, but chose to suffer for another 23 moves. What followed wasn't pretty.

37... Ke5

No better (to say the least) was 37...Kxe6 38. Nc7+ RxN 39. RxR leaving Black down a Rook for a pawn.

38. Nb4

38. e7 or 38. Rd7 might have wrapped up the game a bit faster, what!

38... Rc4
39. Nxa6 Rxe6

So the advanced pawn finally falls. Not much consolation for Mortimer.

40. Re1+

40. Rxb5 or 40. Nc7 were more brutal, but trading Rooks works here too.

40... Kf6
41. RxR+ KxR

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Marco may have expected Mortimer to resign any moment. What follows does not suggest much thought or effort by either player. All that can be said is that Marco never gave Mortimer a chance for the balance of the game:

42. Rc7 Rh4
43. Kg1 Kd6
44. b3 Rd4
45. Rc2 f4
46. Nc7 Rd1+
47. Kf2 b4
48. Kf3 Rd3+
49. Kg4 Ke5
50. Na6 Rd4
51. Nc5 Kf6

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52. Rd2


52... RxR
53. Ne4+ Ke5
54. NxR Kd4

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55. Nb1

Hardly fastest, but it was more than sufficient. Marco correctly calculated that Queening his a-Pawn made material gains by Mortimer on the King-side irrelevant.

55... Ke3
56. a4 Kf2
57. a5 Kxg2
58. a6 f3
59. a7 f2
60. a8(Q)+ Kxh2
61. Nd2

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