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Geza Maroczy vs Arturo Reggio
Monte Carlo (1902), Monte Carlo MNC, rd 6, Feb-11
French Defense: Classical. Alapin Variation (C14)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
Jan-27-19  zydeco: Elegant game. Picturesque position on move 40.
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: First-prize winner Maroczy defeating Reggio was hardly a surprise, but the game was remarkably hard-fought with Reggio giving a good account of himself in thee interesting opening and early middle-game. A nice game to enjoy, even if Maroczy was less precise than usual.

1. e4 e6
2. d4 d5
3. Nc3 Nf6

The Classical French was the most usual line back in 1902.

4. Bg5 Be7

Avoiding 4...dxe4 and the McCuthcheon (4...Bb4).

5. e5 Nff7
6. BxB

One would not expect 6. h4?! from the generallly sound Maroczy.

6... QxB
7. Nb5

click for larger view

7. f4 is usual and probably best.

"The basic idea of this old move consists of the preparation of the move c3, reinforcing the d4 pawn." (I. Rabinovitch commenting on Lasker-Lilienthal in the Moscow 1936 Tournament Book).

Maroczy had played this move (against Rosen) at Paris 1900, and Reggio himself had played it in his win against Mason at Monte Carlo 1901. So the move would not have been a surprise to Reggio.

7... Nb6

The 1901 Monte Carlo Tournament Book criticized the text when played by Mason in his game against Reggio, calling it an "inferior variation" and recommending 7...Qd8. As Rabinovitch noted, both moves have been played, and both are entirely viable.

8. c3

All according to plan.

8... a6
9. Na3

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9... f6

Mason had played 9...f5?! in his loss against Reggio in Monte Carlo 1901. Most earlier commentaries recommended 9...c5 followed by f6 (see 1901 Monte Carlo Tournament Book). Lilienthal played 9...c5 10. Nc2 Nc6 in his win over Lasker at Moscow 1936. The text was noted as bast by Konstantinopolsky (seconded by Rabinovitch) decades later. So far as I am aware, 9...f6 was a novelty when played here. It later became a favorite of Rudolph Spielmann.

10. f4

10. exf6 and 10. Bd3 are also reasonable continuations.

10... fxe5

10...0-0 is perhaps simplest and safest.

click for larger view

11. dxe5

Maroczy later suggested 11. fxe5, saying that after 11...Qh4+ 12. Kd2 "...the White King marches to c2 is out of danger." But that line seems better for Black if he plays 12...c5, since the White King hardly seems "safe" then.

Best for White is probably 11.Qh5+ followed by 12. Qxe5 with what looks like a small edge.

11... 0-0

Courageous or foolhardy? 11...Nc6 comes to mind, as does 11...Rf8.

12. Qd2

12. g3 was more prudent.

12... c5?!

The most aggressive choice, rather than 12...N8d7. 12...Na4 was another possibility.

13. Nf3

"13. Bd3 came into consideration." (Tournament Book)

13... c4?!

Still playing for complications. 13...Nc6 or 13...Bd7 were the more solid choices. But Reggio's choice helped make this game the exciting battle it soon became.

The position was now:

click for larger view

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post II

14. Be2

Solid but, as Maroczy later noted, 14. Nc2 was much better since after the text the White Knight "becomes ineffective on a3 for a long time."

14... Na4!
15. Bd1

Overly cautious. 15. Rb1 or 15. 0-0 were better.

click for larger view

15... Nc5

Eyeing d3, but 15...b5 was pehaps even stronger. In either case, the double-edged position was about even.

16. Bc2

Now the Knight on a3 is further buried. 16. 0-0 was probably better.

16... h6

Needlessly creating weaknesses. 16...Bd7 or 16...b5 were better.

17. 0-0 Nc6
18. Rare1 Bd7
19. Nd4

click for larger view

19... NxN?

Reggio had played aggressive and creative chess to this point. But the text helped White solve most of his problems. 19...Rac8 or 19...b5 were much better.

20. cxN

"After this Black gains the advantage. Correct was 20. QxN." (Tournament Book)

Nonsense. The consolidating text was best despite its giving some life to the Black c-pawn. After 20. QxN, Black would be fine after 20...Rac8 or 20...b5. Now, by contrast, Maroczy should have come away with much the better game if not for his questionable 21st move.

The position after 20. cxN was:

click for larger view

20... Na4

This was probably Black's best chance. But fascinating is 20...Nd3?! 21. BxN cxB since if now 22. Qxd3 Black gets good counterplay with 22...Qb4 23. Rb1 Rac8. But White can side-step this by playing 22. Rf3 and ending up with much the better chances.

After 20...Na4, the position was:

click for larger view

21. Rb1?

This forfeits all of Maroczy's advantage. Best was 21. Bb1 which, among other tings, makes room for the White Knight on c2.

The Tournament Book said that 21. BxN "had to be considered," but after 21...BxB 22, Re3 a5 White's advantage is also gone.

21... Rab8

21...b5 remained a good option, as Reggio recognized on his next move.

22. Rf3

Beginning a doubtful King-side attacking plan. A better way to launch such an attack, if that is indeed the best course, was with 22. Qe3 with Qg3 and f5 to follow.

22... b5


23. b4

Now the protected Black pawn on c4 becomes passed and very strong. 23. Qa5 or 23. b3 were much better.

Now, Reggio seized his chances with:

23... a5!

"Well played. The passed pawn on c4 will be very strong." (Tournament Book)

click for larger view

The game had now become very complicated, and Maroczy, perhaps because of time pressure (with the move 30-time control looming) lost his way beginning here as I will discuss in my next post on this game and was soon on the verge of defeat.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post III

24. BxN?

An unbelievable positional mistake from the usually reliable Maroczy. White should have continued his King-side plan with 24. Rg4. After the text, Reggio's Queen-side prospects soared.

24... axB?

Returning the favor. Reggio would have have strong chances on the Queen-side with 24...axb4.

The position was now:

click for larger view

25. b5?

Still playing in a fog. After 25. bxa5 White would be better. But now, the pendulum swung in Reggio's direction.

25... Be8!

With Bg6-e4-d3 in mind.

26. Qc3 Bg6
27. Rb2 Be4
28. Rff2 Qa7

click for larger view

29. Qe3?

Allowing Reggio's next move which destroys any harmony in the White camp. With 29. h3 or 29. g3 or 29. Rf1, White would not be that much worse. But now, he was in serious trouble:

29... Bd3!
30. Nb1

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Now, with 30...Qe7, Black would have all the chances and arguably a won game. But now, just before reaching the move 30 time-control, Reggio let Maroczy back in the game.

30... BxN?

Giving up a powerful Bishop for an inert Knight can hardly be good strategy!

31. RxB Rf7

31...Rb6 or 31...Qd7 were much better. Now, Maroczy had surmounted most of his problems:

click for larger view

32. g4?

"!"--(Tournament Book)

In fact, the way to attack was with 32. f5. Black could have now have taken charge with 32...Rb7! But beginning here, and although the move 30 time control had been reached, Reggio began his collapse.

32... Qb6?

32...Rb7 was Reggio's last chance to seize an edge.

Now, the game began to tilt towards the eventual tournament winner:

33. f5! Rbf8
34. Rbf1

Stronger was 34. Rf4.

The position was now:

click for larger view

34... Qxb5?

Taking this pawn could by itself have been fatal. Reggio had to settle for 34...exf5 with approximate equality.

35. f6!

"!"--(Tournament Book)

click for larger view

Reggio probably not lost at this stage, but he would at a minimum face a tough battle to hold his position.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post IV

35... g5?

This should have been the end for Reggio. He had to try 35...Qb4 or 35...c3 to press his Queen-side chances.

36. h4! Rh7

"There is nothing better." (Tournament Book)

Perhaps 36...Qe8 or 36...Rb7 provided better chances for Black, but the game looks lost.

37. hxg5

click for larger view

37... Kf7?

This should have been the end of the road for Reggio. 37...Qe8 was the only legitimate chance.

Maroczy now had a clear winning line, but he now began some sloppy play.

The position after 37...Kf7? was:

click for larger view

38. Qh3?

After the game, Maroczy pointed out the winning combination:

38. g6+! Kxg6 39. Qb3 and now Black loses with either 39...Kf7 (40. Qh5+ Kg8 41. Qg6+ Kh8 42. f7) or the slightly better but still inadequate 39...h5 (40. gxh5+ Kf7 41. Rg2).

38... Rg8

Suddenly, Reggio had life:

click for larger view

39. gxh6

Giving Reggio even better chances. Best, though perhaps no longer winning, was 39. 39. Qh2 or the computer move: 39. Kg2 (39...Rxg5 40. Qc3).

39... Rg6

click for larger view

40. g5?

Stronger was 40. Rh2 (e.g., 40...Qb6 41. Rd1 Qb8 42. Qa3 Rxg4+ 43. Rg2 RxR+ 44. KxR Qf8 45. QxQ+ KxQ 46. Rh1 Kf7 47. Kf3 and--one way or another--White will penetrate.

After 40. g5, what proved to be the key position of the game was reached:

click for larger view

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post V

As <zydeco> said on this site almost three years ago, the position at this point was truly picturesque. It was also the final turning point of the game.

40... Qb6?

After this, Reggio was finished. But was the game truly lost before this error?

Maroczy later submitted an analysis purporting to prove that Black could have saved the game with 40...Rxg5+. As I will attempt to show, this analysis contained some significant flaws, and it is uncertain whether Black could indeed draw with best play.

40...Rxg5+ 41. Rg2 RxR+ 42. QxR! [42. KxR Qb2+ would make it much easier for Black--KEG] Qb8 [42...c3 would have led to a simpler drawing line for Black, although the text also does the trick--KEG] 43. a3 [The best chance for White--KEG] Qg8! [essential--KEG] 44. Rb1 QxQ+ 45. KxQ. This would leave:

click for larger view

45...Rxh6 [Here, I had thought that 45...Kg6 was the only saving move, but have since concluded that Maroczy's move was correct]. 46. Kg3 [This gave Reggio real drawing chances. White can probably win with 46. Rb7+ Kf8 47. Re7 Rh4 48. Rxe6 Rxd4 49. Rd6 Rf4 50. Kg3 Rf5 51. Rxd5 c3 52. Kg4 Rf2 53. Rc5 c2 54. Kg5 Kf7 55. Rc6 Rg2+ 56. Kf5 Rf2+ 57. Ke4 Re2+ 58. Kd4 Ke8 59. Kd5 Kd7 60. f7 Rd2+ 61. Ke4 Ke7 62. Rc7+ Rd7+ 63. RxR+ (63. Rxc2 may also win) KxR 64. f8(Q) c8(Q) 65. Qd6+ leaving a Queen ending White should probably be able to win:

click for larger view

Let is now return to Maroczy's analysis after 46. Kg3, a position he (correctly) concluded was a draw:

click for larger view

46...Rg6+ [This move probably allows White to win. 46...Rh8 or 46...Kg6 or 46...Rh7 all should draw--KEG] 47. Kf4 [47. Kf3 is a much better try, and probably wins: 47...Rg8! 48. Kf4 (tempo is important) Kf8 49. Rf8+ Kf7 50. Rb7+ Kg6 51. Re7 Rc8 52. Rg7+ Kh6 53. Ke3! c3 54. Rg1 c2 55. Kd2 Rc4 56. Kc1 Rxd4 57. Kxc2--KEG]

After Maroczy's suggested 47. Kf4, the position would be:

click for larger view

The position now does appear to be a draw: 47...Rh6! 48. Kg5 Rg6+ [This loses, 48...Rh7 is the only drawing line--KEG] 49. Kh5 Rg3 [49...Rg2 is perhaps better, but the position is nonetheless lost for Black--KEG] 50. Rb7+ Kf8 51. Re7 Rxa3 52. Rxe6 Rh3+ [52...Ra1 might offer stiffer resistance] 53. Kg4 Rd3 leaving:

click for larger view

Maroczy claims that Black has "very good drawing chances" here. But after either 54. Rc6 or 54. Ra6 White wins fairly easily.

Conclusion, Maroczy's suggested 40...Rxg5+ was a much better chances, but it is far from clear that the game can be saved.

In any case, let's get back to the actual game after 40...Qb6:

click for larger view

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post VI

41. Qe3

"!"--(Tournament Book)

The text almost certainly wins, but 41. Qg4 was the real killer.

41... Rhxh6
42. Rh2!


42... RxR

The only chance.

43. KxR

click for larger view

43... Qb8

Black is almost certainly lost anyway, but 43...Qb2+ was a much better try. After the text, Maroczy cleaned up nicely.

44. Qh3

There are other winning methods, but this is the most accurate.

44... Qg8
45. Rb1

45. Qh5 also wins.

45... Rxg5

click for larger view

46. Rb7+

This is brutal and wins, but 46. Qh6 or 46. Qh4 were perhaps faster.

46... Kg6
47. Rg7+


click for larger view

47... QxR

"Other moves give no chance." (Tournament Book)

True, but the text is not much better than resignation.

48. fxQ Kf6
49. Qf3+

49. Qh6 is faster.

49... Rf5
50. Qg4 Kg8

click for larger view

51. Qg6 Rf7
52. Qxe6 Kxg7
53. Qxd5

click for larger view

I think I could win this even against Magnus Carlsen from here.

53... c3
54. Qc6 Rf2+
55. Kg3 Rc2

Utterly hopeless, but the game was long gone anyway.

56. Qf5+

click for larger view

Now White wins the Rook via a Queen fork (e.g., 56...Kh8 57. Qh6+ Kg8 58. Qg6+


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