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Carl Schlechter vs Wilhelm Steinitz
London (1899), London ENG, rd 21, Jun-27
Spanish Game: Steinitz Defense (C62)  ·  1-0



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Given 23 times; par: 77 [what's this?]

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Kibitzer's Corner
Feb-15-04  ughaibu: Steinitz believed that the king could look after itself.
Feb-22-05  aw1988: Steinitz was also half-crazed by those days.
Premium Chessgames Member
  An Englishman: Good Evening: ughaibu, this is an excellent find. Thank you. Now I have a question: do you understand Schlechter's 31st move?
Feb-22-05  suenteus po 147: It seems to me (though the question WAS directed at <ughaibu>) that Schlecter had in mind to distract the rook's protection of f6 by threatening it with the queen (also setting up 32.Ng7+). Needless to say, Steinitz found the correct spot for the rook.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Hanada: I think 18)...Bf7 was a mistake. I think 18)...Bg6 would have been much better because it develops Steinitz's bishop with tempo (the attack on the rook) and it points towards white's center.

I have noticed that Steinitz has a real ecclectic quality about his games, at least for his era. His games seem really modern to me as well.

Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: Following <suenteus po 147>'s observation, 31. Qh7 drives Black's rook to occupy the f7 square, so that after 32. Qh3 Black's king doesn't have that escape route and must run into the center.
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <Hanada>
<I think 18)...Bg6 would have been much better> White can reply 18...Bg6 19. Qh1. If then 19...Bxh7 20. Qxh7 followed by 21. Qg8+, 22. Qxg7+ etc. picks up both bishops for the rook, and meanwhile White threatens 21. Rh8+ Bxh8 22. Qxh8+ Ke7 23. Qg7+ followed by 24. Qxg6 with a similar result.
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: After some questionable opening play, Schlechter effectively dismantled Steinitz' bizarre and often crack-pot play.

As usual, Steinitz played his 3...d6 line against the Ruy Lopez. His 5...Nge7, though condoned by some opening manuals (e.g., MCO-13) looks horrible (5...exd4 seems obviously better).

Instead of punishing Steinitz' 5...Nge7 with 6. d5, Schlechter played the very poor 6. Bc4. This is yet another move that appears very weak that somehow gets some sanction in MCO-13. After this lame effort by Schlechter, Steinitz--instead of getting near equality with 6...exd4 or 6...Nxd4, played 6...h6?

Once again, Schlechter could have seized a positional lock with 7. d5, and once again he played an unaccountably weak move, this time 7. h3? Steinitz once again had the chance for exd4 or Nxd4, and once again he chose a very poor alternative, 7...Ng6.

Surely now, you may think, Schlechter would play d5. But no, once again he played a much weaker move, this time 8. Be3, giving Steinitz yet another chance to play exd4. And yet again, Steinitz erred, this time with 8...Nf4?

From this point on, however, Schlechter shed his cautious veneer and played solid aggressive--and often brilliant--chess to the end.

Steinitz' 10...g5 looks bad, but it's doubtful that he had anything better. After 8...Nf4? Steinitz' game was probably beyond redemption.

Bad as Steinitz' position was after Schlechter's 14. 0-0-0, his 14...Kf8? only made matters far worse. (His best chance at this stage was probably 14...Bg4 or 14...Bg7).

Schlechter's 18. Rh7 was very strong, and it is doubtful that Steinitz had any real defense at this stage. Having said that, his 18...Bf7 was terrible as Hanada has noted on this site. However, and as beatgiant demonstrated over 12 years ago, 18...Bg6 was no real improvement. If Steinitz wanted to play on, his "best" move was probably 18...Na5, though I doubt this would have saved him.

Schlechter's combination beginning with 21. RxB+ got him two minor pieces for Rook and pawn as well as an overwhelming attacking position and was more than adequate for victory. But 21. Qh1 seems simpler.

After 24. Nf5+, Steinitz--if he wanted to play on--had to play 24...Kg6. His 24...Kf7 was hopeless, as Schlechter's 25. Qh1! showed.

After 26...Ke6, the only real question was how and when Schlechter would put Steinitz out of his misery. Neither 27. Ne2 nor 28. g3 were the fastest roads to triumph, but both moves by Schlechter were plenty good enough.

The balance of the game was painful to watch, especially from those of us who revere Steinitz' great play in his heyday. 29...Ke5 looks as if Steinitz wanted to get mated. Schlechter decided to prolong Steinitz' misery with 30. Qh2 (instead of 30. Nh4).

beatgiant has done a fine job of answering An Englishman's question about Schlechter's 31, Qh6, but the simple 31. Qh3 was yet another way Schlechter could have ended the game sooner.

I agree with the Tournament Book that Steinitz should have resigned after 32. Qh3. The only merit in Steinitz' 32...Ke5 was that it allowed Schlechter to finish in pretty fashion. His. 33. Nh5 was absolutely crushing, and his 34. Qc3+ was a pretty follow-up. After Steinitz' 34. d4, the rest was carnage, but Steinitz played on until he was faced with loss of his Queen and a forced mate after 38. Nd2+.

Schlechter is known as a "drawing master," but this game shows that--when roused--he could be a formidable attacking player.

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