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Jacques Mieses vs Carl Schlechter
Monte Carlo (1901), Monte Carlo MNC, rd 8, Feb-15
Nimzowitsch Defense: Kennedy Variation. Keres Attack (B00)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  Mateo: 20.Bxg7? loses a pawn and 22.Re2? another pawn.
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Schlechter had gotten off to a slow start at Monte Carlo 1901, but was beginning to pick up steam. With this win over Mieses, Schlechter became one of the top five vying for top honors (the others being Janowski, Tchigorin, Alapin, and von Scheve. Mieses had been plus one before this game. His loss to Schlechter here pretty much ended his chances of a high finish.

The game itself appeared to be headed toward a draw once and ending was reached on move 19, but--as <Mateo> pointed out on this site two years ago--Mieses' error on moves 20 and 22 allowed Schlechter to win two pawns. Schlechter carelessly gave on back on move 27, but he still had a clear win in the Rook and pawn ending which he won without too much difficulty (although White superficially appeared to have real chances to win until Schlechter demonstrated otherwise).

1. e4 e5
2. d4

The Center Game, which had been a favorite of Blackburne and Winawer and later became a Mieses specialty with which he won many brilliant games.

2... Nc6?!

Schlechter had defeated Winawer two rounds earlier with 1. e4 Nc6. This game quickly transposes into the same line. The statement in the Tournament Book that Schlechter did not realize the similarity of the two games until it was pointed out to him seems absurd. If Schlechter truly did say this, he was surely kidding.

The text here is a way to avoid the usual lines with the --theoretically much better--2...exd4.

After 2...Nc6, the position was;

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3. dxe5

This transposes into the Winawer-Schlechter game from two rounds earlier. 3. d5 is a good alternative. White seems to have the edge both with 3. d5 and with the text.

The Tournament Book said that 3. d5 was "not good" for White, but gave the following flawed analysis: 3. d5 Nb8 (not awful, but 3...Nce7 appears better) 4. c4 (White is better with 4. Nf3 [best] or 4. Nc3. Even after the text, White is better). 4...d6 (4...Nf6 or 4...Bb4+ are better). In all these lines, White--is anyone--has the superior chances.

3... Nxe5

This position was reached in the Winawer--Schlechter game.

4. Nc3

Winawer played 4. f4 immediately here. Mieses' move is looks simpler and better.

4... Bc5
5. f4

What else would we expect from Mieses? The text, along with 5. Na4 and 5.Be2, are all reasonable tries, White appearing slightly better in each case.

5... Ng6

I prefer 5...Nc6, but Schlechter's move is entirely playable.

6. Nf3 d6

This same position was reached in Keres--Mikenas, Tbilsis, 1946.

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7. Na4

"!"--(Tournament Book)

Keres played 7. Bc4 here. 7. f5 and 7. Qe2 were good alternatives. The text, which looks to trade Knight for Bishop, is also reasonable.

7... Bb6

Schlechter could also have played 7...Qe7.

8. NxB axN

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9. Bc4

"Naturally not 9. f5 because of 9...Ne5 10. NxN Qh4+." (Tournament Book).

While I agree that 9. Bc4 is superior to 9. f5, White retains a small edge even after that move with *after 9...Ne5) 10. Qd4 or 10. Bd3 or 10. Bf4). Even with the inferior 10. NxN Qh4+, White is only slightly worse with 11. Kd2 dxN 12. Bd3.

After Mieses' actual move, 9. Bc4, the position was:

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Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post II

9... Qe7

"The Queen and King come into line, but Black had no other move." (Tournament Book).

The Tournament Book notwithstanding, Schlechter could also have played 9...Nf6, which was probably better than the text, which left the position as follows:

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10. 0-0

Thanks to Schlechter's last move, Mieses could here have gotten the edge with 10. Ng5! After the text, play became very complex.

10... Nf6!

"This looks like an error but is exactly calculated. There now follows some interesting complications."

As will be seen, although the text was best, there was an error in Schlechter's calculations which--fortunately for him, Mieses did not spot.

11. e5 dxe5
12. fxe5

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12... Nxe5?

"!"--(Tournament Book)

Although the Tournament Book calls this "best," it in fact gave Mieses excellent winning chances.

Somewhat better was the move the Tournament Book analyzed and rejected: 12...Qc5+. But the Tournament Book's analysis of this move was flawed: "13. Qd4! QxQ+ [Very weak; Black can stay in the game with 13...Ng4 or 13...Ne4. It is only via this weak move that the Tournament Book can reach so advantageous a position in this line] 14. NxQ Nxe5 15. Rf1 Nfd7 (or 15...Nfg4 16. Bb5+ c6 [16...Kd8 is slightly better, but insufficient to save the game] 17. Nxc6) 16. Bf4 f6 17. Nf3 and White stands better." [The killer in the above line for White is 17. Ne6 (or maybe 17. Rad1) instead of 17. Nf3--KEG].

Best of all for Black, however, was 12...Ng4 after which Black can probably hold the position.

Getting back to the actual game, the position after 12...Nxe5? was:

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13. NxN QxN
14. Re1 Ne4

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15. Bd5?

With 15. Qd3 (15...f5 16. g4) Mieses would have had excellent winning chances. 15. Qd5 was almost as strong. The text let Schlechter back in the game.

15... f5

As the Tournament Book pointed out, 15...Bf5? is bad because of 16. Bxb7 Rd8 [Black can put up better--although probably not ultimately successful--resistance with 16...0-0 17. BxQ RxB 18. c3 c5 leaving Black down the exchange but with some chances of counterplay] 17. Qe2.

After 15...f5, the position was:

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16. Qd3

"Seemingly strong, but with the following move Black parries the threats, The only continuation which would maintain a small advantage was: 16. Qh5+ [As we will see, this is hardly best--KEG] g6 17. BxN [17. Qd1 was perhaps slightly better--KEG] gxQ 18. Bc6+ bxB [18...Kf7 is no worse--KEG] 19. RxQ+ Kf7 20. Bg5 [This move forfeits any semblance of an advantage for White. 20. b3 or 20. Bf4 are slightly better--KEG]." (Tournament Book)

The Tournament Book was correct that the text (16. Qd3) was not best, but the proposed 16. Qh5+ was no improvement. White's strongest continuation was 16. Bg5 which yields a definite edge for White.

After Mieses' actual 16. Qd3, the position was:

click for larger view

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post III

16... 0-0!

"!"--(Tournament Book)

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17. BxN

The Tournament Book notwithstanding, 17. Bxb7 is probably best for White here. If then 17...Rd8 White would have some edge with 18. BxN (and not the Tournament Book's 18. Bc6+ Kf7 19. Qe3 after which, as the Tournament Book says, "Black stands well."

17... 0-0!

"The only move. All others lead to a quick sin for White." (Tournament Book)

I agree.

18. Bf4

Mieses' dark-square Bishop belatedly enters the game.

18... fxB

An easier route to equality for Schlechter was 18...QxB.

19. BxQ exQ

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With opposite color Bishops, this sure looks like a position headed for a draw. But Mieses got sloppy--and it cost him:

20. Bxg7?

"?"--(Mateo on this site).

"A gross error leading to a lost position. He could draw by 20. cxd3 Rxa2 21. RxR BxR 22. Bxc7." (Tournament Book)

"20. Bxg7? loses a pawn." (Mateo).

After 20. Bxg7?, the position was:

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20... KxB

Even better was 20...Rfe8. The text was probably also good enough to win.

21. RxB dxc2

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22. Re2?


"...(loses) another pawn)." (Mateo)

"This loses. He might have drawn with 22. Re7+." (Tournament Book)

I'm not sure 22. Re7+ would have allowed Mieses to draw (22...Rf7 23. RxR+ KxR 24. Rc1 Rxa2 25. Rxc2 c5) but it was certainly better than the text.

Mieses obviously missed the following resource for Black, the position after 22. Re2? being:

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Black to play and win.

Not very hard when presented as a problem:

22... Rxa2!
23. Rc1 Rxb2
24. Rexc2 RxR
25. RxR c6

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This should have been an easy win for Schlechter, but there were a few twists and turns to come before he was able to wrap up this victory.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post IV

26. g4?!

Realizing he was in trouble, Mieses launched this wild idea. It managed to lead Schlechter astray for a moment.

26... b5

This didn't truly ruin anything, but 26...Rf4 was simpler.

27. Kg2

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27... b4?

"?"--(Tournament Book)

"After this mistake, it is lucky for Black that he has the b7 pawn." (Tournament Book).

This needlessly loses a pawn. As the Tournament Book correctly notes, Schlechter still had the game in hand thanks to his extra pawn. He could have had a shorter day at the office with 27...Rf4!

Perhaps--with the move 30 time control approaching, Schlechter was in time trouble.

28. Rc4 Rb8

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29. Rxb4?

Mieses failed to take maximum advantage of Schlechter's lapse. There was no hurry to take the pawn. He would have been able to offer stronger resistance with 29. Kf3.

29... b5!

Back on track and ready to punish Mieses for his poor 29th move.

30. Kf3 c5!

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Playing like Schlechter again!

31. Rb1 Kf6

This is plenty good enough, but 31...b4 was a faster route to finishing off the game.

32. Ke4 c4

Making the conclusion more melodramatic than it needed to be. 32...Kg5 was faster.

33. Kd4 Kg5

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34. Rg1

Now he gets trampled. 34. h3 would have made Schlechter's task more onerous.

34... Rd8+
35. Kc5

Taking his King away from the scene of battle to gain a pawn is not the way to try to hold on. From here, it was just a simple matter of counting.

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35... c3
36. Kxb5

Having said "A," he says "B." The result, however, was immediately fatal.

36... c2
37. Rc1 Rc8

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38. Kb4

Too late!

38... Kxg4
39. h4 Kxh4
40. Kb3 Kg3
41. Kb2 Kg2

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Mieses can win the Black c-pawn, but then Black trades Rooks and the h7 pawn marches to victory.


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