Honza Cervenka: Samuel Rosenthal - Wilhelm Steinitz, Vienna 1873
1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.Nf3 g6
As far as I know this move was used for the first time by Steinitz in his game against Louis Paulsen in Baden-Baden 1870. Later in the same year Anderssen repeated it in a game of his match against the same opponent, and Samuel Rosenthal faced it in his match with John Wisker in the end of 1870. And so this game was a theoretical opening duel of its kind.
Rosenthal's move is principal continuation here. Paulsen tried 4.Bc4 against Steinitz and 4.Nd5 against Anderssen.
4...exd4 5.Nxd4 Bg7 6.Be3
In the third game of his match against Wisker Rosenthal continued with 6.Nxc6 bxc6 7.Bd3 but it is not much challenging for black. 6.Be3 is definitely better move and it is the main line here today.
The position after 6.Be3 was new then, and after this game Steinitz never repeated 6...Nge7 playing always 6...Nf6 instead of that. 6...Nge7 looks natural but it has some drawbacks as we know today from opening theory.
This is not a bad move for sure but the main problem for 6...Nge7 is 7.Qd2 with a plan to play 8.0-0-0 and launch quick Kingside attack h2-h4-h5, if black dares to castle Kingside.
More precise it would have been to play 7...0-0, as then 8.Qd2 can be replied by 8...Ne5! 9.Bb3 c5 10.Ndb5 c4 11.f4 (11.Ba4? a6 loses a piece) 11...cxb3 12.fxe5 bxc2 and black can be very satisfied with outcome of the opening.
Again 8.Qd2 could have been more unpleasant for black, though the game move is not bad.
8...O-O 9.f4 Na5
Immediate 9...d5 was more accurate. Now white could have played 10.Be2! with idea 10...d5?! 11.f5! ±.
10.Bd3 d5 11.exd5
With white Bishop on d3 11.f5 is not dangerous for black due to 11...dxe4 12.f6 Bxf6 13.Rxf6 exd3 14.Qxd3 c5 etc.
11...Nxd5 12.Nxd5 Qxd5 13.c3 Rd8 14.Qc2 Nc4 15.Bxc4
Instead of that white could preserve his Bishop pair with 15.Bf2. But anyway black already completely equalized the game from the opening.
More active 16.Qb3!? with idea 16...Qxb3 17.axb3! was a better chance for white to keep balance in the position, where black Bishop pair starts to play key positional role.
As I have written here twenty years ago, Steinitz starts to push white pieces back by advancing of his Pawns using his Bishop pair as an instrument for eliminating weaknesses created in the process.
17.Nf3 b6 18.Ne5 Qe6 19.Qf3 Ba6 20.Rfe1 f6 21.Ng4 h5 22.Nf2 Qf7
White minor pieces were effectively blocked and pushed back by subtle play of Steinitz who reached clearly better position. Here he could play also 22...Qd5 not allowing 23.f5.
Objectively this is the best practical chance of white, who tries to liberate a bit his cramped position.
But this is a mistake. Only 24.Ne4 Bb7 25.Bf2 could help white to stay in the game. Still black should keep advantage after 25...Rd7 26.Rad1 Rad8 27.Rxd7 Rxd7, for example 28.h4 Re7 29.hxg5 fxg5 30.Nxg5 Rxe1+ 31.Bxe1 Bxf3 32.Nxf7 Kxf7 33.gxf3 c4 34.Bh4 b5 with clearly better Bishop ending for black despite of white extra Pawn.
24...Bb7 25.Qg3 Rd5(?)
This is an inaccuracy from Steinitz's part. After 25...Rxd1! 26.Nxd1 (26.Rxd1 Re8 27.Bc1 h4 28.Qd3 c4 29.Qd4 Qc7 30.Ng4 c6 31.Qf2 h3 -+) 26...h4 27.Qd6 Qxa2 28.Bf2 Qd5 29.Qxd5+ Bxd5 30.Ne3 Bc6 31.Rd1 Bf8 32.c4 Re8 black has decisive advantage.
White misses his last chance to complicate things for black by 26.h4! g4 27.c4! Rxd1 28.Rxd1, and now black cannot play 28...Qxc4 for 29.Rd7! turning the table in white's favour. After 28...Re8 29.b3 or 28...Qe7 29.Bf4 white consolidates his position with solid chances not to lose the game.
26...Qxd5 -+ 27.Rd1 Qxf5
After loss of this Pawn the game is practically over.
Desperate attempt for counterplay just shortens white's misery here.
28...Bd5 29.b3 Re8 30.c4 Bf7
It was possible to play also 30...Bxg2 31.Rd8 (31.Kxg2 Rxe3) 31...Bc6! but 30...Bf7 is good enough.
31.Bc1 Re2 32. Rf1 Qc2 33.Qg3
Black was threatening with 33...Rxf2 34.Rxf2 Qxc1+.
33...Qxa2 34.Qb8+ Kh7 35.Qg3 Bg6 36.h4 g4 37.Nd3
Instead of that it was better to resign. Of course, the game was hopeless anyway, so another blunder changes nothing.
37...Qxb3 38.Qc7 Qxd3 and white resigned.