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Alexander McDonnell vs William Fraser
Match (1831), London ENG, rd 4
French Defense: La Bourdonnais Variation (C00)  ·  1/2-1/2



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Kibitzer's Corner
Oct-10-05  Autoreparaturwerkbau: Just imagine you had to draw against great McDonnell after 47.Kxg3. Guys really had guts those days and fought till the bitter end. In comparison to those GMs who draw after 12 moves these days ...
Feb-08-07  hs060240: nothing
Dec-13-07  nimh: Rybka 2.3.1 mp, AMD X2 2.01GHz, 10 min per move, threshold 0.33.

McDonnell 13 mistakes:
11.Qe1 -0.59 (11.d3 -0.16)
13.d4 -0.26 (13.d3 0.11)
16.Bxb3 -0.24 (16.Nxb3 0.24)
20.Rg1 0.00 (20.Bd2 0.40)
30.Qc7 0.60 (30.Qf2 1.75)
35.Rxd5 0.32 (35.fxg5 1.07)
44.Rxe7 -1.96 (44.Rd8+ 0.00)
55.Kf3 3.19 (55.Kf2 4.43)
56.Ke2 0.48 (46.Nc3+ 3.14)
61.Kd3 6.41 (61.Ke3 10.67)
66.Kf3 2.57 (66.Nb2 10.66)
67.Kf4 0.00 (67.Nf2+ 2.65)
68.Kxf5 0.05 (68.Nb2 2.64)

Fraser 17 mistakes:
8...f5 -0.05 (8...Qb6 -0.54)
11...g6 -0.14 (11...Qb6+ -0.59)
15...Nb3 0.24 (15...g5 -0.33)
18...Qc7 0.39 (18...Qc6 -0.34)
24...Bxd5 0.49 (24...gxf4 -0.43)
26...Bxb4 0.82 (26...a5 0.43)
27...a5 1.20 (27...Rd8 0.79)
28...0-0 1.87 (28...Ra6 1.07)
34...Ne4 1.07 (34...Nc4 0.73)
45...Kxe6 0.00 (45...Kd6 -1.85)
53...Kxa3 3.04 (53...Kb2 0.00)
54...Ka2 4.43 (54...Kb4 3.04)
56...Kc2 6.02 (56...Kc1 0.48)
57...h5 8.02 (57...Kc1 6.02)
59...Kc2 8.98 (59...Kb2 6.40)
61...Kd1 10.65 (61...Kb1 6.41)
67...Kg2 2.64 (67...Kh2 0.00)

Aug-12-08  sneaky pete: <20.Bd2 0.40> I don't believe it.
Jun-30-09  just a kid: <Autoreparaturwerkbau>Same here.
Jun-11-16  Christoforus Polacco: Why not 55.Kf4 ?
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <Chistoforus Polacco> 55. Kf4 would lead to 55...Kb1, with two further choices: 56. Nc3+ Kb2 57. Na4+ Ka3 58. Nc3 Kb2 etc.; or 56. Kxf5 Kc2 57. Ne3+ Kd3 58. Nd1 Kc2 etc.

In either case, it looks like Black can draw by chasing White's knight around perpetually.

Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <Christoforus Polacco> Another interesting possibility is 55. Kf4 Kb1 56. Nc3+ Kb2 <57. Nb5> Kb1 58. Ke3 b2 59. Nc3+ Kc2 60. Kd4 Kd2

click for larger view

Now Black's king heads for the kingside similar to the actual game. I don't think White can win.

It would be interesting to see analysis of some of the improvements suggested by <nimh>/Rybka above.

Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: The draw is clear after 68. Kxf5 Kxg3. Above <nimh>/Rybka claim 68. Nb2 is better. Let's look at it.

68. Nb2 Kf2 <68. Na4!> has the points that (a) it costs Black more time to bring his king over to drive away White's knight, and (b) White indirectly covers the d3 square through the Nc5+ fork threat.

click for larger view

From this position, it might go 68...Kg2 69. Kxf5 Kxg3 70. Kg5 Kf3 71. Kxh5. Simple move counting shows that White queens in time to stop the b-pawn. This illustrates point (a) above.

Or it might go 68...Ke2 69. Kxf5. Now if 69...Kd3 70. Nc5+ followed by 71. Nxb3 illustrates point (b) above, so Black spends an extra move with 69...Ke3 70. g4 hxg4 71. Kxg4. Again White queens in time to stop the b-pawn.

I conclude that 68. Nb2 is a clear win for White.

Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: What I don't understand is this claim by <nimh>/Rybka above: <(67...Kh2 0.00)>

If 67...Kh2, White can still play 68. Nb2 followed by 69. Na4 and I don't see a defense for Black.

Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: The next earlier big moment in the <nimh>/Rybka evaluation is on move 56, where White played 56. Ke2 (instead of 56. Nc3+), and Black replied 56...Kc2 (instead of 56...Kc1). Now I'll try to make sense of these evaluations.

First: would 56...Kc1 have made a big difference? The point seems to be 56...Kc1 57. Nc3 b2 58. Kd3 f4 59. h4 h5 60. Kd4 Kd2 61. Nb1+ Kc2 62. Na3+ Kb3 63. Nc4

click for larger view

and now Black has <63...b1=N!> avoiding the fork 63...b1=Q? 64. Nd2+. With Black's king offside, White would still eventually win the resulting knight ending, probably starting with 64. Ne5, but it's definitely harder than expected.

Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: Having seen why <nimh>/Rybka preferred 56...Kc1, now let's look at their suggested 56. Nc3+.

On 56. Nc3+, if Black replies with ...Kc1 or ...Kc2, White continues with 57. Na4 and wins as we saw above. Or if her plays ...Ka1, White continues 57. Ke3 and Black has merely wasted time. So it probably goes 56. Nc3+ Kb2, and now <57. Nb5>

click for larger view

Here if 57...Kc2 58. Nd4+ followed by 59. Nxb3; or if 57...Kc1 58. Ke2 b2 59. Na3; and finally if 57...Ka2 58. Ke3 b2 59. Kd3 b1=N 60. Nc3+ shows the underpromotion doesn't help this time.

Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: Misprint in the last line in my previous post: The line should be 56. Nc3+ Kb2 57. Nb5 Ka2 58. Ke3 b2 59. Kd4 (not Kd3 as I posted) b1=N 60. Nc3+
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: Continuing back through this ending, the next earlier turning point is move 53.

click for larger view

Compared to our previous diagram above, White's king is one square farther away from the queenside. This makes all the difference.

Here, the old "allow underpromotion and then trade off the knights" trick does not quite work: 53. Kf3 b2 54. Ke3? <Kb3>, and White's king is too late to support Nc3. That being the case,, I don't see anything better than the actual game's 53. Nc3+.

After 53. Nc3+ <Kxa3?> as played, White should have won, as we saw above. Instead, as <nimh>/Rybka pointed out, Black could have drawn with 53...Kb2. White's king is too far away to prevent Black's king from perpetually chasing White's knight.

For example, 53. Nc3+ Kb2 54. Ne2 Kb1 55. Nc3+ Kb2 56. Na4+ Kxa3 57. Nc3 Kb2 58. Ne2 Kb1 59. Nc3+ Kb2 60. Na4+ Ka3 61. Nb6 <Kb4> (avoiding the fork with ...b2? Nc4+) 62. Nd5+ Kc4 63. Ne3+ Kd3 64. Nd1 Kc2 65. Ne3+ Kd3 shows White trying different approaches and getting nowhere.

Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: Next, let's look at move 45. Black played 45...Kxe6, allowing 46. Nxf4+ followed by 47. Kxg3. <nimh>/Rybka evaluate this as 0.00 or a draw. That looks reasonable: as we saw above. 53...Kb2 would have drawn, and there are no obvious improvements from move 46 to 53.

<nimh>/Rybka> improve with 45...Kd6 and evaluate this as -1.85. How might White handle that?

The strategic options are either take the f4 pawn and allow Black to keep the queenside majority, or go after the a4 pawn leaving White's knight offside for a while.

Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: After 45...Kd6, if White goes for taking the f4 pawn and allows Black to keep the queenside majority, it's hard to prevent a strong breakthrough with ...b5 and ...b4. Following is an example (just to illustrate the concept; I don't claim it's best play).

45...Kd6 46. Nxf4 Nf1+ 47. Kg1 Ne3 48. Kf2 Nc4 49. Nd3 Kxe6 50. g4 b5 51. gxf5+ Kxf5 52. Kf3

click for larger view

I don't think White can prevent a position like this, and now various breakthroughs on b4, a3 and b2 are in the air. For example from the above diagram, 52...b4 53. axb4 Nxb2 54. Nc5 Nd3 55. Nxa4 Nxb4 56. Nb2. The smoke clears, and the resulting ending looks like an easy win for Black:

click for larger view

(Maybe someone with a 7-piece tablebase can confirm that).

Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: Oops. Taking a second look at the diagram of the hypothetical line above:

click for larger view

A better move order for the breakthrough would be <52...Nxa3> so that if 53. bxa3, only now ...b4 and Black will soon queen a pawn. Or otherwise, White can't prevent ...Nc4 followed by ...Nxb2 with a similar result.

There probably are other earlier improvements in the line as well. In any case, the main point still stands: <it's dangerous to leave Black with that queenside majority.>

Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: Since after 42...Kd6 it looks rather hopeless for White to take the f4 pawn and leave Black's queenside majority, how about going after the a-pawn instead? But the immediate 42...Kd6 43. e7 Kd7 44. Nb6+ Kxe7 45. Nxa4 leaves White's knight stranded after <45...Ne4> and I don't see a safe path out.

Otherwise, White can try hanging on to the e-pawn for a while as in 42...Kd6 43. e7 Kd7 44. h4. After that, I'm can't completely prove that Black wins, although I believe he should with careful play.

So I would evaluate the position after 42...Kd6 as "White's a pawn down and needs a minor miracle to save the game." <nimh/Rybka> called it -1.85. Fair enough, I think.

Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: Correction to my post above, it was about move 45, not 42.
Sep-04-16  Christoforus Polacco: Respect 4 your big job ''beatgiant'' but now I learn myself Cunningham Gambit (Philidor, Morphy, der Lasa, Gunsberg etc) and ''stonewall'' from Najdorf & Tartakower brilliant games. I need free time to analyse your ideas in endgame. If you have less figures at chessboard you have more problems :) Paradox.

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