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James Mortimer vs Jackson Whipps Showalter
Paris (1900), Paris FRA, rd 6, May-28
Italian Game: Evans Gambit (C51)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
Jul-21-05  Autoreparaturwerkbau: Mortimer was not a pearl, actually.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Penguincw: I would've resigned by move 27. Being down a knight & bishop for just a few pawns is not a lot of compensation.
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Not a very good game, but one containing a neat and possibly saving Queen sacrifice by Mortimer.

1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 Nc6
3. Bc4 Bc5
4. b4 Bb6

It is often said that the best way to refute a Gambit is to accept it. But Lasker and others often declined to take the pawn in the Evans Gambit to avoid prepared variations. Almost a century later, Kasparov demonstrated that Black can still face nasty tactical problems after 4...Bb6 5. a4, but in 1900 Showalter's 4...Bb6 was a reasonable choice against a much weaker opponent whose only chance was to score an early KO punch in a prepared variation.

5. a4

As played by Kasparov against Piket at Amsterdam 1995.

5... a6

"This [is the] new main line, after Black's disaster in Kasparov-Piket after 5...a5" (Michael Rohde). Remarkably, Showalter plays what was considered the best line based on analysis in and post-1995!

6. c3

Not best. 6. Nc3 and 6. Ba3 (Michael Rohde's line) are now seen as better. Perhaps best of all is the simple 6. Bb2. In none of these lines, however, can White hope for much more than equality, and Mortimer's move is hardly fatal.

6... Nf6
7. d3 d6

7...d5 is more forceful and better.

8. Be3

Inferior to 8. Nbd2 or 8. 0-0. Showalter could now get the better game by simply trading Bishops and giving Mortimer doubled e-pawns.

8... 0-0

This is the first of a series of five moves in which both Mortimer and Showalter fail to exchange Bishops. Curious.

9. Nbd2

Why not 9. BxB?

9... Ne7

Why not 9...BxB?

10. h5

Is he trying to persuade Showalter to trade Bishops (as Showalter should have)? 10. BxB was best.

10... Ba7

Again failing to trade Bishops.

11. BxB

At last!

11... RxB
12. Bb3

Rosenthal in the Tournament Book says that Mortimer should have played 12. Nf1 here, but that would have allowed Showalter to get the better game with 12...Bg4 13. Ne3 Bh5 whereas the text is at least good for equality. Best would have been 12. 0-0.

12... Ng6
13. g3

A needless weakening move and the beginning of a bad plan of a pawn advance on the King's wing. Best was 13. Nc4 or 13. 0-0.

13... d5

Precipitous and missing his chance to play 13...Bh3

14. h4

"Weak. Correct was 14. Qe2 Bg4 15. h3" (Rosenthal in the Tournament Book). But if 14. Qe2, Showalter could play 14...Bh3. Best for White here was 14. 0-0, castling while he can still safely do so.

14... Bg4

Showalter now has the better game and the only real attacking chances.

15. Qe2

Weak. Mortimer should have played 15. exd5.

15... d4!

Black's attack begins. Mortimer is now in serious jeopardy and would have had to play very well to hold the game.

16. cxd4

Rosenthal recommends 16. c4 followed by c5, but that does not seem to be any better than the text. Mortimer should probably have tried to generate some counterchances for himself with 16. Rc1, although he would still suffer from his prior poor play.

16... exd4

17. Rc1?

Now Mortimer is lost. Rosenthal claims that 17. Qf1 was the "only move" for White here, but I don't see how that would have helped at all. Mortimer should have probably tried to run for the hills with 17. Kc1.

17... Ne5!

Crushing. The game is now won for Black.

18. Rc5

Creating new problems for himself as Showalter demonstrates with his next move. Comparatively best, though hardly giving much relief for White, was 18. Bd1.

18... Nfd7

Immediately exploiting White's last move.

19. Rd5

Having said "A," Mortimer decides to say "B."

19... Qf6

Much better would have been 19...Qe7, though Showalter still has a won game.

The position was now as follows:

click for larger view

Things certainly look bad for Mortimer here, but he had a final chance to make a fight of the game that I will discuss in my next post on this game.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post II

After 19 moves, Mortimer was lost. But Showalter's last move (19...Qf6 instead of 19...Qe7) gave Mortimer a glimmer of hope. But...

20. Bd1?

The rest is carnage. While I see no way for Mortimer to have saved the game legitimately, he could have tried a swindle with 20. NxN (which is probably his best move anyway). Had Showalter responded 20...BxQ, Mortimer would have been back in the game with 21. NxN. An interesting variation! But after the text...

20... c6

20. Rd8 would have been even more devastating, but Showalter's move is more than sufficient.

21. Rxd4

21. RxN as recommended by Rosenthal in the Tournament Book was the best chance to hang on for a while, but Mortimer is dead anyway after Rosenthas proposed 21. RxN (d7) NxR 22. Qf1 (22. Nc4 is perhaps better) Qd6.

21... NxN+

21...BxN is more accurate.

22. NxN Ne5

Penguincw says he would have resigned on move 27. I would have resigned here.

23. Qe3 BxN

It was surely time to resign now. Mortimer is down a piece and further loss of material is inevitable.

24. 0-0

"Of course, if 24. BxB NxB check followed by NxR" (Rosenthal in the Tournament Book).

24... Raa8

As Rosenthal correctly notes, 24...BxB would have won the game more quickly.

25. Qf4.

25. Bc2 is probably "best" here, but by now it hardly matters.

25... BxB
26. QxQ gxQ

At this point, Penguincw says he would be ready to through in the towel, White being down a Knight and a Bishop. But Mortimer decides to endure a little more punishment.

27. Rd6

Needless to say, if 27. RxB Nf3+

27... Be2
28. Rc1 Rad8
29. Rxf6 Rxd3
30. f4

Now Showalter has a forced mate. If Mortimer wanted to suffer a little longer, he could have played 30. Rf4 or 30. Kg2.

30... Ng4


Even Mortimer is now ready to call it a day.

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