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Lucien Didier vs Frank Marshall
Paris (1900), Paris FRA, rd 7, May-29
Russian Game: Three Knights Game (C42)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Jul-24-07  zb2cr: <beginner64>,

In your line, after 24. ... Bxf3; 25. Kf2, Bh5 White is simply down a Pawn with no compensation.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Marshall finishes off Didier with a spectacular Queen sacrifice.

Before that, however, the game was less than inspiring. As has been noted on this site, Didier's play was awful. His three king moves (10. Kh2; 15. Kg1, and 18, Kf1) were terrible. Was he TRYING to get mated? Nonetheless, Marshall had no significant edge after his 22nd move, and only was able to work his magic after Didier's blunders on moves 23 and 24; not to mention Didier's 25th move that walked into mate in two.

1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 Nf6

Marshall, in the tradition of Pillsbury, played the Petroff with a view to attack.

3. Nc3

Didier--understandably-- is not interested in a tactical battle of wits with Marshall and seeks equality in the symmetrical Four Knights' Game.

3... Bb4

Marshall does not want a placid symmetrical position, and so plays this unbalancing move.

4. Bc4

Didier looks for quick development in lieu of the alternative 4. Nxe5.

4... 0-0
5. d3 d5

What else would we expect from Marshall? Certainly not the sound and equalizing but comparatively passive 5...c6

6. exd5 Nxd5
7. Bd2 Nf4

Once again, Marshall chooses the most aggressive option instead of the safe and steady 7...Nb6

The position was now as follows:

click for larger view

8. 0-0

Marshall's last move allowed Didier to enter a tactical thicket (8. Nxe5 Nxg2+) in which he theoretically would have had an edge but in which Marshall would be very much in his element. So Didier, once again, seeks safety over any serious effort to obtain an advantage.

8... Bg4
9. h3 Bh5
10. Kh2?

Weak. Why not the simple (and much better) 10. Re1?

10... Nc6
11. g4 Bg6

The position was now as follows:

click for larger view

12. Ne2?

Very bad. The comments by Rosenthal in the Tournament Book notwithstanding, Didier would have been fine after 12. Nxe5 NxN 13. BxN NxB 14. dxN c6 (Rosenthal only considers 14...QxQ 15. NxQ Bxc2 16. Ne3 after which White would be better--but even this would be better than Didier's move).

Even better than 12. Nxe5 would have been 12. Re1. Thus, Didier had two ways to achieve near equality here. After the text (12. Ne2?), however, Marshall should have obtained a major advantage.

12... Bd6?

Missing his chance. With 12...BxB 13. QxB NxN 14. QxN Re8 (or 18...Qf6) Marshall would be well-poised to exploit Didier's awkward King position. After the text, Didier has a road to equality.

13. NxN exN
14. Rh1

Another bad move by Didier. With 14. Bc3 his position would be OK.

14... h5
15. Kg1?

Zooks! What on earth was Didier thinking? 15. Bc3 was obviously best.

Once again, Didier has walked himself into a bad position. One might expect Marshall to blow Didier away from here. But Marshall now played poorly and let Didier back into the game, as I will discuss in my next post.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post II

After Didier's awful 15. Kg1?, the position was as follows:

click for larger view

Marshall now could have grabbed the e-file and obtained excellent winning chances. Instead, he gave Didier a chance to get back in the contest with:

15... Ne5
16. NxN BxN
17. Qf3 Qg5

Marshall should have played 17...c6 retaining the edge. Had Didier tried to grab a pawn with 18. Bxf4 he would have been crushed by 18...Qf6!

Alternatively, Marshall could have played 17...Re8. With the text, Marshall's advantage is all but gone.

18. Kf1?

Incredible! Didier should have played 18. Re1 (does nobody want to control the e-file?) instead of another bizarre King move.

18... Rfe8

Finally someone puts a Rook on the open e-file.

19. c3

Either 19. Re1 or 19. Rg1 were better.


20. Rg1

If 20. Qxb7? Qxd3+ 21. BxB RxB and Black must win.

20... c6
21. d4

The position was now as follows:

click for larger view

21... Bc7?

Once again missing a way to tighten the noose on Didier. Marshall of all people should have found 21...Qh4!, since 22. dxB RxB would be catastrophic for Didier.

22. gxh5 Qxh5

Didier is now alive and well in this game. But not for long. From here on, Didier fell apart and Marshall demonstrated his genius. Within four moves, Didier was checkmated. How this happened will be covered in my third and final post on this game.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post III

After 22...Qxh5, the position was as follows:

click for larger view

Here, Didier played:

23. Qg2??

As beginner64 has noted on this site, 23. QxQ is best, gets rid of Marshall's Queen, and gives White equality.

zb2cr claims that after 23. QxQ BxQ 24. f3 Bxf3 25. Kf2 Bh4 White is simply down a pawn with no compensation. But after 23. QxQ BxQ Didier could have obtained equality with 24. Rg5! (since if now 24...g6 25. f3 Black can't win a pawn with 25...Bxf3 since White could take the g pawn with impunity given the pin on Black's f7 pawn.

After Didier's 23. Qg2??, White is lost, and the game ended quickly and violently.

23... f3

Marshall could also have won with the problem-like 23...Kh8 (eliminating the pin on the f-pawn). The text, however, is equally crushing.

24. Qg4

24. QxB, which loses the exchange to 24...Qxh3+ 25. Rg2 fxR+, is theoretically "best," but White is lost in any case. The text, however, is a disaster and allowed Marshall to finish brilliantly.

After 24. Qg4 the position was as follows:

click for larger view

Here Marshall played the superb:

24... Qd5!!!

Had Didier taken the offered Queen with 25. BxQ, he would have been mated on the spot with 25...Bd3 mate! Didier's actual move was not much better.

25. b3

This allows mate in two, but in fairness to Didier anything he did in this position would lead to disaster.

25... QxB+

Another Queen sacrifice by Marshall. This time, Didier had no choice (except, perhaps, to resign).

26. bxQ Bd3 mate


Dec-02-19  zb2cr: Thought I had seen this before. 24. ... Qxc4+ forces mate.
Dec-02-19  Carrots and Pizza: Qxc4 and Bd3 mate.

Marshall was so lucky to have opponents who allowed all of these beautiful mates!

Premium Chessgames Member
  agb2002: White threatens Bxc4.

The white king cannot move. Therefore, 25... Qxc4+ 26.bxc4 Bd3#.

Dec-02-19  Cheapo by the Dozen: For once the Monday puzzle plays out along a diagonal rather than a file!
Dec-02-19  Carrots and Pizza: That knight on f4 is way too strong. I think I would play 9.Bxf4 right away. I think a knight on f4 or f5 for White is even better than a knight of e4 or e5.
Premium Chessgames Member
  An Englishman: Good Evening: If I had ever sat across the board from Marshall and he offered the exchange of Queens, would have swapped first and thought later.
Dec-02-19  saturn2: Mate in 2 by 25...Qxc4+ 26. bxc4 Bd3
Dec-02-19  Walter Glattke: 25.-Qxc4 26.bxc4 Bd3#
Dec-02-19  jffun1958: 25... Qxc4+ 26. bxc4 removing protective bishop and White has nothing against 26... Bd3# .
Dec-02-19  francis2017: 25...Qxc4 0-1
Dec-02-19  AlicesKnight: A Marshall looks at ...Qxc4 and licks his lips ......
Dec-02-19  BLB3: Suggested pun:

"He Did Monster Mash"

Dec-02-19  BLB3: Sorry should be

He Did Monster Marsh

Dec-02-19  Sally Simpson: Think it should have been given from here with Black to play...

click for larger view

...then you would have had a better idea what lured into Didier into this position and why he declined the Queen swap a few moves earlier.

The g6 Bishop cannot move (so therefore will not move.) and the c4 Bishop pins the f7 pawn so the g6 Bishop is in fact hanging.

Dec-02-19  TheaN: <25....Qxc4+ 26.bxc4 Bd3#>. Interestingly, White is getting mated already on move 24 and unless he starts to throw all his material at Marshal (literally isn't very nice though) there's not much White has against QxB+. Or rather, there <isn't> anything against QxB+ except for Ba6 bxa6. White can only move Rg1 to prevent mate, but loses as well as anything active he has on the board.
Premium Chessgames Member
  gawain: Clever mate, which I saw quickly. Maybe I've seen it before. I've long been a fan of Marshall. I used to play the Petroff because Marshall liked it so much. Somehow I did not get the same results.
Dec-02-19  Damenlaeuferbauer: After long pondering, the great American attacker and opening connaisseur Frank J. Marshall finally found the mate in 2 moves with 25.-,Qxc4+! 26.bxc4,Bd3#. He invented two very dangerous pawn sacrifices, which stood the test of time in chess history: 1.e4,e5 2.Nf3,Nc6 3.Bb5,a6 4.Ba4,Nf6 5.0-0,Be7 6.Re1,b5 7.Bb3,0-0 8.c3,d5!? (C 89, J.R.Capablanca - F.J. Marshall, New York 1918), and 1.d4,d5 2.c4,c6/e6 3.Nc3,e6/c6 4.e4!?,dxe4 5.Nxe4,Bb4+ 6.Bd2!? (D 31, F.J. Marshall - C. Schlechter, Monte Carlo 1902).
Premium Chessgames Member
  ClassZPlaya: Nice gem by Marshall. White needed to trade Queens at move 23 .. after 23 Qg5 f3! White appears to be lost.
Dec-02-19  laskereshevsky: 25.. ♕xc4+ 26.♙xc4 ♗d3# .... Trade the queens was the only correct move, ♕g2 is awful..... ♕xg6, after ♙f3 was bad but better then ♕g4 ... last but not least, 25.♙b3 looks like the kind of move of a shocked or a resigned player... Curtains
Premium Chessgames Member
  scormus: <gawain> I expect you've been playing against stronger opponents than the ones than Marshall played. That's why youre not getting such good results.
Premium Chessgames Member
  gawain: <scormus> Funny!
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