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Frank Marshall vs Leon Rosen
Paris (1900), Paris FRA, rd 13, Jun-11
French Defense: Classical. General Variation (C14)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  NM JRousselle: Lucena strikes!
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: An up and down game in which Marshall ultimately comes out on top.

The game can be divided into five acts:

Act I--Moves 1-10: Marshall grossly mishandles the White side of a French Defense and is lost by move 10.

Act II: Moves 11-20: Rosen hangs onto his edge, despite ragged play by both players.

Act III: Moves 21-30: Rosen reduces the game to an endgame in which he is up a pawn, and manages to achieve a lost position by move 30.

Act IV: Moves 31-55: Marshall, after almost throwing away his win on move 34, consolidates his advantage and ultimately reduces to a simple winning Rook and Pawn versus Rook ending.

Act V: Moves 56-62: As user NM JRouselle noted on this site almost a year ago, Marshall wins a standard Lucena position.

1. e4 e6
2. d4 d5
3. Nc3 Nf6
4. Bg5 Be7
5. e5 Nfd7
6. BxB QxB
7. Nf3

Rightly called "weak" by Gligoric, though it need not have led to anything worse than equality. 7. f4 or 7. Qd2 were better.

7... a6
8. Ne2?

Rightly called a "mistake" by Rosenthal in the Tournament Book. Rosenthal's 8. Qd2 was better. 8. Bd3 seems best of all.

The text seems to overlook Black's next forking move and allows Black to get much the better game.

8... Qb4+
9. Nd2

Another second-best move by Marshall. 9. c3 was the best chance for White here, though the b2 pawn would be lost.

9... c5

Rosenthal's suggested 9...Qxb2 gobbling up the b2 pawn immediatel is the obvious move and is certainly fine. Rose's aggressive 9. c5, however, may be even better.

10. b3?

Marshall seems shell-shocked. 10. c3 was best.

10... cxd4

The position was now:

click for larger view

It is hard to believe that Marshall could get such a bad position as White after only 10 moves.

This is the end of what I have called Act I of this game. Rosen almost certainly had a won game. He was up a pawn, Marshall's e5 pawn was weak, and White had little if any compenstion.

As I will try to show in my next post on this game, play got wild in moves 11-20, Marshall missing chances to fight back towards equality and Rosen missing chances to put Marshall away.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post II

Having gotten badly outplayed in the opening, Marshall tried to fight his way back into the game. During this stage of the game, however, he made little progress.

11. a3 Qb6
12. f4 f6
13. Nf3 fxe5
14. fxe5 Nc6

The position was now:

click for larger view

15. Nf4?

This misguided move should have cost Marshall any remaining chances he had in the game. He should have accepted his pawn minus and initiated exchanges with 15. Nexd4

15... d3?!

Wrongly praised by Rosenthal in the Tournament Book.

Rosenthal is correct that the text is better than 15...Ndxe5 16. NxN NxN 17. Qh5+ Nf7 18. Bd3, though I fail to see why Rosenthal thinks that White here would have a "strong attacking position." Black can just play 18...g6.

But I do not see how Marshall would have survived had Rosen tightened the noose with 15...0-0!

16. Nxd3?

16. Bxd3 was much better. Now White once again is in trouble.

16... Ndxe5

Rosen is now simply up a pawn with Marshall having no real compensation.

17. NfxN NxN
18. Qh5+

Not 18. NxN Qe3+ 19. Qe2?? Qc3+ and wins as shown by Rosenthal. But in this last line, White could and should play 19. Be2--though he would still be down a pawn with no real compenstion.

18... Ng6
19. Be2

Marshall's play is unrecognizable through this point of the game. 19. Qf3 was better.

19... 0-0
20. 0-0-0 Qe3+

This is where Rosen begins to lose the thread of the game.20...Qd6 was much stronger.

21. Rd2?

Hard to believe. Why walk into this pin? 21. Kb1 was the obvious and better move.

The position was now:

click for larger view

Things certainly look bad for Marshall here. That Marshall won from here seems incredible. But from this point and for the next 10-20 moves, Rosen falls apart. I will discuss how this occurred in my next post on this game.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post III

In the last diagrammed position, Rosen could have turned the screws on Marshall with 21...a5. Instead he gave Marshall chances:

21... Rf5
22. Qh3 QxQ
23. gxQ Nf4

Another weak move by Rosen. 23....a5 was far better.

24. Bg4 Rf6
25. NxN?

It is hard to understand why Marshall fancied his chances in the ensuing endgame. Better and more in Marshall's style was 25. Re1

25... RxN

The position was now:

click for larger view

At first blush, it may seem hard to believe that Rosen lost this game. He is up a pawn, and Marshall's King-side pawns are a mess.He has a passed pawn. And Marshall has little chances of attack. At worst, one might think, Rosen would have to settle for a draw.

But---there is no big caveat here. The rules at the Paris 1900 tournament called for draws to be replayed. Thus, had Rosen drew the game, he would have had to play Marshall again Given their respective standings [Marshall was 8-3 and Rosen was 2-8 going into this game] a draw might have been no better than a loss for Rosen. So he pressed hard for a win here, and lost most of all of his advantage by move 27, lost his pawn plus by move 29, and then had what was probably a lost position by move 30. What a turnaround!

26. Re1 Kf7
27. c4!

The lion has awakened. The text forces Rosen to abandon his seemingly powerful center pawn phalanx.

27... d4?

Rosenthal in the Tournament Book says that 27...dxc4 [best!] 28. Rd8 "favors White." But this is nonsense. After 28...cxb3, Rosen would have needed time to untangle his Queen-side and might not be able to win, but to say that the position favored Marshall seems daft.

After the text, Rosen seems destined to lose his pawn-plus. His winning chances suddenly seem gone.

28. Rde2!

Focusing on Black's weak point.

28... e5

Another poor choice by Rosen. 28...Bd7 or 28...b6 or even 28...Kf8 were better. Now, in addition to regaining his lost pawn, Marshall is able to undouble his King-side pawns.

29. Rxe5 BxB
30. hxB Rd8?

Terrible. Rosen could probably have held the game with 30...Rxg4. Now, his house comes tumbling down.

A look at the position shows how much progress Marshall has made, and how badly Rosen has managed to mangle what had been a likely won endgame.

click for larger view

As I will show in my next post, Marshall almost blew his winning edge here, but soon got back on track and then--with a few hiccups--worked his way through the cumbersome task of winning a double-Rook endgame.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post IV

Double Rook endgames are almost always difficult. For a while, this proved true for both sides here, until Marshall got on track and put the game away.

31. Re7+ Kf8

31...Kg8 was much better.

32. Rxb7 Rxg4
33. Rf1+

Looks natural, but inferior to the careful 33. Re2

33... Kg8
34. c5?

Premature, and putting his winning chances in jeopardy. 34. Rd1 or 34. Rf2 were more prudent and better.

34... Rg6?

Missing his last real chance to save the game. It is hard to understand why Rosen didn't exploit Marshall's error and play the seemingly obvious 34...Rg2!

35. Kd1

35. Kf2 was better, but the text is probably sufficient.

35... d3
36. Rbf7 Rc6

Rosen continues to ruin his game. 36...a5 or 36...Re6 were much better.

37. b4! a5

Too late! 37...Re6 was the best--though probably futile--chance.

38. Ra7!

Marshall is playing like Marshall again, and gets himself a powerful Queen-side pawn phalanx.

38... axb4
39. axb4 h6?

More awful play by Rosen. 39...Rb8 was "best."

40. Rg1 g5
41. h4

The position was now:

click for larger view

Marshall has just about everything going for him here. He has two powerful passed pawns on the Queen-side. Rosen's advanced d-pawn is in jeopardy, the Rosen's King is trapped on his back rank and out of play.

In this precarious position Rosen played:

41... Rd4

Rosenthal in the Tournament Book claimed that Rosen should have played 41...Rd5, but after 42. hxg5 hxg5 43. b5! Rxc5 44. b6 Black gets crushed. The text was the best Rosen had at his disposal.

42. hxg5 Rxb4
43. gxh6+ Kh8
44. Rgg7 Rxh6

The position was now:

click for larger view

Marshall should clearly win from here. But he had a couple of bumps in the road from here as I will show in my next post on this game.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post V

In the last diagrammed position in my last post, Marshall had a clear route to winning Black's d-pawn and more serious mating threats than did Rosen. But he made winning tougher for himself than he had to:

45. Rgd7

This looks excellent. It wins the d-pawn by force (since Black has to defend against mate) and leaves White on the road to victory. But 45. Rgc7 was even stronger.

45... Rb9
46. Rxd3

Sufficient for victory but sloppy. Given the lamentable position of the Black King, Marshall should have taken the faster route to victory with 46. Kd2! and if 46...Rc6 47. Rac7 RxR 48. RxR with an easy win.

46... Rc6

46...Rc8 offered better chances, but Black is lost here with best play.

Marshall handled the rest of the game flawlessly.

47. Rd5 Rbc8
48. Ra5 Kg7
49. Kd2 Kf7
50. Kd3 Rxc7

50...Rh8 would have made the win a bit tougher for Marshall.

51. Rc4

The position was now:

click for larger view

51... Ke6

After this Marshall mops up. The best chance to hang on was 51...Rf6 or 51...Rg6

52. Ra2!

Very nice. Rosen could have safely resigned here, but he decided to text the young Marshall's technique.

52... Rb7

52...Rc8 would have offered slightly better resistance, but the game is over.

53. Re2+ Kf6
54. Kd1!

Marshall doesn't allow Rosen a chance. 54. Rd6+ is perhaps faster, but the text is also a winner.

54... Re6

Equivalent to resignation, but Rosen was lost anyway. The Rook and pawn versus Rook ending is a book win.

55. RxR+ RxR
56. c6

The position was now:

click for larger view

This is an easy win for anyone familiar with the Lucena method. Marshall quickly lets Rosen know that his education in this elementary endgame technique is complete:

56... Rb2
57. Kc5 Rc2+
58. Kb6 Ke7
59. Kc7 Re2
60. Kc8 Rc2
61. c7 Rb2
62. Rd4!

The classic Lucena move:

click for larger view

Black has no way to prevent the Queening of the c-pawn except by sacrificing his Rook, so Rosen resigned here.


Premium Chessgames Member
  g15713: E. 1.0
White to move at 45

click for larger view

45. Rgd7 was played

Chess User: KEG <"This looks excellent. It wins the d-pawn by force (since Black has to defend against mate) and leaves White on the road to victory. But 45. Rgc7 was even stronger.">

Stockfish gives the following analysis after 25-minute evaluation

1) +0.95 (18 ply) 45. Rgc7 Rb8 46.Kd2 Rd8 47.Rd7 Rc8 48.Rd5 Rhc6 49.Ra5 Kg7 50.Kxd3

Syzygy says Black is losing at this point

However, White played 45. Rgd7 and after 45...Rb8 (to prevent mate) one has:

E. 1.1
White to move at 46

click for larger view

White played 46. Rxd3? but as Chess User: KEG points out
<"46. Kd2! and if 46...Rc6 47. Rac7 RxR 48. RxR with an easy win.">

After 46. Rxd3 Syzygy says Black should draw

For example using game continuation after 46.Rxd3:
46...Rc6 47.Rd5 Rbc8 48.Ra5 Kg7 49.Kd2 Kf7 50.Kd3

E. 1.2
Black to move at 50

click for larger view

Only 50...Rh8 draws! (Syzygy)

Bottom line is 45. Rgd7 wins but on 45...Rb8 46. Kd2! not 46. Rxd3?

Premium Chessgames Member
  g15713: Correction

Going back to E. 1.1
White to move at 46

click for larger view

White played 46. Rxd3? but as Chess User: KEG points out
<"46. Kd2! and if 46...Rc6 47. Rac7 RxR 48. RxR with an easy win.">

Unfortunately, this is wrong

E. 1.3
Black to move at 48

click for larger view

Black plays 48...Rd8 and draws according to Syzygy

E. 1.4
46. Kd2! and if 46...Rc6
White to move at 47

click for larger view

47.Rd5 Rbc8 48.Ra5 Kg7 49.Kxd3

Now White is winning

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