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David Janowski vs James Mason
Paris (1900), Paris FRA, rd 5, May-25
Dutch Defense: Rubinstein Variation (A84)  ·  1/2-1/2



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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Tenacious defense by Mason allows him to salvage a draw in a game Janowski had chances to win. Uncharacteristically, Janowski chose less aggressive continuations on several occasions in this contest.

1. d4 f5
2. c4 e6
3. Nc3 Nf6
4. e3

4. g3 seems to be more in the spirit of this opening.

4... Be7
5. Bd3 b6
6. Nge2 Bb7
7. 0-0

Rosenthal in the Tournament Book says that 7. f3 would be better here, but the text looks fine to me and postpones the decision as to whether and when to play e4.

7... 0-0
8. Qc2 Qe8
9. e4

Rosenthal again faults Janowski for his failure to play f3. That would indeed be best before venturing e4, but White could also play 9. a3 or 9. Bd2. The text leads to simplifying and equalizing exchanges.

9... fxe4
10. Nxe4 BxN
11. BxB NxB
12. QxN Nc6
13. Bf4 Rc8
14. Rad1 Qc7
15. d5

The advanced pawn Janowski gets on d5 and later on d6 as a result of this move is one of the major themes of this game.

15... exd5
16. cxd5 Nb8

Very passive and unwarranted. Much better was 16...Na5.

17. Bg3

Better, and more in keeping with Janowski's style, would have been the aggressive 17. Qa4.

17... Bf6
18. b3 Rfe8
19. Qd3 c5

This needlessly empowers Janowski's advanced d-pawn. Mason should have played 19...d6

20. Rfe1

The immediate 20. Qc4 was best.

20... Be5

He could and should simply have sought equality with 20...Qg6

21. Qc4 BxB

The ensuing exchanges do Mason little good and Janowski soon gets winning chances. Mason should have played 21...d6.

22. NxB RxR+
23. RxR b5

Initiating a tactical struggle that could have cost him the game as I will show in my next post on this game.

Mason should have played the careful 23...Rf8.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post II

After Mason's 23...b5, the position was as follows:

click for larger view

24. Qe4

Janowski seemingly comes out on top with the simple 24. Qxb5. Rosenthal in the Tournament Book claims that Mason could then have equalized with 24...Qxd5 25. Qc4 QxQ 26. bxQ Nc6, but Janowski could have played 25. Ne4 (instead of Rosenthal's 25. Qc4) with good winning chances.

24... Rf8
25. f3 Qf6

Mason should have brought his Knight into play here with 25...Na6. His position remains critical and active defense was essential.

26. Qe3 Qb6

Once again, Mason should have gotten his Knight into play with 26...Na6.

27. Ne4

Janowski had to get his King off the b6...g1 diagonal pronto with 27. Kf1.

27... Na6


28. Rc1

This allows Mason all sorts of tactical chances. Prudent and best was 28. h3.

28... Nb4

The position was now as follows:

click for larger view

29. d6

29. Qxc5?? would lose immediately to 29...Rc8.

The Tournament Book notwithstanding, 29. Nxc5 does NOT lose to d6 and White actually would get the slightly better game after 30. a6 Na6 31. b4!! since 31...dxN 32. bxc5 gives White two monster passed pawns for the sacrificed piece and Black would have to work hard to save the game. Therefore, after 31. b4!! Black should play 31...Rd8. Better still, Black should simply play 30...Nxa2 after 30. a6. Thus, 30. Nxc5 does not give White any advantage.

The Tournament Book is also wrong in stating that 29. Rxc5 is bad for White. After 29...Nxd5 30. Qd4 Nf4 31. Qd6 White has a slight edge.

All in all, White has no way to obtain any significant edge here. The best chances seem to be 29. Rd1 or 29. Rxc5. Janowski's move continues the saga of the advanced d-pawn in this game.

29... Nd5
30. Qd2

"Here again, if 30. Qxc5 Rc8 and wins." (Tournament Book)

30... c4+
31. Kh1 Qc6
32. bxc4 bxc4

Now Mason has a dangerous passed pawn and at least equal chances.

33. h3 Rc8
34. Nc3

Janowski is starting to play with fire. 34. Ng3 was safest and best.

34... Nb4

A transparent trap that Janowski sees through. Best was 34...Nf6.

35. Qd4

As pointed out by Rosenthal in the Tournament Book, 35. a3 gets crushed by 35...Nd3. This possibility perhaps explains Mason's last move.

35... Nd3
36. Rb1 a6

36...h6 was probably best.

37. Rb6 Qc5
38. QxQ NxQ

With the exchange of Queens, a peaceful result appears to be in the cards. But matters are never simple with Janowski, and complications soon arise before Mason is able to secure a draw as I will show in my next post on this game.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post III

After the exchange of Queens on move 38, the position was as follows:

click for larger view

The main issues here are obvious: (i) White's more active Rook; (ii) White's pawn on d6; (iii) Black's vulnerable pawns on a6 and d7; and (iv) Black's passed c-pawn.

On balance, White has a small advantage.

39. Rb4

Putting the question to Black: (a) defend the c-pawn; or (b) defend the d-pawn and go after White's d-pawn.

39... Ne6

A questionable decision to adopt plan (a). Best play and the easiest road to a draw was to play 39...Kf7. White picks up the c-pawn, but after 40. Rxc4 Ke6 Black's chances of survival are excellent.

40. Rb7

Janowski now has pressure on all of Black's weaknesses. Mason is holding on for dear life.

40... Kf7?

He had to play 40...Rd8. If then 41. Ra7 Kf7 (and not the awful 41...Nc5 recommended in the Tournament Book that loses to 42. Rc7 Ne6 43. Rxc4). After the much better 41...Nc5, if 42. Rxa6 then 42...Nc5 with a draw in hand. With the text, Janowski should be able to win.

41. Rxd7+ Kf6
42. f4?

42. Ne4+, 42. Ra7, and 42. Re7 all win. Janowski's move, however, gives the always alert Mason a chance to save the game.

42... Rd8

Much better than the tempting 42...Nxf4 after which Janowski would have some chances (though probably not enough to win) after 43. Rc7 Rd8 44. Rxc4.

43. Ra7

Janowski may have thought this wins, but Mason had seen further.

43... Nxf4
44. Rxa6 Ke5

Janowski may have underestimated the power of this move which both attacks White's d-pawn and provides a means to defend the passed c-pawn.

45. Rc6

45. Ra4 was the only possible way to continue to play for a win. After the text, Mason has a way to draw which he seizes immediately.

45... Ke5!

More convincing than 45...Rxd6 46. Rxc4 Rd2 47. a4! Black may still survive in this line, but it's scary. Now the draw is easy for Mason.

46. Nb5+ Kd5


A fine end-game recovery by Mason. Unfortunately for him, the rules at Paris 1900 meant that all the draw got him was a re-play with Janowski (with colors reversed) in which Janowski prevailed. Mason's endgame tenacity here therefore did not ultimately yield him anything in the standings.

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