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Frank Marshall vs Mikhail Chigorin
Paris (1900), Paris FRA, rd 9, Jun-02
Spanish Game: Berlin Defense. Improved Steinitz Defense (C66)  ·  1/2-1/2



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Kibitzer's Corner
Mar-07-08  Knight13: This is a clean-cut draw. Very straight-forward.
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: An incredible finish. After a closely contested and well-played game in which Marshall had a few chances in the middle game, an even King and Bishop ending was reached. As a result of over-enthusiasm by the young Marshall on moves 39 and 43, weaknesses developed in his position which required exact end-game play by the rising young star. For several moves, Marshall was up to the task and after Tchigorin's 47th move, a draw seemed the inevitable result. But then Marshall blundered on his 48th turn and Tchigorin--who suddenly had a won ending--agreed to a draw!?! If indeed the game score is correct, this was a case of double chess-blindness (actually, triple chess blindness--since the Tournament Book commentator Rosenthal missed this as well). Since the replay a few days later was also a draw, this cost Tchigorin a half-point and--in the long run--cost him a chance to tie for 5th place in the final standings with Burn. This half-point helped Marshall achieve a tie for third prize with Maroczy.

NOTE: This game, according to the Tournament Book, was played on June 1, not June 2, and was the first game between Marshall and Tchigorin at Paris 1900 (preceding their replay on June 6--also mis-dated on this site).

1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 Nc6
3. Bb5 Nf6
4. 0-0 d6

A line sometimes played in this tournament (including by Brody against Rosen the same day the present game was played). The move is playable but inferior to the more usual 4...Nxe4.

5. d4 Nd7

As I mentioned in my notes on the Rosen-Brody game where this same strange move was made, I am wondering whether Brody copied Tchigorin's play.

5...exd4 is best. Strangely, neither player chooses to trade pawns and Marshall avoids d5 for the next 19 moves, so the center pawns remain in the current state of tension for quite a while.

6. c3

Rosen played 6. Re1 here. Rosenthal in the Tournament Book claimed that 6. BxN was best. Marshall's move is at least as good as these alternatives. Probably best here for White is 6. Be3, though Marshall's move is consistent with lines often seen in the Ruy Lopez and is perhaps the most aggressive choice--consistent with Marshall's style.

6... Be7
7. Nbd2 0-0
8. Bd3

As might be expected from Marshall, he seeks to have his White-square Bishop poised for a King-side attack. But the move loses a tempo. Objectively, 8. Re1 or 8. h3 seem best. I would predict, however, that if Marshall were still around today to read my notes, he would laugh and argue for the text!

8... Bf6

8...exd4 seems better. But the text is reasonable, especially for Tchigorin, who preferred Knights to Bishops and was probably happy to trade off his Bishop.

9. Nb3

9. d5 seems better. The White Knight has no future on b3 and soon becomes a target for Tchigorin.

9... Re8

Given Tchigorin's eventual plan to advance the a-pawn, 9...a5 immediately seems better. But, as with all of the moves to this point in the game, Tchigorin's choice is certainly reasonable.

10. Be3 Nf8

Squelching any King-side attacking plans Marshall may have been contemplating.

11. Qd2 Ng6
12. h3

Still unwilling to play d5, which was probably slightly better than the text.

12... a5
13. Rad1 a4
14. Nc1 Qe7

The closest thing to a true "mistake" thus far in this interesting game. The move allows Marshall to bury the Black c6 Knight with d5. Best therefore was 14...d5.

15. Ne2

Missing another chance to play d5.

15... Nd8

Burying his own Knight. 15...Nh4 immediately seems better.

16. Ng3

Rosenthal in the Tournament Book claims that 16. Nh2 was "correct" here. But after 16...Ne6 White has nothing. Marshall's move certainly seems better than that. Perhaps even better was 16. d5.

16... Nh4
17. NxN BxN
18. Rde1 BxN

Tchigorin's favorite exchange, Bishop for Knight! Another option here for Black was 18...g6.

19. fxg3 Rf8

A needless precaution at this stage. 19...b6 was best.

20. g4

Marshall want to attack, of course. But 20. d5 was the best way to initiate any attack.

20... Be6

b6 was again better for Black.

The position was now:

click for larger view

Marshall clearly has the better position. But from here Tchigorin outplayed the young Marshall and reached a drawn (or what should have been a drawn!) Bishop and pawn ending. How that came about will be discussed in my next post on this game.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post II

After 20...Be6, Marshall had the better game. But he soon ran it downhill through small errors and as a result of fine play by Tchigorin until an even endgame was reached.

21. a3

Marshall is still--mysteriously--unwilling to play d5, which would have been best here.

21... b6
22. Qf2 f6
23. Qg3 Nf7
24. d5


24... Bd7
25. Kh2

Marshall is still dithering. 25. Rd1, 25. h4, 25. Re2, or even 25. Qf2 would all be better plans.

25... h6
26. Rf3 Ng5
27. BxN

This gives up whatever was left of his advantage. Better was 27. Rf2.

27... fxg5
28. Ref1 Rf4
29. Qe1 Raf8
30. Qe3 Qf7

Rosenthal in the Tournament Book prefers 30...Be8 followed by h5, but I fail to see how or why that is an improvement on Tchigorin's actual move.

31. Be2

Rosenthal says this move was "forced" in light of the threat of h5. But this is nonsense. 31.Qe2 was at least as good as the text.

31... Qe8
32. g3 RxR
33. RxR RxR
34/ QxR Qf8
35. Kg2 QxQ+
36. KxQ

And so a Bishop and pawn endgame is reached, the position now being:

click for larger view

Neither side has any advantage and a draw seems likely. But from here Marshall began to play recklessly and Tchigorin slowly obtained threats, even before Marshall's blunder on move 48. How the endgame developed will be discussed in my next post on this game.

Nov-29-17  offramp: Same Keg time, same Keg Channel!
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post III

In the approximately even ending reached after 36. KxQ, Marshall played for complications and courted disaster, while Tchigorin played carefully.

36... Kf7
37. Ke3 Ke7
38. Kd3

Rosenthal in the Tournament Book criticizes this move and claims that Marshall should have played 38. Bd1 (attacking the Black a-pawn) to prevent Tchigorin from playing 38...c6. In fact, both moves are fine and the text is,if anything, the superior choice. if 38.Bd1 Black could still play 38...c5 with perhaps a slight edge.

38... c5

Rosenthal contends that 38...c6 was better, but after 39. dxc6 Bxc6 Black has no advantage to speak of.

39. Kc2

39. dxc6 was safer. Now Tchigorin could play 39...b5 with perhaps some chances.

39... Kd8

Tchigorin is not seeking complications with 39...b5 (probably best for Black here). In any case, Tchigorin could afford to play cautiously in the expectation that Marshall would be trying to mix it up soon.

40. b4

Courting trouble. Simpler and safer was 40. c4.

40... axb3+
41. Kxb3 Kc7

41...b5 was stronger. Now, chances are about even again.

42. a4 h5
43. gxh5

Though hardly fatal, this move creates needless weaknesses. 43. Bb5 should have allowed Marshall to draw easily.

43... Bxh3

The position was now:

click for larger view

Marshall now has vulnerable pawns at h4, e4, and h5. While his position is certainly defensible, he obviously has to play with great care.

44. Kc2 Bd7
45. Kb3

If 45. Bb5 BxB 46. axB g4 White is left with a weak h5 pawn which will likely fall, but the game is still drawn because the pawn position is locked and Black, despite his extra pawn, has no way to break through.

45... Kb7
46. g4

This creates a new weakness, but the White position can still be held.

46... Bc8

This left the position as follows with Marshall to make his 47th (and as it turns out final) move:

click for larger view

This position appears to be a clear draw. All Marshall has to do is shuttle his King back and forth from a3 to b3 and Black has no way to make progress. But Marshall played 47. Bd1 and Tchigorin agreed to a draw. The position was now:

click for larger view

The key question is: did Tchigorin have a win after 47. Bd1 when the players agreed to a draw? I will address that question in a subsequent post.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post IV

Please note. I omitted two moves in my last post. The game actually concluded with:

46. g4 Ka7
47. Ka3 Bc8
48. Bd1

The position I gave after "46...Bc8" was in fact the position after 47...Bc8. The final position I posted was correct.

In the final position (i.e., after Marshall's 48. Bd1), Black appears to have a clear win with 48...Ba6! The position would then have been:

click for larger view

Black's Bishop now enters the White camp with devastating effect. Here is one of the many lines I have explored after 48. Bd1, all of which lead to a win for Black: 48... Ba6
49. Kb3

49. a5 and 49. Bf3 also lead nowhere.

49... Bd3
50. Bf3 Ka6
51. c4

If 51. Bg2 Be2 52. Bh3 Bd1+ 53. Ka3 Ka5. If 51. Ka3 Ka5 52. Kb3 c4+ 53. Ka3 Bf1 (even stronger than 53...Bc2) 54. Bd1 Bg2 55. Be2 b5 56. axb5 Kab5

51... Ka5
52. Kce3

If 52. Bg2 Be2

52... Bf1
53. Kb3 Bh3
54. Ka3 Ka6
55. Kb2 Ka7
56. Kb3 Bf1
57. Kc3

If. 57. Bd1 Ka6 58. Kc3 Ka5 59. Kb3 Bg2

57... Kb7
58. Bd1 Ka6
59. Bf3 Ka7
60. Kb3 Kb8
61. Kc3 Kc7
62. Kb3 Kb7
63. Kc3 Ka6
64. Kb3 Ka5

There are some interesting triangulation possibilities for Black, and try as I have I have been unable to find a way for White to hold the game. Perhaps one of the many fine analysts on this site (e.g., keypusher, beatgiant to name just two) can weigh in on this issue at some point.

Assuming I have analyzed the final position correctly, the very least that can be said is that Tchigorin had excellent practical winning chances with 48...Ba6. The question, then, is why Tchigorin agreed to a draw.

The only explanation I have is based on the scoring system used at Paris 1900. Draws were replayed (as was this game). Assuming Tchigorin played the game out and it was ultimately drawn, he would have expended a lot of energy and still be rounds behind others in the draw. After this game, Tchigorin (who had previously drawn with Burn and had to replay that game and also had a bye, had completed a total of six games. Lasker, Janowski and Pillsbury had completed 8 games. Marshall had completed seven. Showalter had completed nine. Thus, Tchigorin had one to three more games left to play as compared with his most dangerous rivals. Perhaps he decided not to get involved in a long endgame battle here. Indeed, when this game was finally replayed five days later (and was the only game played that day), Tchigorin and Marshall played a short 31-move draw.

The schedule was not kind to Tchigorin in the tournament, and it may have cost him a half-point here.

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