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.
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.
7. Nbd2 0-0
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...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. d5 seems better. The White Knight has no future on b3 and soon becomes a target for Tchigorin.
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
Still unwilling to play d5, which was probably slightly better than the text.
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.
Missing another chance to play d5.
Burying his own Knight. 15...Nh4 immediately seems better.
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.
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.
Marshall want to attack, of course. But 20. d5 was the best way to initiate any attack.
b6 was again better for Black.
The position was now:
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.