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Geza Maroczy vs Mikhail Chigorin
London (1899), London ENG, rd 13, Jun-16
Semi-Slav Defense: Chigorin Defense (D46)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Why did the White pieces do so badly at London 1899? This game provides part of the explanation.

As White, Tchigorin persisted in such bad lines as 2. Qe2 against the French. But here, as Black against Maroczy, he played a solid opening and actually had the better game by Move 11. Meanwhile, Maroczy, who had played so creatively as Black in dismantling Showalter in the previous round (see his 5...g5 there) adopted a nervous ultra-defensive stance here and--without any obvious blunders--managed to get a dead-lost game by move 24.

Maroczy had been the last undefeated player in the Tournament going into this 13th-round encounter and had a chance to take over sole possession of first place. But rather than take the fight to Tchigorin, Maroczy played such moves as 11. Kh1 (he could have maintained a small edge with 11. Re1 or 11. d5); 16. Be2 (instead of the seemingly obvious 16. NxB), and the very poor 19. BxN (instead of 19. e5 which would have given him nearly even chances).

Even with this timid play, Maroczy was still very much in the game until his 23. Qg3 (instead of 23. Nc5). After Maroczy's weak 24. e5, he was definitely lost, and what the Tournament Book describes as an "oversight" on his part losing a pawn (25. Nc5) didn't really spoil anything (the Tournament Book's proposed 25. Nf2 was probably even worse) and at least suggested that Maroczy wasn't ready to go down without a fight.

The only manifest "blunders" by Maroczy I can see in this game were 30. Qe2 (losing a second pawn) and 31. Qa6 (which allowed Tchigorin to finish neatly. But by this time the game was basically over.

Tchigorin's lack of dogma in this game included his willingness to part with both his Knights and do battle with two Bishops against two Knights--which worked splendidly for him here (much as it was against his oft-stated preference for Knights). If I didn't know the identity of the players, I would have thought the Black pieces in this game were played by Janowski!

A fine effort by Tchigorin, who was willing to shed his usual eccentricities here to defeat a strong opponent.

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