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David Janowski vs Wilhelm Steinitz
London (1899), London ENG, rd 30, Jul-10
Spanish Game: Steinitz Defense (C62)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
Nov-01-04  aw1988: The last game that Wilhelm Steinitz ever won.
Nov-01-04  iron maiden: If you're talking about offical games, what about Steinitz vs Hirschfeld, 1900?
Jan-22-07  who: That was actually played much earlier - 1863.
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: It also cost Janowski sole second place in the tournament.
Dec-01-10  DarthStapler: I don't get Janowski's sacrifice here
Premium Chessgames Member
  Sargon: Someone has submitted updated game scores for several old Wilhelm Steinitz games, including this one, but hasn't sourced them. I've gone ahead and posted the updated scores, but perhaps sources could be located?
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: After 20.Rxg7:

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20....Bxg7 21.Qxg7 0-0-0 and now what? It's as if Janowski had forgotten Black could still castle.

Even more mortifying might have been 20....e5! (21.fxe5 Bxg7 22.Qxd6 Qxe5 23.Qd7+ Kf8 24.Qxb7 Rb8).

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Janowski lost this game--which he probably should have won-- with a faulty combination on his 20th move (20. Rxg7). Poetic justice, perhaps, since Janowski had beaten Steinitz back in Round 2 of this tournament with a faulty combination that should have cost him that game.

Steinitz played the same horrible 5...Nge7 line which he had played in his losses to Schlechter in Round 21 and to Maroczy in Round 28. (In fairness to Steinitz, he had managed to defeat Cohn with this variation in Round 12).

Like Schlechter and Maroczy, Janowski played 6. Bc4 instead of the much stronger 6. d5. (Cohn played 6. Nc3).

In all three games in which 6. Bc4 was played, Steinitz missed his chance to get a playable game with 6...Nxd4. Against Maroczy, Steinitz played 6...Na5 and lost. Both here and against Schlechter, Steinitz played the even weaker 6...h6. Now both Janowski and Schlechter could have seized control with 7. d5. But Schechter, astonishingly, played the very weak 7. h3. Janowski's 7. Be3 was better, but he again missed a chance to play d5 on his 8th turn, and Steinitz again missed a chance to trade in the center with his bad 8...Bg4.

But Janowski erred yet again in his zeal to play 9. 0-0-0, and Steinitz missed the chance to play 9...Nxd4 and instead gave Janowski exactly what he wanted---an open g-file-- by playing 9...BxN. After another poor choice by Steinitz (11...Nge5 instead of 11...NxB), Janowski missed yet another opportunity with 12. Be2 (he should have played 12. BxN).

But then, thanks to a series of further weak moves by Steinitz, most notably 13...c6 and 16...Qc7, Janowski had a strategically won game after Steinitz' 19...Qa5. With 20. Qc4, I would not have fancied Steinitz' chances of saving the game.

I note the foregoing because this was not a particularly good game by either player for the first 19 moves. Nonetheless, Janowski had emerged with much the better--and probably winning--game.

Janowski's 20. Rxg7 is therefore nearly incomprehensible. The best explanation is that of keypusher: Janowski may have forgotten that Steinitz was still able to castle and didn't reckon on 21...0-0-0. As the game went, Janowski lost the exchange (for a weak doubled pawn) with his awful 20. Rxg7, and was lost from that point on after Steinitz' 20...BxR.

I must respectfully disagree with keypusher on one point, however: 20...e5 would not have been a good alternative to 20...BxR. In fact, after 20...e5, Janowski would have had a perpetual check (and thus a draw and second place in the tournament) with 21. Qc4! (instead of keypusher's suggested 21. fxe5 which would indeed be a disaster for Janowski).

I agree with Hoffer in the Tournament Book that Steinitz played superbly after Janowski's blunder and never let Janoweki back in the game. His play here was a model for how to win a won game of this type.

Although the last 32 moves of the game were a matter of technique by Steinitz, there were a few neat moments I enjoyed.

After Steinitz' 35...Rh4, Janowski--instead of his 36. Rf2-- could have tried a swindle with 36. Rg1!? There was just a chance that Steinitz would have grabbed the h-pawn with 36...Rxh2 [instead of the solid and winning 36...Kf6) after which Janowski might have been back in the game with some chances of survival with 37. Ne4! (preventing Steinitz from doubling his Rooks on the 2nd rank and creating some chances for himself on the King's side).

An even cuter moment came after Janowski's 45. Ne3. Steinitz here could have played the crushing 45...Rb1, but instead engaged in some delightful artistry with his 45...R1d2. For a second, I thought Steinitz had blundered away a Rook. But of course if 46. RxR Steinitz would have cleaned up with 46...b4+.

A nice touch by Steinitz as he closed out his tournament career with this win.

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <KEG> Thanks for your notes -- after ...20.Rxg7? e5?, 21.Qc4! never crossed my mind, obviously.

<Steinitz played the same horrible 5...Nge7 line which he had played in his losses to Schlechter in Round 21 and to Maroczy in Round 28. (In fairness to Steinitz, he had managed to defeat Cohn with this variation in Round 12).

Like Schlechter and Maroczy, Janowski played 6. Bc4 instead of the much stronger 6. d5. (Cohn played 6. Nc3).>

Steinitz played this defense repeatedly, including in his 1892 match against Chigorin and his 1894 and 1896-97 matches against Lasker. Curiously, in the dozen times the position after 5....Nge7 appears in the database, none of Steinitz's opponents tried 6.d5.

Repertoire Explorer: Wilhelm Steinitz (black)

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: <keypusher> Thank you for this note about Steinitz' use of 5...Nge7. I had seen--but forgotten--those earlier games. And I am astonished to learn that Steinitz never had to face 6. d5 in this line. This may help explain why Steinitz persisted in playing such a bad variation.
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <KEG> incidentally White had played d4-d5 in analogous positions against Steinitz and gone very wrong thereafter. Note that the annotator in the Gunsberg game (presumably Hoffer) thinks d4-d5 is a bad idea. It was early days as far as positions like this were concerned.

Gunsberg vs Steinitz, 1890

C Golmayo vs Steinitz, 1888

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