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Frank Marshall vs David Janowski
Monte Carlo (1901), Monte Carlo MNC, rd 11, Feb-25
Italian Game: Evans Gambit. Compromised Defense (C52)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
Apr-29-12  wordfunph: Janowski winning against Marshall right from the opening bell, middlegame and endgame.
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: As <wordfunph> put is on this site over eight years ago, Janowski was "winning...right from the opening bell."

With this victory in the replay of the 11th Round game between these same two players, Janowski achieved a score such that Tchigorin had even a mathematical chance of catching him in the next (final) round.

Sitting with a negative score (-3) and with no chance of even a minor prize, all Marshall could do was to try to play spoiler by defeating the tournament leader. Reasonable idea but awful execution. Marshall tried his hand at a hyper-aggressive line in the Evans Gambit. 62 years later, Bobby Fischer defeated Reuben Fine playing the same variation, but his 8th move (8. Qb3) was far better than Marshall's wild 8. e5? Marshall then forfeited whatever slim chance he had with 9. Ba3?

Being lost by move 9 with the White pieces is a catastrophe. By that time here, Marshall was simply down two pawns with no compensation to speak of. Marshall tried hard from that point to complicate, and Janowski got sloppy for a moment, but this game was basically lost in the opening.

A terrible ending in this tournament for Marshall (who theoretically still had a final-round game with last-place Didier remaining, but since the latter by this point was forfeiting all his games, the instant game was the end of the tournament for Marshall).

Note: The annotations in the Tournament Book for this game were by Gunsberg and Schlechter.

1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 Nc6
3. Bc4 Bc5
4. b4?!

The Evans Gambit. Kasparov revived it against Anand at Riga 1995, but it is too wild for most players, especially with all the analysis that followed Kasparov's spectacular victory.

4... Bxb4

As has been said so often, the best way to refute a gambit is (generally) to accept it.

5. c3 Ba5

In my youth, 5...Be7 was considered the best line for Black. But after Anand got obliterated by Kasparov playing that move, the text (and even 5...Bc5, returned to favor.

6. d4

In his fascinating book on the Evans Gambit, Michael Rohde argues for the merits of 6. Qb3, which is certainly a reasonable alternative to the text.

6... exd4

6...d6 is perhaps simpler, but the text is the only way for Black to try to exploit White's temerity in playing the Evans Gambit.

7. 0-0

The alternative discussed by Rohde here is 7. Qb3. Both moves still leave White struggling to justify the sacrifice.

After 7. 0-0 the position was:

click for larger view

7... dxc3?!

This variation (called by Rohde the "Compromised Defense") allows White good chances to obtain at least equality. Rohde calls it "highly inadvisable." The Tournament Book suggested that as of 1901 when this game was played, the text was no longer being played with any frequency. It was a big favorite of Andersen (who played it at least 15 times); Steinitz (8 times); and Zukertort (15 times).

Rohde recommends 7...Nge7 (the move given in MCO-13). But probably best is 7...Nf6 (and if 8. e5 [best is probably 8. Ba3 d6] then Black has much the better game after 8...d5).

For whatever reason, Reuben Fine played the text in a blitz game against Bobby Fischer in 1963. It leaves the position as follows:

click for larger view

8. e5?

Very weak. The best move for White here is 8. Qb3, as played by Fischer against Fine. The text allows Black to castle safely, exactly what the Evans Gambit is designed to prevent. With 8. Qb3, Fischer never allowed Fine to castle. The game (a 17 move loss) was hardly a display of Fine at anything like his best, but it did demonstrate the counterplay available to White with 8. Qb3.

8... Nge7!

click for larger view

Black has seemingly survived White's attack and may already be lost in light of the pawns sacrificed. But whatever White's chances here, after his next move--as I will discuss in my next post on this game-- he was definitely lost.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post II

9. Ba3

"?"--(Tournament Book)

A novelty and a bad one.

"The following should be considered:9. Ng5 Nxe5 10. Nxf7 NxN 11. BxN+ KxB 12. Qh5+" (Tournament Book)

The line given in the Tournament Book may well be best, but once the dust settles White would still be two pawns down with clearly insufficient compensation.

The only playable alternative to the above line is 9. Qb3, but even then White would be two pawns down with little to show for it; e.g., 9...0-0 10. Nxc3 Nf5 11. Ba3 Ncd4 [or 11...Nfd4] 12. NxN NxN.

White is in trouble on any line. The text, however, leaves White with virtually no chance, since Janowski now gets to castle and play d5.

9... 0-0

Janowski could also have played 9...d5 immediately, or even play 9...d6.

10. Qd3

"And now 10. Qb3 is best." (Tournament Book)

Nope. 10. Qb3 would be even worse after 10... a6 11. BxN QxB 12. Nxc3 Nxe5 13. Nd5 NxN+ 14. QxN Qd8 after which White would be down three pawns.

10... d5

"!"--(Tournament Book)

click for larger view

"Completely ending the White attack." (Tournament Book)

11. exd6 e.p. cxd6
12. Nxc3 Bf5

"It is interesting to see how easily Janowski assumes the attack." (Tournament Book)

click for larger view

13. Qe3 Re8
14. Nb5

"If 14. Ng5 Ne5." (Tournament Book).

14...Ng5 would indeed be hopeless, but the real killer then for Black would be 14...d5 (though 14...Ne5 would also be good enough to win).

14... d5
15. Rad1?!

Desperately trying for complications. Objectively, he had nothing better than 15. Bb3, not that this alternative would have had much chance of altering the outcome.

After 15. Rad1?!, the position was:

click for larger view

15... Bb4

"!"--(Tournament Book)

Actually, 15...a6 was the fastest way to close out the game. Marshall was lost after the text, but there now remained some chances for counterplay.

16. BxB NxB
17. Bb3 a6

click for larger view

18, a3?!

Another wild shot, but the "better" options (18. Nbd4; 18. Nc3; 18; Qd2) held out little hope for White.

18... Nbc6

Even stronger was 18...Bd3! But Janowski was trying to keep things simple.

19. Nc3 Qd6

Janowski could also have played 19...Qa5.

20. Rfe1

The alternative was 20. Qc1. After the text, the sad position for White was:

click for larger view

"Threatening Nxd5." (Tournament Book)

This threat should not have amounted to much, but as I will discuss in my next post on this game, Janowski made heavy weather of his winning position there, and at least temporarily gave Marshall some practical chances.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post III

20... Kf8

There are times in wrapping up this game that Janowski did not look like Janowski. Here, the most obvious move on the board: 20...Qxa3; was also the fastest way to finish off Marshall, e.g., 20...Qxa3 21. Nxd5 Be6 [the only move, but a good one] 22. Rd3 (if 22. NxN+ RxN 23. BxB QxQ 24. Bxf7+ KxB 25. fxQ a5 and Black wins with his connected passed pawns on the Queen side) NxN 23.BxN Qf8 24. BxB fxB.

After Janowski's 20...Kf8, Marshall perhaps had a fighting chance:

click for larger view

21. Qb6?

"This move is without value. All attempts at attack should be made on the King-side." (Tournament Book).

Actually, Marshall should have played 21. Qc1 to get his Queen off the dangerous e-file and then gang up and play to win the Black d-pawn. Marshall would still be a pawn down even if he could do all that, but there would still be some play in the position. After the text, Marshall had no further chances, try as he did to complicate.

21... Bg4

This is strong and a winner. But Janowski could simply have won with 21...Qxa3.

22. Rd3?

More wild play by Marshall. If he wanted to battle on, he should have played 22. Re3 or 22. Nxd5 of perhaps 22. Ne4.

22... Qxa3

22...Qg6 was simplest.

23. Rde3?

If Marshall wanted to go for broke, he might have tried 23. h4 or 32. h3.

The text left the following:

click for larger view

23... BxN

"23...d4 24. Nxd4 NxN (even better is 24...Qb4!) 25. QxN QxB 26. QxB would be pointless." (Tournament Book)

In fact, Black would have a clear win with the above line after 26...Nf5! The text, however, was even better.

24. RxB Qb4

"!"--(Tournament Book)

24...Nf5 was even stronger. But the text was certainly sufficient to win.

The position was now:

click for larger view

In this position, Marshall--who was clearly lost--sacrificed a piece in a final effort to attack. When this backfired, Janowski was able to compel resignation in just a few moves.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post IV

25. Qe3?!

"This sacrifice is incorrect." (Tournament Book)

The only nice thing I can say about this piece sacrifice by Marshall is that the "best" move--25. QxQ--was also hopeless, since White would then be three pawns down with nothing to show for it.

In any case, Marshall decided to go down fighting. After the text, it didn't take long.

The position was now:

click for larger view

25... QxN

This wins easily. If Janowski had really wanted to be nasty, he could have made it even uglier for Marshall with 25...Nf5 26. Qd2 (or 26. Qc1) RxR+ 27. QxR Re8 [ouch!] 28. Qd1 QxB! (showy Queen sac) or 28. Qb1 Ncd4 29. Rd3 QxB or 28. Qf1 Ncd4 29. Rd3 (if 29. Nd1 Re1!) QxB.

But Janowski, perhaps to show disdain for Marshall's play, allowed his opponent to have his attack, since it didn't amount to anything.

26. Rxf7+

"If 26. Qf4 Black has an adequate reply in Nd8 [26...Nf5 is even more crushing, but the text certainly would do the trick--KEG] 27. Ne4 [the alternatives are also hopeless--KEG] Qb4." (Tournament Book)

After 26. Rxf7+, the position was:

click for larger view

26... KxR

26...Kg8 also wins (27. Rf3 d4 or 27. Rb1 d4). But the text shows up Marshall's scheme as futile even if Black plays along.

27. Qe6+ Kf8
28. Re3

click for larger view

28... Nf5

"The simplest." (Tournament Book)

How about 28...Nd4! But this would just be gilding the lily.


"If 29. QxN+ Kg8 White cannot save the game." (Tournament Book)

Premium Chessgames Member
  fredthebear: A fabulous summary of the Evans Gambit, and surgical scrutiny of the tournament book! <KEG> has corrected a flawed piece of chess history!!
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: <fredthebear> As always, so nice to hear from you.

I'm glad you found this post on Marshall-Janowski to be of interest.

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