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Frank Marshall vs William Ward
6th Anglo-American Cable Match (1901), London ENG / New York USA, rd 1, Apr-19
Queen's Gambit Declined: Modern Variation (D50)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
Feb-28-18  yurikvelo:

39.g3! - win
39.Kf3?? - blunder and forced loss

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: The critical moment that decided this game was identified by <yurikvelo> on this site over two years ago. Marshall had what was almost certainly a won ending, and blundered this all away on his 39th move.

In fact, this game--one of many major disappointments for Marshall in the (for him) disastrous year 1901--was spotty from beginning to end. Marshall badly misplayed the opening and may have been strategically lost (as White!) as early as move 16 and--after Ward blew his edge--once again by move 19. But Ward misplayed his favorable position and was in a lost ending by move 23, got a reprieve from Marshall and was OK again after Marshall's weak 34th move, blundered himself back to a lost ending on his own 34th move, but wound up winning when Marshall overlooked a fairly obvious combination on move 39 and was then hopelessly lost.

Not a game either player was likely to want to remember. From a sporting perspective, Marshall's loss here allowed the British team to salvage a draw in this ten-board match.

1. d4 d5
2. c4 e6
3. Nc3 Nf6
4. Bg5 Be7
5. Nf3 Nbd7

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A standard position in the Orthodox Queen's Gambit Declined.

6. c5?!

Hardly to be recommended (best for White here is 6. cxd5 or 6. e3), though played by Marshall a couple of months earlier at Monte Carlo 1901 in his win against Mason (one of the few bright spots for Marshall at that tournament).

6... c6

Mason's move against Marshall at Monte Carlo 1901.

7. e3 e5

Mason had played 7...0-0. Both moves are reasonable, but the text is more dynamic. Ward may well have prepared this move in light of the earlier Marshall--Mason game.

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8. dxe5

Marshall appears to have become flustered after Ward's 7...e5. Best was the developing 8. Be2

8... Ne4!
9. BxB QxB
10. NxN dxN

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Though playable, this is not a great position to achieve as White after just 1- moves.

11. Nd2 Nxc5
12. Nc4 0-0
13, Qd6

Marshall was reduced to seeking a trade of Queens to hold his own.

13... Re8

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14. 0-0-0?

Wild and unsound, but characteristic of what Soltis has aptly called Marshall's "sophomore slump" (i.e., his awful 1901 after his fine result at Paris 1900).

14... Be6
15. QxQ

Marshall had nothing much better than to enter an inferior ending.

15... RxQ

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16. b4?

This manic effort to create complications might have lost Marshall the game. Better were 16. b3 (so the a-pawn doesn't hang later), 16. Rf4, or even 16. Kc2.

After 16. b4?, the position was:

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Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post II

16... Na4

Simpler was 16...Nd7, though Black is also well-situated after the text.

17. Rd4

17. Rd6 was probably a better way to try to hold the game.

17... Bd5

17...g6 was a simpler way to anticipate any aggressive plans Marshall may have been contemplating.

18. Nd6

Marshall should have attended to the safety of his King with 18. Kd2.

18... Bxa2

Leaving Marshall's King badly exposed:

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19. Bc4?

After this, Ward should have been able to clean up. Though hardly pleasant, Marshall had to play 19. Rxe4 (or maybe 19. Nxe4)

19... BxB
20. RxB

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This is probably a winning ending for Black. It is thus remarkable how quickly Ward managed to ruin his chances and arrive at a lost position.

20... Nb6?

Ward could have gone for the jugular here with 20...a5! and brought his a8 Rook to the party. 20...Rxe5 and 20...g6 would also have allowed Black to retain his advantage. After the text, Marshall slid out of danger.

21. Rxe4 Nd5
22. Kb2

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22... b5?

Mangling his own position. One major edge Ward enjoyed to this point was his Queen-side pawn majority. The text was the first terrible step by Ward to convert this solid advantage into a losing liability. Almost anything (e.g.. 22...g6; 22...Rb8; 22...Rd7; and even 22...Rf8; 22...a6) were better than the text.

23. Rc1!

Now Marshall had all sorts of tactical chances of the sort at which he excelled even at this early stage of his career:

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23... Rc7?

This blunder loses material and should have lost the game for Ward. He would have had at least a fighting chance with 23...a5! But now...

24. Rd4!

Threatening 25. RxN (thanks to the pin of the Black c-pawn into which Ward had just walked).

24... Ne7
25. Nxb5

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A shocking turn of events for Ward, whose winning position just five moves earlier had been squandered, leaving him in what looked like a hopeless situation.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post III

25... Rb7
26. Nd6!

A powerful post for Marshall's Knight.

26... Rb6
27. Kc2

Though not fatal to his winning chances, putting his King on the c-file looks bad. Marshall should have piled on with 27. Rc5. If he wanted to get his King off the b-file, 27. Ka3 (since 27...a5 could have been answered with 28. b5!).

After 27. Kc2, the position was:

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27... Rab8

A faulty notion that left him open to trouble on the a-file. 27...Nd5; 27...h6; or even 27...a6 were better

28. Kd1

Marshall could have exploited Ward's last move with 28. Ra1 immediately.

28... a6

28...h6 or 28...h5 or 28...g6 were all better.

29. Ra1

Having missed the chance to play this move on his last turn, Marshall should probably consolidated with 29. Ke2 or 29. Rcc4. But the game still looked easily won for White.

29... Nd5
30. Nc4!

Happy to rid himself of his weak b-pawn in return for nabbing the Black a-pawn.

30... Rxb4
31. Rxa6

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31... Nc3+
32. Kc2 c5

Black's best chance.

33. Rh4 Nd5

33...Nb5 was probably the best available to him. The text left:

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The game looked as good as ever for Marshall. But now he got sloppy:

34. Rc6!

34. Ra5 was very strong. The text blows the win in one fell swoop, the position now being:

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All of a sudden, Ward had a saving counter-attack at his disposal beginning with 34...Ra4!. But he missed his chance and played:

34... R4b5?

Now it should have been clear sailing for Marshall:

35. Kd2 Ne7
36. Rc7!

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36... R8b7

Having to trade Rooks (and thus forfeit his chances at counterplay) must have been a bitter pill for Ward to swallow, but he had little choice.

37. RxR RxR

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It is amazing that Marshall (who later became a strong end-game player) managed to convert this winning ending into a dead-lost position in just two moves.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post IV

38. Ke2

Not bad in itself, but part of an entirely misguided notion that would lose him the game on his next turn.

38... Rb4

This momentary pin of the White Knight should have been harmless, but Marshall was perhaps overconfident, the position now being:

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As <yurikvelo> has pointed out, 39. g3 wins for White here. So does the even better 38. Re4. But Marshall blundered with:

39. Kf3??

And now he was lost after:

39... Ng6!

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Game over.

40. Re4 RxN!

Apparently Marshall overlooked this simple combination.

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41. e6

Of course, if 41. RxR Nxe5+.

41... RxR

Even better was 41...Rb4. Black can still force the trade of Rooks, and after 42. exf7+ Kxf7 43. g3 can choose between trading off Rooks and 43...Kf6 44. Re8 Ne5+, finishing up a piece with an easy win in either case.

42. exf7+ Kxf7
43. KxR Ke6

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What followed was a hopeless effort by Marshall to create complications or to trade off the Black pawns (since a Knight alone cannot win). This was all futile, and Marshall might have spared himself the balance of the game:

44. f4 Ne7
45. g4 Nd5
46. f5+ Kd6
47. g5 c4
48. f6 gxf6
49. gxf6 Nxf6+
50. Kd4 Ng4
51. Kxc4 Ke5

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Marshall had managed to eliminate all of Ward's pawns except the h-pawn. In some endings, Knight and Rook Pawn are unable to win against the King alone. But those are positions in which the Rook-pawn is too far advanced. Here, Ward had only to capture Marshall's two pawns. The win was thus quite simple from here.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post V

52. Kd3 Nxh2
53. Ke2 Ke4
54. Kf2 Ng4+
55. Kg3 Nxe3

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Now it was a simple King, Knight, and Pawn against King ending. With the Black Rook pawn still back on h7, Marshall had no drawing chances. Yet he played on for six more moves:

56. Kh4 Kf5
57. Kh5 Nd5
58. Kh4 Nf4
59. Kg3 Kg5
60. Kf3

Now the Black h-pawn can advance.

60... h5
61. Kg3 h4+

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Featured in the Following Game Collection[what is this?]
Match 6, Board 7 (April 19, 1901)
from Anglo-American Cable Matches, 1896-1911 by Phony Benoni

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