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Frank Marshall vs Jacques Mieses
"Black Jacque Shellaque" (game of the day Jan-13-2013)
Monte Carlo (1901), Monte Carlo MNC, rd 7, Feb-14
Queen's Gambit Declined: Albin Countergambit (D08)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
Feb-20-02  knight: A fine game by Mieses,there was absolutely no good reason for Marshall to give up his f-pawn.
Mar-07-04  InspiredByMorphy: Im blown away with this game! To see Mieses play this well against Marshall with the Albin counter gambit (which Marshall played himself) is impressive.
Sep-12-05  Professeur Y: An interesting feature of this game is how long it takes for Mieses to develop his kingside: his bishop stays on f8 until move 17, his knight stays on g8 until move 33 (AND goes back there three moves later to finish things off), his rook stays on h8 until the very end, while his queen chases the white king all over the board! Great stuff! But not the kind of game a teacher would want to show a pupil, as it seems to violate the principle according to which one must "develop all his pieces".
Premium Chessgames Member
  GrahamClayton: <Professeur Y>:But not the kind of game a teacher would want to show a pupil, as it seems to violate the principle according to which one must "develop all his pieces".

Professeur Y,
This game reminds me of the quote which said that good moves, rather than good positions are what counts.

What is the checkmating variation for Mieses if Marshall had played 19.♔h3?

Oct-24-09  capanegra: <<GrahamClayton> What is the checkmating variation for Mieses if Marshall had played 19.♔h3?>

19…♕h6+ 20.♗h5 (20.♔g4 ♘f6+ 21.♔f5 ♕g6#) ♕xh5+ 21.♔g3 ♕h4+ 22.♔f3 ♘f6 23.♕xg5 (23.♕f5 g4+ 24.♔f4 ♘h5+) ♕e4+ 24.♔g3 ♖hg8 and wins.

Jan-13-13  rilkefan: One of the best puns I've ever seen here. See for the ref.
Premium Chessgames Member <Eggman> gets full credit for this pun--we just had to find the right game to bless with it.
Jan-13-13  morfishine: Marshall gets his Jacques strap handed to him
Premium Chessgames Member
  SteinitzLives: Marshall never found a way to punish Q f6, hence Mieses used his Q powerfully throughout. Marshalls' early Nd2 does not look right in this swashbuckling variation of the Albin-counter-gambit.
Jan-13-13  johnlspouge: < <SteinitzLives> wrote: Marshall never found a way to punish Q f6, hence Mieses used his Q powerfully throughout. Marshalls' early Nd2 does not look right in this swashbuckling variation of the Albin-counter-gambit. >

To me, 13.Qa4 looked inferior to 13.Ne4, which attempts to punish 9.Qf6, as you suggest. Toga evaluates the position after 13.Qa4 as about even; after 13.Ne4, as about +0.4P.

Jan-13-13  TheTamale: Mieses... was there anything he couldn't do?

Somewhere in his annotated games, Marshall makes a comment to the effect of "To play the Albin Counter Gambit in pursuit of a point is ridiculous!"

Jan-13-13  sfm: <Graham Clayton: This game reminds me of the quote which said that good moves, rather than good positions are what counts.> Good one! In family with another favorite of mine, by Dr. Tarrasch: It's not enough to be a good player. You have to make good moves!
Jan-14-13  kevin86: The Albin CG was a classic counter-attack thrust by black. White's late parry is stopped by the knight fork.
Jan-14-13  kevin86: Shame on you Black Jacque! for bugging the bunny!
Premium Chessgames Member
  Eggman: <<>> A very belated thanks!
Premium Chessgames Member
  jnpope: <...gets his Jacques strap handed to him>

That never gets old...

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: At the time this 7th round game was played at Monte Carlo, Marshall was off to a disappointing start, having won no games at all, lost one, and drawn seven with (under the unusual system in force at this tournament) three drawn games yet to be replayed. Beginning here, however, the tournament became a disaster for Marshall, who lost his next three games running and then--after defeating Mason--lost his next three games as well. Mieses, meanwhile, had an even record in the tournament going into this encounter, and ended up in the middle of the field.

The games between Marshall and Mieses were always lively. Their 1908 match (which Marshall won by 5 to 4 with one draw, was especially entertaining. They had only played twice before prior to Monte Carlo 1901, with Marshall winning their game at Paris 1900 and their other game being drawn. Over the course of their lifetime, Marshall came out slightly on top in their games, winning 13, losing 10, and drawing 8.

This game was one of their typical cut and thrust battles.

The commentaries on this game, unfortunately, miss the boat (including the analysis by so fine a commentator as Schlechter). The usual line is that Marshall overreached and needlessly sacrificed material in the opening, and was punished by accurate play by Mieses. But that's not what happened. Marshall's early play was indeed hyper-aggressive, but it didn't get him in trouble. Meanwhile, Mieses' much praised sacrifice on move 21 was in fact a blunder, and Marshall had a won game until his mistake on move 23, and could still have drawn until his losing blunder on move 24.

1. d4 d5
2. c4 e5

The Albin Counter-Gambit was popular at the time. Marshall's one loss in the tournament to this point came on the Black side of this opening in Round 4 against Alapin.

This counter-gambit, though perhaps not theoretically sound, is better than its reputation and is difficult to handle from the White side over the board.

3. dxe5 d4
4. a3

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This alternative to the usual 4. Nf3 is entirely sound. It had been played against Marshall three times before he tried it himself for the first time in this game. [Marshall's score in those three games was two wins and one loss]. The move (a close twin to Janowski's a6 on the Black side of the Queen's Gambit) is more aggressive than it looks, combining defense (against any ideas Black might have of Bb4 or a later Nb4) and offense (preparing a later Queen-side assault with b4). The move seems to suit Marshall's style, and it led to exciting play here.

4... Nc6

Following Marshall's own play as Black in his three previous games with this line.

5. Nf3 Bg4

Marshall's move in the above-cited three earlier games. 5...Nge7 may be sounder [and as Knight points out on this site, Mieses left his g8 Knight on its home square until move 33!]. But Mieses never avoided the sharpest lines when he played against Marshall.

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6. h3

"White should play 6. b4, the idea behind a3." (Schlechter).

The text, which was introduced by Lasker in his victory over Albin himself at New York 1893, is certainly reasonable. The main alternative seems to be 6. Qb3. After Schlechter's 6. b4, Black should be fine after 6...Qe7 (which--considering Mieses was at the helm--would likely have been followed by the wild 7...0-0-0).

6... BxN
7. exB

This looks right to me, but Lasker won against Albin with 7. gxB (perhaps because he was Lasker rather than because of this anti-positional choice).

7... Nxe5

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From here, the battle began in earnest.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post II

8. f4 Ng6

"!"--Tournament Book.

"Better than 8...Nc6." --(Schlechter)

Both moves look reasonable.

9. Be2

"Better g3 and Bg2." (Schlechter)

Even better was probably 9. Qe2+ and QxQ+ and only then g3 and Bg2.

A key question is whether White should spend time defending the advanced doubled f-pawn or press on for an attack. Guess which route Marshall followed.

After 9. Be2 the position was:

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9... Qf6

Rather than being fixated on winning the White pawn on f4, Mieses should perhaps have focused on developing his pieces and castling long with 9...Qd7 or 9...Nf6. But Mieses preferred to keep his g8 Knight in hibernation for another 24 moves!

10. 0-0

"10. g3 would still be better, and if 10...h5 then 11. h4." (Schlechter).

"There was absolutely no reason for Marshall to give up his f-pawn." (Knight on this site).

10. g3 might have been most prudent, the pawn sacrifice was his kind of move and spawned the king of position and tactics at which he excelled.

10... Nxf4

Happily grabbing the offered pawn.

11. Bf3 0-0-0

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The battle lines had definitely been drawn. I would not be surprised if both sides were quite happy with their respective positions at this stage.

For what it's worth (and remember that software is VERY unreliable in assessing opening play), Fritz rates the position as slightly in White's favor (0.23). Stockfish is a bit more definitive and rates the position as (0.68) in favor of White.

In any case, the nay-sayers (including Schlechter I am sorry to say) who thought White was lost here were plainly wrong.

12. Nd2 g5?!

12...Ng6 (or maybe 12...Ne6) seems more prudent, but Mieses was not interested in half-measures.

After 12...g5 the position was:

click for larger view

13. Qa4

Beginning here, Marshall went off on the wrong tangent. With 13. Re1 or 13. b4 (or maybe 13. c5), Marshall would have enjoyed a definite advantage.

13... Kb8

14. Qb5

Pursuing a will-o' the wisp. Marshall should have built his position up with 14. Rd1 or 14. Re1. After the text, any edge he had enjoyed was gone.

14... c6!

Fine defensive play by Mieses.

15. Qa5 Re8

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Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post III

16. Ne4

Having started to make his bed on the Queen-side, Marshall should probably have continued here with 16. b4.

After 16. Ne4, Mieses was ready to go to work on the other wing, the position now being:

click for larger view

16... Nxh3+!
17. Kh2

17. gxN? would have led to catastrophe after 17...QxB 18. Nxg5 Qf6 19. Re1 Ne7 [time for this Knight to wake up and clear the way for the Rook to get to work on the g-file] 20. Qd2 Rg8.

After 17. Kh2, the position was:

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17... Bd6+

Mieses could also have played 17...RxN 18. BxR Bd6+ with the better chances (but of course not 19. KxN Qh6+ and White mates in three).

18. NxB

18. Kh1 was better.

18... QxN+

"Through weak handling of the opening, White has a lost game. Mieses conducts the remainder of the game with force and elegance and it requires no further comment." (Schlechter)

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Schlechter notwithstanding, and while Marshall had definitely squandered his advantage, his game was far from lost at this stage, and indeed the game had plenty of ups and downs still to come. One thing is for sure: Mieses' play from this point was far from perfect.

19. g3

Not 19. KxN??? Qh6+ and White is indeed lost after 20. Bh5 (anything else leads to immediate mate) 20... QxB+ and White can not survive very long.

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19... Re5?

The simple 19...Qh6 or 19...Qd7 were the way to maintain his winning chances.

20. Qb4

"?"--(Tournament Book)

Actually, the text is best. Anything else loses quickly.

20... Qh6

"!"--(Tournament Book)

20...Qf6 was also a good choice. In either case, the game would be in the balance.

21. Kg2

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From this position, the comedy of error began which eventually led to Marshall's demise.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post IV

21... Nxf4

"!"--(Tournament Book)

In fact, this move--as we shall see--was a blunder that should have cost Mieses the game. He would have been fine (i.e., had equal chances) with 21...Qf6. But the text left Marshall in control:

22. gxN gxf4

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Now all Marshall had to do was contest the e-file and bring his King to safety and win with his extra piece. This he could have accomplished with 23. Re1, which would have left Mieses with an unpleasant choice between 23...Qg6+ 24. Kf1 or 23...RxR 24. QxR Qg5+ 25. Kf1 Ne7 26. Bxf4+ ! QxB 27. QxN and Black can not take the f3 Bishop because that would lose the Rook to the 28. Qe5+ fork; or (similarly) 23...Ne7 24. RxR Qg7+ 25. Kf1 26. QxR 27. Bf4+ QxB 28. QxN with the same Queen fork as above making 27...QxB hopeless.

But Marshall's defensive skills--at least at this stage of his career, were not equal to his attacking prowess, and he missed his winning chance and played:

23. Rh1?

Now Mieses had a saving resource:

23... Qg6+

"!"--(Tournament Book)

click for larger view

Now the best Marshall could do was to take a draw by repetition via 24. Kh2 Qh6+ 25. Kg2 Qg6+

Instead, he blundered into a mating net with:

24. Kf1?

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From here, though not always finding the fastest way, Mieses made no mistake and chased Marshall's helpless King to its doom:

24... Qd3+
25. Kg1 Rg5+
26. Bg2 Qd1+
27. Kh2 Rh5+
28. Bh3

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28... RxB+!
29. KxR Qf3+

29...QxR+ was slightly faster.

30. Kh4

30. Kh2 leads to mate in two: 30...Qxf2+ 31. Kh3 Qg3 mate

30... QxR+
31. Kg5

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31... Qg2+

This does the trick, but 31...Qh6+ was much faster.

32. Kxf4 Qxf2+

Again missing the fastest line (32...Nf6) but again giving Marshall not the tiniest chance.

33. Ke5

click for larger view

I will cover the cute finale in my final post on this game.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post V

33... Nh6

"!"--(Tournament Book)

"The death thrust" (Schlechter)

The Knight at last enters the game with lethal effect.

click for larger view

34. Qd6+

This spite check only hastened the end.

34... Kc8
35. Qe7 Qe2+

35...Qe1+ was theoretically faster, but the text--with a little help from Marshall--led to a remarkable conclusion.

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36. Kf6

36. Kxd4 might have prolonged the game a few moves longer, but it would have deprived usof:

36... Ng8+

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The Knight, that had (as Knight had pointed out on this site) only ventured off it's home square on move 33 now returns back to g8 with devastating effect.

Mieses' final move was not only a fork of Queen and Rook, but also leads to a forced mate.


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