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Frank Marshall vs Arturo Reggio
Monte Carlo (1901), Monte Carlo MNC, rd 12, Feb-22
Italian Game: Rosentreter Gambit (C50)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
Sep-06-07  tak traxler: This is line A2 6...d6!? Acer Defensive System.
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Marshall was having a miserable tournament, and Reggio, who had been +1 after five rounds, now had a significant negative score. So, by the time this game was played, both Marshall and Reggio were well out of the running. This may explain the coffee-house nature of the game.

The above being said, it is nice to see Marshall for once in this tournament in his element: launching a powerful sacrificial attack. True, the opposition was weak and much of Marshall's play was unsound. But the finishing attack is pleasing to watch.

1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 Nc6
3. Bc4 Bc5
4. d4

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"This trappy move order, seeking to transpose into a Max Lange Attack (4...exd4 5. 0-0 Nf6 6. e5) was an early favorite of Marshall's despite its terrible reputation among opening experts." (Soltis).

In fact, Marshall only played this line three times in his career; twice prior to this game (Marshall losing both times) and finally in this game. Given the poor position he obtained from the opening, it is not surprising that Marshall abandoned the move despite the pleasing conclusion of this game.

Surprisingly, the move was played last year by Magnus Carlsen in a rapid game. He apparently was indisposed, and the game ended in a draw after 5 moves!

The move itself is not bad, providing White does not seek too much.

4... Bxd4


"4...exd4 5. 0-0 [maybe 5. c3 is best here] d6 was better." (Tournament Book).

Both moves are entirely reasonable, as is 4...Nxd4.

5. 0-0

White can obtain equality after 5. NxB (5...NxN 6. Be3 Nc6 7. Nc3 with White's superior development compensating for the sacrificed pawn). But Marshall wanted more.

5... d6
6. NxB NxN

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7. f4 Be6


I don't understand Soltis' enthusiasm for the text. 7...Nf6 was indicated.

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8. Bd3

The Tournament Book recommends, while Soltis questions 8. BxB NxB. The Tournament Book has the better of the argument,since it follows with 9. f5 with some compensation for the sacrificed pawn while Soltis only considers the inferior 9. fxe5 dxe5 and then has White playing the very poor 10. Qh5 which gets thumped by 10...Qd4+ instead of the playable 10. Qf3 (or maybe 10. Qe2).

8. BxB would certainly have been better than the text. But best for White here, and leaving him with some compensation for the lost pawn,was 8. Na3.

8... f6?


"Necessary was 8...exf4 9. Bxf4 Ne7 with the better game for Black." (Tournament Book).

8...f6? was indeed weak. It is hardly a losing move, but it bespoke a nervous defensive attitude that Marshall was soon to break down:

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Marshall now had some compensation for the pawn, and the game was setting up as the kind of struggle in which his tactical skills would come into play.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post II

9. Be3

Marshall could also have played 9. f5 immediately.

9... Nc6
10. f5


10... Bf7
11. Nc3 Nge7
12. Qg4

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12... Rg8

The Tournament Book mocked this as "timid," but I see nothing better and the text keeps Black very much in the game.

The Tournament Book recommended 12...d5 as best, but this would have been a mistake. The Tournament Book derived a "good game" for Black after 12...d5 only based on faulty analysis. 13. exd5 [hardly best, as I will show] Nxd5 14. NxN BxN after which White would undoubtedly have been on top after 15. Be4. 14...QxN would have been better, but White would still have been at least slightly better.

Much better, though (mistakenly rejected by the Tournament Book) was 13. Qxg7 Rg8. The Tournament Book here only considers 14. Qxh7? (White would be much better after 14. Qxf6) d4 15. Rad1 ? (White would have about even chances with 15. Rfd1) dxB 16. Bc4?? (White would still be very much in the game after 16. Bb5) BxB 17. RxQ+ RxR after which Black--with Rook, Bishop, and Knight for Queen and Pawn has a winning position.

An even simpler way for White to obtain the advantage after the suggested 12...d5? was 13. Rad1

After 12...Rg8 (best play),the position was:

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13. Qh4

Not awful, but Marshall should perhaps have avoided the possibility of 13...Nb4 with 13. a3. 13. Qh3; 13. Bb5; and 13. Rad1 were also sensible alternatives.

13... h6

Why not 13...Nb4?

14. a3

"Typical of the liberties Marshall took against amateurs. Against a master he would certainly have anticipated 14...Nb4 with 14. Bb5. But here he wants to give Black enough rope and invite him into the complications of 14...d5 15. exd5 Nxd5 16. NxN QxN 17. Be4." (Soltis)

Soltis' 14. Bb5 is no real improvement on the text (14...a6 15. BxN+ NxB 16. Nd5 Qd7 after which White has minimal compensation for the sacrificed pawn.

The best and most flexible move for White here was 14. Be2 , eyeing both wings.

After 14. a3, the position was:

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From here, Reggio dissembled, and was dead lost within just a few moves. Soltis accurately describes Reggio's play from here on as "confused."

14... Nb8?

"?"--(Tournament Book)(Soltis)

The Tournament Book sarcastically calls the move "remarkable."

The retreat was entirely unnecessary. Black would have been just fine after 14...Qd7 or 14...Nd4.

While Reggio was not lost after 14...Nb8?, his position was already quite ugly:

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Reggio was still up a Pawn, but I imagine most of us--of forced to take over the game--would rather play White.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post III

15. Rad1

"!"--(Tournament Book)

I question whether there was anything especially brilliant about this move or whether it was any better than--or even as good as--15. Qf2 or 15. Rfd1.

But there was nothing significantly wrong with the text.

15... Nd7

The Knight hardly seems better here than it was on c6 from which Reggio had just moved it. But, like Marshall's last move, it wasn't horrible.

16. Be2


More exaggerated praise for Marshall in this portion of the game. The move is certainly reasonable, but so was 16. Bb5.

16... a6
17. Kh1


More uncalled for "!s" for Marshall. 17. Rf3 or 17. b3 appear more useful. The text, in truth, is not all that bad,and I might not waste time writing about it if not the the "!" Soltis chose to assign to it.

After the overpraised 17. Kh1, the position was:

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17... g6?

"?"--(Tournament Book)(Soltis)

"Since g7 is a terrible target and castling is out of the question; Black becomes quite confused from here on." (Soltis)

The Tournament Book suggested 17...Nf8 here for Black. While that would have been better than the text which allowed White to snatch the pawn on h3, it would have allowed White to press his edge with 18. Bh5 or 18. a4. To make room on the back rank, Reggio would have done better to play 17...Qb8 or 17...Qc8.

The text was truly awful, the Reggio never recovered from this move.

18. Qxh6

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18... gxf5?

Black's position is bad, but this only makes matters considerably worse. He might have tried 18...g5 or 18...d5 or even 18...Nf8.

19. exf5

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19... Rf8?

"He is aiming for Ng6 and Qe7." (Tournament Book)

Doesn't sound like much of a plan and it ain't going to happen anyway. Black still needed to make room on the back-rank with 19...Qb8 or 19...Qc8.

20. Bh5

"!"--(Tournament Book)

Both the text and 20. Qh7 seem to win for White.

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20... BxB?

Reggio was almost certainly busted anyway, but the text was a catastrophe. He had to try 20... Qb8. If he wanted to go down swinging, Reggio might have considered 20...d5?!

21. QxB+ Rf7

Obviously forced. But Reggio was now hopelessly lost.

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Reggio might have spared himself what was coming.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post IV

22. g4


This was certainly one way to win, and probably the prettiest (which may explain why Marshall chose it). More prosaic and faster against best play was 22. Rf3 (bringing the Rook to g3 and then crushing Black's resistance).

After 22. g4, the position was:

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22... d5

A wild bid for counterplay.

"Too late. The game is lost." (Tournament Book)

22...Ng8 was the best chance to prolong resistance.

23. g5

"!"--(Tournament Book)(Soltis)

"Stronger than 23. Nxd5 NxN 24. RxN Qe7." (Tournament Book)

White also wins in the above line (with 25. Rfd1), but Marshall's move is faster, prettier, and more brutal. It left the position as:

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23... d4?

This Pawn fork (which might look OK at first sight) leads to immediate disaster for Black. 23...c6 was the only way to prolong the game.

24. g6

24. Qh8+ and 24. Bxd4 both also win. The text is fastest, leaving:

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24... Rf8

Hopeless, but so was everything else.

25. Bh6

25. g7+ is even quicker, but at this point Marshall had enough winning lines (including 25. Bxd4) for three or four games.

25... dxN
26. BxR KxB

26...NxB was the only way to extend the game for even a few more moves. The text left Reggio's King at Marshall's mercy:

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27. Qh6+

27. Qh7 is mate in five, but the text is also decisive.

27... Ke8
28. Qh8+

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Reggio decided not to endure 28...Nf8 29. g7 etc.

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