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Louis Karpinski vs Frank Marshall
Buffalo (1901), Buffalo, New York USA, rd 4, Aug-14
Russian Game: Modern Attack. Symmetrical Variation (C43)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
Dec-23-02  bishop: White weakens his King side then goes Pawn hunting instead of developing. No wonder Marshall makes short work of him.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: Back rank mate combinations often finish with "useless interpositions" along the rank. Seeing three in a row along a diagonal is unusual.
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Marshall won only two games at Buffalo 1901, both against Karpinski. The score for his other win (in Round 9) is lost, so this is the only win of Marshall's at this tournament we can analyze.

This short game shows Marshall in his element (something that didn't happen much for him in 1901). Marshall's play here wasn't always sound, but it gave him a chance to display the sort of brilliant tactical fireworks for which he was to become famous.

As for Karpinski, his weak play here show why he finished in last place.

1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 Nf6

Marshall was partial to the Petroff at this stage of his career. He used in to good effect at Paris 1900 where he played this opening as Black no fewer than eight (8) times, winning six times (including his game against Pillsbury) and losing only to Showalter and Maroczy.

3. d4

Against so fine a tactician as Marshall, Karpsinski might have settled for the more drawish 3. Nxe5.

3... d5?!

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The off-beat move Marshall used in his win over Pillsbury at Paris 1900.

Interestingly, Bronstein (unsuccessfully) tried this same move against Stein at the 1966/1967 USSR Championship.

3...Nxe4 and 3...exd4 are simplest and soundest (3...d6 is also reasonable), but the text--Napier's harsh assessment notwithstanding--is certainly playable.

4. exd5

Better than Napier's suggested 4. Nxe5.

4... exd4

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5. Bb5+

Pillsbury played 5. Bc4 against Marshall. The text (Stein's choice also) is probably best. White could also play 5. Qxd4 is playing for a draw (i.e., a minimal advantage with Queens off the board). That might have been a decent line for Karpsinski to play against Marshall.

5... c6

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6. Qe2+

This relinquishes all of White's advantage. The best line begins with 6. dxc6, as played by Stein in the above-referenced game against Bronstein.

6... Be7
7. dxc6 bxc6

7...Nxc6 is better and gives Black, if anything, the better chances. But Marshall was apparently looking ahead, and planning to use the b-file to harass Karpinski.

8. Bd3

While not a big deal, this second-best move (8. Bc4 was better) is an example of Karpinski's weak play throughout this encounter.

8... 0-0
9. 0-0

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Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post II

9... Bg4?!

The sort of wild move that exemplifies Marshall's often unsound play during calendar year 1901. Best for Black here is 9...Re8 with at least equal chances. 9...c5 was also good. With the benefit of hindsight, the text worked splendidly. Maybe Marshall reckoned the move would intimidate and confuse his opponent.

10. h3

Napier (and apparently <Bishop> on this site) condemned this move. But the text, which allowed Karpinski to force either a trade of Marshall's Bishop or the win of a pawn, was in fact quite OK. Karpinski's errors lay in the future.

Napier suggested 10. Bg5, but Black would then be fine (and probably better) after 10...Nbd7.

10... Bh5
11. g4

Playing to win a pawn. This,as we will see, was not a mistake, the contrary commentary by Napier notwithstanding.

11... Bg6
12. BxB hxB

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13. Nxd4

"Winning the oawn is hardly warranted by White's meager development." (Napier).

<Bishop> seems to share Napier assessment. But is nabbing the pawn really bad. I think not, and will attempt to explain.

13... QxN

Marshall could also have played 13...Re8. In either case, White is certainly not worse.

14. QxB Re8

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15. Qa3

The only problem with the text is that it allowed Marshall a spectacular drawing combination. Since Marshall (not surprisingly) ignored this possibility, the move turned out fine--for a while.

Better theoretical chances to win were available via 15. Qc7 or 15. Qb7, (though Marshall could have substantial compensation and decent counter-play).

The position after 15. Qa3 was:

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Here, Marshall could have gone for the drawing combo beginning with 15...Nxg4! If 16. hxN (16. Qc3 leads to approximate equality) then 16...Re4 17. Kh2 (or 17. Qf3+ Rxg4+ 18. Kh1 Nd7 19. Rd1 Qc4 20. Nd2 Qe6) Rxg4 18. Qe3 (of 18. f4 Qe4 19. Qh3 Qe2+ 20. Kh1 Qe4+) Qd5 19. Qh3 Qe5+ 20. Kh1 Qf5 21. Nd2 g5 22. Qd3 Rh4+ and draws by perpetual check.

But Marshall was playing for a win, so...

15... Nbd7

This temerity might have placed Marshall in a tough spot against a stronger opponent, but it worked like a charm against the obviously unnerved Karpinski.

An arguably sounder way to try to play for a win was with 15...Nd5, though even then Karpinski would have (theoretically) have had the better chances.

After 15...Nbd7, the position was:

click for larger view

White's problem is his lack of Queen-side development. If he can solve that, he would be in great shape. Thus, he should here have played 16. Be3 or 16. Nd2. Instead, he played:

16. Qc3

Did he really expect Marshall to trade Queens here.

16... Qd5

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Marshall now had some real threats. But Karpinski's position was not beyond salvage. Indeed, with best play, his extra pawn could still have yielded him an edge.

But from here, Karpinski's error became more costly, and--as will be seen in my next post on this game--he was lost within three moves, and busted beyond repair two moves later.

If your going to snatch a pawn against a tough attacking opponent, one must keep awake, and develop pieces quickly and intelligently.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post III

17. Be3

It was long since time for Karpinski to begin to develop his Queen side. But Marshall's Queen on d5 was a problem, as was the open b-file. Having delayed developing his Knight and Bishop thus far, Karpinski had to address the immediate demands of the position with 17. Qd3 or 17. Qb3 (or maybe 17. Qg3). Instead he developed his Bishop at the very moment it was required for defense.

Marshall took prompt advantage:

17... Qe6

Either this or 17...Ne5 were sufficient to give Marshall at least equal chances notwithstanding his pawn minus. The text left the position as follows:

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18. Qb3

Karpinski should have heeded the danger on the b-file and retreated with 18. Bc1 or 18. Bd2. Alternatively, he might have tried to forestall Rab8 by Black with 18. Bf4. After the text, Marshall was very much in his element:

18... Nd5!

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19. Re1?

Despite his weak play, Karspinski would still have had decent chances to hang on with 19. Bc1 or 19. Nc3 (or perhaps 19. Bd2).

After the text, the Marshall steamroller went into overdrive, and Karpinski was toast.

19... Rab8

Marshall now had threats on both sides of the board.

20. Qa3 Nf4!

Taking advantage of the fact that the White Bishop was pinned.

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Karpinski was likely lost at this point, but he might have been able to hang on with 21. Nd2 or 21. Kh2. Instead he blundered with:

21. Bd2?

What followed was a massacre.

21... Qd5

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"In Mr. Marshall's best style. The piece can be as safely taken as refused." (Napier)

Karpinski now had to choose his poison. He chose to pick up a piece.

22. RxR+ RxR
23. BxN

23. Qg3 might have extended the game a tad, but the game was over.

The position was now:

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On paper, Karpinski was up a piece. In reality, with his Rook and Knight immobilized in the corner on the Queen-side, he was down a Rook, and defenceless against Marshall's invading forces.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post IV

23... Re1+
24. Kh2

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24... Rh1+

More than sufficient to win. But White is quickly mated after 24...Qh1+.

25. Kg3 Rg1+
26. Kh4 Ne5

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27. BxN

27. Nd2 was the only way to prolong the game.

27... Qd8+

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Mate in three. White survives for three more moves only by interposing (and losing) in succession his Queen, his Bishop, and his g-pawn.

A nice finish by Marshall.

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