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Carl Schlechter vs William Ewart Napier
Monte Carlo (1902), Monte Carlo MNC, rd 8, Feb-14
Colle System (D05)  ·  1-0

ANALYSIS [x]

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Kibitzer's Corner
May-25-05  arielbekarov: Todays opening!

Carl Schlechter was one of the most refined chessplayers ever and known for his noble character. He was always a Gentleman and known for his generosity regarding paying compliments to his opponents.

But on the chessboard was he unmerciful!
Look here what a skill he possess(es)!

I can't stop admire his art.
Ariel

May-26-05  Pawn Ambush: This is true and he played almost perfect chess I would have like to see him play Capablaca in a match.
May-27-06  CapablancaFan: Amazing queen sac!
Apr-15-11  lost in space: How nice. I like the sequence dxc5, b4, b5 in the opining and of course the way he played the middlegame (opening the center for the bishops, activating the nights via e5 and c4), also playing on the queenside (a4, a5. a6) and this nice queen sac.

Schlechter is not very well known, but he was one of the greatest.

Apr-10-22
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: A short crushing win by Schlechter. Though perhaps unfair to say so in the case of Napier, this contest gives the impression of an example of Chess Expert against Chess Amateur.

1. d4 d5
2. Nf3 c5
3. e3


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An early example of the Colle System in which White temporarily blocks his dark-square Bishop with the view to a powerful breakthrough in the center. The opening had even before this game been showcased in Lasker-Pillsbury, London 1899 and Pillsbury-Marshall, Buffalo 1901. Schlechter himself even after this encounter had used it with success against Marshall at Ostend 1905 and against Maroczy two years later (and on several other occasions). This set-up later became a favorite of Janowski and in due time, of course, by Colle.

My teacher Susan Polgar has played this opening, and I have yet to salvage even a draw in the games I have been Black in this opening against her. (Not that I have had much success in other openings against Susan).

3... Nf6
4. c3

This seemingly slow Stonewall method is more dangerous than it looks. It was a favorite of Colle himself. Needless to say, White can also play 4. c4 and transpose to the Queen's Gambit.

4... e6
5. Bd3

A classic set-up for White in this opening. 5. Nbd2 immediately is also possible.

5... Bd7

A somewhat garbled alignment. 5...Nc6 as recommended by the Tournament Book commentary by Maroczy and Hoffer is almost certainly better. But simpler and perhaps better still are 5...b6 or 5...Be7. The text, of course, is in truth not all that bad. But when playing Black against the Colle it is always best to take care, since what looks like slow-motion play by White can be more dangerous than it initially appears.

6. Nbd2


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A typical preparatory move for White in a Colle set-up. Throughout this game, Schlechter never appeared to be hurried. But his play was tinged with aggressive concepts throughout.

6... Bc6

"The maneuver with the Bishop seems faulty as the Bishop gets dislodged, blocking the Queen's Knight at the same time." (Maroczy/Hoffer)

While hardly any sort of blunder, the text does seem clumsy as compared with 6...Nc6 or 6...Qc7.

7. dxc5 Bxc5
8. b4


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Schlechter's plan of creating space for his forces while constricting Black is a joy to watch.

8... Bd6
9. b5

Continuing his relentless concept.

9... Bd7
10. 0-0


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"White is excellently developed, whereas Black is badly placed in the Queen's side." (Maroczy/Hoffer)

While White is surely better here, but--much as I admire Schlechter's concept here- his edge should not be overstated. At this point, while Black had to watch his step, he was not objectively in serious trouble. But the situation could quickly become critical for Black, as proved to be the case for Napier here.

Apr-10-22
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post II

10... a6!

Well-played by Napier. After any other move by Black, Schlechter's bind would have become formidable.

11. c4

Consistent, but 11. Qa4 was probably the only way White could--theoretically--retain an edge.

11... 0-0

Quite reasonable, but the best way to deprive Schlechter of any chance to maintain a positional bind lay in 11...axb5. Alternatively, 11...dxc4 was likewise a small improvement on the text.

12. Bb2


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Schlechter's dark-square Bishop now joins in his intended bind of the Black forces. Also good for White was 12...a4.

12... axb5
13. cxb5 Qe7


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To this point, Napier had played well. The text, however, was the first sign of his serious misjudgment of the position which was to lead to his downfall with great rapidity. Rather than bury his Queen in this manner, and given the obvious need to bring his b8 Knight into the game, better was 13...Be8 or perhaps 13...Bc8 .

The text itself was of course not fatal; only a sign of Napier's lack of appreciation of the nature of the position.

14. Ne5

Not as strong as it appears, especially since the Black Knight is likely to come to d7 soon. The best way to continued to build his bind was with 13. a4!

14... Be8

"Another move to develop the Queen's Knight." (Maroczy/Hoffer)

True enough, but d7 would have to be evacuated before much longer. Perhaps 14...Rd8 or 14...Rc8 first (followed by Be8) was somewhat better.

15. a4 Nbd7


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So Schechter's 14. Ne5 was exposed as useless. Or was it? Yes, Schlechter now had to trade Knights to maintain any sort of edge, but there was a drop of poison in all this that Napier overlooked.

16. NxN


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Now the question was posed: How should Black recapture?

16... BxN?

Not like this. Napier would have been fine after 16...NxN 17. e4 Nc5. But now:

17. e4!


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How quickly the game had changed. And here, once again, Napier miscued:

17... e5?

With the simple 17...Nxe4, Black--though now clearly worse--would still have an entirely holdable position. But things now got dicey for Black. 17...Bb4 was also a decent choice for Black. After the text, it will be difficult for him to survive, especially against a positional genius such as Schlechter.

18. exd5 Nxd5
19. Nc4


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Napier may already be theoretically lost. But the grand climax of the game was now about to arrive.

Apr-10-22
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post III

19... Rfd8


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No doubt recognizing that things were not going well for him, Napier offered a pawn sacrifice [since White could now play 20. Bxh7+ and 21. QxN] in return for more active play. Maroczy and Hoffer criticized the text, but more because--as his next move reveals--Napier had an upcoming unsound combination in mind. But all that does not detract from the merits of 19...Rfd8, which was probably the best try available to Napier in this difficult position.

20. Re1

"Much better than 20. Bxh7+ followed by QxN" (Maroczy/Hoffer)

The text did work out splendidly for Schlechter, but more because of Napier's upcoming bad play. As for 20. Bxh7+, a pawn is a pawn, and I see no reason not to snatch it.

The text, however, did allow Schlechter to maintain his strong bind on the Black position. He also had other ways to retain a powerful grip on Black: e.g., 20. Be4; 20. NxB QxN 21. Be4; and 20. Bc2.

From what I have learned about Schlechter from reviewing his games, my hunch is that he decided not to be lured into whatever complications Napier had in mind with his pawn sacrifice and to continue with a plan he expected would likely lead to victory--as it did.

After 20. Re1, the position was:


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20... Nf4?

"...a blunder, the move losing a piece, because it cannot be imagined that the giving up of a piece was design. He gets the Queen but at too high a price." (Maroczy/Hoffer).

How much Napier saw and exactly what he intended is hard to discern. He may or may not have foreseen that Schechter would soon be giving up his Queen in return for a gaggle of Black pieces. On any reckoning, this move was quite bad, and Schlechter gave Napier no chances after 20...Nf4? The best chance for Napier lay in 20...f6, after he just may, with best play, have at least theoretically been able to save the game (though given Schlechter's deeper understanding of the position, I would still have predicted a Schlechter win even after 20...f6).

21. NxB

The obvious winning move.


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21... Qg5

"21...QxN was obviously fatal." (Maroczy/Hoffer)

We must assume that Napier realized before he played 20...Nf4 that 21...QxN would drop the Queen after 22. Bxh7+. Most likely, Napier thought that the attack he launched with the text would provide him sufficient counter-play. Considering Napier's poor follow-up to the text, it is clear that he completely misassessed the forthcoming tactics. The cool, calm, and deadly Schlechter, however, clearly saw what was coming.

The position after 21...Qg5 was:


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22. Be4

Murderously efficient, combining attack and defense. Among other things, it permits the upcoming Queen sacrifice that ended any hopes Napier may have still harbored, the position now being:


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Apr-10-22
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post IV

22... Bf5?

A complete misjudgment of the position. Yes, the Queen is the most powerful piece in chess. But it is not worth what Schlechter now got in return.

The game was almost certainly lost in any event, so criticizing Napier's move may seem over-kill. The closest thing to a chance was probably 22...Bg4.

But the text left Schlechter choice of how he wanted to win, the position now being:


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23. NxB

Schlechter in fact did not have to give up his Queen and could have won with 23. Bxb7 e4 24. g3 Nh3+ 25. Kf1 Rab8 26. Bxe4 BxB 27. RxB BxB 28. RxB leaving him up a piece plus two connected passed pawns. But Schlechter's line also works.

23... RxQ
24. RaxR


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So Schlechter ended up with Rook and two Bishops for the Queen; clearly a winning advantage.

24... h5
25. Bxe4

Once again, Schlechter had many ways to win. 25. g3 or 25. h4 may have been simper, but the text was also ruthlessly effective.

The position was now:


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25... Nxg2

As good as anything, but it leaves Black with little reason to play on:

26. BxN QxN


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27. a5!

Cute. The a-pawn obviously cannot be taken, since--as Maroczy and Hoffer pointed out-- if 27...Rxa5 White wins the Black Queen with 28. Rd8+ and 29. Be4.

27... Re8

Perhaps Napier was hoping for some accident from Schlechter before the move-30 time control was reached:


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Whatever Napier was praying for did not come to pass. As I will cover in my next and final post on this game, what followed was a massacre.

Apr-10-22
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post V

28. a6!

Game over.


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28... bxa6

28...RxB 29. RxR QxR 30. Rd8+ Kh7 31. axb7 would also not have been much fun for Black.

29. bxa6 h4

A final futile hope"


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30. a7 Qg6
31. Bb8!


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1-0

"A pretty termination to a neat little game." (Maroczy/Hoffer)

If 31...h3 Black gets mauled after 32. RxR+ Kh7 33. a8(Q) or 33. Bg3. And if 31...RxR+ 32. RxR h3 33. Bg3 spells fini for Black.

Schlechter had gotten off to a terrible start at Monte Carlo 1902 and had a losing record after Round 6. But with his victory over Janowski in Round 7 and his win here against Napier in Round 8, he moved to +1. Given his recent success at Munich 1900 (tied for first with Pillsbury) and Monte Carlo (2nd behind Janowski), the players at the top in the standings most have been concerned that another charge by Schlechter may have been coming. But it was not to be for Schlechter at this tournament. He had a bye in Round 9 and was beaten by Tarrasch in Round 10 (who likewise was recovering from a poor start) and ended up in a three-way tie for 5th place with Tarrasch and Wolf. A respectable showing in this strong field, but not one to match Schlechter's recent triumphs. But Schlechter's best moments were still to come, including his demolition of Janowski in their match later in 1902 and his tie with Lasker in their 1910 World Championship match; not to mention his first-place finishes at Ostend 1906 (ahead of Maroczy, Rubinstein, Teichmann, Marshall and Janowski), at Prague 1908 (tied with Duras ahead of Vidmar, Rubinstein, Teichmann, Maroczy, Marshall, Janowski, and Spielmann; at Hamburg 1910 (ahead of Duras, Nimzovitch, Spielmann, Marshall, Teichmann, Alekhine, and Tarrasch) as well as a host of other first-place finishes at lesser tournaments plus his tie for second with Rubinstein behind Teichmann and ahead of Marshall, Nimzovitsch, Vidmar, Alekhine, Duras, and Spielmann at the 26-player Carlsbad 1911 tournament.

It is tragic that Schlechter died young. He would have been an exciting addition to the great tournaments of the 1920's.

Apr-11-22
Premium Chessgames Member
  fredthebear: Another enjoyable game annotated by KEG!

7.dxc5 Bxc5 8.b4 (instead of e4) is a signature pawn thrust of the Phoenix Attack variation of the 5.c3 Colle-Koltanowski. White has usually castled before the thrust, and Black has usually played Nc6 instead of Bc6.

Here's an article about Carl Schlechter: https://www.chess.com/players/carl-...

Here's an article about William Napier: https://www.chesshistory.com/winter...

and https://www.chess.com/blog/kahns/a-...

Apr-11-22  sudoplatov: Schlecter's procedure in the opening is essentially what Black plays in the Meran Variation of the Slav.

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