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Emmanuel Schiffers vs Wilhelm Steinitz
Vienna (1898), Vienna AUH, rd 27, Jul-09
Spanish Game: Berlin Defense. Hedgehog Variation (C66)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  fredthebear: A spirited early battle that shows doubled pawns are not always doomed to defeat (primarily because White never gets to them). 18.Qf2 is a key move in the middlegame (resisting e4xd5 and avoiding a potential discovered attack) that brought about the endgame. What happens if White plays 19.Qxa7 instead of the 19.Nxe4? The Black bishops come to the f-file and White gets over ran in the center by pawns. 19.Bg4, a simple single threat to win the exchange, prevents the White queen from changing course and saves the Black a-pawn, which makes all the difference.

White placed his chips on his slower kingside pawn majority and misplaced his rook in the endgame. The White rook needed to collect the outside passer on the a-file before promotion. In very general terms, it is often better for a rook to be capturing opposing pawns in the endgame than sitting still protecting his own pawn. Passed pawns dictate!

Perhaps 32.a4 was White's biggest mistake, as that pawn is eventually lost. Up to that point, the Black rook is restricted, which could have bought more time for White's connected pawns on the kingside. Once the bishops are exchanged, Black completely takes over with the faster outside passer. 39.Rd1 is an ugly move, but Black was about to pile on the pinned b-pawn, so it is lost anyway.

Credit to Black for rapidly promoting and sacrificing both new queens to force the removal of White's rook from the board. Now Black has the lone remaining rook that will mop up, since the Black king is in position to prevent immediate promotion on the kingside. Hypothetically, if the Black rook were removed from the final position, it would be an easy win for White.

The last half of this game was a methodical beat down from the first chess world champion Wilhelm Steinitz, now four years removed from relinquishing the title to Lasker. Steinitz finished fourth in this Vienna tournament.

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