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Louis Karpinski vs William Ewart Napier
Buffalo (1901), Buffalo, New York USA, rd 3, Aug-13
Spanish Game: Open. Zukertort Variation (C80)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: The score of this game is fouled beyond repair. The moves given here differ from those appearing in the Tournament Book in many places. Where the moves differ, neither account makes sense. I will therefore pass over the uncertain moves and focus only on so much of the game as can be deemed as least probably an accurate reflection of what occurred.

In any event, the game was not of much interest.

Karpinski, who had won the "Class C" tournament at Buffalo 1894,had a rough time playing against the big boys. He drew his first two games, and then--beginning with this game--lost his final eight games.

Napier ended up tied for second with Delmar (behind Pillsbury), so this win was useful for him.

1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 Nc6
3. Bb5 a6
4. Ba4 Nf6
5. 0-0 Nxe4
6. d4 b5
7. Bb3 d5
8. dxe5

Thus far, a standard Open Ruy Lopez.

8... Ne7?

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This variation, a favorite of Zukertort--has long been abandoned. Napier himself acknowledged in his commentary on the game three months after this game was played that:

"In light of recent discoveries, this manuever is distinctly bad."

So far as I can find, the text was last played in 1912.

The normal move, 8...Be6, is best (and far superior to 8...Ne7).

9. Ng5

Though this move was a Showalter favorite back in the day, Napier's claim that it is "worthless" is not far wrong. Best, as Napier noted, is 9. a4.

9... NxN
10. BxN Be6

10...c6 is better. After the text, the position was:

click for larger view

11. f4?

This advance--specious to be sure--yields nothing." (Napier)

I must agree (though, in fairness, the game was still about even despite Karpinski's weak play). Best for White, and giving him some edge, is the simple 11. Nc3. As will be seen, Karpsinki seemed reluctant to bring his Knight out to play.

11... Qd7

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12. BxN

Giving Black the two Bishops cannot be good play. Once again, Karpinski should have developed his Knight (12. Nc3 anybody?).

12... BxB
13. c3

Once again, Karpinski should have developed his Knight.

13... 0-0
14. Bc2

Still declining to bring his Knight out. Thanks to this reluctance, Black had by now obtained distinctly the better game:

click for larger view

The play to this point had hardly been world-class. But at least we have a coherent game score. As I will discuss in my next post on this game, the score becomes fouled beginning on move 15.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post II

14... f5?!

Although Napier claimed that "the passed pawn thus established for White is not to be feared," I don't like this move at all. There was no need to give Karpsinski this trump. Napier had several good ways to try to bolster his already good game without giving White anything in return: e.g., 14...Bg4; 14...d4; 14...g6; etc.

After 14...f5?!, the position was:

click for larger view

From here, problems arise in the text. The next three moves for White given on this site are given in a different order in the Tournament Book. I will follow the order given on this site in my analysis, though I am far from convinced it is correct:

15. Kh1

15. Nd2 as given in the Tournament Book is much better.

15... c5!

Obtaining strong Queen-side pressure.

16. Nd2

At last bringing the Knight into the game.

16... Qc6

If this score is correct, Napier should have played 16...d4.

17. Nf3

For better or worse, it appears we know the position after White's 17th move:

click for larger view

17... g6

Napier said he was anticipating g4 from White. But the move is--at best--premature. Better were 17...Rfd8; 17...Qb6; and 17...d4.

18. Bb3

Weak. 18. b4 was much better.

18... Rfd8
19. Rc1

Seemingly played without a plan. 19. a3 looks indicated.

19... Rab8
20. Qe2

More strange play by Karpinski. 20. a3 or 20. Rf2 or even 20. Bc2 have points to recommend them.

20... a5!

Finally some vigorous play. Black is slowly making progress.

21. a3

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An interesting and complex position. Black has the better of it, but White's passed pawn on e5 gave him chances.

Unfortunately, from here, the accounts of the moves differ. None of the reported scores makes much sense. Rather than report my analysis (which would suggest a bundle of blunders and almost drunken play by both sides), I will skip to the end.

For better or worse, we seem to have the correct position after White's 44th move (or 42nd move if the Tournament Book's score is credited:

click for larger view

Through weak play, Karpsinski had allowed Napier to build up strong attacking chances on both wings, not to mention his strong passed d-pawn in the center. The game is a clear win for Black, and Napier finished briskly, as I will show in my next post on this game.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post III

44... g5!

The winning move. The King-side now is opened and Napier's Rook's are poised to reduce Karpinski's position to shambles.

45. hxg5

45. Ra1 was perhaps best, but White is dead in any case.

The Tournament Book gives this move as 45. fxg5. The two scores converge after White's next move, and this difference is of litte import.

45... hxg5
46. fxg5

46. Qh2 preventing Rh7 by Black was probably best, but the game was beyond salvage in any event.

The position (and from here the scores are identical to the end of the game) was now:

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46... Bxg5

This was sufficient to win, but the real killer was 46...Rh8, after which Black's Rook penetrates with deadly effect.

47. Ng2?

Hopeless, but even with 47. Qh2 Karpinski could not have expected to hold on very long. After the text, the sad position for White was:

click for larger view

Napier now had many ways to finish off the game quickly:

47... BxN+

A simple way to win. Other--perhaps more brutal ways--were 47...Rh7 or 47...BxR.

48. QxB QxQ+
49. KxQ BxR
50. RxB

Immediately disastrous, but otherwise he would be down a full Rook.

50... f4!

click for larger view



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