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Eugene Delmar vs Clarence Seaman Howell
Buffalo (1901), Buffalo, New York USA, rd 3, Aug-13
Queen Pawn Game: Krause Variation (D02)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: With this spotty win, Delmar recovered after losing to Pillsbury in Round 1 and drawing with tailender Karpinski in Round 2. Thanks in part to this win, Delmar managed to share 2nd place with Napier in the final standings. Had Howell won this game--and he had the better chances for much of the contest, he (all others things being equal) would have shared third place with Delmar.

For much of the game, Delmar was struggling to hold an inferior position. Ultimately, however, his decision to focus on Howell's weak e6 pawn was justified (though mainly thanks to somebad mistakes by Howell).

1. d4 d5
2. Nf3 c5

As played by Marshall in the same round in his game against Pillsbury. However, after Black 2nd move, the two games diverged wildly.

3. c3

click for larger view

At the time of this game, this move was a staple of the opening play as White by von Scheve. The move was later adopted by Janowski, Rubinstein and Vidmar, one was once played by Capablanca. In 2019, Magnus Carslon played this move in a Rapid/Blitz tournament.

Pillsbury played 3. e3 against Marshall on the day this game was played, ans obtained a good game only because Marshall played an unsound variaiton.

Normal and best here is 3. c4.

3... e6
4. e3

Sufficient for equality. 4. Bf4 was more enterprising.

4... Nc6
5. Bd3 f5?!

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Howell's 5...f5?! creates a hole at e5 and saddled him with a backward and potentially weak e-pawn. For much of the game, this presented no problem for Howell, and indeed Delmar got into trouble by trying to target e6. However, Howell later underestimated the significance of his weak e6 pawn, and this was to cost him the game.

6. Nbd2

Sound but ponderous. 6. c4 (the loss of time notwithstanding) or 6. 0-0 or maybe 6. Ne5 seem indicated.

6... Nf6
7. b3

Another sound but unambitious effort by Delmar. 7. 0-0 or 7. c4 (or, again, Ne5) were for choice.

7... Be7

Making little effort to exploit White's lethargic play with 7...cxd4 or 7...Ne4. Neither of these moves, however, would have given Black any significant edge.

8. Bb2 a6
9. h3

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9... b5?!

Beginning here, Howell played aggressively (even if not always soundly) and obtained a superior position thanks to Delmar's wooden play.

10. a4

10. dxc5 was the best chance to try to seize an advantage as a result of Howell's hazardous play.

10... b4?!

Howell would have enjoyed at least equality with the simple 10...bxa4. But Howell wanted more, and was prepared to take risks.

11. c4 Ne4

Still going all in. 11...cxd4 or 11...0-0 would have been sound and theoretically best play.

12. Rc1 0-0
13. Bb1?!

Strange play by Delmar. He would have had the superior game with 13. 0-0 or 13. cxd5.

After the text, the position was:

click for larger view

The diagram tells the tale. Delmar's play as White in this opening hardly a model to be emulated. The hole at e5 and Black's weak e6 pawn do not compensate for what ails White here. It already appears that White will have to fight to obtain a draw (as occurred in the game before Howell blundered and handed Delmar the point).

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post II

13... a5

Overlooking an opportunity. A key weakness in White's position is b3. So Howell should have attacked it by 13...Na5 or, better still, via 13...NxN 14. NxN dxc4 15. Rxc4 Na5.

By pushing his pawn to a5, Howell blocked his best locale for his Knight to target b3.

14. dxc5

The wrong capture, which gives Black another way to attack be. Better was 14. cxd5. And 14. 0-0 was better than the text.

14... Nxc5

Despite his poor 13th move, Howell has again emerged with the better chances:

click for larger view

15. Nd4

Another misguided effort by Delmar. It allowed Howell to trade off a Knight that (thanks to 13...a5) wasn't doing much by means of a trade what increased Black's advantage:

15... NxN
16. exN

16. BxN is no better.

16... Ne4

click for larger view

17. 0-0 Ba6

17...Bg5 was even stronger.

18. Nf3 Rc8
19. Bd3

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19... Bf6?

Howell should clearly have played 19...dxc4 to prevent giving White dangerous counter-play with 20. c5.

20. Ba1?

Instead of playing the clearly indicated 20. c5!, Delmar handed Howell a second chance to trade off White's potentially dangerous c-pawn, and buried his own Bishop in the process.

20... dxc4

Howell didn't miss his second chance to play this.

21. Bxc4 BxB
22. bxB

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Delmar was emerged with a passed c-pawn, but at the cost of giving Howell with an even more dangerous--and protected--passed pawn on the b-file.

22... Rf7
23. Qe2 Qe8
24. Qa2 Rb7
25. Qb3

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Howell stood better, but how should Black play to try to capitalize. As will be seen, Howell misunderstood his position; he through away his edge with his next few moves, got into trouble with his questionable 29th move, and was dead lost after his blunder on move 31.

Delmar was eyeing, while Howell was apparently ignoring, Black's weakness on e6 and the dangers on the a2...g8 diagonal.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post III

25... g5

Not so much terrible in itself as part of a bad plan.

26. Rfe1 h5?

The beginning of Howell's troubles. He should have followed up his last move with 26...Rg7.

After the text, the position was:

click for larger view

Delmar had various good (and equalizing) options here. 27. Rcd1 and 27. c5 both were promising. In addition, he might have tried the interesting sacrifice 27. RxN (e.g., 27...fxR 28. Nd2 Qg6 29. c5 followed by 30. Re1 with decent compensation for the exchanged exchange).

27... g4

After Delmar's poos 27th move, Howell could have maintained an advantage with 27...Qc6. After the text, Delmar was able to get out of the woods and obtain attacking chances of his own.

28. Nd2 NxN
29. RxN

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Hpwell now had to anticipate White's 30. c5 with 29...Re7 or 29...Qf7. Instead, he misjudged badly with:

29... gxh3?
30. c5

Delmar could also have seized the better chances with 30. Qxh3 or 30. Rde2.

30... Re7
31. Rde2

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Despite his misplays, Howell still had a defensible position with 31...h4 [32. gxh3 Qf7 or 32. Rxe6 Qf7]or 31...Qf7 or 31...Qg6 (among other options). But here he blundered by abandoning the c-file, and got quickly crushed:

31... Rd8?

Now the weakness on e6 proves immediately fatal:

32, Rxe6 RxR
33. RxR Qf7

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34. Qe3

Perhaps also sufficient to win, but the crusher was 34. c6! All this mattered not, since Howell now collapsed under the pressure.

34... hxg2?

34...Rf8 or 34...Kf8, or maybe 34...f4, might have provided some chances. But now, Howell was a dead duck, the position now being:

click for larger view

35. d5!

A killer.

35... Rxd5?

35...f4 was the only chance to prolong the struggle. What followed was a massacre.

36. BxB Rd1+
37. Kxg2 Qg6+
38. Bg5

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Mate cannot be delayed very long.

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