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Eugene Delmar vs Louis Karpinski
Buffalo (1901), Buffalo, New York USA, rd 2, Aug-13
Sicilian Defense: Lasker-Dunne Attack (B20)  ·  1/2-1/2



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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Karpinski, the Cornell University star, was over-matched in this tournament. He drew his first two games, and then lost his remaining eight, finishing in sixth and last place.

In this game against the veteran Delmar (who eventually tied for second at this tournament), Kaprinski held his own. Delmar tried to unsettle his young opponent with an unusual opening variation, and later played rashly first in the middle-game and then in an even ending. This latter timidity almost cost him the game until Karpinski flubbed the win with his poor 55th move.

1. e4 c5
2. g3

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An unusual but entirely playable variation. It was played on at least three occasions by Steinitz before this game, and later became a favorite line for Tartakower and Mengarini, and was played frequently by Short and Hort.

The move allows Black to obtain easy equality.

2... d5

2...Nc6; 2...d6; 2...e5; and 2...g3 all yield equality. The text is more ambitious and perhaps less sound.

3. Bg2

White can get a good game with 3. exd5. But Delmar, apparently, wanted to confuse his less experianced opponent.

3... dxe4
4. Bxe4

He could equally well have played 4. Nc3.

4... Nf6

4...e5 also gives Black a small edge.

5. Bg2 e6

5...e5 or 5...Nc6 were more enterprising.

6. Ne2

Perhaps simpler were 6. Nf3 or 6. d3

6... Be7
7. Nbc3

7. 0-0 and 7. d3 were an simpler road to equality. After the text, the following unusual position was reached:

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7... a6

This effort to commence Queen-side operations never truly got going. Karpinski could have maintained a small advantage with 7...Nc6; 7...0-0; or 7...Bd7. After the text, chances were about equal.

8. d3 Qc7
9. Bf4 Bd6

As is so often the case, moving the same piece twice in the opening gives the opponent the advantage. Karpsinski should have played 9...e5 or 9...Qb6.

10. Bg5

Committing a similar sin. White would be (slightly) better with 10. Qd2; 10. BxB; or 10. d4.

10... Nbd7
11. 0-0 h6

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12. Bd2

Once again spurning the more normal choice, e.g., 12. Bf4.

12... Rb8

Played to be able to advance his b-pawn.

13. Qe1 b6
14. Nf4

14. Ne4; 14. Rd1; or 14. f4 were all better tries.

14... 0-0
15. Ne4 Bb7

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An unbalanced and approximately even position. Battle had not yet truly been joined.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post II

16. f3

A strange choice, and obviously playing for complications rather than a sound position. White should be OK with 16. NxB; 16. NxN+; 16. b3; or 16. Qe2. The text blocks his own Bishop and, if he is planning f4, loses time. The idea was to be able to reposition his f4 Knight to g4 via f2. But this is slow and clumsy at best.

16... Nd5

Karpinski should probably have retained his dark-square Bishop with 16...Be7 or 16...Be5.

17. NxB QxN
18. Nh3

Continuing with his doubtful plan. 18. NxN. After the text, Karspinski could have seized the initiative:

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18... Qc7

By-passing the stronger 18...Nb4.

19. Nf2

As per his plan.

19... Ne7
20. Ng4 Ng6

Karpinski seems lost in a fog. But his position was still OK.

21. Bc3 e5
22. Qd2

Another mystery move. Delmar would be basically OK with 22. Qf2; 22. Ne3; or 22. a4.

22... Rbe8

22...f5 would have given him some chances at the initiative.

The position was now:

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23. f4 BxB
24. QxB exf4
25. gxf4 h5

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26. Ne5?!

I don't see the point of this (at least temporary) pawn sacrifice. At best, White can scounge back and win the Black h-pawn, in either case Black gets the advantage.

26... NgxN
27. fxN

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27... Re6

Why not just play 27...Nxe5. If then 28. Rf5 (threatening Rxh5) then simply 28...h4.

28. Rf5 Nxe5

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29. Kh1?!

Going all in on a King-side attack rather than just regaining the lost pawn.

29... f6

Karpinski could have tried to hang onto his extra pawn with 29...h4 with--in any case--much the better game. He could also have played 29...Ng6

30. Raf1?!

Still trying to make something out of nothing. He should just have played 30. Rxh5 and regained material equality.

30... Qc6

Playing to trade Queens and reach and ending he should at least be able to draw. 30...Ng4 was stronger.

31. Rxh5 QxQ+
32. KxQ

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Karpinski had thus reached an endgame in which he had the better chances. A win, however, would hardly be easy from this position.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post III

32... Ng4
33. Kf3

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33... g6?

indicating he would be satisfied with a draw. He could have made Delmar sweat a bit with 33...Ne3. After the weak text, the game did indeed look like a draw. But in fact the excitement lay in the future here.

34. Rh4 Ne5+
35. Kg3

35. BxN might have been an easier route to a draw. But Delmar was still hoping to prevail against his young opponent and wanted to keep the minor pieces on te board.

35... Nd7
36. Rhf4 Re3+
37. R1f3 RxR+
38. KxR Kf7

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The game now definitely seemed headed for a draw very soon, but Delmar did not want to give up a half-point to the weakest player in the field.

39. d4

Playing for complications once again. The sound choices were 39. Rh4; 39. b3; 39. Re4; and 39. Kg3.

39... Rh8

Karpinski might have tried to seize an edge with 39...g5 or 39...Rc8.

40. h4

40. dxc5 immediately was probably best, but too simplifying for Delmar's taste.

40... Rh5
41. dxc5

Delmar apparently now felt this exchange could not be avoided.

41... Rxc5

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Only Karpinski had a passed pawn. Delmar might have bowed to the inevitable and taken a draw. But, as will be seen, this was not satisfactory for him.

42. Re4 Rd5
43. a4

If Delmar was going to make anything here, the Queenside provided the only opportunity. He at least had a pawn majority there.

43... Rf5+
44. Ke2 Rd5
45. Rc4 Rc5
46. RxR NxR

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Looking even more like a draw with the Rooks off the board.

47. a5

Still trying.

47... b5
48. Ke3 Ke6

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From this super-drawish looking position, Delmar went overboard in pressing for a win, and got into trouble--and then more trouble.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post IV

49. Kd4?

As should have been obvious to Delmar, this allows Black excellent winning chances since the King on d4 blocks the escape of the Bishop. Delmar would have been fine after 49. b3 or 49. b4.

49... Na4!

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50. Be1

An unhappy necessity. Otherwise, Karpinski would be able to trade off the minor pieces with an easy win, e.g., 50. Kd3? NxB 51. KxN Kd5 52. Kd3 b4 and White cannot both protect his Queen-side and also guard against the advance of the Black King-side pawns.

The game may still be savable for White after the text, but he loses a pawn and faces a stiff test.

50... Nxb2

Forced. Black would actually lose on any other move.

51. Kc5

The only chance, going after the Black a6 pawn:

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51... Nc4
52. Kc6 Na3

A simple trick by Karpinski, which Delmar--incredibly--missed. The position was now:

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53. Kb6??

This should have lost the game for Delmar. He had to play 53. c3 to prevent Black's next move.

53... Nxc2

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Delmar now has to lose a tempo to move his Bishop, so he can't play 54. Kxa6. The win should now have been easy for Karpinski.

54. Bc3

54. Bd2 might have been slightly better, but the game is lost for White anyway.

54... b4
55. Bb2

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55... f5?

In his hurry to advance his King-side pawns, Karpinski neglected to guard his Queen-side, and all of a sudden the win was gone. He should have played 55...Kd5 which would win even though Black would lose his f-pawn,e.g., 55...Kd5! [55...Kd7 also wins] 56. Bxf6 b3 57. Bb2 (forced to prevent Nd4) Ne3 58. Kxa6 Kc6 (so the White a-pawn cannot Queen) 59. Bc3 Nc4 60. Bd4 b2 61. Bxb2 NxB and wins.

After the text, the win was gone.

56. Kxa6 f4

56...Kd5 or 56...Kd7 were slightly better tries, but insufficient to win.

After 56...f4, the position was:

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Delmar now had a draw at hand, but he had to play carefully. The position could be given as a problem: White to play and draw.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post V

57. Kb6!

The natural-looking 57. Kb7? would get crushed by 57...Na3 58. a6 Nb5! (a move 57. Kb6 makes impossible) or 57...f3 58. a6 f2 59. a7 f1(Q) 60. a8(Q) Qf3+ a check that is only possible because the King is on b7 after which Black trades Queens and wins easily.

The text deprives the Black Knight access to b5 and thereby allows White to draw.

The position after 57. Kb6! was:

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What followed is exciting to play over, but neither side can win with proper play.

57... f3
58. a6 f2
59. a7 f1(Q)
60. a8(Q)

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Karpinski had an extra pawn, but the magic of the Queens in these sorts of endings make victory elusive.

60... Qf2+
61. Kb5

61. Ka6 looks simpler, but the text did not really spoil anything for Delmar.

61... Na3+

This allowed Delmar to trade down to a Queens ending with no minor pieces and an easy draw. 61...Qf5+ was the only way to create any serious over-the-board chances for Black.

62. BxN bxB

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A draw now seems inevitable. But even relatively simple endings can have nasty nuances:

63. Qe8+ Kd5

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64. Qg8+

This doesn't lose, but it gave Karpinski some practical chances. Delmar had a number of better moves: 64. Qd7+; 64. Qd8+ 64. Qa8+ and likely others. After the text (64. Qg8+) the position was:

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64... Ke4?

64...Kd4 would have made it tougher for Delmar. 64...Ke5 would also have been better (in a practical sense) than the text. The game would still be a theoretical draw, but humans can lose such endgames. After the text, Delmar had no further difficulties in holding the draw:

65. Qe6+ Kf3
66. Qc6+ Ke2
67. Qc4+ Ke1

click for larger view

1/2 -- 1/2

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