Saturday, September 12, 2009

Lewitzky - Marshall, Breslau 1912

Though not quite the equal of Lasker or Capablanca, Frank Marshall was for many years one of the top half-dozen players in the world, and a formidable tournament competitor. His aggressive attitude, combinational flair, and imagination produced a great number of brilliant games like this one. It is said that after the spectacular conclusion, the spectators showered the board with gold coins. Another version, though, is that wealthy Russian emigres had bet on their compatriot Lewitzky, and were paying off their losses ...

Lewitzky - Marshall
Breslau, 1912

FRENCH DEFENSE, Marshall Variation

1. d4 e6 2. e4 d5 3. Nc3 c5

A double-edged system which Marshall played with success, for he did not hesitate to accept a positional weakness in exchange for tactical chances.
4. Nf3 Nc6 5. exd5 exd5 6. Be2 Nf6 7. 0-0 Be7 8. Bg5 0-0 9. dxc5 Be6 10. Nd4 Bxc5 11. Nxe6
A dubious idea; Black obtains strong central pawns and an open f-file, and White will never have time to exploit the potentially weak pawn at e6.
11. ... fxe6 12. Bg4 Qd6 13. Bh3 Rae8 14. Qd2?!
Now Black obtains a clear advantage. The defensive 14. a3 was correct.
14. ... Bb4 15. Bxf6 Rxf6 16. Rad1
White had to meet the threats of both ... Nf6-e4 and ... d5-d4, but now Black’s Rooks become very active.
16. ... Qc5 17. Qe2
Embarking on what he believes to be an exchanging combination, but Marshall has calculated more deeply. Better was 17. a3 Bxc3 18. Qxc3 Qxc3 19. bxc3, though Black stands clearly better in the endgame.
17. ... Bxc3 18. bxc3 Qxc3 19. Rxd5 Nd4 20. Qh5
White had seen this far -- on 20. Qe5? Nf3+! 21. gxf3 Rg6+ wins. Correct, however, was 20. Qe4, and if 20. … Rf4 21. Qe5 the position remains unclear. Now if 20. ... g6 21. Qe5 is playable, but ...
20. ... Ref8 21. Re5
Perhaps White had planned 21. Rc5, overlooking 21. ... Rxf2! (22. Rxf2 Qe1+, or 22. g3 Ne2+ 23. Kh1 Rxf1+).
21. ... Rh6 22. Qg5
On 22. Qg4, 22. ... Nf3+, discovering on the undefended Rook at e5, would win routinely.
22. ... Rxh3 23. Rc5


Not 23. gxh3? Nf3+. Now White hopes for something like 23. ... Qb4 24. Rc7 g6 25. Qe5, but Black has other plans.
23. ... Qg3!, White resigns
The Queen is en prise three ways but cannot be captured -- 24. fxg3 Ne2+ 25. Kh1 Rxf1 mate, 24. hxg3 Ne2 mate, or 24. Qxg3 Ne2+ 25. Kh1 Nxg3+ 26. Kg1 Nxf1, with an extra piece.

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