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Wednesday, August 12, 2015

A Positional Lesson by Schlechter from Barmen 1905

1-2. Janowsky 10.5
1-2. Maroczy
3. Marshall 10.0
4-5.Bernstein 9.0
4-5. Schlechter
6. Berger 8.0
7-10. Chigorin 7.0
7-10. Wolf
7-10. Leonhardt
7-10. John
11-12. Suechting 6.5
11-12. Bardeleben
13-14. Burn 6.0
13-14. Alapin
15-16. Gottschall 5.0
15-16. Mieses

     Barmen brought together the greatest assembly of recognized masters and strong amateurs of that time. In his book, Decisive Games in Chess History, Ludek Pachman observed that the tournament was unusual because it was decided by six endings.
     In addition to the main event, there was also a 'B' tournament plus eight other side events and one of them, the Main A, had two players that would eventually make their mark in chess history, Akiba Rubinstein and Oldrich Duras who were fighting to gain their mater title in this event. The event was also notable for the absence of Tarrash and Lasker, but apart from them, the tournament was exceptionally strong having four players who were later to play world championship matches: Chigorin, Janowsky, Marshall and Schlechter.
     The final placing of all four of these players was determined by difficult endings. Maroczy started slowly, having only an even score after eight rounds and was two points off the lead. On the other hand, Ossip Bernstein started well, scoring 5 out of 6, but then he began to fade, scoring three draws then three losses. Schlechter was among the leaders but losses to Marcozy and Berger in rounds 9 and 10 dropped him behind Janowsky and Marshall, who then lead until disaster struck in round 15 when both lost. Janowsky to Berger and Marshall to Chigorin. That meant that going into the last round Maroczy had caught Janowsky and they were leading by a half-point ahead of Marshall and Schlechter.
     This led to a dramatic finish. Schlechter was playing White against Janowsky, but went down to defeat. That meant Maroczy had to defeat tailender Von Gottschall to tie for first. It took him nearly 100 moves and every maneuver under the sun, but he pulled it off to cap a finish with 6 1/2 points in his last seven games. For a list of games in pgn format go to Chessgamesdotcom
    Schlechter's opponent in this game was the German master Walter John (January 1879 – December 1940). John was born at Thorn, Poland (then German Empire) and was usually found lurking somewhere in the middle of the tournament crosstables in events of his day. In Leipzig, 1917 he drew a match (+1 -1 =3) with Jacques Mieses. In December 1940, he died in Berlin. 
     The following game was one I found very instructive. First, the position is on the amateurs might very well run into and second, the game features Knights and their outposts triumphing over Bishops. The fact that this game is instructive is demonstrated that it has been published in books such as Reti's Modern Ideas in Chess, Chrenev's The Most Instructive Games of Chess Ever Played and Silman in How to Reassess Your Chess!  
     I could not believe one comment on this game that appeared on Chessdotcom, "I don't see what can be learned from one-sided games like this."  Plenty!  That's why it has appeared in so many books!

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