Random Posts

Play Live Blitz


Thursday, June 18, 2020

A Jacques Mieses Brilliancy

     The turn of the 20th century was a golden era in France. After a series of wars and turmoil that culminated with the Franco-Prussian War which ended in 1871, France embarked on an age of peace, prosperity and progress. 
     The Belle Epoque (Beautiful Epoch) was the period from 1871 to 1914 when World War I broke out. It was so named in retrospect because it brought joie de vivre (zest for life), a boom in art and design, industry, technology, gastronomy, education, travel, entertainment and nightlife. 
     The chess tournament held in Paris in 1900 was held in conjunction with the Exposition Universelle, one of the world's most notable fairs or exhibitions held during the second half of the nineteenth century and designated a "World Exposition" by the Bureau of International Expositions. 
     The fair, visited by nearly 50 million, displayed many technological innovations, including the Grande Roue de Paris Ferris wheel and a moving sidewalk. The Grande Roue de Chicago was a gigantic Ferris wheel 360 feet high, which took its name from a similar wheel created by George Washington Gale Ferris Jr. at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. It had forty cars and could carry 1,600 passengers on a single trip. The cost of a ride was one franc for a second class car, and two francs for a more spacious first-class car. Despite the high price, passengers often had to wait an hour for a seat. 
     The moving sidewalk was also a very popular and useful attraction, given the large size of the Exposition. It ran along the edge of the Exposition and passed through stations along the way, where passengers could board. The fare was an average of fifty centimes. The sidewalk was accessed from a platform about 20 feet above ground level. The passengers stepped from the platform onto the moving sidewalk traveling at a little more than 2.5 miles per hour then onto a more rapid sidewalk moving at a little over 5 miles per hour. The sidewalks had posts with handles which passengers could hold onto, or they could walk.
     Other attractions were diesel engines, talking films, escalators, and the telegraphone (the first magnetic audio recorder). It also brought international attention to the Art Nouveau style. Additionally, it showcased France as a major colonial power. 
     Major international chess tournaments had been held at six other expositions: London 1851, London 1862, Paris 1867, Vienna 1873, Philadelphia 1876 and Paris 1878. The Paris tournament was played from May 17 to June 20, 1900. The time limit was 30 moves in two hours, followed by 15 moves in one hour. Draws had to be replayed once. 

     One of the more exciting games of the tournament was one filled with clever sacrifices that was played by Mieses in his win over Janowski. As with many games that were once thought by a lot of commentators to be one sided beatings, a careful examination of this game shows that wasn’t the case at all. 
     As GM Alex Yermolinsky so astutely wrote when discussing the game Janowski-Capablanca, New York 1916, “Is anybody out there ignorant enough to say that David Janowski, the man who played two World Championship matches and contended for top prizes in major tournaments for some 20+ years, lost this game because he didn’t understand simple positional principles?” Yermolinsky believed Janowski saw a lot, but his personal characteristic of being a gambler who always went for the jackpot, often did him in.

Jacques Mieses - David Janowski
Result: 1-0
Site: Paris 
Date: 1900
Vienna Game

[...] 1.e4 e5 2.♘c3 The Vienna Game was one of Mieses favorite openings. The original idea was to play a delayed King's Gambit, but in modern play white often plays more quietly by fianchettoing his B with g3 and Bg2. Weaver W. Adams famously claimed that the Vienna Game led to a forced win for White, but in reality it only leads to equality with best play by both sides. 2...♘c6 Equally good is the more popular 2...Nf6. 3.♗c4 ♗c5 4.d3 d6 5.f4 White generally plays it safe with 5.Nf3 or sometimes 5.Na4 in order to grab the two B, but in those days and especially with these two players, safety was not a consideration. 5...♘f6 6.f5 ♘a5 Both Marco and by Tartakower were highly critical of this move, but Janowski's plan is to trade his N for a B which would have given him his beloved two Bs. Actually, the move was not original as it had been played by Chigorin. Tartakower recommended 6...Nd4 which seems neither better nor worse than 6...Na5. 7.♕f3 An energetic course, conforming to the idea of the preceding move, namely to lay stress on K-side operations. (Tartakower) Stockfish finds no fault with the move. 7...c6 8.g4 Going all out for an attack. Both 8.Bb3 and 8.Nge2 are more prudent. 8...h6 In the tournament book Rosenthal correctly condemns 8...h5, but his analysis was incorrect. After 9.g5 white has a promising position. Tartakower mistakenly claimed a big advantage for white after 8...Nd7, but his analysis was also wrong as after 9.h4 the chances are even. After 8...h6 the position is quite equal. 9.h4 Continuing development with 9.Nge2 was a safer course. 9...b5 Teichmann incorrectly wrote that black's position is already inferior when actually, after after 9...b5 both sides have chances. Also promising is taking the B.
9...♘xc4 10.dxc4 d5 counterattacking in the center neutralizes white's K-side demonstration. The game is equal after 11.exd5 cxd5 12.cxd5 ♗b4 13.♘ge2 ♕xd5
10.♗b3 ♘xb3 Either 10...h5 or 10...d5 were somewhat better. 11.axb3 h5 12.gxh5 Schlechter correctly pointed out that this is much stronger than 12. g5.
12.g5 ♘g4 Not Tartakower's recommendation of the passive 12...Nd7. 13.♘h3 d5 with equal chances.
12...♘xh5 13.♘ge2 ♕b6 Both Teichmann and Marco condemned this move and claimed 13...Qc7 was best, but there doesn't seem to be that much difference between the two moves. 14.♘g3 Five years later at Ostende 1905 Janowski reached this same position against Leonhardt and tried to improve on this game with 14...Nxg3 which is much worse! There was absolutely nothing wrong with 14...Nf6. 14...♘f6
14...♘xg3 15.♕xg3 ♗d7 Leonhardt,P-Janowski,D/Ostende 1905/HCL/0-1 (40) Here white should have played 16.Qxg7 instead of 16.Bg5, but he still went on to win.
15.♗g5 ♗b7 16.h5 ♘h7 The threat of 17.h6 is too dangerous to ignore.
16...O-O-O 17.h6 ♖dg8 18.hxg7 ♖xh1 19.♕xh1 ♗f2 20.♔e2 ♗xg3 21.♗xf6 ♕f2 22.♔d1 and white is winning.
17.♗d2 O-O-O Hoping at one stroke to have displaced the center of gravity, but white shows that the K-side is still the main theater. Tartakower's quaint comment.
17...♘f6 has been suggested as better and so it appears. 18.h6 gxh6 19.♘h5 ♘xh5 20.♖xh5 O-O-O is equal.
18.h6 Even with black's K on the Q-side, white's K-side attack builds up steam. 18...g6 19.O-O-O Played in order to bring his other R into play.
19.fxg6 is preferred by Stockfish . After 19...fxg6 20.♘ce2 ♕c7 21.♕g4 ♔b8 22.♕xg6 ♖hg8 23.♕h5 ♗c8 24.♘f5 white's position is evaluated about two Ps better.
19...♖hg8 Other moves have been suggested, but the truth is black is at a disadvantage no matter what he plays so suggested improvements wouldn't really make much difference at all. 20.fxg6 fxg6 21.♖df1 ♔b8 This move received a lot of criticism: Why black allows the enemy Queen to invade on f7 is incomprehensible. (Marco). His (and Stockfish's) suggestion of 21... Qc7 technically isn't much better, but practically it would have made white's task of finding a winning line much harder. 22.♕f7 The initial move of a fine combination. (Teichmann). 22...♖h8 Here is where Janowski really goes astray.
22...♕c7 Marco claimed that this saves the game, but even after 22...Qc7 black's position would be difficult. 23.♕xc7 ♔xc7 24.♖f7 ♖d7 25.♖hf1 From this position white scored +2 -1 =2 in Shootouts, so while he stands better the result is up in the air!
23.♕xg6 ♖dg8 Schlechter asks, "Will he win a piece?" and Marco commented, "Obviously Janowski by his previous moves thought he would now win the Knight on g3." 24.♕g7 This brutal move was apparently overlooked by Black when he gave up the g-Pawn. (Teichmann). This must have come as a shock to Janowski! 24...♗c8 There is nothing better. (24...♖xg7 25.hxg7 ♖g8 26.♖xh7 is hopeless.) 25.♘f5 ♗xf5 26.♖xf5 Taking with the P was even better, but white now has a won game in any case. 26...♗b4 This position is critical and there has been some flawed analysis given. White has a won position; it's evaluated as nearly 5 Ps in his favor by Stockfish if he plays either 27.Qf7 or 27.Qd7.
26...♖xg7 still isn't playable. 27.hxg7 ♖g8 28.♖xh7 ♕d8 29.♗h6 d5 Preventing Rf8. 30.♗g5 ♕e8 31.♗f6 ♗e7 32.♗xe7 ♕xe7 33.♖f8 ♖xf8 34.g8=♕ wins.
27.♔b1 This move is not nearly as effective as 27.Qf7, but white is still winning.
27.♕f7 ♖c8 28.♖hf1 ♘f8 and from this position white scored five wins in Shootouts without much difficulty.
27...♗xc3 This makes white's task easier. Black's last chance to try and save the game was to take the Q. Engine analysis here confirms that this was not quite the one sided beating that many analysts have claimed it to be.
27...♖xg7 wasn't much better though. 28.hxg7 ♖g8 29.♖xh7 ♕g1 30.♘d1 ♔b7 (30...♗xd2 31.♖f8 ♔b7 32.♖xg8 ♕xd1 33.♔a2 ♕g4 34.♖d8 wins) 31.♗xb4 ♕xd1 32.♔a2 ♕g1 33.♖f8 ♕g6 34.♖h8 ♖xg7 35.♖b8 ♔c7 36.♖hc8 ♔d7 37.♖d8 ♔e7 (37...♔c7 38.♗a5#) 38.♖xd6 ♕xd6 39.♗xd6 ♔xd6 40.b4 with a winning R and P ending. That said, in Shootouts white did win 5 out of 5 games, but they were long (80 moves) and so in actual play white would have plenty of chances to go astray (as would black and so still lose!).
28.bxc3 ♘f8 The Q is still immune.
28...♖xg7 29.hxg7 ♖g8 30.♖f7 ♕d8 31.♖xh7 ♕e8 32.♖f6 ♕e7 33.♖f8 ♖xf8 34.g8=♕
29.♖hf1 ♘g6 30.♕d7 Not to complain, but he could have left the Q under attack one more move.
30.♖g5 wins the N because if 30...♖xg7 31.hxg7 ♖g8 32.♖xg6 ♕d8 33.♗h6 ♖xg7 ...else Rf8 34.♗xg7 ♕d7 35.♗h6 a5 36.♖f8 wins
30...♖d8 In the tournament book Rosenthal suggested 30...Qc7, but while it's a little better, it still would not have saved the game. 31.♕e6 ♘f4 32.♗xf4 exf4 33.♖5xf4 Now with a two P advantage the rest is a matter of technique. 33...♕c5 34.♖f7 ♕g5 35.♖f8 Very nice. 35...♕c5 (35...♖hxf8 36.♖xf8 ♖xf8 37.♕xd6 ♔b7 38.♕xf8 wins.) 36.♕e7 Janowski resigned. A great game by Mieses.
36.♕e7 ♖hxf8 37.♖xf8 ♖xf8 38.♕xf8 ♔b7 39.♕g7 ♔c8 40.h7 ♕h5 41.h8=♕ ♕xh8 42.♕xh8 ♔d7 43.d4 b4 44.cxb4 ♔e6 45.e5 dxe5 46.dxe5 c5 47.♕f6 ♔d5 48.e6 c4 49.e7 cxb3 50.e8=♕ bxc2 51.♔xc2 ♔c4 52.♕c3 ♔d5 53.♕ee5#
Powered by Aquarium


  1. When Reinfeld and Chernev--and even Tarrasch sometimes--present games as if they were one-sided crushes, it's for teaching purposes. They want to highlight how various positional "sins" get punished. Their examples are aimed at lower-level players, who would certainly wouldn't benefit from any of Kasparov's 5-page variations. These teachers assumed that as you got better, you would see that things are actually more complicated, and you would read more advanced books. Bronstein, for example, derided this kind of annotating, but I'll bet it taught a lot of future masters

  2. Mr. Gottlieb is, as usual, quite correct. GM Alex Yermolinsky addressed this issue at some length in his classic The Road To Chess Improvement. Yermolinsky pointed out that they were good players and they made good moves, but the difficulty came when they tried to explain how they did it. They did it by making generalizations.

    Yermolinsky also observed that when Alekhine wrote his first book of best games he was “desperately searching for a sponsor to organize his match with Capablanca. Alekhine had to write a book that would tell the world he was a genius and the last thing he wanted to do was cast a shadow of a doubt on his exclusive position in the chess world. The games were selected and annotated in the most presentable way to reach the strategic goal of winning universal recognition as a great player.” Yermo also claimed Nimzovich wrote My System with the same goal of getting a world championship match.