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Friday, December 21, 2018

A Bizarre Game

     The below game opens with the unorthodox St. George Defense, also known as the Birmingham Defense and the Basman Counterattack, when black played 1...a6. 
     The first known example was when J. Baker, an English amateur, used it to defeat Wilhelm Steinitz in a simultaneous exhibition in 1868.      
     In modern times Michael Basman and Anthony Miles occasionally played it and Basman even wrote a book on it. Miles once used it in a sensational defeat of Anatoly Karpov. It also occurred by transposition when Spassky used it against Petrosian in their 1966 world championship match. Petrosian won that one though and it was the game that gave him the 12 points needed to retain his title.       
     The St. George was the defense that Geza Maroczy chose in his game against Leo Forgacs when they met in Budapest, 1902, but the opening quickly transposed into the French Defense.  At move 5 Maroczy left the opening book and the game  took a bizarre turn.       
     In the first 13 moves Marocy sacrificed his Q, won Forgacs' R and promoted a P to a new Q. In the 8 moves that followed Forgacs duplicated the feat. The heartless Stockfish ripped the game apart in the auto-annotation and was quite liberal with it's "?" and "??" but who cares?       
     Not a lot is known about the Hungarian player Leo Forgacs, aka Leo Fleischmann, (October 1881 - August 1930).  Forgacs began his international career as Leo Fleischmann at Hanover 1902 where he won Haupturnier B in the 13th DSB Congress. He won the Hungarian champioship in 1907.  After 1908 he began playing as Leo Forgacs.  He had some modest successes, but mostly he was in the middle of the pack and his last major event appears to have been in 1913 when he finished 3rd in Budapest. Chessmetrics lists him as playing from the years 1904 to 1915 with a high rating of 2503 in 1909.      

     Geza Maroczy (March 1870 – May 1951) was one of the leading players in the world in his time. Between 1902 and 1908, he took part in thirteen tournaments and won five first prizes and five second prizes. In 1906 he agreed to terms for a World Championship match with Emanuel Lasker, but political problems in Cuba, where the match was to be played, caused the arrangements to be canceled.       
     After 1908, Maróczy retired from international chess to devote more time to his profession, working as an auditor at the Center of Trade Unions and Social Insurance. When the Communists came briefly to power he was a chief auditor at Educational Ministry. After the Communist government was overthrown he couldn't get a job. He made a brief return to chess after World War I. His style, though sound, was very defensive and his proficiency in Queen endings was legendary. Capablanca held Maroczy in high esteem calling him "very gentlemanly and correct" and "a kindly figure." It was Maroczy who helped Vera Menchik reach the top of women's chess. On the Chessmetrics rating list, in 1905 Maroczy's rating is given as 2820 making him number 1 in the world. Up until the mid-1930s Marocy was ranked within the top 10-15 best players in the world. 

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