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Passive from the outside, deadly from the inside

Marshall , Frank James – Capablanca, Jose Raul New York, USA, 15.03.1927 Caro-Kann, Classical Variation

The game starts with a very conservative passive formation from black then after a central breakthrough black’s pieces suddenly become very active which is a main theme in many lines in the Caro-kann and other openings such as the French and the Scandinavian. To view this game in chessbase format as well as pgn download, you can do it from ths link: http://www.viewchess.com/cbreader/2020/4/12/Game11650295.html Frank Marshall was one of the best players of his time, winning the U.S Championship for many years along with many super strong round-robin around the world. His peak was challenging Lasker for the a World Championship match in 1907, he's most known today for the Marshall Attack in the Ruy Lopez which is named after him after playing it against Capablanca in 1918, it's now considered one of the main theories and played between all types of players and in high level games.

1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.Nxe4 Bf5 5.Ng3 Bg6 6.f4 this was played mostly in the early 1900's most commonly played by Marcozy, it was most likely played as a surprise since it was not used in such high level games

6.h4 is the main move in this position

6...e6 7.Nf3 white's idea is to prevent black's plan of an e5 break, which could be a dangerous idea as we saw in game 2

7...Bd6 black has a lot of alternatives in this position,most of them lead to the same position, black's main plan it to get his pieces out then make a break in the center

7...Nd7; and 7...Nf6 are also good

8.Bd3 exchanging black's active bishop,which is a reoccuring theme in the opening

8.h4 was an decent alternative, after 8...h5 9.Bd3 Bxd3 10.Qxd3


8...Ne7 preventing the threat of f5

8...Qc7!? is a very interesting move, it looks suspicious trying to take a pawn while his pieces aren't developed but his setup is safe enough to take such action 9.f5 (9.0–0 Bxf4 10.Bxf4 Qxf4 11.Qe1; 9.Ne5 c5 10.Bb5+ Nc6 and after Nf6 and castling black will be totally fine ) 9...exf5 (9...Bxg3+? looks very tempting but after 10.hxg3 Qxg3+ 11.Kf1 suddenly white will have many open lines with his pieces being very active, although being 2 pawns up black's position is lost) 10.0–0 and an unclear position arises, white has some compensation for the pawn but not enough to claim any advantage (10.Nxf5?? losses to 10...Bxf5 11.Bxf5 Qa5+) ; 8...Nf6 is also possible, with similar ideas to the text

9.0–0 9.Bxg6 hxg6 10.Ne4 was a decent alternative; entering an endgame after 9.Ne5 Bxe5 10.dxe5 Bxd3 11.Qxd3 Qxd3 12.cxd3 is bad for white as he has a weak pawn on d3 and black has many many outposts such as d5/d4

9...Nd7 10.Kh1 a prophylactic move, white moves away from the a7/g1 diagonal preparing for moves such c5 and Qb6 for black

10.Ne4; 10.c4

10...Qc7 black develops his pieces preparing for a break in the center with c5

11.Ne5 Rd8 12.Qe2 Bxd3 black avoids all unnecessary complications

black exchanged bishops first trying to avoid something like 12...0–0 13.Bxg6 hxg6 14.Ne4 and white threatens Ng5 which could lead to a dangerous attack, though after 14...c5! as in the game black is fine

13.Nxd3 13.Qxd3? falls for 13...Nxe5 14.fxe5 Bxe5 and white can't take due to the pin

13...0–0 now black has finished preparing and is ready to start the execution

14.Bd2 14.Ne4 is also met by 14...c5; white had an interesting sequence meeting c5 starting with 14.c4 c5 15.b4! b6 (15...cxd4? /cxb4 is met by 16.c5 traping the bishop) 16.dxc5 bxc5 17.b5 with an balanced position with chances for both sides, although white feels to be slightly more active

14...c5 14...Nf5!? first was also good, after 15.Nxf5 exf5 black will have an outpost on e4, note that e5 is not an outpost since a piece can be pushed by f6

15.Ne4 setting a trick

15...Nf5 15...cxd4?? loses to 16.Nxd6 Qxd6 17.Bb4 and the e7 knight is lost

16.dxc5 Nxc5 17.Ndxc5 17.Nxd6 Rxd6 18.Bb4 b6 with slight edge for black

17...Bxc5 now black has achieved his first plan, now the fight on the d-file will start for both sides


18.Bc3? white wants to trick black, but exchanges a vital piece in the process

18...Bd4 exchanging the dangerous bishop

trying to double on the d-file straight away with 18...Rd7? loses to 19.Nf6+! gxf6 (19...Kh8 20.Nxd7) 20.Qg4+ Ng7 21.Bxf6 and mate on the next move

19.Rad1 white tries to share the d-file, but fails due to the protection of the f4 pawn

19.Bb4 Rfe8 20.c3

19...Bxc3 20.Nxc3 Rxd1 21.Nxd1 21.Qxd1 is met by 21...Ne3; 21.Rxd1 loses the f4 pawn

21...Rd8 now black has won the fight of the d-file, white has to suffer to regain equality. Note how black's position in the beginning was looking passive but now all his pieces are active

22.Nc3 white is losing time,giving black chances to better his position

22.c3 h5 (22...Qd6) 23.Qxh5 Rd2

22...Qb6 23.Rd1 23.b3 Qe3 black penetrates white's position, white must exchange queens then black will invade the 7th rank. If white moves from exchanging with 24.Qc4 h6 and after Rd2 white's position will be completely lost

23...Rxd1+ 24.Nxd1 now many pieces are exchanged,but despite that black is much better due to his more active pieces.we'll see how the great Capa manages to squeeze out his advantage to a win


24...Qb4 24...Qa5 25.a3 (25.Nc3 h6 26.a3) 25...Nd4

25.Qf2 a natural move, but his pieces are becoming more passive

25.g3 was a decent alternative, though white was probably skeptical of since he didn't want to open his king. black can play 25...h5 as 26.Qxh5?? loses to 26...Qe1+ 27.Kg2 Qxd1! 28.Qxd1 Ne3+

25...h5 consolidating his knight on f5, also with some attacking plans with h4,h3

26.a3 Qd6 27.Nc3 27.Ne3?? trying to exchange knights falls to 27...Qd4 and white can't move from the pin

27...Qd4 now the position moves into a forced line where black will emerge a pawn up, though white should be ok

28.Qxd4 all other moves lose immediately

28.Qf1 Qd2 and Ne3; 28.Qf3 also 28...Qd2; 28.Kg1 Ne3 and white's position is tied up, black also wants to take on c2 taking advantage of the pin

28...Nxd4 29.Ne4 Nxc2 30.Nd6 Ne3 now is the critical point for white

31.a4? making it way harder on himself, better was

31.Nxb7 Nc4 32.Nd8 Nxb2 33.Nc6 a6 34.g3 and with a 4 to 3 pawn advantage on the kingside black has good winning chances, but with optimal play white should be able to hold

31...Nd5 32.Nxb7? letting black have a passed pawn plus a very scary 4 pawns to white's 2, generally such imbalances are bad for a side whose down in material

32.g3 b6 33.Nc8 a5 was necessary,though now it's harder than the previous note since there are more pawns on the queenside

32...Nxf4 33.b4? the last mistake for white,though it was very difficult to give white better options

33.Na5 Nd3 34.b3 Nb4; 33.Kg1 Nd3 34.b3 Kf8 35.Kf1 Ke7 and white can't play 36.Ke2? due to 36...Nc1+

33...Nd5 34.b5 Nc3 35.Na5 Nxa4 36.Nc6 Kf8 37.Nxa7 Ke7 after this forced line white has a very weak pawn which will shortly be taken by black's pieces,the rest doesn't need commentary

38.Nc6+ Kd6 39.Kg1 f6 40.Kf2 e5 41.Nd8 Kd7 42.Nb7 Kc7 43.Na5 Nc3 44.Kf3 Nxb5 45.Ke4 Nd6+ 46.Kd5 Kd7 47.Nc6 Nc8 48.Nb8+ Ke7 49.Nc6+ Kf7 50.Nd8+ Ke8 lessons from this game: The power behind a passive and quiet setup and how to do it. - The importance of a central outbreak (c5). - How to play a queen ending.

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