Game Analysis

Reti – Tartakower Vienna, 1910

Here is a very beautiful miniature played between two very skilled players from the beginning of the 20th. century. This is an offhand game between the two chess giants. Since it was not a serious tournament game, Black’s mistakes can be understood. Richard Reti was one of the founders of the so-called hypermodern theories of chess. He was one of the finest players in the world and also excelled in the art of chess composition. He died at the young age of 40. Savielly Tartakower was clearly one of the top seven players in the world during his prime years. He spoke several languages fluently, had a lively writing style that made his work popular everywhere it appeared, and he was famous for resurrecting poor openings.

1.e2–e4 c7–c6

2.d2–d4 d7–d5

3.Nb1–c3 d5xe4

The Caro-Kann Defence was relatively new at the time of this game. Horatio Caro and Marcus Kann had published their analysis in 1886. Tartakower was born the following year; Reti two years after Tartakower.

4.Nc3xe4

4…Ng8–f6!?

Tartakower follows the original methods of Horatio Caro and Marcus Kann. A popular move today is: 4…Nb8–d7! 5.Ng1–f3 Ng8–f6 so as to recapture with the Knight if White exchanges on f6; or 4…Bc8–f5 this is an important setup that all Caro-Kann players should look at and understand.

5.Qd1–d3

White wishes to castle as soon as possible on the Queen’s side, in order to operate on the Queen’s file with the help of the Rook. But the normal move 5.Ne4xf6+! is played almost every time.

5…e7–e5?!

Breaking prematurely in the centre, with a disadvantage in development is a risky business. Tartakower was a great genius of the game, but in here he gets a little too creative for his own good. Black loses two moves in bringing White’s centre pawn away. The manoeuvre therefore is not sound and better is: 5…Nf6xe4 6.Qd3xe4 Nb8–d7 7.Bf1–c4 Nd7–f6 8.Qe4–d3 e7–e6 9.Ng1–f3 Bf8–e7 10.0–0 0–0 11.Bc1–f4;

Wrong is 5…Bc8–f5? because of 6.Ne4xf6+ losing a piece.

6.d4xe5

Reti declares his willingness to attack, he accepts the challenge.

6…Qd8–a5+

The way out to recover the pawn and exploding the pinned White Knight.

6…Qd8xd3 seems reasonable but is not the reason Tartakower played 5…e5. Perhaps he should have reassessed his plan 7.Bf1xd3 f6xe4 8.Qd3xe4 and White seem slightly better; 6…Nf6xe4?! is less good after 7.Qd3xe4 Bc8–e6 8.Ng1–f3 =

7.Bc1–d2

Attacking the Queen at once and develop a piece in the process, less good is 7.Nc3?! losing time.

7…Qa5xe5

Reti’s pinned knight is now attacked twice. It would seem that this was Tartakower’s original idea, he regains the Pawn and centralizes his Queen. His next aim needs to get his King to safety.

8.0–0–0!

Offering the Knight as bait. White prepares a magnificent mating combination, which can only be made possible at such an early stage when the opponent has utterly neglected his development.

8…Nf6xe4?

The critical error! Tartakower grabs thoughtlessly and has won a whole piece, but Reti saw further into the position.

8…Bf8–e7 would’ve saved the day 9.Ne4xf6+ Qe5xf6 (blunder is 9…e7xf6?? 10.Rd1–e1) 10.Ng1–f3 and White seems slightly better;

Or 8…Bc8–e6 9.d2–c3 Qe5–f4+ 10.Kc1–b1 Nb8–d7 11.Ne4xf6+ Nd7xf6 12.Ng1–f3 Bf8–e7 White is slightly better.

9.Qd3–d8+!

The Queen sacrifice is forcing. A Discovery Attack happens when one piece moves out of the way of another in order for it to do the attack. But in order to be effective the piece that moves out of the way must do an independent attack of its own.

9…Ke8xd8

10.Bd2–g5+

The checkmate pattern is known as Reti’s Mate. Tartakower resigned here, according to some accounts. Later, in his A Breviary of Chess (1937), he stated, “nothing could better illustrate the power of a double check”

10…Kd8–c7

Tartakower is doomed either way: 10…Kd8–e8 11.Rd1–d8#

11.Bg5–d8#

Probably the most famous of all miniature games, wrote Irving Chernev (1000 Best Short Games of Chess) about Réti vs Tartakower. The description is debatable, not least because Chernev quoted favorably Marshall’s statement that Morphy’s opera brilliancy was the most famous game of all time.

1–0

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The Max Lange Attack

Marshall – Tarrasch, Hamburg 1910

Shortly before the date of the Hamburg tournament, various chess players of renown had been exercising their critical faculties on the familiar Max Lange opening. Three distinguished foreign masters, after an exhaustive analysis, had evolved a defence which they contended completely broke up the attack. As a practical test of the analysis, a series of games at this opening was played in London between Blackburne, Gunsberg and other experts, and in each game the attack failed badly. The Max Lange had been proved an imposter and was promptly relegated to the limbo of exploded fallacies. The Hamburg tournament arrived, and in the first round Marshall played the discredited Max Lange opening against Dr. Tarrasch, the master of research.

1. e4 e5 2. d4 exd4 3. Nf3 Nc6 4. Bc4 Bc5

This black move characterizes the starting point of the Max Lange Attack. Black protects the centre pawn d4 and gets ready for a powerful counterattack. After 5…Bc5 we get very unbalanced positions which you have to know extremely well. Otherwise one inaccurate move could cost the game. 4… Nf6 Reti/Dubois variation, and then 5.0-0 Ne4: Anti Max Lange or 5.e5 the Advanced variation are the main systems.

5. O-O

The move from Paul Morphy in this position, but in true gambit style is: 5.c3!? Staunton-Horwitz, London 1846. Less good is 5.Ng5?! Cochrane-Deschapelles, Paris 1821.

5… Nf6

Many believe that White cannot gain anything in the Max Lange Attack, if Black makes good moves and castles long side. White is put under psychological pressure as he
has to prove that he has something to show for the pawn he has sacrificed. If White can’t do this or tries too hard, he easily can drift into a losing game. So Black doesn’t be afraid of it.

6. e5

The Max Lange Attack is an aggressive chess variation that can arise also from other opening lines such as the Two Knights Defence and among others as Petroff’s defence, Scotch game and the Italian game.

6…d5

This is the key to the variation. Black allows White to destroy the Kingside pawns. But Black is getting a tremendous centre pawn pair which should be a great compensation for the ruined King’s Safety.

6…Ng4 the Spielmann defence (but also been called the Steinitz var.) 7.c3 Krause variation and 7.Bf4 O-O Becker-Spielmann, Vienna 1928) 7…dxc3
(or 7… d5 Euwe-Bersma, Amsterdam 1925) 8.Bxf7+ Kxf7 9.Qd5+ (or 9.Ng5+!? Kf8 10. Qxg4) 9…Ke8 10.Qxc5).

7.exf6

White opens up the position, especially with the enemy King still in the middle. White can also transpose to the Two Knights Modern with an extra move: 7.Bb5 Ne4 8.Nxd4 Bd7 9.Bxc6 though this specific move order is about equal.

7… dxc4 8. Re1+

The classical main line of the Max Lange, a different approach is: 8.fxg7 Rg8 9. Bg5! Fahrni-Tartakover, Baden Baden 1914. Fahrni may have originated this approach, which only appears in previously recorded games that transpose to standard lines. Horowitz’s analysis, though, makes it a fully viable weapon (or the obvious 9.Re1+ Be6 10.Ng5 Qd5 11.Nc3 Qf5 12.Nce4 Louis Paulsen-Schwengers, blind simul 1862); 9… Be7 (Horowitz analyzed the critical line 9…f6!? 10.Bh6) 10.Bxe7 Kxe7 11.Re1+ Be6 12.Re4 Horowitz writes: “A quick appraisal indicates various pluses and minuses for both sides.”

8… Be6

In fact the only move, if 8… Kf8?! 9.Bg5 gxf6 10.Bh6+ Kg8 11.Qd2 11.Nc3 Bf8 12.Bxf8 Kxf8 13.Nb5 Bg4 11… Bf5 12.Qf4=

9. Ng5

The main move played by Steinitz, a lesser played line is the Schlechter variation: 9.fxg7 Max Lange move, but if White captures the g7 pawn at this point then the advantage goes to Black’s side Rg8 10. Bg5 (10. Ng5 Qe7 Lange-Von Schmidt 1853) 10…Be7 11.Bxe7 Kxe7 12.Re4 d3 better is 12f5 13.Rh4 Kf7 (or 13…Rxg7 14.Nxd4 Qd5 15.g3 Rd8 16.Nc3 Euwe-Van Hooren, Amsterdam 1927) 13.Nbd2 dxc2 14.Qxc2 Qd3 the White player is the Man with the Plan and he needs to remember each move precisely. Any other else one incorrect move and the tables will turn towards the Black side.

9… Qd5

About the only move, if: 9…Qxf6? 10.Nxe6 fxe6 11.Qh5+ g6 12.Qxc5 is a notorious trap 12…Rf8 13.f3 O-O-O 14.Bg5 Rd5 15. Qxd5 exd5 White is much better;

9… g6!? Loman defence 10.Qg4 Qd5= Dimer – Van Foreest Arnold, Amsterdam 1899

9… Qd7? 10.Nxe6 fxe6 11.Qh5+ Qf7 12.Qxc5 White is much better.

10. Nc3

Kind of similar move as in the “Anti Max Lange” line, but the black Queen has far fewer options here.

10…Qf5

And not: 10…dxc3?? 11.Qxd5 wins.

11.Nce4

The Marshall variation. If White goes: 11. g4 Berger variation Qxf6 (or 11…Qg6 12.Nce4 Bb6 13.f4 Berger variation) 12.Nd5 Qd8 13Rxe6+ fxe6 14.Nxe6 Qd7 15.Qe2 Be7 16.Ndxc7+ Kf7 17.Qxc4 Ne5 18.Qb3 1-0 Steinitz-Meitner, Vienna 1860.)

11… O-O-O

Black should try this castling Queen-side for sure, but with complicated play. Black needs to be extra cautious to avert White’s Activity. If now: 11…Bf8? Rubinstein variation 12.Nxf7 Kxf7 13.Ng5+ Kg8 and White regains the piece with a winning attack. And 11…Bb6!? 12.fxg7 Rg8 13.g4 Qg6 14.Nxe6 fxe6 15.Bg5 Rxg7 16.Nf6+ Marshall-Bampton, Saratoga 1899.

12. Nxe6

Technically, the Max Lange Gambit is not a pure gambit and is also often called Max Lange Attack. The reason is that White regain the sacrificed pawn quite quickly in the majority of cases. White can play: 12.g4 Qd5 (12…Qe5! is the main line since the other lines all lead to clear advantages for white) 13.fxg7 Rhg8 14.Nf6 Qd6 15.Nge4 Qe5 16. f4 d3+ 17. Kg2 Qd4 18.c3 1-0 Chigorin-Albin, Berlijn 1897.

12… fxe6

13. g4

The most aggressive line, and the one with advantage, if 13.fxg7?! is less good after Rhg8 14.Nxc5 Qxc5 15.Bh6 Qf5 16.Qe2 e5 with advantage for Black.

13… Qe5

Here the game depends on who is the better player. This is the main line since the
other lines all lead to clear advantages for white: 13…Qd5? 14.fxg7 Rhg8 15.Nf6 White is much better.

14. fxg7 Rhg8

15. Bh6!

This game represented an important improvement for the Max Lange theory. Here Marshall introduced the move 15.Bh6 for the first time, which happens to be very strong, because it turns the white Pawns on the Kingside into a very dangerous weapon. If White played 15.Bg5 Rde8? (better is 15…Be7) 16.Bf6 with advantage White.

15… d3

Shortly before departing for Europe, Marshall had examined the Scottish Gambit and especially the Max Lange Attack. Marshall and Capablanca played some training games to test out the variation. For instance 15… Bb4?! 16. f4 Qb5 (and not 16…Qa5? 17. Nf6 d3) 17.Nf6 Rxg7 18.Bxg7 Bxe1 White is better. Or 15… Be7 16. Ng5 Qf4 17.Re4 Qf6 Edward Lasker-Rotlevi, Hamburg 1910.

16. c3 Bd6?

Clearly not the best. Better is 16…d2 17.Re2 Rd3 18.Qf1 White is better. Also worse is 16…Bb6?! 17.Qf3 Rxg7 18.Nf6 White is better (if 18.Bxg7 Qxg7 is about level).

17. f4

The old swindler Frank James Marshall makes it to work.

17… Qd5

The attack is off, but no better is: 17…Qb5 18.b3 White is better.

18. Qf3

White plans to play Knight takes on d6 with check.

18… Be7

A mistake, better is: 18…Rd7 19.Nxd6+ Qxd6 20.Rad1 e5 21.g5 exf4 22.Re4 Qc5+ 23.Qf2 Qd5 24.Qxf4 White is better.

19. g5

The correct move, if 19. Rad1? Bf6 and Black is better.

19…Qf5 20. Ng3 Qf7?

Another incorrect continuation, better is: 20… Qb5 21.f5 (or 21.Rxe6 Qxb2 22.Rd1 (and not 22.Rae1?? Qxc3 black wins) 21. Rab1! passive but effective d2 22. Red1 Rd3 23. Qe4 White is much better.

21. Qg4

Also 21.Re4 is a very good move in this position.

21…Rde8

Indirect protection, but the position is hopeless.

22. Re4

And of course not: 22. Rxe6? Bc5+.

22… b5

23. a4 a6

The small trap is still existing.

24. axb5 axb5

25. Kg2

Going out of the check is a quiet but an effective attacking move!

25…Nd8

Defending the pawn.

26.Qf3 Qg6

After this move the Black King is on his own and he doesn’t stand a chance.

27.Rd4

Mate in 10 (Stokfish 12).

27…c6 28. Rxd8+ Kxd8 29. Qxc6

And Black resigns.

1-0

Some openings are so unbalanced that one false move can cost you the game. A prime example is the Max Lange attack, one of the stormiest opening systems of the mid 19th century. This game was very important for theoretical development.