A draw ... 
  of some historical importance.


In 1904, when Marshall sat down to play the first round of this tournament, perhaps he believed in what he was about to accomplish, but I seriously doubt any {serious} chess prognosticator would have predicted that he would go on to win the tournament, especially in the manner in which he completed this event. (Not only did he win, he only surrendered four draws, and finished well ahead of everyone else - all the while, he never lost a single game! Such a result immediately ranked him as one of the best players in the world.)

So while this draw might not at first seem important, its value to chess historians cannot be over-estimated. Indeed - there is also a practical aspect to this game. If Marshall had lost, especially with the White pieces, isn't it very likely that his confidence (in himself) would have been shattered? I think this is very possible. (Chess history might have been VERY different if Marshall had lost this key first-round encounter!) 

There is also the scientific aspect to this struggle. Subject the game to a microscope ... and determine if anything new can be discovered! (I would be very disappointed ... if my role here had been reduced to simply rehashing old thoughts and variations.) So ... without further ceremony, let's proceed on to the game. 


  Frank J. Marshall (2658) - Mikhail Tchigorin (2759) 
  ICT / Super-Masters  
 Cambridge Springs, PA / U.S.A. (Round # 01) / 25,04,1904. 

 [A.J. Goldsby I] 

 The CB Medal for this interesting contest. (gcg_mar-chi_cs04_medal.gif, 02 KB)

Click  HERE  to see an explanation of the symbols that I use when annotating a chess game. 

Click  HERE  to replay this game ... on another website. (Not my site.)  

The first round (game) of the {eventual} winner of the tournament. 

At the time that this game was played, Marshall was not a recognized name in chess, but Tchigorin was very well known ... and even feared. (He had been Champion of Russia, won numerous international tournaments, and even played Steinitz a match for the World's Championship.) 

I am not a betting man ... but you can imagine that the odds were running in favor of Black in this situation. 

   ** ** ** ** ** **   ** ** ** ** ** **   ** ** ** ** ** **   ** ** ** ** ** **   ** ** ** ** ** **   

{The ratings used here ... were obtained from the website of Jeff Sonas, and used without any change or modification.  
(His rating list for 04.1904)}  

According to a copy of the official Tournament Bulletins, this game was held on Table # 8(Etzel's game # 8.)  


 1.d4 d5;  2.c4 e6;  3.Nc3 c6;  
A solid way of introducing the Slav, that is used even today. 

(Black holds back on playing the Knight to f6, as White might pin it. 3...Nf6; 4.Bg5, leads to the main lines   
  of the Queen's Gambit Declined -
  that were pioneered by H.N. Pillsbury, (also one of the competitors in   
  this event!)
- and are still played today.  
  ---> See any good reference book for more details on the QGD opening.)  


Introducing the (possibility of) ... 
"The Marshall Gambit," (in the Slav) which the great American player both played and pioneered. 

More cautious is  4.Nf3,  followed by a smooth, normal development. 

     [ Many modern GM's play  4.e3!?,  so as not to have to bother with the possibility of    
        losing a Pawn on the c4-square. 

       See the famous contest:  GM A. Karpov - GM M. TalICT / Bugojno, YUG; 1980. 
      {White won a nice game, in just thirty-four total moves.} ]    


 4...dxe4;  5.Nxe4 Nf6;   
Not a bad move, but modern theory might consider this slightly premature.  
5...Bb4+;  and  5...Nd7;  are the two main tries advocated by a relatively recent book (2002) on this opening.   

     [ The main lines - IF Black wishes to accept the gambit - are:   
        5...Bb4+!?6.Bd2!? Qxd4! 7.Bxb4 Qxe4+8.Be2 Na6 9.Bc3 Ne710.Bxg7, {D?} 
        with continuing complications. (White may emerge with a small advantage from the opening.)    

       GM A. Onischuk - GM I. Novikov The Lindborg Rotary Open  (1-0)   
       Kansas / USA / 2002.  (55 moves)   

       [See (also) MCO-14, page # 479; column # 62, and all applicable notes. 
        (Especially note # j.)] ]   


Both sides continue to develop their pieces in a commendable manner. 
(White avoids the exchange on f6, as it just helps ease the congestion of Black's position.)   

 6.Nc3 Nbd7;  7.Nf3 Bd6;  8.Bd3!? e5;  9.0-0 0-0;  10.Bg5,  ('!?')   
An aggressive move, pinning the Knight, just about any {other} move was playable as well.  

     [ Or 10.Be3 Re8; 11.Qc2, etc. ]   


 10...exd4;  11.Nxd4 Ne5;  "~"    {See the diagram - just below.}  
Black seems no worse here ... and may have already equalized. ("=")  



gcg_mar-chi_cs04_pos01.gif, 10 KB

  r1bq1rk1/pp3ppp/2pb1n2/4n1B1/2PN4/2NB4/PP3PPP/R2Q1RK1 w  


This would be a good place to have a look at the position ... and decide for yourself.   


White decides to surrender his Bishop in order to keep the momentum of his initiative going.  

White has many problems, he does not want to exchange ... but retreating moves all give Black a very good game. 

     [ The continuation of:   
       12.Bb1!? Nxc4!?13.Bxf6?! Qxf614.Qd3 Qh6;  "/+"   favors Black.   
       (A trap of sorts. White set it, but the attempt backfires.) ]   


 12...gxf6!?;  (Maybe - '?!')    
If one of my students had played this move ... I would be tempted to give it a question mark ... and label it as just plain bad. However, when a player with the stature of M. Tchigorin does this, I believe in allowing a little leeway. 

Did the great master believe that the half-open g-file was a significant asset for him in the coming middlegame, and would off-set the weakness in his Pawn-structure? (Probably - Black's style of play was typical for that period, and placed piece activity ahead of most positional considerations.) 

     [ In any case, the continuation of:   >/=  12...Qxf613.Ne4 Qh6;  "~"    
       should be considered superior to that of the course chosen in the actual game here. ]   


 13.Bc2!?,  (hmmm)    
White sets a trap ... 

     [ Probably better was:   
        (>/=)  13.Bf5! Ng614.Qg4 Be5 15.Bxc8 Qxc816.Nf5, "+/="   
       when White seems to have a small (but solid) advantage. ]  


 13...Bg4!?;  (Probably - '!')    
... (and) Black does not fall for it!   

The move played is a little shocking, as it seemingly just loses a tempo to the Pawn move, f2-f3. 
(However, I should point out that it is also the first choice of Fritz 8.0 in 2005.)   

     [ Not  </=  13...Nxc4??; as 14.Qd3,  "+/-"  would simply win a piece for White. ]   


Something like this is virtually forced for Marshall here, other moves will simply create an unnecessary and a readily exploitable weakness. 

     [ Not </= 14.f3?! Bc5; "=/+"  allowing Black counterplay. ]  


 14...Ng6;  15.h3 Bf4!;   
"Necessary and preventing Qh6." - Fred Reinfeld.   

     [ 15...Be5; 16.hxg4 Qxd4; "~" ]   


 16.Qd3 Be5;  ('!')   
Reinfeld states that this was correct, and even best, as there was no really good (retreating) move for Black's QB 
at this point in the game. (I.e., if 16...Bc8?!; then 17.Rad1, "+/=" with a solid edge for White.)   

     [ Or 16...Be6!?; 17.Nce2! "+/=" ]   


 17.Nxc6!;   {See the diagram given - just below.}   
White wins a Pawn ... and also avoids some really bad endings.  



gcg_mar-chi_cs04_pos02.gif, 10 KB

  r2q1rk1/pp3p1p/2N2pn1/4b3/2P3b1/2NQ3P/PPB2PP1/R4RK1 b  


"This, I thought, would give me a winning advantage - but the Russian's resources proved too great ... 
  and later, I had to work hard to gain the draw." - F.J. Marshall   
(From a Philadelphia newspaper, a similar comment was carried in several books and the bulletins for this event.)  

I should also point out that Nxc6 is the first choice of most programs in this particular position. 

     [ 17.hxg4 Qxd4; 18.Qxd4 Bxd4;  19.Ne4 Ne5, "=" ]   


The next few moves are all nearly forced and probably best.   
 17...bxc6; ('[]' ?)    
Obviously Black must play this ... sooner or later. 
(Tchigorin is counting on lots of open lines and tremendous piece activity ... to make up for his lost Pawn.)   

     [ ALL (!!) THE DATABASES ... and most books ... give the following moves:    
       17...Qxd318.Bxd3 bxc619.hxg4 Rab8 as what was actually played in this contest.  

        This is incorrect. It may only be a transposition, but for the sake of accuracy and historical    
        integrity; the records need to be changed.  
         - LM A.J. Goldsby I; Tuesday; September 20th, 2005. ]   


 18.hxg4, "+/="  (Maybe - '')    
Now White clearly has an edge, and this is verified by all of the computer programs here.   

     [ </= 18.Qxd8!? Raxd8; 19.hxg4 Rd2.  "<=>"  ]   


This is good - the only other logical candidate move here would have been the immediate 18...Rb8.  

 19.Bxd3 Rab8!;  
I have studied this game closely with a few students and friends.  

Since the natural impulse seems to be to capture on c3 here, this {superior} move gets an exclam.  


 20.Rab1 Nf4;  21.Be4 Rb4!;   
No comment from most sources here, but this move is essential to Black's whole plan of defense/counterplay.  

     [ It was probably wise for Black to avoid the following continuation, as after:    
       </=  21...Bxc3!?; ('?!')  22.bxc3 Ne2+23.Kh2 Nxc3 
       24.Rxb8 Rxb825.Bxc6, "+/="  (Maybe - "+/")  
       White's passed pawn could prove to be a monster in the endgame. ]  


 22.g3!,  (Maybe - '!!')   
A crucial point has been reached in the game - Marshall strikes a good balance between keeping his own pieces fairly active, and containing the counterplay of his opponent. 

     [ After the moves:   
        (</=)  22.Bxc6!? Bxc323.bxc3 Rxc424.Bf3 Rxc3;  "~"   {Diag?}  
        Fritz awards the first party a small plus. However, it is mostly theoretical,   
        I think most masters would agree that White's winning chances are next to    
        nil in this position. ]   


 22...Bxc3;  23.gxf4;  (Maybe - '!')   
Probably the best, and the first {move} choice of Fritz 8.0.  

Reinfeld indicates that this is correct ... and the other capture ... (on c3) lead to a similar ending.  

     [ Less effective was:  (</=)  23.bxc3 Rxc424.Rb4, "+/="  24...Ne2+;   
        and Black's play looks to be just sufficient for the defender. 
        (Now on Kg2, then ... Rc5; when White's button on c3 looks lost.) ]    


 23...Rxc4; '!'   
(Black counter-attacks White's Bishop, rather than retreating his own hanging piece on c3,  
 and wins a pawn in the process.)  

  **    ** ** ** ** **  ** ** ** ** **  ** ** ** ** **  ** ** ** ** **  ** ** ** ** **  ** ** ** ** **    **  

An interesting position has arisen on the chess board. 



gcg_mar-chi_cs04_pos03.gif, 09 KB

  5rk1/p4p1p/2p2p2/8/2r1BPP1/2b5/PP3P2/1R3RK1 w  


Fritz gives White an edge here, but hours of following the computer's various suggestions  (...)
leads to nothing that was conclusive. 

     [ </= 23...Bd4?24.b3. '' or "+/-" ]   


 24.f3!?;  (hmmm)    
A rather obtuse move, in a very strange position. I am not sure what the correct approach would be here for White ...  
but without help from someone like Benko or Dvoretsky, there is no way to tell for sure. (Fritz likes Bf5 here.)  

Reinfeld says: ... "less risky was Bd3. After this, White has an uphill game for a draw." (Hmmm, really?)   

Anyone with any real tournament experience knows that positions that contain Bishops (of opposite color) are difficult, even for a master, to play accurately all of the time. 

     [ Or 24.Bd3 Rd4; 25.Bf5 Bd2; "~" ]   


The game now boils down to a draw, although - as previously noted - Marshall has to work hard to earn the half-point.  
 24...Bd2; 25.Rfd1!,  (piece play)   
Marshall prefers to get - and keep - his pieces active over the grubby alternatives. 
(Hanging on to the Pawn on f4, but greatly cutting down on the scope of White's B.)   

     [ After the moves:   (</=)  25.f5!? c526.b3 Be3+27.Kg2, "+/="  27...Rd4;  "<=>"   
       several FL masters agree with me - Black's defense will probably be enough to hold the draw. ]   


 25...Bxf4;  26.Rd7,   
Seemingly both obvious and best, White lands a Rook on the (always important) seventh rank.  

     [ The move of:   26.b3!?, "+/="   was also to be considered here. 
        (Its also the first choice of Fritz.) ]   


This move is more than good enough, but 26...Ra4; (Fritz) might have been a little more accurate. 
(Although this is not really iron-clad.)   

 27.Kg2!? Rb8!?;   
This looks like an obvious move, but this piece might have been needed elsewhere, (later in the game). 

 28.b3 Rc3;  29.Rbd1,   
Once again, seemingly an obvious move, but Fritz preferred  Ra7  here. 
(This looks good, as White might have been able to try and double his Rooks on the 7th rank. 
  It may have also prevented the defense ... that the great Russian master now misses.)   


     [ Or  29.Kf2!? a4; "~"  with good play for Black from this position. ]   


Now  >/= 29...a4!;  pries open files for the Black Rooks, and almost forces White to pare down material.   
 29...Kg7!?; ('?!')  30.Ra7 h5!; ('!!')    
Opening key lines to the White King for Black's pieces.  (The move, 30...Rc5; was also OK.)   

     [ Or 30...Rc5!?; 31.Rdd7, "+/="  (Fritz) ]   


 31.gxh5;   {See the diagram ... just below.}    
Grabbing the offered button.  



gcg_mar-chi_cs04_pos04.gif, 08 KB

  1r6/R4pk1/2p2p2/p6P/4Bb2/1Pr2P2/P5K1/3R4 b  


A completely unbalanced position has arisen on the chessboard here. 
(Can you guess which move Black should play in this position?)   


     [ Or White could play:  31.Rdd7 Rf832.gxh5 Rc5;  "~"   (Too tough to call.) ]   


 31...Rb5?;  (ouch)    
Black plays a move ... that should have cost him the game. (I don't consider this move a blunder - just the fact the normally tactically alert Marshall misses what follows, is a testimony {to the fact} that the tactics are far from obvious. While the historical record is not entirely clear, it is quite possible that one - or both - parties were already short of time here.)  

     [ Fritz discovers the problem-like:   
       >/=  31...f5!!32.Bxf5!? Kf6!33.Be4 Rg8+34.Kf1[], {Box!}   
       This is completely forced.   

             ( After </= 34.Kh1?? Rc5;  "-/+"     
               White must surrender a Rook to prevent immediate mate. )    

        34...Be335.Rxa5 Rg1+ 36.Ke2 Rg2+37.Kf1 Rg1+;  ("=")  etc.    
        (A draw is to be had simply by repeating the position.) ]   


 32.Bg6!?,  (Really - '?')   
A fair move ... and perhaps one that was played when Marshall was short of thinking time.  

[Marshall may have reacted instinctively, thinking that he needed to guard his Pawn on h5 ...   
 as well as attack. (Otherwise, the White King may be in danger.)]   


     [ The only real question ... is why didn't Marshall play:   
       >/=  32.Rdd7 Rxh5!?33.Rxf7+ Kg8;  (This is forced here. '[]')   

            ( </= 33...Kh6??;  34.Rxf6+ Kg5;  35.Rg6+ Kh4;  36.Rg4#. )     

       34.Bh7+!winning material?  "+/-"   
       [ ---> 34...Rxh7[];   (34...Kh8??; allows an instant mate with 35.Rf8#.) 
         35.Rxh7, Rc2+; etc. (The answer may lie in that perhaps Marshall believed 
         the attack on c2 - on Black's 35th move in this particular variation - would give   
         Tchigorin a perpetual check, or allow his esteemed opponent to favorably regain   
         the material.) ]  ]   


The rest requires no comment. 
(The presence of lots of checks, the insecurity of both Kings, and an ending with two Rooks,    
 and also Bishops-of-opposite-colors ... virtually guarantees the draw.)  
 32...Rg5+;  33.Kh1 Rg3;   
{Gives the Black King ... a badly needed flight square.} 

 34.Rxf7+ Kh6[];  
(Otherwise, Black gets mated.)  

 35.Be4 Be5;  36.Rh7+,  "="   {Drawn.}   
(Here -- the players signed a peace accord, several programs confirm that the chances from the final position are completely balanced.) 

   *** ***     *** *** *** ***   *** *** *** ***   *** *** *** ***   *** *** *** ***     *** ***   

An interesting and complicated game, nerves and time pressure may have played a role between two very good chess players. (Sonas shows that Tchigorin was # 3 in the world at the time that this contest took place.)  


I consulted dozens of sources in my attempts to annotate this game. The following were the most important. 
(I have prioritized this list.)  

  1. A copy ... of the original tournament bulletins of this event. 

  2. A copy ... of the original book of this event. (Cambridge Springs, 1904.)  
    (By Fred Reinfeld, published in New York in 1935, by Black Knight Press.)  

  3. The book on this event ... by Olomouc.   

  4. The excellent  website  devoted entirely to this event by Steven Etzel.  

  5. "Mikhail Chigorin," ('The First Russian Grandmaster'); by GM A. Khalifman and IM S. Soloviov.   
      (Published by <Chess Stars> ... out of Moscow, Russia; 1999.)  ISBN: # 954-8782-11-01 

  6. ACB {American Chess Bulletin} from the years 1903-1905. (Hermann Helms.)  

  7. Copies of some old newspaper columns that touch on this event. 
    (Obtained through the L.O.C. and also libraries in NY and PA.) 

  8. I also have several books that touch on Marshall. None of these reference this game directly, 
    but many do mention this tournament ... I checked them all for background information on this event.  



   Copyright (c) A.J. Goldsby, 2005. All rights reserved.   



Below - is the link to another game ... that I did relatively recently ... as concerns this opening.  


A special deep, sincere thanks - are due to  Steven Etzel  of Wisconsin. (His website on Cambridge Springs, 1904.) Because of his generosity, I have a clear and legible copy of the original tournament book, AND a copy of the very rare bulletins for this event. He also was kind enough to play through this game ... and share with me the questions that he had about this contest. (So if this page is instructive, informative and educational, it is by design!)  {Several other friends and students were kind enough to play through this game ... and offer their questions and ideas as well.}   

I also wish to express my humble thanks to dozens of friends and former chess students ... who are kind enough to do research for me. In this way, I am able to obtain copies of documents from libraries all over the country, especially the "John G. White" collection, from the Cleveland Public Library(Also thanks is due to the librarians and clerks - all of whom were very helpful!)  

A special thanks to Mark _______ who lives and works in the Washington D.C. area. And although he is no longer my {Internet} student, he still places himself at my beck and call. He has made countless inquiries at the LOC (The U.S. "Library of Congress") and obtained {copies of} valuable and historic documents ... that I would not been otherwise able to obtain. (A HUGE "Thank-you!")  


A note on spelling:  I have used the traditional spelling of the great Russian player's name here ... ChessBase (and many other sources) render his name without the "T." (I.e., Chigorin.) I use the version that was used in the original bulletins for this event, I consider this as accurate as anything else. 

A note on the game score:  When I first started on this contest, I simply downloaded the game from CB in their format. ONLY after working on it for many weeks, did I discover that their "version" of the game ... was incorrect. (And in more than one place!) 

This required that I start over from scratch. I entered the game - BY HAND - into the computer. First I used the original bulletins as the initial source, and this was then checked against the Reinfeld book. (See, the bibliography, just above.) Only after I had - what I believed to be the correct game score - did I proceed. (I also waited about a week while a friend - who lives in PA - dug through old microfilm records of newspapers ... in an attempt to verify the score against a column of that time period.) Only after this effort was complete, did I begin again. Fortunately, many of the inaccuracies only amounted to a few simple transpositions ... so months of analytical work was not invalidated. The end result - that you see here - is the result of a lot of effort. (Enjoy!)  

The analysis for this page was prepared with the excellent program, ChessBase 9.0.  

The HTML was polished with several different tools and programs, (mostly FP) ... the text was checked for spelling with MS Word.  

The diagrams were created with the program, Chess Captor 2.25.  

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     Final  posting on: Wednesday; September 28th, 2005.   (Contact me ... about this analysis.)   

   This (web) page was actually created in August, 2005.     This page was last updated on 12/04/14 

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