Sunday, April 27

Baden gambit tournament, Round 14: Spielmann 1st, Reti 2nd after victories; Johner loses second straight game

Rudolf Spielmann reclaimed sole leadership of the international Masters' gambit tournament at Baden by defeating Gustaf Nyholm while former co-leader Paul Johner was losing his second straight game to a player in the bottom half of the score table, the Swiss Master falling on this occasion to fellow countryman Hans Fahrni. Richard Reti with a win vs. Karel Opocensky vaulted past Johner into sole second place and stands only one half-point behind Spielmann with four rounds yet to be played. In other contests, Carl Schlechter recorded his eleventh draw from fourteen games, sharing the point with Dr. Saviely Tartakower in 16 moves, while Gyula Breyer bested Karel Hromadka. Schlechter and Johner lag only one point behind the leader, but the former will need to increase his percentage of victories, and the latter to halt his losing slide, if either hopes to prevail in the dash to the finish line. Spielmann and Johner are set to meet in the next round in a game likely to have a large bearing on the ultimate destination of first prize.

Scores after 14 rounds:  Spielmann 9 1/2; Reti 9; Schlechter, Johner 8 1/2; Tartakower, Breyer 8; Fahrni 5 1/2; Hromadka 5; Nyholm, Opocensky 4.

Spielmann showed his fine eye for tactics on the Black side of a Danish Gambit vs. Nyholm. The clever 17...h6, allowing the White Bishop to capture the Black Rook on f8, was based on the idea 18.Bxf8 hxg5 19.Bb4 Nxc4 20.Rxc4 Bb5!, regaining the exchange and remaining a pawn to the good. Nyholm nevertheless possessed considerable drawing chances owing to the activity of his Rook and Bishop, but the Swedish Master soon blundered with 26.Bb8?, thinking to win a pawn but in reality losing a piece after 26...Na5, whereupon White resigned.

Johner, in an Evans Gambit vs. Fahrni, chose the rare 8.Ba3, a move that on this occasion did not demonstrate its worth. Black's 8...exd4 9.cxd4 Bg4 forced White to take measures to defend his d-pawn, measures which led to the exchange of two sets of minor pieces and preserved a continuing material advantage for the second player. Even the doubling of White's Rooks on the open g-file proved harmless, as Fahrni showed with 24...Nxf4! Johner resigned in a hopeless position at the 30th move.

Reti topped Opocensky in a Scotch Gambit that transposed to a Two Knights' Defense.  Black with 13...Re8? hoped to avoid the weak pawn resulting from 13...fxe6, but some well-calculated play by his opponent allowed White to emerge from the complications a pawn to the good. Opocensky sacrificed a second pawn to free his King's Rook, although the ensuing double Rook endgame proved hopeless.

Breyer defeated Hromadka in a King's Gambit Declined whose critical moment likely came at the 23rd move when Black with 23...Re8 sacrificed his a-pawn in order to activate his Rook. The resultant passed White a-pawn required the attention of the second player throughout the remainder of the contest. White gathered two additional pawns as the game went on, and received Black's resignation at the 54th move.

Schlechter and Tartakower played to a short draw - by perpetual check at the 16th move - in a Scotch Gambit. Among Schlechter's draws to date are one with Reti in 25 moves, another with Johner in 19, and two with Spielmann in 17 and 14 moves. Nevertheless, with three victories and no losses to his credit and standing only a point off the lead, the Austrian Master may yet claim overall victory in the tourney, and thus the efficacy of his procedure can hardly be faulted. We must confess, however, that we do ask ourselves whether this is the sort of chess intended and desired by the organizers of a tournament devoted to gambit play. Only they could supply the answer.

No comments: