Saturday, April 12

Baden gambit tournament, Round 4: Johner takes sole lead with victory

Paul Johner defeated Karel Opocensky in 25 moves to take the sole lead after four rounds of the international Masters' gambit tournament at Baden. Johner, with 3 points, stands one half-point ahead of Richard Reti and Rudolf Spielmann, who drew their games vs. Karel Hromadka and Carl Schlechter, respectively. In the day's other action Gyula Breyer bested Dr. Saviely Tartakower after a colorful and hard-fought battle, while Hans Fahrni topped Gustaf Nyholm in an equally absorbing contest.

Scores after 4 rounds:  Johner 3; Reti, Spielmann 2 1/2; Schlechter, Fahrni, Breyer, Hromadka 2; Nyholm, Dr. Tartakower 1 1/2; Opocensky 1.

Johner chose the Scotch gambit vs. Opocensky, with the game soon transposing into well-known avenues of the Giuoco Piano. Black's 11...Nce7 was, if not a new move, certainly a rare one; our files show that 11...Nf4 was played by Steinitz vs. Dubois more than 50 years ago. The contest remained fairly balanced, with perhaps a slight advantage to White, until Opocensky at his 18th turn blundered with the erroneous recapture 18...Nxg6?, which led to material loss after 19.Bxd5 cxd5 20.Na6! Opocensky resigned a few moves later, rightly considering the fight against White's superior forces to be hopeless.


Breyer-Tartakower featured the King's Gambit Declined. Dr. Tartakower's 18...Bd3? appears to have been based on an oversight, as Black's temporary sacrifice of a piece became permanent after 19.Bxa7+ Kxb7 20.a6+! In the subsequent play Black fought gallantly to create counter-chances against the White King, which remained in the center of the board, but White's extra piece decided matters in the end.

Nyholm vs. Fahrni, a Danish Gambit, saw another tense struggle. White sacrificed two pawns and, despite the early exchange of Queens, directed all his forces against the Black King under cover of a general pawn advance on the wing. Fahrni, however, defended well, making victorious use of his preponderance on the other side of the board. White resigned after Black's 31st move created an unanswerable threat of checkmate.

In Reti-Hromadka White likewise sacrificed two pawns, with the contest coming to a speedy end at the 21st move via repetition of position. Reti might have given the game a different course had he opted for the interesting sacrifice 17.Rxh7; readers are invited to consult the notes.

In Schlechter-Spielmann a Scotch Gambit arose by transposition after 1.e4 e5 2.d4 exd4 3.Bc4 Nc6 4.Nf3 Bc5. The further course of play, notwithstanding a Bishop sacrifice by White on the f7-square, led merely to a series of exchanges, and a draw was agreed at the 17th move.

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