Friday, April 18

Baden gambit tournament, Round 9: Spielmann increases lead with win over Opocensky; Reti, Schlechter, Johner trail one point behind

Rudolf Spielmann increased his lead to a full point with a win over Karel Opocensky in the ninth round of the international Masters' gambit tournament at Baden. Trailing Spielmann at the tourney's halfway mark are Carl Schlechter and Richard Reti, who played to a draw in their ninth-round encounter, and Paul Johner, who defeated Gustaf Nyholm. The day's other contests saw Gyula Breyer top Hans Fahrni to record his third successive victory, while Dr. Saviely Tartakower bested Karel Hromadka. The gambit openings mandated by the rules of the tourney are to date holding their own, with the White pieces having scored 11 victories to 10 for Black.

Scores after 9 rounds:  Spielmann 6 1/2; Reti, Schlechter, P. Johner 5 1/2; Tartakower, Breyer 5; Fahrni, Hromadka 4; Nyholm, Opocensky 2.

Spielmann pressed Opocensky in a Scotch Gambit, establishing a knight on the e6-square and directing his heavy pieces toward the Black King-side. Opocensky nevertheless defended well until the 39th move, when his 39...Rd8? allowed White to initiate the final onslaught via 40.Qh6. With 39...Re7 instead the young Czech would have been able to continue the fight.

In Schlechter-Reti another Scotch Gambit soon transposed to a known, if rare, line of the Giuoco Piano after 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.Bc4 Bc5 5.c3 Nf6 6.e5 d5 7.Be2 (7.Bb5 is far more common) Ne4 8.cxd4 Bb6. White's 9.Nc3 appears to be a new move, with 9.0-0 having been played successfully by Charousek vs. Schlechter himself in 1898. In the present encounter Black won a pawn after White's 18.g4 - hardly the sort of rash advance one expects from Schlechter - but Reti judged the resultant double Rook to be lacking in winning chances and agreed to a draw at the 25th move.

Johner joined Schlechter and Reti in joint second place with a win on the Black side of a Danish Gambit vs. Nyholm, an interesting struggle that came to an abrupt end after White's terrible blunder 29.Rd1??, which lost instantly to 29...Nxf3+.

In Tartakower-Hromadka, a King's Gambit Declined, White won a pawn after Black's 22...Bc5? and later decided matters with his passed d-pawn.

Fahrni-Breyer did not show either Master at his best. White handled the opening poorly, and Black with 12...Nxh2! in place of 12...Nf2+? might have decided the game at once. Fahrni's 20.Qh4? allowed Breyer to win material via 20...Qc5, after which the Swiss Master launched a desperate sacrificial attack that his opponent easily warded off. White resigned at the 25th move, a Rook to the bad and with his position completely overrun by the Black forces. Breyer has now scored three wins in succession, an excellent recovery after a poor start, although his opponents - Opocensky, Nyholm, and Fahrni - have perhaps been rather generous toward the Hungarian Master, with the first losing a clear pawn in the opening, the second mishandling a drawn pawn endgame, and the last playing the entire game well below his normal strength, as the reader may judge for himself.

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