Rudolf Spielmann's lead at the Baden international Masters' gambit tournament has shrunk to one half-point after the penultimate (17th) round, setting the stage for an exciting finish. Spielmann suffered a convincing defeat at the hands of Karel Hromadka and with 11 1/2 points to his credit now maintains the narrowest of margins over Dr. Saviely Tartakower, who bested Richard Reti to score his third consecutive victory. Also within striking distance, one point behind Spielmann, is Carl Schlechter, who played to a short draw vs. Paul Johner. In the day's other action Gyula Breyer checkmated Gustaf Nyholm, while Hans Fahrni topped Karel Opocensky in a sparking brilliancy. The final round's pairings are Opocensky-Spielmann, Hromadka-Tartakower, Reti-Schlechter, Breyer-Fahrni, and Johner-Nyholm, with the three leaders thus all handling the Black pieces.
Scores after 17 rounds: Spielmann 11 1/2; Tartakower 11; Schlechter 10 1/2; Breyer 9 1/2; Reti, Johner 9; Fahrni 8; Hromadka 7 1/2; Opocensky 5; Nyholm 4.
Spielmann derived little from an Italian Gambit 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.d4 vs. Hromadka. After 17...Qd8 it became manifest that Black, in possession of both an extra pawn and the open d-file, clearly stood for choice. Hromadka with some pretty play (27...Rcxg3!) increased his advantage; the Czech Master later concluded matters in a Queen endgame in which at one point he held a surplus of five pawns.
Tartakower was rather fortunate to win vs. Reti, who on the Black side of a Scotch Gambit varied from the drawn 12th-round encounter Tartakower-Spielmann by playing 8...Qh4 in place of Spielmann's 8...Qe7. Black gained a sizable advantage and likely would have scored the game to his credit had he chosen 20...Bb5 over the game continuation 20...Rxe6. Reti's choice allowed Tartakower to advance on the Queen-side, an at first sight harmless assault that suddenly turned deadly after 25...Ree8?? 26.c6. After the further 26...Be7 27.Qb5 White had a forced mate, and Reti consequently resigned.
Johner at last ended his run of defeats by drawing as Black vs. Schlechter, whose irenic temperament was again on display.
Nyholm-Breyer, a Danish Gambit, saw the new try 5.Qa4+ after 1.e4 e5 2.d4 exd4 3.c3 d5 4.exd5 Nf6. The novelty did not prove its worth on the present occasion, as Breyer through lively play gained a powerful passed d-pawn and invaded the White position with his Rook, winning a piece at the 26th move. Any fighting chances Nyholm still possessed were instantly extinguished by the blunder 28.Rxb5?, allowing mate on the move via 28...Be1.
Opocensky as Black against Fahrni deviated at the 11th move from the course of the earlier contests Fahrni-Johner and Fahrni-Reti, in which 11...Be7 was played, essaying 11...h6 instead. The result was a brilliant win for his opponent, one of the finest games of the tournament, as Fahrni began an unrelenting sacrificial assault with the surprising 12.Bf6! and carried his attack through to victory ten moves later. In the subjoined notes we offer only a few of the many beautiful possible variations; lovers of combinative play will surely discover others for themselves.