Frank Marshall, Part 2: Fighting For The World Championship
What happened when Frank Marshall stepped into the ring?

Frank Marshall, Part 2: Fighting For The World Championship

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We left part one with Frank Marshall on top of the world due to his total domination of the Cambridge Springs 1904 tournament. The world wanted to know if he was really that good. Marshall, a fearless competitor, leaped into battle.


Marshall vs. Janowski, Match Two 1905

These two men had a match in 1899, with Janowski winning by 3-to-1. Their match in 1905 was, for Marshall, revenge. Now much stronger than he was in 1899, Marshall won with 8 wins, 5 losses, and 4 draws.

I should add that both players had to put up $500. This might seem like playing a 17-game match isn’t worth the reward. However, $500 then would be $13,222.96 in 2017. If it was winner-take-all they would get double that.

frank marshall chess

Marshall via Wikipedia. 

The very first game was up and down, with Marshall having to defend an inferior endgame. Janowski pushed and pushed, Marshall finally equalized, and then Janowski blundered on move 60 and lost. The endgame is quite instructive:

Marshall won the second game with the black pieces. Janowski came back with a win in game 3. Game 4 was drawn (Marshall botched a winning endgame.), and Janowski tied it up in game 5. By now you might have realized that putting these two guys together created a chess version of “Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots.”

If you read part one, you might have noticed that I put two games together that featured tripled pawns:

Many players never “enjoy” tripled pawns, but Marshall seems to create them (or make the opponent create them) from thin air. Here a position from game 3 in this match which highlights, again, tripled pawns:

Here is my favorite game of the match. It features so many ups and downs that I got dizzy! It was a thrilling battle which started with Janowski playing 6...f6, 7...g5, and 8...g4 (Looks like beginner moves, but it’s actually quite good!), Janowski making a blunder on move nine which gave Marshall a crushing attack, brilliant moves and unfortunate mistakes by both players flow over the chessboard (it’s easy to make mistakes in this game due to it’s complexity), and, with both players reeling from exhaustion, the attack vanishes and a favorable endgame for Marshall appears, Marshall (rather than playing for another 300 moves) allowed an instant draw, Janowski botches it, and Marshall wins.


Leaving matches behind us for a moment, a 14 player tournament was held (two games against everyone). Maroczy was first with 19.5 points, Janowski and Tarrasch tied for 2nd and 3rd, Schlechter 4th, Marco and Teichmann tied for 5th and 6th, Burn, Marshall, and Leonhardt all tied for 7th-9th, and Wolf, Alapin, Blackburne, Chigoin, and Taubenhaus all were behind.

Barmen Masters

Another strong tournament (16 players), and this time Marshall did well. Janowski and Maroczy tied for 1st and 2nd, while Marshall came in clear 3rd. Players below: Bernstein, Schlechter, Berger, Chigorin, Wolf, Leonhardt, etc.


Frank Marshall vs. Siegbert Tarrasch Match

This match was serious stuff! Siegbert Tarrasch vs. Frank Marshall playing 17 games! After beating Janowski in his match, Marshall was full of confidence and challenged Tarrasch. Marshall got pasted, winning just 1 game, losing 8, and drawing 8. It seems that Marshall was unable to deal with a world-class positional player who had tons of experience. Another (big!) problem was Marshall’s openings. He was often worse with both colors, and if he did get an advantage Tarrasch would calmly stabilize his position.

Marshall lost game 1 and game 5, (two wins for Tarrasch, 3 draws). However, it seemed that Marshall was going to finally win in game 6:


After tossing away that opportunity, game 7 looked to be a bore since it was a complete draw by move 17. By the way, game 7 also has tripled pawns. It's raining trips, more than sharks!


I would guess that Marshall lost all hope after this defeat.

Keep in mind that Marshall was still improving while the much-older Tarrasch was getting weaker as each year went by. By 1910-1928 Marshall was the superior player, with Tarrasch winning one game and Marshall winning five.

Tarrasch died in 1934.


New York Match

Marshall had a 4-game match against Albert Fox. It was a rout (3 wins for Marshall, 1 draw).



The way they changed this tournament was never copied again. It started with 5 stages of 36 players. After that first stage there were 24 players. Then another stage whittled it down to 16 players, then the next stage also had 16 players, and finally the last stage had 9 players (you could call them survivors!). When it was over, Carl Schlechter was first, Gaza Maroczy 2nd, and Akiba Rubinstein 3rd. Marshall took 7th place.

Since this whole tournament gives me a headache, I’ll share Marshall’s exciting game against Swiderski and that will be that!


DSB Kongress

Another triumph for Marshall! 17 players, and he won 9 games and drew 7. Unbeaten first place always soothes a chess player’s soul. In this case, he got some revenge since Tarrasch could only come in equal 9th, 10th, and 11th., while Janowski came in 16th!

Apparently there were some very strange rules (if you can call them rules) about the time limits:

“If the game is finished within the first session (usually 9 am until 2 pm), then no time violation has happened; if the game is continued, then the tournament director will decide after the end of the game whether some player exceeded the time limit. A small exceedance - say 5 minutes - has no implications; a considerable exceedance causes a penalty of 1 M (Mark) per minute. A player, who disturbs the tournament by playing too slow (i.e., an exceedance of 30 minutes), will also get a warning. Three warnings cause the elimination from the tournament, and the player will not be invited again.”

If that isn’t insane, nothing is!

Here’s a game that shows Marshall’s skills to perfection.


We will look at the rest of this game in puzzle form.


Marshall was in great form in this tournament, and his fans were delighted! Maybe he would be world champion after all!?

The World Chess Championship!


Emanuel Lasker (38 years old) vs. Frank Marshall (29 years old)

It’s going to happen!!!! I can’t wait. Marshall is coming into the tournament with a lot of confidence since he beat Lasker in Paris 1900. Bets go all over the world! Men and Women faint at the sight of these two chess gods.


  • The agreed upon dates are January 26th to April 8th, 1907.
  • The match will be played in New York, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Baltimore, Chicago, and Memphis.
  • Draws don’t count and the winner is the first to get 8 wins. Pretty simple.

It’s starting! At last it’s starting! Okay…


boxing ring announcer

Arrrrghhh...the American fans were crying in the streets! Why did Marshall get wiped off the map (Lasker crushed him with 8 wins, no losses, 7 draws)? Well, the following tidbit might (or might not) explain some of it:

In Marshall’s autobiography, he only said one thing about his match with Lasker: “Tedious play aimed at wearing down my opponent is averse to my nature.”

But there maybe something that most never knew. The Philadelphia Inquirer, way back on December 30th 1906, page 2 said:

“Mr. Marshall in a letter states that he has just been in a bad train wreck [on December 15th], which occurred at Donaldsonville, La. His train while traveling at a high rate of speed collided with a freight. Mr. Marshall, though badly bruised and shocked, escaped with a sprained ankle and cut head. Mr. Marshall, in view of his accident and the nervous shock, expects to cancel several of his Southern engagements and returns at once to New York. It is not expected, however, that he will be prevented from playing his match with Dr. Lasker, which, in all probability, will begin the middle of January.”

I think that Marshall was still reeling from the accident (physically or emotionally) and wasn’t at his best. However, let’s be honest: Emanuel Lasker and (eventually) Capablanca, were light-years ahead of all the other players. And Marshall’s dreams of being world champion where exactly that — a dream. This doesn’t mean that Marshall wasn’t a very strong player, he was easily in the top 10 in the world. But nobody could touch Lasker at this point in his career.

After Lasker won the first game (a deep, technical, celebrated game which almost everyone has seen), Lasker took him down in game two also:

Lasker outplayed Marshall in game three. See if you can find the nice finish:


After winning a game against Lasker in 1900, Marshall never beat Lasker in a serious tournament or match again. Not counting draws, their life score in serious tournaments and matches was 12 wins for Lasker, 1 for Marshall.

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