The Art of Defense

The Art of Defense‎

GM Julio_Becerra
32 | Chess Players

Géza Maróczy (3 March 1870-29 May 1951) was a leading Hungarian chess master and also a practicing engineer. He learned to play chess at the age of fifteen, and soon acquired the skill of a master in competition with the best players in the International Championship Tournament at Hasting in 1895. From that time until 1908, Maróczy took part in most of the great international chess tournaments and was always among the prize winners, never taking less than second place! After 1908, Maróczy retired from international chess to devote more time to his profession as a mathematics teacher. At the turn of the year 1927/8, he demolished the 1924 champion of Hungary, Géza Nagy, in a match by +5-0=3. With him at the head, Hungary won the first two Chess Olympiads in London 1927 and The Hague 1928!

Maróczy style, though sound, was very defensive in nature. The chessplayer will not find very frequent mention of Maróczy games in chess manuals, for the reason that, as a rule, they are not brilliant attacking games. But Maróczy's defensive style was often more than sufficient to beat the leading attacking players of his day such as Joseph Henry Blackburne (+5-0=3), Mikhail Chigorin (+6-4=7), Frank Marshall (+11-6 =8), David Janowski (+10-5=5), Efim Bogoljubow (+7-4=4) and Frederick Yates (+8-0=1).

Capablanca, in a series of conferences by radio in the early 1940s (later collected in a book called “Last Lectures”), said:

"As a chessplayer he (Maróczy) was a little lacking in imagination and aggressive spirit. His positional judgments, the greatest quality of the true master, were excellent. A very accurate player and an excellent endgame artist, he became famous as an expert on queen endings. In a tournament many years ago he won a knight endgame against the Viennese master Marco which has gone into history as one of the classic endings of this type."

"Concerning the relative strength of Maróczy and the best young masters of today, my opinion is that, with the exception of Botvinnik and Keres, Maróczy in his time was superior to all the other players of today."

But his highest contribution was to opening theory: “The Maróczy Bind”, a formation that White may adopt against some variations of the Sicilian Defence. By placing pawns on e4 and c4, White slightly reduces his attacking prospects but also greatly inhibits Black's counterplay.

Also he was credited as an outstanding teacher who greatly helped Vera Menchik reach the top of women's chess, being the first women's chess champion.

In 1950, FIDE awarded him the title of Grandmaster.

For everyone wanting to improve their defensive skill, I recommend the study of Maróczy's games, the master in the art of defense!





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