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Marshall Strikes Again

Marshall Strikes Again

Jun 24, 2008, 9:13 AM 7

Because Alexander Alekhine was probably the greatest tactician in the history of Chess, it is always interesting to read the comments of his opponents on his style. One significant observation is that, whereas in most tactical sequences it is the first move that is the most startling, in Alekhine's case it was the final move that was amazing.

But the most starling effects are achieved when one player springs his surprise and finds it topped by a reply even more surprising. As we would expect, Frank Marshall, who was an outstanding master of the gimmick, gives us some of the most delightful examples. One of his neatest efforts turned up in the formidable tournament at Saint Petersburg in 1914. Marshall's victim was the famous and sharp tactical Master Jacob Bernstein.

Black's position doesn't look promising for various reasons. He has not castled, and his Queen's position is insecure. The position of his pieces is inharmonious, and it is not clear how they can cooperate with each other.

On the other hand, Black has pressure on White's backward c-pawn. A Master of clever attacking play, Bernstein has worked out a subtle but very risky plan based on the weakness of the c-pawn.

(Notes by American Grandmaster Al Horowitz)

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