Fox - Marshall; Cambridge Springs, 1904.  

This annotated game was contributed to my site by Life Master A.J. Goldsby I. All comments and annotations are his, unless otherwise noted. Mr. Goldsby has made numerous contributions to this site. Please honor his copyright.

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 Albert W. Fox (2330) - Frank J. Marshall (2534) 
 Super-Master Tournament 
 Cambridge Springs, PA/USA;  (Round # 15)May 19, 1904. 

[A.J. Goldsby I]

fox-mar_medal.gif, 02 KB




Marshall's last round victory ... 
he stated before the contest began that he was willing to draw, however his opponent was not willing to accept such a "gift of charity." 

Apparently - at some point - Fox told Marshall that he wanted a ... "gloves off, no-holds-barred," type of contest. 
Frank J. Marshall happily complied with his opponent's request. {Source - The American Almanac.} 




The ratings are taken directly from the website of the respected statistician, Jeff Sonas; (with no alteration). 
However, F.J. Marshall would easily be a 2700+ player by today's (vastly inflated?) standards. 

 1.e4 c5;  2.Nf3 e6;  3.d4,  (Maybe - '!')   
Thus far, we have a regular Open Sicilian - nothing special by today's theoretical standards.  

     [ Also playable was:  3.Nc3!?, "+/="  a more common move ... 
        at that particular point in chess history. ]  


 3...d5!?;  (hmmm)  {center?}   
This turns the game into a type of French Defense, capturing on d4 would be expected nowadays. 
(This Franco-Sicilian was an early favorite of the younger Marshall, he later gave it up for slightly more   
 sophisticated opening systems - for the second party.) 


     [ After the moves: (>/=) 3...cxd4;  4.Nxd4 Nc6;  we transpose into the Taimanov Variation   
        of the Paulsen Sicilian. {See any good opening book for more details on this line.} ]   


Now White captures on c5, without any delay.  
(White's play is much too simple and direct by modern opening standards here. 
The best plan involves leaving Black with an isolated d-Pawn ... for the ending. Blockade!)   
 4.dxc5!? Bxc5;  5.Bb5+!?,   
While not entirely bad ... this play does not give Black any real problems. 

     [ Probably better was: 
       (>/=)  5.exd5! exd5;  6.Bb5+ Nc6; 7.0-0, "+/="  with a small advantage. ]   


 5...Nc6;  6.0-0!? Nge7!?;   
Played to avoid a pin of the Knight by the White dark-squared Bishop ... which might occur if Marshall had played 6...Nf6. 
[Fritz prefers ...a7-a6; immediately.]  


 7.Nc3 a6!;   {See the diagram just below.}    
Thus far White has played the opening as well as he could, but his erstwhile adversary would not be tempted by any pawn grabbing. 


game113a.gif, 08 KB



This is an interesting position here. Fritz gives White a very slight edge, but I actually prefer Black's position! 


 8.Bxc6+,  ('!?')  (hmmm)   
I seriously doubt if giving up the Bishop in this fashion is going to yield White any real advantage.   

     [ Maybe just:  8.Be2, "="  here, instead? ]   


 8...bxc6;  9.b3!?,  (fianchetto?)    
This is too fancy ... and also too slow to be really effective. 

     [ Or  9.Qe2 0-0; 10.Be3 Bb4; "~"   with and odd position ... 
       that does not favor either party. ]  


Marshall comes up with a daring plan that involves sacrificing a pawn to obtain the Bishop pair ... 
and steal the initiative from Fox. 
 9...a5!;  10.Na4!? Ba7;  11.Ba3!? Ba6;  (Look at the board!)   {See the diagram just below.}    
Note the extremely unusual line-up of chessmen ... the a-file is completely filled with pieces!  


game113b.gif, 08 KB


Without question ... to see one file ... completely filled with pieces is very rare, especially this early in the game. 


 12.Re1 0-0!;  13.exd5 cxd5;  14.Bxe7 Qxe7;  15.Qxd5,  ('!?')    
I don't think that White really had a lot of choice in this position, any other move would have left Marshall in complete   
command of this position.  

     [ Less effective would be:  
       (</=)  15.Rc1?! Rfd8;  and I prefer Black's position. ]   


(After Black's next move ... Fred Reinfeld gives the following comment:  
 "The loss of the Pawn might easily have had {much} more serious consequences.")   
 15...Bb7;  16.Qg5!? Qc7!;  
Down a Pawn, Marshall wants to attack, not play an endgame.   


The program, Fritz 8.0, prefers c3 in this position ... I really don't think it matters at this point.   
 17.c4!?,  (Passed Pawn?)   
White had to play something, his QBP was attacked.  

     [ Or a different continuation would be:   
       (</=)  17.Rac1 Bxf3; 18.gxf3 Rfd8;  "<=>"  
       {Black has great play.} ]  


Now Marshall does not hesitate to return one of the prelates, if by doing so he can inflict a very   
grievous wound on his opponent's pawn skeleton.   
 17...Bxf3; ('!')  18.gxf3 Rad8!;    
The question of which Rook to use vexes master and amateur alike. Here Black uses the piece that is doing the least 
and also avoids any possible, future Knight forks from this position. 


 19.Rad1 Bd4!;  (Black has "comp" ... or good play to make up for the one pawn deficit.)    
Take a look at the current position ... (just below)



game113c.gif, 07 KB



Black's Bishop controls many key squares and also leaves the Knight with no viable squares to move to. 
(The theme of domination.) 
White's Pawn Structure is also not likely to stir admiration in any player who believes in basic positional chess. 


  [ Look at this move:  19...Bd4!;    {See the analysis diagram ... just below.}   

  The White Knight is nailed to 
the rim of the board. (game113e.jpg, 28 KB)

  White's Knight will be stuck on the edge of the board for the foreseeable future.]   



Here White might have considered Qg3, to offer an exchange of Q's.   
 20.f4!? Rd6;  (Maybe - '!')  {See the diagram just below.}     
Black prepares to double his Rooks on the d-file, White's extra foot-soldier is nearly meaningless.  


game113d.gif, 07 KB



Which side would you rather play from this position?   

Marshall's strategy has worked beautifully here, White's game is in complete disarray and the first party was also battling the clock as well.   



(White to move.) 
A truly horrible blunder ... of staggering proportions.  
(White drops a whole Rook after Marshall's simple reply.)  

Very chivalrously F.J. Marshall ... "immediately afterward offered a draw, as he did not require a win to secure first prize.   
Under the rules, however, this could not be done in under thirty moves, and play therefore continued."  - Fred Reinfeld   
{The official book of the tournament.} 

     [ (>/=) 21.f5[] exf5  "<=>" ]   


The rest does not need much commentary from here. 
 21...Bf6;  22.Rxd6 Bxg5;  23.Red1 Bxf4;  24.c5?!,  ('?')   
Just making things worse - White should simply give up.  

     [ Or  (>/=) 24.Rd7 Bxh2+, ("-/+") ]   


 24...Bxd6;  25.cxd6!? Qc2;  26.Rd4 e5!;  ("-/+")  White Resigns.    
Fox cannot defend his position. 
(If Rc4, Marshall will play ...Qd1+; and pick off the d-Pawn, when White has not even a prayer. 
 If instead 27.Rd5?, then Black will simply play ...Qb1+!, to be followed by ...Qe4+; winning the Rook.) 

A nice game by Marshall, but a sad end to Mr. Fox's chess career. 
(I am sure that Frank J. Marshall would have preferred NOT to win the final game of this tournament in this fashion.)   




  I consulted dozens of sources to annotate this game, but the following were easily the most important.   
  # 1.)  The American {chess} Almanac. 
  # 2.)  The book of the tournament. (By F. Reinfeld, Black Knight Press.) Published in New York City ... in 1935!   
  # 3.)  A copy of the original bulletins for this particular event. 
  # 4.)  ACB {American Chess Bulletin} from the years 1903-1905. (Helms.) 
  # 5.)  Copies of some old newspaper columns that touch on this event.  


    Copyright () A.J. Goldsby, 2004. All rights reserved.   


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