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  la Bourdonnais - MacDonnell (# 2.) 

This is a simple, plain-old text-score page ...  so if you want to follow this  game - you will definitely need a chess set. 
(First posted, August; 2002.) 

Louis Charles de LaBourdonnais (2700) - Alexander MacDonnell (2650)
Match, ENG. vs FRA;  
Westminster C.C./London
(1st Match, Game # 15),  1834


In my opinion, one of the best games that these two ever played.  

The great Frenchman attacks in a manner that would do credit to  Paul Morphy  or  Mikhail Tal!   A superb contest. 

REPLAY  this game, on the popular "Chess Games" website.  

1.d4, ('!')   
Unlike most of the players of his era, La Bourdonnais seemed to favor opening with the Queen's Pawn.

     [  Most players of that period seemed to greatly prefer to play: 1.e4{Diagram?}  to begin a chess game.  ] 


As this was the "Classical Period," this was virtually the only defence to the QP. (The one that all the Masters of that era used.) 

     [  Many 'hyper-modern' openings begin with the move: 1...Nf6!?; but these variants were over 100 years away from being 
        completely mapped out ... or understood!  ]


The most energetic, a  "Queen's Gambit"  is offered.

Black must either accept or decline. 

     [  White could also play: 2.Nf3leading to the Colle System.  (Or many other openings.)  ]


Black accepts.

But it has been known for almost 200 years that Black cannot afford to try and hold this pawn. 

We now have: "The Queen's Gambit Accepted," or the Q.G.A.

     [ The modern line of the Q.G.D.  - ("The Queen's Gambit Declined.")  runs something like: 
        2...e63.Nc3 Nf64.Bg5 Nbd75.Nf3 c6;  6.e3 Be77.Rc1, "+/="   
        with a probably a small advantage for White. ]


This is the older method of playing this line ... but while less sharp, there is certainly nothing wrong with it.


     [  The modern way of playing this line is:  
         3.Nf3 Nf6
4.e3 e6;
  5.Bxc4 c56.0-0, "+/="  {Diag?} 
         again, with a small - but secure - advantage for the first player here.


         White could also play: 3.e4!?(Played in several other of these match games between 
         these same two players.)

         Strangely enough, this move was (later) condemned. {By nearly everyone!}
         ("A beginner's move,"  wrote the Irishman, James Mason!)

         But by the latter half of the 20th Century  - - - this line was the height of GM fashion/praxis.

         And in a key game, White managed to generate a tremendous ...  
         (overwhelming)  position in the very modern game: 
         GM Etienne Bacrot   -  GM Joel Lautier;   
         National Championship, FRANCE;  (rapid play-off); 2002. 
         White won a nice game in only 27 moves.   (Click HERE!]   


3...e5!; (nice)   
Black vigorously attacks the center. 

White regains his Pawn.

     [  Bad for White is: 4.dxe5?! Qxd1+5.Kxd1 Nc6; "=/+"  when Black is already a little better.  ]


Black - since his KP is hanging anyway - decides to liquidate in the center ... and saddle White with an isolated Pawn. 

     [ 4...Nc6!? ]


For the next few moves, both sides develop. 
5.exd4 Nf66.Nc3 Be77.Nf3 0-08.h3!,   
White avoids the pin. As his d-pawn is weak (isolated); this is a very good idea.

     [  By allowing the moves: 8.0-0!? Bg4; "="  Black has already (nearly) equalized.  ]  


Black feels compels to prevent White from playing the Pawn advance, d4-d5. 

     [ 8...Nc6!? ]


9.Be3 Bf5!?(Maybe dubious?)   
A developing move, but a very random one.

The openings were not really worked out in those days, but if a modern GM played such a move, we would have to label it a very inferior move! 
  ('?!' or even '?')  

     [  Black's best try - in this position - would seem to be:  9...b5!; "~" (unclear)  with good play for Black.

        Black could also play the line: 9...Qd6!?10.Ne5 Nbd7; "="  {Diag?} with the idea of  11.f4, Nb6;   
        followed by  ...Nbd5;  equalizing completely.  ]  


10.g4!(Maybe - '!!')    
A very powerful and energetic move by the great French player.

With this sortie - and the play that follows it - White will have to forego King-side castling.

     [ 10.Ne5  ]


A logical looking move that is the first choice of many strong computer programs.

It was condemned by several pundits, yet after ...Bc8;  I cannot help but feel White has won a moral victory.

 (The computer - even today - sees almost no difference between the move ...Bg6; and ...Bc8.)   

     [  After the continuation: 10...Bc8!?; 11.a4, "+/="  {Diag?}  White is clearly a little better. ]   


Now White grabs his outpost.
The most aggressive move for White.  (Fritz got this one right.)

One might normally expect White to try to castle as quickly as possible.

     [  The continuation:  11.g5!? Ne412.h4 Qa513.Qb3 Nxc314.bxc3 Be4; "~"  {D?} 
          is unclear ... or even slightly favors Black. ("=/+")   ]


Black tries to get rid of the very annoying Knight on e5 - and no one can blame him here!

     [  Black could also try: 11...b5!?; "~" {Diagram?}  with unclear play. ]


White dumps the light-squared Bishop ... and this is definitely the most accurate move here.

 (But several annotators later condemned this exchange for swapping an active Knight for a somewhat poorly placed Bishop.)   

But the whole point of this exchange is to change the Pawn structure, ... to allow White levers to open the position for an attack!  


     [  I might have expected: 12.f4!?, "~"  with interesting play. 

        Or even the move:  12.Qb3!?, "~"   hitting f7 and b7 and preparing 0-0-0. 

        Some players even suggest the move:  12.0-0!?, "~"  {Diagram?} 
        at this point. ( I would think about Kf1 to g2.)  ]  


12...hxg6;  (completely forced)   
Note that this is the ONLY way that Black can recapture here.


White to move ...  
  13.h4!!,  {Diagram below.}   What!?!???

This looks amateurish. Has White forgotten he has to castle during the opening phase?
(White - very obviously - intends to attack!) 


  The actual game position after White's thirteenth move. This attack looks feeble, and doomed to failure!  (ts_labmac_2-1.gif, 16 KB)
The position on the board after 13.h4!!
White appears to be attacking in a very unsound manner.


     [  When the very strong program - Fritz 6.0 - first came out, I did
        extensive testing vs. several famous games of chess. That
        particular program wanted to play the continuation:
        13.g5!? Nh714.h4 Nb6; "~"   {Diagram?} 
        when Black had very good play. (Maybe  "=/+") 
        (This was after nearly 45 minutes of analysis time!)  ]


The next few moves are probably all best - for both sides.
14.Bb3 Nfd515.h5!(Maybe - '!!')   
White continues to seek open lines. The only problem is that now is that White could be required to sacrifice several pawns.

     [  The continuation:  15.g5!? Bb416.Qd3 a5!;  "=/+" probably favors Black. (By a hair.)  ].  


The next few moves are all forced.
16.fxe3 Bh4+17.Kd2, ('!')  
All part of the plan.

     [ 17.Ke2?! gxh5; "=/+" ]


Black opens lines ... that lead to his ultimate defeat. (The computer also likes this move.) 

     [  Maybe Black should try to  close  lines by playing: 
        >/= 17...g5!?; '[]' ('!')  18.Qf3! c5!; "~" {Diagram?}  
        with an unclear position.  
       (Black has good play here, and maybe close to equality. 
        This appears to be a VERY large improvement over the game!)  ].  


White continues to play the most energetic moves. (And the first player is also completely disregarding the material balance.) 

     [ The computer chooses: 18.gxh5 c5; "=/+" which probably slightly favors Black. ]


18...Bg5;    {Diagram below.}     
Black appears to have defended well, and now threatens to capture yet another pawn - and with a gain of time as well. 

A casual glance at this position is deceiving. Black is way ahead in development, and White's King appears to be caught in the center 
and in terrible trouble. 


  The actual position in the game, just after Black played 18...Bg5. How does White defend the d4-square?  (ts_labmac_2-2.gif, 15 KB)
White to move, what is the best play here?


White to move. How do you play here - in this position? 
 19.Raf1!!,  (Maybe - '!!!')   
This is brilliant. White continues to ignore the pawn on h5. Not only this, he drops another button on d4 - WITH CHECK!  And to top it off, Black can probably swap Queens now. 

So just what the HECK(!)  was White thinking???  

(White does threaten Bxf7+ now. This is a powerful move for him, if he can get it in.) 

     [  Fritz chooses: 19.Rxh5!?, "~"   which appears to slightly favor Black ...  
        but White does have some attacking chances down the open h-file. ("Compensation.")   ]  


While this move was categorized as bad by some pundits - I think it is virtually forced!  

Certainly the alternatives are demonstrably worse! 

     [  The continuation:  19...Qd7!?; ('?!')  20.Rxh5;  {Diagram?} 
         gives White some attacking chances down the h-file. 
         ("Compensation"  for the slight material deficit.) 

        Just plain bad is:  19...a5?20.Bxf7+,  ("+/-")  {Diagram?}
         which wins for White.  ].  


This is forced  ... but White is quite happy - having castled by hand! 

     [  The continuation:  20.Kc1? Qxe3+;  21.Kb1 Qxf3;   22.Rxf3 hxg4; "/+"  greatly favors Black. (Possibly "-/+")  ].  


Now down two pawns, it seems White must avoid the exchange of Queens. 

White to move ... what move would  YOU  make here, if you were playing this position? 
(Probably - '!!')   {Diagram.} 
White does not seem to notice ... or care. (That Black might be able to exchange Queens ...  and kill the attack.) 

     [  With the move:  21.Qe4!?;  {"comp"}  (Maybe - '!')  White also retains some definite attacking chances.  ]  


21...Qg6+?!;  (Maybe - '?')   
According to the written accounts of this game, Black thought for a very long time here.  
(This game was played  BEFORE  chess clocks were widely used!!) 

Black thought that an exchange of Queen's would lead to an immediate loss for him. (He might be right!). 

If Alexander MacDonnell had a weakness that I could see, it was his desire to make complications and keep the Queens on at all costs.
(His level of defensive play was quite good for the era that he played in!) 

(Today we would be forced to give MacDonnell's move one ... or even two question marks!!) 


     [  Live or die - good or bad - Black had to play:  21...Qxf3[]; {D?} 
         This is virtually forced for Black!  22.Rxf3 Be7!The best move for Black. 

           (Mac Donnell thought the move 22...Bh6?; was forced.  
             But then - of course! - the move 23.g5, "+/-" {Diagram?}   
             wins very easily for White.)    

        23.Rhf5!,  {Diagram?}   
        This triple-attack on f7, is actually much better than doubling on 
         the file! (I think everyone at that time was under the  {false} 
         impression that White would mate by simply attacking down 
         the h-file.)   

            (Interesting was: 23.Rfh3!?, "+/=")    

        23...Kh7;  (box)  {Diagram?}  
        Sadly, this looks to be forced. 


         (The other moves here for Black are grossly inferior.) 
          a).   23...Bf6?24.g5 Bxc325.bxc3 g6;  {Box.}  {Diag?} 
                  Black cannot allow White to play g6.  26.Bxf7+ Kh7; 
                  27.Bxg6+!,  "+/"  {Diagram?}   just about wins for White. 
          b).   23...a5?24.Bxf7+ Rxf7[];  This is forced here. 
                  (24...Kh7??; 25.Rh5#)    25.Rxf7 Bf626.Rxb7, "+/-" {D?}  
                 and White wins with no problems. 


        (We now return to the main analysis line that began with the move, 21...Qxf3.) 
        24.Rxf7 Rxf725.Rxf7 Re826.Be6, "+/=" (Maybe "+/")  {D?} 
        and White will probably win. (But it is a much tougher defense than the actual game!)   ]   


This is the simplest way to win, but Kc1!? probably also works. 

     [ 22.Kc1!? ]  


Now Black realizes  ...  to his great horror  ...  that White threatens to simply double, (or even triple!); on the h-file ---> and mate will follow. 

So Black begins to play "give-away," in order to stop the impending mate.  (He must do this or resign; or be mated.)  

     [  22...Bh6?!23.g5, "+/-"  ]  


Now all White has to do ... is win a won game. 
23.Rfh1! Bh6
24.g5! f525.Nxd5,   
White wishes to open the diagonal as quickly as possible. 

     [ Also winning for White was: 25.exd5!? Kh726.gxh6, "+/-"  and White has won TWO pieces.  

        (This might have been considered a breach of chivalry in those days.  ---> A crude material win.)  ]  


25...cxd526.Bxd5+ Kh7;   
According to the computer, this is Black's only move.  (forced)

     [  26...Rf7?!27.gxh6, "+/-"  ]  


27.Rxh6+! Qxh6;   
MacDonnell thought this was forced.  

     [  If Black should play: 27...gxh628.Rxh6+ Qxh629.gxh6 Rac8+30.Kb1 f431.Be6!, "+/-"  White has an easy time of it.  ]  


28.gxh6,  ("+/-")   Black Resigns

      [  White could also win with:  28.exf5!? Rac8+29.Kb1 Rf6;   30.gxf6 gxf631.Rxh6+ Kxh632.Qg4, "+/-" {D?}  etc.  ]  


White has a win on material ... AND his attack continues!!! 

 A VERY BRILLIANT!!! ... game of the very highest level ...   a modern GM  -  with a computer!  -    
   ........   would be hard pressed to improve upon White's play!!  

A game of the highest caliber ... which highlights la Bourdonnais's skill in this area.  A display which shows great mastery, and yes! ... 
Even chess artistry!

 1 - 0 

This is not the original copy of this game I had in my database - that document would have been too lengthy and cumbersome to publish as a web page. Instead, this is a special edition of that game I developed specifically for my web site. It actually turned out to be a little more lengthy than I originally intended, but surely these games deserve a second look. 


Instead of a bibliography, I will simply tell you I had many sources for annotating this game. (Books, magazines, database, analysis.) 

Click  here  to go to (or go back to) back to the page, 
"Annotated Games, #2."

Click  here  to go to (or return to) my page on ... 
"The Best Chess Matches of All Time." 

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 (Page last updated: Friday;  October 4th, 2002.) 

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