Frank Marshall's contribution to chess

by ChessBase
9/17/2008 – If you're a 1.e4 e5 player you will want to tune in to our Wednesday night Playchess lecture. Dennis Monokroussos takes a special look at one of the first great American players, Frank Marshall, whose fame continues until today on account of his Ruy Lopez gambit. The game is from the World Championship match against Emanuel Lasker in 1907. Very instructive.

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Dennis Monokroussos writes:

One of the first great American players was Frank Marshall (1877-1944). His fame continues to the present day on account of his gambit in the Ruy Lopez, and his contributions to opening theory go far beyond that one idea. He was the shock winner of the very strong Cambridge Springs tournament of 1904, U.S. Champion from 1909 to 1936, one of the original five players dubbed grandmasters (at St. Petersburg 1914) and an enormously important figure in American chess. Furthermore, his founding and securing the Marshall Chess Club (which continues to thrive to the present day) is almost as important as his great successes on the chess board.

Marshall, then, is one of the great figures of early 20th century chess. But there's great, and then there's great, and when Marshall played a world championship match against Emanuel Lasker (1868-1941) in 1907, that difference became clear. Lasker, who was not only the world champion from 1894-1921 but also had a Ph.D. in mathematics, faced off against the American in a race to eight wins. Nowadays a match like that might take six months to a year to finish, but in their contest Lasker dismantled Marshall, winning the eighth game without a single loss and only seven draws. Thud.

Despite the lopsided result, almost all of the games were interesting and most carried through to the endgame. That's what happened in the first game of this match, which we shall examine tonight (Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET) in our weekly ChessBase show. After a strategically interesting but brief middlegame, the players reached a rook and minor piece ending. With best play, it would have been equal, but Lasker's virtuoso treatment Marshall needed to play very accurately to hold – and he didn't. This got Lasker off to a great start, and with wins in the next two games as well he never looked back.

There are, as always, good reasons to tune in tonight, and this is especially the case if you're a 1.e4 e5 player. Though our game this week arose via a minor Berlin sideline, the pawn structure is one that can occur in the Scotch and the Two Knights, and as such is one that ought to be understood by 1...e5 aficionados. Additionally, it's simply a great ending by Lasker, and for those with eyes to see, there are lessons to be learned. So please join me tonight – the show is free and runs an hour or so; just go to the broadcast room of the server, select the Marshall-Lasker game at the relevant hour, and enjoy! (Further directions here.) Hope to see you there.

Dennis Monokroussos' Radio ChessBase lectures begin on Wednesdays at 9 p.m. EST, which translates to 02:00h GMT, 03:00 Paris/Berlin, 13:00h Sydney (on Thursday). Other time zones can be found at the bottom of this page. You can use Fritz or any Fritz-compatible program (Shredder, Junior, Tiger, Hiarcs) to follow the lectures, or download a free trial client.

You can find the exact times for different locations in the world at World Time and Date. Exact times for most larger cities are here. And you can watch older lectures by Dennis Monokroussos offline in the Chess Media System room of Playchess:

Enter the above archive room and click on "Games" to see the lectures. The lectures, which can go for an hour or more, will cost you between one and two ducats. That is the equivalent of 10-20 Euro cents (14-28 US cents).

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Dennis Monokroussos is 41, lives in South Bend, IN, where he teaches chess and occasionally works as an adjunct professor of philosophy at the University of Notre Dame and Indiana University-South Bend.

At one time he was one of the strongest juniors in the U.S. and has reached a peak rating of 2434 USCF, but several long breaks from tournament play have made him rusty. He is now resuming tournament chess in earnest, hoping to reach new heights.

Dennis has been working as a chess teacher for ten years now, giving lessons to adults and kids both in person and on the internet, worked for a number of years for New York’s Chess In The Schools program, where he was one of the coaches of the 1997-8 US K-8 championship team from the Bronx, and was very active in working with many of CITS’s most talented juniors.

When Dennis Monokroussos presents a game, there are usually two main areas of focus: the opening-to-middlegame transition and the key moments of the middlegame (or endgame, when applicable). With respect to the latter, he attempts to present some serious analysis culled from his best sources (both text and database), which he has checked with his own efforts and then double-checked with his chess software.

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