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At The Movies Print E-mail
By Pete Tamburro   
August 6, 2008
Seeing a position in your head (visualization) before you make the moves on the board, is a very important skill for chess players.  “At the Movies” is one way to help you improve that skill. Under each diagram are the next set of moves which you should try to visualize before moving on to the next diagram. And of course, you should have a chessboard set up as well. If you can’t follow a note or variation in your head, move the pieces on the board! Don’t skip over anything!

Most chess fans agree that the most famous game ever played was Paul Morphy’s “Opera House” game. Yet, another American champion, Frank Marshall, played against Levitsky in 1912 what many consider the most famous move ever played. Indeed, the final position has dazzled chess players for years. Legend has it that the fans watching the game threw out gold pieces at the end of the game, thus the nickname the “shower of gold game.” 


Levitsky, Stefan

Marshall, Frank James [C10]

DSB–18.Kongress Breslau (6), 1912

Marshall had Black, so we will look at the game from his side of the board. The opening scene starts out calmly enough with the moves 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 c5

Marshall’s own line with the French Defense. White’s best is probably 4.exd5 exd5 5.Bb5+. Marshall loved open positions where he could develop his pieces quickly. 4.Nf3 Nc6 5.exd5 exd5 6.Be2 Nf6 7.0-0 Be7
Both sides have developed quickly and now White gets an idea: make the black bishop move again with 8.Bg5 0-0 9.dxc5 Be6 10.Nd4 Bxc5
  White may think he’s clever because he is now threatening to take the bishop on e6. Do you think that’s a good idea? Why or why not? 11.Nxe6 fxe6

This is what the position looks like after Levitsky does, indeed, play 11.Nxe6 fxe6. He follows this up with 12.Bg4 Qd6 13.Bh3 and Marshall finishes developing with
13. … Rae8
Do you now see why Nxe6 wasn’t so hot? Marshall has an open line for his king rook, and he will threaten e5 with a beautiful center. Levitsky tries to complete his development with 14.Qd2, but Marshall’s reply 14. …  Bb4 14...Bb4.jpggives him another problem—a pinned knight!
Levitsky knows he’s in trouble, so he tries to prevent e5 by increasing the pressure on d4 with 15.Bxf6 Rxf6 16.Rad1; however, Marshall increases the pressure on c3 with 16. ... Qc5 16...Qc5.jpg
White figures that Black’s threatened 17. ... Bxc3 18.Qxc3 Qxc3 would give him a lost endgame because of the doubled c-pawns, so he decides to make his queen more active with 17.Qe2 and Marshall wins a pawn with 17. ... Bxc3 18.bxc3 Qxc3.18...Qxc3.jpg
You have to love Levitsky! Even though his position is not as good as Marshall’s, he keeps trying! The reason he chose e2 for his queen is that now he can play 19.Rxd5 19.Rxd5.jpg
because the e-pawn is pinned. If it takes the rook, White can play Qxe8+! And he does take the pawn! OK ... you’re Marshall. What is your move here? Do you push the pawn or do something else? Marshall plays: 19. ... Nd4. Levitsky replies 20.Qh5 [Better was 20.Qe4 Rf4 21.Qe5 h6] and Marshall doubles his rooks with 20. ... Ref8.20...ref8.jpg
White now has to figure out a safe square for his rook. Can you see Black’s threat here? If it were Black’s move he would be able to play 21. ... Rxf2 22.Rxf2 Qe1+ with mate next, so White plays 21.Re5
to defend e1.Interestingly enough, Black can still play 21. ... Rxf2 22.Rfe1 (22.Rxf2 Qa1+!!) 22. ... Nxc2 23.Bxe6+ Kh8 24.Bf5 g6 25.Bxg6 Rf1+ 26.Rxf1 Qd4+, which would be exciting as well, but Marshall has a greater treat in store and plays 21. ... Rh6. Levitsky moves his queen away from the pesky rook with 22.Qg5 22.qg5.jpg
but there’s a problem with going there. Can you see it? Marshall did! He chops off the bishop on h3 with 22. ...  Rxh3. White can’t take the rook because of 23. ... Nf3+, forking king and queen, so Levitsky counters with 23.Rc5,
and we thank him for that! Now Marshall plays a move all of us would love to play once in our lives! The shower of gold move 23… Qg3!!! – threatens Qxh2#

White Resigns

Levitsky sees that 24.Qxg3 Ne2+ 25.Kh1 Nxg3+ 26.Kg1 Ne2+ [26...Nxf1] 27.Kh1 Rc3 leaves Black a piece up and 24.hxg3 Ne2 is mate, as is 24.fxg3 Ne2+ 25.Kh1 Rxf1#