The legend goes that, when longtime US champion Frank Marshall (1877-1944) played one of the most famous moves in the history of chess, by thrusting his queen into a nest of pawns to defeat Russian master Stefan Lewitzky, in a 1912 tournament game in Breslau, Poland, a crowd of cheering spectators were said to have “showered the board with gold coins.”
The “gold coin” moment can be found in today’s diagram, after 23.Rc5, when Marshall stunned his opponent with 23…Qg3!! that forced Lewitzky to immediately resign.
He resigned as Black threatens Qxh2 checkmate, and all three ways of capturing the queen lose on the spot: 24.hxg3 Ne2 mate ; 24.fxg3 Ne2+ 25.Kh1 Rxf1 mate; and finally if 24.Qxg3 Ne2+ 25.Kh1 Nxg3+ 26.Kg1 (if 26.fxg3 Rxf1 mate) Nxf1 27.gxh3 Nd2, and Black will keep his extra piece.
But, like so many tales told about the great masters of the past, the story turns out not to be true. And even Marshall later claimed never to have seen a single one of those mythical gold coins. Despite this, he was always proud of the truly spectacular finish to a game that has polled as high as the third most amazing move of all time in a survey.
Still, if the payoff proved apocryphal, there’s reward enough in playing that one spectacular move, the flashy sacrifice that sends an electronic thrill through the tournament hall and draws a crowed around the board - and recently, at the British Team Championship, Scottish grandmaster John Shaw got to emulate “the Marshall plan” with a dramatic finish to today’s game.
After 24…Rg3!! Palliser, like Lewitzky, immediately resigned, as 25.Rc2 Rxg2+ 26.Kh1 Rg6 mate or 25.Bxg3 Qxg2 mate; 26.hxg3 Qe4 is an unstoppable mate; and after 26. Qxf8+ Kxf8 27.Rc8+ Ke7 28.Rc7+ Kd8 29.Rc8+ Kd7 and the checks run out.
IM Richard Palliser - GM John Shaw
4NCL 2014–15, (6)
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.Nc3 Nc6 4.d4 cxd4 5.Nxd4 Nf6 6.Be2 d6 7.Be3 Be7 8.0–0 Bd7 9.f4 Nxd4 10.Qxd4 Bc6 11.b4 b6 12.Bf3 0–0 13.Rad1 Rc8 14.Bf2 Qc7 15.a3 Rfd8 16.Qe3 Bb7 17.Nb5 Qxc2 18.e5 Nd5 19.Bxd5 Bxd5 20.exd6 Bf8 21.Nxa7 Rc3 22.Qxb6 Rxd6 23.Qb8 Rd3 24.Rc1 Rg3!! 25.hxg3 Qe4 0–1