Kindred’s Special: Dr. Emmanuel Lasker–Champion of Champions

Charles W. Warburton and I share the view that one of the most impressive games ever played was the titanic struggle from the 1910 Championship Match between Dr. Lasker and Carl Schlechter.  He played many games that exhibited a window as to how the good doctor approached the game; nothing fancy but just achieving a good central position from which many examples give merit to what I have found among the classic approach to chess play during his era.

Commentary by Donald P. Reithel

Here is game one from their match that the labor of love for the beauty coming from chess is evident in the hands of both players. White:  Carl Schlechter (CS) vs. Black: Dr. Emmanuel Lasker (EL)   Opening:  Ruy Lopez, Steinitz Defense

1.  P-K4  P-K4  2. N-KB3 N-QB3  3. B-N5  N-B3

It is important to play this instead of 3. … P-Q3 when White can delay castling.  In opening play would you not want to limit the choices from afar?  Most common today is the Berlin Defense but there is really nothing wrong with the Steinitz which Lasker vies for.

4. O-O  P-Q3  5. P-Q4  B-Q2  6. R-K1

White ignores trying to lure Black into the famous Tarrasch trap which he pulled off against Marco in 1892 at the Dresden tournament which is sprung by 6. N-B3  B-K2  7. R-K1 O-O?  8. B:N  B:B 9.P:P P:P  10. Q:Q  QR:Q  11. N:P  B:P  12. N:B N:N  13. N-Q3 PKB4  14. P-B3  B-B4+ 15. N:B N:N 16. B-N5 R-Q4 17. B-K7  and R move, then 18. P-B4 wins a piece. MCO 13.

6. … P:P

Schlechter considered this the best reply to his opening strategy, believing that White would benefit from 6…B-K2 by 7. P-B3  > QN-Q2 > N-B1 rather than attempting the well known line Tarrasch used against Marco and certainly would not be duplicated in this game.

7. N:P  B-K2  8. N-QB3 O-O

The St. Petersburg Tournament, found numerous games displaying this setup so the eventual popularity of 3. … P-QR3 and other alternatives had not fully taken root.  Many of the rising stars felt it lacked a complex enough nature when they desired to win not only with white but also the black pieces.  Today, with computer run tournaments, vast game production from growth across the world available, today’s elite have ventured back into history where they have uncovered new ideas in old systems.

9. B:N  P:B  10. B-N5

Cunning tactics by using Lasker’s own remedies in the opening!  It was thought in those days past that it was beneficial to seek exchange and simplify the position now by offering 10. …N-N5; but it fails because of 11. N:P.  It is interesting to see just how Lasker meets this variation he favored himself.

10. … R-K1  11. Q-B3

CS uncorks a new move to keep black from the above exchange idea which works on the normal Q-Q3 where the maneuver N-N5 > K4 is again met by 11. N:P.  Lasker is faced with a problem of how best to keep this strategy for exchange alive and hits on a solid plan to that end.

11. … P-KR3  12. B-R4  N-R2  13. B:B  Q:B  14. QR-Q1  N-B1!

CS achieves one of his opening goals–establishing Rooks on the central files.  Taking my square count theory, it suggests a big advantage.  Often, this is the case.  However, Lasker has contrived a powerful latent force imbalance to the position.  And here, Lasker shows his genius and possibly just one reason he was champion of the world at a time that featured so much diversity within the master ranks.  He certainly carried his message often that “chess is a fight.”

Why not choose 14. … N-N4?  The answer is that of “force”.  Force of options is a key ingredient of this game.  By choosing the Knight retreat, he prepares to reposition it either at K3 or N3 depending upon the circumstances that develop.

15. P-KR3

CS thought this might have been wrong, citing instead 15. Q-N3 >16. P-KB4 as having more energy. It would have been a ploy that my square count would suggest.

15. …N-N3  16. Q-N3  Q-N4  17. Q:Q  P:Q

The interest of this game is over.  That is what you might think.  It is a common thought to a player who looks for adventure and use of the powerful Queens remaining on the board.

18. P-B3  P-B3  19. K-B2  K-B2  20. N/4-K2  P-QR4

EL desires to increase control of squares and initiates play on multi-square sectors.

21. P-QN3  KR-QN1  22. N-B1  B-K3 23. N-Q3  P-QB4  24. N-N2  N-K4

But not 24…P-B5 because CS had prepared the nasty 25. N-Q5!

25. N-Q5 R-N2  26. R-K3  N-B3  27. R-B3!!

This brilliant concept would have been a delight to Nimsowitsch as a “mystery R move” example. EL now turns to the K-side and avoids a mistake playing 27…N-Q5 28. N:QBP R:N 29. R:N!!

27. … P-N3  28. P-QR4  P-B4  29. N-K3   R-K1  30. N/3-B4  R-R2  31. R-K1  Adjourned.

Lasker had to find a defense to P-K5, and analysis suggested White  stands better in position and mobility. He chooses to put another piece in the box since 31. …N-K4 runs into 32. P:P.

31. …B:N  32. N:B  K-B3  33. N-K3  N-K4  34. P:P  P:P

EL has eased the defense somewhat.  CS now turns to creating a passed pawn on the R-file and determined to score first in the match.  Again, I see EL chess as “A Fight.” in counter-defense mode.

35. P-N3  R-KR1  36. P-B4  P:P  37. N-Q5+ K-B2  38. N:KBP R-N2!

39. K-N2  P-B5  40. P:P  R-N5 41. P-B5  R:QRP  42. P:P  P:P

The tightrope dance started many moves ago has assured both an active imbalance where it proves out that the Gods have placed all into the ENDGAME. EL gets a passed R-pawn and activity while CS has stormed into the enemy guts.

43. R-B7+  K-B3  44. N-Q5+ K-N4  45. P-R4+ K-R3 46. N-K7  R-KB1  47. R-Q1  R-B2!

Time and again Lasker demonstrates why his long journey in the chess world was so successful.

48. R:P+ K-R2  49. R-K6  N-N3!

The last move before adjournment where CS sealed 50. R:N! and the saving move to hold.

White had nothing better.

50. R:N  R:N  51. R/N-QB6  R:R  52. R:R+ K-N3  53. R-B8+ K-N2!

Making the right choice.  53. …K-R4? 54. R-B5 wins the BP and point.

54. K-B3  R-K5  55. R-B5  K-B3  56. R:P  R-QB5  57. R-R6+ K-K4  58.R-R5+ K-B3  59. R-R6+  K-K4  60.R-R5+  K-B3  61. R-R2 K-K4 62. R-N2 R-B6+ 63. K-N2 K-B3  64. K-R3

One last try to axe out a win.  If 64….P-B5 65. R-N3  R:BP 66. R-KB3 achieving a “book win” position.

64. …R-B3  65.R-N8  R:P  66. R-N6+ K-N2  67. P-R5  R-B5 68. P-R6+ K-R2  69. R-KB6 R-QR5

Draw by agreement.

In writing my blog columns I have endeavored to show the beauty of chess. Anything worth doing is worth putting effort and time together in your projects.  I cannot satisfy or reach the lazy.  That is not my nature.  To achieve real satisfaction from any undertaking that you deem worthwhile requires work and experiencing appreciation of a topic discussed.  This article required my diligent study to create a work I hope my readers find worthy of their time and devotion given for the enjoyment of chess in all its facets.

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One Response to “Kindred’s Special: Dr. Emmanuel Lasker–Champion of Champions”

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