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1896-1897 World Chess Championship
Compiled by Penguincw
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★★★ INTRO ★★★

The 1896-1897 World Championship was between 28 year old Emanuel Lasker of Germany who was the defending champion and 60 year old Wilhelm Steinitz of the United States who was the challenger.

★★★ BACKGROUND ★★★

The match was a re-match from the 1894 championship (see Game Collection: 1894 World Chess Championship for games and more info).

★★★ CONDITIONS ★★★

The winner would be the first to reach 10 wins (draws not counting, but total score in brackets). The match was played in Moscow. Game 1 began on November 6th, 1896.

★★★ NOTABLE GAMES ★★★

Game 2: Lasker vs Steinitz, 1896

1.e4 e5 2.♘f3 ♘c6 3.♗b5 ♗c5 4.c3 ♘ge7 5.0-0 ♘g6 6.d4 exd4 7.cxd4 ♗b6 8.♘c3 0-0 9.a4 a6 10.♗c4 h6 11.h3 d6 12.♗e3 ♘ce7 13.♖e1 c6 14.♕b3 ♗c7 15.♘d2 ♖b8 16.♖ac1 b5 17.axb5 axb5 18.♗d3 ♔h8 19.♘e2 f5 20.exf5 ♗xf5 21.♗xf5 ♖xf5 22.♘g3 ♖f8 23.♕e6 ♕c8 24.♕xc8 ♖fxc8 25.♘b3 ♔g8 26.♘e4 ♔f7 27.g3 ♔e8 28.♖e2 ♔d7 29.♖ce1 ♗b6 30.♗f4 ♗c7 31.h4 h5 32.♗g5 ♗d8 33.g4 hxg4 34.h5

After 34.h5


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White deflects the knight for protection of e5, which allows Lasker to sacrifice a knight.

34...♘f8 35.♘ec5+ dxc5 36.♘xc5+ ♔d6 37.♗f4+ ♔d5 38.♖e5+ ♔c4 39.♖c1+ ♔xd4 40.♖e4+ ♔d5 41.♖d1+ 1-0

41.♖d1+ 1-0


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For the last 7 moves or so, the black pieces have just been spectators. White wins with 41...♔xc5 42.♗e3# 1-0


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Game 3: Steinitz vs Lasker, 1896

1.e4 e5 2.♘f3 ♘c6 3.♗c4 ♗c5 4.c3 ♘f6 5.d4 exd4 6.cxd4 ♗b4+ 7.♘c3 ♘xe4 8.0-0 ♗xc3 9.bxc3 d5 10.♗a3 dxc4 11.♖e1 ♗e6 12.♖xe4 ♕d5 13.♕e2 0-0-0 14.♘e5 ♖he8 15.♘xc6 ♕xc6 16.♖e1 ♖g8 17.♖e5 b6 18.♗c1 g5 19.♖xg5 ♖xg5 20.♗xg5 ♖g8 21.f4 ♗d5 22.g3 ♔b7 23.h3 ♕b5 24.♔h2 ♖g6 25.♕c2 f6 26.♗h4 ♗c6 27.g4 ♕d5 28.♕f2 h5 29.g5 fxg5 30.♗xg5 h4 31.♖f1 ♖g8 32.♕d2 a5 33.a4

33.a4


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Up to this point Steinitz had a pretty good attack going, but this is not the best move in the position, and Lasker makes him pay.

33...♖e8 34.f5 ♖g8 35.♖e1 ♕xf5 36.♖e5 ♕f3 37.d5 ♕g3+ 38.♔h1 ♕xe5 39.dxc6+ ♔xc6 0-1

39...♔xc6


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After taking the pawn, black is up the exchange and 2 pawns, which is more than enough to win. Black threatens to win the bishop and to exchange queens, and there is no good response. Something like 40.♕g2+ ♕xd5 41. ♕xd5+ ♔xd5 42.♗xh4 ♖h8 43.♗g3 ♖xh3+ 44.♔g2 ♖h7 45.♗f2 ♔e4 46.♗d4 c5 47.♗f2 ♔d3 48.♗e1 ♖f7 is one possible way to obtain a clearer advantage. Black is still up the exchange and 2 pawns, and this is why Lasker is now up 3-0 in the series.


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Game 12: Lasker vs Steinitz, 1896

1.e4 e5 2.♘f3 ♘c6 3.♗b5 a6 4.♗a4 d6 5.d4 ♗d7 6.♗b3 ♗e7 7.dxe5 dxe5 8.♕d5 ♗e6 9.♕xd8+ ♖xd8 10.♗xe6 fxe6 11.c3 ♘f6 12.♘bd2 ♗c5 13.b4 ♗a7 14.a4 b5 15.♔e2 ♗b6 16.axb5 axb5 17.♘e1 ♖f8 18.f3 ♖f7 19.♘b3

19.Nb3


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According to some posts, this move is a blunder. This move allows black to win e4 (because capture of it will result in mate) and even a rook sacrifice.

19...♘xe4 20.♗b2 ♘d6 21.♖f1 ♘c422.♗c1 ♘e7 23.♗g5 ♘d5 24.♗xd8 ♘f4+ 25.♔d1 ♖d7+ 26.♔c2 ♘e3+ 27.♔b2 ♘xf1 28.♗g5 ♘e3 29.♗xf4 exf4 30.♖c1 e5 0-1

30...e5 0-1


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Steinitz, who was trailing 7-0 in the match, wins with black in just 30 moves. White here is pretty much in zugzwang, and black can take advantage with 31.g4 g5 32.♔a1 ♖d5 33.♘c2 ♘c4 34.♔b1 ♗f2 35.♖f1 ♖h4 36.♖c1 ♖de3 37.♘e1 ♖e3 38.♘g2 ♖e2 39.♘xh4 gxh4 40.♔a1 h3 41.♖h1 ♖c2 42.♘c5 ♖xc3. Black is up 2 pawns, in addition to b4 and f3, which both could easily fall. Lasker had to resign.


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★★★ FINAL ★★★

Heading into Game 17, Lasker had the black pieces and needed just one win before Steinitz got 8 to defend his title.

Game 17: Steinitz vs Lasker, 1897

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.♘c3 ♘f6 4.♗g5 ♗e7 5.e3 0-0 6.♕b3 ♘bd7 7.♘f3 c6 8.♗d3 dxc4 9.♗xc4 b5 10.♗e2 a6 11.a4 b4 12.♘b1 c5 13.♘bd2 ♗b7 14.a5 cxd4 15.exd4 ♘d5 16.♗e3 ♗d6 17.♘c4 ♗c7 18.♗g5 f6 19.♗d2 ♕e7 20.♘e3 ♖ab8 21.♗c4 ♖fd8 22.0-0 ♘f8 23.♖fe1 ♕f7 24.♘f1 ♔h8 25.♘g3 ♗xg3 26.hxg3 ♘g6 27.♕d3 ♖d6 28.♖e2 ♗c8 29.♘e1 ♕d7 30.♘c2 e5 31.♖ae1 ♗b7 32.♕b3 ♗c6 33.♘xb4 ♘xb4 34 ♗xb4 ♖xd4 35.♕c3 ♗xg2

35...♗xg2


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35.Qc3 was a blunder, allowing black to sacrifice a bishop, and win a pawn. At the end of the line, black is up the exchange and a pawn, which is more than enough to win.

36.♔xg2 ♕c6+ 37.♖e4 ♖xe4 38.♖xe4 ♕xe4+ 39.♔g1 ♕b7 40.♗c5 ♖d8 41.♗e2 e4 42.b4 ♘e5 43.♗e3 ♘d3 44.♗b6 ♖c8 45.♕d4 h6 46.♔h2 ♘e5 47.♕d1 ♖c3 48.♕d6 ♘f3+ 49.♔g2 ♕f7 50.g4 ♕a2 51.♗f1 ♘h4+ 52.♔g1 ♖c1 53.♗e3 ♘f3+ 54.♔g2 ♖xf1 55.♕xa6 ♖g1+ 56.♔h3 ♕d5 57.♕c8+ ♔h7 58.a6 ♖h1+ 59.♔g2 ♖g1+ 60.♔h3 ♖h1+ 61.♔g2 ♘h4+ 62.♔xh1 ♕d1+ 63.♔h2 ♕f1 0-1

63...♕f1 0-1


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Material is even, but position is not. White can not avoid mate, and so resigns. I believe the best way to postpone mate is 64.♔g3 ♕g2+ 65.♔f4 g5# 0-1 (or 65...♕f3# 0-1). If 65.♔xh4, 65...♕h2# 0-1 wins.


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So on January 17th, 1897, Lasker won with black to defend his title with the score of 10-2 (12 1/2-4 1/2).

★★★ MINI TABLE ★★★

Lasker 1 1 1 1 1/2 1 1/2 1/2 1/2 1 1 0 0 1 1/2 1 1 (10 wins, 2 losses, 5 draws) <73.5% score>

Steinitz 0 0 0 0 1/2 0 1/2 1/2 1/2 0 0 1 1 0 1/2 0 0 (2 wins, 10 losses, 5 draws) <26.5% score>

★★★ OTHER LINKS ★★★

See also: Lasker - Steinitz World Championship Rematch (1896)

Head to Head Matchup Prior to 1896: http://www.chessgames.com/perl/ches... , Steinitz vs Lasker, 1896 and Lasker vs Steinitz, 1896 (14 wins, 5 losses and 5 draws in favour of Lasker)

Previous World Championship: Game Collection: 1894 World Chess Championship

Next World Championship: Game Collection: 1907 World Chess Championship

Game 1, Lasker leads 1-0 (1-0)
Steinitz vs Lasker, 1896 
(C54) Giuoco Piano, 45 moves, 0-1

Game 2, Lasker leads 2-0 (2-0)
Lasker vs Steinitz, 1896 
(C64) Ruy Lopez, Classical, 41 moves, 1-0

Game 3, Lasker leads 3-0 (3-0)
Steinitz vs Lasker, 1896 
(C54) Giuoco Piano, 39 moves, 0-1

Game 4, Lasker leads 4-0 (4-0)
Lasker vs Steinitz, 1896 
(C64) Ruy Lopez, Classical, 66 moves, 1-0

Game 5, Lasker leads 4-0 (4 1/2-1/2)
Steinitz vs Lasker, 1896 
(D50) Queen's Gambit Declined, 39 moves, 1/2-1/2

Game 6, Lasker leads 5-0 (5 1/2-1/2)
Lasker vs Steinitz, 1896 
(C50) Giuoco Piano, 58 moves, 1-0

Game 7, Lasker leads 5-0 (6-1)
Steinitz vs Lasker, 1896 
(D50) Queen's Gambit Declined, 75 moves, 1/2-1/2

Game 8, Lasker leads 5-0 (6 1/2-1 1/2)
Lasker vs Steinitz, 1896 
(C62) Ruy Lopez, Old Steinitz Defense, 56 moves, 1/2-1/2

Game 9, Lasker leads 5-0 (7-2)
Steinitz vs Lasker, 1896 
(D50) Queen's Gambit Declined, 34 moves, 1/2-1/2

Game 10, Lasker leads 6-0 (8-2)
Lasker vs Steinitz, 1896 
(C68) Ruy Lopez, Exchange, 41 moves, 1-0

Game 11, Lasker leads 7-0 (9-2)
Steinitz vs Lasker, 1896 
(D50) Queen's Gambit Declined, 64 moves, 0-1

Game 12, Lasker leads 7-1 (9-3)
Lasker vs Steinitz, 1896 
(C71) Ruy Lopez, 30 moves, 0-1

Game 13, Lasker leads 7-2 (9-4)
Steinitz vs Lasker, 1896 
(D50) Queen's Gambit Declined, 40 moves, 1-0

Game 14, Lasker leads 8-2 (10-4)
Lasker vs Steinitz, 1896 
(C68) Ruy Lopez, Exchange, 78 moves, 1-0

Game 15, Lasker leads 8-2 (10 1/2-4 1/2)
Steinitz vs Lasker, 1896 
(D50) Queen's Gambit Declined, 36 moves, 1/2-1/2

Game 16, Lasker leads 9-2 (11 1/2-4 1/2)
Lasker vs Steinitz, 1897 
(C71) Ruy Lopez, 42 moves, 1-0

Game 17, Lasker wins 10-2 (12 1/2-4 1/2)
Steinitz vs Lasker, 1897 
(D60) Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defense, 63 moves, 0-1

17 games

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