KEG: Post II
This posting of the Knight a la Pillsbury (who won countless games with this maneuver) is the strongest reply to 13...Nb4.
A move that definitely warrants the "?" assigned to it by Reinfeld/Fine. As Soltis so aptly put it: "There was no need to put a Knight on d5 and this was the wrong one anyway."
Reinfeld/Fine and Soltis both recommend 14...Bd7 (trying to put the bad c8 Bishop to some use, probably on e8), and this is definitely better than the text. But--objectively--Maroczy should have conceded that his 13...Nb4 was an error, swallowed his pride, and just played 14...Nc6.
Soltis praises this move as "cover[ing] his queenside weaknesses." but in fact it is the first of three moves in which Lasker--surprisingly--misses the chance to play Bd2 exploiting Maroczy's queenside misadventures.
Reinfeld/Fine assign this a "?", and once again I agree. But their proposed 15...Bd7 would have been even worse. While 15...Bd7 would leave Black in no real danger had Lasker responded 16. Nc4 (the only response Reinfeld/Fine consider), Black would have been in trouble after 16. Bd2! Best for Black here would have been 15...Nf6 (admitting that his 14th move was bad).
This move is praised to the hilt by Reinfeld/Fine and by Soltis, who assign it a "!" In fact, it is an error, as will be seen below. 16. Bd2 was best and probably gave White a winning game.
Maroczy begins backtracking from his ill-judged queenside attack. But he should have begun by driving away the e5 Knight with 16...f6.
Soltis gives this move a "!", but his own analysis reveals the defects of the move: "A highly original idea that at first sight just looks silly. White makes his slightly bad bishop significantly worse to carry out f5, f5...which Black can stop with g6."
So what's to like about the move? Soltis notes that Botvinnik used this theme to win a brilliancy prize against Vidmar at Nottingham 1936. But that hardly makes the move correct here. As will be clear from Soltis' analysis of Maroczy's 19th move, he apparently recognizes that 17. f4 gave Lasker nothing.
Yet again, 17. Bd2 was best.
After the text, Black is OK. As will be seen, Maroczy's losing moves came later.
This move, though not necessarily leading to defeat, is the beginning of the end for Maroczy. As Soltis correctly remarks: "This was the last point to insert 19...g6!. White could consider various aggressive plans after that, but none are convincing."
As is apparent from this excellent analysis by Soltis, neither 16. Ne4 nor 17. f4 gave Lasker anything approaching a winning advantage. With 19...g6, Lasker's attack would have been at an end and chances would have been about even.
After 19...Rc8, however, Lasker took charge, Maroczy blundered on his 21st move, and the game ended quickly thereafter. I will analyze the remaining moves in my next post on this game.