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Emanuel Lasker vs James Mason
Paris (1900), Paris FRA, rd 9, Jun-01
Russian Game: Modern Attack. Center Variation (C43)  ·  1-0


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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: I took a short look with Shredder at this forceful game. I don't know the opening at all, but by the 9th move White already has a large advantage (9....c5? 10. dxc5 Qxd1 11. Rxd1 Bxc5? 12. Nxf7).

10.Qb3 ganging up on f7 forces 10....Nxe5 11. dxe5 Ng4 12. Bf4! (12. e6 isn't bad either; this will be a constant threat from now on) 12....c6 13.h3 Nh6 14.Bxh6 gxh6 15.Rad1 Qc7 (15. ... Qb6 16.Qc2 threatening Bd3 is no better). Not surprising that White wins from here, but it's still impressive how he does it; Mason barely gets a free breath.

16.Rfe1 b5 (16. ... Bf5 loses to 17. e6!) 17.Bd3 b4 (17. ... Be6 again fails to 18. Qc2)

18.Na4 (18.Ne4 looks stronger, but Black can try 18.... Qxe5) 18. ... Kh8 (18. ... Be6 19.Bc4 Bxc4 20.Qxc4 is a little better for Black than the text, but still very bad)

19.Qc4! a5? (better ...Rb8) 20.Nb6! Ra7 (20. ... Qxb6 loses to 21.Qe4, of course)

21.Nxc8 Qxc8 22.e6! (Finally! Now 22....fxe6 drops a rook to Qd4+) 22....f6 23.Qe4 Bd8 24.Qf4 Rg7 25.Bf5! Be7 26.Qxh6 c5 27.Re4 Rd8 28.Rd7! (threatening Qxg7+ and Rxe7+) 28....Rxd7 29.exd7 Qf8 (finally, a threat for Black: ...Rxg2+) 30.Kh1 (White could have played Qh5 at once; Lasker was probably short on time) 30....Qd8 31.Qh5 1-0

There is no good answer to Qe8. Brutal!

Premium Chessgames Member
  andrewjsacks: The Tal-like 20. Nb6 is surprising and pleasing.
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Going into this game (played in the 9th of 17 rounds at Paris 1900, five players were locked in a virtual tie for first: Lasker, Mieses, Janowski, and Marshall (with 6 points in 7 games) and Pillsbury (with 5.5 points in 6 games, having completed one game fewer). Just behind them were Maroczy and Marco with five points in seven games. In short, this was a close contest. But beginning with this round, Lasker ran off eight consecutive wins (defeating Pillsbury, Janowski and Showalter among others), and not even yielding a draw until the final round by which time he had clinched first place. Lasker's first victory in this eight-game Fischeresque run was his smashing victory against Mason in this game.

The game was a slaughter. Mason was in trouble by move 9 and was lost by move 12. Lasker combined positional knowledge with tactical genius in overwhelming Mason in this game.

In studying this wonderful game, we are all privileged to have the excellent commentary provided by keypusher on this site more than nine years ago. Since keypusher has done most of the heavy lifting and analysis necessary for understanding and enjoying Lasker's genius in this game, I refer the reader to keypusher's post and will try here to emphasize points he has not covered and those few places in which I disagree with him.

1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 Nf6
3. d4

A reasonable and aggressive alternative to the more usual and often drawish 3. Nxe5.

3... Nxe4

Both this and 3...exd4 are reasonable options.

4. Bd3 d5
5. Nxe5 Be7

5...Nd7 is most usually played and is probably best. But the text, along with 5...Bd6, are good alternatives. Hort played the text against Spassky in a game in their 1977 match.

6. 0-0

Spassky played 6. Nd2 against Hort. Both Lasker's and Spassky's moves seem reasonable. The choice between them is one of style.

6... 0-0

6...Nd7 may be somewhat better, but the text has been played and is certainly viable.

7. c4

The theme of attacking the center with c4 is frequently employed by White against the Petroff.

7... Nf6

Rosenthal in the Tournament Book lauds this move ("well played"), but both the text and 7...c6 as well as 7...Be6 are fine.

8. Nc3

Preferring prompt development to closing the center with 8. c5. Both moves are fine.

8... dxc4
9. Bxc4 Nbd7

This is Mason's first weak move in the game, and the punishment he receives from Lasker is swift and "brutal" (to quote keypusher). After this move, Lasker already has--again quoting keypusher--"a large advantage."

If 9...c5, White is much better after 10. Qb3 (better than keypusher's proposed 10. dxc5, after which Black--though perhaps already lost after 9...c5--should try 10...Nbd7 rather than trading Queens as in keypusher's line).

Best for Black here was 9...Nc6 after which he would have a playable albeit somewhat inferior game.

10. Qb3

"Ganging up on f7." (keypusher).

10... NxN

If 10...Nb6 11. Bxf7

11. dxN Ng4

As Rosenthal pointed out in the Tournament Book, if 11...Ne8 12. Rd1 Bd7 13. e6 wins (13. Bxf7+ is perhaps even more decisive in this line).

12. Bf4

Just about Lasker's only second-best move in this game. As Rosenthal notes in the Tournament Book, 12. Rd1 was better.

I do not care for keypusher's 12. e6 since Black simply responds 12..fxe6 and has an entirely playable game after 13. Bxe6+ [13. h3 is probably best) Kh8 [obviously not 13...BxB 14. QxB+ winning the Knight].

12... c6

Best. Rosenthal's claim that Mason should have played 12...g5 is simply wrong, since Black then gets overwhelmed with 13. Rad1 Qe8 14. Bg3 c6 15. Ne4.

13. h3 Nh6?

A serious positional mistake after which Mason gets blown away by Lasker. Mason had to play 13...b5 here and would still have been in the game after 14. Be2 Qd4.

14. BxN gxB
15. Rad1

Harassing Black's Queen. As keypusher has so aptly put it, from here on ";Mason barely gets a free breath."

15... Qc7

As keypusher has pointed out, 15...Qb6 16. Qc2 is no better for Black.

The position was now as follows:

click for larger view

To quote keypusher yet again, it is "not surprising that White wins from here, but it's still impressive how he does it."

Lasker's winning technique from this position is indeed impressive and instructive. I will cover how Lasker converted his advantage here to a quick and crushing victory in my next post on this game.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post II

After 15...Qc7, Lasker had a strategically won game. Now let's see how he went about exploiting his advantage.

16. Rfe1

As keypusher has pointed out, a major theme of this game is White's preparation to break through with e6. Lasker's 16th move is a major step in that direction.

16... b5

Black has nothing better. As keypusher has noted, 16...Bf5 gets crushed by 17. e6!

17. Bd3 b4

17...Be6 is probably the best Black has available, but--as keypushed has explained--it loses to 18. Qc2.

18. Na4

Where to move the threatened Knight. Lasker's choice is certainly fine, and--as keypusher has mentioned--is better than 18. Ne4 Qxe5 (although that too is probably sufficient to keep White's win in sight. But best of all is 18. Ne2, getting the Knight to join the King-side attack.

18... Kh8

Rosenthal in the Tournment Book calls this move a "waste of time" and recommends 18...a5. But Rosenthal's move gets killed after 19. Bc2. The best Black has available is keypusher's proposed 18...Be6, which--as keypusher nas pointed out is insufficient to save thegame.

19. Qc4!

A beautiful move that sets up the coming combination. Also crushing--and perhaps even better--was 19. Bc2. But Lasker's move is much prettier.

19... a5

"A mistake which compromises his game." (Rosenthal in the Tournament Book). While the text is indeed weak, Rosenthal's suggestion that Black can somehow save the game is nonsense. His proposed 19...Rg8 gets killed by 20. Qxf7.

I am guessing that Rosenthal's reference to 19...Rg8 is a typo and that he intended 19...Rb8 which, as keypusher has noted, is the best move at Black's disposal. (19...f6 is about as "good"). One thing is for sure, after the text, the game ends quickly.

The position after 19...a5 was:

click for larger view

Lasker now demolished Mason's position with one amazing move:

20. Nb6!!

"A very pretty move which concludes the game brilliantly.

20... Ra7

As both keypusher and Rosenthal in the Tournament Book have demonstrated, 20...QxN loses immediately to 21. Qe4!! f5 22. exf6 e.p. Rf7 23. fxB and is 23...Bd7 24. Bc4.

The game is over.

21. NxB QxN
22. e6!

"Finally" (keypusher).

22... f6

"Of course if 22...fxe6 23. Qxd4 [and Black loses his Rook on a7]" (keypusher). 22...c5 was a little better than the text, but hopeless in the long run.

23. Qe4

Even more crushing would have been 23. Bf5, but Lasker's move is more than adequate to snuff out resistance.

23... Bd8
24. Qf4! Rg7

If Mason wanted to play on, he should have tried 24...Rg8.

25. Bf5!

Threatening just about everything.

25... Be7
26. Qxh6 c5

Black's last gasp hope was 26...Rfg8. After the text, the rest is carnage.

27. Re4

Carving up Mason's position.

27... Rd8

As hopeless as anything.

28. Rd7!

The position was now:

click for larger view

As keypusher has pointed out, Lasker now threatens QxR+ and RxB+. Black has no defense.

28... RxR
29. exR Qf8

"Finally a threat for Black (Rxg2+).

30. Kh1

Rosenthal in the Tournament Book praises this move as "necessary' in light of Mason's threat to win Lasker's Queen with 30...Rxg2+ and 31...QxQ. But keypusher has seen further and correctly points out that Lasker could simply have played 30. Qh5. He speculates that Lasker may have been short on time. In any event, this tiny lapse by Lasker does not change the outcome.

30... Qd8
31. Qh5!

"Black can no longer avoid 32. Qe8+ winning." (Rosenthal). "There is no answer to Qe8. Brutal" (keypusher).


As keypusher has so accurately summarized the finale, "Brutal."

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