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Emanuel Lasker vs Johann Hermann Bauer
"Emanuel Labor" (game of the day Sep-05-2011)
Amsterdam (1889), Amsterdam NED, rd 1, Aug-26
Bird Opening: Dutch Variation (A03)  ·  1-0
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sac: 15.Bxh7+ PGN: download | view | print Help: general | java-troubleshooting

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Kibitzer's Corner
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Oct-01-11  Cemoblanca: 17.Bxg7!

This and 15.Bxh7+!! established Lasker's reputation, much like Carlos Torre's 25.Bf6!! against Lasker at Moscow 1925 and Fischer's 17...Be6!! against Donald Byrne. The 2 bishop-sack has been copied dozens of times and dubbed "Lasker's Combination," (more info >>> http://www.amazon.com/Laskers-Combi...) the title of a 1998 book devoted to it.

But this raises a question that will recur in these pages. Just how original was Lasker? There had been published examples of the 2 bishop-sack before, played in Great Britain in 1867 and 1884. Those combinations were carried out by masters (Cecil de Vere and John Owen) much better known than Lasker was in 1889. Why isn't it "de Vere's Combination"?

One school of thought would argue: What counts is who played an idea for the first time. Lasker doesn't deserve the credit for coming in third.

Another school replies: But Lasker was almost certainly unaware of the British games. (They were little known until mentioned in the British Chess Magazine in 2003.) Therefore Lasker was being original in terms of his own understanding of chess.

Besides, this school would argue, the Bauer game was played in an international tournament, one of the few held in the 1880s. Surely a player who first tests his ideas in major events deserves the credit. That's why openings such as Alekhine's Defense or the Benko Gambit have those names even though others played the moves earlier.

The argument can go back and forth: Is every 10-year-old who discovers the optimal strategy in tic-tac-toe being original simply because they didn't know what every previous 10-year-old had discovered? - From the book "Why Lasker Matters" by Andrew Soltis

Oct-01-11  Cemoblanca: ...and here's something for the laugh muscles:

Scroll ahead to 1914: World Champion Lasker has won the St Petersburg super-tournament. Tarrasch, his bitter rival, finished fourth but consoled himself with a brilliancy prize victory. However, it was only the second brilliancy prize because Tarrasch's winning idea, a 2 bishop-sacrifice, seemed to lack...something.

At the final banquet, Tarrasch looked for an ally to appeal the prize jury's decision. According to Pyotr Romanovsky, who was present, he found himself asking Lasker for support. "Isn't it true, Doctor, that my victory over Nimzovich was a genuine creation of art?" he asked.

"Oh, yes, without a doubt," Lasker replied. "Similar games are only played once in...25 years." :D :D :D

Dec-21-11
Premium Chessgames Member
  Penguincw: White just simplies the win.
Feb-16-12
Premium Chessgames Member
  Penguincw: Lasker was probably 20 at the time, so this is impressive, for any age that matter.
Mar-18-12
Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: There's a little background to this game.

For the previous decade, the biennial German Chess Congress had included an "Hauptturnier" in addition to the master tournament. The winner of the Hauptturnier was recognized as a Master, with the right to play in major international tournaments.

Sometimes the winners went on to great careers (Siegbert Tarrasch, 1883). Others had average to mediocre careers (Curt von Bardeleben, 1881) or ended up not doing much of anything (Max Harmonist, 1885)

This game matched the two most recent winners, Bauer in 1887 and Lasker about a month before Amsterdam. Bauer hadn't played much since his victory, so Amsterdam was the first international test for both.

Would either of the players turn out to be a superstar? The game certainly provided an indication.

And one final point: <It was played in Round 1>. Has there ever been a more spectacular debut in the international arena?

May-19-12  Llawdogg: Wow! Great game. Spectacular debut.
Oct-31-12  Conrad93: I have adopted Lasker's opening system with great success. The problem is that all of my opponents automatically go for attack.
Dec-24-12  zakkzheng: This is a classical 2 bishop sacrifice attack
Jul-05-13  tzar: This game shows the true genius of Lasker.

Not only he conceived the idea of the double bishop sacrifice but must have seen that black, even after sacrificing queen (only move) was left with clear material advantage, so at the same time he had to foresee Qd7 which wins one of the two black bishops, and even after that the final blow of the game is brilliant.

To conceive all this in one game, more than 100 years ago at age of roughly 20 is not human. Not bad for a coffee house player.

Jul-05-13  Nerwal: I don't think Lasker needed to see ♕d7 to play the double bishop sac (I am not saying he didn't foresee it). White would get a winning game by continuing the attack with 22. ♖f1 or, maybe more precisely, 22. ♕h3+ ♔g7 23. ♕g3+ ♔h7 24. ♖f1. With ♕ and 2 ♙ for 2 ♗ and ♖ white isn't even material down anyway.
Jul-05-13  tzar: ...Probably Qd7 is not the only way to win, the king was in the open air crying for help already, but Lasker found the most practical and instructive way to win (probably foreseen before the combination) and finishing with an almost sadistic queen sac...not a good day for Bauer
Oct-03-13  Maladetta: <Schach and Awe> You should check out "The Art of Attack" by Vukovic. Sometimes long-winded, but good discussions on accurate sacs and attacks
Oct-03-13  JimNorCal: A great story reprinted in wikipedia is below. A lot of drama in the Hauptturnier event. "Lasker shot up through the chess rankings in 1889, when he won the Café Kaiserhof's annual Winter tournament 1888/89 and the Hauptturnier A ("second division" tournament) at the sixth DSB Congress (German Chess Federation's congress) held in Breslau. Winning the Hauptturnier earned Lasker the title of "master". The candidates were divided into two groups of ten. The top four in each group competed in a final. Lasker won his section, with 2˝ points more than his nearest rival. However, scores were reset to 0 for the final. With two rounds to go, Lasker trailed the leader, Viennese amateur von Feierfeil, by 1˝ points. Lasker won both of his final games, while von Feierfeil lost in the penultimate round (being mated in 121 moves after the position was reconstructed incorrectly following an adjournment) and drew in the last round. The two players were now tied. Lasker won a playoff and garnered the master title. This enabled him to play in master-level tournaments and thus launched his chess career."
Nov-03-13
Premium Chessgames Member
  Richard Taylor: Great game. Thanks to <Perfidious> for alerting me (and others I assume) to this game.
Feb-10-14  jdc2: Kind of amazing how many games involving this particular type of sacrifice there are, for example:

Gelfand vs Kramnik, 1994

and

A Stefanova vs N Kosintseva, 2012

Feb-14-14  tzar: I think this game became a model for future players as far as bishop against King's pawns sacs are concerned.
Dec-16-14  kereru: 38.Qxd3 has a nice air of sarcasm about it
May-12-15
Premium Chessgames Member
  whiteshark: < RandomVisitor: 13...g6 would put a stop to white's excellent kingside adventure.> Right and 13.Qe2 wasn't necessary for the combination, too.
May-02-16  Albion 1959: I first saw this game back in 1977 in a copy of Irving Chernev's The Golden Dozen. I recall that in the book, black resigned at move 33 and not 38. Chernev did tend not carry on with the actual score and simply put resigned where he thought it appropriate. He also made a comment that this was the only time in his long and illustrious career that Lasker ever played The Bird's Opening !!
May-21-16  PJs Studio: Dr Lasker's efficiency in this game is beautiful. Reminds me of Fischer.
Feb-22-17  Jimmy720: memorize
Jun-01-17  Iwer Sonsch: <<whiteshark> 13.Qe2 wasn't necessary for the combination, too.> Looks like it. In the actual combination, Qe2 just throws away a tempo, so why allow <13...g6!>?

Actually, it's a bit deeper. As my Stockfish 7 points out, 13...d4!, putting up the threat of ...Qxg2# and simultaneously covering f3 against the rook, causes difficulties for White and, in the end, successfully defends (13.Nh5 d4! 14.Rf2! dxe3 15.dxe3 Nxh5 16.Qxh5 with 0.17 @depth 29; 16.Bxh7+ Kxh7 and 21.Qh5+ Kg7 22.Qg4+ or 22.Rf3 Qxf3 23.gxf3 is equal).

Objectively, 13.Nh5 d4! 14.Rf2! is still a tiny bit stronger than 13.Qe2(!) g6! (-0.18 @depth 25), but from a human's point of view, 13.Qe2(!) looks way less suspicious than the immediate 13.Nh5: <"He's played his queen alongside the d1-e2 diagonal. He can't be planning Qh5 anytime soon, can he?">, Bauer might have thought.

Jun-01-17  Iwer Sonsch: <13.Qe2(!) a6? 14.Nh5!> d4 15.Nxg7 Kxg7 16.Qg4+ Kh8 17.Qh3 Qxg2+ 18.Qxg2 Bxg2 19.Kxg2 still gains the Bishop pair and a decent positional advantage:


click for larger view

1.46 @depth 25 (Stockfish 7)

Jun-01-17  Iwer Sonsch: I really gained the opinion that 13.Qe2(!!) was the winning move for Lasker, as it let Bauer without any foresight about the upcoming attack.
Jun-01-17  Iwer Sonsch: Lasker's combination from move 26 on was really beautiful and, without the a-, b-, c-, d-, g-, and h-pawn, would make up a really nice puzzle. Of course, most of the moves look pretty clear-cut, but would you still calmly play them at a -3 material disadvantage?
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