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Mikhail Chigorin vs Emanuel Lasker
London (1899), London ENG, rd 17, Jun-21
Formation: King's Indian Attack (A07)  ·  0-1
ANALYSIS [x]

FEN COPIED

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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 2 OF 2 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Feb-18-04  drukenknight: ugi: Look, right before the time control....
Feb-18-04  ughaibu: You may be right but I'm not sure that time controls had been standardised by that time. Looking at the game as a whole Chigorin appears to be doing well, gaining space and making threats, maybe he got complacent and without considering the danger fell for Lasker's trap? Or maybe Lasker had played the strategically better game at a subtle enough level that it went beyond Chigorin's control?
Feb-18-04  drukenknight: Strategically, the game is fascinating, it sure looks really deep but what...errrh doesnt he need to block check with the Rook on move 40?
Feb-18-04  ughaibu: But if black then takes with the bishop followed by taking the d-pawn and then the bishop, white could resign.
Feb-18-04  drukenknight: show some moves. C'mon, you might find somethign interesting.
Feb-18-04  ughaibu: I thought I just showed 'em(?) If you play 40.Rb2 I reply 40....Bb2
Feb-18-04  drukenknight: what about the Q/R battery coming down the c file?
Feb-18-04  ughaibu: Show me some moves. I'm threatening mate by 41....Ra1
Mar-23-04
Premium Chessgames Member
  Gypsy: Chigorin was plenty strong tactically, Drunkennight, it was his seat-of-pants strategy that absolutely failed him here. Going backwards in time: Chigorin was hopelessly lost after his 25th move, lost after his 17th move, and practically lost after his 14th move. While Chigorin's play with nights is legendary, here he shows an absolute inocence about the ways of bishops. He is completely ignorant of such routine concepts as good-bishop and bad-bishop, let alone the good-bad-bishop and bad-bad-bishop concepts. Late in his life Lasker once said: "I am an old lion, but if they put their heads into my mouth, I can still close it." Here, he was still a young lion, but his meal came just as easy: Chigorin beat himself through a series of dumb manuevers. When it was all over, Lasker executed an ellegant blow of mercy.

Black's 3.-e5 tells me that Lasker expected Chigorin to faul things up. After 5 moves Black had a fine game.

Some plan with d4 would have work wanders for White: For instance, 7.Na4 Bb6 8.c3 was much preferable to the actual game plan of B-g5xf6 and N-d5xe7. I truly dislike the White's continuation of the game. Of course, Lasker was probably pretty confident which minor pieces exchanges would Chigorin go after.

I also dislike 12.0-0-0?! and 14.Nf3? In both cases an exchange of the white squared-bishops, 12.Bh3 and especially 14.Bh3!, would have fixed much of the White's predicament. Black is now significantly better.

Lasker's 16.-f6! is a structurally sound move in its own right. It is also likely that here Lasker already saw outlines of his final push.

Chigorin's 17.f5? is as bad as Lasker's previous move was good. White is now lost.

Lasker's 23.-Be8! (and 24.-Bf7) is the beging of the end. For practical purposes, he is a piece up.

The 25.c4 move is nearly as bad as 17.f5? was; White position, which was lost anyway, is now groteskly hopeless. White's bishop could just as well be a pawn.

The entire concept of Chigorin's play was faulty. No tactical wizardry could have saved him.

Mar-23-04  drukenknight: IF Chigorin was so strong tactically, why doesnt he play 35 Nxc6 which would have plunged the game into complications worthy of a Geller, Fischer, Korchnoi, Petrosian or Kasparov.

Hard to imagine he is as sharp as those players, at least not in this game.

Also how in the world could the game be lost on move 17? Look at 24 Nd5! doesnt this completely equalize?

Mar-24-04
Premium Chessgames Member
  Gypsy: Ok, I am none of the forementioned genlemen. So I hope I will not make a hash of this.

Both Chigorin and Lasker are considered ammong the finest in tactics of all times. It is highly unlikely that Lasker would have allowed and Chigorin would have declined 35.Nxc6 if Black did not have an antidote. (After all, Chigorin was already desperately seeking practical chances in muddy waters of complications.) Here is what I think is the principal variation: 35.Nxc6 Rxc6 36.Rxc6 Ba4! This quiet move does the trick; White needs to counter Qb4+. Thus 37.Rc7+ Kb8 38.a3 Bb3! and now there is no adequate defense to Qxa3, 0-1. White's problem after 36.Rxc6 Ba4! is that he can no longer oppose on the a5-e1 diagonal: Immediate 37.Qe1 Qxe1 38.Rxe1 Kxc6 clearly does not work, nor does it work after he interposes 37.Rc7+ Kb8.

As for the 24.Nd5 move: It is a fine move and contains the trap 25.- Qd7? 26.Bh5! But even then, after, say, 26.- Bxh5 27.Qxh5 c6 28.Nb4 d5, Black would be beter. Relatively best probably was 24.Nd5 Qf8 (instead of 25-Qd7?) 25.Bh5 Bd7, when the Black bishop is kept off the a2-g8 diagonal for now. But this changes nothing fundamental in the defining structure of the game, White bishop is still one hobbled prelate. (It does boggle my mind that Chigorin was so inocently oblivious to it.)

Mar-24-04  ughaibu: After 36....Ba4 37.Rc7 Kb8 38.R1c2 what does black play?
Mar-24-04  aulero: I think that after 36.Nxc6 Rxc6 37.Rxc6 the killer move is Qb4
Mar-24-04  drukenknight: I think aulero is right, 36 Nxc6 doesnt really solve his problems. The game might last longer, but it looks like he's still lost.

On move 29 or 30; wouldnt Bh5 develop the B adequately?

18 Re2 seems like a better defensive move, getting a R to the second rank right away instead of the slower way that chigorin played it.

I confess I have not studied many chigorin games but this one was in Tartakover's book. It seems like there are a lot of positional moves that chigorin is just missing.

Mar-24-04  drukenknight: Gypsy: on 24 Nd5, this looks like equality, (no need for your 25 Bh5):

24. Nd5 Qf8 25. Qd2 Bf7 26. d4 c6

SOmeone mentioned getting in d4; chigorin could have done this on move 25. 25 d4 or 25 Rd2 first, would probably break open the position in acceptable way for white.

Also 21 Rfe1 keeps coming up on the computer, not sure why, but it looks better than h4.

Mar-24-04
Premium Chessgames Member
  Gypsy: First, forgive me an oversight. I agree with Aulero that 37.-Qb4 seems crushing. I do not have a chess-set and in my mind 37.-Ba4 looked more subtle, but just as strong, or stronger.

Second, 37.-Ba4 is (nearly?) as strong. Since the White bishop could just as well be visiting Vatican (sorry, I could not resist), Black can methodically tighten the screws. The principal maneuvers are Qa5-b4-a3 Pb5-b4-b3 and Bd4-c3 in some order and with some other moves thrown in when desirable. Here are some lines after Ugaibu's 38.R1c2.

(i) 38.R1c2 Qb4+ 39.Kc1 Qa3+ 40.Kb1 b4 41.Qd2 Bxc2 (41.Rxg7 Bxc2 42.Qxc2 Rc8, 0-1) 42.Qxc2 b3 43.Qc1 bxa2+ (43.axb3 Qa1x) 44.Kc2 Qxc1 0-1. If 42.Rxc2 instead of Qxc2, then better than immediate liquidation b3 43.Rb2 Qxb2 44.Qxb2 Bxb2 45.Kxb2 bxa2 46.Kxa2 into an exchange up ending is a preparatory repositioning of the rook, say by Rd8-d7-b7, 0-1.

(ii) 38.R1c2 Qb4+ 39.Kc1 Qa3+ 40.Kd2 (40.Kc1 is no better because of the pin on the rook) 40.-b4 once again. The immediate threat is Bc3 followed by Kxc7. White has several alernatives how to deal with that, alas, all fail. In a practical game I would be, as Black, most worry about some possibility of a perpetual check. For instance, a possible continuation along these lines is 41.Ke1 Bc3+ 42.R2xc3 bxc3 43.Qd3 Kxc7 44.Qa7+ Kc8 45.Qa8+ Kd7 46.Qb7+ Ke8 47.Qxg7 c2 48.Qg8+ Kd7 49.Qf7+ Kc8 50.Qe6+ Kb8, 0-1.

These lines do not exhaust all the possibilities. However, there allways seems to be a Lasker win using these basic ideas.

Mar-24-04
Premium Chessgames Member
  Gypsy: Although you may be improving Wite's chances some, I still much prefer Black side, Drunkenknight. Btw, I'd probably play 24. Nd5 Qf8 25. Qd2 Bf7 26. d4 Qg8 (istead of 24.-c6) in your variation. The pressure along the a2-g8 diagonal would cause White problems.
Jun-06-05  Kangaroo: This game has been imprinted in my memory as the most efficient way to refute the exotic invention (1. e4 e6. 2. Qe2?!) made by Mikhail Chigorin .

Rumors assigned such a nice joke to Tigran Vartanovich Petrosian that it is impossible to resist the temptation to reproduce it here.

Back in the 1940's and 1950's the soviet propaganda in chess claimed that Chigorin should be viewed as the founder father of Russian-Soviet chess school and every grandmaster must play like him. Being asked (perhaps after 1960) what he thought of Chigorin's style, Tigran Vartanovich Petrosian responded:

<The secret of our success resides in my opponents being followers of Mikhail Chigorin !>

Jun-06-05
Premium Chessgames Member
  IMlday: 3. Qe3!?
Jun-06-05
Premium Chessgames Member
  An Englishman: Good Evening: We need something bizarre here. 1.e4,e6; 2.Qe2,Nc6 (I prefer 2....c5); 3.Qe3!?,Nb4!?; 4.Na3!?,c5!?; 5.c3,Nc6; 6.d4!?,cd4; 7.cd4,d5!?

No, not strange enough. 4.Kd1!?

That's strange enough.

Jun-06-05
Premium Chessgames Member
  IMlday: Since Na3 and c3 are both useful moves while ..Nb4 and ..Nc6 aren't, I doubt that ..Nb4 is best. 4..e5 is more sensible.

btw I used to always use this Chigorin-Lasker game in lessons contrasting it with Lasker's Exchange Variation vs the Ruy. With the pawn on e4 the light squares are covered so trading KB for N is OK. However here Chigorin traded his QB and was weak on the dark squares ever after. Lasker's technique was superb!

Jun-06-05  Kangaroo: The weirdest opening I have ever seen happened in one game in the 1960s:

1. e4 e6. 2. Qe2 e5. 3. Nf3 Nc6. 4. Qb5 a6. 5. Qa4 Nf6. 6. Bb5 -

kind of Ruy Lopez mixed with Chigorin's French!

Aug-12-11  xombie: This is actually reminiscent of a dutch stonewall formation mirrored in a way (without c5 by black). Notice the queen jump to a5, and the bishop getting around the long way (Ba4-e8-f7 from where it eyes the queenside nicely). Also, Lasker uses his bishops very well here to attack from the sides. For example, Ba4, probing.
Mar-01-15  Ulhumbrus: With the pair of moves 2...Nc6 and 3...e5!! Lasker transposes into a type of king's pawn open game where White has obstructed his own development by the move 2 Qe2.

This suggests that this is an example of Lasker's creativity in action.

Lasker does not follow the assumption that Black must transpose into a French defence or Sicilian defence.

Feb-06-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: An exciting game from beginning to end. I disagree with the suggestions that Tchigorin was lost early on. I have spent two days analyzing this game and so far as I can see (with some help from Fritz) Tchigorin was not lost until 31. cxb5. I'm not a fan of Tchigorin's opening or early middle-game strategy, but I just don't see anything approaching a win for Lasker before Tchigorin's 31. cxb5.

Lasker is not known for his opening preparation, but I sense some home cooking here. Tchigorin had been getting in trouble in this tournament with his 2. Qe2 against the French, and 2...Nc6 had been eliciting 3. Nc3 in response from Tchigorin. So Lasker--not usually one to rely on the French, played 1...e3, then 2...Nc6, and then after 3. Nc3 played 3...e5, losing a tempo but putting Tchigorin in a Vienna Game in which he had a worse than useless extra move (Qe2). By doing this, Lasker avoided defending a King's Gambit or an Evans Gambit against the Russian wizard of these openings.

Theoretically speaking, Tchigorin's game was about even after Lasker's 10...Ne7 (Fritz rates the position -0.04).

I don't care for Tchigorin's 11. NxN (11. Ne3 seems better) and I agree with the Tournament Book that his 12. 0-0-0 was a bad plan. (12. Nf3 seems best), but after Lasker's 14...Bc6 (why not 14...exf4?), Tchigorin if anything had the best of the struggle.

But all this is quibbling. Lasker seems to have been using his profound psychology at the chessboard and gave Tchigorin the kind of game in which the Russian's tactical genius was unavailing. But after 23...Be8 the game was--theoretically again--about even.

But then Tchigorin seemed to go adrift. His 24. Rfd1 was not good (24. Qd2 or even 24. Nd5 was better); his 25. c4 needlessly weakened key squares around his king (25. Nd5 was best), as did his 30. b3.

After Lasker's 30...Rd7, Tchigorin had life. (Fritz rates the position -0.84). But after 31. cxb5, he never had a chance. Lasker's finish was brilliant.

After Lasker's 31...axb5, Tchigorin's best chance was probably 32. Bh5. After his actual 32. Nd5, the game was over. Lasker now had three ways to win. He could have played--as the Tournament Book notes--the simple 32...BxN 33. exB c5. He could also have won with Soltis' recommended 32...Bc5. But I love Lasker's actual choice, 32...Kb7, a devastating quiet move.

Had Tchigorin now played 33. b4 Lasker would have won with 33...Qa3 34. Qd2 c5 as shown by Reinfeld and Fine (34...Rdd8 may be even stronger).

Tchigorin decided to throw caution to the wind and played 33. g4 Rdd8 34. Ne7, but ran into a buzzsaw when Lasker played the brilliant Bxb3.

Had Tchigorin played 35. Nxc6, he would have lost as previously shown on this site to 35...RxN 36. RxR Qb4!

Tchigorin decided to make Lasker prove the soundness of his combination and played 35. NxR, but then got crushed by a few deft "quiet" moves by Lasker, starting with 35...RxN and then, after 36. Qd2 (36. Rb2 was perhaps best) 36...Qa3. Lasker could also have won with 36...BxR+, but--as Soltis notes in his book--"when you're about a cap a brilliancy prize you don't settle for a mere won end-game."

After Tchigorin's 38. Rh2, Lasker could have used a meat-cleaver method and won with 38...BxR+. Instead, he won artistically with 38...Bxa2+.

Tchigorin's play in this game, the commentators notwithstanding, was not so terrible. He did make some strategical and tactical errors. His real problem was that his opponent was Lasker, who came at him with preparation, psychology, a profound positional sense, and tactical genius of his own. A tough combination to handle, even for so fine a player as Tchigorin.

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