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Emanuel Lasker vs William Ewart Napier
"Pawnslaught" (game of the day Apr-19-16)
Cambridge Springs (1904)  ·  Sicilian Defense: Closed Variation. Traditional (B34)  ·  1-0
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Last move:

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Given 78 times; par: 45 [what's this?]

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Kibitzer's Corner
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Aug-05-12  LoveThatJoker: Guess-the-Move Final Score:

Lasker vs W Napier, 1904.
Your score: 51 (par = 46)


PS. Par is now 47.

Nov-23-13  jdc2: An analysis of move 18 using Stockfish 4 64, 2.1Ghz, 2 cpu, 1024MB hash

Evals are for h5 and f5 in that order:
1:15 .88 vs .78
1:43 .88 vs .62 after 26 ply
2:30 .86 vs .56 in middle of 27th ply
4:33 .84 vs .70 1st move of 29th ply
6:58 .86 vs .78 beginning of 30th ply (721 meganodes) another few minutes up to 951 meganodes and completing 30 ply: .84 vs .74

18. h5 Re8 19. hxg6 Rxe7 20. Bc5 Rd7 21. Rxh7+ Kg8 22. bxc3 exf4 23. Bc4 b5 24. Rxg7+ Kxg7 25. gxf7 Rxf7 26. Bxf7 Kxf7 27. a4 bxa4 28. Rxa4 Kg6 29. Rxf4 Bf5 30. Be3

18. f5 Ne4 19. f6 Bf8
20. Bg2 Ng3 21. Rh2 Nf5 22. Bc5 Re8 23. O-O-O Nxe7 24. fxe7 Bxe7 25. Bxe7 Rxe7 26. Rd8+ Kg7 27. Be4 h6 28. h5 gxh5 29. gxh6+ Kxh6 30. Rh8+ Kg7 31. R8xh5 f5 32. Bxf5 Bxf5 33. Rxf5 Kg6 34. Rf1 Rg7 35. Kd2 Rd8+ 36. Ke3 Rd4 37. Rg2+ Kh7 38. Rfg1 Rxg2 39. Rxg2 Kh6

I don't know who's more amazing, Lasker or Stockfish.

Dec-18-13  LoveThatJoker: GOTD: Immaculate Emanuel


Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: <DrGridlock> <How can an annotator give an "!" to a move when there is a better alternative?>

I think even engines will do this, if a set of a few moves all bump the eval by a big differential.

A good move is a good move. Just because there's a marginally better move doesn't detract from that (and in fact, the "best" move may jostle back-and-forth depending on how deep you let the engine go).

Premium Chessgames Member
  Terminal B: Thanks to all of you for your analysis, and your comments on the man vs. machine issue.

I was delighted when I first discovered the Cambridge Springs games. I lived near Cambridge Springs and often played golf there, long before I ever knew that any chess tournament of any caliber had ever been played there. To me, all of the games there are a treasure.

But, if you have not already seen it, this game is also analyzed very nicely by Fred Reinfeld and Reuben Fine in their book "Lasker's Greatest Chess Games 1889 - 1914", published in 1935. Even their annotations suggest that Lasker had a bit of luck on his side.

Analysis before the age of the machine of course, but very enjoyable. As Dr. Hsu, the developer of Deep Blue, once said: "[these machines] are just our tools."

Oct-01-14  Everett: To DC and AK, your patient responses are appreciated, even at this late date. Thanks for your work, because it proved educational to see how different moves turned out.
Oct-06-14  rosenthal: Why did Black resign? What does White play in reply to Bf8?
Oct-06-14  sneaky pete: After 35... Bf8 I would prefer 36.Bd4+ Bg7 37.g6 ..

click for larger view

36.Ng6+ .. doesn't look so good if Black finds the defence 36... Rxg6.

Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: <sneaky pete> Oops! My suggestion was stupid.

I better have some coffee.

Plus I deleted my embarrassing post.

Never post before coffee.

Feb-10-16  morfishine: One of my favorite games
Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: Well, I suppose I should just be glad this game finally made GOTD. There has been a tendency, especially in the Silicon Ascendancy, to denigrate it for unsoundness and inaccurary.

Big Fat Hairy Deal. When the loser proudly calls it his best game, you've got something special.

I suppose I'm a little bitter about the pun, having submitted a couple which seemed clever to me but obviously didn't impress others. But <Pawnslaught> just isn't right. If ever there was a game where the pieces dominated, this is it.

Apr-19-16  AlicesKnight: Indeed a fascinating game. In the light of the man/machine discussion, I like Capablanca's comment (quoted by Golombek from Nikolai Grekov); "Let us depart from science... Chess can never reach its height by following in the path of science... Let us therefore ... turn the struggle of technique into a battle of ideas".
Apr-19-16  Ratt Boy: Excellent game; butt it is not a Closed Sicilian. It is a Dragon.
Apr-19-16  morfishine: <Phony Benoni> is absolutely correct: The excellence of this game is counterbalanced by the blatant inaccuracy of the game title

<CG> should erase this one; there are dozens of great games that highlight the pawnslaught theme

This isn't one of them


Apr-19-16  Ironmanth: Wow. Over morning coffee, at first this game did not make great sense. Probably much deeper than I can understand. I have a lot of questions on piece maneuvering. Thus, much to learn here. As far as the puns are concerned, sadly I have given up even looking at them anymore. Still love this sight and the many wonderful, intuitive, and helpful reader commentaries and analysis. Keep it up, chess players!
Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: Bad title: the pawnslaught involves at least two or three passed pawns taking over the game.
Apr-19-16  Howard: Nothing against this game's being GOTD, but Soltis stated in his book from ten years ago of the 100 best games of the 20th century, that this game was one of the most OVERRATED games of that century.

He argued that the game "(didn't) stand up well to close scrutiny." In other words, over the years several mistakes were gradually discovered in this game.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: If mistakes hadn't been found in this game, we would doubt its authenticity.
Apr-19-16  Twocolors: I have learned so much from my mistakes, I seriously consider making a few more...
Apr-19-16  erimiro1: Sometimes I judge games simply by counting how many "what????" moves were done. "what????" moves can be great or bad (I don't mean tragic mistakes) but in all cases, they are unexpected and products of brilliant ideas. This game includes many "What????" moves, that are not easy to refute OTB, and this is the right way to see it.
Apr-19-16  newzild: A mind-boggling game.

After reading back through the comments there was a lot of discussion 10 years ago about various moves, backed up by computer analysis.

Of course, computers are much stronger now, so I've updated some evaluations using the latest version of Stockfish, running on my specced-out Macbook Pro:

9...Nh5 (slight advantage Black) is 0.3 better than the passive 9...Ne8 (equal).

13...exf4! (-0.4) is a big improvement for Black over 13...Nd4 (+0.7). This move has not been mentioned by other commentators.

18. f5 is stronger than 18. h5, but only slightly (.02)

Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: Yes, the game has nothing to do with a pawn storm, at least not a major one, so the name "Pawnslaught" seems inappropriate. Now, Napier thought that this was the best game he ever played even though he lost it. So perhaps a more suitable title might be along the lines of "Best Game I Ever Lost".
Apr-19-16  newzild: 19. f5! would have been good (+0.5), as it keeps the file closed over White's king. Lasker's 19. Bc5 is equal.

Black failed to exploit White's 19th. Napier should have opened the file and pinned the Ne7 with 19....ef (equal) instead of (+1).

20. Bc4 (-1.6) was a blunder. Lasker should have played 20. bc, which is equal.

However, Napier blundered in turn with 20...ef (+0.8) instead of the equal 20...Ne4.

Napier also erred with 21...Ne4 instead of 21...Be4, after which he was probably lost (+1.4)

There are a couple of inaccuracies towards the end of the game. Basically, Black shouldn't have moved his rook off the back rank, and White could have played his 35. Be3 mating idea a move earlier. However, Black never had the chance to be better than -2.0 (in other words, lost) so the inaccuracies weren't terribly important.

In all, a pretty good performance by both players considering how complicated this game was.

Apr-19-16  morfishine: Napier was first and foremost, a businessman. But he played a pretty mean game of chess
Feb-21-17  JohnBoy: <newzild> - I don't get it. How can 20.Bc4 evaluate at -1.6 and black's best is 20...Ne4 w equality?
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