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Alexander Ilyin-Zhenevsky vs Emanuel Lasker
Moscow (1925)  ·  Sicilian Defense: Closed Variation (B23)  ·  0-1
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Last move:

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Given 31 times; par: 70 [what's this?]

Annotations by Efim Bogoljubov.      [5 more games annotated by Bogoljubov]

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Kibitzer's Corner
Mar-21-03  ughaibu: This is a peculiar one. After a tame opening Lasker gets the chance to swap his queen for a reasonable amount of his opponent's pieces. This doesn't give him an attack or any obvious plan, so it's interesting to see his pieces uncoil and take over.
Mar-21-03  skeptic: My 2-cents. It _is_ an interesting game. But Black's plan seems to be to use his Q-side initiative to create a passed a-pawn. White seems either aimless or helpless, while Black gets right down to business.
Apr-22-03
Premium Chessgames Member
  Ron: Interesting game...even though Lasker sacrificed his queen, it is White's Queen that is ineffectual.
Dec-10-03  checkmup: move 17 c4 ia a mistaken policy.
he should permit ...d5, and answer with e5,
Nov-14-05
Premium Chessgames Member
  An Englishman: Good Evening: According to an old book of mine, this sacrifice was considered revolutionary in its time. If true, it's fascinating to see how a chess innovation becomes so ingrained in our thinking that we look at it and wonder what the fuss was all about.

Perhaps what looked so strange to contemporaries is that Lasker does not attack after the sacrifice, in fact, he retreats with ...Ne8, and White, the player who accepted the "sacrifice," seems to go on the attack. Black's eventual counterattack is pretty good without being spectacular.

Aug-04-07  laskereshevsky: in the previsious round of the same tournament, Alexander Ilyin-Zhenevsky beated Capablanca sacrifing the Q in change of a R,a B,and a P....(exactly the same like in the above game!!...)

Capablanca vs Ilyin-Zhenevsky, 1925

maybe Lasker thought: <"is Zhene able to play and win without the Q?!....and Lasker not?!... i'll show U.... RAUL!!...old cuban rhum drunker....WATCH THIS!!!!...">

i cant believe Lasker did it intentionally, but... beating the man who defeated the very day before Capablanca, in the same way the great cuban was outplayed...i suspect Emmanuel was very-very close to the (intellectual) orgasm...and Raul very close to a stroke!...

Nov-09-07  xeroxmachine: comment on 12... kh8
<So as to guard against the threat 13 Nxc6 followed by Nxd5.>

I dont get it :(

Sep-07-09  The Lone Banana: < xeroxmachine: comment on 12... kh8 <So as to guard against the threat 13 Nxc6 followed by Nxd5.>

I don't get it :( >

You're right. Either Bogo (the annotator) or his publisher's typesetter, or some copier within the last eight decades has made an error. [I have never had a careless mistake, myself. I plan my mistakes very carefully.] There is not currently a piece on d5 and Bogo is almost certainly not justifying 12... Kh8 in order to place a black piece there. In place of "N takes the piece at d5", read "14.N moves to d5"

Black's 12th places the K where it will not be in check if White takes his dark square bishop on e7 with a knight.

Imagine black playing a time-waster on move 12 such as 12... h6
then white's threat would be
13 Nxc6
(removing the guard on the black queen)
13... pawn@b7xN (capture by the rook or the bishop would be slightly worse) 14.N-d5

See diagram


click for larger view

Easy to see that if black takes the knight, white takes his (now) unguarded queen. Best might be 14... Qd8 15.Nxe7 ch Kh8 16Qxd6, with black a pawn down, in a cramped position and lacking a dark-square bishop to conveniently force away the strongly placed white queen.

From the above diagram, the expected solution of trading queens first, then knocking off the knight, will fail. If black plays 14... QxQ, white doesn't have to immediately take black's queen. Instead, white has a Zwischenzug, an in-between move. Black plays 15.NxB placing the black king in check. Black plays 15... K-h8 and 16.RxQ leaves white a minor piece up. Black can force the trade of the surplus knight for two pawns with R(c)e8 but still comes out the worse for wear.

Sep-08-09
Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: Bogoljubov gave 13.Nce2 an exclamation point. Fritz indicated a small advantage for White after 13.Nce2. White's choice did lead to a most interesting game after Lasker's reply, 13...Qxa2. Fritz indicated White's best move was 13.Ndb5.

Khalifman in " Emanuel Lasker II - Games 1904-1940" indicated that White is better after 13.Ndb5 Ne8 14.f4 a6 15.Nd4. Fritz indicated this variation is near equal.

Soltis in, "Why Lasker Matters", indicated White may have decided against 13.Ndb5, because after 13...Ne8 14.a3? a6, White would lose a tempo. In this variation, 14.a3? is a very poor choice for White.

After 13.Ndb5 Ne8, Fritz prefers (.57) (21 ply) 14.Na3 d5 15.Ncb5 a6 16.exd5 Qxd2 17.Rxd2 axb5 18.dxc6 Bxc6 19.c4, and White has some advantage after: (.52) (21 ply) 19...b4 20.Nb5, or (.56) (21 ply) 19...bxc4 20.Nxc4, or (.58) (20 ply) 19...Bb4 20.Rc2.

After 13.Ndb5 Ne5, White could also play with some advantage: (.50) (21 ply) 14.a4 a6 15.Na3.

After 13.Nce2, Soltis stated that Lasker went into a deep think before playing 13...Qxa2.

Soltis then stated that a spectator, S. Cananykin, recalled nearly 50 years later, that Lasker's 13...Qxa2, so shocked Ilyin-Zhenevsky, that he, <"was literally taken aback as if he didn't believe his eyes.">

Bogoljubov was of the opinion that Lasker's combination, beginning with 13...Qxa2, was fairly risky even though Black does secure a fairly sound position. He thought Lasker played as he did to avoid the exchange of Queens, as he had probably considered the exchange to give White the superior position.

Khalifman did not provide any comments to Lasker's move, and only indicated, <!?>, to 13...Qxa2.

Sep-08-09  gus inn: Nowadays it is (or should be) common knowledge that (everything equal):pawn+bishop+rook is about same value as a queen.
Sep-09-09
Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: After 13.Nce2, Fritz agrees with Bogoljubov that a queen exchange, or other queen move, would give White a better position.

Lasker's 13...Qxa2! was the result of a very accurate appraisal of the position.

A review by Fritz indicated Black's best choices at move 13 are 13...b5!, or 13...Qxa2!.

Fritz indicated the following evaluations and continuations: (.33) (21 ply) 13...Qxa2! 14.Ra1 Qxb2 15.Rfb1 Qxb1+ 16.Rxb1, (.37) (22 ply) 16...a6 17.c4 b5.

At move 16, instead of 16...a6, Lasker played 16...Rfd8: (.44) (22 ply) 16...Rfd8 17.c4

Fritz indicated the following for 13...b5!: (.34) (21 ply) 13...b5! 14.Rfe1 Qxd2 15.Rxd2 Nxd4 16.Nxd4 b4 17.e5 dxe5 18.Rxe5 Bc5 19.Ne2 Bb6 20.c4 bxc3 21.Nxc3, (.20) (20 ply) 21...Kg8 22.Ne4 Nxe4, or (.21) (20 ply) 21...Rfd8 22.Bb7 Rc7, with a near equal position.

White's advantage after 13...b5! or 13...Qxa2! is very small. As noted in my last posting, White should have preferred 13.Ndb5, instead of 13.Nce2.

Dec-14-11
Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: Doesn't seem to be a coffee house player. But, white's missing the Knight fork tactic in the middlegame was abominable. It would have been quite a struggle without that mishap.
Dec-14-11  knighterrant999: I think Moscow 1925 was Bogoljubov's shining moment. Did he annotate the tournament book, or just this game, I wonder.
Dec-15-11  Penguincw: A queen sac does Lasker good.
Dec-24-11
Premium Chessgames Member
  SteinitzLives: This shows the power of a Schevenigan set up, especially if white never pushes a pawn to the 5th rank!

Despite the tactics, straightforward and unsurprising, Laskers' pragmatism shines through!

Feb-26-12  shallowred: Lasker was a great game-planner. He would put his mind into his opponent's mental / emotional state. In addition to being sound; his Queen sac might have given Zhenevsky a sense of over-confidence; especially after beating Capablanca the day before.

All the while; Lasker is making practical moves and watching his clock.

It's funny that no one knew what Lasker was up to back then; or many even today.

He played chess on top of chess; and that concept can make us all better, and have more fun, at our favorite game as well as other sports.

Feb-26-12  AlphaMale: Between rounds, Lasker read palms and told fortunes.
May-11-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  plang: This is the only game in the database where 7 b3 has been played.

<xeroxmachine: comment on 12... kh8 <So as to guard against the threat 13 Nxc6 followed by Nxd5.>

I dont get it :>

12..Kh8 is to meet the positional threat of 13 Nd5; for instance even 12..Nxd4 can be answered strongly by 13 Nd5 or, alternatively, 12..Rfd8 13 Nd5..Qxd2 14 Nxe7+..Kf8 15 Rxd2..Kxe7 16 Nb5..Ne8 17 Ba3 and the d-pawn falls.

<Pawn and Two: .... Fritz indicated White's best move was 13.Ndb5.

Khalifman in " Emanuel Lasker II - Games 1904-1940" indicated that White is better after 13.Ndb5 Ne8 14.f4 a6 15.Nd4. Fritz indicated this variation is near equal.>

Franco gives 15..Nxd4 16 Qxd4..d5 withy good play for Black.

Euwe after 13..Qxa2:

"Anyone who really knows his play will realize that Lasker is choosing this line of play purposely. Better than any other player, Lasker understood human nature.

After this move Black's position is very sound. White's material advantage certainly gives him the better chances, but against this must be weighed the fact that the queen sacrifice will upset White's equilibrium. He is sure to think that Lasker has made a bad blunder, and so will feel bound to play for a win."

Ilyn-Zhenevsky after 16 Rxb1:

" I have to admit that even now I do not understand this combination and share the opinion of Bogoljubov, who wrote in his notes to the game that Black has run grave risks of losing by this sacrifice. At the time I thought that Lasker had blundered- and the other players; including Bogoljubov, held the same opinion. This thought really set me going. Just think. The day before I had beaten Capablanca, and now I was winning against Lasker. Things were really going my way! So I started playing sharply, partly because I was in time trouble.."

Instead of the blunder 24 Qe3? Kasparov recommended 24 Rd1..Bf6 25 Qe3..b5 26 e5..dxe 27 fxe..Be7 28 Qf4..Be8 29 Nc3..bxc 30 bxc..Nca6 with approximate equality.

May-23-14  RookFile: Lasker gives us a lesson in dynamic chess.
May-23-14  RedShield: He didn't play another event for nine years. Very dynamic.
May-23-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: Bollocks--the man retired after this event, intending to make it permanent, but some Austrian corporal grabbed the reins and made life impossible for German Jews.
May-23-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: That corporal had help from some guy named Schicklgruber.
Oct-01-14  Everett: Someone forgot to tell Lasker that the hedgehog was not invented until the 70's, and that he has no right to play it this intelligently.

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