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Emanuel Lasker vs Akiba Rubinstein
"Alack and a Lasker" (game of the day Jun-18-2019)
St. Petersburg (1914), St. Petersburg RUE, rd 4, Apr-26
Spanish Game: Open. St. Petersburg Variation (C82)  ·  1-0


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Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  gambitfan: <offramp: Kasparov reckons that 59...b4 is the fatal error.>

Why ??

After 59... b4

click for larger view

White to play

To what extent is 59... b4 a mistake ??

Premium Chessgames Member
  gambitfan: <tud: I don't understand how Rubisntein managed to loose this game. Look at move 39. Rubinstein has the good bishop but the bishop stays stuck waiting Lasker. 39... Ra7 is how he should handle it.>

I do not agree with you...

To what extent is the black B any "better" than the white B ?

white Pd4 is a white isolani aiming at taking advantage of black c-bacwrd pawn which is a draw back for Black in this case...

white have a good "candidate" pawn Pf3...

white Pg2 is also "backward" but this can be corrected easily since there is no black P there to exploit this weakness...

white seem to dominate the e-file more easily than black because white K is closer and more powerful... white K will be able to "cross" the e-file and to reach d3 !

The situation seems better for white at the 39th move...

Nov-09-08  Nietzowitsch: <offramp: Kasparov reckons that 59...b4 is the fatal error.> No, he doesnt! But proper quoting isnt offramps core competence.
Nov-09-08  sneaky pete: Say it isn't so.
Nov-16-08  Nietzowitsch: No, I dont.
Mar-29-09  Akiba Rubinstein: for me this game is still (endgame) still unclear
Premium Chessgames Member
  whiteshark: Hence it is notorious that you are not <Akiba Rubinstein>. :D
Premium Chessgames Member
  whiteshark: What has been the issue here?
Jan-19-11  GilesFarnaby: Rubinstein should have tried to get a position like this:

click for larger view

Which is a draw.

It would have been maybe possible through:


click for larger view

...60.Ke4 d3 61.b4+ Kc6 62.Kxd3 Kd5 63.Rf1 Rh6 64.f6 Rh3+ 65.Ke2...

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...etcetera (in case white wants to push the f pawn, because he could also just offer a draw anytime)

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <Giles Farnaby>

61.b4+ may be a mistake.

59....d4 60.Ke4 d3 61.Kxd3 Kd5 62.Rf1 Ke5 63.Kc3 and 63....Rxf5 loses per the tablebases. 63....Ke4 64.Kb4 Ke3 65.Kxb5 Ke2 66.Rb1 also loses.

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: <Nietzowitsch: <offramp: Kasparov reckons that 59...b4 is the fatal error.> No, he doesnt!> Yes, he does - in the book On His Great Predecessors.
Jan-23-14  RookFile: This game is an example of amazing determination by Lasker.
Premium Chessgames Member
  tpstar: IM Danny Kopec analyzes this famous R&P endgame after 58 ... Rf6:

White gains the better Rook, better Pawns, and ultimately the better King.

<61. b4+ may be a mistake> After 63. Rf2:

click for larger view

The trade line 63 ... Rxf6 64. Rxf6+ Kxf6 65. Kxd5 wins for White because Black cannot reach the key squares in time - 65 ... Ke7 66. Kc5 Kd7 67. Kxb4 Kc6 68. Ka5 etc. In this case, the Pawns on b4 & b5 instead wouldn't change the analysis, but it's good for White to have the potential reserve move b3-b4 gaining the opposition in analogous situations, like:

click for larger view

Where 1. b4 wins.

Oct-03-16  Howard: According to that correction posted on Chessbase back in 2004 (see the link posted earlier on this thread), the "point of no return" was not where Kasparov stated it was in MGP.

This intriguing endgame could keep one busy for literally hours!

Premium Chessgames Member
  tpstar: The above link still works - RIP Danny Kopec.

Here's another look at this famous endgame by Bruce Alberston in "Chess Mazes" (Russell Enterprises, INC, 2004) which is a novel analysis training method encouraging piece mazes (one unit moves repeatedly with no response). After 62 ... Ke6:

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<Diagram 13 is from Lasker vs. Rubinstein, St. Petersburg 1914, where four consecutive rook moves decided the contest. White has the advantage in operating space and this grants greater activity for his king and rook. At the moment he is stymied on the kingside where Black has blockaded the f6-pawn. This prompts Lasker to seek greener pastures for his rook. That's the explanation for his next move.> 1. Rf2 <looking to become active on the queenside. The first tactical point is that Black cannot take the f6-pawn without falling into a lost king and pawn ending. For example: 1 ... Rxf6 2. Rxf6+ Kxf6 3. Kxd5, and White comes back 4. Kc5, wins the b-pawn, 5. Kxb4, and the game. Rubinstein temporizes> 1 ... Kd6 <and Lasker continues with his plan> 2. Ra2 <Again the f6-pawn is poisoned, 2 ... Rxf6 3. Ra6+ Ke7 4. Rxf6 Kxf6 5. Kxd5 etc. Rubinstein tries to make his own rook active> 2 ... Rc7 <when there follows> 3. Ra6+ Kd7 <Now the hasty pawn grab 4. Kxd5 allows 4 ... Rc3, getting behind the white pawns and causing trouble. But Lasker's next precise move quashed all resistance:> 4. Rb6! <Black resigned, since 4 ... Rc3 now fails to 5. Rxb4 (this would be the fifth consecutive rook move had the game continued) 5 ... Rf3 6. Ke5 with 7. Rf4 coming up.>

Study endgames!

Premium Chessgames Member
  An Englishman: Good Evening: These two did not play enough games against each other. A WC match would have been magnificent.
Premium Chessgames Member
  fredthebear: <An Englishman> These two giants were scheduled to play for all the marbles, but it was canceled at the outbreak of World War I (1914-1918). The aftermath of the Great War was also terrible. The Spanish Flu struck in 1918 and spread world-wide killing even more people than the Great War. Rubinstein then developed mental illness, and was never the same while Lasker played well into old age.

Let's thank our lucky stars for what we have today! God has blessed FTB abundantly!!!

Premium Chessgames Member
  Pyrandus: Bonjour. What about Stockfish's analyze?
Jun-18-19  Vermit: Why didn't Rubinstein play 25...Qxc6?
Jun-18-19  Boomie: <Vermit: Why didn't Rubinstein play 25...Qxc6?>

Excellent question. At first glance, it appears that the white queen is too active and the black rooks are uncoordinated.

For example:

25...Qxc6 26. Rxc6 Rxc6 27. Qb4

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b5 can't be defended. After 27...Rc4 28. Qxb5, the d-pawn is hanging with check. Black can prolong his agony but the result appears inevitable. Time to plug it in to the engine to get the answer.

Jun-18-19  Boomie: Stockfish found an improvement for black in the Qb4 variation.

25...Qxc6 26. Rxc6 Rxc6 27. Qb4 Bxd4 28. Bxd4 Rc4 29. Qxb5 Rcxd4 30. Qb8+ Kf7 31. Qxc7+

click for larger view

27. Qd3 is another attempt but it ends in about the same place.

25...Qxc6 26. Rxc6 Rxc6 27. Qd3 Rce6 28. Qxb5 Bxd4 29. Bxd4 Rxd4 30. Qb8+ Kf7 31. Qxc7+

click for larger view

White has the edge but it's not winning according to the Fish.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Breunor: According to Stockfish, Rubinstein is even until move 54; the computer doesn't like c5 and the subsequent exchanges. The game was 0.00 if black played Rh8, but it scores to 1.69 after 54 c5.

By move 60 black is lost. It doesn't think 59 b4 is a bid deal, it prefers Kc6 but there isn't much difference, it is already over 2.5 for white. Move 60 Rf7 followed by 61 f6 scores to 10.55.

I,m not sure if Stockfish is always correct with endgames, but that is its evaluation.

Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: According to the FinalGen tablebase generator, after 59.Rf4, Lasker vs Rubinstein, 1914

Black's only hope to draw the game is 59...d4, and can apparently draw with best play. After any other move White can either achieve a winning position (winning material advantage) in anywhere from 17 to 31 moves or force mate in 13 or 14 moves:

59...d4 White wins or draws
59...b4 White wins in 31
59...Rf7 White wins in 29
59...Kd6 White wins in 29
59...Rf8 White wins in 25
59...Kc6 White wins in 24
59...Ra6 White wins in 21
59...Rb6 White wins in 21
59...Rc6 White wins in 21
59...Rh6 White wins in 21
59...Rd6 White wins in 18
59...Kb6 White wins in 17
59...Rxf5 White mates in 14
59...Re6 White mates in 14
59...Rg6 White mates in 13

So Rubinstein's 59...b4, while leading to a loss for Black, was actually the second best move in this position in the sense that it delays White's win the longest. So if Kasparov reckons it to be <the> fatal error he's wrong, it's only one of many possible fatal errors.

Premium Chessgames Member
  whiteshark: Chessbase database quotes Tarrasch (I assume from the tournament book):

'Closer and better would be' <59...d4> 'with the sequence of moves' <60.Ke4 Rd6> (60...Kd6 61.Rf3, it would have left the black some draw chances, but only with bad play of the white, as detailed analyses have shown) <61.Rf3!> (61.f6 d3 62.f7 d2 63.Rf1 Rd8 64.Ke3 Kc4 65.Ke2 Kb3! 66.Kd1 Rf8=) <61...Rf6 62.Ke5 Rf8 63.f6+->

Jun-19-19  sneaky pete: "Naheliegend und besser wäre d5-d4 mit der Folge Ke4 Td6 Td3, es hätte dem Schwarzen manche Remischanchen gelassen, aber nur bei fehlerhaftem Spiel des Weißen, wie eingehende Analysen ergeben haben."

We don't need patzers like Kasparov and Stockfish, Dr. med. S. Tarrasch tells it all in the 1914 tournament book.

He questionmarks 25... Qd7 and advocates the exchange of Queen for two Rooks, when "Der Gewinn des Bauern b5 nach Db4 hätte ihn nicht glücklich gemacht."

He marks 36... c6, 54... c5 and 59... b4 as poor moves, but suggests that with best white play the game was lost for black anyway.

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