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Siegbert Tarrasch vs Emanuel Lasker
Lasker - Tarrasch World Championship Match (1908), Duesseldorf GER, rd 2, Aug-19
Spanish Game: Berlin Defense. Hedgehog Variation (C66)  ·  0-1

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Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: In my last posting I omitted part of the analysis. After 29.Re2, Fritz indicated: (.85) (23 ply) 29...f5 30.g3 Re4 31.Kg2 f4 32.Kh1 Qf5 33.a4 Qe5 34.Rf1. The remainder of the analysis for this variation was provided.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: After 27.Rd3? Qe6, Fritz indicated the position is equal. However, White's position is very difficult to play, and Fritz had difficulty in finding a drawing line: (.00) (22 ply) 28.c3 c6 29.Rdd1, (-.17) (23 ply) 29...f5 30.Nh1 Qh6 31.h3 Re4 32.Nf2 Bd2 33.Nxe4 fxe4 34.Rxd2 exf3 35.Rxe8+ Kg7 36.Rf2 fxg2+ 37.Rxg2+, and White will be able to draw after 38.Ree2, or 38.Re1.

After Tarrasch's 28.Re2, Fritz indicates Black has a small advantage: (-.27) (24 ply) 28...d4 29.a4 c5 30.Re1 Rg8 31.Re2 Rg4 32.Ke1 Rf4 33.Qb7 Qg8.

After 28.Re2, instead of playing 28...d4, Lasker continued with 28...f5, which improved White's drawing chances.

In the game continuation, after 28.Re2 f5, Fritz was able to find another drawing line for White: (.00) (24 ply) 29.Nh1! Ba7 30.Rdd2 Qh6 31.Rxe5 Rxe5 32.Rxd5 Rxd5 33.Qxd5 Qc1+ 34.Ke2 Qe3+ 36.Ke2.

However, Tarrasch did not find 29.Nh1!, and after 29.Rd1?, he was in serious difficulties: (-.51) (24 ply) 29.Rd1 d4! 30.a4 c5 31.Rd3 f4 32.Nh1 c4 33.bxc4 Qxc4 34.Nf2 Qxa4. In this variation, after 34...Qxa4, White has some drawing chances, but his position is very difficult to defend: (-.62) (20 ply) 35.Nd1 Rc5.

Next it was Lasker's turn to err, instead of 29.Rd1 d4!, Lasker played 29...f4: (-.13) (22 ply) 30.Nh1 d4 31.Nf2 Qa6, and White's drawing chances have improved.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: After 31.Nf2 Qa6, White was in a difficult position. However, Fritz indicates White could maintain an approximately equal position by: (-.25) (25 ply) 32.Kg1! Qxa2 33.Kh1 Qa8 34.Nd3 Ra5, (-.10) (24 ply) 35.b4! Qxf3 36.gxf3 Raa8 37.Ree1 Ra2 38.Nxf4 Re5 39.Ng2 Rxc2 40.Nxe3.

Another choice is 32.Rde1, but Fritz indicates it is not as good as 32.Kg1!: (-.30) (25 ply) 32.Rde1 Rg5 33.Ng4 Qe6 34.h3 h5 35.Nxe3 fxe3 36.Kg1 Rf5, (-.43) (23 ply) 37.Qg3 Rg8 38.Qh4 Qd5 39.Rd1 c5. In this line, (32.Rde1), Black has the edge, but White appears to have good drawing chances. Additional analysis is needed to determine if White can draw in this variation.

Instead of playing 32.Kg1!, or 32.Rde1, Tarrasch committed a serious error: 32.Nd3?.

The position after 32.Nd3? Rg5:

click for larger view

After 32.Nd3? Rg5, White appears to be lost: (-1.15) (24 ply) 33.a4 Qh6 34.Nf2 Rf8, (-1.40) (25 ply) 35.c3 Qxh2 36.Rxd4 Bxd4 37.cxd4, (-1.78) (22 ply) 37...Qxg2+ 38.Qxg2 Rxg2 39.Kxg2 f3+ 40.Kf1 fxe2+ 41.Kxe2 Rb8 42.Kd3 Rxb3, and Black is winning.

Or: (-1.25) (24 ply) 33.Rf2 Qh6 34.Re1 Qxh2 35.g4 Qh4 36.Rg2, (-1.95) (22 ply) 36...Re6 37.Rg1 Ra6 38.Rh1 Qxg4 39.Qxg4 Rxg4 40.Nb4 Ra3 41.Ke2 c5, (-1.70) (23 ply) 42.Nd3 Rg2+ 43.Kf3 Rxc2 44.Rb1 Raxa2 45.Rh5 Rc3 46.Nxc5, (-1.91) (24 ply) 46...Bc1+ 47.Ke4 f3 48.Kxd4 f2 49.Rh1 Rac2 50.b4 Kg7 51.Ne4 Be3+ 52.Ke5 Rd3, (-2.76) (22 ply) 53.Rbf1 Rd8 54.Rh3 Bb6 55.Kf4, (-3.38) (22 ply) 55...Rc4 56.Rg3+ Kh8 57.Rg4 Rf8+ 58.Kg3 h5 59.Rh4 Kg7 60.Nc5 Bc7+ 61.Kg2 Rxh4, and again Black is winning.

Tarrasch erred again at move 33 with 33.Ra1?, Lasker then had a clearly winning position. The game followed Fritz's analysis for several more moves: (-2.05) (22 ply) 33...Qh6 34.Ke1 Qxh2 35.Kd1 Qg1+ 36.Ne1 Rge5 37.Qc6.

In this position:

click for larger view

Fritz indicated the best continuations for Black are: (-3.00) (21 ply) 37...Kg8 38.Rb1 Bf2 39.Qxe8+ Rxe8 40.Rxe8 Kf7 41.Re2 Bxe1 42.Rxe1 Qxg2 43.Re2 Qg5, or (-2.83) (21 ply) 37...d3 38.cxd3 R8e6 39.Qf3 Bc5 40.Rxe5 Rxe5 41.Kc2 Bd4 42.Rd1 Rxe1 43.Rxe1 Qxe1 44.Qxf4 Qc3+ 45.Kd1 Qxd3+, and Black is winning in both of these variations.

Instead of maintaining his strong winning advantage by 37...Kg8 or 37...d3, Lasker committed an error with 37...R5e6?. Fritz indicated this move gave up a considerable amount of Black's advantage after, 37...R5e6? 38.Qxc7.

After 37...R5e6? 38.Qxc7, it seems that White may be able to draw, but Fritz found the strong reply 38...f3!, and Black's advantage is still adequate for the win: (-1.07) (22 ply) 38...f3! 39.gxf3 Qg6, (-1.47) (22 ply) 40.Qc4 Bf2 41.Rxe6 Rxe6 42.Kc1 Rxe1+ 43.Kb2 Rxa1 44.Kxa1 h5 45.a4 Qf5, (-2.31) (22 ply) 46.Qc7 h4 47.a5 h3 48.Ka2 Qxf3 49.a6 d3 50.Qe8+ Kh7 51.Qd7+ Kg6 52.cxd3, (-4.31) (20 ply) 52...Qf5 53.Qc6+ Kh5 54.Qc3 Qe6 55.a7 Qa6+ 56.Kb1 Qxa7, and Black is winning.

Lasker then committed another error, instead of playing the winning 38...f3!, he played 38...R8e7?, and Fritz indicated White has drawing chances with: 39.Qc8+!.

After 38...R8e7?, Dvoretsky stated that 39.Qc8+ Kg7 40.a4 was more stubborn, but he did not provide any analysis. Fritz indicated this line leads to an equal position: (-.15) (25 ply) 39.Qc8+ Kg7 40.a4 h5 41.Ra2 (.00) (21 ply) 41...h4 42.a5 h3 43.a6.

However, Black has one additional chance to play for a win. After 38...R8e7? 39.Qc8+, Black could retract his last move by 39...Re8. I will review that possibility in my next posting.

Sep-14-09  Ulhumbrus: Lasker is supposed to have said of the move 14...Ng4 something like "Against Tarrasch this is good; against Marshall or Janowsky it would be a grave error."
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: As <keypusher> was so kind as to post Tarrasch's annotations, I want to add Lasker's notes to this game.

The second game is, for connoisseurs, of a low standard, but it has an elemental force that pleases, and partially, at least, it has classical chess Lasker in New York Evening Post.

Tarrasch, S. Lasker
Ruy Lopez
match game 2, August 19

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.O-O d6 5.d4 Bd7 6.Nc3 Be7 7.Re1 exd4 8.Nxd4 O-O 9.Nxc6 Bxc6 10.Bxc6 bx6 11.Ne2 <This maneuver was new to me, though Tarrasch had used it previously. Obviously the e-pawn must not be captured because of Nd4. Hence, White gains time to place the Knight advantageously so as to dominate the f5-square, either on d4 or on g3.> 11Qd7 <If 11d5 12.e5 Ne4 13.Nd4 Bc5 14.Be3, White threatens to dislodge the Black Knight and compels 14Bxd4 15.Bxd4 f6 16.exf6 Nxf6 17.Bc5, followed by Qd4. White has the preferable position.> 12.Ng3 Rfe8 <A mistake. If the Rook moves at all it must go to d8. The Knight at f6 should have a retreat open.> 13.b3 Rad8 14.Bb2 Ng4 <Though this move is unsatisfactory, Black has none better.> 15.Bxg7 Nxf2 16.Kxf2 <Tame. With Qd4, White could have harassed the King. White plays for too little. It is true, he eliminates, or he thinks that he eliminates, all risks for himself and even wins a Pawn. But he underestimates the difficulty of the task to force a win in this fashion.> 16Kxg7 17.Nf5+ Kh8 18.Qd4+ f6 19.Qxa7 Bf8 <White has failed to take into consideration the isolation of his e-pawn. Black now opens fire upon it.> 20.Qd4 Re5 21.Rad1 Rde8 22.Qc3 Qf7 <Now Rxe4 or d5 is threatened.> 23.Ng3 Bh6 <Threatens Bf4 and the gain of the e-pawn.> 24.Qf3 d5 <The intention is Qe6.> 25.exd5 Be3+ 26.Kf1 cxd5 27.Rd3 <If 27.Nf5 Bg6 28.Rxe5 Rxe5, winning would be a difficult proposition, but still a possibility. After the move actually made, White is lost.> 27Qe6 <Now the White Knight is prevented from occupying f5 and the advance of the f-pawn is decisive.> 28.Re2 f5 29.Nh1 f4 30.Rd1 d4 <Threatens Qa6.> 31.Nf2 Qa6 32.Nd3 Rg5 <Intending Qh6. The h-pawn is lost, since it must guard the g3 square and therefore must not advance.> 33.Ra1 Qh6 34.Ke1 Qxh2 35.Kd1 Qg1+ 36.Ne1 Rge5 37.Qc6 R5e6 38.Qxc7 R8e7 39.Qd8+ <39.Qc8+ was a little better. But Black places his Rook upon e5 and finally forces the game by Bf2, or d3, followed by Bd4, or by the advance of the h-pawn, according to circumstances.> 39Kg7 40.a4 f3 41.gxf3 Bg5 0-1.

Premium Chessgames Member
  sisyphus: IM Bill Hartston annotated this in his "Kings of Chess." After 16.Kxf2, he writes:

<Typically for the precise Tarrasch, he takes the sure pawn. An Anderssen or a Morphy would have played the attack with 16 Qd4, relying on Black's exposed King to give him insoluble problems. But perhaps Lasker would never have played 14 ...Ng4 against such gentlemen.>

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <sisyphus: IM Bill Hartston annotated this in his "Kings of Chess." After 16.Kxf2, he writes:

Typically for the precise Tarrasch, he takes the sure pawn. An Anderssen or a Morphy would have played the attack with 16 Qd4, relying on Black's exposed King to give him insoluble problems. But perhaps Lasker would never have played 14 ...Ng4 against such gentlemen.>

You're full of @#$%, Bill. Here is what Tarrasch himself wrote:

<I was in the 16th move indecisive, for I could press my attack or play to win a pawn, and unluckily chose the latter, saying to myself, my attack may go awry and I be left with nothing, which I regret, for it was difficult for the extra pawn to bring victory. Had I not lost the first game, then I would have preferred to attack, for in the worst case, had I failed to win, I would have been in no danger of losing. But I wanted to win to overcome my earlier defeat and catch up to my opponent.>

Tarrasch was not a particularly materialistic player in general, and there is no way in hell Lasker could have known that he would play 16.Kxf2 instead of 16.Qd4, no matter how many hacks write otherwise.

Also, the alternative Tarrasch gave in his book, 16.Qd4 Ng4 17.Rf1?!, was not particularly accurate. If Tarrasch had played that and gone on to lose, the same hacks would no doubt write that Tarrasch should have taken played the safe 16.Kxf2, but that Lasker, with his extraordinary grasp of psychology, foresaw that Tarrasch would avoid the pedestrian capture...

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <sisyphus>

On re-reading, I probably overstated my case somewhat. Tarrasch was not particularly materialistic, but he did like clear lines; a good example of this is notes to Lasker vs Schiffers, 1896 in the Nuremberg 1896 tournament book. Instead of Lasker's 11.Bxa6 exf3 12.0-0, he said White should have preferred 11.Nh4 Bc8 12.Bxa6 Bxa6 13.Qe6+ Be7 14.Qxc6+ Kf7 15.Qxe4 with an extra pawn. Soltis (and presumably Lasker) thought White <deserved more>. So Hartson had a point when he described Tarrasch as "precise."

On the other hand, I still think there was no way Lasker knew what Tarrasch would do on move 16 here. Still less do I think he chose 14...Ng4 because of the identity of his opponent. He did it because he realized he had problems and ...Ng4 gave him his best chance for counterplay. This is how he played against everyone whenever he got into trouble.

<Ulhumbrus: Lasker is supposed to have said of the move 14...Ng4 something like "Against Tarrasch this is good; against Marshall or Janowsky it would be a grave error.">

Sounds like words someone put in Lasker's mouth. He didn't get into trouble against Janowski or Marshall very often, but look how he played in these games:

Lasker vs Janowski, 1910

Janowski vs Lasker, 1904

Janowski vs Lasker, 1896

Marshall vs Lasker, 1914

Marshall vs Lasker, 1914

Same way he played here IMO.

Premium Chessgames Member
  chancho: Tarrasch's book of annotated games: Dreihundert Schachpartien was so admired by Irving Chernev, that he took the cover off the book, and put one on that said: Holy Bible.
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <chancho: Tarrasch's book of annotated games: Dreihundert Schachpartien was so admired by Irving Chernev, that he took the cover off the book, and put one on that said: Holy Bible.>

Chernev Schmernev! More importantly, <Honza Cervenka> is a big fan.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Calli: Chernev's rabbi was surprised when he saw Irv studying the book.
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: A much better translation than mine of Tarrasch's comment on his 16th move is given at the end of Dvoretsky's article.

<On the 16th move, I could not decide whether to play for a continuation of the attack or the win of a pawn, and chose the second possibility, telling myself that my opponent might be able to withstand the attack, and then I would regret not taking an easy pawn, which would be enough to secure me the win. Had I not lost the first game, I would certainly have played for the attack, since even if I had not won the game, I would not have been in an inferior position. But the concern was to equalize the match score and catch up with my opponent.>

Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: At his 37th move, (see my diagram & analysis from 08/30/09), Lasker had a winning position. At that point, Fritz favored 37...Kg8! or 37...d3!, with a clearly winning position for black.

Instead of playing 37...Kg8! or 37...e3!, Lasker erred with 37...R5e6?.

At that point, Tarrasch's 38.Qxc7 seems to provide drawing chances, but Fritz indicates 38...f3!, (see above analysis), was still winning for black.

However, instead of playing 38...f3!, Lasker slipped again, this time with 38...R8e7?.

The move 38...R8e7?, provided Tarrasch with one last chance. The question is, can white hold the following position, after the move 38...R8e7?:

click for larger view

No doubt white has a very difficult position.

Dvoretsky apparently believed white was lost. Instead of 39.Qd8+, he indicated 39.Qc8+ Kg7 40.a4 was more stubborn, but he provided no analysis.

Fritz indicates Dvoretsky's evaluation is incorrect. After 39.Qc8+, Dvoretsky's line provides only an equal position: (-.15) (25 ply) 39.Qc8+ Kg7? 40.a4 h5 41.Ra2, (.00) (21 ply) 41...h4 42.a5 h3 43.a6.

<TheFocus> on 02/19/10, provided us with Lasker's analysis. Lasker stated that 39.Qc8+ was a better move than 39.Qd8+, but he believed black was still winning after 39.Qc8+. See the post by <TheFocus>, on 02/19/10, for Lasker's analysis of this position.

A review by Fritz indicates that after 39.Qc8+!, black's best chance is to retract his last move by playing 39...Re8!.

Here is Fritz's analysis of the position after 39.Qc8+! Re8!: (-.74) (26 ply) 40.Qd7! Qh2 41.a4 Qh5, (-.61) (23 ply) 41...Qh5 42.Nf3 Qh1+ 43.Ne1 Qh6, (-.23) (24 ply) 44.b4! Qf6 45.Rb1 Qg6 46.Qd5 f3 47.Qxf3, (-.11) (21 ply) 47...Qg5, or (-.09) (21 ply) 47...Rf6, with a near equal evaluation.

Perhaps some improvements in this variation can be found for both sides. However, white does appear to have good drawing chances after 39.Qc8+!, but only if he can find the very narrow path.

Fritz's analysis indicates that Lasker's errors at move 37 & 38, allowed Tarrasch one last chance to obtain a draw. However, white's position was so difficult, it is not surprising that Tarrasch failed to find the best line.

A very difficult game for the players, and the analysts!

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <Pawn and Two>

Yes, it's amazing how the conclusion of this game has never been properly analyzed, isn't it? Tarrasch didn't do it, Lasker didn't do it, not even Dvoretsky or Korchnoi did it. I plowed through your lines last weekend and was particularly impressed by

<Fritz indicated the best continuations for Black are: (-3.00) (21 ply) 37...Kg8 38.Rb1 [the more human 38.a4 leads to the same result] 38...Bf2 39.Qxe8+ Rxe8 40.Rxe8 Kf7 41.Re2 Bxe1 42.Rxe1 Qxg2 43.Re2 Qg5>

It should be included in any future books on the game!

Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: <keypusher> I also checked Leopold Hoffer's notes for this game, from the book, "Classical Chess Matches: 1907-1913". Hoffer stated after 33.Ra1: <"It is impossible to suggest any valid defense now. White's position is hopeless">.

It seems most commentators were of the opinion that Tarrasch was hopelessly lost after his dual errors, 32.Nd3? and 33.Ra1?.

Their evaluation of the position was correct, but the evaluation that White was lost by move 33, may have led to an inadequate review of the final moves for this game.

Fritz's analysis, as given in my posting of 08/30/09, verified that Tarrasch's 32nd & 33rd moves did give him a lost position.

Fritz also verified that a few moves later Lasker missed the best continuations: (37...Kg8!, or 37...d3!).

Lasker's position was still winning after 37...R5e6, but after he missed 38...f3!, Tarrasch was given one last chance, although it was a very difficult last chance.

A fascinating game, and it appears to be a critical turning point in this match, even though it was only the second game.

Aug-01-10  I play the Fred: <"To you (Dr. Lasker) I have two words to say: check and mate." -Siegbert Tarrasch>

"Dr. Tarrasch, I'm afraid that's three words." - Emanuel Lasker

Premium Chessgames Member
  whiteshark: <ughaibu: <I like Bernieno's idea, <'Lasker didn't employ psychological tactics but for psychological reasons he didn't dispute his reputation for doing so'.>>> A bit late, but I'd assent to this view.
Premium Chessgames Member
  OhioChessFan: Fritz 10 thinks 37...Rfe6 and 38...R8e7 are both semi blunders, preferring Qh2. Any other engines say that?
Sep-08-11  kjr63: Houdini gives to black:

37. ... Kg8 38. a4 Bf2 39. Qxe8+ Rxe8 40. Rxe8+ Kf7 41. Re2 Bxe1 42. Rxe1 Qxg2 43. Kc1 d3 44. Kb2 Qxc2+ 45. Ka3 Qc5+ 46. Ka2 f3 47. Rh1 f2 48. Rxh7+ Kg6 49. Rhh1 Kg5 50. Rhf1 Kf4 51. Rac1 Qe3 52. a5 Qe2+ 53. Kb1 Ke3 54. a6 d2 55. Rc3+ Kd4 56. Rc4+ Kd3 (-4.61)


38. ... f3 39. gxf3 Qg6 40. Qc4 Bf2 41. Rxe6 Rxe6 42. Ng2 Qxg2 43. Kc1 Re1+ 44. Kb2 Rxa1 45. Kxa1 Qxf3 46. Qc8+ Kg7 47. Qd7+ Qf7 48. Qg4+ Kf6 49. Qf3+ Ke6 50. Qc6+ Ke5 51. Qc5+ Ke4 52. Qc6+ Kf4 53. b4 h5 54. b5 Qg7 55. Qd6+ Qe5 56. Qf8+ Qf5 57. Qb8+ Ke3 58. b6 Qxc2 59. Qe5+ Qe4 60. Qg5+ Kd3 61. Qxh5 (-1.97)

Premium Chessgames Member
  OhioChessFan: <"To you (Dr. Lasker) I have two words to say: check and mate." -Siegbert Tarrasch>

<IptF: "Dr. Tarrasch, I'm afraid that's three words." - Emanuel Lasker>

"Dr. Lasker, didn't you see my quotation mark hand gestures when I uttered the two words <exagerated hand gesture> check and <exagerated hand gesture> mate?" - Siegbert Tarrasch

Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: <OhioChessFan> Lasker's moves 37...R5e6?, and 38...R8e7?, were reviewed in my postings on 8/30/09, 5/31/10 & 6/1/10. You may find the information there to be of some interest.

Tarrasch's errors at move 32 & 33 gave him a lost position. Then Lasker let him off the hook, and after 38...R8e7?, Tarrasch missed his last chance for a draw when he played 39.Qd8+?, instead of 39.Qc8+!

Jun-12-14  Zephyr10: Wow, just read the entire comment thread, too much!! So much vitriol (and psycho-babble)!!! Anyways, just to offer Karpov/Matsukevich's two cents: at move 25, they feel White should have played Nf5, while immediately taking on d5 laid bare the e3 square.
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <whiteshark: <ughaibu: <I like Bernieno's idea, <'Lasker didn't employ psychological tactics but for psychological reasons he didn't dispute his reputation for doing so'.>>> A bit late, but I'd assent to this view.>

In Lasker's position, so would I, actually.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Marmot PFL: White's game seems to decline with the passive 23 Ng3, when instead 23 Qxc6 Rc5 24 Qa6 Rxc2+ 25 Re2 keeps the advantage for white whether or not black trades rooks.
Jan-30-17  Saniyat24: What a match...near the end Lasker was just superb and unstoppable...
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