This match was played in Manchester, England from March 6th - 13th, 1890. Lasker, having defeated Henry Edward Bird in a match in February (Lasker - Bird (1890)), was said to have challenged Joseph Henry Blackburne next. Meanwhile, "Pending Blackburne's decision, Herr Lasker will engage in a shorter match with Mr N. T. Miniati, the well known Manchester amateur." (1) "N. T. Miniati, of Manchester, had the distinction of being the only amateur who had the courage to play a set match with Lasker, champion of the world, and certainly the most astute champion the world has ever seen. Of course Miniati fell, but he fell forward, with his face to the foe." (2) Miniati was a strong amateur player who was a leading figure in Manchester chess. He promoted a short lived chess magazine and wrote a newspaper chess column. His strength was that of a minor master. (3) Lasker would eventually defeat Blackburne (Lasker - Blackburne (1892)) and become world champion (Steinitz - Lasker World Championship Match (1894)).
Game 1. This was accurately played by both, and Miniati carefully secured a draw with Black. The game undoubtedly confirmed to Lasker that his amateur opponent was a player of some ability.
Game 2. Miniati once again secured a draw, fending off Lasker's King-side pawn storm. This to the apparent surprise of the spectators, and probably of Lasker himself.
Game 3. Lasker sharpened the contest with a King's Gambit. This was not part of his usual repertoire in master play. Miniati declined the gambit but sacrificed a Bishop for two Pawns to displace Lasker's King to <f2>. The sacrifice was unsound, and Lasker was not disturbed by the transitory insecurity of his King.
Game 4. After his aggressive play in the previous game, Miniati played a steady opening. Unfortunately, he overlooked a simple tactic with 13.Nd4
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Lasker played 13...Nf4, and soon sacrificed a Knight to smash his way through to Miniati's King. Miniati did not collapse. but instead defended hard, taking advantage of some inaccurate moves by Lasker. But in the end, Lasker's material advantage was too great to bear.
Game 5. As Black, Miniati sacrificed a Bishop for two Pawns to compromise Lasker's King and then castled on the opposite side. His attack was not sufficiently precise in the sharp position and Lasker gained the advantage. After
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26.Qxd2!, Lasker had turned the tide and went on to win.
Lasker had White in the odd-numbered games.
1 2 3 4 5
Lasker = = 1 1 1 4
Miniati = = 0 0 0 1
"As announced last week, the match between Herr Lasker, of Berlin, and Mr. H. E. Bird, of London, played at Liverpool, was concluded last Friday in favour of the young German master by 7 games to 2, with 3 draws. Herr Lasker remained a few days longer in Liverpool, and arrived in Manchester last Wednesday to engage in a short match with Mr. N. T. Miniati, of this city. The conditions of this match are as follow:
- The player who scores three games first to be the winner;
- the third and subsequent draws to count half to each player, the first two draws not scoring;
- time limit of 20 moves an hour;
- one game only to be played each day;
- time of play from 2 till 6 and from 8 till 10 p.m.
- The match takes place at the rooms of the Manchester Chess Club, Bank-Street." (4)
"The first game was played on Thursday; Herr Lasker having the move played P-K4, to which Mr. Miniati replied with P-K3. Unlike most French defences, the game quickly became interesting; the Manchester amateur obtained a weak pawn on K3, and Herr Lasker attacked him vigorously on this point. Mr. Miniati was placed strongly on the defensive, but the young German master in endeavouring to force the attack allowed his antagonist to advance his K Kt pawn, and obtain in turn such a strong counter attack on the king's side that he was enabled to advance his king's pawn and obtain the superior position. He soon lost his advantage, however, through precipitating the attack, and a series of exchanges quickly following, the result was a draw. (5)
"The second game was commenced yesterday shortly after 2 p.m. Mr. Miniati opened with P-K4, and Herr Lasker replied with the Phillador defence. The game became close and intricate, but Herr Lasker presently obtained the stronger position, and threatened to advance his king's pawns, supported by queen, rooks, knight, and bishop. Mr. Miniati, by threatening to sacrifice a bishop for a mate, forced his opponent to exchange knights. This, however, did not relieve the pressure, and at the time of going to press the game is much in favour of the German master. Play will be resumed on Monday afternoon." (4) The next day (Saturday 8th March), Miniati travelled to Bradford to play in a Lancashire - Yorkshire county match, drawing his game. Lasker accompanied him and was called upon as a neutral expert to adjudicate the result of an unfinished game. (5)
"The match between Herr Lasker and Mr. N. T. Miniati was brought to a conclusion this week. On Monday Herr Lasker opened the third game of the match with the King's Gambit, but this his opponent declined. Later black played a new move in the opening, and followed this up by a premature capture of a pawn. He was compelled then to sacrifice a piece for another pawn, but eventually lost. (6)
"On Tuesday Mr. Miniati played Zukertort's opening, and Herr Lasker, by a bold sacrifice of a knight, obtained a strong attack. He continued with a magnificent combination and won." (6)
"The fifth and final game was played on Thursday. Herr Lasker opened with the Vienna Game. Mr. Miniati, in endeavouring to force a win, sacrificed a bishop for an attack. The sacrifice proved unsound, however, and Lasker won. The result of the match, therefore, is Lasker 3, Miniati 0, draws 2. Herr Lasker left Manchester for London yesterday afternoon." (6)
(1) Joseph Henry Blackburne: A Chess Biography, by Timothy David Harding, p. 294.
(2) Newcastle Evening Chronicle, Monday 6th November 1939, p. 3.
(3) See http://www.edochess.ca/players/p486....
(4) Manchester Times, Saturday 8th March 1890, p. 8.
(5) Leeds Mercury, Monday 10th March 1890, p. 2.
(6) Manchester Times, Saturday 15th March 1890, p. 8.
Based on an original collection by User: TheFocus. Additional material sourced by User: Chessical.