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Emanuel Lasker vs Jackson Whipps Showalter
Paris (1900), Paris FRA, rd 14, Jun-12
Queen's Gambit Declined: Modern Variation (D50)  ·  1-0

ANALYSIS [x]

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Kibitzer's Corner
Feb-21-07
Premium Chessgames Member
  Calli: Lasker in a little trouble. Showalter refuses to take the pawn 24...Nxe4 for some reason that I can't fathom. After 24...Rxd1+ 25.Rxd1 b6?, he missed Lasker's 26.Qg3! The point being 26...Qxg3 27.Nf6+ gxf6 28.Rxd8+ Kg7 29.hxg3 wins.
Feb-21-07
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <Calli>
Agreed. On 24...Nxe4 25. Rxd2 Nxd2 26. Ne7+ Kh8 27. Qh3 h6, and White's attack fizzles out.

So instead of 24. Nd5?! White probably has to go on full retreat with 24. Rxd2 Rxd2 25. Nb1 Rd6 26. Qc3. Now it's Black who fizzles if 26...Qf4 27. Re1, so instead he should go for a better ending with 26...Qxc3 27. Nxc3 b5. Black has more active pieces plus the ability to play for the outside passer on the queenside, but probably not enough to win against Lasker's famous defensive and endgame skills.

Maybe we could describe 24. Nd5 as a miscalculation which turned into a successful bluff.

Feb-22-07  paul1959: Showalter probably did not like the consequences of 24...Nxe4 25 Rxd2 Nxd2 26 Bxh7 If 26 ...Kxh7 27 Qh3 mates
If 26 ...g6 27 Bxg6

So White regains the pawn and Black King remains in danger

Feb-22-07
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <paul1959>
I think you must have meant 24... Nxe4 25. Rxd2 Nxd2 26. Ne7+ Kh8 27. Bxh7, correct?

In which case Black can reply 27...Qf4 guarding against the mate, while also threatening Nf3+ exposing White's rook on c1. I think Black wins at least a piece for two pawns. But maybe this is the line the players were looking at.

Feb-22-07
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <paul1959>
After 24... Nxe4 25. Rxd2 Nxd2 26. Ne7+ Kh8 27. Bxh7, maybe even a stronger reply is <27...Bb3> blocking White's queen from h3, while also threatening 28...Nf3+ 29. gxf3 Qg5+ forking the rook. I think Black wins a piece for a pawn.
Feb-22-07
Premium Chessgames Member
  Calli: <beat> Right, I don't think Black takes the B after 27.Bxh7. 27...Qg5 is also good, threatening Nf3+ and Qxc1#. After 28.Re1 Kxh7 is possible since the Q can block at h6 on Qh3+. Showalter had fairly dominating position and needed only to wade through a few tactics in order to win.
Feb-27-07
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <Calli>
Agreed. I'm puzzled by Lasker's maneuver 15. Qb4. Maybe he underestimated 15...a5! driving the queen out of play because 16. Qxb6? Ra6 traps the queen.
Aug-22-07
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <beatgiant> <Calli> thanks for the fine analysis.
Mar-18-18
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Lasker was not always at his best in this game, and--as beatgiant and Calli have noted--was probably lost before Showalter's error on move 24. But Lasker, as so often in other games, did not despair after getting into trouble bur instead created tactical problems his opponent could not solve.

The analysis on this site by beatgiant and Calli is light-years better than what appears in the Tournament Book. <beatgiant><Calli> BRAVO--well done. There are, however, a few points on which I disagree with beatgiant and Calli which I hope will supplement the great work they have already done here.

1. d4 d5
2. c4 e6
3. Nc3 Nf6
4. Bg5 Be7
5. e3 Nbd7
6. Nf3 c6
7. Bd3 dxc4
8. Bxc4 Nd5

8...0-0 or 8. h6 may perhaps be better.

9. BxB QxB
10. e4

I prefer 10. Rc1

10... N5b6
11. Bb3 e5!
12. 0-0 0-0
13. a4

Rosenthal in the Tournament Book states that "White could equally play with advantage 13. dxe5, but I fail to see how White any real advantage in either case. The best chance for White to obtain any advantage at all out of this opening at this point was probably 13. Qe2, and even then chances would be about equal.

13... exd4
14. Qxd4

This move is inferior to 14. Nxd4 not only theoretically, but because it is the start of an ill-conceived plan by Lasker that gets him into trouble.

14... Nc5
15. Qb4?

This gets Lasker into trouble. The best analysis of this move--the problems with which are utterly overlooked in the Tournament Book--were well put on this site years ago by beatgiant: "I'm puzzled by Lasker's maneuver 15. Qb4. Maybe he underestimated 15... a5! driving the Queen out of play because 16. QxN Ra6 traps the Queen."

Best for Lasker here would have been 15. Ba2

The position was now:


click for larger view

15... a5!

As noted above by beatgiant, it was probably only here that Lasker realized he could not play 16. QxN?? because of 16...Ra6! So Lasker has to retreat his Queen to a3 and now most definitely--the Tournament Book notwithstanding--has the inferior game. He is not, however, lost (yet).

16. Qa3 Bg4
17. Nd4 Qe5

Showalter fails to capitalize on Lasker's error. He should have played 17...Rad8 here.

18. Nc2 Rad8

Any advantage Showalter had enjoyed because of Lasker's poor 14th and 15 moves is now nearly gone. His best chance was 18...NxB.

But beginning here Lasker--incredibly--goes astray again.

19. Ne3

Lasker could have solved his problems with 19. f4. Now, however, he is again getting into trouble.

19... Be6
20. Bc2

20. Ncd5 would lose to 20...NxB 21. QxN NxN (or 21...cxN). Rosenthal's proposed 21...Nc8 was not as good.

Best for White here was 20. Bd5.

The position was now:


click for larger view

20... Rd2?

This looks good, but it should have allowed Lasker to squirm out of trouble with 21. Ncd5! Ncd7 22. NxN after which--if anything--Lasker would have the better game. Showalter should have avoided all this and gotten much the better game with 20...Qd4.

21. Rac1?

But this lemon by Lasker turns matters upside down, and lands him in deep trouble.

21... Nc4!

Of course!

22. NxN BxN
23. Rfd1

Another poor move by Lasker. His best chance was 23. Nb1

23... Rfd8

Rosenthal in the Tournament Book calls this "weak" and claims that the "right move" was 23...RxR+ because that would have allowed Showalter to "equalize" the game. But why on earth would Showalter want to "equalize the game here? He is winning (as apparently only Calli and beatgiant have noticed).

The text is best and left the position as follows:


click for larger view

It is here that the truly fascinating portion of this game begins, as I will discuss in my next post.

Mar-18-18
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post II

Beginning in the diagrammed position with which I ended my last post, the game quickly turned around from a won game for Showalter to a won for Lasker. This all occurred in the space of only two moves.

24. Nd5!

"Very well played. This move gives White the better game." (Rosenthal in the Tournament Book). Nonsense! As beatgiant and Calli have shown, Lasker is lost here with best play.

But was 24. Nd5 in fact a further mistake by Lasker? According to beatgiant, Lasker should here have gone "on full retreat" with 24. RxR RxR 25. Nb1. This line, however, overlooks the neat combination Showalter had cooked up for Lasker. After 25. Nb1 in beatgiant's line, the position would be:


click for larger view

beatgiant assumes that Showalter would have to play 25...Rd6 here after which Lasker, though still having the worst of the struggle, might have survived. But in fact, Showalter could have won in the above position with 25...Rxf2!! (if 26. KxR Qf4+).

So in fact, Lasker's 24. Nd5 was his best chance in a difficult (i.e., probably lost) position. As a practical matter, Showalter here lost his way and first missed a likely win and then blundered away the game.

The position after Lasker's 24. Nd5!:


click for larger view

24... RxR+

As beatgiant and Calli have conclusively demonstrated, Showalter should have played 24...cxN with a likely win. I have little to add to their excellent analysis on this site, except the quibble that Lasker's best chance after 24...cxN was probably 25. BxN (rather than the 25. RxR line Calli and beatgiant have explored). But my "improvement" doesn't lead to much after 25...RxR+ 26. RxR cxN 27. Bf3 Re8. Perhaps having seen the demonstration of how 25. RxR loses, I have been searching vainly for a way for Lasker to have saved himself against the Calli/beatgiant line.

25. RxR

The position was now:


click for larger view

Showalter's win is now quite gone, but he still has a playable game with about even chances. From here, however, Showalter fell apart, blundered away the game and--even when Lasker got careless on his 28th move--appears to have been too shell-shocked to claw his way back into the contest.

All this will be covered in my next post on this game.

Mar-18-18
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post III

After Lasker's 25. RxR, Showalter played:

25... b6?

After this, Showalter was lost.

Showalter would also have lost after 25...Nd7 26. f4 (but not 26. Nb6 as suggested by Rosenthal in the Tournament Book since Black is still in the game with 26...Be6 27. Qe7 Qf6 28. QxQ fxQ 29. f4).

25...Ne6 also loses--as Rosenthal has shown--to 26. Ne7+ Kh8 27. RxR+ NxR 28. Nxc6!!

The saving move for Showalter after Lasker's 25. RxR was the obvious one: 25...cxN. Rosenthal claims this loses to 26. cxN, but after 26...g6 27. Qxa5 Rc8 28. Qc3 QxQ 29. bxQ dxe4 30. Bxe4 Bb3 Black looks OK to me:


click for larger view

If 31. Bxb7 in the above position 31...Rc7.

Back to the actual game. After Showalter's 25...b6?, the position was:


click for larger view

The position would actually make a good puzzle: White to move and win.

Lasker solved the puzzle brilliantly:

26. Qg3!!

A flustered Showalter was apparently so awed by this magnificent move he played like a lox for the rest of the game. (In fairness to Showalter, he is dead lost here).

26... Qb8?

26...QxQ loses quickly to 27. Nf6+ ! gxN (27...Kf8 is perhaps a tad better, but also hopeless) 28. RxR+ Kg7 29. hxQ leaving Lasker the exchange to the good with a crushing bind on the position.

Showalter's only slim hope after 26. Qg3!! was 26...Qe6 (though even with this Showalter would have been near the end after 27. Qc7!)

27. Ne7+ Kf8

The position was now:


click for larger view

Lasker has the game well in hand here, and can win easily with 28. RxR+ QxR 29. Nxc6.

But here Lasker took his eye off the ball and played:

28. QxQ?

All of a sudden, Showalter has new life.

28... RxQ
29. Nxc6

The position was now:


click for larger view

Lasker is up a pawn, but as will be discussed in my next post, Showalter here had another--and as it turned out his last--chance to save the game.

Mar-18-18
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post IV

In the last diagrammed position in my prior post, Showalter lost his final chance to save the game when he played:

29... Re8?

Had Showalter played the better 29...Rc8!--seizing the all-important c-file before Lasker could defend his weaknesses--Showalter might well have survivied. Had Lasker played in response 30. Ne5 (probably best) Showalter would have played either 30...Be6 or 30...Be2, in either case having excellent counterplay. Had Lasker played 30. Nd4 Showalter could have responded 30...Bd3 31. BxB NxB 32. b3 Rc3 33. f3 Nc5, again with counterplay and good chances of a draw,

After Showalter's actual move (29...Re8), Lasker got an extra move to guard his e-pawn and won going away.

30. f3 Rc8

Too late!!

31. Nd4 Rd8?!

His only true hope lay in 31...Be6 or perhaps 31...g6. But Showalter set a little tactical trap with his move.

32. Kf2

32. b3 would also have been good.

32... Bd3

32...Rc8 gave theoretically better chances, but Showalter was staking all on his little swindle.

The position was now:


click for larger view

33. Nc6!

Lasker doesn't fall for it! 33. BxB looked tempting, but it would have blown Lasker's win after 33...RxN! 34. Bc2 Rc4 (or 34...Rb4) 35. Rd2 Rb4.

After Lasker's fine move, the game is over.

33... Rc8
34. BxB NxB+
35. RxN RxN

This left:


click for larger view

The win is now a matter of endgame technique, and Lasker was most definitely up to the task.

36. Rc3! Rd6
37. Ke3 Ke7
38. Rc7+ Ke6

38...Kf8 was "better," but by this stage Lasker was not to be denied, and Showalter from here on seems to be going through the motions before resigning.

39. f4 g6
40. e5

The position was now:


click for larger view

40... Rd8

If Showalter had any fight left in him, he would presumably have tried 40...Rd1, though in fairness 41. Rc6+ or 41. Rb7 would have left little hope had Showalter tried my suggested resource.

41. Rc6+ Kf5

Merrily walking into a mating net.

42. Rf6+

42. h3 would have tightened the mating noose, but Lasker's move is more than sufficient to snuff out resistance.

42... Kg4
43. Rxf7 Rh8

Equivalent to resignation.

44. Kf2

44. e6 would have been even more vicious, but the text also works.

1-0

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