KEG: This game marked the end and culmination of a six-year run by Emmanuel Lasker that has few if any parallels in the history of chess, including as it did victory in two World Championship matches and first place in four major international tournaments. Thus, from March 15, 1894 to June 20, 1900, Lasker:
1) Defeated Steinitz 10-5 with 4 draws and became World Champion in 1894;
2) Finished third at Hastings 1895 one point behind Pillsbury and one-half point behind Tchgorin but ahead of Tarrasch, Steinitz, Schiffers, Teichmann, Schlechter, Blackburne, Janowski and others.
3) Finished a full two points ahead of Steinitz at the 1895-1896 St. Petersburg quadrilateral tournament (one of the strongest tournaments ever) and far ahead of Pillsbury and Tchigorin;
4) Finished first at Nuremberg 1896 a full point ahead of second-place finisher Maroczy and also ahead of Pillsury, Tarrasch, Janowski, Steinitz, Schlechter, Tchigorin and others;
5) Defeated Steinitz in the return World Championship match by a crushing score of 10-2 with five draws;
6) Won the double-round robin London 1899 tournament a full 4.5 points (!) ahead of second place finishers Janowski, Maroczy, and Pillsbury, and also ahead of Schlechter, Blackburne, Tchigorin and Steinitz and others; and
7) Won Paris 1900 a full two points ahead of second-place finisher Pillsbury and also ahead of Marshall, Burn, Tchigorin, Schlechter, Janowski, and others.
Then, Lasker essentially disappeared from serious chess (I refuse to consider his King's Gambit match with Tchigorin in 1903 to be a serious test of chess strength). Lasker's next appearance was at Cambridge Springs 1904 (tied second with Janowski behind Marshall), and the only other tournaments he played before World War II were St. Petersburg 1909 (equal first with Rubinstein) and St. Petersburg 1913 (first place ahead of Capablanca, Alekhine, Tarrash, Marshall, Rubinstein, and others).
Lasker did not defend his title until 1907. Thus, the instant game was in effect Lasker's farewell to the game for many years.
This game was a replay of Lasker's final round draw with Tchigorin (draws were replayed at Paris 1900). For the reasons I pointed out in my comments on the earlier draw, neither Lasker nor Tchigorin had much incentive to press for a win, and indeed in some points in this replay the contest gives the impression of a grandmaster draw. But, the game did have its moments.
1. e4 e5
2. Nf3 Nc6
3. Bb5 a6
4. Ba4 Nf6
5. 0-0 Be7
We can hardly be surprised to find Tchigorin playing the Tchigorin Defense.
A move more popular then than now. It yields--with best play--only a modest edge for White. Its one weakness is the blocking of the c-pawn.
6...b5 is certainly better. Tchigoring of all people should have known this.
Lasker should have played 7. BxN+ if he were looking for a win.
It is hard to understand why Tchigorin played this instead of the better 7...b5
Rosenthal in the Tournament Book claimed that 8. Be3 was better, but that claim is hard to fathom.
9. NxN exN
10. Qxd4 0-0
The position was now:
Thus far, the game looks like a boring pre-arranged grandmaster draw. But from here, as I will discuss in my next post on this game, things became interesting--for a while.