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Emanuel Lasker vs Aron Nimzowitsch
"A Knight's Tale" (game of the day Aug-21-2014)
Zurich (1934), Zurich SUI, rd 10, Jul-23
French Defense: Winawer. Bogoljubow Variation (C17)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  Peligroso Patzer: <Confuse:>[from Jan-07-07] <*** can someone tell me where Lasker made the extreme error? *** >

In the endgame, analysts have generally concluded White was lost after <55. Nh3>, but would have retained reasonable drawing chances with <55. Kc3>.

The position after <54. … b5> was:

click for larger view

The key point is that the White Knight should stay on f4 to restrict the activity of the Black King. Specifically, after advancing his pawn to b5, Black wants to play the Knight check on c6 and then bring his King to e5. He cannot do this with the White Knight on f4 because if the Black King moves to the e5-square when the Knight is on f4, then Ng6+ will pick up the pawn on h4.

Although the actual game continuation did not involve the Black King becoming active by way of the e5-square, that positional threat forced White to put his King on e3 (<56. Ke3>) rather than going to c3, allowing the Black King initially to invade on the Q-side, and only later to swing over to the K-side.

This endgame is quite famous and has been analyzed in many sources, including Keres, Dvoretsky, and Müller & Lamprecht, as well as the recently published <The Greatest Ever Chess Endgames>, by Giddins, Steve, Everyman Chess ©2012, at pages 31-34.

(Sorry this reply is more than five years after the original question.)

Premium Chessgames Member
  Peligroso Patzer: <beatgiant: <Peligroso Patzer> <White can probably hold> On what do you base that? Black has every advantage there - more active pieces, outside passed pawn. ***>

The assessment of “can probably hold” was probably overstated. It would have been more accurate to describe the position as one in which White has “reasonable” or “some” defensive chances. I certainly agree that Black has the advantages you mention, and that the question is how good White’s chances are to hold. The position after the further <40. … Nf4> mentioned in your post is identical to one reached by a different move order in analysis in the recent book by IM Giddins (cited in full in previous post) that he describes as maintaining “great pressure” (op. cit., at p. 32). Nevertheless, in the resulting position:

click for larger view

… White can avoid weakening his Q-side pawns by playing <41. Nd1>, which is admittedly a purely defensive move in a passive position, but still leaves Black needing to prove a way to make progress. A great deal of time could be devoted to analyzing continuations from this point, and a definitive conclusion could probably never be reached.

BTW, the main point of my post on the 14th was that after a hypothetical <39. Nh3 Nc2+ 40. Kf3 Nb4>, White should continue with <41. Nf4> (rather than <41. a3>, as generally given in earlier analysis, and that in the position after <41. Nf4> in that variation:

click for larger view

… White would have good chances to hold since the Black h-pawn is about to be eliminated.

It does seem that your line (with <39. … Ne6> -- rather than <39. Nc2+> -- after <39. Nh3>) would have been the stronger continuation for Black and may well have been what caused Lasker to choose <39 a3?!>

Jul-07-12  vinidivici: dude, how about 49.b3? is it a draw?
Premium Chessgames Member
  al wazir: These two guys, the great Lasker and the ever-ingenious Nimzowich, didn't know what they were doing! Lasker didn't have a plan. Nimzowich tried one thing after another until something worked. I'm sure it should have been a draw.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Gypsy: Position after the move 35:

click for larger view

A <Botvinnik's Rule> states that knight endgames are essentially their pawn endgames. Since here the underlying pawn endgame would, of course, be a simple win for Black, Lasker probably did not have much of the chance to save the game.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: It's amazing what you can find on the internet:

No, I'm not quite sure why, either.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: The other fun thing about the ending ...

click for larger view

... is that the black knight is only dominating the white knight. He is also stopping the white pawn from queening.

Let's imagine for a second that white tries to have a pawn race. From the final position, he might have tried 66. b6 Kxh3

click for larger view

White might think that he is doing well. His pawn only has three steps to take whilst black has just self blocked his own pawn.

But then white realises that 67. b7 loses the pawn to the knight fork 67... Nc5+

And if he tries 67. Kb5 Nd8!

click for larger view

It's going to take white four moves to take the knight and two moves to advance his pawn - a total of six. But it only take black one move to step his king aside and three moves to queen the pawn - a total of four. Too slow!

There's another wrinkle. Let's imagine that white tries to drag the black knight away from the white pawn. How about 66. Ng5 forcing 66...Nxg5

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The black knight looks to be a long way from the white pawn. He makes it just in time.

67. b6 Ne6!

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And again we find that 68. b6 loses to the same knight fork Nc5+. And we still have the Nd8 trick is white tries to shoo the knight away with Kb5.

A delightful bit of knightery. Seems almost worth setting to music.

Then again, maybe not.

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <acirce: No player would agree to a draw as Black after 35.fxe4, Black is clearly better because of the distant passed pawn. It would definitely not be accepted as a draw in Sofia either, unless Topalov was white and Azmaiparashvili was still the arbiter.>

In that hypothetical situation, Azmai would declare the position 1-0, <not> a draw.

Aug-21-14  XenoZodiac: Topalov vs Kramnik, 2008
Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: Lasker loses an endgame! Now that's news!
Aug-21-14  Tim Delaney: <Once> I too was fascinated by this ending -- almost worthy of an endgame study, and more than justifying the pun.
Premium Chessgames Member
  playground player: <Once> What in the world was that video? "The Music of Chess"--do the moves somehow generate the notes that are played? Play a really sweet game, and it comes out as Mozart?
Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: <playground player> You guess is as good as mine! I was hunting for the chessbase lecture on this game and looked in yoofchoob to see if was there. And that's when I stumbled on this musical ... er ... thing.

And I know absolutely nothing else about it apart from that.

Aug-21-14  posoo: EXCELLENT analisis wunce! you REALY broke dat knoght monster for da peeople!

Numsowitch is da ONLY player who shod EVER be allowed to play da French defense. It's TRULY an abominale chess manover and ONLY HE knew how to use it - and CRUSH it when da chippes are down!

Aug-21-14  Refused: <43: A knyght ther was, and that a worthy man, 44: That fro the tyme that he first bigan
45: To riden out, he loved chivalrie,
46: Trouthe and honour, fredom and curteisie.>
Aug-21-14  Edeltalent: Poor white King's Knight! Limited to only g- and h-file for more than fifty moves, finally breathing some air towards the center, only to soon after return to measly h3 and die a miserable death there... While watching the other horses jump all over the place...
Aug-21-14  catlover: <al wazir> True. In this game, both players seemed a bit uninspired.
Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: I happened to be going through the game, and left for work with infinite analysis after move 54 to return to Komodo 5 flummoxed how to win at 34 ply.

The trick to drawing from move 55 appears to be going for a passed "a" pawn, and then allowing the White knight to die in front of the h pawn.

for example,

55 Kc3 Kc5 56 Ne6+ Kb6 57 Ng5 Nf7 58 Nh3 Kc5 59 b3 axb3 60 Kxb3 Ne5 61 Ng5 Kd4 62 Kb4 Ke3 63 Kxb5 Kf4 64 Nh3+ Kg3 65 a4 Kxh3 66 a5 = tablebase

or 55...Nf3 56 b3 Kc5 57 Nd3+ Kc6 58 bxa4 bxa4 59 Kb4 h3 60 Kxa4 h2 61 Nf2 Kc5 62 Ka5 Kd4 63 a4 Ne5 64 Kb5 Ke3 65 Nh1 Kf3 66 a5 Kg2 67 a6 Kxh1 = tablebase

click for larger view

Dec-25-14  TheFocus: Lasker finished in 5th place at the Zurich tournament held in Zurich, Switzerland with a score of +9=2-4.

This round 10, July 23, 1934.

Sep-18-16  jftman: Ok. Help a Newbie with somin. All the deep analysis is Kibitzed in the moves after 50. My question is at move 26 with white to move why not take out the pawn? Instead he allows the protection of it. Is this bcuz black can double rooks and have an open file once the pawn is lost?

Isn't taking material here more inportant? To gain a full pawn up?

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <Zenchess: I can't believe these two only faced each other twice over the board.>

Soon after this event, the First World War brought international play to a standstill; Nimzo did not play again until 1920 and Lasker only returned to the international arena at Maehrisch Ostrau 1923, the first of several events before retiring from the scene after Moscow 1925, but was forced to return to active play, beginning with this event, due to financial circumstances.

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: < jftman: Ok. Help a Newbie with somin. All the deep analysis is Kibitzed in the moves after 50. My question is at move 26 with white to move why not take out the pawn? Instead he allows the protection of it. Is this bcuz black can double rooks and have an open file once the pawn is lost? Isn't taking material here more inportant? To gain a full pawn up?>

Hello, <jftman>! Welcome to! I hope you enjoy your time here. Don't be put off by the smell.

Black has just played 26...Ng5.

click for larger view

White could have taken that ♙ on d4.
27.Rxd4. Black would almost certainly have replied 27...Re1+, which ;eaves only one sensible move for White: 28.Kc2. Then Black wpuld take the pawn with check, 28...Rxf2+.

click for larger view

White has to be careful of knight forks. 29.Kd3 and now Black could play 29...Nf3!

click for larger view

White is a bit tied up. Lasker probably didn't calculate that far. He probably calculated as far as 28...Rxf2+ and realised it was worse than a dead end for White.

Premium Chessgames Member
  sfm: <Peligroso Patzer: [Confuse, from Jan-07-07: can someone tell me where Lasker made the extreme error?] ... Sorry this reply is more than five years after the original question> You are forgiven (Sorry that this forgiveness comes more than 4 years after your BTW excellent reply)
Oct-07-18  goser: Computer believes that White would be OK after 18. de5. It also believes that White made a mistake with 55. Nh3, as the knight was needed to prevent the king's breakthrough at the queen's side.
Sep-12-19  Albion 1959: Odd to think that this was the second and last meeting between these two players, played twenty years apart ! They competed in many tournaments and yet the only met each other twice !
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