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Emanuel Lasker vs Amos Burn
St. Petersburg (1909), St. Petersburg RUE, rd 13, Mar-04
Spanish Game: Closed Variations (C84)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
Dec-05-05  paladin at large: Impressive sacrifice of the exchange by Lasker with 57. Rxc4 and the white d and e pawns cannot be stopped. Could Burn have equalized earlier somewhere?
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: This game gets annotated at some length in Soltis' Lasker book.

Burn missed a chance for strong central pressure with 12...cxd4 13. cxd4 Bg4. After move 16 Lasker had the bishop pair and no problems in the center, so he had a permanent advantage. At move 22 Lasker closes the center, moves his rooks to the kingside and pushes the h-pawn. Burn can try for counterplay with ...c4 and ...Nc5 but chooses to remain passive. Lasker prepares f4 very carefully, since it allows Black to open the bishop's diagonal and then play ...b4, breaking open the queenside. When f4 finally comes, Burn decides that playing ...exf4 will allow White to overwhelm the black King's defenses before Black can accomplish anything on the queenside.

41....c4 is the first Burn move that Soltis gives a question mark to, writing, "This move, which should have been the key to Black's counterplay earlier, is a positional blunder here. Having adopted a passive policy he should have stuck with it (41...a4 and ...Bf6-d8)."

Lasker's 42. a4! leaves Black with weaknesses all over the queenside. Burn fails to trade off Lasker's remaining knight with 43...Bxe3, and the knight takes up a very strong position on f5. Lasker then plays Bc2 and Ra1, preparing to go after the exposed pawns. After move 48, Soltis writes, "Everything is protected and White can carry out the kind of mop-up strategy, picking off Black pawns, that Lasker loved."

52. Bc6 sets up a strong threat of b4!, but Lasker decides to play to win the the c-pawn instead with Ra4.

54...exf4 and 55...f5 is a last-gasp atttempt at counterplay -- a little late. 57...Nxh5 was better than 57...Ng4, but Burn was lost in either case.

To sum up, both sides played imprecisely in the opening, but White emerged with a small but permanent advantage. Thereafter Burn defended tenaciously but passively, as Lasker probed for an opening. Having spent nearly the entire game playing on the kingside, Lasker pounced on the queenside as soon as a couple of minor Burn imprecisions gave him the chance, and soon White had an overwhelming position over the entire board. Realizing he was lost, Burn made a final bid for counterplay, but Lasker found a crushing sacrifice, and wound up winning, not on the kingside, not on the queenside, but right in the middle of the board.

I joked elsewhere that in this game White carried out every possible plan, but it's a great game, surely one of Lasker's best -- positional creativity, accurate calculation, and almost superhuman patience. Nothing for Burn to be ashamed of either.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Calli: <57...Nxh5 was better than 57...Ng4>

Lasker in the tournament book:
"If 57....KtxRP, White plays K-R2 and the Knight is in a very bad position."

I never understood this; after 57...Nxh5 58.Kh2 and the pin on the e file is still there, isn't it? Therefore, Black can return the Knight 58...Nf6. White may play the same sacrifice as the game but Black has an extra pawn.

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <Calli> Yes, I think you're right. Soltis gives 58...Nf6 59 Rxc5! Qxe2 60. Rxe2 dxc5 61. d6 Re6 62. Bf3 Rbe8 63. Be3 and says "White wins as in the game but not nearly as easily".
Premium Chessgames Member
  Garech: Fantastic game from Lasker.


Dec-13-14  poorthylacine: The game is really won too after the variant of Soltis, but only a further analysis -for amateurs nowadays available by the help of a computer- can make it evident; 57...Nxh5 is more resistant than the text move however, but maybe we have to notice that the annotations of Lasker were intended to strong players: what was obvious for him is not so easy to understand for players whose name is not for instance... Alekhine!!
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