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Emanuel Lasker vs Frank Marshall
Cambridge Springs (1904), Cambridge Springs, PA USA, rd 5, May-02
Sicilian Defense: French Variation (B40)  ·  1/2-1/2



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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  LIFE Master AJ: It might be hard (for most folks) to get excited about a draw. But here one of the greatest players who ever lived meets the fellow who eventually won the tournament ... some very interesting chess is played.
Mar-24-05  Shams: yeah, it`s a nice game. but how many better moves did Marshall miss? Lasker played a petty opening and was lucky to get the half-point, it looks like.
Premium Chessgames Member
  LIFE Master AJ: <Shams>
Actually, I have been working on this game for something like two years.

Its a very interesting game ... and can be found in dozens of sources. (See the DEC. 2004 issue of 'Chess Life,' Pal Benko's column. See also the book: "Bobby Fischer, The Greatest," by Max Euwe.)

I hope to have this game - DEEPLY annotated - as a web page ... sometime in the next six months or so.

Premium Chessgames Member
  LIFE Master AJ: <Everyone>
Check out the following page, ( As usual, (constructive) feedback is welcome.
May-26-05  aw1988: Thanks, but what does this game have to do with Fischer?
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: It's like trying to read a chess book in the middle of the Las Vegas Strip.
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  OhioChessFan: Thanks AJ. But don't we already have enough grandmaster draws to look at?
Premium Chessgames Member
  LIFE Master AJ: <Ohio...>
A GM Draw? To me - that is when two guys shake hands ... after only 10-15 moves.

This is a game ... full of fight. ALSO - the 'experts' have yet to agree on the analysis of this game! Did you check out my page?

PS Do you know SM Ross Sprague? (He lived in Pensacola for a number of years.)

Premium Chessgames Member
  lostemperor: Lasker 12th move Bxf6 was certainly not best and Euwe said Lasker made a risky move 32. Kg3?! "Great; the consequences of this risky move will appear soon. After Kg1, black would have drawn by 32 ... Qa1+", etc." But perhaps strangely enough, AJ Goldsby gave 32. Kg3 two exclamation marks!!
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: It appears Lasker passed up a draw for winning chances at move 32. Soltis, at least, doesn't think Marshall missed any wins after that. (Does Euwe?) So 32. Kg3 doesn't strike me as excessively risky.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: Marshall's comments from the "American Chess Bulletin" of April 1904 are interesting. He considers that Black missed a strong move in 20...Rfa8, and praised Lasker's 33.Kf4 as <"A startling move, demonstrating the champion's deep insight. It came within an ace of winning."> Lasker later recommended 36.Qh4.

But the comment I found most interesting was to <8...0-0>:

<"As White's extra pawn is doubled and will not count until the ending is reached, Black is justified, considering his development, in permitting this material advantage.">

No analysis or lines, just a general positional judgment. Marshall wrote notes to all his Cambridge Springs games in the ACB, and this theme of the positional, intuitive pawn sacrifice comes up often. Perhaps that explains why the famous Marshall Gambit in the Spanish, despite reams of analysis, essentially rests on the positional basis of superior development.

Marshall's notes can be found here, starting on p.1 of the magazine:

Premium Chessgames Member
  LIFE Master AJ:
Premium Chessgames Member
  K Any: What's wrong with 39.Qb8 followed by 40.Qxb5?
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <K Any: What's wrong with 39.Qb8 followed by 40.Qxb5?>

Nothing, although SF thinks 39.Kxd5 is even stronger.

White would have had good winning chances in either case, though it would have been difficult in practice, since not even Lasker is a chess engine.

For example, 39.Kxd5 Qxc3 40.c6 Qa5 41.c7! b4+ 42.Kc4 Qa6+ 43.Kxb4 Qb6+ 44.Kc4 Qc6+ 45.Kd3 Qd5+ 46.Qd4 Qxf3+ 47.Kc4 Qc6+ 48.Qc5 Qe4+ 49.Kb5. A computer says yes, that's a win, but not so easy for a human.

Or 39.Qb8+ Kh7 40.Qxb5 Qf2+ 41.Kxd5 Qxf3+ 42.Kd6 Qf4+ 43.Kd7. Black can push the king in front of the pawn and give lots of checks, or start pushing his f-pawn. An engine has no trouble seeing that White is nevertheless winning, but again, very tough for a human being.

39.c6 was a mistake, but why?

Because after 39....Qa4+ 40.Ke3 Qa7+ 41.Kd3

click for larger view


SF confirms that everything else loses, e.g. 41....Qg1 42.Qb8+ Kh7 42.c7 Qd1+ 44.Ke3 and the king escapes after a million checks.

But now 42.cxb4 Qa6+ picks up the c-pawn (42....Qa3+ also draws). And 42.c7 draws as seen in the game.

Really a wonderful game.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Williebob: <keypusher>, glad to see your response to <K Any>'s question (good one, <K>!)

I was drawn to the psychology of Marshall's 38.. Qc2, which seems like a masterly bluff (even though it loses against best play as you've shown). I wonder if Lasker wasn't a bit rattled by it. He had a 0-1 score against Marshall going into this event. The World Champion must have strongly wished to avoid a 0-2 score against the newcomer. And Marshall was already showing strong form at this event, having crushed Pillsbury earlier (who of course was one of Lasker's most difficult opponents). And to top it off, it's a Q vs Q endgame which can lead to sudden death for either player. It's fascinating and humbling to see the course Lasker chose as apparently the safest path in a minefield. Wonderful game indeed!

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