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David Janowski vs Emanuel Lasker
Cambridge Springs (1904), Cambridge Springs, PA USA, rd 15, May-19
Four Knights Game: Spanish. Classical Variation (C48)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
Feb-13-04  ughaibu: Calli: Normally a game is described as if it belongs to the winner, "one of Rubinstein's most brilliant endgames" or similar, so in these cases of Lasker's had he not escaped it would be the opponent's game, even with his escape for the major period they perhaps appear to be the opponent's game. The question is at what point if at all do these become Lasker's games? (I was once accused of sarcasm when posting a Fischer loss to Pachman as one of my favourite Fischer games.)
Feb-13-04  Calli: Well, I don't know! Capablanca also escaped against Janowski at San Sebastien in 1911. He considered it one of "his" finest games even though he should have lost.
Feb-13-04  ughaibu: That's interesting, thanks, I'll have a look at that game. I often feel the loser's contribution is under-appreciated.
Dec-25-07  vonKrolock: The position after 20...♗e6 was warmly discussed: Janowski himself pointed out that 21.♕g7 ♗xd5 22.♕xh8+ ♔d7 23.♕xh7} should be enough to win, but that's perhaps not clear enough: 23...♕d3!? etc - for Chigorin, in the other hand, 21.♘b6 was the winning move - again not at all clear according to contemporary sources
Aug-27-08  andrewjsacks: Lasker's play here reminds one of Fischer's defending and triumphing in the Poisoned Pawn variation of the Najdorf Sicilian.
Dec-25-08  Ychromosome: Here's one continuation

26.Nd6+ Bxd6 27.Qxh4 Rae8 28.Rxe8 Kxe8 29.Qf6 Rf8 30.Qxd6 Qd3 31.Re1+ Be4 32. Qd5 Rxf4 33.Qxb7 Kf8 34.Qb8+ Kg7 35.Qxf4

Dec-25-08  Ychromosome: Here's a continuation from the end

36.Re2 Qc1+ 37.Kf2 Qxf4+ 38.Ke1 Qxd4 39.Ree7 Qxg7 40.Rxg7 Kxg7

Feb-07-09  Geronimo: Europe Echecs this month reproduced a brilliant article from "Lasker Chess Magazine" with commentaries on this game at the time by Lasker, Marshall, Janowsky, Chigorin, Tarrasch, and Zak. It also includes comments from later decades (centuries!)by Soltis, Bardeleben and Fritz 11, giving over 100 years of commentary on what Marshall called "La cerise sur le gateau de toutes parties modernes...."

Enough to keep me busy for the next few weeks at least...

Sep-15-10  ughaibu: Keypusher: does Soltis have anything interesting to say?
Nov-21-10  laskereshevsky: A trully remarkable defensive performance by Lasker.

I have played, studyed, analized this game several times....

Among the hundreds fantastic defensive performance whome deserve to be studyed there are this ones: ( I did it...)

Alekhine vs Reti, 1922


Teschner vs Portisch, 1962

P.S.: This outstanding Portisch's defence has not yet commentated (!)...

Or is unknow for the greatets part of CG's kibitzer, ...

Or the defence is not so "charming"?!

In fact I've in mind only 4 person whome spended words to sublime the defence... LASKER, NIMTZOVITCH, KORCHNOI and.... ME

Nov-21-10  Everett: <analized this game several times....> umm... I think you mean "analyzed," yeah?
Nov-21-10  laskereshevsky: No matter how,

....considering the level of my chess skill.......

Nov-23-10  Clubfoot: Everett, stop correcting the spelling of other posters. It is a great pity we're all so out of step with you, but there is never a need to put people down. Ever. So stick to chess and your usual dimestore psychobabble.
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: Part I

<ughaibu> Yes he does, though not all of it makes sense. He really should have used an engine for this game.

This last round game allowed Lasker to tie Janowski for second place. It was very famous in its day -- Soltis notes that, in addition to the participants, it was annotated by Tarrasch, Chigorin, and Marshall (and apparently others, according to the Europe Echecs article. How I would love to see that article!).

In 1904 the game seems to have been regarded as one that Janowski let get away. Soltis fights against that judgment in his notes, but not always successfully IMO. He also argues that there was a sort of error in judgment re this game and Lasker-Napier -- that game, he says, though highly regarded in its day, was very sloppy, while this game, which was annotated (he says) very critically, was played at an extremely high level. We'll see. Direct quotes from Soltis (and also his sometimes strange allocation of question marks and exclamation points) are in carets. Comments from me/Shredder are in plain text.

4....Bc5, Soltis notes, was in vogue in 1904. Nxe5 would be stronger after 5.0-0 0-0, he points out, because after 5.Nxe5 Nxe5 6.d4 Bd6 7.f4 Nc6 8.e5 Bb4 9.d5? Ne4 10.Qd3 Nxc3 11.bxc3 Ba5! Black remains a piece ahead.

Soltis also gives a recent example of this line, Nunn vs J M Hodgson, 1991, though he claims it was played in 1988.

Instead of 8....c6, in Flechsig vs Zukertort, 1877 Black had gotten a positional advantage with 8....Be7 9.exf6 Qxf6 10.0-0 0-0 11.Ne4 d5 12.Nxf6+ Qxf6 13. c3 Bf5 14.Bd3? Rfe8. But f4-f5, at White's 11th or 13th move, would have given him the advantage according to Soltis.

Instead of 9.Bc4, White could have played 9.exd6 cxb5 10.Qe2+ Kf8 11.f5 Nh4 12.0-0 h6 and now 13.g3 gives White a winning position, as Janowski (per Soltis) pointed out. So it's hard to understand why Soltis gave 8...c6 an exclamation mark.

Summing up the opening, 5.0-0 would have been better than 5.Nxe5. 7....Nc6 seems better than Lasker's 7....Ng6. And Black's eighth and White's ninth moves were blunders.

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: Part II

After 11....d5<!>

<This game was cited to support the mind-game theory. It was the psychologist rather than the chessplayer at work when Lasker, out of a humdrum opening, steered the game into complications," wrote Hannak. Some annotators felt that Lasker tried to lure Janowsky into the piece sack at move nine and, when that failed, felt he had to try again.

But how about the alternative explanation -- that Lasker was trying to find the best moves and succeeding? If Black had played the natural 11....0-0 White would get a reasonable game from 12.Ne4 Qe7 13.Bd5 d5 14.Ng3 and 15.c3. Black's chances are a bit better after 11....d5 12.Bb3 0-0.>


<Marshall and Janowsky believed this was sound, while Tarrasch thought it offered insufficient compensation.>

16....f6 gets Soltis' first question mark of the game. He doesn't give another until Lasker has a won position. Instead after 16....Kf8! <[t]he attack (17.Bd2 a5 18.b4) runs out of steam quickly (18....Bd7 and ...Nxd5).>

17.Bd2 a5 18.Qh5+ g6<!>

<Lasker felt this allowed White to reload. He preferred 18....Kf8 19.f5 Qd7, which protects e8 and threatens to cripple the attack with ...Nxd5.

But let's carry that a step further. 20.Nxe7 Bxe7 21.Re4! That not only sets a trap -- 21....Qxf5? 22.Qe2! --- but also creates favorable complications.

For example, 21....Kg8 22.Rxe7! Qxe7 23.Re1 and then 23....g6 24.fxg6 Be6 25.g7! Kxg7 26.d5!. Lasker defended better than he thought.>

Here 19....Qd7 seems wrong. Shredder recommends 19....b5 and thinks Black is better after 20.Nxe7 Bxe7. 19....Bd7 also looks playable. So, I think Lasker was right to prefer 18....Kf8.

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: Part III

19.c5<!> <"The winning move," claimed Janowski (19....Qxd5?? 20.Qxd5 and 19....gxh5? 20.cxd6 both lose).>


Soltis, continuing analysis originally published by Janowski and Tarrasch, concludes that 19....Qc6 20.Nxe7 Bxe7 21.Qe2 Qc7 22.f5! g5 is unclear after 23.Qh5+ Kf8 24.h4 (24.Re6? Bxe6 25.fxe6 Kg7 26.Qf7+ Kh6 27.Rf1 Raf8 28.Rxf6+ Bxf6 29.Qxc7 Bxd4+ and Black mates). But Shredder immediately finds 23.Bxg5! (instead of 23.Qh5+) and White has a winning advantage. This is why Soltis should have used an engine.

20.Qh6 (threatening 21.Rxe7+, 21.Nb6, and 21.Nxe7 Bxe7 22.Rxe7+ Kxe7 23.Qg7+)


click for larger view

<One of the most famous positions of the start of the century," wrote Janowsky biographers Dimitry Plisetsky and Sergei Voronkov. White has four tempting moves and none is crystal clear.

Tarrasch and Janowsky thought 21.Qg7 was best, since it virtually forces 21....Bxd5 22.Qxh8+ Kd7 and White can coast to victory with 23.Qxh7. But Zak showed that 23....Qd3! 24.Rad1 Qf5 leaves the game up for grabs.> Von Krolock already covered this, I see. Shredder sees White as +0.40 better after running forever.

21.Nxe7 Bxe7 22.d5 Bxd5 23.Rxe7+ Kxe7 24.Qg7+ Bf7 25.Re1+ Kd7 26.Qxf7+ Kc8 and now either 27.Bc3 or 27.c6 are strong, possibly winning, for White.

21.Nb6 was Chigorin's recommendation. 21....Bxb6 22.Rxe6 wins on the spot and 21....Bf7 22.Qg7 Rg8 23.Qxf6 planning either Rxe7, doubling rooks on the e-file, or pushing the d-pawn also win2. But: 21....Kf7 22.Rxe6 Nf5! (not 22....Kxe6 23.Qg7! Rg8 24.Re1+) 23.Qh3 Kxe6 24.Qb3+ Ke7 25.Re1+ Kf8 26.Nxa8 Qxa8 27.Qe6 h5 28.d5 and Shredder thinks it's equal.


<At various points White can weigh the line-clearing d4-d5. But it never quite works, e.g. 22.d5 Nxd5 23.f5 Bxf6 24.fxe6+ Kg8 and Black's material should win.>

Shredder finds an amazing continuation after 22....Nxd5, 23.Ne8!! and if ...Rxe8? 24.Qxh7+ Kf6 25.f5! gxf5 26.h4! f4 27.g4! Bxg4 29.Rxe8 and White wins. 23....Kxe8 24.f5 Qd3 25.fxg6 Be7 26.Rxe6 Kd7 27.g7 Bxc5+ 28.Kh1 Rhg8 29.Rae1 and White is a little better.

Black can also try 22....Bxd5, when 23.Rxe7+ Bxe7 24.Nxd5 and now either ...Qd3 or ...Bxc5+ and ...Bd4 are roughly even. Janowski missed an important chance here.

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: Part IV

22....Nf5<!> 23.Qh3 Be7

<Despite the annotators claims that White was lost, the chances are in rough balance. Or to put it another way, in such a position the better tactician will win.>

I don't think this is correct; Shredder sees Black as nearly a full pawn up now. White has three paws for the piece, but Black is finally developed, and White has terrible light-square weaknesses.


<It's been claimed that 24.d5 Bxd5 25.Bc3 was best. But it wouldn't be hard to find the refutation: 25....Qc6 26.Bxh8 Rxh8 27.Nc3 Bxc5+ (Shredder thinks 27....Qxc5+ 28.Kh1 Bc6 is much better) 28.Kh1 Kg7.>

24.....Bd5 25.g4 Nh4 26.Nd6+

<Another try is 26.Nd2, which stops ...Nf3+, a major defensive resource, and also threatens 27.Rxe7+ and Qxh4. After 26....Bd8 27. Re5 Qc6 28.Rae1 and Ne4 White can still mount threats.>


<Not 26....Bxd6 27.Qxh4 Bf8 because of 28.f5! with a powerful attack, e.g. 28....gxf5 29.Rf1 Be4 30.Rae1 Re8 31.Rxe4! Rxe4 32.Rxf5+ Ke8 33.Qh5+ and wins (Khalifman/Soloviov).>

This is not at all clear after 33....Kd7 34.Rf7+ Be7 35.d5! (35.Qd5+ Ke8) 35....Qe2! and Black will win if anyone does.


<"Desperation," Tarrasch wrote. "Janowsky decides to die prettily." The alternative was 27.Kf2 (27....Nf3?? 28.Qh6+) which threatens 28.Rxe7.

But White is dead lost after 27....g5 28.fxg5 Ng6, e.g. 29.Rxe7 Kxe7! 30.Re1+ Kd7 or 29.Qh6+ Kg8 30.Ne4 Qc6 31.Ng3 Bf8.>

Shredder actually thinks white is better after 27.Kf2 g5 28.Rxe7! Kxe7 29.Qe3+ Kd7 30.Qe5 attacking the bishop and threatening to pick up the knight after Qxg5. So maybe Lasker's 26th and Janowski's 27th deserve question marks instead of exclamation points.

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: Part V

27....Nf3+ 28.Qxf3

<Forced in view of the hopeless 28.Kf2 Kxe7 29.Re1+ Nxe1 or 29.f5 Qd3.>


click for larger view


<White's only hope -- which nearly saves the game -- was 29.Rae1! threatening 30.Rf7+ and 31.Ree7, or 30.d5!

After 29....Bd5 30.g5! White threatens a perpetual check (Re8+). Black can avert that with 30....Qc6, but 31.Rxb7, which eliminates ...b6xc5, points out how powerless he is.

If he threatens mate with 31....Bh1, White has at least a perpetual check (32.Rf7+ Kg7 33.Rg7+!).

If he liquidates with 31....Qxb7 32.Nxb7 Bxb7 he is a rook ahead -- in an ending -- but has the worst of it after 33.d5!.

Black's best is 31....h6! which should win -- and it's a pity we'll never know how it would have turned out in mutual time pressure.>

Incidentally, up to this point in the game Soltis has given Janowski's moves a total of five exclamation points and no question marks, but nevertheless concludes that White is lost here. That doesn't make sense. But maybe White isn't lost! Almost unbelievably, Shredder thinks the game is even after 30.f5 (instead of 30.g5): 30....gxf5? 31.R7e5 Be4 32.Nxe4 fxe4 33.Rf1+ Kg7 34.d5 and White is winning, or 30....Qc6 31.Bd2! g5 32.Bxg5 h6 33.Bf6 Rg8 34.h3 and White -- with one minor piece for a queen! -- is clearly better. Black's best seems to be 30....h5, after which 31.f6 Qc6 32.g5 h4 33.f7 Qa4 34.Rc7 Kg7 35.Ne8+ is drawn according to Shredder. What a conclusion to the game that would have been!

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: Part VI.


<The audience, who thronged around the table, waited for the dramatic conclusion that Janowsky must have foreseen. But this was none -- 30.Re1, threatening Ree7, loses to 30....Bd5 31.Rc7 Rf8.

30.d5 Bxd5 31.Rg7+ Kf8 32.Re1 Qc6 33.b4 Rd8

<Faster was 33....axb4 but Black takes the practical route of killing the knight.>


<A trap is set by 34.Rxb7 because White is only slightly worse after 34....Rxd6 35.Rb8+ Kf7 36.Rxh8 Rf6? 37.Bxf6 and there's a lot of problems remaining after 36....Re6.

But 34....axb4! is a simple win (35.Bg7+ Kg8 36.Bd4 Rxd6!).

34....Rxd6! cxd6

<Hope (35....Qc2?? 36.Re8+! Kxe8 37.d7+ and wins) springs.>


and White resigns in view of 36.Re2 Qc1+ 37.Kf2 Qxf4+. An amazing game.

Jun-12-11  ughaibu: Fantastic! Thanks.
Feb-21-13  vinidivici: There is an inconsistent temperament/psychology standpoint from Janowski in this game.

Compare the move 9.Bc4 and 12.Bxd5

Move 12.Bxd5 is a good one...yes, black slightly better at that time...and i can say 12.Bxd5 is a good move to response.

But had he didnt choose the move 9.Bc4, he could win the match in a quick style.

It SHOULD 9.exd6!....why he chose 9.Bc4 instead of exd6! that not so hard to calculate towards 4 or 5 moves ahead and CLEARLY would get a win but after some moves he chose the more problematic sacrifice 12.Bxd5 only can be explained that in his aggressive mentality of playing, he just couldnt do consistently the right way to do it. It was his psychological problem for me.

9.exd6!...i give this 3 out 5 stars to calculate, but in it probably Sunday/Saturday. You can imagine the white d6 pawn would be an aching in the blacks camp.

9.exd6 cxb5 (now black position worsened, with the frozen bishop and others)

10.Qe2+ Kf8 11.f5

11...Qb6 12.fg hg 13.Nxb5 Rh5 (13...a6 14.Qe7+ Kg8 15.Nc7 Rb8 16.c3 ) 14.c4 a6 15.Nc7 Rb8 16.c5 Qb4+ 17.Qd2 Qxd2+ 18.Bxd2

11...Nh4 12.0-0 b4 13.Nb5 Nd5 14.f6! (14.Qe4 also good a6 15.Qxd5! axb 16.f6 ) Nxf6 15.Nc7 Rb8 16.Bg5...

11...b4 12.Nb5 Nd5 13.Qf3/0-0

Source: Analytical Manual, Vladimir Zak

Premium Chessgames Member
  plang: In this rare sideline of the 4 Knights 8..c6 was new; 8..Bb4 had been played previously. Nunn was critical of 24 Bc3? as too slow recommending 24 Ng5+..Bxg5 25 fxg weakening Black's dark squares. Nunn thought White's last chance to draw was 29 Rae1..Bd5 30 f5..h5 31 f6..Qc6 32 f7..Qa4 33 g5..Rd8 34 Rc7..Kg7 35 Ne8+..Kf8 36 Nd6 with a repetition.
Sep-08-18  SirChrislov: That's fascinating analysis <keypusher>

It was claimed by Tschigorin that white missed his chance of not only winning the game but also the brilliancy prize with 21.Nb6!

"The prettiest of all modern games, and it is a pity that Janowski did not pull it off." said F. J. Marshall, winner of Cambridge Springs 1904.

Sep-08-18  sudoplatov: Lasker rescues a bad position with great defensive play. Too bad Marshall could only swindle.
Sep-08-18  SirChrislov: Ah yet in this case, the event featured 7 of the world's top 10 players. I sincerely doubt it was in FJM's mind to "swindle" his way to the top.

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