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Emanuel Lasker vs Frank Marshall
Lasker - Marshall World Championship Match (1907), USA, rd 6, Feb-09
French Defense: McCutcheon. Exchange Variation (C12)  ·  1/2-1/2



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Kibitzer's Corner
Mar-01-08  Knight13: 9...Rg8 is the best move in this game.
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: A short but exciting draw.

Marshall, as in all his other games as Black in this match, played the French Defense. Lasker again played 4. Bg5, and another McCutcheon resulted. In a sharp position, Lasker elected to force a draw.

1. e4 e6
2. d4 d5
3. Nc3 Nf6

All seven games in this match in which Marshall had Black began this way.

4. Bg5

Lasker had played 4. Bd3 in Game 2. He switched to 4. Bg5 in Game 4, here in Game 6, and in Games 8 and 10, but reverted to 4. Bd3 in Games 12 and 14.

4... Bb4

Marshall played this (i.e., the McCutcheon) in all four games in the match in which Lasker played 4. Bg5.

5. exd5

Lasker had played 5. e5 in Game 4 (a draw), but tried 5. exd5 here and in Games 8 and 10. 5. e5 is probably the most forcing and effective variation for White. But contemporary reaction said otherwise:

"A deviation from the tedious continuation e5. It [5. exd5] leads to an interesting attack." (Teichmann)

5... Qxd5

The normal line. The alternatives (5...exd5 and 5...BxN+) are entirely playable, but rarely tried.

6. BxN

Best, though relatively new at the time.

6... gxB

6...BxN+ (saddling White with doubled c-pawns) is almost certainly stronger.

7. Qd2

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7. Qd3 and 7. Nge2 are about equally good. The most aggressive line is 7. Qg4, but it can lead to wild play. In this match, Lasker was able to grind Marshall down, and thus avoided moves such as 7. Qg4.

7... BxN

"If Black had made the apparently better move of 7...Qa5, White could have secured a good game by 8. Nge2, g3, Bg2, and 0-0-0." (Tarrasch)(see also similarly Teichmann)

Tarrasch (and Teichmann) was almost certainly correct that the text was superior to 7...Qa5, but the latter was hardly a mistake, and White's edge after 7...Qa5 8. Nge2 is minimal. Perhaps White's best play after 7...Qa5 is the flexible 8. Bd3.

8. QxB

"If 8. bxB, Black would probably get the better game with 8...c5!." (Teichmann)

Both the text and 8. bxB are entirely playable. And if 8. bxB c5 White owns what advantage exists with 9. Nf3. After 8. bxB, best is 8...e5 or 8...Nc6 with approximate equality.

8... Nc6
9. Nf3

Lasker could also have played 9. 0-0-0 immediately.

After 9. Nf3, the position was:

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This same position was also reached in Games 8 (won by Lasker) and 10 (another draw).

9... Rg8

"9...Rg8 is the best move in the game." (<Knight 13>).

In games 8 and 10, Marshall varied with 9...Qe4+. Schlechter called 9...Qe4+ "rather better." Lasker, however, secured an edge in Games 8 and 10 after 9...Qe4+ with 10. Kd2.

All in all, I think <Knight 13> has the better of the argument with Schlechter here. 9...Rg8 is very sharp, and the ensuing play is quite exciting.

10. 0-0-0

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"A spirited pawn sacrifice which gains for White a violent attack." (Tarrasch).

While Tarrasch's observation here is spot on, I must dissent from Moran's suggestion that 10. a3 would lead to trouble for White. Moran's analysis of 10. a3 (a perfectly acceptable line that is considerably less "violent than Lasker's 10. 0-0-0) is simply wrong: 10...Qe4+ [this gives White a small edge, better and equalizing would be 10...b5 or 10...Bd7] 11. Kd2 [Much better is 11. Qe3, which gives White the edge] 11...Bd7 12. Re1 Qf4+ [better would be 12...Qd5 or 12...Qf5] 13. Qe3 Qd6 14. Kc1 0-0-0 15. g3 Ne7 (15...Kb8 or 15...h5 were better) 16. Bg2 [weak, 16, Bd3 should be played and give White some edge) Bc6 17. Rd1? [awful, White would be OK after 17. Qd3] Nd5 18. Qd2? [18. Qh6 would be White's best chance] Nf4 with a win for Black (19. gxN RxB) only because of the poor analysis and suggested White moves by Moran.

Thus, 10. a3 would have been OK. But Lasker's 10. 0-0-0 (after Marshall's 9...Rg8) made this game the tactical gem it turned out to be.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post II

10... Qxa2

This capture, though it leads to dangerous complications, is not probably the best.

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11. d5! exd5

The alternative, 11...Ne7 was also OK, and would likewise have led to exciting play: e.g., 12. Bb5+ Kf8 13. dxe6 Bxe6 14. Nd4 Rg5 15. NxB+ QxN 16. Bd3 Qc6 [16...Qb6 is also good] 17. Qd4 Qb6 18. Qh4 h5 with great complications and chances for both sides.

12. Bb5

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12... Kf8

White gets a slightly better ending after the alternative: 12...Be6 13. BxN+ bxB 14. Qxc6+ Ke7 15. Qxc7+ Kf8 16. Qc5+ Kg7 17. Qa3 QxQ 18. bxQ

13. BxN bxB
14. Qxf6

14. Rhe1 is no better: 14...Rb8 15. Qxf6 Qa1+ 16. Kd2 Qa5+ 17. Kc1 Qa1+ with a likely draw by repetition.

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14... Qa1+

Black also survives with 14...Rg6 or 14...Bg4.

15. Kd2

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15... Qa5+

15...Qa4 would lose after 16. Ng5!

16. c3

16. Kc1 would either lead to a draw after 16...Qa1+ 17. Kd2 Qa5+ or to some wild complications after 16...Rg6 17. Qh8+ Rg8 18. Qxh7 Qa1+ 19. Kd2 Qxb2 20. Qh6+ Ke7 21. Rhe1+ Be6 22. Qf4 Qf6 23. Qxc7+ Kf8 24. Qd6+ Kg7 with seemingly even chances since 25. Qxc6 would run into 25...Qf4+ and Black is better. So White would probably have to play something like 25. Re3 with a complicated game with all sorts of chances for both sides. Lasker kept it simple.

16... Rb8

16...Rg6 was also OK.

After 16...Rb8, the crucial position of the game was reached:

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Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post III

17. Ng5

"This forces an immediate draw." (Tarrasch).

"With this move White accepts the draw." (Teichmann)

This move does indeed initiate a sequence that led to a draw. 17. Qd8+ Kg7 18. Qg5+ Kh8 19. Qf6+ Rg7 20. Qd8+ is another way to draw from here.

The key question--on which much ink has been spilled-- is whether Lasker should have tried to play for a win with 17. Rb1. The position after 17. Rb1 is worth considering:

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There are two plausible lines for Black here: A) 17...Rg6 [discussed at length by Teichmann] and B) 17...d4 [Black's best discovered and discussed by Tarrasch].

Before considering these two lines, we should dispose of the [bad] alternatives:

C) 17...Rxg2 would run into trouble after Teichmann's 18. Ne5 (though Black can survive for at least a while via 18...Be6) but gets crushed by 18. Ng5!

D) 17...Be6 also runs into trouble after 18. Ng5 (18...RxN 19. QxR c5 with likely inadequate compensation for the sacrificed exchange). [Teichmann's 18. Rhe1 is less convincing since after 18...Rg6 (18...Re8 loses to 19. Nd4) 19. Qh8+ Rg8 20. Qxh7 Black could hang on with 20...Qa2 (instead of Teichmann's 20...Rxg2? 21. Qh8+ [even stronger than Teichmann's 21. RxB])]/

So now let's examine the two key lines after 17. Rb1

A) 17...Rg6 (Teichmann's idea) 18. Qh8+ Rg8 (not 18...Ke7 19. Rhe1+ and Black is toast) 19. Qxh7 (19. Qf6 also leads to a draw) d4 (19...Bg4 also likely draws, as Teichmann stated: 20. Ne5 [20. Nd4, not mentioned by Teichmann, is stronger but also ultimately leads to a draw] Be6 21. Nxc6 Qb6 22. Nd4 Rxg2 ) 20. Qh6+ Rg7 21. Nd4 after which Black is fine after 21...Qd5 rather than Teichmann's 21...Bf5? 22. Qf6.

B) 17...d4--Tarrasch's move, is the most critical line, and leads to an exciting draw 18. Nxd4 (18. Qh8+ is a more prosaic way to draw) Qg5+ 19. QxQ RxQ 20. g3 (20. Rhg1 may be simpler than Tarrasch's line) c5! 21. Nc2 and now Black--after 21. Rf5 or 21...Re5 (stronger than Tarrasch's 21...Bf5) has if anything the superior chances.

All of the above, to paraphrase Teichmann, suggests that Lasker made an entirely practical decision to go for the draw with 17. Ng5.

After Lasker's actual move, 17. Ng5, the position was:

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What followed from here was pretty much forced:

17... Rxb2+
18. Ke1 RxN

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19. Qd8+

19. QxR? loses to 19...Qxc3+ 20. Kf1 f6 21. Qh6+ Kg8 22. Qe3 QxQ 23. fxQ Ba6+ 24. Kg1 Bb5 and Black, with three pawns for the exchange and a powerful attack, should win.

19... Kg7
20. QxR+ Kf8
21. Qd8+ Kg7

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Drawn! (e.g., 22. QxB Qxc3+ 23. Kf1 Qc4+ 24. Kg1 Qf4 25. Rf1 Rxf2! 26. RxR Qc1+ and draws by perpetual check)

Feb-24-22  DaviesNjugunah: thanks keg

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