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Frank James Marshall vs Emanuel Lasker
Lasker - Marshall World Championship Match (1907), USA, rd 7, Feb-16
Tarrasch Defense: Two Knights Variation (D32)  ·  1/2-1/2

ANALYSIS [x]

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Kibitzer's Corner
Sep-29-04
Premium Chessgames Member
  Calli: Marshall's 27.Rc1-c7!! is fun. Where did he go wrong after that?
Sep-29-04  clocked: I think the a-pawn is much more valuable than the h-pawn. 33.Nge6 and then Ra7-Rxa6 seems like a better try
Sep-29-04
Premium Chessgames Member
  Calli: <Clocked> Good point. It does seem like an easier game to win. It may be he can just play to save the knight too. 35.h4 Nxe3 36.Ng5+ Nxg5 37.hxg5 Kg6 38.Ne6 looks winnable to me.
Mar-01-08  Knight13: This is a crosshair! Very fun to player.
Mar-04-09
Premium Chessgames Member
  Honza Cervenka: <Calli: Marshall's 27.Rc1-c7!! is fun. Where did he go wrong after that?> maybe 33.Nge6 deserved attention.
Mar-06-10
Premium Chessgames Member
  GrahamClayton: <clocked>I think the a-pawn is much more valuable than the h-pawn. 33.Nge6 and then Ra7-Rxa6 seems like a better try.

<clocked>,
I agree 33.♘ge6 ♘e3 34.♖a7 ♔h6 35.♖a6 ♖g6 36.♘c7 ♖a6 37.♘a6 ♔g5 looks good for White due to the passed a & b pawns.

Jan-24-11  Llawdogg: Poor Marshall. 26 Rg7+! and 27 Rcc7! and he had a raging attack going! He probably never thought he would have to scramble for a draw.

I agree. 33 Nxh7? was his mistake. 33 Nge6 is just much better. The passed connected queen side pawns would have won it for him.

Feb-07-15  poorthylacine: What a pity Marshall did not win at least this game: "saving the honor" and additionally, above all, one drawn less in the match!

Maybe Marshall was already mentally dominated by the strong will of Lasker; maybe too impressed by the gentleman attitude of Lasker, always calm and polite, not agressive in behavior and words, unlike Tarrasch: Marshall spoke about Tarrasch as "arrogant and vain", he could not say the same about Lasker of course, even Lasker played with an unbelievable will of power and win, not each game as Fischer did, but to crush his opponent in the match globally;

I do not mind about criticizing Tarrasch by the way: I admire the beauty of his games and his true love for chess as an art.

Simply Lasker and Tarrasch had both a powerful EGO:
only different in the expression, and maybe too we can admit Lasker was more wise...

Sep-19-20
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: After three straight draws, Lasker still led 3 wins to none. The question seemed more how long it would take Lasker to reach 8 wins and retain his crown than whether Marshall would actually come back and win the match. But we know that Lasker not only wanted to win the match; he also wanted to beat Marshall more decisively than Tarrasch had done. It had taken Tarrasch 17 games to defeat Marshall 8 wins to one. So Lasker had to win five more games in the next ten games in order to beat Marshall faster than Tarrasch had done.

The above may explain Lasker's change of openings against Marshall's 1. d4. In games 3 and 5 Lasker had introduced the "Lasker defence" to the Queen's Gambit (i.e., 5...Ne4). In this 7th game, he tried his hand with the Tarrasch Defense to the QGD. As is obvious from the game score, Lasker was not entirely comfortable with the Tarrasch, and Marshall seriously outplayed him, achieving a won endgame after a pretty combination. But Marshall then blew the win and allowed Lasker to escape with a draw. Lasker tried the Tarrasch again in his next turn as Black (Game 9) and drew again (though Marshall had chances there as well) but then abandoned the Tarrasch in his remaining three games as Black (Games 11, 13, 15), winning two of these games and drawing the other (which Lasker also should have won).

1. d4 d5
2. c4 e6
3. Nc3 c5

The Tarrasch Defense. According to Wilson in "Classical Chess Matches 1907-1913," (p. 17) Lasker said after the match that: "The opening that I chose is not favorable for Black [At this time, neither Lasker nor Tarrasch had much good to say about the other). It is preferred by Dr. Tarrasch and others, but in an analysis that I have given...I had pointed out its weaknesses, and Marshall has on several occasions followed the play advocated by me. I tried it simply as a matter of experiment and because the position of Black did not appear to me to be more than difficult. At any rate, in a match I always attempt to avoid playing the identical variations again and again, because I consider also in a psychological sense mobility is the condition of successful attack. Besides, to settle theoretical questions nothing is more conclusive than the text of actual play."

4. cxd5 exd5
5. Nf3 Nc6

The most usual line. In Game 9 of this match, Lasker plaued 5...cxd5 here.

Perhaps 5...Nf6 is strongest. The text is, of course, entirely sound an playable.

6. Bg5

Most usual here is 6. g3. Best of all may be 6. dxc5. The text should not yeiled more than equality.

6... Be7
7. BxB NgxB
8. dxc5

Marshall's favorite here. Other possibities are 8. Rc1; 8. g3; and 8. Qd2.

After 8. dxc5, the position was:


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The usual Tarrasch struggle is presented: Black's isolated pawn with active piece play against Whit'e ultra-sound structure.

8... Qa5

"Stronger is 8...d4." (Tarrasch)

The text is most common, but--not surprisingly--Tarrasch's idea looks best (no big surprise, this was his variation after all).

9. e3 Qxc5
10. Bd3

Played on at least two other occasions here by Marshall. Most usual is 10. Be2. Both moves are reasonable.

10... Bg4
11. 0-0


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Sep-20-20
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post II

11... Rd8

"He cannot castle (presumably referring to 11...0-0--KEG) on account of 12. Bxh7+." (Tarrasch).

12. Re1

12. Rc1, as played by Marshall against Forgacs at Hamburg 1910 is better, as is 12. h3.


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12... f5?!

"?"--(Tarrasch)

Lasker had obviously decided to play for a win and thus attempted to mix it up in this game. Safest and best theoretically for Black here were 12...Ne5 or 12...Qb6. But neither of these moves were good ways to play to win.

"Better is 12...h6. Black need not fear 13. e4 because then 13...d4 is strong." (Tarrasch)

12...h6 is not especially attractive. White can then simply play 13. h3 or 13. Be2 and enjoy some advantage. After 12...h6, 13. e4 is not good; not because of 13...d4 since White is then OK with 14. Nd5 but because of the simply 13...dxe4 14. Rxe4 (best) Bf5 15. Re3 0-0 and Black is somewhat better.

13. h3

Marshall could also have played 13. Be2, getting the better chances in either case.

13... Bh5
14. Be2

"!"--(Moran)

14. Rc1 was also good.

14... 0-0

14...BxN looks simpler.


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15. Nd4

15. Ng5 targeting e6 was perhaps even stronger.

15... BxB

"?"--(Tarrasch)(Moran)

"This exchange brings White's Queen Knight to a better position. Black should have protected the weak square e6 by 15...Bf7." (Tarrasch)

As is so often the case, and Lasker fan though I am, Tarrasch here (as so often) has said it all.

16. NcxB Rf6


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17. Qb3

"This does not appear to be good, because the Queen is driven away, but in reality White gains the open c-file for his Rooks." (Tarrasch)

Point taken. But 17. Rc1 immediately still looks best.

17... Na5

17...NxN or 17...Qb4 look more prudent, but Lasker--as noted above--was playing for a win in this game and--with a three game lead--seemingly was prepared to be a bit frisky. This mode of play almost cost him here.

18. Qd3 Nc4

Playing more like Tahl than like Lasker. Retreating with 18...Nac6 was soundest and would likely have avoided major trouble for Black.

19. b3

19. Qc3 or 19. Nf4 were even stronger.

After the text, the position was:


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Sep-20-20
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post III

19... Nd6?

Very weak. Lasker should have played 19...Ne5. Even 19...Na5 would have been better than the text.

20. Rac1

Marshall soon used the c-file to build what should have been a winning attack.

20... Qb6
21. Rc2

In his zeal to bulk up on the c-file, Marshall missed the even stronger 21. Nf4or 21. Red1.


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21... Ne4

Continuing the bad plan he began with 19...Nd6? He should just have tried to defend with 21...Nf7. Alternatively, he might have tried 21...Nc6 or 21...a6.

22. Rec1 a6

"Black cannot play 22...Nc6 because of 23. NxN bxN 24. f3 Nd6 25. Nd4 winning a pawn." (Tarrasch)

Tarrasch was probably correct that 22...Nc6 was not great for Black, but neither was the text. And if 22...Nc6 23. NxN, Tarrasch's 23...bxN was awful. After 23...RxN 24. RxR bxR 25. Nd4 c5 Black would not be much worse off than in the game. Furthermore, in Tarrasch's line 24...Nd6 was another mistake, Black--though clearly lost after Tarrasch's 23...bxN-- should at least try to put up a fight with 24...Ng5, though matters would still be grim for Black after 25. Nd4 c5 26. Rxc5.

All in all, perhaps best for Black here was the modest 22...Rd7, though he would still face a formidable defensive task in trying to hold the game.

23. Nf4


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23... g5?!

More wild play from Lasker in this game. After the text, he was definitely lost after Marshall's next move.

There was no need for Lasker to panic. He could have sat pat with 23...Rfd6; 23...Qd6; 23...Nc6; or 23...g6.

24. Rc7!

"!"--(Tarrasch)

"A brilliant, complicated, and well calculated combination." (Tarrasch)


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24... Nc6?

This should have led to disaster. Lasker had to bite the bullet here and play 24...gxN. It wouldn't have been pretty, and he would have had to give up his Queen, but Marshall would still have had his work cut out for him,e.g., 25. RxN fxe3 26. Qxe3 f4 27. Qd3 Rf7 28. RxR KxR 29. f3 Nf6 30. Kf1 (to break the pin) Rd7 31. Re1 Rc7 32. Ne6 QxN (giving up the Queen for Rook and Knight here would be the best chance) 33. RxQ KxR 34. Qd4.

After the text, Marshall's combination reaches its climax:

25. Nfe6! Ne5
26. Rg7+

"!"--(Llawdogg on this site)

"Marshall had a raging attack going. He probably never thought he would have to scramble for a draw." (Llawdogg).

26... Kh8


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Sep-20-20
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post IV

27. Rcc7

"!!"--(Calli)

"Fun"--(Calli)

"What a pity Marshall did not win at least this game." --(poorthylacine)

This is indeed a pretty conception by Marshall. But the easier and surer win was with 27. Qe2 (e.g., 27...RxN 28. Rcc7 Nf6 29. Rxb7 Nd6 30. NxR QxN 31. Rge7 Qc6 32. Rbc7 Qd6 33. Qb2 Re8 34. RxR+ NxR 35. Rc8 Qe6 36. Ra8 Kg8 37. Qe2 (or 37. Qa3) Kg7 38. Rxa6.

White also wins with 27. Qd1 (e.g., 27...RxN 28. NxR QxN 29. Rcc7 Rd7 30. Rcxd7 NxR 31. Qd4!

But Marshall's more brilliant move (27. Rcc7) also wins, the position now being:


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27... QxR

There is nothing better. Tarrasch and Moran have demonstrated the futility of 27...RxN:

"If 27...RxN 28. Rxh7+ Kg8 29. Rcg7+ Kf8 30. Nxf5 [Even more crushing is 30. Rxb7 QxR 31. NxR+ Ke8 32. Rh8+ Kd7 33. NxR NxQ 34. NxQ Kc6 35. Nd8+ Kd7 36. f3--KEG].(Moran's analysis ends after 30. Nxf5 and states "with a terrific attack"] 30...Rh6 31. NxR QxN 32. RxQ NxQ 33. Rxb7 and White wins." (Tarrasch).

After Lasker's 27...QxR, the game continued:

28. RxQ NxQ
29. NxR Ndxf2
30. Rxb7


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"White now has an end game easily won." (Tarrasch)

Is this a theoretical win for White? Almost certainly.

Is the win easy against an tenacious and resourceful end-game artist such as Lasker? No way.

Marshall's skill in the endgame is often underrated. But his performance in closing out this winning position was--to say the least-- not impressive.

30... Nd1
31. Nf7+ Kg7

Surprisingly careless play by Lasker. He was almost certainly lost anyway, but 31...Kg8 (avoiding the discovered check) offered the most stubborn resistance.

After the text, the win should have been easy for Marshall, the position now being:


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32. Nxg5+ Kg6

32...Kg8 was perhaps slightly better. The position now was:


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33. Nxh7?

"A curious idea, to misplace the Knight this way. But White's position is so good that even this doubtful move does not endanger the win. Straightforward and simple was: 33. Nge6 Nxe3 34. Ra7 Kh6 [this move looks feeble to me, but the "better choices" such as 34...a5 or 34...f4 or 34...Nc2 would not save the game--KEG] 35. Rxa6

At least four users on this site also found the strong and decisive 33. Nge6 (clocked; Calli; Honza Cervenka; and Graham Clayton).

After 33. Nxh7?, the position was:


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33... Rf7
34. RxR KxR


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Marshall should almost certainly still be able to win this ending. But in this position Marshall erred again and the always alert Lasker never gave him a second chance.

Sep-20-20
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post V

35. Nxf5?

"?"--(Tarrasch)

"He must provide an escape for his isolated Knight by 35. h4." (Tarrasch)

The text was a careless (and perhaps greedy) blunder that cost a piece and allowed Lasker to escape with a draw.

While Tarrasch identified the winning move (35. Nf3 also saves the Knight and may also win but is not as clear), only Calli on this site has analyzed beyond 35. h4! (my comments in brackets):

"35. h4 Nxe3 36. Ng5+ [36. a4 also wins-KEG] NxN [This loses quickly, 36...Kf6 offers stiffer resistance, though White still wins--KEG] 37. hxN Kg6 38. Ne6 looks winnable to me [and to me as well--KEG]."

After Marshall's sloppy 35. Nxf5?, the position was:


click for larger view

Now 35...Kg6 probably saves the day, but Lasker found an even better move:

35... Ndc3

Simultaneously attacking and defending, Lasker's precise move ended Marshall's chances to win.

36. a4

If instead 36. g4 Black draws with 36...Kg8. If he belatedly plays 36. h4, then 36...Kg6 does the trick.

36... Kg6
37. Ne7+

37. Nd4 is a slightly better try, but the win is gone.

37... KxN


click for larger view

Marshall's extra pawns coupled with the fact that two Knights cannot force mate meant that he was in no danger of losing. But Lasker, with an extra minor piece, also was in little danger of defeat.

38. b4 Nd6

38...d4 39. exd4 Nxa4 looks simpler, but Lasker's move was also good enough to hold the draw.

39. Kf2 Kg7

It's not clear why Lasker didn't just play 39...Nxa4, but the text--bringing the King closer to the action, didn't really spoil anything.

40. Kf3

40. a5 offered the only even remote chance of making something out of nothing.

40... Kf6
41. Nc6 Nc4

Once again, it is hard to see why Lasker didn't just snatch the White a-pawn. The text makes the game at least superficially exciting--for a moment.


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42. b5

42. a5 was the only possible winning try (though it would have no chance with accurate play by Lasker). Now Marshall loses both his Queen-side pawns and his winning chances went from slim to zero.

42... a5!

The most accurate move, though 42...axb5 also draws pretty easily.

43. b6 Nxb6

Forced but obvious and sufficient.

44. Nxa5 Ncxa4


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Now, neither side had any chance to win. Lasker was down to his last pawn, and Marshall lacked sufficient pawns to compensate for the lost piece. The game could have been abandoned as a draw here, but Marshall and Lasker played on for a few more moves.

45. h4 Nc5
46. g4 Nd3
47. g5+ Kf5
48. Nc6 Ne1+
49. Kf2

Drawn


click for larger view

A missed opportunity for Marshall.

Sep-20-20
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: Just another day at the races in typical Laskerian fashion, salvaging a half point through dour defence after getting himself in all sorts of hot water.
Sep-24-20
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: <perfidious>A fair assessment of what occurred in this game (and in a number of other games by Lasker), but Lasker played better than that in the early stages of much of this match. See as an example his fabulous play in Game #1.
Sep-24-20
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <KEG>, that opening game was a classic example of Lasker making something out of nothing.
Sep-25-20
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: <perfidious>It was indeed.

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