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Emanuel Lasker vs Frank Marshall
Lasker - Marshall World Championship Match (1907), USA, rd 10, Mar-08
French Defense: McCutcheon. Exchange Variation (C12)  ·  1/2-1/2

ANALYSIS [x]

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Kibitzer's Corner
Mar-01-08  Knight13: Probably best game by Marshall in this WCC. All other games against Lasker sucks.
May-02-21
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: By this point in the match (with Lasker up 4 games to none with 5 draws), the final outcome-barring a total collapse by Lasker--was not substantially in doubt. The major two issues were: (1) could Lasker reach eight wins without losing even one game; and (2) could Lasker reach eight wins in fewer games than it had taken Tarrasch than it had taken Tarrasch to do so (17). In this 10th game of the match, Lasker seemed more intend on the goal on not losing even a single game than on finishing the match quickly. Of course, as it turned out, Lasker succeeded in both goals, winning eight games to Marshall's none against seven draws. But here, in this game, he was never remotely close to winning and, as a result of some sloppy play (overlooked by the commentators), Lasker even risked defeat at a few points.

As for Marshall, his only hope seemed to be to wear Lasker out (Not bloody likely!) and repeated the same openings for most of the match giving him precious few chances to put Lasker in jeopardy.

1. e4 e6

Marshall played the French Defense in all seven of the games he had Black in this match. This strategy got him nowhere. In fairness, Lasker's superiority was such that he would almost certainly have won the match without difficulty no matter what Marshall played.

2. d4 d5
3. Nc3 Nf6

Marshall's choice in all seven of his games as Black. Not once did he venture 3...Bb4.

4. Bg5

Lasker had also played this in Games 4,6, and 8. Three of these four games were drawn, the only exception being Game 8. By contrast, in his other three games as White, Lasker had played 4. Bd3, winning each of these encounters.

4... Bb4

Marshall once again declined to deviate, and returned to the MacCutcheon Variation he had employed in Games 4, 6, and 8.

5. exd5

5. e5, as played by Lasker in Game 4, is more forceful and has been more usually tried. Lasker, however, seemed that in a more placid opening he could be confident he would either win or draw.

5... Qxd5

"Black can play 5...exd5 turning to a satisfactory line of the Exchange Variation." (Gligoric).

6. BxN gxB

It is hard to understand why Marshall by-passed 6...BxN+ in all three games in which this position arose. With the text, the only pawn formation that gets a bit busted is the one on Marshall's King-side.

7. Qd2

7. Nge2 is better. (Gligoric).

7... BxN
8. QxB Nc6
9. Nf3


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9... Qe4+

As played by Marshall in Game 8 (which he lost (but not because of this move). In game 6 Marshall played the slightly more dynamic 9...Rg8.

10. Kd2

As in Game 8, Lasker played this unusual move rather than the seemingly simpler and probably better 10. Be2. Neither move offers White anything much beyond equality.

10... Bd7


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11. Rd1

11. Re1, as Lasker played in Game 8, was slightly better. I see no reason to prefer the text unless Lasker decided he could always at least draw from here against Marshall and perhaps wanted to try to shake up his younger opponent. In this case at least, this didn't work.

11... 0-0-0

This looks more enterprising to me than the alternative, 11...Ne7.

12. Kc1

By this means, Lasker effectively also castled long!

12... e5

"!"--(Wilson)


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"Black has an advantage in development and with this move begins his attack. White is hard put to find a good move." (Tarrasch)

An overstatement by Tarrasch. As will be seen, Lasker had several good options here. As a result of his strange 11. Rd1, Lasker was probably slightly worse, but hardly in any significant danger at this point.

May-02-21
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post II

13. Bb5

Tarrasch called this the "best move" although it wound up costing Lasker a pawn. As is soon seen, the upcoming exchanges leave White with a pretty clear draw. If Lasker wanted to avoid these lines,he could have played 13. dxe5 or 13. b3.

13. d5?! is not so good, but hardly the disaster Winter claimed: e.g., 13. d5 Nb4! 14. Bc4 Bb5 (14...Bf5 is probably best here instead of Winter's 14...Bb5, but neither move gives Black anything close to a win) 15. QxN QxB and here Winter's claim that Black wins the White d-pawn overlooks 16. Qa5! Ba6 (best) 17. b3 Qg4 18. Ne1 and White maintains material equality and about equal chances.

After the text, a lot of wood gets chopped:

13... Nxd4
14. NxN exN
15. Rxd4 Qxg2
16. BxB+ RxB


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17. RxR

As was pointed out by several of the commentators, Lasker could also have maintained about equal chances with 17. Rhd1: e.g., 17...RxR (17...Rhd8 is perhaps a simpler way for Black to obtain equality in this variation) 18. QxR ("threatening mate in two"--Winter [actually, mate in three--KEG]) Qg5+ 19. f4 Qf5 20. Qxa7 Qxf4+ 21. Rd2 [21. Kb1 is also sufficient for equality] Qf1+ [better than Winter's 21. c6, which also leads to approximate equality]. 22. Rd1

17... QxR+
18. Rd1 Qxh2
19. Qxf6 Rf8


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Marshall was now up a pawn, but with his disconnected King-side pawns and White's well-positioned Queen and Rook, Black had no legitimate winning chances. The game should peter out to a draw with anything approaching best play.

But from here Lasker, who unquestionably saw everything I can discern in the position (even with computer assistance), decided to go "fishing" to see if he could get Marshall to go astray. This effort could have cost Lasker the game, except that Marshall was (as Lasker may have guessed) unable to exploit any of the possibilities Lasker provided him.

20. a4?!

Not a losing move by any means, but one that made White's task of obtaining a draw more difficult. Simplest for White was 20. Qe7 Qh6+ (forced) 21. Kb1 with an almost certain draw. 20. b3 was also sufficient for easy equality for White. Winter's suggested 20. a3 is not as good, but was superior to the text and would likely have led to a draw.

20... a6

Best. Among other things, it eliminates mating threats by White.

The position was now:


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21. Kb1?!

21. b3 was the easiest route to a draw. The text, as I would bet Lasker was aware, created new problems for White, though it need not have been fatal.

21... Qh5
22. Rd3

As Lasker had proved in Game 1 of the match, he was a wizard in exploiting the horizontal powers of the Rook. In this game, however, Lasker had little chance to demonstrate this prowess.

22... Re8
23. Qd4?!

More messing around by Lasker. 23. b3 or 23. Rf3 should allow him to hold the position.

After the text, the position was:


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Lasker was almost certainly not lost here, but he was still down a pawn,and things were getting dicey for him.

May-02-21
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post III

23... Kb8

As only Tarrasch seems to have recognized, the best way for Marshall to have tried to play for a win was with 23...Qh1+ 24. Ka2 Qc6.

24. Qd7?!

But Lasker was still messing around. The best way to head for the draw was with 24. Rc3.

24... Qh1+

24...Re4 was the best chance for Marshall to try to take his first full point. By contrast, 24...f5, as proposed by Moran, would leave nowhere after 25. Rc3! Rc8 26. b3 and a win would no longer be anywhere in sight for Black.

25. Ka2 Qe4


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With 26. b3; 26. Rc3; or even 26. Rd4, Lasker should have been able to hold the game. But now he went overboard, and suddenly it appeared that Marshall would have his first win of the match:

26. Qxf7?

Remarkably, none of the commentators faulted this lemon.

26... Qxa4+
27. Ra3

Obviously forced.

27... Qc6

27...Qe4 28. Re3 would only repeat moves, as Winter noted.

After 27...Qc6, the position was:


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28. Qxh7?

Lasker might have had chances to save the game with 28. Rc3. After the text, though none of the commentators seem to have noticed, White was simply lost, the position now being:


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Black to play and win.

28... Qd5+?

This was not the way. Instead, Marshall could have won with 28...Qc4+ 29. Rb3 (best but inadequate) Re2! 30. Kb1 (or 30. Qd3 QxQ 31. RxQ Rxc2! [much better than 31...Rxf2] wins for White for similar reasons as those in the main line) 30...Re1+ 31. Ka2 Rc1! 32. Qd3 Rxc2 33. QxQ RxQ leaving:


click for larger view

As is explained in Fine/Benko Basic Chess endings (p. 359) and by Euwe in his notes on his win against Alekhine in the first game of their 1937 World Championship match, this type of ending is a win for the player with the three pawns. The plan is for (in this case Black) to trade off pawns on the Queen side and then win with two connected passed pawns against White's isolated passed pawn, which can be blockaded.

But back to the actual game. After Marshall's move, Lasker again had a chance.

29. b3

Not 29. Rb3 Re4 (Winter)

29... Re2


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But, astonishing to relate, here Lasker erred again, and once again found himself on the verge of defeat.

May-02-21
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post IV

30. Ra4?

Lasker could probably have survived with 30. Qh8_ Ka7 31. Qc3. But now he was lost, the position being:


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Black to play and win.

30... Rxf2?

Marshall again blew a chance (missed also by all the commentators).

The winning line is: 30...b5! 31. Rf4 [31. Rxa6 Kb7 32. Ra5 Kb6 33. Ra3 Qd1 and White, though a pawn ahead, is dead] Qd1 32. Kb2 Kb7 33. Qg6 Re1. This is just the sort of mating attack Marshall should be expected to find. Perhaps time trouble was the culprit.

31. Qh8+ Ka7


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32. Kb2?

"Threatening Qd4+ with an easy draw." (Winter)

All true, but the move nonetheless put Lasker back in trouble. 32. Qc3 or 32. Rc4 should be adequate to save the game for White. But after the text, the position was:


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Black to play.

32... c5?

For the final time, Marshall blew a chance. The best, but far from clearly winning line was 32...b5! But, with all the pawns on one side of the board, a win for Black looks doubtful.

After the text, Marshall had no further serious winning chances.

33. Rc4 Rf1

33...Kb6; 33...a5; and 33...Re2 were better tries, but all seem too little too late.

34. Ka2 Rf7
35. Qc8 b6

35...Rf5 is the only serious try available to Black. But even that would not likely have done the trick.

36. Rg4


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36... Qd7

Tantamount to offering a draw. But there was nothing better.

37. QxQ+ RxQ


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Though Marshall played on for another eleven moves, the position was now a book draw.

38. Rf4 b5
39. Rf6 Rd5
40. Kb2 Kb7
41. Rh6 b4
42. Rh7+ Kc6
43. Rh6+ Rd6
44. Rh8 Kb5
45. Rb8+ Rb6
46. Rc8 a5
47. c4+ bxc3e.p. +
48. Kxc3


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Drawn

May-03-21  sudoplatov: Marshall is one of my favorite players but Lasker was much stronger. Marshall had won Cambridge Spring 1904, Scheveningen 1905, and a few smaller tournaments in a convincing manner. Right afterword Marshall won DSB Nuremberg 1906 and DSB Düsseldorf 1908 (Not to mention a few matches with Janowski.)

I would guess that (like in men's tennis) the gap between the players is greater than ratings would show at the higher levels.

May-08-21
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: <sudoplatov>Lasker's superiority to Marshall is beyond dispute. But at the time the 1907 World Championship match began, that was not so clear. Lasker had only played in one event since 1900, Cambridge Springs 1904, where he had finished 2 points below Marshall. During that same interval, Marshall had some fine results. Moreover, Marshall had a winning record against Lasker going into the match, having won their individual game at Paris 1900 and drawn their game at Cambridge Springs 1904.

But after the 1907 match, and after Lasker followed that up by defeating Tarrasch in a match in 1908 and later winning matches against Janowski, tying for first with Rubinstein at St. Petersburg 1909 and then taking clear first over a strong field at St. Petersburg 1914, the relevant strength of Lasker and Marshall was not a serious issue.

Feb-24-22  DaviesNjugunah: lasker was to desparate to kill the game lol

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