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Frank Marshall vs Emanuel Lasker
Lasker - Marshall World Championship Match (1907), USA, rd 15, Apr-06
Queen's Gambit Declined: Lasker Defense (D53)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  An Englishman: Good Evening: I had always thought of Lasker's Defense as incredibly boring, but this game sure isn't--Black conducts a lightning fast attack on the uncastled King reminiscent of some of Marshall's own games.
Feb-17-05  Shams: 28.Na5? looks ugly
why not 28.Ne3
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <Shams>
<28.Na5? looks ugly
why not 28.Ne3>

White's already lost here, of course.

I think the point of 28. Na5 is to restrain the ...a5 advance, as in 28. Ne3 Nf4 29. Qd2 a5! when 30. Qxa5 exposes the vulnerability of the knight on e3 with 30...Nh3+ 31. Kh1 Qxe3 32. gxh3 Qf3+, etc. with an easy win.

Jan-24-11  Llawdogg: Once Marshall lost that d6 pawn it was all over. A complete wipeout. Qf6, Qxd6, over.
Nov-07-13  Ulhumbrus: With 11...Qc7 the queen heads for the square a5. This suggests 12 Qc3 preventing the check 12...Qa5

On 14 Nd2 c5 threatens to open the e file by with White's king still in the centre. This suggests 14 Be2 getting ready to castle as quickly as possible

Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: Hello again Beatgiant glad you could make it from:

Sergey Karjakin (kibitz #2736)

Sorry to be so 'pedantic'...

You say here:

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White is already lost even if he plays 28.Ne3.

I do not think so, that game is still in the pot and it still is even after White played 23.Na4 (not to block the a-pawn but to play Nb7/Nb3 and Nc5.)

The game continued 28. Na4 Nf4

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White played 29.Qg3 which Soltis said is Marshall playing for a swindle. But 29.Qf3 and the outcome is still unclear. Certainly not 'already lost'.

Finally...In your analysis here

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You suggest 30...Nh3+ 31. Kh1 Qxe3 32. gxh3 Qf3+, etc. with an easy win.

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I agree and this is really taking nit-picking to a new level. I apologise.

from here:

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30...Nh3+ 31.Kh1 Nf2+! 32.Kg1 Qxe3

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Threatens mate and wins a piece (the f1 Bishop is bound to fall as well.) A much easier win.

Well that was pedantic fun.

Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <Sally Simpson>
You don't think White is lost after <28. Ne3>? You didn't post any improvements for White over my line, so let's start where I left off: <28. Ne3 Nf4 29. Qd2 a5>

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White has an advanced passed pawn for Black's exchange, remote pawn majority on the march and better piece activity. In fact, I don't see any obvious active plan for White here.

If now <30. Kh1> (to step out of the various tactics around pins and checks), Black can reply 30...Nh5, and the tactics around 31. Qxa5 still don't work for White, so Black aims to continue the queenside march with ...b4.

What am I missing?

Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <Sally Simpson>
As for the position after your improvement <29. Qf3>, I agree that White's position still has a little life in it. If Black's not careful, there can be tactics around Nc6 and Pd7 (revealing another purpose of Marshall's <28. Na5>.

But Black can defend with 29. Qf3 Ne6, planning ...Nd8. Then the center pawns and the c-file are both targets for Black, and I'd bet money on Lasker winning.

Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <Sally Simpson>
Finally, as to your last point, I stand correctly nit-picked.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: Hi Beatginat,

I can see where you are coming from and the outside passer idea on the surface looks good. However...

White to play.

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There is a lot of chess left in that position.

The unprotected White Queen and the fact Black has a potential Rc1 is stopping all White's counter play. If White can get in a sound Nf5 then he is right back in the game. That is why I wanted 28.Ne3 instead 28.Na5 (centralisation not dim rim Knights.)

White needs to disturb the balance of the White pieces before the Q-side pawns are a real threat.


Pretty drastic but all White wants is Nf5 and it's game on.

30...Qxh4 31.Nf5 hitting the Queen - Ne7+ is on the board. the a5 pawn hangs, if it goes then the White Queen covers the queening square. 31...Qg5 to put the Nh3+ idea back on the board. Then 32.Ne7+ and 33. Qxa5. White is not losing this.

30...Qh6 stops 31.Nf5 (31...Nh3+) but now 31.d7 Rd8 32.Qxa5 there goes a q-side pawn and another will follow soon. I think this line is Black's best 32...Qxh4 33.Bxb5 (looks risky and I may come a cropper here but there is no forced win I can see for Black. Rc1 with a check is no longer a threat.) This is all unclear (White may be winning - Black surely has a perpetual.)

30...Qg3 31.Nf5 Black has to take the perpetual with Nh3+ Nf2+ etc. Which shows just how good getting Nf5 in is.

All look OK for White, not losing. if there is another plausible try for Black after 30.h4 then I've missed it. Anything else will meet Nf5 and 30...Nh3+ just looks bad with the Queen hanging.

Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <Sally Simpson>
Good point, I seriously underestimated the <h4!> resource and it does look like a good refutation of my suggested ...a5 above.

But if White's play all depends on the power of the Nf5 jump, Black might instead reply (after 28.Ne3 Nf4 29. Qd2) with 29...g6, which appears to prevent any such disturbances. What then?

Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: Hi beatgiant,

Yes 29...g6 keeps the Knight off f5 and it seems we are agreeing the won game is not quite as easy as it looks.

Then I can nick one of your earlier suggestions 30.Kh1 and again I have a new threat 31.Nd5 so once again the queenside majority plan has to go on hold and suddenly it is Black's unprotected Queen that is the target of tricks.

Possibly our version of a won/lost game differ.

To me a won game is if I had the better side I'd win v Carlsen. it has to be a clear demonstrated certainty.

In this game I could lose either side, it is close. There is a lot chess left before one side can say this is winning.

If I was Black v Carlsen here.

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Instead of 29...a5 or 29....g6 I'd probably play 29...Rc1 wanting 30.Qxc1 Nh3+ - Nf2+ perpetual. (then falling off my chair on 30.h4 which was how I saw the twists in 30.h4 in the first place.)

Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <Sally Simpson>
Yes, <our version of a won/lost game differ>. Mine is roughly as stated above, <I'd bet money on Lasker winning>.

As to the actual position, from your diagram above, if after 29...g6 White has nothing better than 30. Kh1, seems to me we're back in a situation with not much active play for White. Yes, Black has to do something about the threat of 31. Nd5 but after he does (by 30...Nh5 or 30...Ne6), I don't see White's follow-up, while Black can always revert to the queenside play once the disturbances settle down.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: Hi beatgiant,

I'd probably put money on Lasker winning this v Marshall at this stage of the match as well (this was the last game).

As Soltis says, Marshall had one of his best positions in the match in this game and was determined to put a win on the noticeboard. Too determined and lost.

Black to move. (White is threatening Nd5)

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You are thinking of 30...Nh5 or 30...Ne6 and White has no plan. I don't need one, I'm still waiting for a forced Black win. There is too much going on for a simple Queenside majority win.

I've read my Suba "Dynamic Chess Strategy" we must never roll over like Capa'a opponents did. We must fight, trick, cheapo [White has already fallen for 30.h4 and taken a move back. :)] and place every obstacle at our disposal in the way of a win.

Which one is it? 30...Nh5 or 30...Ne6. This was meant to be a simple Black win. I'm not going to go through both moves. Time is against me and we have drifted out of Soltis's analysis.

But I will look at the chosen move. Both look OK. I'll try to play like Marshall. (Soltis reckons White is OK but added Marshall will probably lose going for a swindle.) Of course that means you have to play like Lasker. :)

Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <Sally Simpson>
<This was meant to be a simple Black win> I said White was lost, but never said it would be simple in a game of <Sally Simpson v. beatgiant>. And to ask for a <forced Black win> at this stage would be an invitation for someone with a good engine to post an incomprehensible 20-move auto-generated line ending with -1.23 because Black's up the exchange for a pawn.

But to answer your question, if I'm supposed to <play like Lasker>, I'd take <30...Nh5> since it looks more likely to provoke the great swindler :)

Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: 30...Nh5.

31.e5 (basically hitting the b5 pawn) and thinking about a possible Nd5 and F6+/e7+

It's 04:30am in Scotland. Have work today so off to bed.

Good Luck.

Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <Sally Simpson>
I think we've already more or less answered the original questions: Why did he play 28. Na5 instead of 28. Ne3? And what's the status of the position if he did play 28. Ne3?

Why 28. Na5: I mentioned blocking the eventual threat of ...a5, you mentioned the option of maneuvering the knight to c5, and I mentioned the possible tactic around Nc6, Rxc6; d7 which comes up in some variations. No doubt Marshall had some of those in mind.

What if he played 28. Ne3: you've made a good case that it would have been a better move. You argue that White's disadvantage in that case is not severe enough yet to call it a Black win.

I'd certainly agree that White doesn't yet resign in the ensuing position. As for whether Black wins with <best play> or with <beatgiant channeling Lasker> and <Sally Simpson channeling Marshall>, it will be hard to prove anything unless someone brings in a supercomputer, but I feel Black is the side with the active options.

Here's what I think is a plausible example.

28. Ne3 Nf4 29. Qd2 g6 30. Kh1 Nh5 31. e5

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From here, 31...a6 32. g3 Rd8 33. Bh3 Ng7 34. Qc3 h5 35. Bc8 h4 36. Nf1 a5

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Does Black have anything here? You be the judge - there's a lot of unsettled tactical play, and you're the one channeling Marshall.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: Hi beatgiant,

I was going to claim a win on time :)

I'll follow your plausible line of play.

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Defends the b4 pawn.


Not sure I would have played this. But see the point. (and like it) luft, stops Nf4 and has Bh3 ideas. Instead of 32.g3 I'd be looking for a move to break the pin on Knight so I can play Nd5. But I'll go along with 32..g3.


I do not think Lasker would have played this till he was forced too. He was all about active defence. Now Black no longer has Rc1 ideas White has a free hand to unpin the e3 Knight.

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So I will refrain from taking your conditional 33.Bh3

Now the Rook if off the c-file there cannot be anything wrong with 33.Qc3

But as I'm in Marshall mode and only have to come up with a line that does not lose.


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33...Rxd6 34.exd6 Qxe3 35.Qe8+ Kg7 36.Qe7

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Material is level the d6 pawn means Black has to start finding perpetuals, there looks like there a few knocking about.

Black ideas like 36..Qf2 37.Bd3 Black can check and win that Bishop but when he takes it d7 guarantees a draw.

The trap is 36...Qxe7 37.dxe7 Nf6

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Black is now threatening Ne8 and Kf6 but thanks to your 32.g3 White has Bg2 and Bc6 which wins a piece. If the pawn was back on g2 Black would be better here.

No way Lasker would have fallen for that one but I wanted to show a trap with your g3.


Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <Sally Simpson>
Thanks for the analysis. <33. Qa5> Back to the original theme <to restrain the ...a5 advance>?

No way would Lasker go for a draw with 33...Rxd6 in your line above. At least he might prepare it with 33...Kg7, waiting for 34. Nd5 and only now 34...Rxd6 35. exd6 Qxd5+

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Anyway, you made your original point: White can still fight from this position and it's hard to prove a clear outcome.

So, I hedge my claim from <Feb-22-05> <White's already lost here, of course>. <Shams> was right, 28. Ne3 gives some real drawing chances.

May-17-16  Ulhumbrus: Although 11...Qc7 takes a step towards the check ...Qa5+ which seems to inconvenience White, it moves the queen a second time and gets ready to move the queen a third time while Black's QB and QN are still undeveloped. How can this be right? One alternative which this suggests is 12 Bd3 Qa5+ 13 Ke2.

14 Nd2 seems inconsistent. Why has White used his rook to obstruct Black's queen on the e1-a5 diagonal if he is now going to use his knight to do it? This suggests 14 Bd3 preparing to castle.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: With Lasker up 7-0 going into this game, the main issue is whether Lasker would be able to defeat Marshall in fewer games than it had taken Tarrasch to defeat the American two years years. Tarrasch had needed only 17 games to win his match against Marshall (8 wins, 1 loss, and 8 draws). With his victory in this encounter, Lasker accomplished the feat in only 15 games, and did so without loss of a single game. A historic thrashing!

Marshall's primary effort in this 15th and final game seems to have been to manage at least one victory. With Lasker holding White in the next game (had there been one), Marshall may well have reckoned this game was his last chance.

All in all, the most decisive victory in a World Championship match since Steinitz had blitzed Blackburne in seven straight games in 1876, if that can be considered a world championship match (which is questionable at best). The only rival to this demolition since 1907 was Lasker's defeat of Janowski in 1910 (eight wins and three draws in eleven games), assuming that this 1910 match can be deemed a world championship match (which it probably should be).

Marshall had chances to avoid defeat in this game, but seemed uninterested in a draw.

1. d4 d5
2. c4 e6
3. Nc3 Nf6
4. Bg5 Be7
5. e3 Ne4

Lasker's Defense with which Lasker had defeated Marshall in Game 3 of this match and which had led to a draw in Game 5.

Once again, Marshall returned to openings in this match that had brought him nothing but heartache. Marshall played this same opening seven times as White in his 1909 match against Capablanca, winning one [his only victory in that match] and losing three times.

6. BxB QxB
7. cxd5


Marshall had played 7. Bd3 in Games 3 and 5 of this match. Another good line is 7. Rc1.

7... NxN
8. bxN exd5
9. Qb3

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Soltis was less enthusiastic about the text:

"Tarrasch believed the inevitable c3-c4 would give White a distinct superiority. What Tarrasch didn't appreciate is that a pawn center declines in value as pieces are traded."

But Tarrasch did appreciate all this, and as his comment to Marshall's 10th move below fully understood that c4 by White is by no means "inevitable," at least in the short run.

Interestingly, Soltis proposed nothing better than 9. Qb3, and the move does appear to be a (small) improvement on 9. Bd3 (the main alternative).

9... c6
10. c4

"White can also postpone this advance and retain his advantage." (Tarrasch)

What Soltis calls the "modern treatment" of 10. Bd3 is also good. In either case, White emerges with a tiny edge.

10... 0-0

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11. Nf3

As both Tarrasch and Soltis have pointed out, 11. cxd5 cxd5 12. Qxd5? is awful for White after 11...Qb4+. But White can simply play 12. Bd3 with a slightly better position.

11... Qc7

As Soltis points out, 11...Be6 is much better.

The idea behind 11...Qc7, as <Ulhumbrus> notes, is to be able to play Qa5. But if that is a significant threat, it can be easily thwarted.

12. Rc1

As Teichmann pointed out ages ago, and as <Ulhumbrus> has reiterated, White could play 12. Qc3 to stop 12...Qa5. But since this is not a real problem for White, Marshall's move seems best.

12... Qa5+

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How should White respond to maintain his small opening edge?

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post II

13. Rc3?



"13. Qc3 must naturally be played." (Tarrasch)

"La Strategie affords two query marks to this move. M. Janowsky [remarked] that in [this] last game of the match Marshall seems to have become demoralized, and plays the very moves which his opponent wants. Qc3 was best here." (Wilson)

The above comments accurately express the logic of the position but overlook the logic of the match. Soltis and Moran come closer to describing the situation from Marshall's perspective:

"...this was the best position [Marshall] had had in a month." (Soltis)

As Soltis goes on to say, and as Moran also points out, being down 7-0, Marshall was likely more interested in going all out for a win. He was "hoping to avoid a whitewash." (Soltis)

After 13. Qc3, Lasker would have traded Queens, but Marshall doubtless knew by now that he was nowhere near a match for Lasker in that phase of the game. The fact that Marshall would have the better endgame didn't change the fact that he would have little chance winning the resulting position against Lasker.

While I generally abhor introducing psychological theories, in this case I find it irresistible. Marshall had somewhat recovered from his horrible start in this match. He lost the first three games, and then drew seven of the next eight games. But then the match shifted to Memphis where Lasker won all three games (Games 12, 13, and 14). There followed ten days off after which the match resumed in New York where Lasker had won the opening three games of the match. My guess from playing over Game 15 was that Marshall was done playing for draws and wanted to get at least one win. He was still somewhat for choice after the text, and decided to go down fighting with Queens on the board. Better to play for tactics (Marshall's forte) than to seek something against the best endgame player in the world [at least until Rubinstein and Capablanca emerged].

The real question I have is why--if Marshall rejected 13. Qc3 because he didn't want an ending--he didn't play 13. Nd2. He would get a better position than he did after the text, and would still have the Queens on the board.

As it turns out, Marshall's move paid immediate (short-term) dividends since, instead of playing the stronger 13...Bf5, Lasker contented himself with:

13... Nd7

This left:

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14. Nd2?


"[In order to rid of the pin]...the Knight move is inadequate. It unpins the Rook but pins the Knight so that Black is not much better off. 14. Qa3 was best." (Tarrasch)

Tarrasch said it all here. 14. Qa3 was indeed best. The text forfeits whatever edge Marshall still enjoyed from the opening.

<Ulhumbrus> suggests 14. Be2, but after 14...dxc4 15. Bxc4 Nb6 16. 0-0 NxB 17. RxN Be6 18. Ra4 Qc7 19. Qc2 White is no better off than with the text.

14... c5


"From this moment the champion takes the initiative..." (Janowski)

Soltis here engages in his own psychological analysis as to why Lasker played the text rather than a "low-risk" move such as 14...Nf6 or 14...dxc4. He describes this as an example of Lasker's "play the man" instead of playing the board. But the explanation in fact is much simpler: 14...c5 is the best move. Indeed, Fritz and Stockfish give the text as best and the only way to prevent White from having the advantage. Presumably, it will not be claimed that these computer programs were engaged in psychology.

Soltis' book on Lasker is excellent and I recommend it highly. But here he seems to have done what he rarely does in this work: engage in stereotypes about Lasker's psychological ploys rather than recognizing when Lasker in truth played the board rather than his opponent.

After 14...c5, the position was:

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15. cxd5?


"15. Qa3 was still the correct move." (Tarrasch)

15... cxd4
16. exd4

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By any reckoning, Lasker was now clearly better.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post III

16... Re8+?

This move by Lasker has almost completely escaped censure. Only Soltis mentions the far superior 16...Nf6, but then dismissed it based upon some doubtful analysis. He gives the following line: 17. Bc4 [Weak and perhaps even a losing mistake. Best is 17. Be2 after which White is worse but can probably survive--KEG] 17...Re8+ [even better and exposing the flaws in 17. Bc4 is 17...b5!--KEG] 18. Re3 Ne4? [awful, Black is much better after 18,,,Bd7! 19. d6 RxR+ 20. fxR Rc8 21. Bxf7+ [not as good as it looks--KEG] Kh8 22. Qb2 [the only way to deal with the coming 22...Ne4--KEG] Ne4 23. Bb3 Bg4 24. d7 Bxd7] 19. 0-0 and now White is indeed winning, but only based on the above faulty analysis.

17. Re3 RxR+
18. fxR

Far superior to the superficially appealing 18. QxR since Black can just snatch the White a2 pawn since White has no real threats.

18... Nf6

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19. Be2?

"White is looking for a way to castle even if it means shedding his extra pawn." (Soltis)

Tarrasch said that Marshall could not play 19. Bd3 because of 19...Bd7. But now the Black b7 pawn is hanging, and after 20. Qb2 Nxd5 21. Qxb7 chances are about even. Instead, after 19. Bd3, Black can just play 19...Nxd5 with much the better game.

Best for White here, and the only way to avoid trouble, was 19. Bc4. Only Soltis among the commentators discusses 19. Bc4, and even his analysis is far from perfect. Soltis gives 19...Ne4 as the response, overlooking the much stronger 19...Bg4. And after his 19...Ne4, Soltis gives the very weak 20. Qc2 where 20. Qb2 leaves White in decent shape. Soltis' line then continues: 20...Bf5 21. Rf1 Bg6 22. Bd3 Re8 23. Rf3 [23. Rf4 is stronger] Ng5 24. Rg3 BxB 25. QxB Ne4 and Black is much better.

19... Ne4?


"There is no hope for White now." (Tarrasch)

Quite wrong. It is only because of this error that Marshall got completely back in the game. Soltis said that Lasker was now "going for the kill," but he acknowledges that Black has the edge with the simple 19...Nxd5.

The position after 19...Ne4 was:

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20. Qd3?!


"Marshall lived for tactics." (Soltis)

Only Soltis mentions White's best: 20. Qb2! He correctly notes that 20...Bf5? would run into 21. 0-0! But Soltis was worried about 20...Bd7. Of course 21. Qxb7?? runs into 21...QxN+ and mates, but why on earth would Marshall have played that. Soltis correctly mentions 21. Bf3 which leads to equality (and not a Black advantage) after 21...Bf5 22. BxN BxB 23. 0-0 Qxd5 with equality (and not Soltis' 23...Bxd5? which allows White to seize the edge with 24. e4.

20... Bf5

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Here Marshall made a crucial, courageous, and correct choice:

21. 0-0!

"Marshall sacrifices Quality [i.e., the exchange--KEG] and this, in my opinion, was the best chance." (Tarrasch)

"No turning back." (Soltis)

The alternative, 21. Rf1, was hopeless, as Soltis has shown.

21... Ng3!
22. RxB

Not 22. e4, after which White is almost certainly lost on the line given by Soltis: 22...NxR 23. NxN Bd7 24. Qb3 Qb6.

23... NxR

This left the following double-edged position:

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As I will discuss in my next post on this game, Marshall had very real drawing chances here despite Lasker's material advantage. As Tarrasch noted, Marshall lost from here because of his upcoming errors.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post IV

Note: Black's final move in my last post was his 22nd and not his 23rd move as I erroneously suggested

23. e4

Forced. As Solits points out, White "an resign" after 23. QxN? QxN 24. Qd3 [24. Kf2 is slightly superior, but still losing after 24...Qxa2--KEG] Qxa2.

23... Ne7
24. a3

"White seeks a fortress before Black penetrates on the c-file with Rc3 or Qc3." (Soltis)

This is indeed a major theme of what follows. But here 24. d6 is superior to the text.

24... Rc8!

Consistent with the theme pointed out by Soltis.

25. d6?

What would have been best on the prior move is now bad and should likely have led to defeat. 25. Kf2 was White'd best chance.

25... Ng6

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26. Nc4


"White needs to plug the file." (Soltis)

As Soltis correctly notes, 26. g3, is too little too late. He gives the following line: 26. g3 Rc3 27. Nc4 [27. Qb5 is a better try than Soltis' move, but still inadequate] RxQ 28. NxQ Rxd4 29. Nxb7 Ne5 30. Bb5 [30. Kf2 is better, but also losing] and npw Black wins easily after 30...Rd2.

The text, however, and Soltis notwithstanding, also loses---or should lose against best play. But Lasker faulted, as we will see, giving Marshall a chance.

26... Qg5


Actually, Black can win in a number of ways here. In addition to the text (which is the least convincing of the winning lines, Black can win with: (A) 26...Qe1+ or (B) 26...Qa6. On 26...Qe1+, Soltis overlooks that after 27. Bf1 Black wins with 27...Nf4, which is even stronger than his suggested 27...b5 after which White can put up a fight with 28. Ne5 (better than Soltis' 28. d7 Rd8 29. Ne5 NxN 30. dxN Qc1.

After 26...Qg5, the position was:

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27. Bf1

Better was 27. Qe3 QxQ+ 28. NxQ Nf4 29. Bg4 Rd8 30. e5 with very real chances to save the game.

27... b5?


Lasker did not play this portion of the game with his usual precision. Here, he could probably win with 27...Qc1! After the text (27... b5), White could almost certainly have saved the game, the position now being:

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28. Na5?


The Knight is not protected here and cannot protect the King" (Tarrasch)

As Soltis has pointed out, White has chances with 28. Ne3 (best) or 28. Nd2.

After 28. Ne3 White has no win, e.g., 28...Nf4 29. Qd2 and now if 29...a5 (discussed at length on this cite by two fine analysts (<beatgiant> and <Sally Simpson>) White is fine after 30. g3 (much better than 30. Kh1 discussed by the two above-named users) or 30. h4 or even 30. Qxh4 or perhaps even 30. Nf5. Black has better tries after 29. Qd2 (i.e., 29...h5 or 29...Rd8) but neither lead anywhere close to wins.

28... Nf4

28... Qf4 or 28...Qc1 are better winning chances, but are--like the text--inadequate to win.

The text left:

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Marshall could almost certainly have saved the game from this position. But as I will discuss in my next post on this game, he erred here and from that point on had no chance to save the game.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post V

29. Qg3?


Marshall had to play 29. Qf3 to retain any chance to save the game. After this error, he never got another chance, even though Lasker's finishing play was not always the quickest and most precise.

"The Queen must go to f3." (Tarrasch)

"White would be close to establishing [a] fortress with 29. Qf3 Ne6 30. Nb3 and then 30...a6 31. e5 [31. Qd3 would be better still--KEG]" (Soltis)

As both Soltis and Tarrasch have pointed out, 29. Qxb5? gets killed by 29...Nh3+ 30. Kh1 Nf2+ [30...QxQ winning the Queen is faster!--KEG] 31. Kg1 Qe3.

Soltis speculates that Marshall was hoping that Lasker would now play 29...QxQ? and after 30. hxQ be able to draw (e.g., 30...Ne6 31. d5 Nc5). But Lasker was hardly about to let that occur.

29... Qf6


"A subtle move which wins the game. White must lose his pawn at d6 (his last hope), as Ne2+ followed by Rc1+ and mate was threatened." (Teichmann)

"Threatens mate by Ne2+ etc." (Tarrasch)

Soltis comments similarly.

The position after 29...Qf6 was:

click for larger view

30. Qe3 Qxd6
31. Bxb5

click for larger view

31... Qb6


A cuter win is 31...Nxg2 32. KxN Rc2+ and now White gets crushed whatever he does (e.g., 33. Kf3 Qf6+; 33. Kf1 Qxh2 34. Be2 Rc1+ 35. QxR Qh1+; 33. Be2 Qa6).

31...Rc2 also wins immediately. Lasker's move is less dramatic, but it works just fine.

32. Nc4

As Soltis notes, 32. Nc6 loses to Ng6. Soltis is also almost certainly right that Marshall was setting a trap for Lasker, since now 32...QxN 33. QxN RxB?? [Black of course can just win here with 33...Qxa3--KEG] leads to mate in 2 following 34. Qb8+ But, once again, hoping that Lasker would fall for something like that was a pipe-dream.

32... Ne6
33. BxN

33. Qc3 might have allowed Marshall to string out the game a bit longer, but it would not have saved the day.

33... fxB


33...QxB also wins, but White then has a bit of play with 34. d5.

The immediate killer, however, is 33...Qb1+ 34. Kf2 Qb2+ 35. Kf3 (35. Qe2 Qxd4+ 36. Qe3 Rc2+ 37. Kf3 Rc3) Rc3.

34. Nb3 e5


click for larger view

35. Kf1

35. h3 would only have extended the game.

35... Rb8

Faster was 35...exd4 36. Nxd4 Rc4 37. Nf5 Qb2.

36. Nc5

Hastening the end.

36... exd4

36...Qb1+ or 36...Rf8+ were faster.

37. Qxd4 Rc8

Lasker could also have just played 37...Kh8 avoiding checks and allowing him to play 38...Rd8. But the text was more than sufficient.

37...Rc8 left:

click for larger view


Marshall decided not to struggle on with 38. Qd5+ Kh8 39. Nd3 and see how Lasker chose to wrap up the win.

Thus ended Marshall's one title shot. Two years later, he lost almost as badly to Capablanca (8 to 1 with 14 draws, 8 of which came after Marshall was down 7 to 1). Marshall went on to have a great career, but he obviously was not up to competing successfully with Lasker, Capablanca, or Tarrasch (who also beat Marshall 8 to 1) in match play, let alone with the mature Alekhine.

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