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Emanuel Lasker vs Viacheslav Ragozin
Moscow (1936), Moscow URS, rd 7, May-22
Sicilian Defense: Dragon. Classical Variation (B73)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
Mar-26-03  ughaibu: A rare case of Lasker being out calculated. Nevertheless it's close right till the end.
Jun-01-03  sleepkid: Actually, I think it's a rare case of Lasker missing the best defense. I feel that Lasker missed a golden opportunity to save half a point! (or maybe even get a whole point!?) 55. Bh5! should draw for Lasker, as black can't prevent him from queening first and must lose a tempo if he wants to avoid letting white queen with check. Some variations might be...

55. Bh5 Rxh5 56. Kxh5 f3 57. h7 f2 58. h8=Q+ Ke4 59. Qf8 Ke3 60. Qxb4 with an easy draw. (there might even be a win in there, but I'm not going to try and analyze how the queen can stop both pawns)

55. Bh5 f3 56. h7 f2 57. h8=Q+ Ke4 (other moves either drop the rook, or lose the pawn, either way losing the game.) 58. Bf3+ Kxf3 59. Qxh4 f1=Q 60. Qxb4 draw.

in fact, it may even be possible for white to win the game depending on black's play, but I'm too tired right now to analyze that all out (just got home from work). I just saw 55. Bh5 and the draw, if someone else wants to try and analyze a win out of that, go ahead.

oh, and just in case your wondering, black can't queen the other pawn either. (since it ends up on b2 when white Queens on h8 with check.)

Jun-01-03  ughaibu: Sleepkid: Great stuff, very strange that Lasker missed the chance.
Jun-01-03  caseyclyde: If Bh5, then after Rxh5, the black king moves to f6 and stops the white pawn from queening and white can't stop the black pawns.
Jun-01-03  ughaibu: Caseyclyde: Even greater stuff, thanks.
Jun-01-03  sleepkid: caseyclyde: very true. that will teach me to look at this site after coming home from work. . . I was simply too tired, but thought Bh5 was a great move. It was an almost great move. heheh.
Apr-01-06  wintep: It looks like 28. Rb6 was the deciding mistake.
Feb-22-09  birthtimes: We must remember that Lasker was 67 years old at this time, and this was the first tournament he ever played in that he failed to be among the prize winners. He could no longer keep it up throughout, yet he finished in 6th place (out of 10), behind Capablanca, Botvinnik, Flohr, Lilienthal, and Ragozin.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: Ragozin noted that Lasker's 25.Rd6 lost the exchange by force. He indicated Black held the advantage, but White could have maintained material equilibrium by 25.Qf3 Qa7+ 26.Kh1 Rxc2 27.b4 Bb6 28.Rd1 Qc7.

Fritz agrees with Ragozin that Black held the advantage at move 25, and that White's best move is 25.Qf3: (-.69) (22 ply) 25.Qf3 Qa7+ 26.Kh1 Rxc2 27.b4, (-.83) (22 ply) 27...Rf2 28.Qd1 Bb6 29.Rd2 Rxd2 30.Qxd2 Qc7 31.Qe1.

However, Lasker's choice to play the exchange down for a Pawn also offered practical chances for survivial. Ragozin soon found out it was no easy matter to win this endgame.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: After Black won the exchange, and the Queens were exchanged, both players correctly centralized their Kings. But then Ragozin erred, and Lasker then had his drawing chances!

Ragozin noted that instead of 35...h6?, he should have played 35...Re5+!. He stated that 35...h6?, gave White real chances of a draw, and indicated 35...Re5+ was correct, improving the position of his Rook. If then 36.Kd4, he could play 36...Re1. Ragozin stated, in an ending like this, the Rook will develop great strength at the rear of the opponent.

Fritz confirms 35...Re5+ was Black's best move: (-1.26) (24 ply) 36.Kd2! (preventing 36...Re1) Kc5 37.c3 Re7 38.b3 Kd5.

After 35...h6? 36.gxh6 Rh5 37.g3 Rxh6 38.c4! Rh5, White was near his goal of obtaining a draw.

Ragozin indicated White could now force a draw by playing 39.b4! Re5+ 40.Kf4 f5 41.cxb5 axb5 42.h5 gxh5 43.Bxf5 Re1 44.Bg6 Kd5 45.Bxh5 Ra1 46.Bf7+ and then Be8.

Fritz agrees with Ragozin that the best continuation is: (-.78) (24 ply) 39.b4 Re5+ 40.Kf4 f5 41.cxb5 axb5.

Fritz rates Lasker's choice of 39.cxb5, as a very close 2nd: (-.81) (24 ply) 39.cxb5 axb5 40.Kf4 Rd5.

Now the question is, do either of these continuations allow White to draw?

Feb-22-09  Open Defence: Korchnoi is the modern day Lasker
Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: Ragozin stated that Lasker could have forced a draw by 39.b4! Re5+ 40.Kf4 f5 41.cxb5 axb5 42.h5 gxh5 43.Bxf5 Re1 44.Bg6 Kd5 45.Bxh5 Ra1 46.Bf7+, and then Be8.

Fritz indicated the best continuation was indeed: (-.78) (24 ply) 39.b4! Re5+ 40.Kf4 f5 41.cxb5 axb5.

After 41...axb5, Fritz indicated: (-.56) (29 ply) 42.h5 gxh5 43.Bxf5 (-.53) (30 ply) 43...Rd5 44.Bg6 Ke6 45.Be8 Rf5+ 46.Ke4 Re5+ 47.Kf4 Kf6 48.Bc6 Rf5+ 49.Ke3 Rg5 50.Kf4, (-.52) (28 ply) 50...Re5 51.a4 bxa4 52.Bxa4, with a final position that should be a draw. Fritz was unable to find any winning chances for Black, or ways to improve his position.

Ragozin's drawing line recommended the move 43...Re1 (instead of Fritz's recommendation 43...Rd5). Fritz confirmed Ragozin's move would quickly lead to a draw: (-.10) (29 ply) 43...Re1 44.Bd3 Kc6 45.Bg6 Ra1 46.Bxh5 Rxa3 47.Be8+ Kb6 48.g4 (.00).

My opinion is Ragozin was correct. Lasker could have forced a draw with 39.b4!.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: Lasker missed 39.b4!, but even after the game continuation, 39.cxb5 axb5 40.b3 Re5+ 41.Kf4 Rd5, I believe White had good drawing chances.

At move 42, Fritz indicates White had three acceptable moves, (-.78) (29 ply) 42.Ke4, 42.Ke3 or 42.Be2.

The problem with Lasker's move, 42.Be4?, was pointed out by Ragozin. 42.Be4?, unlike the other three moves, allowed the Black Rook to get behind the enemy lines with a devastating effect.

A review of the other three moves indicates the following: (-.78) (29 ply) 42.Ke4 f5 43.Ke3 Ke5 44.a4 bxa4 45.bxa4 Rc5 46.Kf2 Rc3 47.Bf1 Ra3 48.Bb5, or (-.78) (29 ply) 42.Be2 Rf5+ 43.Ke3 Re5+ 44.Kf3 Kc5 45.a4 bxa4 46.bxa4 kd4 47.Bb5, or (-.78) (29 ply) 42.Ke3 f5 43.a4 Re5+ 44.Kf2 bxa4 45.bxa4 Ke6, with good drawing chances for White in each of these continuations.

After 42.Be4? Rd2! 43.g4 Ra2 44.h5 Rxa3, White was lost.

After the game, Capablanca suggested that 45.hxg6 fxg6 46.Bc2 Ra2 47.Bd3 b4 48.Kg5, would still have given White good drawing chances. Later, Rabinovich in "Chess in the USSR, No 6 for 1936" showed that White is lost in this line after: 48...Rb2 49.Bc4 Rg2.

Fritz confirmed that Black is winning after 45.hxg6 fxg6 46.Bc2, (-2.77) (28 ply) 46...b4 47.g5 Ke6 48.Bd3 Kf7 49.Bc4+ Ke7, (-3.28) (28 ply) 50.Ke4 Ra2 51.Ke3 Rg2 52.Kf4 Rf2+ 53.Kg4 Kd6 54.Bd3 Rb2 55.Bc4 Ke5, or (-3.28) (28 ply) 50.Bg6 Ra5 51.Bc4 Rf5+ 52.Kg4 Rf2 (-3.88) (24 ply) 53.Bd3 Rd2 54.Ba6 Kd6 55.Kf4 Rf2+ 56.Kg3 Rb2 57.Bc4 Ke5 58.Kf3 Rc2 59.Bf7 Kf5, and Black is winning.

Another very interesting winning continuation for Black is: (-1.83) (27 ply) 45.h6 Rxb3 46.Bg2 Rc3 47.Kg5 b4 48.Kf6 b3 49.h7 Rc8 50.Be4 Rh8 51.Kg7 Rxh7+ 52.Kxh7 Ke5 53.Bb1 f5.

Aug-20-10  Ulhumbrus: Instead of 21 Rxe5, 21 Nxd5 gains the bishop pair.

21...Ng4!! both attacks White's Queen and discovers an attack upon the Rook on d4.

Then after 22 Rxd5 Rxd5 23 fxg4 the capture 23...Bxc3! both attacks the bishop on a5 and removes the N on c3 which defends the R on d5.

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