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Emanuel Lasker vs Carl Schlechter
"For Better or for Schlechter" (game of the day Oct-16-2008)
Lasker - Schlechter World Championship Match (1910), Berlin GER, rd 10, Feb-08
Slav Defense: Quiet Variation (D11)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Jan-03-17  Albion 1959: What a game! This is akin to game 10 of the recent Carlsen -Karjakin match. Carlsen still had the safety net of two more games to save his title, whereas with Lasker, one slip and his title was gone. He had no more games left to save himself. Finally, without using a database, I don't just see how Lasker would have won this game. Yes sure I am missing something obvious, but don't see it!
Jun-18-18  Omnipotent00001: 67. a4 wins in 27 moves.
Dec-10-19  Straclonoor: Some sources in XX century (books about Lasker, Schlechter etc.) give 35....Rd8 36.Be3 as possible continuation with advantage for black. In 1997 Nikolay N Minev finded that 36.Ke1! is very powerfull.

Here is analysis of the line - <35....Rd8 36.Ke1>

Analysis by Stockfish 051119 64 BMI2:

1. ⩱ (-0.40): 36...Kg8 37.Rh3 Qg4 38.Nc5 Nxd4 39.Kf1 Rf6 40.Nb7 Rg6 41.Rg3 Qxg3 42.Qxg3 Rxg3 43.Nxd8 Rxa3 44.Nc6 Nxc6 45.Rxc6 Bd4 46.Ke2 Kf7 47.f5 Rb3 48.Bg5 Bb6 49.Rh6 Rg3 50.Bf4 Ra3 51.Bd2 Bc5 52.Rc6 Bd4 53.Bg5 Bf6 54.Bd2 Ke8 55.Be3 Kd8 56.Re6 Kd7 57.Bc5 Ra5 58.Be3 Ke8 59.Kd3 Ra4 60.Rc6 Kd7 61.Re6 Ra3+ 62.Ke4

2. = (-0.23): 36...Qh4+ 37.Kd1 Qh1+ 38.Rf1 Qh5+ 39.Qf3 Qf5 40.Rc5 Qd7 41.Nc3 Nxd4 42.Qg2 Kg8 43.Rh1 Rf6 44.Rhh5 Rd6 45.Ne4 Qa4+ 46.Ke1 Re6 47.Rhg5 Nf3+ 48.Qxf3 Qxe4+ 49.Qxe4 Rxe4+ 50.Kd1 Red4 51.Rg2 Kf7 52.Kc2 Bf6 53.Rc7 R8d7 54.Rxd7 Rxd7 55.Rg3 Ke6 56.Rd3 Rb7 57.Rb3 Rxb3 58.Kxb3 Kd5 59.Kb4 Bd4 60.Kb5 e6 61.a4 Bc5 62.a5 Bd4 63.Ka6 Ke4 64.Kb7 Bc5 65.a6 Kd3

So final positions of the lines looks like drawn.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Telemus: <Straclonoor: In 1997 Nikolay N Minev finded that 36.Ke1! is very powerfull.>

What is your source and what does it exactly say?

Dec-12-19  Straclonoor: <What is your source>


Premium Chessgames Member
  Telemus: Thanks, <Straclonoor>.

I find Minev's name there, but not the year. And I assume 1997 is wrong, since Minev found the move much earlier: 1976 or before, when nobody could copy & paste lines with 50+ plies.

Dec-12-19  Straclonoor: < 1976 or before, when nobody could copy & paste lines with 50+ plies.> Analysis above is my.
I meet Minev's name im some articles about the game in end of 90-s-begin 2000s, but dont remember exactly were the date (1997) mentioned.
Feb-10-20  asiduodiego: I think the idea of the secret "2-point clause" is false, and I think this game actually disproves it. Take for example the whole tactical shot started at 15 g4. Lasker is clearly going for the win in this manoeuvre. It was Lasker who actually started the wild tactical battle that defined this game, a strange choice for someone who supposedly "just needed a draw". In the ensuing battle Schlechter perhaps just got lost in what he thought it was a forced variation when he tried the attack with 35 ... Rxf4?, but you can hardly call the previous position as "drawn". Is a very wild and double edged position. Even then, he actually didn't slip into a completely lost position until 64 ... Kc7?, where the Queen trade forces the endgame with white's advantage. With the Queens on the board, Schlechter always had drawing chances, but he blew them.

In my opinion, the theme of this game was: White tried to open tactical shots in the Kingside, because he needed to win. Black defended, but he was lost in the complications, and tried an attack he thought was winning, but he failed. The whole "2-point secret clause" is just an invention.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: ***

Hi asiduodiego,

Welcome to to this controversy that has been going since Schlecter resigned on move 71.

You can gather quite a bit of info by reading all the posts here but the best bet is to always consult Edward Winter first.

No stone is left unturned yet in this case some of the stones appear to be missing and some of the stones were better left 'unturned.'

This sentence from the Winter site catches it perfectly:

"The whole controversy is a curious one, for evidence tends to point one way, common sense the other."

Lasker himself writes just prior to the match on the 23 December 1908 in the New York Evening Post:

That the match is to be 30 games and Schlecter has to win by a two point margin.

Later it states that the conditions have not yet been settled.

As we now know the match was shrunk to 10 games. (did they keep the two point margin in? - was it a world title match?)

In game 9 (Schlecter's last White) Schlechter vs Lasker, 1910 Schlecter uncharacteristically sacs a pawn for an iffy attack as though he really needs to win that game. Lasker misses a win on move 56, Capablanca writes.

"Lasker had very skillfully brought his advantage to a point where it would tell and at the moment he is going to reap the fruit of his fine play, makes a slip and fails to win the game that was almost a necessity for him."

"...that was almost a necessity for him."

Is that Capa hinting that a win would have meant the 10th game was no longer needed (Schlecter cannot win by 2 points) or that Lasker, one point down, was still losing his world title.

Just after game 9 Lasker printed in the New York Evening Post ( February 8, 1910) two days BEFORE the 10th game started:

"The match with Schlechter is nearing its' end and it appears that for the first time in my life I shall be the loser. If that should happen a good man will have won the world championship."

Lasker vs Schlechter, 1910 (kibitz #51)

That would seem to indicate that Lasker, no doubt jacked off because he botched the win in game 9 could not see himself winning the final game and a one point lead will do.

In the 10th game Lasker invites complications whereas if a two point win was needed a calm draw with White would have sufficed.


"The whole controversy is a curious one, for evidence tends to point one way, common sense the other."



Feb-15-20  asiduodiego: <Sally Simpson> Hi Sally. What bugs me about this game is that, if Lasker only needed a draw to keep the WC, then, why he turned the game into a wild tactical battle. This game has been wildly over-analyzed, and one can think that it's strange that Schlechter, with his reputation of "draw-master" went into an ill-advised attack. But then again, the position is very wild and open, so perhaps he thought he could make the thing work. And, as the other games in this match indeed prove, this match wasn't a draw-fest with each side going to 30 moves, and then shaking hands. Wild tactical battles were played.

My point is the following: I think Lasker went into a wild position because those are just then kind of positions you need in a "Must-win" scenario. The position before the exchange sacrifice was open and very double edgeded, the kind of position that can lead to each side to fight for a win, but in which a draw is more difficult to find. So, I don't think Lasker, who, according to legend, just needed a draw, would walk into that kind of wild game without needing it.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: ***

Hi asiduodiego,

As mentioned earlier:

"The whole controversy is a curious one, for evidence tends to point one way, common sense the other."

I'll add if Edward Winter and his merry band of researchers cannot quite get to the bottom of this then the whole thing may remain unresolved.

However I think that this:

Just after game 9 Lasker printed in the New York Evening Post ( February 8, 1910) two days BEFORE the 10th game started:

"The match with Schlechter is nearing its' end and it appears that for the first time in my life I shall be the loser. If that should happen a good man will have won the world championship."

It's quite hard to refute, it is from Lasker's own hand. If only he added somewhere in there : '...if Schlecter wins the last game.' then all would be clear. Is that was what he was thinking.

The chess player in me (paranoia and conspiracy) is thinking Lasker knew Schlecter would see this and was playing a mind trick. (100% speculation).



Feb-16-20  asiduodiego: <Sally Simpson> I think the basic arguments about this game are:

1- There is evidence that Lasker sometimes proposed the "2-point" rule for some matches, famously he tried that against Capa, which botched negotiations for a WC match until after WW1.

2- In this game, Schlechter tries an ill-advised, but seemingly promising attack, to try to snatch a win, in circunstances that just a draw would suffice for him to win the match.

These two arguments are used to push the case for the secret "2-point clause". However, as you noted:

1- Lasker in his notes clearly seemed to think that he was in position to lose the WC.

2- Lasker, in this game, instead of going for a normal safe line, went into crazy mode, and played a double-edged game, in which both sides can push for a win. This doesn't seem the behavior of a player who needs a draw to keep the WC.

The thing is, we can never be sure for certain what was really going on behind the scenes. But, lacking concrete evidence regarding the rules of this match, and with this game, I tend to believe that Lasker needed a win in this game to retain the WC title.

Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: The way I remember it....didn't <Louis Blair> make a pretty unanswerable case for the one-point rule way back in the 1980s in the <BCM>? The piece may have been a reprint from another journal.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: ***

From Edward WInters site:

"...Blair also discussed the matter in an article entitled ‘The Lasker-Schlechter match: a new look at the published evidence’ on pages 48-55 of the February 1990 BCM."

I'll have a look at it on Wednesday, the kids I help coach have a league match at the Edinburgh club on that night.

BTW Miss Scarlett have you seen this:

Gerald Abrahams take on the Fischer Spassky match - you can download it and view it better in a PDF viewer or print it out like I will do.

Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: <I'll have a look at it on Wednesday>

Good. I'll see if I can dig it out myself, and we can have a high-level discussion here for the general edification.

<> No, I don't know that site.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: ***

I eventually found the February 1990 BCM amongst my loose magazine collection. (I have thousands of chess magazine from all over the world of course they are not in any organised order.)

It is 7 pages long followed by half a page of the 26 sources used and quoted.

a footnote adds:

'First published, in a longer form, in 'Chess Horizons' and awarded the title of 'Best Historical Article' for 1989 by Chess Journalists of America.'

The gist of the article is.

Did the challenger have to win by 2 points.

First Lasker wanted a 30 game match with the two point cushion. Nobody was interested in backing the venture.

Louis Blair speculates that Lasker getting married soon (he married Martha in 1911) wanted money so went for a shorter match without the two point rule. It was either that or no match at all.

His speculation is backed up by the fact Lasker did all the leg work to arrange the funds for the match, a task usually delegated to the challenger. Lasker wanted/needed this match.

When the match started some reporters remembering the 2 point rule wrongly kept it in their articles for the 10 game match. A two point win in such a short match was ludicrous, there was no such condition for the 10 game match. (Louis Blair uses other sources and quotes to show the two point rule was not on the table.)

Was it for the title?

After the match enter one Robert Buckley who wrote in the June 1910 American Chess Bulletin that the title was not on the line.

Louis thinks Buckley may have been thinking of this this mini non-title match Lasker - Janowski (1909) which was used as a taster for the later title match Lasker - Janowski World Championship Match (1910).

Round about the time this article was being put togerther Hermann Helms got in touch with Lasker who at the time was on tour in South Africa and upon being asked about the match conditions Lasker replied:

"Yes, I placed the title at stake." There follows other solid reasons to show why the match was for the title.

All in all the Louis Blair article seems to confirm, and I have only scratched the surface of the research done, it was 10 game match for the World Title and there was no 2 point rule.


Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: ***

<I eventually found the February 1990 BCM amongst my loose magazine collection.>

and made a blog out of it.


Feb-21-20  Carrots and Pizza: Stockfish 11 says that 18.Qc4 is a good move and has the position at about equal, but after 18...Bc8,

click for larger view

white has a clear advantage if followed up the right way. According to the engine, the best line after 18...Bc8 is:

19.h4! c5
20.h5 cd

click for larger view

22.Bxc4 e5

click for larger view

24.Bh6 Bg7 Rxf7

click for larger view

White is up +(1.06) because black can't develop his queenside without difficulty and White has free and easy play. Stockfish 11 goes on:

26.Ke2 Bxh6

Threatening to win the e6 pawn. Black can't defend with ...Nc7 because White just pig piles on the pawn with Nc5, so black does something else:

28.Rxb8 Nxb8
29.Bxe6 Bxe6

click for larger view

I guess after 18...Bc8 white should look at the position and figure that the h-file hack attack will be strong because Black's pieces are awkwardly placed on the queen side, and what better way to get the Rh1 into the game than by pushing the h-pawn? It turns an undeveloped piece into a developed on immediately.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: ***

Big clear out - see above, also unearthed CHESS November 1975 with 6 pages of research on this match from Ken Whyld and E A Apps.

Again the conclusion is the same.

It was for the World Championship and Schlecter only had to win by one point. If he had drawn this game he would have been world champion.

The article lists a number of books (they say they have found more than 30 - remember this was 1975 so there will be more) that have the mistaken rule that Schlecter needed a 2 point win.


Feb-25-20  Petrosianic: <Again the conclusion is the same.>

What is the conclusion based on?

Feb-27-20  Howard: "Six pages of research" ?! You're apparently referring to the famous Charles Kalme article, which still holds the all-time record for the longest article ever to appear in CL&R/CL.

But, that article did not focus on the Lasker-Schlecter match.

Incidentally, I recall that somewhere in a 1974 issue of CL&R, someone stated that the "circumstantial evidence" strongly favored the two-point theory.

Feb-27-20  Petrosianic: That article appeared in the November 1975 Chess Life & Review (and was a lot longer than 6 pages). He said he was talking about an article that appeared in Chess, and written by someone else.

I don't know if there was a 2-point clause in this match, but honestly, if there wasn't, that makes the outcome of the whole match look suspicious. Lasker wouldn't risk his title in such a short match without insurance, and Schlechter wouldn't knock himself out for a win in a position he could draw by force, unless it was supposed to come out that way. Schlechter surely benefitted from the status of drawing a World Championship match.

Feb-27-20  asiduodiego: <Petrosianic> I think that, in hindsight, it is clear that there are drawing lines for Black, so it's strange that Schlechter "loses his mind" and goes for an ill-fated attack.

But then again, the position is double-edged and complicated. Both kings are without pawn protection, the major pieces are all around the place. It seems a position in which both sides can push for a win, but in these positions finding a draw is not always easy. So, perhaps Schlechter thought that the exchange sacrifice was sound, and went for it, because it opens a very frightful attack for Black. It doesn't work, of course, but I think it may have looked tempting OTB. And also, even after that, while the Queens remain in the board, Black always has drawing chances, so I don't think he "knocked himself out" by going for the exchange sacrifice. He really lost the game when he allowed the Queen trade later on.

My opinion in this game is that it was Lasker who went for the win in the game, with the sequence of plays beginning with 14 Ne5 and 15 g4, which turned this game into a wild battle. If Lasker only needed a draw, then, why not just play 14 O-O instead of going all-in for a Kingside attack?. I think this game shows Lasker playing to create complications and turning the position in which both sides can push for a win, which is exactly what a player does when he really needs to win.

Feb-27-20  Petrosianic: <My opinion in this game is that it was Lasker who went for the win in the game,>

You might be right. But the common wisdom is that it was Schlechter who did it, and the "official" reason is that he didn't want the match to be decided on his fluky Game 5 win. Of course, that's complete rationalization, totally made up, and never stated by Schlechter himself from what I've heard.

Your explanation makes more sense, that Lasker played for the win, and Schlechter didn't eschew the draw so much as overlook it. I would buy that story before the other, although it still seems dubious that somebody as shrewd as Lasker would risk his title in a short match without insurance.

One story about this match that you used to hear was that, in addition to the 2-point clause, if Schlechter won, he wouldn't be considered world champion until the rematch was played. I haven't heard that story in years, and it seems pretty dubious. (No matter what the rules said, the world would surely consider Schlechter Champion if he won the match).

Feb-27-20  asiduodiego: <Petrosianic> The thing is, we will never know for sure what happened behind the scenes, for the secrecy of the terms of the match. It is true that there is circumstantial evidence for that such a rule may have been in play here (the negotiations for the aborted match with Capa, and earlier drafts of the negotiations for this match), but, there is nothing concrete.

What makes this game one of the most famous of the history of chess is that everyone is trying to read this game to make sense of what the rules of the match actually were. In my opinion if you can push the case of "Why Schelechter went nuts in a exchange-sacrifice variation if he just needed a draw", then the same case can be made for "But why Lasker went all-in for an attack in the Kingside if he just needed a draw".

Given that it was Lasker who initially went for complications, instead for safer routes, I tend to believe that it was him who needed a victory in this game, and not Schelechter. But, as it is, we will never be 100% certain.

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