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Emanuel Lasker vs Carl Schlechter
Lasker - Schlechter World Championship Match (1910), Vienna AUH, rd 2, Jan-13
Spanish Game: Open Variations. Schlechter Defense (C80)  ·  1/2-1/2



Annotations by Jose Raul Capablanca.      [26 more games annotated by Capablanca]

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Kibitzer's Corner
Mar-02-08  Knight13: <12...Qb8: -White has some advantage ( )> WOW! I thought I liked Black better. He has pawns coming down restricting, white hasn't even developed all of his pieces, Black seem to have more space and active... How does Capablanca judge positions like this!?

<21. Kh1: A good move (!)> All else fails. Kh1 seemed a bit too easy to spot to have it labled "!"

Aug-01-09  visayanbraindoctor: <Bridgeburner>: PART 1


Lasker vs Schlechter, 1910 is the <second game of the title match>.

<Technical notes>

Quantitative mapping of this game between these players is below. Figures in brackets immediately after each move are the corrected engine evaluations generated on the return slide. The reverse slide smoothed out many, but not all fluctuation in the engines evaluations. The complexity of some variations was very likely too great to enable a fuller reconciliation from the forward slide. <General methods used are described in the bio.>

The evaluation values in the opening are of no great moment, but of interest is that they come at the end of a full forward slide to the end of the game and a full return slide from the last move to the first.

Ive included the engines preferred moves and their attendant evaluations in those positions where the engines preferred move disagrees with the actual moves of the players. This hasnt been done within the opening up to and including move 7, as short ply evaluations cant compete with the body of opening theory, nor in the ending where the game evaluations have flat lined.

<Game summary>

This is another accurate game by two superlative-grandmasters at the top of their game battling it out for the title. Following exemplary play in the opening and early middle game, Schlechter held the advantage for most of the game but was unable to cash it into a win. Laskers worst position, at <15.Na3> ( 1.09) was the only time the position evaluation fell below -1.0. Yet this was not a grandmaster draw but a fully fledged struggle in which they fought each other to a complete stand still.

Aug-01-09  visayanbraindoctor: <Bridgeburner>:



<1. e4> ( 0.28) <1e4> ( 0.28)

<2. Nf3> ( 0.28) <2Nc6> ( 0.28)

<3. Bb5> ( 0.28) <3a6> ( 0.28)

<4. Ba4> (=0.10) <4Nf6> (=0.10)

<5. 0-0> (=0.07) <5Nxe4> (=0.07)

<6. d4> (=0.07) <6b5> (=0.07)

<7. Bb3> (=0.07) <7d5> (=0.07)

<8. a4> ( -0.34)

Capablanca commented that 8. dxe5 is the usual continuation.

<Engine preferences> were <8. Nxe5> (=0.07); <8. dxe5> (=-0.02) and <8. Re1 (=-0.12).

<8Nxd4> ( -0.34)

<9. Nxd4> ( -0.34) <9exd4> ( -0.34)

<10. Qxd4> ( -0.56)

Capablanca commented If 10. axb5 Bc5 with a fine game.

<Engine preferences>: <10. Nc3> ( -0.34); <10. axb5 Bc5> ( -0.38)

<10Be6> ( -0.56)

<11. c3> ( -0.67)

<Engine preference>: <11. axb5> ( -0.56)

Aug-01-09  visayanbraindoctor: <Bridgeburner>: PART 3

<11c5> ( -0.67)

Capablanca comments 11Bc5! Would have lead to a most interesting situation. In fact it looks as if White would get the worst of it. 11Bxc5 12. Qxg7 Kd7, and I cannot see any good way for White to get away from the terrific attack. As 13Qh4 is threatened, Whites best move is probably 13. Qh6, then 13Rg8 14. Be3 (seems best) 14Rg6 15.Qh5 and now without getting into any further attacks Black gets the better game by playing 15Bxe3 16. fxe3 Qg5 [sic: should read Qxg5] 17.Qxg5 Rxg5.

However, if <11Bc5 12.Qxg7 Kd7>, then <13.Bf4 >.

<12. Qe5> ( -0.67) <12Qb8> ( -0.67)

<13. Qb8+> ( -0.67) <13Rxb8> ( -0.67 )

<14. axb5> ( -0.67) <14axb5> ( -0.67 )

Capablanca commented that After all these exchanges, Black comes out a pawn ahead. If that is the best White can obtain from a4 on the eight move, it cannot be recommended. The advance seems premature.

<15. Na3> ( -1.09 )

<Engine preferences>: <15. Nd2> ( -0.67); <15. Bc2> ( -0.75); <15. Rd1> ( -0.76)

<15Be7> ( -0.56)

Capablanca comments that 15b4 seems the proper move; and if 16.Ba4+ Bd7. The text move gives White a chance to regain lost ground.

<Engine preferences>: <15Kd7> ( -1.09); <15c4> ( -1.01); and <15Ra8> ( -0.98)

Aug-01-09  visayanbraindoctor: <Bridgeburner>: PART 4

<16. Bf4> ( -0.93)

<Engine preference>: <16. Nxb5> ( -0.56)

<16Rb7> ( -0.93)

<17. f3> ( 0.93) <17Nf6> ( -0.48)

<Engine preference>: <17Nd6> ( -0.93)

<18. Nxb5> ( -0.48) <180-0> ( -0.48)

Capablanca commented that If 18Rxb5 19. Ba4 Bd7 20. Bxb5 Bxb5 21. Re1 and Black must lose a piece. Mr I. Gunsbergs suggestion that if 18Rxb5 19.Ra8 + is not correct, as Black could then play 19Kd7, and have two pieces for a rook.

However, if <18Rxb5 19. Ba4 Bd7 20. Bxb5 Bxb5 21. Re1> then <21Kf8> holds (=0.00) as after <22.Ra8+> then <Ne8 or Be8>.

<19. Ba4> ( -0.48)

Capablanca gives this a <?!>, commenting that this is [a] speculative move. However, it is forced as after <19. c4 dxc4 > White has to move the Bishop to a4 anyway, and if <19. Ra5> then <19Bd8 >.

<19c4> (= -0.18 )

Capablanca commented that If 19Bd7 20. c4 dxc4 21. Nc3.

However after <21Bxa4 22. Rxa4 Rxb2 > is very strong:

If instead <21Bxa4 22. Nxa4 Nd5 >:

<Engine preferences>: <19Nh5> ( -0.48); <19Rd8> ( -0.45)

<20. Ra2> ( -0.60)

Capablanca commented that this was [a] good move. And gave it a <!>.

Engine preferences: <20. Rfb1> (= -0.18); <20. Rfd1> ( -0.43).

<20Bc5+> (= -0.10)

<Engine preferences>: <20Nh5> ( -0.60); <20Bd7> ( -0.43)

Aug-01-09  visayanbraindoctor: <Bridgeburner>: PART 5

<21. Kh1> ( -0.64)

Capablanca commented that this was [a] good move (!)

<Engine preference>: <21. Nd4> (= -0.08)

<21Bd7> ( -0.64)

<22. Bd6> ( -0.64 ) <22Bxd6> (= -0.23)

Capablanca commented that Black could also play 22Rxb5 23.Bxf8 Bxf8 24.Bxb5 Bxb5 25, and White would now have two exchanges for the piece. Too bad Schlechter did not play this way. It would have been a great ending to play.

<Engine preference>: <22Ra8> ( -0.64)

Engine preferences are not given beyond this point as the evaluations are too low within the low ply standard for engine preferences to have much meaning.

<23. Nxd6> (= -0.23 ) <23Rb6> (= -0.17)

<24. Bxd7> (= -0.17) <24Nxd7> (= -0.10)

<25. Nf5> (= -0.10) <25Re8> (= -0.18 )

<26. Ra7> ( -0.34) <26Nf6> ( -0.34)

<27. Ra2> ( -0.34) <27g6> ( -0.34)

<28. Nd4> ( -0.34) <28Reb8> (= -0.21)

<29. Rf2> (= -0.22) <29Nd7> (= -0.18)

<30. h3> ( -0.30 ) <30Nc5> (= -0.22)

<31. Rd2> (= -0.18) <31Nd3> (=0.00)

<32. b4> (=0.00) <32cxb3> (=0.00)

<33. Nxb3> (=0.00) <33Rxb3> (=0.04)

<34. Rxd3> (=0.04) <34Rc8> (=0.04)

<35. Rxd5> (=0.04) <35Rbxc3> (=0.04)

Draw agreed.

Aug-01-09  visayanbraindoctor: <Bridgeburner>: PART 6


<Note> The fluctuations generated in the relatively low (16 minimum) ply forward slide were smoothed out in the equivalent return slide. The corrected evaluations extracted from the return slide are used in this analysis, as they are considered more reliable than the raw evaluations generated on the initial forward slide. All moves have been evaluated on forward and return slide for completeness.

<Evaluation range>:

Between < 0.28> applying to the move <1.e4 e4 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6> - representing a slight advantage to White that comes with having the advantage of the first move - and < 1.09> in respect of the move <14. Na3> representing a moderate advantage for Black.

<The largest evaluation shift>:

- for White was <0.54> between <20Bc5> (= -0.10) and <21. Kh1> -0.64), well outside the range for a bad move.

- for Black was <0.53> between <15. Na3> ( 1.09) and <15Be7> ( -0.56), well outside the range for a bad move.

<Computer statistics>:

94.3% of the ply in this game (66/70) coincided with engine preferences 1, 2 or 3

81.4% of the ply in the game (57/70) coincided with engine preferences 1 or 2

68.6% of the ply in the game (48/70) coincided with the engines first preference

94.3% of Schlechters moves (33/35) coincided with the engine preferences 1, 2 and 3

94.3% of Laskers moves (33/35) coincided engine preferences 1, 2 and 3

80.0% of Schlechters moves (28/35) coincided with engine preferences 1 and 2

82.9% of Laskers moves (29/35) coincided with engine preferences 1 and 2

65.7% or 23/35 of Schlechters moves coincided with the engines first preference

68.6% or 24/35 of Laskers moves coincided with the engines first preference.

<The engine evaluation of the final position>:

was <=0.04> in a position agreed drawn.


<Within the methods defined for the project, the game is weighted at 0, representing 0 bad move and 0 blunders by Lasker, and 0 bad moves and 0 blunders by Schlechter.>

Aug-01-09  visayanbraindoctor: My thoughts <Bridgeburner>:

It seems to me that 8. a4 is an opening novelty by Lasker, refuted over the board by Schlechter with 8...Nxd4, who ended up a pawn ahead in a Queenless middlegame.

I think 15...Be7 was a strategical misjudgment, although not an outright mistake, as spotted by both the computer and Capablanca, who both recommended other alternatives. Why did Schlechter move this? Probably because of his renowned cautious nature, which he allowed to take over his game at this early stage of the match (round 2). This move basically gets his Bishop out of the 8th rank so that he can castle ASAP, but sacs his extra pawn. Yet in this position, with Queens off the board, Schlechter was probably better off trying to save his pawn and centralizing his King early which is what the computer prefers.

Why would Schlechter deem such a pawn sac line as reasonable? Probably because he was counting on creating a backward White b2-pawn, Lasker holes on b3 and d3, and a space advantage on the Queenside.

It turned out these were not enough to win. Lasker defended coolly and managed to liquidate his backward b2-pawn after which the game petered to a draw. This is why 15...Be7 was a strategical misjudgment.

Rather careless annotations by Capa (if all of them were his), as though he had a deadline to meet or a date that he might miss. He immediately spotted Schlechter's strategical misjudgment, but some of his notes would have been described by Fischer as <idiotic>. Fischer was famous for saying that Capa would often make <idiotic> annotations.

I am indeed puzzled why Lasker repeated 8. a4 in game 4 of the match; and I believed that he was under the illusion that he had found an improvement by that time. Schlechter sidestepped whatever 'improvement' that Lasker had in mind by ironically making an inferior move.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Chessical: <8.a4> was already known theory at the time of the match, and the idea seems to have first come to prominence in Chigorin's games:

Chigorin vs K Miasnikov, 1876
Chigorin vs A V Solovtsov, 1879
Chigorin vs Wemmers, 1881
Chigorin vs S Rosenthal, 1883

Pillsbury was also an enthusiastic proponent.

Schlechter had both played it and against it prior to this match:

Schlechter vs Schiffers, 1895
Showalter vs Schlechter, 1898
Schlechter vs H Fahndrich, 1904
Spielmann vs Schlechter, 1909

Aug-02-09  visayanbraindoctor: <Chessical> Thanks for the info. This Wemmers guy apparently had played the 8...Nxd4 idea way back in 1881, which in all probability means that both Lasker and Schlechter were thoroughly familiar with it.

This match apparently continued an ongoing opening debate on the Open Ruy.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Chessical: Re <8.a4> from the "Year Book of Chess 1910":

"This might be called an innovation, but in reality, it was suggested by Herr Emil Schallopp in the "Book of the Nuremberg Tournament 1883" to the game Winawer vs J N Berger, 1883

Herr W.Therkatz...attributes the move to Carl Wemmers, the Cologne Master , who he says, played it against Chigorin at Berlin 1881...Schlechter in his notes to the game speaks of the move as an innovation, so that he evidently did not know of the two games mentioned above and had worked out the continuation himself.

Mr Hoffer is probably right in attributing the move to Schallopp, as Herr Marco states that this master used it in correspondence play as far back as 1874".

This shows how slowly innovations peculated through the chess-world in the early twentieth century as compared to today.

Aug-02-09  Ed Trice: Now that's what I call analysis!
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: 8...Nxd4 was considered an important innovation when Schlechter played it. In his book on the 1908 match Tarrasch said that 8.a4 <demolished> the Open Defense, which is why he played the Chigorin variation (which he despised) against Lasker.

<The move 5....Nxe4, which up to this point has been played with success, must be given up after the newest strengthening of White's attack. Black has at the beginning better piece play than in any other variation of the Spanish Game, but he labors under the burden of too many holes on the queenside, while on the kingside White's pawn majority threatens him with a strong attack. The strongest continuation, which demolishes this defense, lies in the moves 5. 0-0 Nxe4 6. d4 b5 7. Bb3 d5 8. a4! (much stronger than 8. dxe5 at once) 8....Rb8 9. axb5 axb5 10. dxe5 Be6 11. c3 Bc5 12. Nbd2 0-0 13. Bc2. This will remove the knight from e4, whether Black exchanges it or reinforces it with ...f5. After the latter move there follows 14. Nb3 Bb6 15. Nfd4 Nxd4 (also 15...Bd7 gives Black an unsatisfactory game) 16. Nxd4 Bxd4 17. cxd4 f4 18. f3 Ng5 (after ....Ng3 19. Re1 the knight stands badly) 19. h4 Nf7 20. Bxf4 Qxh4 21. g3 and White is superior in the center and on both flanks. >

Lasker vs Tarrasch, 1908

Jan-29-11  Llawdogg: Lasker was a defensive genius. I was rooting for Hannibal Schlechter to eat Lasker's liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti. But, alas, it wasn't meant to be.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Honza Cervenka: < Chessical: Re <8.a4> from the "Year Book of Chess 1910":

"This might be called an innovation, but in reality, it was suggested by Herr Emil Schallopp in the "Book of the Nuremberg Tournament 1883" to the game Winawer vs J N Berger, 1883

Herr W.Therkatz...attributes the move to Carl Wemmers, the Cologne Master , who he says, played it against Chigorin at Berlin 1881...>

Well, Herr W.Therkatz was wrong. It was played at Berlin 1881 but not by Wemmers against Chigorin, but by Chigorin against Wemmers: Chigorin vs Wemmers, 1881

Premium Chessgames Member
  Honza Cervenka: <<Engine preferences>: <10. Nc3> ( -0.34);>

10.Nc3!? is an interesting improvement of the line from white's perspective, which was introduced by Carl Schlecter in Schlechter vs H Wolf, 1910 and Schlechter vs J Perlis, 1910.

Oct-15-15  paul1959: In my old ECO, Korchnoi indicates that both 10 Nc3 and 10 axb5 lead to an equal game. Lasker played axb5 later in the match and it remained the main line of the variation. VK also put a ?! to 10 Qxd4 as 12...Bd6! 13 Qxg7 Kd7! would lead to a strong attack similar to Capa`s notes on the 11th move.
Oct-15-15  paul1959: Capa`s notes were probably written 'live' during the match for a newspaper which explains inconsistencies and errors noted here and on other games.
Oct-15-15  thomastonk: <paul1959: Capa`s notes were probably written 'live' during the match for a newspaper ...> Capablanca held the position of the editor-in-chief of the <Chess Weekly> from January to March 1910, when the magazine disappeared. Here he annotated all ten games of the match, and maybe he was not so much in a hurry, but worked sloppily.
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