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Emanuel Lasker vs Wilhelm Steinitz
Steinitz - Lasker World Championship Match (1894), Montreal CAN, rd 11, Apr-21
Queen's Gambit Declined: Three Knights Variation. General (D37)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
Jul-14-04  WMD: This from Ken Whyld's Quotes & Queries column in the BCM, June 1994:

No.5203 - Bernard Cafferty, preparing a history article for BCM, came across an anomaly in the score of the 11th game of the Steinitz-Lasker match, 1894.[...] Most German sources give Black's 31st move as b6, but BCM and Chess Monthly give P-KKt3 (viz. g6). Either move makes sense, but Bernard decided that g6 was better and therefore more likely, otherwise later White could have played a bishop to c6 with serious effect. Later I came across the game in the New Orleans Times Democrat, specially contributed by Lasker, and he gave P-KKt3.

Premium Chessgames Member
  ray keene: its obviously g6-this shd be corrected on the site.
Sep-29-05  geneven: Reinfeld's Lasker's Greatest Chess Games 1889-1914 also gives 31...b6. This book was supposedly annotated by Reinfeld and Fine. They may have been relying on the German sources mentioned above. They do mention that after 31...b6, Be4 would have won quickly -- they must have wondered why Lasker voluntarily left his Bishop to be hemmed in after their incorrect 31...b6.
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: But why doesn't Steinitz play 30...g6 (or 30...h6)?
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: Answering my own question, Soltis writes:

<Black loses after 30...h6 31 Be4 because his king doesn't play enough of a role, e.g. 31...Kf7 32 Bf3! Ke8 (32...b6 33 Bc6) 33 Ke4 or 32...Kf6 33 Kd3 Kf5 34 Bxb7! Bxb7 35 d7.

However, after 30...Kf7 the king is close enough (31 Be4 Ke8 32 Bxh7 Kd7).>

The same logic would apply to 30...g6, I guess.

In his book Soltis doesn't try to figure out whether ...b6 or ...g6 was played on Black's 31st move. Neither move, he says, would have saved the game. Truly Laskerian pragmatism.

Jan-06-08  Ulhumbrus: 14...a5 invites b5 followed by Ne5. Instead of this, 14...Rfd8 gets ready for ..Be8

After 17 a4 one potential threat on the part of White is that of Ba3, occupying the a3-f8 diagonal; and another potential threat on the part of White is that of Nc4 attacking a Black KB on c7.

Instead of 17...Bc7, 17...Bc5 answers both threats, and on 18 Nd3 Bd6 19 Rhd1 Ng6 clears the square e7 for the KB. On 20 Rac1 Bd7 Black may succeed in completing his development.

19 Rc1 makes possible Ba3 followed by Nd6, which if attempted at once would leave the Nc3 undefended otherwise eg 19 Ba3 Re8 20 Nd6 Bxd6 21 Bxd6 Rxc3.

Another threat is a potential one, that of b6 followed by Nxa5, in the event that Black can't answer b6 with ..Bd8 eg after 19...Rfd8 20 b6 Bb8 21 Nxa5.

After 19 Ra1-c1 White isn't exactly threatening anything, not more than potentially, yet Black is unable to complete his development.

What White seems to have done is to create a potential threat which will become real when Black tries to complete his development.

What makes this point interesting is that it can recur. It may have happened more than once that a player is not threatening anything- not more than potentially- and yet the opponent gets into trouble no matter which way the opponent tries to continue to develop. This matter may be worth pondering further

19..Nd5 concedes the bishop pair after 20 Nxd5 Nxd5 21 Ne5.

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: It's my hypothesis that Lasker was the first great master to make early queen exchanges a regular part of his repertoire. But how can I test my hypothesis?
Feb-29-08  MichAdams: Before testing, you should provide working definitions of: great master, early and regular.
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <MichAdams> It would be more interesting if I could show he was the first among "strong masters" -- someone at, say, Lowenthal's level around 1850, or Englisch's level around 1880. I'll have to check out Edo ratings and find a decent cutoff. (I think Edo is based on a lot more games for 19th century players than chessmetrics is.)

Early: on move 10 or sooner would be where I would start.

Regular: It would depend on the numbers. If, say, Lasker was at 15% and no one else was higher than 5%, that would be significant even if you didn't consider 15% to be regular.

Feb-29-08  MichAdams: Regarding Lasker's predilection for an early Queen exchange, do you have in particular mind, his pet variation in the Petroff: <1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nf3 Nxe4 5.Qe2>?
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <MichAdams> That too, but I was thinking more of games like this and 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Bxc6 dxc6, though unfortunately for my hypothesis he didn't play 5. d4 that often.
Feb-29-08  MichAdams: <Regular: It would depend on the numbers. If, say, Lasker was at 15% and no one else was higher than 5%, that would be significant even if you didn't consider 15% to be regular.>

I'd consider 15% to be more than regular; I'd consider it bordering on the obsessive. Remember, in the choice of openings, it takes two to tango.

Frankly, I don't know enough about Lasker's opening repertoire to be of any great assistance, but I did find one game in which he employed the Berlin Defence a la Kramnik:

Tarrasch vs Lasker, 1895

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: Unfortunately Tarrasch played it sooner:

Harmonist vs Tarrasch, 1889

Mar-02-08  Knight13: Whoa!!
Mar-02-08  Alex Patkowski: great game!
Sep-27-15  sportember: Why not 32...♔g7?
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <sportember> 32...Kg7 33. Kxe5 Kxh7 34. Kf6, followed by 35. Ke7, 36. d7 and White will soon mop up.
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <In his book Soltis doesn't try to figure out whether ...b6 or ...g6 was played on Black's 31st move. Neither move, he says, would have saved the game. Truly Laskerian pragmatism.>

Incidentally, Cunningham's book on the match gives 31....g6, and quotes a number of contemporary analysts explaining why Black can't go after the bishop after 32.Ke4 (see beatgiant's post for the variation). So there doesn't seem to be much ground for doubt about what Steinitz played.

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