|keypusher: The first game of the match. Huebner gives this “tough struggle” a very thorough writeup in his-book. Here are some highlights from his voluminous notes. |
Steinitz could have gotten a decent game with 10….Be7. Lasker, in turn, could have grabbed a clear advantage with 12.Bg5, since 12….Be7 13.Bxe7 Qxe7 14.0-0-0 wins a pawn, 12….Qa5 13.0-0-0 leaves Black with difficulties completing his development. …f6 or …h6 would leave him with serious kingside weaknesses.
Huebner thinks Steinitz did well not to take the pawn on move 16, but after 17.Ne2 (?), …Bxh4 was playable, with a sharp and risky game for both sides. 17….Rf7 left Black with a very solid position. Steinitz had opportunities to play …d5 with clear equality at various points; instead 25….Bc7 allowed 26.Nf5 (threatening Nh6+) with advantage. After 26.Nf3 (?) Qf6 27.Nd2 Rfe7 28.f3 d5 “Black had overcome all his difficulties.”
click for larger view
In this game, Steinitz played the same sort of cramped defense he had used in his matches with Chigorin and Gunsberg. In those matches, if he managed to survive the initial assault, he often took over the board and won, as in this game: Chigorin vs Steinitz, 1892. He probably expected something similar to happen here, but Lasker was a different kind of opponent. Now a whole new game begins.
29.Rh1 Re5 30.g3 Rg5 (?)
This allows White to get in g3-g4, solidifying his kingside pawns. 30….fxg3 31.f4 R5e7 32.e5 Qe6 would have been somewhat better for Black.
31.Qd7 Qf7 32.Qxf7+ Kxf7 33.g4 Bb6 34.exd5 cxd5.
<beatgiant> asks, <what does White have after 34….Rxd5?>. Huebner thinks retaking with the pawn is safer, because after 34….Rxd5 35.Ne4 Red8 36.Rxd5 Rxd5 37.Kc2 “and the Black position is uncomfortable.” I’m not sure what to think. The knight looks strong on e4, but it’s hard for me to see how White will make progress.
35.Nb3 Re3 36.Rhf1 Rge5?
After this, some delicate maneuvers by Lasker leave Steinitz unable to save both of his pawns on f4 and d5. Huebner recommends 36….g6, with equality after 37.hxg6+ Kxg6 38.Nc1 (38.Nd4 h5) 38….Bc5 (covering b4) 39.Nd3 Bd6 followed by …h7-h5.
37.Nc1 Bc7 38.Nd3 Rg5 39.Nb4 R3e5 (39….Ke6 40.Nc2 Ree5 41.Rd4 Re2 42.Rb4 Bb6 43.Rxb6+) 40.Rd4 Bb6 41.Rxf4+ Kg8 42.Nd3 Re2 43.Rd1 Be3
click for larger view
44.Rb4. Huebner thought a simpler win was 44.Ra4 followed by Nb4.
44….b6 45.Ra4 a5 46.b4 d4 47.c4 (keeping the rook on g5 under wraps) Bd2 (?) (Huebner thinks White would have a harder time after 47….axb4 48.Rxb4 Ra5) 48.b5?
Huebner thinks White can force the win with 48.c5 bxc5 49.bxc5 Bc3 50.Rc4.
48….Bc3?. Black is more or less committed to an exchange sacrifice after this. Huebner exhaustively analyzes various alternatives, eventually recommending 48….h6 49.a3 g6 50.hxg6 Bc3 51.c5 bxc5 52.Rc4 h5 53.gxh5 Rxh5 54.Rxc5 Rxc5 55.Nxc5 Rb2+ 56.Kc1 Rxb5 with good drawing chances: 57.Ne6 Rb6 58.Nxd4 Bb2+ 59.Kc2 Bxa3.
As <Calli> pointed out, Steinitz had an excellent idea with 49….Kf7 50.f4 Rc5 51.Nxc5 bxc5 and it’s tough for White to get out of the bind. Huebner thinks White can win after 52.Ra3 Rb2+ 53.Kc1 Rf2 54.Rxc3 dxc3 55.Re1. Now if 55….Rxa2 56.Re5, and if 55….Rxf4 56.Kc2 (56….Rxc4 57.Rb1).
50.f4 Rxg4 51.Rxg4 Rxd3 52.c5
“This long-awaited breakthrough decides.”
Not a flawless game by any means, but tough, resourceful, determined play from both sides. Steinitz must have known he was in for a hell of a match after this.