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Emanuel Lasker vs Wilhelm Steinitz
Steinitz - Lasker World Championship Match (1894), Montreal CAN, rd 13, May-05
Spanish Game: Exchange Variation. General (C68)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
Oct-21-02  drukenknight: Here is one of the most famous examples of the SPanish exchange variation. In this case, black won! Against no less than Lasker. It seems that the game became very much a positional game where calculation counts for less than good judgment. There really is very little in the way of forcing combinations for Lasker to calculate and he seemed to play inferior moves. Why did white break up his q side pawns on the 20th move?

I like this game as it shows a great positional player beating a great calculating player. Steinizt relying on years of experience on how to place his K for the endgame. Lasker a young talent is maybe a little unsure of how the endgame will play out.

Oct-21-02  pawntificator: I loved reading Laskers Manual of Chess. He pays great tribute to Steinitz in it.
Oct-21-02  drukenknight: where does Lasker go astray? SOmewherein the endgame I guess. He doesnt seem to make any miscalculation.
Jun-13-04  hollowone: It seems to be a case of Steinitz simply outmaneuvering Lasker in the endgame. Lasker was a pawn ahead in the midgame, but Steinitz, with his Bishop versus Lasker's knight, is clearly able to pick off Lasker's remaining pawns much faster than Lasker can capture Steinitz's or protect his own.

Perhaps the strategic error was to be left with scattered Ps + N versus scattered Ps + B. In this case, the B is clearly a superior piece.

May-18-06  ItzEinStein: I think it was Steinitz's experience that won this game.
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: There are 23 Lasker games in the database with this variaion, and this is Lasker's only loss.
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: An excellent game by Steinitz.

<where does Lasker go astray?>

Very interesting question. White has an uncomfortable position since at least move 20, but it's not easy to pinpoint the last moment at which he could have saved the game. Certainly not after the rook trade on move 36, since there's no hope of counterplay with the rooks off.

So the very last hope for White to save it must be to keep the rooks on with 34. Kh3.

Black has several tries: push immediately with 34. Kh3 b5 35. axb5+ Kxb5 36. Rb1+, or go for trades with 34. Kh3 Bf2 35. Rd2 Be1 36. Rd4 Bxc3 37. Rxf4, or pick off the pawns with 34. Kh3 Re2 35. Rd8 Ra2 36. Rh8 Rxa4 37. Rxh7 Rc4 38. Rh8.

In each case White's counterplay can be annoying. I suspect Black still wins, but after a brief study I didn't immediately see any easy winning line.

Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: There was a mistake in my offhand line 34. Kh3 Bf2 35. Rd2 Be1 36. Rd4 Bxc3? because White wins the bishop with <37. Rc4+>. Black has to play 36...b5 and then 37. Rxf4 b4 38. cxb4 cxb4 looks strong.

Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: I assume the answer to 26. Nxf5 would be 26. Nxf5 Rxf3 27. Ne7+ Bxe7, so then 28. gxf3 Bxf3+ 29. Kg1 Bc5+ 30. Ne3 Rd2 leaves White completely tied up and about to lose the h-pawn and/or the a-pawn.

But maybe White can try 26. Nxf4 Rxf3 27. Ne7+ Bxe7 28. Rxe7! and after 28...Rf2 29. Ne3 Rxa2 30. Rxh7 Rdd2 31. Rf1, it still looks like a fight.

Aug-21-07  sanyas: It's Lasker who plays like a 2400 here.
Feb-29-08  Knight13: Pathetic White Knights, sitting on the first rank having beer and not helping his king help with his battle. You call that vassals!!??
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: In an 1894 book on the match edited by J.G. Cunningham (then London correspondent of BCM), and including annotations by many of the leading lights of the day, White's fourth move is adorned by a question mark.

Apr-27-10  kibitzwc: Lasker,Emanuel - Steinitz,William [C68]
World Championship 5th USA/CAN (13), 05.05.1894
C68: Ruy Lopez: Exchange Variation, sidelines 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Bxc6 dxc6 5.d4 exd4 6.Qxd4 Qxd4 7.Nxd4 c5 8.Ne2 Bd7 9.Nbc3 0–0–0 10.Bf4 Bc6 11.0–0 Nf6 [11...Bd6 12.Rad1 Bxf4 13.Rxd8+ Kxd8 14.Nxf4 Nf6 15.f3 Nd7 16.Rd1 Kc8 17.Ncd5 Bxd5 18.Rxd5 c6 19.Rd1 a5 20.Kf2 Kc7 21.g4 a4 22.h4 Ne5 23.Nd3 Nd7 24.c4 Rd8 25.Ke2 b5 26.Rc1 Laketic,G (2425)-Lazic,M (2495)/Kladovo 1990/CBM 017/½–½ (70); 11...Ne7 12.Rad1 Rxd1 13.Rxd1 Ng6 14.Bg3 f6 15.Nf4 Nxf4 16.Bxf4 Be7 17.Nd5 Bd8 18.c4 b6 19.f3 Rf8 20.g4 g6 21.Kf2 Rh8 22.h4 f5 23.Bg5 Bxg5 24.hxg5 fxg4 25.Ne7+ Kb7 26.Nxc6 Briestensky,R (2383)-Dietmayer Kraeutler,M (2302)/Beijing 2008/CBM 126 Extra/½–½ (38)] 12.f3N Covers g4 [12.Ng3 g6 13.Bg5 Be7 14.e5 Nd5 15.Bxe7 Nxe7 16.Rfd1 h6 17.Nce4 b6 18.Nf6 Nd5 19.Nxd5 Bxd5 20.f4 Rd7 21.Nf1 Rhd8 22.Ne3 Be4 23.Rxd7 Rxd7 24.Kf1 g5 25.fxg5 hxg5 26.Re1 Re7 Weemaes,R (2325)-Van Riemsdijk,H (2375)/Thessaloniki 1988/TD/1–0 (66)] 12...Be7 13.Ng3 g6 Controls f5+h5 14.Rfe1 Nd7 15.Nd1 [15.e5!?=] 15...Nb6 [15...Bf6 -0.65/12 0 ] 16.Nf1 Rd7 [16...Bf6 17.Nfe3³] 17.Be3 [17.Nc3!?³ is worth consideration] 17...Rhd8µ 18.b3 c4 19.Bxb6 cxb6 20.bxc4 Bb4 21.c3 Bc5+ 22.Kh1 Rd3 23.Rc1 a5 Black has a new backward pawn: b6 [23...b5!?µ] 24.Nde3³ f5 25.exf5 gxf5 26.h3 Rg8 27.Nd5 [27.Nxf5?? taking the pawn will bring White grief 27...Rxf3 Deflection: g1 28.Re8+ Rxe8 (28...Bxe8?! 29.gxf3 Bf7 30.N1e3³) 29.gxf3 Re2–+] 27...Bxd5 28.cxd5 Rxd5 29.Rcd1 [29.c4 Rd3³] 29...Rxd1µ 30.Rxd1 f4 31.Kh2 Re8 32.a4 Kc7 33.h4 Kc6 [33...b5 34.Ra1µ] 34.c4 Bb4 35.Kh3 [¹35.g3!?µ] 35...Re1–+ 36.Rxe1 Bxe1 37.Kg4 Kc5 38.Kxf4 Kxc4 39.Ke4 [39.Ne3+ Kb3 40.Nf5 b5 41.axb5 a4 42.Nd4+ Kc3 43.Ne2+ Kb2–+] 39...Bxh4 40.g3 Bd8 [¹40...Be7–+] 41.Ne3+? [¹41.f4–+] 41...Kb4 42.Kd3 [42.f4 Kxa4 43.Kd3 Kb4–+] 42...Kxa4 43.Kc2 [43.Nc2 cannot change destiny 43...b5 44.Nd4 Bf6–+] 43...Kb4 44.f4 Kc5 45.f5 [45.Nf5 is not the saving move 45...b5–+] 45...Kd6 46.g4 b5 47.Nd1 [47.Kd3 is no salvation 47...Ke5–+] 47...Ke5 48.Nc3 [48.Nf2 doesn't change the outcome of the game 48...Be7 49.Nd3+ Ke4–+] 48...b4 49.Na4 [49.Nd1 doesn't improve anything 49...Kf4–+] 49...Kd4 50.Nb2 [50.g5 does not help much 50...Bxg5 51.Nb6 h5–+] 50...b5 51.Kb3 Be7 52.g5 [52.Nd1 the last chance for counterplay 52...a4+ 53.Kb2–+] 52...a4+ 53.Nxa4 bxa4+ 54.Kxa4 Ke5 [¹54...Bxg5 secures the win 55.Kxb4 h5–+] 55.Kb3 [55.g6 desperation 55...hxg6 56.fxg6–+] 55...Kxf5 [55...Kxf5 56.Kc4 Kxg5 57.Kd4 h5 58.Ke4 h4 59.Kd3 h3 60.Ke3 h2 61.Kd2 b3 62.Kc3 h1Q 63.Kd3 b2 64.Kc3 b1Q 65.Kc4 Qf3 66.Kd4 Qbe4#] 0–1
Jan-19-11  Llawdogg: Wow! Steinitz beats Lasker, but he missed the chance to deliver a real beating. There was a rare but amazing windmill attack waiting in this game. Steinitz played 27 ... Bxd5. OK, but this bishop could have been one of the paddles of the windmill attack. Chigorin pointed out that 27 ... b5! was much better. If only Steinitz had seen this!
Jan-19-11  Llawdogg: The game might have continued like this:
28 Ne7+ Bxe7
29 Rxe7 Rxf3! very nice rook sacrifice.
30 gxf3 Bxf3+ this was the bishop's destiny.
31 Kh2 Rg2+ the other paddle. Whack!
32 Kh1 Rxa2+ discovered check. Whack!
33 Kg1 Rg2+ whack again.
34 Kh1 Rc2+ discovered check again.
Now, that would have been something!
Nov-20-11  King Death: I'm surprised Lasker didn't play 25. Nd5 instead. In the game itself, the trade of the rooks left him with a hopeless position, because Black's pieces were more active, the kingside pawns never got going and White's queenside pawns were doomed in the minor piece ending.

This is a good early example of the power of bishop against knight on an open board where there's play on both sides and the knight has no strong points or weaknesses to attack.

Premium Chessgames Member
  MichaelJHuman: My Chessmaster game annotation (not the game analysis, but the annotation in the game file) suggests 9. b3?

But the game's own does not find that move at least in any reasonable time.

Does that make sense?

Premium Chessgames Member
  Penguincw: An important game for Steinitz. He won it.
Premium Chessgames Member
  SteinitzLives: Lasker was leading this match at the time of the game 8.5 - 3.5. His play seems an attempt to squeeze way too much out of an exchange Lopez where black has easily equalized or is better by move 9.

On either moves 13, 14, or 15 Lasker could have placed an R on d1 and equalized easily. Laskers' play in not doing this and getting the draw or at least equality back is a bit arrogant and is punished nicely.

After 15 . . .Nb6, and there were also other strong moves for black in this position, Steinitz makes moves that restrain Lasker and prepare the break through on the d file.

Note that lots of Kasparovs' wins are like this one, featuring a rook penetration maneuver, though not necessarily to the 2nd (or 7th) rank, but just dominant control of the file which creates a second weakness, that Rubinsteins' play (and others) often illustrated.

By move 20 Lasker is positionally busted, and Steinitz takes his time continuously adding little by little to his advantage, showing great positional play techniques. A clinic from the waning world champion, from which we can all benefit.

Aug-24-14  ljfyffe: Better is 9Nd2 instead of 9Nbc3( MC0 10, edited by Larry Evans.
Aug-25-14  ljfyffe: Also, <7...Bd7 8Be3 0-0-0 9Nd2 Ne7 10 0-0-0 Re8 11Rhe1 Ng6 12Ne2 Bd6 13h3 f5 14exf5 Nh4> Peterson-Alekhine, 1935, instead of 7...c5.
Oct-29-17  Count von Twothree: Move 31 was an interesting moment. White could have tried 31.Rd2 with the idea of 31...Re8 32.g3 fxg3 33.Nxg3, which looks a much tougher defence than the game. E.g. 33...Re3 34.Kg2 Rxc3 35.Ne4 and White would still be fighting.
Sep-10-19  J6n9: Steinitz was going down but at least proving he had been the champion for a reason !
Premium Chessgames Member
  Chessmaletaja: Why not 29 f4 or 29 g4.

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