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Wilhelm Steinitz vs Emanuel Lasker
Steinitz - Lasker World Championship Match (1894), Montreal CAN, rd 4, Mar-24
Italian Game: Classical Variation. Greco Gambit (C53)  ·  1-0



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Given 18 times; par: 98 [what's this?]

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Kibitzer's Corner
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Nov-20-06  euripides: <honza Steinitz could have won easily by playing 51.e7! Kd7 52.hxg5 hxg5 53.d6!>

Intersting. I don't immediately see how White wins the final position in that line. I would have thought rook checks and/or the advance of the g pawn might hold ? In any case can't Black play <51.e7> Re8 e.g. 52.Re6+ Kd7 53.d6 fails to Kxe6 ?

Nov-20-06  Calli: <euripides> In that line, 53.Rxh6 gxh4 54.d6 or 53...Rxe7 54.hxg5
Nov-20-06  euripides: <calli> thanks, I'd missed that. Also I'd missed that with pawns on e7 and d6 the fortress can often be broken simply by Rf8- I was thinking of some fortresses involving two connected passed pawns when one is a rooks's pawn. So 51.e7 does look right.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Honza Cervenka: Btw, my Fritz 8's database as well as a book "The Games of Wilhelm Steinitz, First World Chess Champion" edited by Sid Pickard and published by Pickard & Son, Publishers, Dallas 1995 give a different finish of this game since move 55:

55.Kf4 Ra8 56.e7 Re8 57.Kf5 g3 58.Kf6 Kd7 59.d6 g2 60.Rg1 1-0

I don't think that it can be correct as it makes very little sense. In that case 56.e7?? would be awful blunder (56.Kxg4 wins easily) and 57...g3?? (why not 57...Rxe7?) 58.Kf6?? (58.Re6+! Kd7 59.d6 or 58...Kxd5 59.Kf6 g2 60.Re1 wins) 58...Kd7?? (58...g2!=) would be pretty strange sequence of mistakes.'s gamescore looks more reasonable.

Nov-20-06  who: Strange that Steinitz didn't try to keep the extra piece with 20.gxh4. The computer agrees that white is absolutely winning. For instance 20.gxh4 Rg3+ 21.hxg3 Bxd1 22.Ba2! (maybe this is the move Steinitz missed) Kh8 23.Raxe1 leaves white with a won position.

click for larger view

or 20.gxh4 Raf8 21.Nf4! R3xf4 22.Rxf4 Rxf4 (22...Bxd1? 23.Ba2+) 23.Qb3+

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and after 23...R/Qf7 24.Ba2 wins otherwise 24.exf4

Nov-20-06  Calli: <'s gamescore looks more reasonable.>

It is correct according to Whyld's book of Lasker games. His source is the newspaper "New York Recorder" on 26-3-1894. For some reason, quite a few of the Steinitz-Lasker match games have weird scores in a lot of internet files.

Feb-29-08  Knight13: OMG Lasker "hanged" a bunch of pieces and got away with it...

And the final position is "LOL."

Sep-20-08  whiteshark: <Honza Cervenka: ...<Instead of that 53...Ra8 54.Ke4 Rf8 seems to hold the game.>>

click for larger view

E.g. 55.Re3 Rf4+ 56.Kd3 Ra4 57.Re2 Ra8 58.Ke4 Rf8= or 55.Kd4 g4=

Jul-27-09  elo1xxx: Dont 22.Ra8 immediately won the game ?
Nov-06-09  jonico: Why Black didn't play 18...Qxe3+? Please answer me...
Jan-18-11  Llawdogg: Why didn't black play 18 ... Qxe3+? Because white simply answers 19 Kg2 and holds everything together with no problems, surprisingly enough.

This is the key part of the game, no doubt about it. 19 Nxd5! and 20 Nf4! are great knight maneuvers by Steinitz. 21 Qb3+ was the only good move.

But how about 22 Ra5! Silman suggests this move and it looks good to me.

May-22-13  Monocle: I was looking at this game in the CB Light database, and there it finishes:

55.Kf4 Ra8 56.e7 Re8 57.Kf5 g3 58.Kf6 Kd7 59.d6 g2 60.Rg1 1-0

Even just blitzing through the game, I could see that 57...g2 would be a blindingly obvious draw, so I'm glad to find a more plausible ending to the game here.

Apr-30-14  zanzibar: Play was adjourned at 6pm with Steinitz sealing the move (29.b5), then two hours for dinner, and resumption at 8pm.

paraphrased from New York Daily Tribune, 1894.03.25

The ending of the game was given there as:

55.Kf5 Ra8 56.e7 Re8 57.Kf6 g3 58.Kf7 Kd7 59.d6 g2 60.Rg1 1-0

Agreeing with <CG>.

(NY Daily Tribune is one day before NY Recorder fwiw)

Apr-02-20  pavaobjazevic: It seems that 52... g4 instead of 52... Ra4 draw the game 52... g4 53.Ke4 g3 54.e7 Kxe7 55.Kf3+ Kd6 56.Kxg3 Kxd5
Apr-02-20  pavaobjazevic: Also draw with 53...Ra8 instead of 53...Ra3+

The possible line would be

53... Ra8 54.Ke3 Kxd5 55.e7 Ke6 56.Kf3+ Kf7 57.e8Q+ Rxe8 58.Rxe8

This is one of my favorite chess games because if Steinitz and Lasker made big mistakes in a World Championship game, it is OK that we make mistakes as well!!!

Apr-15-20  sidd95: Why wouldn't the white just take the black queen in move 23 (23 Qxf7+)? Isn't that a mate just after?
Apr-15-20  TheFocus: <sidd95> What mate do you see?
Apr-15-20  sidd95: <TheFocus>, my bad...the king would just take it then, sry
Apr-15-20  WorstPlayerEver: Steinitz completely missed 22. Ra5 1-0

click for larger view

Apr-15-20  TheFocus: <WorstPlayerEver: Steinitz completely missed 22. Ra5 1-0>

I have looked at annotations of this game by Lasker, Steinitz, Gunsberg, Hoffer, and Mason and all them never mention it. Curious. Is there an annotator that did see it, and suggest it later?

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: < TheFocus: <WorstPlayerEver: Steinitz completely missed 22. Ra5 1-0> I have looked at annotations of this game by Lasker, Steinitz, Gunsberg, Hoffer, and Mason and all them never mention it. Curious. Is there an annotator that did see it, and suggest it later?>

J.D. Seguin apparently pointed it out at the time in La Strategie, per Huebner's 2008 book on the match.

Apr-16-20  WorstPlayerEver: PS it was already analyzed by a cg user. Usually when I analyze something, an engine request already have been made.
Apr-16-20  TheFocus: <WorstPlayerEver: PS it was already analyzed by a cg user. Usually when I analyze something, an engine request already have been made.>

Thank you <WPE>.

<Llawdogg> <But how about 22 Ra5! Silman suggests this move and it looks good to me.>

I only have Silman's <Complete Endgame Course> and <How to Reassess Your Chess>.

I bought <Reassess> directly from Silman. I recommend both of those books to add to anyone's library.

Feb-12-21  Darrencstacey: Technique
Feb-16-23  generror: Whoo boy, what a wild game! And surely not Lasker's finest.

Steinitz surprised him by, for the first time ever, playing an old-fashioned Giuoco Piano with <4.c3>. Maybe Lasker wanted to prevent a nasty prepared surprise by playing the Steinitzian <8.Be7?!> instead of <8.Bb6> or <8.Bb4+>, but after the weird sequence <10...f5?! 11.exf6?! Nxf6?! 12.Be3?!>, the game is again very equal.

However, Lasker now decides to play Steinitz' favourite game by initiating an all-out attack with <12...Nb4?>, <13...Ng4?!> and the losing <15...Bh4??>. Maybe Lasker had hoped that Steinitz would get into pawn-grabbing mode with <16.Kd2?? Nc6 17.Nxd5??>, after which the game is very equal. But Steinitz plays the very sensible and obvious <16.g3 Bg4 17.0-0>, and now the best Black could have done is <17...Bxg3>, resulting in an exchange orgy on g3 and f3 after which he has two passed connect pawns for his piece, but after <17...Qe8?> just loses a piece without any compensation.

Steinitz could have won very easily if he hadn's finally succumbed to his pawn-grabbing demon with <19.Nxd5>; virtually every other move (<19.Qe1>, <19.gxh4>, even <19.Be4!?>) wins him a piece; but even so, he could have easily won by playing <22.Ra5!> (D) -- Black has now the choice between <22...Bd1>, after which White will be up a rook for a pawn, or <22...Bf6>, after he has a queen for a rook (both according to Stockfish's line).

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So once again, after <25.gxh4> (D), Lasker is "lucky" to have reached an endgame where he is only down a pawn. Stockfish gives it a +1.5, so Black still has good chances to draw. However, as in the opening, Lasker's play is far from being good. <29...cxb5?!> gives White two connected passed pawns in the center, and while this may not be losing according to Stockfish, it looks much worse to me now than before.

But Steinitz also is far from playing perfectly; he could have easily won another pawn with <42.Rg1!>, but he allows Lasker to nearly equalize if he had played <46...Rxh2>. He also gives Lasker a second chance with <51.hxg5??> (<51.e7!> would have won easily). If Lasker had played <53...Ra8 54.Ke4 Rf8!> (D), he would have had a really interesting fortress and the game is a dead draw.

click for larger view

But after <53...Ra3+??>, it's a sure win; and that move is yet another proof that Lasker, like everyone, could truly blunder hart.

It was an interesting games, but I it does lack the quality of the previous games; Iguess both players were a bit exhausted. The next two games ended in a draw, before Lasker began his decisive winning streak.

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