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Wilhelm Steinitz vs Siegbert Tarrasch
Hastings (1895), Hastings ENG, rd 20, Aug-31
Dutch Defense: Rubinstein Variation (A84)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
May-01-04  semesterian: Tarrasch had a better winning percentage against Steinitz than Lasker, and he could have defeated Lasker barely a year after the latter got the title from a pretty old and listless Steinitz. Too bad he was so arrogant and wanted Lasker to win more tournaments "to get the chance to play me." He should have nailed Lasker in 1895 with a title match offer and would have gotten enough backers. Instead he waited, and that's why we remember Lasker rather than Tarrasch. But imagine if things had turned out just a little differently? =)
May-01-04  ughaibu: If you're seriously asserting that Tarrasch could've beaten Lasker in a match, I'd like to review your back-up.
May-01-04  iron maiden: Yes, there are so many matches that Lasker should've been able to play during his reign as champion. I'd rate Rubinstein-Lasker circa 1910 and Pillsbury-Lasker as more tragic than the never-played Tarrasch match, though.
May-01-04  DennisKucinich: Well, semesterian has a point. Chessmetrics clearly puts Lasker atop Tarrasch rating-wise in the 1894-1895 period. Now Tarrasch did beat Lasker in Hastings 1895, and having more international experience than Lasker, he could have proved a formidable 1895, that is. After 1895, Lasker would have beaten Tarrasch easily. The German champion should have played Lasker no later than 1895, if it were possible. Lasker was still reeling from an embarrassing third-place finish in Hastings, and his renewal in St. Petersburg was still months away. Tarrasch, in my mind, had the power to beat Lasker in 1895--but no later.
May-01-04  DennisKucinich: I mean, Chessmetrics clearly puts Tarrasch atop Lasker from 1894-1895: and
May-01-04  ughaibu: DennisKucinich: Lasker nearly died from typhoid in 1895, even then he almost won at Hastings (lost his last three games?). Tarrasch would never have beaten him in a match. Lasker's practicality is often talked about and it also distinguishes his match play from his tournament play, I dont think Pillsbury would've troubled him, Rubinstein is a more difficult question.
May-02-04  iron maiden: Pillsbury could probably have put up a good fight if he played Lasker before 1900. I mean, they had an even lifetime score at 5 wins each, and one of those Lasker victories was at that U.S. tournament several years before Hastings, when Pillsbury was nowhere near his peak ability.
Feb-14-05  ksadler: <refutor> Here is an example of the Dutch with .. Bb4, basically an improved Nimzo-Indian from your perspective. Probably one of the reasons that Nc3 is usually delayed until Black plays .. Be7 in these lines.
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <ughaibu> I think Lasker lost to Tarrasch in round 20 and Blackburne in round 21 (and a round or two before than he missed a two-move combination to win Mason's rook, costing him a half-point). But he recovered to crush Burn in 20 in the last round to come in third.

Interesting that you think Lasker would have had more trouble with Rubinstein than Pillsbury in a match -- I think the opposite, much as I love Rubinstein. But I believe he would have beaten them both.

<DK> I also think Lasker would have beaten Tarrasch in 1895 in a match, though perhaps not as decisively as he did in 1908. I have the Hastings 1895 tournament book (which I strongly recommend) and Lasker's games impress me more than anyone's, despite his third-place finish.

Feb-14-05  iron maiden: Lasker's games from Hastings--aside from his win against Steinitz--never really impressed me much. His play the following year at St. Petersburg and Nuremberg was much more solid and convincing.
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <iron maiden> that may well be. I haven't seen the Nuremburg and St. Petersburg games, except for a few of the famous ones (like the Pillsbury-Lasker rook sacrifice). Here are some of his games at Hastings that I like.

Burn vs Lasker, 1895

Lasker vs Janowski, 1895

Schlechter vs Lasker, 1895

W Pollock vs Lasker, 1895

Schiffers vs Lasker, 1895

Lasker vs Gunsberg, 1895

Feb-14-05  euripides: Tarrasch's hypermodern opening play does not make a good impression here. After 31 Bh6+ Kxh6 32 Rxf6 White looks much better e.g. 33 Nc4 Rb8 35 Rf8 Kg7 36 Rd8 Ra8 37 Bxc8 Rxc8 38 Rxc8 Bxc8 39 Nxd6. Black may have something better but it looks very satisfactory for White.
Jun-09-05  paul dorion: Steinitz missed 31 h4 which looks like a win. Idea is either g2-g4-g5 or Bg5. Then Rf7 should decide. Example:
31-h4 h5
32-Bg5 Bxg5
33-Rf7 Kh8
34-hxg5 Rb8
35-a5 black is paralysed
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: I think <DennisKucinich> is looking at an old version of chessmetrics. According to Sonas' site Lasker was stronger than Tarrasch by the time of the Hastings tournament (and for years before).

Jun-07-08  Lutwidge: Tarrasch's inventive and resourceful play in difficult positions is maybe not so appreciated as his oft-supposed dogmatism, but perhaps it should be.
Jun-07-08  percyblakeney: <Steinitz missed 31 h4 which looks like a win>

Yep, Shredder sees it as more than +4.5, still Steinitz didn't have a bad tournament as fifth, one point behind Tarrasch in fourth.

Premium Chessgames Member
  paulalbert: <keypusher> As a fan of both Lasker and Tarrasch, I was intrigued by your comment that Chessmetrics shows Lasker as being stronger than Tarrasch even before Hastings 1895, so I looked at the actual source of the results, since I am cautious about concluding too much from rating differences, particularly since Lasker and Tarrasch had long intervals between rated events. It looks like Lasker definitely got blowout results in matches and tournaments, but except obviously the win in 1894 against Steinitz, against few opponents in his class. Tarrasch also has excellent results, but not blowouts, in matches (e.g., Chigorin in 1891 where the drawn result lost him rating points ) and tournaments such as Leipzig 1894 where there were at least some elite group players. During this period, I think Tarrasch also would have beaten Steinitz in a match. It's too bad there wasn't a Tarrasch-Lasker match say around 1892 to "qualify" to play Steinitz. I'm not sure that Lasker would have been the favorite, even though his Chessmetrics rating is higher. Thanks for your excellent work on translating Tarrasch's works. I'm conversant in German ( my wife is German ) but never studied it formally, so I have to work with a dictionary and guess at the grammatical constructions when I read the Tarrasch books in my chess book collection. Paul Albert
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <PaulAlbert>

Sometimes it can be a little embarrassing to read my old comments. I would be a more skeptical today about the chessmetrics ratings from the mid-1890s, based as they are on small samples. On the other hand, I continue to be more impressed with Lasker's games from Hastings and Nuremburg than Tarrasch's.

As far as results go, it is striking that Tarrasch was only able to draw a match with Chigorin in 1893 (not, I think, 1891). The year before, Chigorin had narrowly lost a match to Steinitz, who of course Lasker beat decisively in 1894.

Obviously this sort of argument-by-estoppel has its limits -- we all know of examples where Master A beats Master B who beats Master C who nevertheless beats Master A. But the fact that these were long, important matches in which all participants put forward their best efforts, and that the disparity in results was so striking (10-8 Steinitz-Chigorin, 9-9 Tarrasch-Chigorin, 4-10 Steinitz-Lasker) entitles this argument IMO to a little more weight than it usually deserves. On the other hand, as <percyblakeney> has pointed out, Tarrasch won five straight major international tournaments between the late 1880s and Leipzig 1894, and his crushing defeat of Walbrodt in 1894 is also noteworthy.

It is indeed a pity that there wasn't a Lasker-Tarrasch match around this time period rather than in 1908. Lasker challenged Tarrasch in 1892, but Tarrasch refused him rather contemptuously -- "blew him off," in the vernacular.

Had there been a match in 1892, Tarrasch would unquestionably have been the favorite. He was a much bigger figure in the chess world than Lasker at the time. I would still bet on Lasker, though.

Mar-13-09  WhoKeres: White's 32nd move looks like the decisive mistake. Instead of getting a winning attack he just loses a pawn. Still, it takes a player of Tarrasch's calibre to win the game. Tarrasch's play for the first 30 moves reminded me more of Nimzovich's or Petrosian's style.
Mar-29-10  Ulhumbrus: Instead of 12 Nxf6+, 12 Nxe7+ gains the bishop pair.
Sep-16-17  Marcelo Bruno: <ksadler> Another important example with the same opening and the same … Bb4 line at the same tournament was Albin's victory over Janowski.

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