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Siegbert Tarrasch vs Emanuel Lasker
"The Lask Act" (game of the day May-31-2021)
Lasker - Tarrasch World Championship Match (1908), Duesseldorf GER, rd 2, Aug-19
Spanish Game: Berlin Defense. Hedgehog Variation (C66)  ·  0-1

ANALYSIS [x]

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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 6 OF 6 ·  Later Kibitzing>
May-19-10
Premium Chessgames Member
  sisyphus: IM Bill Hartston annotated this in his "Kings of Chess." After 16.Kxf2, he writes:

<Typically for the precise Tarrasch, he takes the sure pawn. An Anderssen or a Morphy would have played the attack with 16 Qd4, relying on Black's exposed King to give him insoluble problems. But perhaps Lasker would never have played 14 ...Ng4 against such gentlemen.>

May-19-10
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <sisyphus: IM Bill Hartston annotated this in his "Kings of Chess." After 16.Kxf2, he writes:

Typically for the precise Tarrasch, he takes the sure pawn. An Anderssen or a Morphy would have played the attack with 16 Qd4, relying on Black's exposed King to give him insoluble problems. But perhaps Lasker would never have played 14 ...Ng4 against such gentlemen.>

You're full of @#$%, Bill. Here is what Tarrasch himself wrote:

<I was in the 16th move indecisive, for I could press my attack or play to win a pawn, and unluckily chose the latter, saying to myself, my attack may go awry and I be left with nothing, which I regret, for it was difficult for the extra pawn to bring victory. Had I not lost the first game, then I would have preferred to attack, for in the worst case, had I failed to win, I would have been in no danger of losing. But I wanted to win to overcome my earlier defeat and catch up to my opponent.>

Tarrasch was not a particularly materialistic player in general, and there is no way in hell Lasker could have known that he would play 16.Kxf2 instead of 16.Qd4, no matter how many hacks write otherwise.

Also, the alternative Tarrasch gave in his book, 16.Qd4 Ng4 17.Rf1?!, was not particularly accurate. If Tarrasch had played that and gone on to lose, the same hacks would no doubt write that Tarrasch should have taken played the safe 16.Kxf2, but that Lasker, with his extraordinary grasp of psychology, foresaw that Tarrasch would avoid the pedestrian capture...

May-26-10
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <sisyphus>

On re-reading, I probably overstated my case somewhat. Tarrasch was not particularly materialistic, but he did like clear lines; a good example of this is notes to Lasker vs Schiffers, 1896 in the Nuremberg 1896 tournament book. Instead of Lasker's 11.Bxa6 exf3 12.0-0, he said White should have preferred 11.Nh4 Bc8 12.Bxa6 Bxa6 13.Qe6+ Be7 14.Qxc6+ Kf7 15.Qxe4 with an extra pawn. Soltis (and presumably Lasker) thought White <deserved more>. So Hartson had a point when he described Tarrasch as "precise."

On the other hand, I still think there was no way Lasker knew what Tarrasch would do on move 16 here. Still less do I think he chose 14...Ng4 because of the identity of his opponent. He did it because he realized he had problems and ...Ng4 gave him his best chance for counterplay. This is how he played against everyone whenever he got into trouble.

<Ulhumbrus: Lasker is supposed to have said of the move 14...Ng4 something like "Against Tarrasch this is good; against Marshall or Janowsky it would be a grave error.">

Sounds like words someone put in Lasker's mouth. He didn't get into trouble against Janowski or Marshall very often, but look how he played in these games:

Lasker vs Janowski, 1910

Janowski vs Lasker, 1904

Janowski vs Lasker, 1896

Marshall vs Lasker, 1914

Marshall vs Lasker, 1914

Same way he played here IMO.

May-26-10
Premium Chessgames Member
  chancho: Tarrasch's book of annotated games: Dreihundert Schachpartien was so admired by Irving Chernev, that he took the cover off the book, and put one on that said: Holy Bible.
May-26-10
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <chancho: Tarrasch's book of annotated games: Dreihundert Schachpartien was so admired by Irving Chernev, that he took the cover off the book, and put one on that said: Holy Bible.>

Chernev Schmernev! More importantly, <Honza Cervenka> is a big fan.

May-26-10  Calli: Chernev's rabbi was surprised when he saw Irv studying the book.
May-29-10
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: A much better translation than mine of Tarrasch's comment on his 16th move is given at the end of Dvoretsky's article.

<On the 16th move, I could not decide whether to play for a continuation of the attack or the win of a pawn, and chose the second possibility, telling myself that my opponent might be able to withstand the attack, and then I would regret not taking an easy pawn, which would be enough to secure me the win. Had I not lost the first game, I would certainly have played for the attack, since even if I had not won the game, I would not have been in an inferior position. But the concern was to equalize the match score and catch up with my opponent.>

May-31-10
Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: At his 37th move, (see my diagram & analysis from 08/30/09), Lasker had a winning position. At that point, Fritz favored 37...Kg8! or 37...d3!, with a clearly winning position for black.

Instead of playing 37...Kg8! or 37...e3!, Lasker erred with 37...R5e6?.

At that point, Tarrasch's 38.Qxc7 seems to provide drawing chances, but Fritz indicates 38...f3!, (see above analysis), was still winning for black.

However, instead of playing 38...f3!, Lasker slipped again, this time with 38...R8e7?.

The move 38...R8e7?, provided Tarrasch with one last chance. The question is, can white hold the following position, after the move 38...R8e7?:


click for larger view

No doubt white has a very difficult position.

Dvoretsky apparently believed white was lost. Instead of 39.Qd8+, he indicated 39.Qc8+ Kg7 40.a4 was more stubborn, but he provided no analysis.

Fritz indicates Dvoretsky's evaluation is incorrect. After 39.Qc8+, Dvoretsky's line provides only an equal position: (-.15) (25 ply) 39.Qc8+ Kg7? 40.a4 h5 41.Ra2, (.00) (21 ply) 41...h4 42.a5 h3 43.a6.

<TheFocus> on 02/19/10, provided us with Lasker's analysis. Lasker stated that 39.Qc8+ was a better move than 39.Qd8+, but he believed black was still winning after 39.Qc8+. See the post by <TheFocus>, on 02/19/10, for Lasker's analysis of this position.

A review by Fritz indicates that after 39.Qc8+!, black's best chance is to retract his last move by playing 39...Re8!.

Here is Fritz's analysis of the position after 39.Qc8+! Re8!: (-.74) (26 ply) 40.Qd7! Qh2 41.a4 Qh5, (-.61) (23 ply) 41...Qh5 42.Nf3 Qh1+ 43.Ne1 Qh6, (-.23) (24 ply) 44.b4! Qf6 45.Rb1 Qg6 46.Qd5 f3 47.Qxf3, (-.11) (21 ply) 47...Qg5, or (-.09) (21 ply) 47...Rf6, with a near equal evaluation.

Perhaps some improvements in this variation can be found for both sides. However, white does appear to have good drawing chances after 39.Qc8+!, but only if he can find the very narrow path.

Fritz's analysis indicates that Lasker's errors at move 37 & 38, allowed Tarrasch one last chance to obtain a draw. However, white's position was so difficult, it is not surprising that Tarrasch failed to find the best line.

A very difficult game for the players, and the analysts!

Jun-01-10
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <Pawn and Two>

Yes, it's amazing how the conclusion of this game has never been properly analyzed, isn't it? Tarrasch didn't do it, Lasker didn't do it, not even Dvoretsky or Korchnoi did it. I plowed through your lines last weekend and was particularly impressed by

<Fritz indicated the best continuations for Black are: (-3.00) (21 ply) 37...Kg8 38.Rb1 [the more human 38.a4 leads to the same result] 38...Bf2 39.Qxe8+ Rxe8 40.Rxe8 Kf7 41.Re2 Bxe1 42.Rxe1 Qxg2 43.Re2 Qg5>

It should be included in any future books on the game!

Jun-01-10
Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: <keypusher> I also checked Leopold Hoffer's notes for this game, from the book, "Classical Chess Matches: 1907-1913". Hoffer stated after 33.Ra1: <"It is impossible to suggest any valid defense now. White's position is hopeless">.

It seems most commentators were of the opinion that Tarrasch was hopelessly lost after his dual errors, 32.Nd3? and 33.Ra1?.

Their evaluation of the position was correct, but the evaluation that White was lost by move 33, may have led to an inadequate review of the final moves for this game.

Fritz's analysis, as given in my posting of 08/30/09, verified that Tarrasch's 32nd & 33rd moves did give him a lost position.

Fritz also verified that a few moves later Lasker missed the best continuations: (37...Kg8!, or 37...d3!).

Lasker's position was still winning after 37...R5e6, but after he missed 38...f3!, Tarrasch was given one last chance, although it was a very difficult last chance.

A fascinating game, and it appears to be a critical turning point in this match, even though it was only the second game.

Aug-01-10  I play the Fred: <"To you (Dr. Lasker) I have two words to say: check and mate." -Siegbert Tarrasch>

"Dr. Tarrasch, I'm afraid that's three words." - Emanuel Lasker

Nov-23-10
Premium Chessgames Member
  whiteshark: <ughaibu: <I like Bernieno's idea, <'Lasker didn't employ psychological tactics but for psychological reasons he didn't dispute his reputation for doing so'.>>> A bit late, but I'd assent to this view.
Sep-08-11
Premium Chessgames Member
  OhioChessFan: Fritz 10 thinks 37...Rfe6 and 38...R8e7 are both semi blunders, preferring Qh2. Any other engines say that?
Sep-08-11  kjr63: Houdini gives to black:

37. ... Kg8 38. a4 Bf2 39. Qxe8+ Rxe8 40. Rxe8+ Kf7 41. Re2 Bxe1 42. Rxe1 Qxg2 43. Kc1 d3 44. Kb2 Qxc2+ 45. Ka3 Qc5+ 46. Ka2 f3 47. Rh1 f2 48. Rxh7+ Kg6 49. Rhh1 Kg5 50. Rhf1 Kf4 51. Rac1 Qe3 52. a5 Qe2+ 53. Kb1 Ke3 54. a6 d2 55. Rc3+ Kd4 56. Rc4+ Kd3 (-4.61)

and

38. ... f3 39. gxf3 Qg6 40. Qc4 Bf2 41. Rxe6 Rxe6 42. Ng2 Qxg2 43. Kc1 Re1+ 44. Kb2 Rxa1 45. Kxa1 Qxf3 46. Qc8+ Kg7 47. Qd7+ Qf7 48. Qg4+ Kf6 49. Qf3+ Ke6 50. Qc6+ Ke5 51. Qc5+ Ke4 52. Qc6+ Kf4 53. b4 h5 54. b5 Qg7 55. Qd6+ Qe5 56. Qf8+ Qf5 57. Qb8+ Ke3 58. b6 Qxc2 59. Qe5+ Qe4 60. Qg5+ Kd3 61. Qxh5 (-1.97)

Sep-08-11
Premium Chessgames Member
  OhioChessFan: <"To you (Dr. Lasker) I have two words to say: check and mate." -Siegbert Tarrasch>

<IptF: "Dr. Tarrasch, I'm afraid that's three words." - Emanuel Lasker>

"Dr. Lasker, didn't you see my quotation mark hand gestures when I uttered the two words <exagerated hand gesture> check and <exagerated hand gesture> mate?" - Siegbert Tarrasch

Sep-08-11
Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: <OhioChessFan> Lasker's moves 37...R5e6?, and 38...R8e7?, were reviewed in my postings on 8/30/09, 5/31/10 & 6/1/10. You may find the information there to be of some interest.

Tarrasch's errors at move 32 & 33 gave him a lost position. Then Lasker let him off the hook, and after 38...R8e7?, Tarrasch missed his last chance for a draw when he played 39.Qd8+?, instead of 39.Qc8+!

Jun-12-14  Zephyr10: Wow, just read the entire comment thread, too much!! So much vitriol (and psycho-babble)!!! Anyways, just to offer Karpov/Matsukevich's two cents: at move 25, they feel White should have played Nf5, while immediately taking on d5 laid bare the e3 square.
Jun-12-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <whiteshark: <ughaibu: <I like Bernieno's idea, <'Lasker didn't employ psychological tactics but for psychological reasons he didn't dispute his reputation for doing so'.>>> A bit late, but I'd assent to this view.>

In Lasker's position, so would I, actually.

Nov-18-15  Marmot PFL: White's game seems to decline with the passive 23 Ng3, when instead 23 Qxc6 Rc5 24 Qa6 Rxc2+ 25 Re2 keeps the advantage for white whether or not black trades rooks.
Jan-30-17  Saniyat24: What a match...near the end Lasker was just superb and unstoppable...
Aug-23-20  Ulhumbrus: <Marmot PFL: White's game seems to decline with the passive 23 Ng3, when instead 23 Qxc6 Rc5 24 Qa6 Rxc2+ 25 Re2 keeps the advantage for white whether or not black trades rooks.> 23 Ng3 seems inconsistent in one way: Why has White played 22 Qc3, if not partly to tie Black's queen to the defence of the c6 pawn and so to take it if the black queen moves away?
May-31-21  Cheapo by the Dozen: Quite the slugfest!

And the pun isn't bad for a game featuring a Lasker comeback.

May-31-21  goodevans: SF awards <35...Qg1+> a <?> saying Lasker should have played <35...Qh1+> with an evaluation of <-2.82> but then says White's best reply to 35...Qg1+ has an evaluation of <-4.52>.

I guess that when SF gets its knickers in a twist over a position then we know it must be pretty complicated.

May-31-21  nalinw: goodevans: SF awards <35...Qg1+> a <?> saying Lasker should have played <35...Qh1+> with an evaluation of <-2.82> but then says White's best reply to 35...Qg1+ has an evaluation of <-4.52>. I guess that when SF gets its knickers in a twist over a position then we know it must be pretty complicated.

I have pointed out several times that the SF available here seems to be quite unreliable ...

May-31-21  RandomVisitor: After 13.b3 a longer run with Stockfish confirms that 13...Qg4 is playable


click for larger view

Stockfish_21053118_x64_modern:

<50/68 1:00:16 +0.39 13...Qg4 14.Bb2 Qxd1 15.Raxd1 g6> 16.e5 dxe5 17.Rxe5 Nd5 18.Kf1 Rad8 19.Rde1 Kf8 20.a3 c5 21.Ne2 c4 22.b4 c5 23.Nc3 Bf6

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