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Emanuel Lasker vs Siegbert Tarrasch
Lasker - Tarrasch World Championship Match (1908), Duesseldorf GER, rd 3, Aug-22
Spanish Game: Closed Variations. Chigorin Defense (C98)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
Mar-11-04  ughaibu: Tarrasch's first win in the match and yet another multi-queen game.
Premium Chessgames Member
  waddayaplay: Ruy Lopez games are often fascinating and full of tactics.
Nov-05-07  notyetagm: Black To Play: 37 ... ?

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Here Kasparov points out that Black missed a forced mate beginning with the lovely 37 ... ♘e5-d3+!.

Position after 37 ... ♘e5-d3+!:

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The tactical point is that the White e3-rook is <PINNED> against the f2-mating square, i.e., 38 ♖e3x♘d3?? <pinning theme> ♕b6-f2#.

(VAR) Position after 38 ♖e3x♘d3?? ♕b6-f2#:

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Mar-02-08  Knight13: White placed a knight on f5, bishop on f4, and a bishop on d5 in exchange for not recapturing on e4. That's good but then Tarrasch really made the counterattack seem too deadly.
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: Part I

Third Game

Played in Dusseldorf on August 22

<Tarrasch's notes are translated from his book on the match. Where I am particularly unsure about my translation I have typed in the German as well. I also include some notes from Soltis' <Why Lasker Matters> and Kasparov's <OMGP I>. Tarrasch is in plain text; Kasparov, Soltis, Shredder and I are in brackets.>

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6

The following defensive system against the Spanish Game was, I believe, introduced by Chigorin in the London 1899 tournament, and has become well-established since. But it has always seemed insufficient to me, because, as with all defenses that imprison the king's bishop with ...d6, it gives a cramped game. After the course of the fifth game I can no longer resist this view, and the entire system must be discarded. <Allein nach dem Verlauf der funften Partie kann ich diese Ansicht nicht mehr aufrecht erhalten und muss die ganze System verwerfen. >

<Incidentally, the earliest example I can find of Chigorin playing the Chigorin is this game: L Rosen vs Chigorin, 1900, and the second is this impressive effort four years later: Schlechter vs Chigorin, 1904. >

4. Ba4

Lasker rightly loves to vary his openings as much as possible; his feeling is expressed by the saying, "never twice the same."

4....Nf6 5. 0-0

Choosing the strongest development of the attack, which Max Lange already was playing in the 1840s. Up to the end of his life, Anderssen preferred the simple, restrained 5. d3.


The move 5....Nxe4, which up to this point has been played with success, must be given up after the newest strengthening of White's attack. Black has at the beginning better piece play than in any other variation of the Spanish Game, but he labors under the burden of too many holes on the queenside, while on the kingside White's pawn majority threatens him with a strong attack. The strongest continuation, which demolishes this defense, lies in the moves 5. 0-0 Nxe4 6. d4 b5 7. Bb3 d5 8. a4! (much stronger than 8. dxe5 at once) 8....Rb8 9. axb5 axb5 10. dxe5 Be6 11. c3 Bc5 12. Nbd2 0-0 13. Bc2. This will remove the knight from e4, whether Black exchanges it or reinforces it with ...f5. After the latter move there follows 14. Nb3 Bb6 15. Nfd4 Nxd4 (also 15...Bd7 gives Black an unsatisfactory game) 16. Nxd4 Bxd4 17. cxd4 f4 18. f3 Ng5 (after ....Ng3 19. Re1 the knight stands badly) 19. h4 Nf7 20. Bxf4 Qxh4 21. g3 and White is superior in the center and on both flanks. <Soltis says that Schlechter brought the Open Defense back to life (and drove 8. a4 into obscurity) with 8....Nxd4! in Lasker vs Schlechter, 1910;

The Riga Variation, which was employed in the well-known Berlin-Riga correspondence game (Berlin vs Riga, 1912 -- evidently it is misdated in the database) leads by the continuation 5. 0-0 Nxe4 6. d4 exd4 7. Re1 d5 8. Nxd4 Bd6 (this last move characterizes the defense) 9. Nxd6 Bxh2+ 10. Kh1! Qh4 11. Rxe4+ dxe4 12. Qd8+ Qxd8 13. Nxd8 Kxd8 14. Kxh2 to what I believe is not a completely satisfactory game for Black, as White, apart from the two bishops, will develop strong piece play as the Black pawns advance. Also, after 5. 0-0 Nxe4 6. d4 exd4 7. Re1 d5 the very strong move 8. c4 has recently been played (instead of 8. Nxd4), which seems to refute the entire variation.

<The database has a couple of recent Black wins after 8. c4. Any of you theory mavens know the current view on this line?>

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: Part II

6. Re1

The best defense of the e-pawn; 6. Nc3 is weaker, as Black after ...b5 and ...d6 would threaten to exchange off the White bishop with ...Na5.

6....b5 7. Bb3 d6 8. c3 Na5

<Soltis: This was the alternative way of reach the main Lopez lines until the 1950s, when it was supplanted by 8....0-0 9. h3 Na5 10. Bc2 c5. The chief difference is that White can save a tempo in some 8....Na5 lines by avoiding h3. In OMGP I, Kasparov writes "at that time after 8....0-0 they feared 9. d4, not knowing that 9....Bg4 gives Black good counterplay.">

9. Bc2 c5

Thus Black achieves freedom on the queenside and contests the center. Admittedly, the play seems quite artificial.

10. d4 Qc7 11. Nbd2 Nc6

It is known that Black in such positions gets an immediate disadvantage if he takes on d4 -- without some sort of compensation -- thus surrendering the center. But also for White it is at least not advantageous to play d5, which makes his position rigid and invites a counterattack with ...f5. With the text move Black will force either a pawn advance or a pawn exchange.

12. h3

White determines to offer the sacrifice of the queen's pawn, which other games have already shown is only of a temporary nature. <Weiss schickt sich an, das schon aus mehreren Partien bekannt Opfer des Damenbauern zu bringen, das nur vorubergehender Natur ist.> The move h3 appears necessary before Nf1 is played, since if 12. Nf1 is played at once, the continuation 12....cxd4 13. cxd4 Bg4 14. Be3 Bxf3 15. gxf3 exd4 16. Bg5 h6 17. Bh4 g5 followed by ...Nh5 and ...Bf6 would not be favorable for White.

<OMGP I: A non-essential move, which returns us to a theoretical position. 12. Nf1?! is passive (Capablanca vs Dus Chotimirsky, 1913), but White could have played 12. d5, 12. a4 or 12. dxc5, trying to carry out Rauzer's plan with an extra tempo.>

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: Part III

12....0-0 13. Nf1

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<OMGP I: A dubious decision: now Black can simply grab a pawn. The Rauzer system really is better -- 13. dxc5 dxc5 14. Nf1 (14. a4!?) and Ne3. This is what Fischer played, although with alternating success: thus he lost to Kholmov (Fischer vs Kholmov, 1965). But the strongest is 13. d5! (it is because of this that nowadays ...Na5-c6 is not popular) 13....Nd8 14. a4 Rb8 15. axb5 axb5 16. b4, as in the games Karpov vs Spassky, 1973 and Karpov vs Unzicker, 1974, which are analyzed in the second volume.>

<Kasparov never did analyze the Karpov-Spassky game, which is a pity, while Karpov-Unzicker is in OMGP V.>


Black decides reluctantly to take the d-pawn, because it will not remain on d4 forever <da der Bauer d4 doch nicht auf die Dauer zu halten ist>. But after other moves, such as ...Ne8, ...f6, ...g6, ...Ng7 etc. <see O Bernstein vs Rubinstein, 1907 for an example> , White can develop strongly with Be3, Ng3 etc. and choose the time and place for a successful strike on the cramped Black position.

14. cxd4 Nxd4 15. Nxd4 exd4 16. Ng3

Much stronger is 16. Bg5, as played in the fifth game. White logically must play to regain the pawn on d4, achieving the better game. <Weiss muss namlich nur konsequent auf Ruckgewinn des Bauern d4 spielen, um das bessere Spiel zu erlangen>.


Making way for the bishop.

17. Bb3 <OMGP I points out that 17. Nf5 is the best way to regain the pawn> 17....Qb6 18. Nf5 Bf6

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19. Bf4

Better drawing chances would come if White played logically to regain the pawn via 19. Bd5 Ra7 20. b3 and 21. Bb2. Black can defend against 20. b3 with ...Ne5, because if 21. Nxd4, ...Qxd4 would follow, then ...Nf3+ and ...Bxd4, redounding to Black's advantage. But 21. Bb2 would allow the following: 19. Bd5 Ra7 (or ...Rb8) 20. b3 Ne5 21. Bb2 Bxf5 22. exf5 d3! 23. Bxe5 Bxe5 24. Rc1 Qd4 and ...d2 and Black wins. The queen pawn is already threatening to unleash devastation. <In this last line Kasparov opines that 23. Rb1! Rc7 24. Bxe5 Bxe5 25. Qxd3 "would have maintained the balance. Therefore, in my view, 23....Rd8!? 24. Bc1 Rc7 is more interesting.">


19.....Be5 would lead to a catastrophe: 20. Bxe5 dxe5? 21. Qg4 (threatening not just mate on g7, but also to win a piece with 22. Ne7+ followed by Nxc8 and Qxd7) 21....Qf6 22. Bd5 Ra7 23. Rac1 with a decisive attack, e.g. 23....Nb8 24. Rxc8 Rxc8 25. Nh6+ and Qxc8#, or 23...Bb7 24. Bxb7 Rxb7 25. Rc6 and wins. <Very pretty, but in OMGP I Kasparov recommends 23....Nb6 24. Rc6 Be6 and "things are not so clear.">

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: Part IV

20. Bd5

White can no longer win back the d-pawn with impunity, because after 20. Nxd4, 20....Nc4 follows with advantage for Black. If 21. Bxc4, then Bxd4 attacking f2, and if 22. then Be3, then ...Nxe3 leaves White with isolated doubled pawns and an overall bad game. Lasker notices that the tide is turning, and seeks salvation in an attack on the kingside, but there are sufficient defensive resources available to cause it to fail <der bei den dort zur Verfugung stehenden Verteidigungsmitteln ohne Erfolg bleibt>.

20.....Ra7 21. Qb3

Now White threatens to win with 22. Nxd4 Qxd4 23. Be3.

21....Rc7 22. g4<?>

After 22. Rac1, 22....Bxf5 and 23....Rfc8 would follow, with advantage for Black. The attack initiated with the pawn-move is not without peril. <Shredder thinks it's close to equal until this move, which it quite dislikes.>

22....g6 23. Nh6+ Kg7 24. g5 Bd8 25. Qg3 f6

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A strong move, beating off the attack. The obvious threat is 26....fxg5 27. Bxg5 Bxg5 28. Qxg5 Nf3+. White cannot defend the pawn with 26. h4, because the continuation 26....fxg5 27. hxg5 Rxf4 28. Qxf4 Bxg5 wins immediately. The knight on h6 is too exposed! If White continues with 26. gxf6+, then he gives up all attacking chances, because Black retakes with the bishop (stronger than retaking with the rook, when 27. Nf5+ Bxf5 28. exf5 29. Bxe5 would follow, and the importance of Black's pawn advantage would be diminished by opposite-colored bishops) and White no longer has an attack, while Black can strengthen his game with ...Rc2 or ...d3.

26. Nf5+<?>

A pretty stroke; if 26....gxf5 27. gxf6+ Kh8! 28. Bh6 White still obtains a heavy attack, that nevertheless can be met with 28....R8f7 29. Bxf7 Rxf7 30. Bg7+ Kg8 31. Bh6+ Ng6<??> 32. exf5 Qc6+<sic> (to prevent Re8+) and ...Bxf5, victoriously repelling the attack. <32....Qc6 is not check, and 31....Ng6 loses. Evidently Tarrasch had White's king on the wrong square when he wrote this note. OMGP I points out that 31. Bh6+ Kh8 draws.> But I only considered taking the knight for the blink of an eye, since the king move is obviously much stronger -- the knight is still attacked, and the Black immediately begins his counterattack.

<Incidentally, Shredder's evaluation for White drops more than a pawn, from -0.80 to almost -2.0, when 26. Nf5+ is played.>

26....Kh8 27. Nh4

Even with 27. gxf6 Bxf6 28. Nh6 the attack could not be maintained, because then the same position would arise as would have occurred if, on the 26th move, White had played 26....gxf6+ Bxf6, with the differences, favorable to Black, that the black king would be on h8 and it would be Black's move. He could launch a very powerful attack with ...g5. With the retreat to h4 Lasker prevents the threatened knight check on f3.

27....fxg5 28. Bxg5 Bxg5 29. Qxg5

Now White threatens to drive off the knight, which has been dominating the game for the last 10 moves, via f2-f4.

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The decisive move. This pawn has played a role that no man could have predicted for it 10 moves ago, preventing f2-f4 and initiating an unstoppable attack on f2.

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: Part V

30. Kh1

The f-pawn is not to be defended; if Rf1, ...Bxh3 follows, and if Qg3, ...Rc2 attacks the square for a third time. <After 30. Qg3 Rc2 31. Rf1, which I thought might be playable, simply 31....Rxb2 gives Black an overwhelming position.> It is clear that exchanging queens on e3 is the equivalent of resignation for White.


30....Qxf2 also would have won: 31. Rf1 Qxf1+ 32. Rxf1 Rxf1+ 33. Kg2 Rf8! 34. Qh6 Rg7 (threatening to lock up the queen with ...g5), and Black wins easily. <Much stronger than 34....Rg7 is 34....Rc2+ 35. Kg3 Rf1 threatening 36....d2--Shredder.>

31. Re3

31. f4 would not achieve anything after 31....Qf2 32. Ng2 Nf3.


More dangerous -- for both sides -- than taking with the other rook. Now 32....Rh2+ 33. Kg1 Rcg2+ 34. Nxg2 Nf3+ winning the queen is threatened. But White also threatens Qf6# if the rook leaves the f-file.

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32. Ng2

The only move! After the seemingly strong 32. Nf3 (threatening 33. Qf6#), comes the pretty finale 32....Rxf3 33. Rxf3 Rh2+ 34. Kxh2 Nxf3+.


White's game is totally hopeless, but to the last moment Lasker creates difficulties for his opponent and tries to set traps.

33. Rg1 Rc1 34. Qe7 Rxg1+

Black could not resist getting a new queen and continuing check-check-check <Es war verfuhrerisch genug fur Schwarz, sich eine neue Dame zu machen und weiter mit Schach-Schach-Schach fortzufahren>; nevertheless, here ...Rff1 was much stronger, because then Black would get a new queen for nothing, while the continuation actually chosen costs him a rook -- and great effort. <Incidentally, 34....d1/Q is another way to proceed here, since 35. Rxd1 Rxd1+ 35. Ne1 Qxe3 forces mate.>

35. Kxg1 d1/Q+ 36. Kxf2 Qf3+

The mates threatened on f8 and f6 must be defended.

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: Part VI

37. Ke1 Qa5+

Capturing on e3 is not on target <Das Schlagen auf e3 fuhrt nicht zum Ziel>, but 37....Nd3+ would have forced mate in a few moves: 37....Nd3+ 38. Kd2! (38. Rxd3? Qbf2#) 38....Qa5+ 39. Kxd3 Qd1# (or 39. Kc2 Qxg2+, etc.).

38. Rc3 Bxh3

This is done so as to be able to give check with the bishop on g4 later.

39. Qxd6

A new mate threat; but now Black forces mate or the win of the queen.

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39....Qaxc3+ <39....Qg3+ 40. Kd1 Bg4+ 41. Kc1 Nd3+ winning the queen is another way> 40. bxc3 Qxc3+ 41. Ke2

If the king goes to d1, 41....Bg4# follows; if the king goes to f1, then 41....Qc1+ 42. Kf2 Qd2+; and if the king goes to f2, then 41....Qd2+ at once. <Also if 41. Kf1, 41...Qf3+ 42. Ke1 Qg3+ 43. Kd1 Bg4+ 44. Kc1 Nd3+ as per the previous bracketed note also works.>

41....Qc2+ 42. Ke3 Qd3+ 43. Kf4 g5+

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This leads to a pretty double turn <Doppelwendung> in the style of modern problems; if the king takes the knight, 44....Qc3 is a pure mate.

44. Kxg5 Nf7+

White resigns.

I was satisfied with my play in this game. Though I rightly feared that my opponent would regain the pawn and obtain the better position, he missed the favorable moment and instead played for a kingside attack, and I was able to win the game with the neglected pawn. This was a pretty game.

Feb-23-10  TheFocus: Many thanks to <Keypusher> for including the annotations by Tarrasch. Now let's hear from Lasker.

The third game of the match brought the first win of Dr. Tarrasch. Upon the feeling of his friends it was like rain after a drought. They had feared the very worst. The Doctor himself had taken his first two losses quite easily and his first success filled him with unbounded confidence – Lasker in New York Evening Post.

Lasker – Tarrasch, S.
Ruy Lopez
match game 3, August 22
notes by Lasker

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.O-O Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.c3 Na5 9.Bc2 c5 10.d4 Qc7 <So far I had followed the routine, and so had the Doctor. The defense has lately come en vogue because Rubinstein has successfully played it in many tournament games.> 11.Nbd2 Nc6 <The threat of winning the e-pawn is evident, but the gain is hardly of value, since it entails the isolation and doubling of the d-pawn. Another threat, …exd4, followed by …Bg4, is more powerful.> 12.h3 O-O 13.Nf1 cxd4 14.cxd4 Nxd4 15.Nxd4 exd4 <Black is willing to win the Pawn, so as to be able to sacrifice it later for the sake of positional compensation.> 16.Ng3 <Intending Ne2 and Nxd4.> 16…Nd7 <A clever defense. The apparent risk of Nf5 is not to be feared, as the sequel shows.> 17.Bb3 Qb6 18.Nf5 <The beginning of a Kingside attack that fails. The positional play would have been 18.Bd5, followed by b3, Bb2, and the slow regaining, by force, of the d-pawn.> 18…Bf6 19.Bf4 Ne5 <The proper reply. If 19…Be5 20.Qg4 g6 21.Ne7+ Kg7 22.Qh4 with good chances for an attack, and a strong position in general.> 20.Bd5 <20.Nxd4 Nc4 21.Nf3.> 20…Ra7 21.Qb3 Rc7 22.g4 g6 23.Nh6+ Kg7 24.g5 Bd8 25.Qg3 <All this looks temptingly strong, but Black has a powerful parry in reserve .> 25…f6! <Black liberates his Rook and King’s Bishop, and assumes the aggressive.> 26.Nf5+ Kh8 <Of course not 26…gxf5, because of 27.gxf6+ Kh8 28.Bh6.> 27.Nh4 <I should have continued with 27.gxf6 and Nh6. But with best play Black should win. The proper strategy, after a few natural moves, is to oppose the Bishop on d5 by Bishop on b7. With the King’s Bishop removed, the strength of the White attack is taken away.> 27…fxg5 28.Bxg5 Bxg5 29.Qxg5 d3 <Decisive. I continued the game merely to see in what manner Tarrasch would now force the win.> 30.Kh1 Rc2 31.Re3 Rfxf2 32.Ng2 <Not 32.Nf3 Rxf3 33.Rxf3 Rh2+.> 32…d2 33.Rg1 Rc1 34.Qe7 Rxg1+ 35.Kxg1 d1(Q)+ 36.Kxf2 Qf3+ 37.Ke1 Qa5+ 38.Rc3 Bxh3 39.Qxd6 Qaxc3+ 40.bxc3 Qxc3+ 41.Ke2 Qc2+ 42.Ke3 Qd3+ 43.Kf4 g5+ 44.Kxg5 Nf7+ 0-1.

Premium Chessgames Member
  gezafan: It takes two queens to beat Lasker.
Premium Chessgames Member
  thegoodanarchist: After posts from <The Focus> & <Keypusher> containing good annotations from the players and other greats, there is nothing left to do but submit this for GOTD.

"Tarr'd and Feathered"

Dec-14-18  RookFile: This is a wonderful game. You don't seem games like this in world championship play these days.
Feb-01-19  DonChalce: this is so satisfying to watch!
Oct-05-19  J6n9: Why didn’t Tarrasch take the Knight on move 35 before queening?
Premium Chessgames Member
  OhioChessFan: <J6> the Rook is guarding f8, where the White Queen is waiting to issue mate on the move.
Oct-05-19  Carrots and Pizza: Seems like Black can get away with 26...gf5 Kh8
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <Carrots and Pizza> Have you already read Tarrasch's notes above posted by <keypusher> where he already analyzes <26...gf5 Kh8>?
Oct-06-19  JimNorCal: At move 20-ish White looks really good but Tarrasch was able to turn it around

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