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Emanuel Lasker vs Norman Tweed Whitaker
"Razor Sharp Whit" (game of the day Oct-13-2006)
Simul, 20b (1907) (exhibition), Mercantile Library, Philadelphia, PA USA, Nov-16
Scandinavian Defense: Ilundain Variation (B01)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
Oct-20-03  Diggitydawg: Even though this was a simul, it's interesting to see Lasker beaten by the Scandinavian. Thanks for e-mailing this to Chessgames, Drukenknight, I saw your comment while I was looking at the Torre game. I didn't know anything about Whitaker so I clicked on the search google feature and was surprised to find out about his criminal career (which included an attempt to profit from the Lindbergh baby kidnapping). Yet he was a very strong chess player and once almost beat Capablanca. Whitaker's bio and the Capa game is in the link below. Also in the link, you'll see DK's kibitz regarding the Capa game.
Oct-20-03  drukenknight: Yeah, dont take those comments on the capablanca game seriously. Hey I have the score for that game (Whitaker v Capablanca) too! I have to e mail it in.

The article that this game is from stated that Whitaker announced mate in 6 (or whatever it was) after he had played his 41st move.

IT's pretty strange game huh? It looks like Lasker is playing one strategy and then somewhere in the middle he changes his strategy. Was that 29th move really forced?

Oct-20-03  Diggitydawg: <was move 29 forced?>By 28...Qf6, white does not have any good choices: Black has nullified the mating threat and white's Bd2, Nf5, and c3 are under attack. White has two choices in this situation: a)Trade the Qs by 29 Qg6+ QxQ 30 h5xQ+ Kh8 (not Kxg6 because of N fork) 31 g4. or b)exchange the R for the N and keep the Q. Lasker chose b over a to keep his attacking possibilities up because he's down material.
Jan-23-05  Max Lange: In a real match Lasker would have not resigned so soon of course!
Jan-24-05  sneaky pete: <Max Lange> He wouldn't? So soon? He can only postpone the mate (42... Qxa2+ etc) by giving up his queen.
Oct-13-06  blingice: <drukenknight: The article that this game is from stated that Whitaker announced mate in 6 (or whatever it was) after he had played his 41st move.>

How arrogant. That's something I'd do to someone on FICS that refused to abort the game after I had made one move in it.

Oct-13-06  syracrophy: Norman Tweed Whitaker: Well, he defeated Lasker, but he couldn't defeat Carlos Torre in the last round of the US Championship :-)Carlos Torre vs N Whitaker, 1924

The idea of 34...Rg5 was rather interesting (I thought it was a mistake indeed): 35.Bxg5 Qxf2+ 36.Qxf2 Rxf2+ and 37...hxg5 winning easily

Oct-13-06  MaxxLange: <sneaky pete> I stand corrected

Whitaker ( was a real grifter, a criminal and con artist who did Federal prison time. He probably hustled the Devil at chess after he died.

The article I linked mentioned that "he often sued for false arrest". This was a con that he ran for years. He would buy a Cadillac from a small town dealer with a check, and then drive to the next town and try to sell it for cash to the dealer there. That dealer would inevitably become suspicious, and phone his colleague, who was still waiting for funds from Whitaker's check. The police would be called and Whitaker would be jailed. Then, the check would clear, and Whitaker would be released and sue both car dealers.

As for announcing mate, that was once the tradition. Whitaker learned chess in the 1920's, and the old players probably still did that.

Oct-13-06  syracrophy: <MaxxLange> I didn't knew he was a criminal :-(
Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: <MaxxLange> Whitaker learned chess in the 1920s? That means he won this game from Lasker more than a dozen years before he learned how to play.

At long last, we have found the secret of beating Lasker--don't know what you're doing!

Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: It looks like black was in fact a con-artist with a "checkered" life. At least for one day,it looked like he played a great brand of chess-defeating the World Champion-even in a skittles game.

BTW,I wouldn't put much stock in branding Mr. Whitaker;about 90% of the population was involved in shady deals in the 20s-when outlaw booze became as common as rain.

Oct-13-06  NateDawg: This is an interesting game where, when looking at the game quickly, it seems White owns the initiative for the first 15 moves or so, but then Black suddenly takes it over, eventually forcing White to sacrifice the exchange twice in four moves. This is a perfect example of how the initiative can vanish very quickly if one is not careful, as Lasker apparently wasn't (although he was playing in a simul at the time, so it isn't so surprising).
Oct-13-06  MaxxLange: 90% of the population wasn't convicted for phony extortion of ransom in the Linbergh baby kidnapping.

I don't know when he learned to play but he was an old-timer and they uswed to announce mate, OK?

May-05-13  drukenknight: Con artist works continues after death and new, exotic fortress for you ...

Well I guess even after his death Norman Whitaker may have fooled us all; there's still no mate in there we (my buddy is stronger than me) cannot find any.

So from the final position we used the crap online computer and we come up with this line. I started the numbering over after the final position above (improvements may still exist)....

1. Kd2 (a human move, we both feel is next)
1... Qxa2+
2. Ke3 Qb1
3. Qe6 Qc1+
4. Kxe4 Qe1+
5. Be3 Qxc3
6. a6 (a human move, reasoning that exchanging pawns can only help the weaker side, and otherwise he gets a tempo)

7. Kf4 Rb4+
8. Kg3 Qd3
9. Qh3 Qg6+
10. Kh2 Rb2
11. Qc8 Re2
12. Qc4 Rc2
13. Qd5 h5
14. g3 Re2
15. Qf3 Rb2
16. Bd4 Rd2

producing this position:

click for larger view

which has the makings of a very interesting fortress position. I have not seen one involving Q vs Q + R (assuming that the Bishop is sacked for the passed pawn). What do YOU think??

Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <drukenknight>
I don't see the final position as a fortress. Black has a decisive material advantage and does not need to hurry. For example, 42. Kd2 Qe7 43. Ke3 Rxa5 44. Qg4 Rg5 45. Qh3 Rg6 46. Qc8 Re6 47. g3 Qg5+ 48. Ke2 Qd5 49. Ke3 Ra6, Black is making slow but steady progress.
Jan-11-15  estrick: The Wiki article linked above may have been revised and updated since it was first linked to this page 8 years ago.

The following dispels the notion that Whitaker did not know how to play chess when he scored a win over Lasker in a simultaneous event held in 1907.

"Whitaker was born in Philadelphia and taught to play chess by his father at age 14 and learned more watching Harry Nelson Pillsbury play in 1905. By 1918, he was one of the strongest players in the country. He was scheduled to play a match for the U.S. Chess Championship with Frank Marshall, but did not show up. However, in 1927 he won a twelve-player invitational event in Michigan, ahead of Samuel Reshevsky. He was declared champion of the National Chess Federation, a predecessor of the United States Chess Federation (USCF)."

"Professor Arpad Elo gave Whitaker a rating of 2420 in his authoritative work The Rating of Chess Players, Past and Present. Chessmetrics gives him a peak rating of 2568 in 1928 and shows him as No. 25 in the world in 1918.[3] In his later years he was usually listed by the USCF as a Master Emeritus, but in January 1972 (at age 81) Chess Life listed his rating as 2142.[4]"

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