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Emanuel Lasker vs Georg Marco
Nuremberg (1896), Nuremberg GER, rd 17, Aug-07
Queen's Gambit Declined: Three Knights Variation. General (D37)  ·  1-0



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Given 17 times; par: 44 [what's this?]

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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: OK, this is strange. Lasker plays a passive opening and gets an inferior position, then proceeds to place his pieces on what seem to me to be the strangest squares available. But Marco plays 23. Bb5 c6?!, allowing a promising positional queen sacrifice (maybe he missed 26. Bxd5+?).

At move 37 Lasker has rook, bishop and two center pawns for the queen. But surely there was no need for 37....Rxe6[??] 38. Bxe6. I can only guess that Marco overlooked that the white rook was defended after 38....Qc1+ 39. Nf1.

I don't have a machine handy, so maybe this was unremitting brilliancy on both sides and I am just missing it. But it looks like a pretty wretched game for these players.

Oct-13-07  MaxxLange: <keypusher> probably a time pressure freakout - it's just before move 40
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <MaxxLange> I don't know for sure, but odds are pretty good that time controls for this tournament were at moves 30 and 45.
Oct-13-07  Calli: Its a pretty good snapshot of what was understood at the time. Lasker's strange 10.Ne2?! gives Marco the initiative and he makes good progress through move 22. He needed to prevent Lasker's counter play at that point and play 22...a6 which keeps White tied up. Today such a move would, I believe, automatic at the grandmaster level. Steinitz, Tarrasch and Chigorin played restrictive, prophylactic moves sometimes but it wasnt a widespread concept.
Oct-13-07  MaxxLange: Different classical controls then, eh? Time pressure still seems like a reasonable theory to me, but who knows. Marco played really well for most of the game.
Oct-13-07  MaxxLange: Or maybe Lasker just made him crack - he was famous for that. It's probably hard to play after that Queen sac lands on your board, after all, in a practical game.
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: OK, I took a (superficial) look with Fritz 5.32. Sure enough, it shows Black with a slight advantage after the opening, which he would have maintained with Calli's 22....a6. Lasker's strange moves at 16-22 are a study -- they all look questionable to bad, but Fritz doesn't mind any of them except 21. f3?!, and even that increases Black's advantage only slightly. Lasker had a gift for making provocative moves (moves that looked much worse than they were) -- not the "making bad moves on purpose" of Reti's caricature, but making a seemingly clear position murky, so that his opponent would be more likely to misstep. And by golly, Marco obliges!! After 23. Bb5 c6? (no need for the ?! waffle) 24. Bxc6 Fritz's needle swings over in White's favor.

Around move 35 Fritz's evaluation gradually rises above 1.00, though it's not certain whether Marco is making mistakes or Fritz is awakening to the full strength of White's passed pawns. Still, it's not a clear White win until 36....Qc7? (36....Nh5) 37. Nxg3. After 37....Rxe6?? 38. Bxe6 "best" is 38....Nxe6 39. Rxe6 Qxg3, but of course that is hopeless for Black. It does appear that Marco overlooked 39. Nf1, though, because 38....Qc1+ is much worse than 38....Nxe6.

If I had White's position around, say, move 18, my main preoccupation would be avoiding mate. I'd also be mentally kicking myself for playing the opening so badly. And not just me -- I think many grandmasters would react the same way. Not Lasker, though. He wants to win! And somehow, he makes it happen.

Oct-14-07  Calli: <kp> Don't think this is a case of Lasker magic. Look at position after 22 moves

click for larger view

Bb5 is the first thing to consider. The c-file is the only play that White has and Bb5-c6 is about the only active plan. After Nimzovich, masters would have played a6 as Black at some point. In this case, Lasker gets an unexpected bonus on Marco's 23...c6? Inexplicable since he gives up too much material for Lasker's Q. A little of that luck that Tarrasch talked about? After that it is excellent technique by Lasker. Marco could have improved as you point out, but in the end, I think would have lost in any case.

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <Calli> Oh, I agree that 22....a6 was obvious, and even 23....Re7 wasn't bad. I am being a little facetious saying "Lasker made it happen." I still admire his desire to create winning chances from such an ugly position.
Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: Tarrasch writes after 23 Bb5, <Marco should have avoided this dangerous course with a7-a6>.

But he does not ascribe this game to luck. He thinks luck was involved in 5 Lasker games, versus Albin, Schallop, Schiffers, Showalter, and Tschigorin, every one in Lasker's favor.

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <tamar> Well, it's only thanks to you that I learned about the famous <Einfluss des Glucksfaktors>. But I thought the table only listed games in which the player had a lost position and achieved either a win or a draw. Since Lasker was never lost here, I don't think this game would qualify, however Glucky Lasker was to win it.

Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: <keypusher>The Luck Factor Table is one of my all-time favorite features in a tournament book.

If luck were not involved, Tarrasch would tie with Lasker at 8.5 points instead of losing by 1.5, 13.5 to 12!

By the way, Tarrasch's definition of luck is "rescue from a lost position". It is hard to quantify what a lost position is, especially with Lasker, which I think was your point in an earlier post.

Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: The time control was 30 moves in 2 hours, then 15 moves in 1 hour.
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <tamar> thanks for the time controls. So am I correct that Schlechter lost this game on time?

Schlechter vs Steinitz, 1896

Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: No in the Schlechter-Steinitz game, Schlechter just gave up. Tarrasch would have noted a time overstep as he did in Blackburne vs Winawer, 1896
May-10-17  Retireborn: A very interesting game, and the earlier kibitzers may have been a little harsh on both players, although <keypusher> is probably correct to suggest that Marco missed that 39.Nf1 protects the Rd2.

Houdini likes Marco's 23...c6 (although it sees nothing wrong with the modest 23...Rd8 either) and approves his play right up to 36...Qc7.

It suggests instead 36...Nh5! (keeping the pawn on g3 sets up subsequent perpetual against the white king) 37.Rd5 Qc7 38.Rd7 Qc8 and now;

(i) 39.d5 Nf6 40.Rf7 Qc5+ 41.Kh1 Rxe6! 42.dxe6 Qh5+ 43.Kg1 Qc5+ perpetual

(ii) 39.Rf7 Rxe6! 40.Bxe6 Qxe6 41.Rb7 Qxb3 42.d5 Qc3 43.d6 Qc5+ 44.Kh1 Qc1 45.Kg1 Qc5+ repetition.

What if White tries to break his chains with 37.Rxh5 gxh5 38.Nxg3 - then Houdini gives 38...Qg5 39.Ne4 Qe3+ 40.Kf1 Rf8! or 40.Kh1 h4 with counterplay eg 41.d5 h3 42.d6 hxg2+ 43.Rxg2 Qe1+ perpetual.

Premium Chessgames Member
  kingscrusher: This game in my view bears some resemblance to the key game Magnus won in the 2021 World championship (game 6 vs Nepo) - White's pawns against the Black queen were too much here as in Magnus's game.

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