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George Hatfeild Gossip vs Emanuel Lasker
New York (1893), New York, NY USA, rd 13, Oct-17
Spanish Game: Schliemann Defense. Schönemann Attack (C63)  ·  0-1

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Kibitzer's Corner
Dec-06-08
Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: This was the last round, and Lasker needed to win in order to score 13-0, one of the few perfect scores in significant tournaments in chess history. That's probably why he chose 3...f5!? against tailender Gossip instead of the normal stuff (3...Nf6, 3...d6, 3...a6) he usually played. Lasker obviously wasn't familiar with the opening, and got into difficulties. 5...Nxe5 6.dxe5 c6!, forcing White to sacrifice either a piece (7.Nc3 cxb5 8.Nxe4 d5 9.exd6 Nf6 10.Qd4 is the main line these days) or a pawn (7.B moves Qa5+ wins the e-pawn) was correct.
Feb-27-11  ughaibu: I think it's extremely unlikely that Lasker's choice of opening was intended to increase his winning chances. Do you have any suggestive evidence, to that effect, from other events?
Feb-27-11
Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: Perhaps this is irrelevant, but it seems like an interesting point to think about.

Lasker wrote later that he would gladly play into published analysis by his opponent if he felt it was faulty--on general positional grounds as well as tactical points.

In 1891, Gossip published <Theory of the Chess Openings>, in which he gave a couple of columns to 4.d4 against the Schliemann, considering only 4...exd4 in response:

http://books.google.com/books?id=2D...

Might Lasker have already been using this ploy so early in his career?

Feb-27-11
Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: Lasker was famous for his use of psychology, choosing lines that he felt would discomfit or surprise his opponents. At St. Petersburg 1914, desperately needing a win against Capablanca to have any hope of overtaking him, Lasker famously played the Exchange Ruy Lopez and traded queens on move 6 in order to throw Capablanca off. (See Pachman's discussion in Pachman's Decisive Games, where he notes that Capablanca had to play aggressively in order to try to exploit his bishop pair, but instead played passively - precisely the wrong approach - because he just wanted a draw.) Lasker of course won a magnificent game. In the last round at St. Petersburg Lasker against Marshall again offered a very early queen trade, expecting that Marshall would avoid the queen trade and overextend himself trying to win - as indeed happened. In the present game, Lasker likely felt that if he played main lines, Gossip would try to grovel a draw (see Gossip vs Max Weiss, 1889 for an example of such play by Gossip as White against a stronger player) and thought that Gossip would be less happy against a sharper line. I don't think this worked out very well here, although Lasker did manage to win in the end.
Feb-27-11
Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: <Phony Benoni> Very interesting point. That may well have been Lasker's motivation.
Apr-28-11
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <FSR>

<Lasker was famous for his use of psychology, choosing lines that he felt would discomfit or surprise his opponents. At St. Petersburg 1914, desperately needing a win against Capablanca to have any hope of overtaking him, Lasker famously played the Exchange Ruy Lopez and traded queens on move 6 in order to throw Capablanca off. (See Pachman's discussion in Pachman's Decisive Games, where he notes that Capablanca had to play aggressively in order to try to exploit his bishop pair, but instead played passively - precisely the wrong approach - because he just wanted a draw.) >

This is silly, even if it's Pachman who said it. Why do you have to play aggressively when you have two bishops? Lots of strategy books (unless they're talking about Lasker-Capablanca) say the opposite.

Lasker played the Exchange Variation in a fair number of critical games in his career, and almost always won when he did play it. He played it three times against Steinitz in world championship matches. He played it against Tarrasch in the penultimate round at Nuremberg 1896 to clinch first place, and again in the first game of their WC match 12 years later.

Repertoire Explorer: Emanuel Lasker (white)

I think anyone familiar with Lasker's career (and that would certainly include J.R. Capablanca) would be unsurprised to see him play the Exchange Variation at St. Petersburg. Nor would the early queen trade be a shock, since that also was a regular feature of Lasker's play (in general and in this opening in particular).

It follows that I don't think there was anything psychological in Lasker's choice of opening. Capablanca, incidentally, used the same opening in the same tournament to crush Janowski. Capablanca vs Janowski, 1914

<ughaibu: I think it's extremely unlikely that Lasker's choice of opening was intended to increase his winning chances. >

Nice.

Apr-28-11
Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: <keypusher: This is silly, even if it's Pachman who said it. Why do you have to play aggressively when you have two bishops? Lots of strategy books (unless they're talking about Lasker-Capablanca) say the opposite.>

In that line of the Exchange Lopez, White has a 4-3 pawn majority on the kingside, while Black is unable to force a passed pawn on the queenside with his crippled pawn majority. If Black plays passively (at least against the likes of Lasker), he'll get squished on the kingside. Capablanca did play passively, and Lasker crushed him masterfully. Lasker vs Capablanca, 1914

Apr-28-11
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <In that line of the Exchange Lopez, White has a 4-3 pawn majority on the kingside, while Black is unable to force a passed pawn on the queenside with his crippled pawn majority. If Black plays passively (at least against the likes of Lasker), he'll get squished on the kingside.>

FSR -- if you take a look at the kibitzing to Lasker-Capablanca, you'll see that I am quite familiar with it. Note in particular that Lasker made his own e-pawn backward and undoubled Capablanca's pawns, depriving himself of the 4-3 pawn majority. So whatever the validity of this:

<In that line of the Exchange Lopez, White has a 4-3 pawn majority on the kingside, while Black is unable to force a passed pawn on the queenside with his crippled pawn majority.If Black plays passively (at least against the likes of Lasker), he'll get squished on the kingside>

It is not applicable to the Lasker-Capablanca game.

This is an example of exploiting the extra kingside pawn. The Capablanca game takes a completely different course.

Lasker vs Tarrasch, 1908

Here's one of Rubinstein's model anti-EV games. It's a very nice game, but he sure doesn't look "compelled to play aggressively" to me.

Factor vs Rubinstein, 1916

Apr-28-11
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: When Capablanca essayed the Exchange Spanish against Janowski, it was certainly with psychological considerations in mind, as Kasparov noted in the first volume of OMGP; the Cuban grandmaster was well aware that Janowski, swashbuckler at the board and inveterate gambler away from it, had no tolerance for routine, dry play.

As to the critical Lasker-Capablanca encounter, it's true that Black must play actively, but in a controlled fashion, as attempts to blow the position open by violent means will rebound. From the mid 1980s on, I had a number of games on the Black side of the Exchange Spanish and did well with it, even against fellow master level players.

For all this, one can only imagine what ran through Capa's mind when facing this line.

Dvoretsky also analyses this game in one of his volumes, also with the conclusion that Black obtained equal play.

Turnabout was fair play-in the following game, also discussed by Dvoretsky, Capablanca essays some psychology of his own: Lasker vs Capablanca, 1936.

Here's another example of the Exchange line used in another important game from St Petersburg: Alekhine vs Lasker, 1914.

Apr-28-11
Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: <Perfidious> Yes, the 6.Qxd4 Exchange Variation scores very badly for White. http://bit.ly/iu0upX. If you look at relatively recent games by high-rated players (say 1980-date where both players are rated 2400+), it's even more lopsided. Black often wins, White almost never does.

<Keypusher> You make excellent points. I should have looked at the game again before I posted that comment. But the bottom line is that Lasker got a huge bind and Capablanca was unable to combat it effectively.

Apr-28-11
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <perfidious>

<Janowski, swashbuckler at the board and inveterate gambler away from it, had no tolerance for routine, dry play.>

He didn't?

Tarrasch vs Janowski, 1914

Janowski vs Pillsbury, 1899

Janowski vs Schlechter, 1898

Kasparov (or more likely his ghost Dimitri Plisetsky) is just copying some hack when he wrote that. Tarrasch said something to the effect than Janowski was particularly skilled at slow maneuvering games. That's overstating it, but it's a lot closer to the truth than the Kasparov quote.

Apr-28-11
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <keypusher> Can't say I necessarily buy that-while, as a grandmaster, he was skilled in all phases, I believe K's assessment was reasonable. As for Tarrasch's comment, he was well known for dogmatic statements, for all his greatness.

<FSR> It's a surprise to me how poorly White scores in the Exchange, even when both players are 2400+.

Apr-28-11
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <perfidious>

<As for Tarrasch's comment, he was well known for dogmatic statements, for all his greatness.>

Tarrasch's dogmatism is well-remembered, but his talent for twitting his fellow masters is forgotten. That is what he was doing when he praised Janowski's slow maneuvers, since Janowski considered himself a second Morphy. But whatever his motives, if you play through all of Janowski's games from any of his better tournaments, I think you'll agree Tarrasch had a point.

May-19-11
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <keypusher> He did it enough with Lasker, then about-faced in some of his comments I've seen excerpted from the tournament book of St Petersburg, 1914.
Jun-08-12  shallowred: 13-0 is impressive; I can only wonder how good he felt after this

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