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Mordecai Morgan / Samuel Leigh Stadelman vs Emanuel Lasker
Consultation game (1907) (other), Franklin CC, Philadelphia, PA USA, Nov-22
Italian Game: Classical Variation. Giuoco Pianissimo (C53)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni:

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Walter Penn Shipley, commenting on this game in the American Chess Bulletin, 1908, p. 8, wrote of Lasker's <35...Bxg4>:

<"Again, the White forces did not anticipate this move. In fact, one of the players was dispatched to the room where the Doctor was sitting, to see if he had the position correctly placed on his board. The sacrifice is not only sound, but gives Black a forced win though a Rook benind.">

By the way, the White forces consisted of Mordecai Morgan and S.J. Stadelman. The game was played at the Franklin Chess Club in Philadelphia in November, 1907.

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: Part I

Soltis writes that if this game had been played in a tournament, it would have been one of Lasker's most famous. It is certainly very interesting, but flawed too. Some of Soltis' notes from <Why Lasker Matters> are below, supplemented by Shredder and me in brackets.

After 10.Qe1

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White prepares a4-a5, Ba2 and Nc4-b6 to exploit the hole Black just created. If Black responds ...Bxe3 at some point, White retakes fxe3 and has a nice game with Qg3. But the Giuoco Pianissimo doesn't respect esoteric moves like 10.Qe1. <Qe1 esoteric? Well OK...>

10...Ng6 11.Nbd2 0-0 12.Ba2 Bc7 13.a5 d5

This foils Nc4-b6 at the minor cost of ceding c5 to White pieces.

14.Rd1 <White misses this rook on the a-file later. Maybe White could have played Bb3 instead of Ba2?>

14...Re8 15.Bg5 Be6

With a threat of 16...dxe4 17.Bxe6 exf3.

16.Nh4 Nf4

Black would have the upper hand after 16...h6 17.Bxf6 (not 17.Nxg6?? hxg5) Qxf6. But he decides to keep material on the board.


White's unfortunate queen placement makes him unable to open lines in cases such as 17.d4? exd4 18.e5 Nd3.


Black wants to embarrass the knight by cutting off a retreat to f3. For example, 18.Ndf3 h6 19.Bxf4 exf4 20.h3 Bc8! and ...g5.


No better is 18.Nhf3 c5 (19.bxc5? Bxa5 or 19.exd5 Qxd5. <Shredder thinks that Nhf3 is considerably better than f2-f3 and Kg1-h1.>

18....Bd7 19.Kh1 h6 20.Bxf6

The predicament of the h4-knight is illustrated by 20.Bxf4 exf4 when White plays 21.Qf2 to meet the threat of ...g5. But then 21...Nh5! contains a winning threat of 22...Ng3+, e.g. 22.Nf5 Bxf5 23.exf5 Ng3+ 24.hxg3? fxg3 and ...Qh4+.

20...Qxf6 21.g4?

Black threatened 21...g5. White wouldn't be happy with 21.g3 Nh5 22.Ng2 because it allows Black to take his time choosing between the ...f5 and ...c5 breaks. But White doesn't deserve to be happy after 21.g4?.

21...Rad8 22.c4

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Now 23.dxc4 c5! crumples White's queenside. Black could have executed the break immediately with 22...c5!?. But White gets more play than he deserves after 23.exd5 cxb4 24.Ne4.

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: Part II

23.Nxc4 Be6

The knight never gets to f5 as White had hoped, and therefore 24.Ng2 Nxg2 25.Kxg2 was the best defense (although 25...Rd4 26.Qe2 Red8 solidly favors Black).

24.Ne3 Bb3 25.Rd2 c5!

Black could have won a pawn by routine means (25...Rd4 26.Rb2 Be6). But he's entitled to some fun in a consultation game. <As shown below, "routine means" might have been better here.>

26.Nhg2 cxb4 27.Rb2 Nxd3<?> 28.Bxd3 Rxd3

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<Amazing, Morgan, Stadelman, Lasker and Soltis all overlooked 29.Qb1, "forking" Black's bishop and rook. Shredder finds that Black has nothing better than 29....Rxe3 30.Nxe3 Ba4 31.Rxb4 Bb5 32.Rxb5! axb5 33.Qxb5, with some advantage for White based on that great d5 outpost for the knight.>


Black had another trick, 29...b5 30.Rxb3 <(30.axb6 Qxb6 )>, which costs material after 30...Bd6. If White responds 31.Nd5 -- based on 31...Q-moves 32.Rxd3! Bxb4 33.Nxb4 with advantage -- Black settles for that mundane extra pawn (31...Rxd5!).

30.Rfb1 Rc8!

An amazing move, based on the idea of meeting Rxb3 with ...Bd6. It runs 31.Rxb3 Bd6! 32.Qxb7 Rxb3 33.Qxb3 and now 33...Rc1+! 34.Ne1 Rxe1+ 35.Kg2 Rxe3! 36.Qxe3 Qb2+ and wins.

The spectators then (and computers now) like the queen sacrifice 32.Rxd3 instead of Qxb7. Then 32...Bxb4 33.Rxb4 Rc1+ 34.Rd1 Rxd1+ 35.Nxd1 Qd6 36.Rb1 Qd3 loses while 34.Nd1 Qa2 35.Ne3 Qe2 36.Rbb3 Rc2 mates.

31.Nf5! Rcd8!

White's first rank is again vulnerable because of ...Rd1+. For example, 32.Rxb3 Rxb3 33.Rxb3 Rd1+ 34.Ne1 Rxe1+ 35.Kg2 Re2+ 36.Kg1 Bxa5!.

Also lost is 33.Qxb3 Qxb3 34.Rxb3 Rd1+ 35.Ne1 Rxe1+ 36.Kg2 Bxa5 37.Rxb7 Re2+ and ...Bd2

32.Ne1 Bd1! 33.Nxd3?

Black's attack would be strong after 33.Ne7+ Kh7 34.Nd5 R3xd5! 35.exd5 Qxd5. But White can keep the outcome in doubt after 33.Qc5! and then 33...Bd6 34.Qf2. Black keeps the high cards after 34...Ba3 35.Rb6 Qc8 (36.Nxd3 Rxd3 37.Nh4 g5).

33...Bxf3+ 34.Kg1 Rxd3 35.Rc1?

Black's two pawns for the exchange give him the better prospects even after 35.h3 h5 36.Qxb7 Qc4; 35...Qxb7 Bxa5 36.Qe7 Qxe7 37.Nxe7+ Kh7.


<And as <Phony Benoni> recorded, it was here that the consultation players went to Lasker's room to make sure he had the position set up correctly.>


Or 36.Ne7+ Kh7 37.Rxc7 Rd1+ 38.Kg2 Bh3+ and 38.Kf2 Qf6+.

36...Bxf5 37.exf5

If Black is allowed to keep the attack with only an exchange minus, he must win (37.Rc3 Rd1+ and ...Bh3).

37...Rd1+ 38.Kg2 <38.Kf2 Qxf5+> 38...Qd5+ 39.Kf2

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The finishing touch. Now 40.Rc3 Qg1+ 41.Kf3 Rd4! threatens the queen and ...Rf4+. Also dead is 40.Re2 Qxh2+ 41.Kf3 Qh3+.

40.Qxb7 Qf1+ 41.Ke3

Black announced mate in five: 41...Rd3+ 42.Ke4 Qf3+ 43.Kxe5 Qe3+ 44.Qe4 f6+ 45. Ke6 Qxe4#.

<A really wonderful game. But how did everyone miss 29.Qb1?>

Dec-04-14  TheFocus: From a simul at the Franklin Chess Club in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on November 22, 1907.

Morgan's partner was S. Stadelman.

Lasker's score is unknown.

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <TheFocus: From a simul at the Franklin Chess Club in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on November 22, 1907. Morgan's partner was S. Stadelman. >

Focus, I thought it was well-established that this was a consultation game, not a simul. See Phony's post. What is your source to the contrary?

Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: This link confirms it was a consultation game.

"Dr. Lasker, the World Champion (or, as Dr. Tarrasch might prefer to call him, the World Match Champion) has been engaged by the Franklin Chess Club of Philadelphia to mark the opening of this year's chess season. Last night, November 22, Dr. Lasker played against Messers. Morgan and Stadelman- the latter the current Franklin club champion- in consultation."


"A really wonderful game. But how did everyone miss 29.Qb1?"

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29.Qb1 turns it into a completely different game with equal chances.

You could say the allies were only focusing on re-establishing material equality.

They missed it and Lasker missed it when heading for here.

Easy to miss when skipping through a game because the move played 29.Qxb4 looks OK.

No excuse for Soltis. The above link spots it (says Fritz found it.)

There could another explanation why the three players missed it.

It never happened!

It was not unknown in the old descriptive days for two pieces which can go to the same square getting mixed up. It was always Rooks or Knights.

Just suppose back in this position.

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White did not play 26.Nhg2 but 26 Neg2.

The game still plays out legally and when we get to move 29 in this line.

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29.Qb1 does not work because Black has 29...Bc4 (no Knight on e3).

If you play the same moves that happened in the game replacing 26.Nhg2 with 26.Neg2 then after Black's 31st move you get here.

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White now plays 32.Ne1 and you are back to the exact same position as in the game.

It's a very very slight possibility, but these things did happen.

Oct-12-18  graphvariety: <keypusher> Thanks very much for posting Soltis' analysis. There's a small typo in the line after 30.... Rc8: 36... Qb2+ should be 36... Qa2+.

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