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Emanuel Lasker vs David Graham Baird
Match series (1892), New York, NY USA, rd 2, Oct-19
Queen Pawn Game: General (D00)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
Nov-09-14  TheFocus: This is Match Game 2 from a series of matches played against members of the Manhattan Chess Club.

This game was played on October 19, 1892.

Lasker gets three pieces for a Rook and swarms all over Baird.

Premium Chessgames Member
  fredthebear: Here is the soon-to-be world champion Emanuel Lasker playing the D05 Colle 5.c3 System before Edgar Colle was born! These are standard moves, although White typically develops the Nf3 before Bd3. At that time period, Bd3 was fashionably played first (or should FTB say Nf3 was delayed) to prepare a Stonewall Attack prior to f4. Lasker chooses the Colle System w/5.Nf3.

FTB somewhat disagrees with Stockfish assessments. After 3...c5 4.c3 is necessary to maintain the bishop on the b1-h7 diagonal in the Colle proper. Of course, a GM is supposed to invite 4...c4?, relieving the pressure on the d-pawn (but also giving up the diagonal). Furthermore, 7.dxc5 can wait until further piece preparations are made for play on the e-file. FTB would not play Stockfish's 10.Bb1 over Lasker's 10.Bc2 in a hundred years. Students can do well by following Lasker's play.

Let's break for a bit of theory:

Move orders can be flexible in the Colle System. Here is a 6...Bd6 main line (which slightly varies from ...Be7) given by Gary Lane: 1.d4 d5
2.Nf3 Nf6
3.e3 e6
4.Bd3 c5
5.c3 Nc6
6.Nbd2 Bd6
7.0-0 0-0
8.Re1 e5 9.e4 (do your homework on the coming central exchanges)

OR 8.Qe2 Re8 etc.
Perhaps 8.Qe2 Qc7 9.h3?! e5 10.dxe5 etc.

If 6...Be7, play might go 7.0-0 0-0 8.Qe2 b6 9.dxc5 bxc5 10.e4 etc. HOWEVER, 8.dxc5 Bxc5 9.e4 is common!

We can be certain that all kinds of alternative moves have been tried for/against the Colle System, and not all get punished as they should, so plan carefully -- don't just blindly copy someone else's play.

Let's get back to the actual game:

Stockfish likes Lasker's 14.g4 and White takes control. (Students must think twice before playing h3 and g4, for it can quickly backfire.)

Lasker uses the pin (Stockfish did not like 9.Rd1 when Lasker played it but the move gives this game spice), unpins his own, makes threats and plays a fine combinational finish that many top players would not create in the same fashion, IMHO. Such a king hunt that packed more punch than seemed likely was inspiring!


Post Script: Why does Batsford print a chess book without a handy games index in the back?

Premium Chessgames Member
  fredthebear: Let's look at White defensive tactics that were not played, but certainly could've happened.

If instead 18...BxRd1 19.BxBd1 Qg5+ forking the loose knight, the knight retreats to interpose 20.Ng4. Then 20...h5 piles on the pin, but either pawn thrust 21.e4 or f4 (either move does the job) forces the Black queen to take flight 21...Qh4 and the pin is broken with time to save the knight next.

It's often a good idea to seek to move an en prise unit to solve/create another problem, as the White knight's response to check 20.Ng4 does here. It's sort of like "killing (saving) two birds with one stone." An aggressive move by thy en prise unit should be high on the move priority list.

Furthermore, the pinned knight was threatened with capture again by the h-pawn. Don't routinely defend a unit in preparation for re-capture. Sometimes a threat can be temporarily ignored to make a greater threat. In this case, White takes aim at the Black queen. She must be saved, which releases the pin, buying time to spare the White knight from capture a second time.

Time is a vitaly important element of chess!

Premium Chessgames Member
  fredthebear: An unsound Queen sacrifice?

Some will suggest (likely Stockfish) that 20.Qd2 or Qe2 should have been played instead of the actual 20.QxBe4.

There is tremendous positional value in the queen sacrifice here. It safeguards a won game from tactical shenanigans!

When ahead on material as White is here, in many cases one should seek to exchange queens. This removes the opponent's best attacking piece. White has lost two pawns from his king's shield. He is partially exposed, and takes great comfort in removing Her Majesty from the opposing field of play.

FTB likes 20.QxBe4 because the sequence of exchanges clears the center for White's bishop pair and puts a big dent in Black's hopes for a comeback. Black would much rather keep his queen on the board! Make moves that your opponent will not like!

Simplification/trading down/reduction of force is a sound concept to minimize the likelihood of the weaker army making a turn around.

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <FTB>

SF assessments on this website don’t mean a lot, because the search depth is so shallow, and SF wasn’t really designed to comment on openings anyway. That said, Nf3 and b2-b3 like SF suggests is another respectable way to be boring; Rubinstein won many games that way. My SF rejects 7.dxc5 after a few seconds. 9.Rd1 works out brilliantly, but that doesn’t make it a good move. SF’s recommended continuation was 9….c4 10.Bc2 e5 11.dxe5 Nxe5 12.Nxe5 Bxe5 13.e4 (13.Nxc4 Bxh2+ (an important tactical resource) 14.Kxh2 Ng4+ 15.Kg3 Qc7+ 16.Ne5 Qxe5+ =) 13….Qe7! 14.exd5 Bxh2+ 15.Kf1 Qxe2+ 16.Kxe2 — White’s game doesn’t look so spicy now, does it?

I hope you point out to your students all the horrible moves Baird makes, starting with 11….Bxe5?? allowing Lasker to exploit the pin on the d-pawn, and following up with 12….Bg4?, 13….Bh5?? and 14….Nxg4??. Baird threatened 16....Bxf3 17.Qxf3 Qg5+ 18.Qg2 Qxg2+ 19.Kxg2 dxc4, but must have missed 16.Qd3 breaking the pin (another important tactical lesson), after which he might as well have resigned.

20.Qxe4 is not a queen sacrifice, of course. It’s an exchange sacrifice. And since Lasker is already two pieces ahead, he winds up with three minor pieces for a rook. Note that Baird could have brought about that same material (im)balance by playing 18….Bxd1 — he chose 18….Bf5 no doubt because he was hoping for 19.Qd2? Bxc2 20.Qxc2 Qg5+ getting one of his lost pieces back. But Lasker finds 19.e4! with the immediate effect of stopping …Qg5+ and the longer-term effect of helping his own development.

After 19….Bxe4, at 37 ply SF thinks 20.Qxe4 is strongest (+8.77) but 20.Qd2 and 20.Qe2 (+8.42 and +8.49), respectively, are almost as good. Since they all win easily, I wouldn’t care so much what my student chose — but I’d want to make sure he or she spotted 19.e4. When you’re two pieces up, it shouldn’t be hard to come up with moves that your opponent will not like.

The other thing I’d point out to a student is 28.Rd1?, which allows …Rxb3. Now even 29.axb3 Kxf7 30.Rd7+ is still an easy win, but White could have avoided all that and kept his three pieces for the rook with 28.Bh6+ Kf6 29.Ng5. Removing-the-guard combinations are something everyone has to learn about.

I think Lasker was gunning for a pretty finish (and no doubt wondering why Baird hadn’t resigned) when he played 28.Rd1. After 28….Rxb3 29.Rd7 Rb5 (forced) 30.Nd6+ Kg8 31.Bh6 he’s threatening both rooks and the king. Unfortunately 31….Rh5 would have (slightly) spoiled things — Lasker has nothing better than 32.Rg7+ Kf8 33.Rxh7+ Rxh6 34.Rxh6. He’s still winning easily, of course, but he doesn’t have as good a position as if he’d just gotten his knight out of harm’s way earlier. Or if he’d just played 31.Nxb5 in the game continuation.

After 31….Rf8 again strongest is simply 32.Nxb5 axb5 33.Bxf8. It’s better to be up a rook than up a bishop. If a future world champion can overlook that, surely your students can too.

Premium Chessgames Member
  fredthebear: Excellent post <keypusher>! You have made useful comments on other Lasker games as well. His games are certainly worthy of study.

When someone puts time and effort into an informative post as <keypusher> has here, FTB tries to wait until about 30 "Recent Kibitzing" games have passed on the home page to give everyone a chance to read the lengthy primary post before making a short, less important response. This deliberate pause is a courtesy to the serious author who put time and effort into a worthwhile post. Otherwise, an immediate response causes the system to stop featuring the lengthy informative post for the latest quip on the home page.

Premium Chessgames Member
  fredthebear: It is risky if not foolish for ol' FTB to challenge Stockfish assessments, but I generally preferred Lasker's actual practical play. The later half of the game unfolded with interest -- nothing like an artful zwischenzug -- the mark of a true master! Yet one could sense more computer evaluation was necessary. Humans are no match for the sheer tactics of computers. So glad to see <keypusher>'s insightful post here! FTB prefers that others provide in-depth computer evaluations.

FTB is curious to know more about the disparity of Stockfish 9 above and keypusher's SF alternatives. Why are they so dissimilar? FTB was under the impression that generally Stockfish 9 v010218 (minimum 6s/ply) was fairly close to best play.

Philosophically, it's not FTB's nature to disregard any game because it contains errors by the eventual loser. As Lasker taught, most chess games contain a defining error(s); otherwise w/best play a draw will result! (Most draws generate little viewer interest; it's the flaws that provide an opportunity for creative flavor!) FTB has always marveled at how the winner was able to convert a mistake into victory. Yet some observers are unable to appreciate a game if the loser does not perform at a high level throughout. Obviously, FTB was focused on Lasker and Stockfish and paid little attention to Baird's play.

FTB needs more time to consider the alternative moves <keypusher>/SF suggest, likely improvements. Regardless, Lasker's combinational performance retains it's own lasting beauty.

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <FTB> Thanks for that nice and good-natured response. How to use computers with students is a hard question to answer, I am sure. The important thing is to try to figure out why the engine thinks what it thinks. If it picks a move because of a 15-move combination that Magnus Carlsen couldn't see, that's not much use to a student. But in my experience engines are good at seeing much shorter continuations that we are liable to miss, and modern engines have pretty good positional judgement as well!

One more engine line is helpful in rounding out our understanding of the opening: 11....Nxe5 12.Nxe5 Bxe5 13.Nf3 Bg4! 14.h3 Bxf3! 15.Qxf3 Re8. White has the bishop pair and Black has a hole at d4. Nevertheless the engine thinks Black, with more space and superior development, is better, and I think the engine is right. In fact in this position SF recommends giving away a pawn with e3-e4 so that White can develop his QB. Not saying that is what your human students should do, but it does demonstrate the importance of activity.

I don't think there is a big difference between SF 9 and SF 10. (There are a lot of people on this site who know a lot more about chess computers than I do, though.) The big difference between the website engine is mine is that I generally run mine longer. It's said that you should run a search for 40-ply to get reliable results from an engine. That's often not practical, however.

Of course every game has mistakes. I would think the one possible drawback of this game as an instructional tool is that Black is quite hopelessly lost after White's sixteenth move. White can get away with quite a lot after that, because his material advantage is so huge.

Premium Chessgames Member
  fredthebear: Another very instructive post <keypusher>. Thank you for the lesson.

FTB played chess for years (took up chess when Bobby Fischer became World Champ) without use of a computer, and has no preference for it's assistance, which can be undeniable. (FTB highly recommends students train with computers simply because most learners are more likely to train more often w/a computer!) FTB enjoys his chess books, the old classics. There will be new classics in E-books.

Good point about not getting caught up with lengthy computer analysis. FTB generally uses computer analysis to find the specific move that changed the evaluation from + to - or vise versa, and an alternative move in a tough spot. Allow the computer to be a blind spot instructor! Remember, a human player must be able to form one's own sustainable plan (silently talk to your pieces; mobilize, co-ordinate, give every piece a job to do, avoid forks, pins, skewers, ties, weak pawns, and keep the enemy out of your camp) which is generally based upon prior experience of what might or not work. Acquiring a sense of force, timing, and danger is necessary.

Unfortunately, computers can provide us with best moves and next-best moves, but they don't give insightful lectures. A strong preference for a Read & Write/Logic learning style makes <keypusher>'s posts quite helpful.

Yes, Baird could have resigned much sooner against Lasker. Yes, White could have captured either Black rook (simplification instead of hunting for mate) and Black is hopelessly lost with just one rook remaining. White's material advantage does allow for free wheeling play.

FTB does teach students "Never resign with your queen still on the board. She is a huge difference maker. Look for back rank mate, battery support mate, or a perpetual check draw. If you cannot win, play for a draw." Of course, we all should resign courteously when down material to a grandmaster.

Premium Chessgames Member
  fredthebear: As far as the Colle System goes, Black certainly does have a handful of useful ways to equalize against it. However, Black can also equalize against the Queen's Gambit, English Opening, Catalan, etc. as well.

Perhaps it is easier for Black to achieve and maintain equality against the Colle than some of the others. (Of course, White gets an easy, effortless start; it's a trade-off.) If the kingside assault is neutralized, the Colle player must be able to convert the queenside pawn majority into a passed pawn promotion (but this would apply to other openings as well).

The preference for other White openings is their space, flexibility of operations yielding more creativity, more pressure on the defense. Against the Colle, Black can equalize and then has ways to seek the initiative. Follow <keypusher>'s explanations above to see how.

The Colle 5.c3 System and the Colle 5.b3 System can be recommended to all with no guarantees. Simply, FTB has said this: "I've never got a bad game when I played the Colle. My chances were fairly good." Much the same could be said for other opening systems, such as the London System, Reti, or King's Indian Attack, etc. If thy center holds up, all minor pieces are active, and the king is safely castled to connect the rooks, one can expect to have a fighting chance in the middlegame based upon piece placement ideas without having to know lots of lengthy opening theory.


Does anyone have thoughts on the best (visually appealing, fewest typos and diagram errors) chess E-books?

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