Wednesday, January 7, 2009


by GM Andrew Soltis in Why Lasker Matters

Lasker Emanuel (GER) (2720) - Alekhine Alexander A (RUS) (2700)
St. Petersburg, 1914

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e5

The Albin Counter-Gambit. This was the only tournament in which Alekhine essayed this opening. Lasker, on the other hand, had considerable experience playing this opening in a number of offhand games.

3.dxe5 d4 4.Nf3 Nc6 5.a3 Bg4 6.Nbd2 Qe7 7.h3 Bxf3 8.Nxf3 0-0-0 9.Qd3 h6

Black stops Bg5 and ensures that he can regain the pawn with ...g6 and ...Bg7. Not 9...Nxe5?! 10.Qf5+ Nd7 11.Nxd4±

10.g3 g6 11.Bg2 Bg7 12.0-0 Nxe5 13.Nxe5 Bxe5 14.b4 f5!

Not 14...Nf6?? 15.f4 Bd6 16.c5+-

15.c5 Qe6 16.c6! Ne7!

Black's intent is to allow cxb7+ with the hope that the pawn will get in the way of White's attack.

17.cxb7+ Kb8 18.Bb2 Rd6 19.Rac1 Rhd8 20.Rc2

White prepares to target the c7-pawn and defers making a choice between pushing the queenside pawns and trying to win the d-pawn. In his otherwise excellent annotations to this game Soltis is under the impression that the exchange of queens leads to a favorable ending for White. So he prefers 20.Qc4 Qxc4 (20...Nd5? 21.Bxd4!) 21.Rxc4 Nd5 22.Rfc1 Nc3 23.Kf1. But this line fails to 23...Nxe2! 24.Kxe2 d3+ 25.Kd2 Bxb2. Lasker understood the dynamics of such positions better.


Not 20...Nd5? 21.Bxd4! Nxb4 22.Bxa7+ Kxa7 23.Qe3+ Bd4 24.Qxe6 Rxe6 25.axb4+-

21.gxf4 Bxf4 22.Rd1 Nf5 23.Bc1?

White should have played 23.Qe4 Qb3 (23...Be5 24.Rc5) 24.Bc1 d3!? 25.Rxd3 Qxc2 26.Bxf4 Rxd3. After 27.exd3 and 28.Qc4 Qxc4 Black would be playing without the king. 27...Qxd3 (27...Rxd3?? 28.Qe8++-) 28.Bxc7+! Kxc7 29.b8Q+!+-

23...Ne3! 24.Rc5!

Not 24.fxe3 dxe3 25.Rc6 Rxd3 26.Rxd3 Qe7 27.Re6 Rxd3 28.Rxe7 Rd1+ 29.Bf1 Rxc1


It is a pity that Soltis does not explain why 24...Nxd1 should not be played. After 25.Bxf4 Nc3 (25...Nb2 26.Bxd6!) 26.Bxd6 Rxd6 27.e3 White has the upper hand.

25.Qe4! Nxd1

Not 25...Re6?! 26.Qf3 Bh2+ 27.Kxh2 Qxf3 28.Bxf3 Nxd1 29.Bxh6 Nxf2 30.Bf4



Losing. Black had two good alternatives to reach a level position:

  1. 26...Nxf2 27.Bxd6! Rxd6 28.Qe8+ Rd8 29.Qe5 Qxe5 30.Rxe5 d3! 31.exd3 Nxd3 with a murky endgame.;

  2. 26...R6d7! 27.Qf3 Qf8÷

27.Bxd6! Qxd6

Not 27...Nxe4 28.Bxc7+ Kxb7 29.Bxe4+ Ka6 (29...Kc8 30.Be5++) 30.b5# mate.; 27...cxd6? 28.Qc6!+-

28.Qe5 Qb6 29.Qe7!

The clearest road to victory. The other line is more complicated: 29.Rc6 Qxb7 30.e3 d3 31.Rxc3 d2 32.Rd3 d1Q+ 33.Rxd1 Rxd1+ 34.Kh2 Qc8 35.Qb5++-

29...Qd6 30.Re5

White cannot afford to relax his vigil. Not 30.Qxd6 cxd6!

30...d3 31.exd3 Qxd3 32.Re3 Qd1+ 33.Kh2 Nb5 34.Re6!

To stop ...Qd6+ and prepare the winning maneuver.

34...Nxa3 35.Rf6!

Black resigns in view of the threat Rf8.


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