Wednesday, January 7, 2009


Lasker v. Steinitz

World Championship Match, Game 17, 1894.05.19, Montreal CAN
- Italian Game (Guioco Piano) Hungarian Defense
Notes by Lasker & Steinitz

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1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.d3

Lasker: A solid, well-known variation of this opening.

4...Nf6 5.Nc3

Steinitz: A slow form of a slow opening, transposing the position into a well-known variation of the Four Knights game.

5...d6 6.Be3 Bb6

Steinitz: As matters turn out, this only loses time. In this and similar positions I consider 6...Bxe3 at once superior.

7.Qd2 Na5 8.Bb5+

Lasker: In view of the probable intention of the second player to force the attack on the queenside. This, however, seems somewhat inferior to 8.Bb3 at once.

Steinitz: Tactics of a similar sort have been heretofore adopted in like positions by great masters with a view to weakening the adverse queenside; but since Black's best subsequent plan seems to be to attack on this wing, and inasmuch as he also creates a doubled pawn on this side for the opponent, it is doubtful whether the text move can be relied on as the best attacking measure.

8...c6 9.Ba4 Bxe3 10.fxe3

Steinitz: In entire accordance with theoretical and practical precedence in similar positions, but the progress of the present game will probably tend to indicate that the open f-file does not outweigh the disadvantage of the doubled pawn in the center.

Lasker: The doubled pawn causes trouble afterward and White seems unable to obtain a compensating file. 10.Qxe3 seems perhaps safer.

10...b5 11.Bb3 Qb6 12.0-0 Ng4 13.Rae1 f6 14.h3 Nh6 15.Ne2 Nxb3 16.axb3 0-0 17.Ng3 a5

Lasker: Black forces matters on the queenside without loss of time, while White in the mean time is unable to obtain any advantage either in the center or on the king's wing.

18.d4 Nf7 19.Qf2 Ra7

Lasker: If 19...a4 at once, White might well answer with 20.Ra1 thereby breaking the force of the attack.

20.Rd1 a4 21.b4 Qc7

Steinitz: Black could not at once advance the c-pawn on account of the continuation 21...c5 22.bxc5 dxc5 23.dxe5 fxe5 24.Nxe5 etc.

22.Ne1 c5 23.Qd2

Lasker: The only move at his disposal. 23.Nd3 c4 24.Ne1 c3 was still more unsatisfactory.

23...Be6 24.d5 Bd7 25.Ra1 cxb4

Steinitz: 25...Rc8 in many ways was preferable.

26.Qxb4 Rc8 27.Qd2 Qc4 28.Rf2 Ng5

Lasker: The time lost here with the knight is finely compensated for by the increased weakness on White's king's wing after driving the knight away.

Steinitz: A sort of non-committal move of a character sometimes adopted in order to add a move to the average allowed under the time limit. However, it serves a good turn, as this knight cannot be dislodged without the weakening of White's kingside. But probably 28...Rac7 was still stronger.

29.Qd3 Rac7 30.h4 Nf7 31.Qxc4 Rxc4 32.Rd2 g6 33.Kf2 Nd8 34.b3 R4c7 35.Rdd1 Nb7 36.Rdb1 Kf7

Steinitz: In order to neutralize any attack on the d-pawn by 37.bxa4 bxa4 38.Rb6 which would render the knight temporarily inactive.

37.Ke2 Ra8 38.Kd2 Na5

Lasker: Threatening 39...axb3 40.cxb3 Nxb3+, winning the exchange.

39.Kd3 h5 40.Ra2 Raa7

Lasker: Again threatening the combination 41...axb3 42.cxb3 Nxb3 43.Rxa7 Nc5+ with a winning game. The reply in the last seems, therefore, forced.

Steinitz: Threatening 41...axb3 42.cxb3 Nxb3 43.Rxa7 Nc5+ etc.

41.b4 Nc4 42.Nf3 Ra8 43.Nd2 Nb6 44.Rf1 Rac8 45.Nb1 Ke7 46.c3 Nc4


Lasker: At least, a grave miscalculation. If, however 47.Na3 Nb2+ 48.Kc2 Rxc3+ 49.Kxb2 Rb3+ 50.Ka1 Rxe3 51.Rf3 Rxf3 52.gxf3 Rc3 winning a third pawn for the piece, and owing to the indefensible nature of White's remaining pawns, his game would be untenable.

Steinitz: Anyhow weak, but 47.Na3 would allow the continuation 47...Nb2+ 48.Kc2 Rxc3+ 49.Kxb2 Rb3+ 50.Ka1 Rxe3 51.Rf3 Rxf3 52.gxf3 Rc3 with a winning ending as White's remaining pawns seem indefensible.


Steinitz: This appears to win by force.

Lasker: This appears to win by force. If 48.Rxf6 Nxb1 49.Rf7+ Kd8 50.Rf8+ Be8 51.Rxb1 Rxc3+ and should win.


Steinitz: If 48.Rxf6 Nxb1 49.Rf7+ Kd8 50.Rf8+ Be8 and wins.

48...Nxb1 49.Rxb1 Bg4 50.Rc1 Rc4

Steinitz: Threatening of course Bxe2+, followed by Rxb4.

51.Rc2 (Adjourned)

51...f5 (sealed)

Steinitz: At this stage the game was adjourned for the day, Black sealing the text move. When the game was resumed Lasker resigned without continuing, the game being beyond remedy.

Lasker: After White's fifty-second move the win of two pawns, as pointed out by Mr. Steinitz, is forced, for if 51...f5 52.Ng3 fxe4+ 53.Kd2 Bd7 54.Rc1 Be8 55.Ne2 Bf7 56.Rcf1 Bxd5 57.Rf6 Rg8 and eventually wins.

Steinitz: 51...f5 If, for instance 52.Ng3 fxe4+ 53.Kd2 (best) Bd7 54.Ne2 Be8 55.Rc1 Bf7 56.Rcf1 Bxd5 57.Rf6 Rg8 followed by pawn to a3 soon, and must win.


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