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Carl Schlechter vs Emanuel Lasker
Paris (1900), Paris FRA, rd 1, May-17
Italian Game: Giuoco Pianissimo. Canal Variation (C50)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Apr-13-12  King Death: < paladin at large: ...Regarding 33. Rxf4 and what Schlechter might do or not do, Lasker did not...have the expectation that Schlechter would choose a sharp tactical course...>

If that was Lasker's opinion then he was right in this game for sure. If Schlechter was looking to play it safe he could've considered 33.Bd2 when the ending after 33...Qd3 looks very good for White. The real fun comes after the pawn snatch 33...Qa2 though with 34.Re5 Ne5 Rgg5 (35...Re6 36.Qd5) 36.e6 and an unstoppable monster. After 35.Re5 it's better to play 34...Re5 Nf8 36.Bb4 but even then it looks like Black's position is barely holding together.

Premium Chessgames Member
  NM JRousselle: King Death, what are you talking about? Lasker did not play 33 Qa2. If you are suggesting that Qa2 would have been an error, then so state.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Mateo: <who: I wonder if the exchange sac was necessary (move 38). Fritz is happy with 38.Qe2 Nxd4 39.Re8+ Kh7 40.Qe4+ Nf5 41.Rf8 Qb5 42.Bd2> No. It was just a blunder. Schlechter missed 38...b5.
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: As many on this site have previously shown, Schlechter missed a likely win with 33. Rxf4.

I have reviewed the annotations of this game by Rosenthal in the Tournament Book as well as other contemporary annotations by Teichmann and Marco. Although these fine annotators did a good job with most of the intricacies of this game, they all missed 33. Rxf4, as apparently did both Schlechter and Lasker. Indeed, Rosenthal in the Tournament Book praises Schlechter's 33. R4e2 as "Well played." Further proof, if such were truly needed, of the excellence of much of the analysis on this site.

Bravo tamar, boomie, beatgiant, and others! Well done.

In this post, I will address what occurred before Schlechter's critical 33rd move. I plan to deal with the 33rd move in a subsequent post, and then consider what followed Schlechter's 33. R4e2 in a third post.

Lasker defeated Schlechter in the final round of the London 1899 tournament (costing Schlechter a share of 2nd place) and now faced him--again with the Black pieces-- here in the opening round of Paris 1900. Having been burned by Lasker in a Giuoco Piano in London as tamar points out, Schlechter sought refuge in a placid variation of a Four Knights Opening (4. Bc4 instead of the usual 4. Bb5). Lasker, in turn, decided to forego 4...Nxe4 and instead just played 4...Bc5.

Schlechter could perhaps have sought an edge with 7. BxN (followed by 7...QxB 8. Nd5), but played for equality with 7. Be3. Lasker could have swapped Bishops with 7...BxB, but chose 7...Bb4 and then 8...BxN, messing up Schlechter's Queen side pawn formation.

With fine play by both antagonists, the game remained approximately equal until Schlechter's 22nd move. Unlike paladin at large, I see nothing wrong with Schlechter's 16. c4, but I agree that 21. Qh5 was not best (21. Bb4 seems better).

Schlecther's 22. f3 was the first move in the game that could be deemed a "mistake." Instead of this weakening advance, Schechter could have played 22. Nf3.

ughaibu's comment concerning Lasker's 24... f4 is excellent. Yes indeed, the move adumbrates Lasker's famous victory over Capablance at St. Petersburg in 1914. I would note, however, that Lasker could have better exploited Schlechter's 22. g3 by playing 23...f4 immediately rather than his merely equalizing 23...Qg6.

The contemporary commentators debated whether Lasker's king-side attack was a real threat. Marco thought that Lasker was pushing Schechter back move by move, while Teichmann thought the attack was going nowhere and that Schlechter was getting the better game. In my view, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Through move 26, prospects seem about even to me.

Rosenthat in the Tournament Book calls Schlechter's 28. Ne4 "weak." But Rosenthal's 28. Nf1 is no improvement. Lasker's 27...Rff5 was slightly inferior to 27...Re1, and Schlechter could perhaps tried 28. d4. But so far as I can see there was nothing much wrong with Schlechter's game after 28. Ne4.

Lasker began to get in trouble with 30...Qd6. Fritz recommends 30...b6, a move I fail to understand at all. Best seems Marco's suggested 30...c5, closing the door on d4 by White.

Once Schlechter played 31. d4, Lasker should have recognized that he was in trouble. The Tournament Book says that Schlechter could have obtained "good prospects" with 32. Ba1. But Schlechter's 32. Qd3 protecting the c3 Bishop seems best.

After 32. Qd3, Lasker had to play 32...b5 to stave off catastrophe. As seems obvious, neither he nor Schlechter saw 33. Rxf4, a move that could have brought Schlechter victory and that I will address in my next post on this game.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: 33. Rxf4 would almost certainly have won the game for Schlechter. I have examined three possible responses for Lasker, none of which appear to be sufficient. In ascending order of usefulness:

A) Had Lasker responded 33...exf4 Schlechter would have had a clear win with 34. QxR. I have nothing to add to Boomie's excellent analysis of this variation.

B) Had Lasker responded 33...Rd6, 34. Rg4 wins for White. The only thing I have to add to Boomie's analysis here is that if Lasker had responded 34...Nf6 to 34. Rg4, 35. Rg6 would have been even more devastating than Boomie's 35. Rg3 (which, to be fair, also wins for White).

C) Lasker's best chance had Schlechter played 33. Rxf4 would have been to try 34...Rxg2. Had Schlechter then played 35. KxR, Lasker would have been back in the game with 35...exR. But I see no salvation for Lasker against Boomie's far superior 35. Rg4 (tamar also found this fine move). Boomie's line after 35. Rg4 (35...RxR 35. fxR Rg5 36. Bd2 QxQ 37. cxQ Rg6 38. dxe5) seems best to me. Boomie queries whether Black would have drawing chances in this variation after the exchange of Rooks and Queens. Given that White would be up a pawn and would soon have a protected passed e-pawn in the center, there seems little doubt that White should prevail, especially since White's Bishop is better than Black's Knight in this endgame.

In sum, Schlechter almost certainly would have had a won game had he played 33. Rxf4

Jun-05-17  morfishine: Wow, Schlechter sure goofed this one up

But, players tended to that when playing Lasker


Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: <morfishine> I wouldn't be too hard on Schlechter for missing 33. Rxf4 at the board. After all, Lasker missed it also (otherwise he wouldn't have played 32...Rg6) and Rosenthal, Teichmann, and Marco--although they had all the time in the world to analyze the game--missed the move in their annotations. But as you rightly note, players did seem to freeze up against Lasker. A form of early "Fischer-fear." As I will show in my next post, Schlechter fell to pieces after missing a win on move 33.
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Even after Schlechter missed 33. Rxf4!, he need not have lost the game. In fact, Schlechter still had the better position with his 33. R4e2. As Mateo has pointed out, Schlechter's 38. Rc5 was a blunder. He obviously missed 38...b5, as Mateo has also noted.

The contemporary commentators sought other explanations for Schlechter's defeat. I believe they were mistaken.

According to Rosenthal, Schlechter's 36. Bb4 was "weak" and he should have played 36. d5. This is simply wrong. Had Schlechter played 36. d5, Lasker would undoubtedly have responded 36...b5 after which Schlechter would have had to fight for a draw after either 37. Qb3 QxQ 38. cxQ Rxd5 39. Bxe5 or 37. Qd3 (best) Nc5. By contrast, Schlechter still had an edge after 36. Bb4.

After 36...Qa4 Schlechter could now have played 37. d5 (rather than his 37. Rxe5) with the better--albeit not winning--game.

38. Rc5 was Schlechter's losing move. Even after his earlier miscues, Schlechter would still have had a slight advantage with 38. Qe2 (Rosenthal's proposed move).

Teichmann claimed that Schlechter would still have had good chances of a draw ever after 38. Rc5 had he played 39. Qe2 (instead of 39. Qc3). But Teichmann's analysis is flawed. After 39. Qe2 NxR 40. BxN (40. Re8+ would have been better but still insufficient to save the game) Lasker would not have played 40...RhxB (Teichmann's move) but 40...Rg6 or 40...Kh7, winning.

Rosenthal in the Tournament Book also gave Schlechter's 39. Qc3 a "?", but in fact the move had nothing to do with Schlechter's defeat.

By his 40th move, Schlechter--now down the exchange--was obviously punch-drunk. After Lasker's 39...NxR, he should have tried 40. a3, saving his a-pawn. Since Lasker's c5 Knight was pinned, it wasn't going anywhere. Schlechter would almost certainly have lost even with 40. a3, but after 40. dxN? Qxa2, the game was definitely over.

Jun-05-17  morfishine: <KEG> Believe me, I wasn't being harsh on Schlechter, I'm a huge admirer of him and feel badly when he lost the 1910 Championship vs Lasker.

Schlechter was truly a genius and its a pity how he ended up his days

Nice series of posts


Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: <morfishine> I share your admiration for Schlechter, whose genius--despite his below par result in the Paris 1900 tournament--was soon to be demonstrated beginning with his tie for first at Munich 1900 with Pillsbury and Maroczy, his strong second place finish just behind Janowski at Monte Carlo 1901, his second place finish at Monte Carlo 1904 (just behind Maroczy), his tie for first at Stockholm 1906, his strong second place finish only half a point behind the tournament victor Tarrasch at Ostend 1907, his tie for first at Vienna 1908 and Prague 1908, leading up to his fabulous effort in his 1910 match against Lasker.

His death in 1918 at age 44--he was essentially a casualty of the First World War--was indeed a terrible loss to chess.

Jun-06-17  WorstPlayerEver: What can I say?

The irony of the horrible facts wants that 33. Qd2 is the strongest move indeed. It easily shows how silly Black's position is; Black pieces don't work together. Black's Queen and Rooks give the opportunity for tactical mayhem. And White has a strong centre. Voilá! Complete walkover.

33. Qd2 Rhg5 34. R1e2 Qa2 35. de5 Nc5 36. Rf4 Ne6 this is all forced otherwise an even more devastating defeat follows.

-37. Rfe4 Rh5 38. Rg4 2.16
-37. Rfe4 h5 38. Qd3 2.58
-37. Rfe4 Rf5 38. Qd3 Rf8 39. Rh4 Rg5 40. Qd5 ( 2.05) Qb1 41. Kh2 Qb6 42. c5 Qc6 43. Qc6 bc6 44. Ra4 Rf4 45. Ra6 Rc4 46. Ba1 Rc5 47. g4 h5 48. Ra8 Kf7 49. f4

Jun-07-17  Straclonoor: Yes, 33.Qd2 is best move according to Stockfish but gives only slight advantage 0.83 or something.

33.Rxf4 meet with 33....Rxg2! and no advantage for white here

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: I missed 33. Qd2, which is certainly better than Schlechter's 33. R4e2 and which seems to win for White. Bravo WorstPlayerEver!

But I don't agree with the follow-up line. After 33. Qd2 Rhg5 34. R1e2, best for Black is 34...Nf6 and not 34...Qxa2 (though this still looks like a win for White). And if indeed Black does play 34...Qxa2, then 35. d5 seems to throw away the win after either 35...Rd6 or 35...Nf6. Instead, 35. dxe5 seems to be the winning move after 34...Qxa2 in the line you give.

But 33. Qd2 is a great find! Thank you!

However, I still think 33. Rxf4 wins for White. After 33...Rxg2 (which we all seem to agree is best for Black) Boomie's 34. Rg4 seems to win in all variations.

Jun-07-17  Straclonoor: <However, I still think 33. Rxf4 wins for White> Stockfish totally disagree with you.
Here is the line after 34.Rg4
34...Rxg4 35.fxg4 Rg5 36.dxe5 Nc5 37.Qd5+ Kh7 38.Qd4 Ne6 39.Qd3+ Rg6 40.Bd2 Qe7 41.Kg2 Nc5 42.Qa3 b6 43.Bb4 Re6 44.Bxc5 bxc5 45.Qe3 g6 46.Kg3 a5 47.h4 Kg7 48.Re2 Qf8
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: <Straclonoor>Knowing how thorough and excellent your analysis has always been and recognizing the power of Stockfish, I will review this carefully once I have finished the game I am currently analyzing and get back to you in a day or so.
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: <Straclonoor> I looked at the position again and--like Boomie--fed the position to Fritz and--again like Boomie-- reached a different conclusion from what you report. I think I see the point at which Fritz and Stockfish diverge:

We all agree that after 33. Rxf4, best play is 33...Rxg2 34. Rg4 RxR 35. fxg4 Rg5.

But here Stockfish plays 36. dxe5 after which Fritz says White's win is in doubt (1.04). But, as Boomie reports and as I have confirmed, Fritz here plays 36. Bd2 forcing the exchange of Queens and (after 36...QxQ 37. cxQ Rg6 38. dxe5) leaving White a pawn ahead. Boomie's version of Fritz rates this as 1.50 My version also rates the position as 1.50.

I don't have Stockfish and would be interested in Stockfish's analysis after 36. Bd2. As of now, this looks to me like a win--or very close to a win--for White.

Jun-08-17  Straclonoor: <KEG> Yes, 36.Bd2 goes to tough rook ending for black but it not totally lost

Here is the line Stockfish 060617 64 BMI2 1.20 (depth 32) Qxd3 37.cxd3 Rg6 38.dxe5 Re6 39.Bc3 b5 40.cxb5 axb5 41.d4 Nb6 42.Bb4 Nd5 43.a3 Nxb4 44.axb4 Rc6 45.Rf1 Rc3 46.Kg2 c6 47.Rf3 Rc2+ 48.Kf1 Ra2 49.e6 Ra8 50.Rc3 this position may have continuation with 50....Kf8 51.Rxc6 Rd8 52.Rc5 Rxd4 53.Rxb5 Ke7 54.Rb7+ Kxe6 55.Rxg7 Rxb4 etc.

Probably 36.dxe5 not stronger but difference a quite little.

By the way Stockfish is free chess engine. Anybody can download and use it.

Jun-08-17  WorstPlayerEver: <KEG>
33. Qd2 Rhg5 34. R1e2 Nf3 seems indeed better for Black.
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: <Straclonoor> Thank you for this analysis, which I think confirms Boomie's original conclusion that after 33. Rxf4 Black at best can reach an ending with some drawing chances. 36. Bd2 does indeed seem to be the critical line. Lasker would clearly have had his hands full had Schlechter played 33. Rxf4, even if he somehow managed to stave off defeat.

Thank you also for the info about Stockfish. I will look into trying to download this. (I should confess, however, that I have very limited computer skills and a very old computer, so this may take me a while).

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: <WorstPlayerEver> I agree that after 33. Qd2! Rhg5 34. R1e2 the best move is 34...Nf6 (I assume that your "Nf3 was a typo). But this still seems to be a likely win for White after 35. Rxe5 (if 35...Qxa2 36. Qd3). The position is certainly not "better for Black."

Your earlier post convinced me that 33. Qd2--which as you say shows up the problems with Black's configuration--was a winning move, and probably even better than 33. Rxf4 (a move concerning which Straclonoor's last post may be the final word).

Jun-08-17  WorstPlayerEver: <KEG>
Oh sorry, I meant 33. Qd2 Rhg5 34. R1e2 Nf6 seems slightly better than 34... Qa2
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: <WorstPlayerEver> I agree. Your 34...Nf6 is another good find, and offers the best chance for Black, though I still think Black is lost after your excellent 33. Qd2!
Jun-08-17  Straclonoor: After a little bit deeper analysis position after 32 moves Stockfish gives these lines Stockfish 060617 64 BMI2

A. 1.52 (depth 31) 33.Qd2 Qd6 34.dxe5 Qxd2 35.Bxd2 Re6 36.Bxf4 Rf5 37.Bh2 Nc5 38.Rd4 Rf8 39.Rd2 Rc6 40.Bg1 Rf5 41.Rd5 Ne6 42.Re4 Rf4 43.Rxf4 Nxf4 44.Rc5 Rxc5 45.Bxc5 Ng6 46.Bd4 c5 47.Bb2)

B. 1.25 (depth 31) 33.Bd2 Qxd3 34.cxd3 b5 35.dxe5 Nc5 36.Rd4 bxc4 37.dxc4 Rb6 38.Bxf4 Ne6 39.Rde4 Rb2 40.Bh2 Rxa2 41.f4 g6 42.R4e3 Rf5 43.g4 Rf8 44.Rf1 Nxf4 45.Bxf4 g5 46.e6 gxf4 47.e7)

C. 1.08 (depth 31) 33.Rxf4 Rxg2 34.Rg4 Rxg4 35.fxg4 Rg5 36.dxe5 Nc5 37.Qd8+ Kh7 38.Qd4 Ne6 39.Qd3+ Rg6 40.Bd2 Qe7 41.Kg2 Nf8 42.Bc1 Qe6 43.Kg3 Kg8 44.Qd5 b5 45.Re4 Nd7 46.Bb2 bxc4 47.Qxc4

Jun-08-17  WorstPlayerEver: <KEG>

Well, if you are on XP it's not a problem. Try Arena Chess GUI 3.5.1. And then you have to load Stockfish engine in there.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: <Straclonoor> Thank you for this update. My one question relates to line C, in which Stockfish continues to play 36. dxe5 rather than 36. Bd2. I would be interested to know how Stockfish evaluates that on a similarly deeper analysis.
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