|KEG: The crucial moment of this game came on moves 14 to 16. |
After an approximately even opening, Lasker tried 14. Ne5?! (instead of the more solid 14. Bf5). This led to fascinating complications. After 14...NxN 15. dxN Qxe5, Lasker played 16. Bb5 (the "point" of his questionable 14th move). The position was now as follows:
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Didier here played 16...Red8, so Lasker's little mini-gambit had paid off since he could now play 17.Nxd5 and get the better game. But Didier had an interesting option on move 16: play the intermediate move 16...Bd6 and then, after 17. g3, try an exchange sacrifice with 17...Qe6 (getting the Queen off the fatal diagonal). As best I can see, Didier would have had more than adequate compensation for the exchange (even apart from his extra pawn) and would have had much the better prospects.
Even after 16...Red8, Didier was still in the game after the exchange of minor pieces and both pairs of Rooks.
But Didier erred with 22...Nd5 (he should have played 22...Bc6 [much better than the Tournament Book's suggested 22...Qd7])after which Lasker's 23. Qg4 threatened mate in one. Didier could still have hung on had he played 23...f6 (better than the Tournament Book's suggested 23...Nf6). His actual move, 23...g6, created fatal weaknesses that should have allowed Lasker to blow him away.
Lasker, however, gave Didier a chance with 25. Qf3. The position was now as follows:
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Didier here played 25...Nc3?, overlooking his hanging pawn on a7. Lasker took immediate advantage, playing 26. Qf4 and then, after 26...Nd5 27. Qb8. But had Didier played 25...Nb4 Lasker would not have won a pawn with 26. Qxf7+ because after 26...QxQ 27. BxQ Didier could have restored material equality with 27...Nxa2.
After 25...Nc3? 26. Qf4 Didier fell apart. His 26...Nd5? was awful (the only possible chance was 26...b5), and his 29...Ne7? was an obvious blunder, and allowed Lasker to end the game with the vicious pinning move 30. Ba6.
As usual, Lasker exploited chances his opponent made available to him. And his 14. Ne5?! transformed an even position into a tactical maze in which his overmatched opponent lost his way.