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Frank Marshall vs Emanuel Lasker
Paris (1900), Paris FRA, rd 6, May-28
Queen's Gambit Declined: Modern Variation (D50)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  LIFE Master AJ: This is a fascinating game. I first started to annotate this game like in 1993, I found a file on a floppy disk.

I worked on the game again in 1999, and again in 2001. (But never finished it. I am now working on this game ... I have been pecking away now for close to three weeks.)

I just wanted you to know that ... THE GAME SCORE HERE IS INCORRECT!!! (See Marshall's "My Fifty Years of Chess," 17.f3 was almost certainly played. See also Ken Whyld's book on Lasker. About 10 other books alos have 17.f3 here.)

I have a small web site on Lasker. AND Marshall!! They can be found at: There are a few annotated games ... if you are interested. (Free!)

Apr-27-04  Lawrence: <LIFE Master AJ>, don't you use Fritz or one of its silicon siblings to help you?
Premium Chessgames Member
  LIFE Master AJ: <reply to Lawrence> I use every chess engine known. ChessBase engines, from Fritz to Shredder to Deep Junior, etc. I also use engines like Crafty, Rebel, ChessMaster 9000; etc.

It still takes time to do it right. AND ... what do you do when the move order in the book is DIFFERENT than here??? OR ... you get a different move order in every book you consult????

Premium Chessgames Member
  LIFE Master AJ: The game is finished and posted.
Jul-15-04  iron maiden: Two interesting facts about this game:

This game was Lasker's only loss of this tournament, and apart from this loss, Lasker gave away only one single half-point throughout the entire sixteen-game tournament--a last-round draw with Chigorin when his victory was already mathematically assured.

Also, this game was the first meeting between Marshall and Lasker. After this game, it took Marshall twenty-five tries to win again against Lasker; it finally happened in their abortive 1940 match. So between these two, Marshall scored the first victory and the last victory, but not a single one in the forty years between them.

Premium Chessgames Member
  LIFE Master AJ: good obs
Mar-16-06  alexandrovm: <...So between these two, Marshall scored the first victory and the last victory, but not a single one in the forty years between them.> incredible!...and it cost a big efort to win this, even with a piece down by Lasker for some time in the game...
Premium Chessgames Member
  oao2102: Is the game score correct? Wasn't 28...Rc5 the move actually played? I don't have a source.
Aug-16-12  Rhialto: When Lasker played 11...Nxc3?? he must not have seen 15.c6! forcing the bishop to occupy a square needed by the knight, in order to answer Ne5. Of course anyone could miss that, but taking such a burning hot pawn was generally absurd, since the endgame is not so great for him even if the knight escapes.

Indeed Lasker could have saved the piece by 18...Bf5! 19.g4 Bc2 20.Kd2 Nd1! 21.Kxc2 Ne3+ 22.Kd3 Nxf1 and the knight is trapped on f1 - but so is the knight on e5. Moving the king somewhere besides d3 would simply allow the knight to escape from f1 after White saves the Ne5. So 23.Rhxf1 fe 24.Bxe5 and White is still much better, maybe even just winning, but it's more defensible than the game.

Aug-16-12  RookFile: <When Lasker played 11...Nxc3?? he must not have seen 15.c6! forcing the bishop to occupy a square needed by the knight, in order to answer Ne5.>

The concept is fantastic, and that Marshall saw it is greatly to his credit.

Mar-12-15  Ulhumbrus: <RookFile: <When Lasker played 11...Nxc3?? he must not have seen 15.c6! forcing the bishop to occupy a square needed by the knight, in order to answer Ne5.>

The concept is fantastic, and that Marshall saw it is greatly to his credit.> To make the explanation a little more complete 16 Ne5 attacks Black's bishop on c6 before it can assist the knight on c3 to escape by ..Nxa4

Mar-13-15  offramp: I have annotated this game in great detail in a composition notebook. IF you want I can post it to you, but I'll need it back. There are still blank pages left.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Honza Cervenka: I don't understand why white did not play simply 18.fxe4 fxe5 19.Bc3 with winning of the Knight. Instead of 17...f6? black should have played 17...Nc6! and instead of 18...Bc2 it was far better to play 18...Bf5!
Nov-09-15  thomastonk: <Honza Cervenka: I don't understand why ...> I suggest to read C.N. 9528, which can be found here:
Premium Chessgames Member
  Honza Cervenka: <thomastonk>

Well, 17.Bc3 f6 18.f3 makes better sense for sure, and it is almost certainly correct move order here.

Anyway the game is very tricky and it seems to be that Lasker's "blunder" 10...Nxc3 was not objectively losing move, though it was practically unwise because Lasker was unable to find the best defense to save his errant Knight. 16...Nd7! with idea 17.Nxc6 bxc6 18.Bc3 Rb8 is surprisingly resilient, as 19.Ra2 fails due to 19...Nxc4! 20.Bxc4? Rb1+ . White has then nothing better than 19.Bxg7 Rg8 20.Bd4 c5 21.Bc3 Ke7 where active black pieces seem to be able to obstruct white's attempts to win the Knight. After Lasker's suboptimal 16...Be4 Marshall could have played 17.Ra2! and suddenly black has no good defense for that poor beast sitting on b2. After that 17...f6 18.f3 Bf5 19.g4 doesn't help much and the black Knight is lost. The difference between 17.Ra2! a Marshall's 17.Bc3 is that after the text move 17.Bc3 f6 18.f3 Bf5! 19.g4 Bc2 20.Kd2 (of course, 20.Bxb2 fxe5 gives nothing) black has 20....Nd1 21.Kxc2 Ne3+ 22.Kxd3 Nxf1 with material equality because now not only black Knight on f1 but also his white counterpart on e5 are trapped. In the game (after 18...Bc2 without inserted 18...Bf5 19.g4) it doesn't work as white Knight after 19.Kd2 Nd1 20.Kxc2 Ne3+ 21.Kd3 Nxf1 can simply retreat to g4 and again the black Knight is lost. In case of 17.Ra2! f6 18.f3 Bf5 19.g4 Bc2 20.Rxb2 white Rook attacks the Bishop c2 winning thus a tempo for retreat of Ne5. Of course, to see that all over the board is quite difficult task even for genial players and tacticians like these two giants.

Nov-11-15  thomastonk: <Honza Cervenka: almost certain> Before I found Lasker's correction in the WSZ, I thought that 17.♗c3 f6 18.f3 is <almost certain> the correct move order, because it is impossible that both masters did not spot something that I would play in a bullet game. But with Lasker's correction ...

<Anyway the game is very tricky>. That's indeed true. I considered the 17 ♖a2 stuff as well (after an engine suggested it, of course). Another point, which I spent some time with was 17 f3. Harding gave a ! and added "ECO correctly gives here". That's a bold statement, which was not supported by the engine. I observed that he probably missed 20.. 0-0-0 in the line 17...♘c6 18 ♗c3 ♘xe5 19 ♗xb2 ♘d3+ 20 ♔d2. Therafter, White can choose between two promising endings with 2Bs v R+Ps. Very interesting stuff, I would say.

Mar-28-17  zanzibar: A direct link to the Winter article concerning this game (given by <thomastonk> above): C.N. 9528
Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Surprise! Marshall defeats the mighty Lasker. This was Lasker's only loss at Paris 1900, and the first time Lasker played Marshall. Marshall second (and only other win) against Lasker came 40 years later!

Lasker appears to have underestimated Marshall here and played an unnecessarily risky line against Marshall's doubtful opening play. Uncharacteristically, Lasker erred in the resulting wild complications. Nonetheless, Marshall deserves great credit for outplaying Lasker in a tactical duel. This did not happen often.

1. d4 d5
2. c4 e6
3. Nc3 Nf6
4. Bg5 c6

4...Be7 and 4...Nbd7 are more normal and better. Also better than the text is the rarely played 4...Bb4?! But Lasker's move is certainly OK, and succeeds in getting Marshall to overplay his hand.

5. e4

"For a number of years I was fond of this move in similar positions. Eventually I discarded it, as it cannot lead to a permanent initiative' (Marshall). The move is condemned by Rosenthal in the Tournament Book (who recommended 5. Nf3), by Teichmann, and by Schlechter (who recommended 5. e3). Rosenthal's move is definitely better than the text, but yields White little advantage after 5...dxc4. Schlechter's simple 5. e3 seems best.

5... dxc4

As Teichmann noted, this should have given Lasker a good game.

6. Nxe4 Bb4+
7. Nc3 c5!

"The correct continuation." (Schlechter) "It appears as if White will have trouble with his Queen-side pawns." (Marshall).

Marshall's comment is spot on, but Lasker soon gets seduced by the idea of exploiting Marshall's Queen-side pawns and needlessly goes down a dangerous rabbit-hole.

8. a3

Marshall is getting a bad game. He should have played the simple 8. dxc5.

8... BxN+

This move was criticized by Rosenthal in the Tournament Book, but I see nothing wrong with it (except the follow-up).

9. bxB Qa5

Playing for complications. Lasker could have had the better game with 9...Nc6. But the text move is also fine if correctly followed up.

10. Bd2

"White has no compensation for his inferior pawn formation." (Schlechter).

10... Ne4

It is here that Lasker begins to lose his way. Marshall has messed up his Queen-side, and Lasker could simply have played 10...Nc6. Tactical fireworks were not required. As Schlechter said, Lasker's "speculation on the c3 pawn is mistaken."

11. Nf3

Marshall fails to exploit Lasker's overreaching. Teichmann's proposed 11. Qc2 would have been even worse than the text after 11...NxB. Best was 11. Bd3.

The position was now as follows:

click for larger view

11... Nxc3?!

As Rhialto has stated, Lasker probably overlooked the force of 15. c6! As Rosenthal pointed out in the Tournament Book, the text is a "dangerous move.' 11... Nc6 was best.

Schlechter, surprisingly, contended that 11...Nxc3?! is "quite sound and should have won the game." A better assessment is presented by Honza Cervenka on this site: This is NOT the losing move, but was "practically unwise given that Lasker was unable to find the best defense to save his errant Knight."

Schlechter notwithstanding, 11...Nxc3?! was a mistake since Lasker could have had the better game with 11...Nc6 and now will have to find a way to save his advanced Knight just to keep his head above water.

12. dxc5

This move gets a "!" from both Rosenthal and Marshall. Schlechter calls it "best." But better was 12. Qb3. Marshall claims that 12. Qb3 would have been a mistake since after 12...cxd4 13. Nxd4 Qe5+ would allow Black free himself from the "terrible pin." But White would then get a significant advantage with 14. Be3 Ne4 15. Qb5+ QxQ 16. NxQ

12... NxQ

"Forced" (Marshall). "If Black does not exchange Queens then 13. Qc2 would follow." (Schlechter).

13. BxQ Nb2

Best. Schlechter claims that Black should have sacrificed a pawn with 13...b6, but then 14. cxb6 axb6 15. Bxb6 would have left Lasker down a pawn with no compensation. In fact, the text could have allowed Lasker to save his Knight without the pawn sacrifice suggested by Schlechter had he seen the incredible line available to him. Over the board, however, Lasker's move left him on the verge of defeat.

14. a4

Now Marshall threatens 15. Ra2 winning the Knight.

14... Bd7

The only way to save the Knight. Had Marshall now played 15. Ne5, Lasker would have had the remarkable saving 15...Nc6! available. But Marshall has something different in mind.

Now the real fun began, as I will show in my next post on this game.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post II

After Lasker's 14...Bd7, the position was as follows:

click for larger view

Marshall here showed his tactical genius by playing:

15. c6!!

Now, had Lasker played 15...Nxc6 16. Bc3 would have won the Black Knight. But Lasker played a much better move.

15... Bxc6

16. Ne5

This move worked like a charm since Lasker failed to find the problem-like solution. Objectively, 16. Nd4 was best.

The position was now as follows:

click for larger view

16... Be4?

For once, Lasker misses a tactical trick. 16...Bxa4 would also lose (17. Ra2!). The saving move here is 16...Nd7!!

After 16...Nd7! Black escapes: 17. NxB bxN 18. Bc3 Rb8 (the point) 19. Bxg7 (Not 19. Ra2? Nxc4) Rg8

Marshall claims that the position of the Black Knight would still be "awkward," but his analysis is flawed.

According to Marshall, White is better after 20. Bc3 (Honza Cervenka's 20. Bd4 is much better) Nc5 (Black gets the better game here with 20...Ke7 or 20...Rb3) 21. a5 (21. Rb1 is much better) f6? (Black gets the better game with 21...Ke7).

With best play, the game would have been about even after 16...Nd7. After Lasker's actual move (16...Be4?) Black was probably lost. But the game was far from over. There were still tactical surprises and pitfalls galore ahead, as I will discuss in my next post on this game.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post III

After Lasker's 16...Be4, the position was as follows:

click for larger view

17. Bc3

As Honza Cervenka has pointed out on this site, but missed by all of the commentators I have found, Marshall should have played 17. Ra2! here after which "suddenly Black has no defense for that poor beast [the wayward Knight]" Bravo Honda Cervenka!

After Marshall's 17. Bc3, Lasker could have saved the Knight.

17... f6
18. f3

The position was now as follows:

click for larger view

18... Bc2

This move by Lasker has received ! marks from both Marshall and from Rosenthal in the Tournament Book. But, as Rhialto and Honza Cervenka have discovered, Lasker could have avoided loss of a piece by 18...Bf5!, since if now 19. Kd2 Black simply captures the White Knight on e5. Best play (after 18...Bf5!) seems to be 19. g4 Bc2 and now if 20. Kd2 Black has the problem like saving move 20...Nd1! since Black can now avoid loss of a piece after 21. KxB with 21...Ne3+ and then is 22. Kd3 NxB since White has no move to save his e5 Knight.

BRAVO Honza Cervenka and Rhialto!

White would still probably be better after 18...Bf5!, but Lasker would have a playable game.

After the text (18...Bc2), Lasker does manage to snatch a few pawns, but he was lost.

19. Kd2 Nxa4
20. KxB NxB
21. Nd3

Both Marshall and Rosenthal in the Tournament Book give this carfeul move a "!", though 21. Ng4 also gains a piece for White.

21... Nd5

21...Nd1 was better. As will be seen, the pawn Lasker is able to pick up by this move cannot be maintained.

22. cxN exd5

The position was now as follows:

click for larger view

"White has managed to secure three pawns for the piece and White still has his work cut out for him." (Marshall).

The three pawns (at least one of which must soon fall) notwithstanding, this ending is a win for White. Not an easy win against the likes of Lasker, but a win nonetheless. Marshall's subsequent play, however, got sloppy, and Lasker had chances to save the game as I will discuss in my next post on this game.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post IV

After 22...exd5, Marshall faced the task of winning a won endgame against Lasker. Lasker was a piece down and was almost certainly lost as a theoretical matter, but he did have two scary-looking passed pawns on the Queen-side. The play from here was interesting.

23. Nc5!

This move is much better than the seemingly obvious 23. Nf4! which wins the d-pawn but allows Lasker some play after 23...Nc6. As Rosenthal pointed out in the Tournament Book, 23. Nc5! is a key step in rendering Lasker's two passed pawns on a7 and b7 harmless.

23... b6

23...Nc6 and 23...0-0 are theoretically better, but Lasker is setting a vicious trap for his young opponent.

The position was now as follows:

click for larger view

24. Bb5+

Marshall avoids Lasker's nasty trap. As Schlecther pointed out in his commentary on this game, if 24. Ne6 Kf7, the tempting 25. Nc7 (25. Nf4 retains the win) loses to 25...Rc8.

24... Kf7
25. Na4

More accurate and decisive is 25. Nb7.

25... Nc6

"The only reply to the threatened Nxb6." (Marshall).

26. Nc3

Marshall's contrary comments notwithstanding, 26. BxN was simplest and best.

26... Rhc8

26...Nb4+ offered better chances.

27. Rhd1 Ne7

27...d4 gets Black nowhere after 28. BxN (better than Marshall's suggested 28. Ne4).

28. Kb2 Rc5

Both Marshall and the Tournament Book give this move as 28...Rc7, but I agree with oao2102 that 28...Rc5 was probably played. Had Lasker played 28...Rc7, Marshall would undoubtedly have played 29. Nxd5.

29. Bd3 a5

The only chance to stay in the game.

30. Na4 Rc6
31. Rac1

Both Marshall and Rosenthal give this move a "!", but in fact it is a mistake. Better were either 31. Ka3 or 31. Rab1.

31... Rb8

Missing his chance. 31...RxR would have given Lasker good drawing chances.

33. Rc1 Ne5
34. Rc7+ Ke6

"The passive 35...Kg8 would lose much more rapidly." (Marshall).

35. Bb5 g5

The position was now as follows:

click for larger view

Things certainly look good for Marshall here, but there were a few more twists and turns in this game to come.

Premium Chessgames Member
  KEG: Post V

According to Marshall, after 35...g5: "White now disregards the h-pawn because he still intends to work on the Queen-side pawns first. The d-pawn cannot last long."

This plan sounds good in theory, but it nearly cost Marshall the game.

36. Ra7

Marshall should either have taken the h-pawn or played 36. Kc3. With the text, he loses ground.

36... d4
37. Ra6?

Marshall continues to pursue the wrong plan. As will be seen on the next move, Lasker has another unpleasant little trap set for Marshall. After the text, all of a sudden, Lasker is back in the game. Marshall should have taken the h-pawn or played 37. Kc2. It now is no longer clear that Marshall can win.

37... Kd5

The position was now as follows:

click for larger view

38. Kc2

My guess is that only here did Marshall notice that if (as pointed out by Rosenthal in the Tournament Book) 38. Rxb6 RxR 39. NxR+ Kc5 wins for Black. Similarly, if 38. Nxb6 Kc5 again wins for Black.

38... Rb7?

Lasker sets another set of traps, since 39. Nxb6+ loses to 39...Kc5, and 39. Rxb6 loses to RxR 40. NxR Kc4. But given that Marshall saw a similar set of traps on his last move, it was unlikely that he would err here. Lasker should here have played 38...Nc6, after which he just might have held the game (e.g., 38...Nc6 39. Kd2 Kd6 40. Rxb6 RxR 41. NxR Ne5 42. Be8 Ke7 43. Bh5 Kd6). Granted, in this and other lines Marshall would be up a piece for two pawns and would have good winning chances (and indeed a deeper analysis may show that Marshall still had a forced win). But Lasker would have threats on both wings and just might have managed to escape with a draw.

After the text move, Marshall wins in a walk.

39. Ra8 Nc6

39...Ke6 offered better chances. The text is one move too late.

40. Kd2 Nb4

Lasker's last chance was to play 40...Ne5. Now, the game becomes a massacre.

41. Rd8+ Ke5

41...Ke6 was "best," but was also hopeless.

42. Nb2 Rc7

42...d3 was better, but the game by now is gone.

43. Nc4+ Kf5

43...Ke6 was somewhat better, but by now it hardly matters.

44. Rxd4

"After the win of this pawn the rest is easy." (Marshall).

44... Rc5
45. Be8

Marshall could still go wrong here. Perhaps this is why Lasker played on. As Rosenthal noted in the Tournament Book, if 45. Bd7+ Kg6 46. Nxb6? (46. g4 wins easily) Rc2+ followed by Rxg2 gets Lasker back in the game. But Marshall avoids all of this with 45. Be8.

45... Rd5
46. Ne3+ Ke5
47. NxR KxR
48. NxN

48. Nxf6 is even more crushing, but Marshall had been determined to neutralize any threats from Lasker's passed pawns on the Queen-side, and jumps at the chance to double Lasker's Queen-side pawns and eliminate Lasker's Knight. Needless to say, Marshall's move is sufficient to win.

48... axN

Lasker could have spared himself and resigned here. The balance of the game does not warrant any comment. Lasker's efforts to accomplish something with his King-side pawns or with his doubled b-pawns were hopeless.

49. Bf7 f5
50. Bg8 h5
51. Bf7 h4
52. h3 b5
53. Be8 Kc4
54. Bd7 b3
55. Bxf5 Kb4
56. Bd3 b2
57. Kc2 Ka3
58. Kb1


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