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Mikhail Botvinnik vs Emanuel Lasker
Moscow (1936), Moscow URS, rd 10, May-27
Catalan Opening: Closed Variation (E07)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
Dec-23-03  Taidanii: Was there something wrong with 16. axb5? By the looks of it a pawn would have been won. 16. axb5 cxb5 16. Nxb5 Bxb5 17. Qxb5 winning a pawn. Is there something I'm missing?
Dec-23-03  CapablancaRules: I think this is pawn sacrifice to open lines on the queenside... 16.axb5 cxb5 17.Nxb5 Rfc8 18. Qd3 Rab8
Dec-23-03  solstys: I'm baffled. Why isn't white's 21st move, Nxb4? Then, 21...axb4 22. Rxd7 wins. I don't think the score is right. The text leads to an even game.
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  Chessical: <> Move 21 is shown in other sources to be the winning Nxb4. I believe that this is the actual move as otherwise Lasker seems to have resigned for nothing.
Premium Chessgames Member OK, fixed.
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  Richard Taylor: <CapablancaRules: I think this is pawn sacrifice to open lines on the queenside... 16.axb5 cxb5 17.Nxb5 Rfc8 18. Qd3 Rab8> Yes.
Feb-22-06  RookFile: 18. e5 is very strong. If Lasker has to play ...Ne8 (which Alekhine always said should only be played as a last resort) to avoid losing a pawn, then Botvinnik must be winning.
Dec-15-07  Ulhumbrus: 17 axb5 has to be considered a threat, as it threatens to displace the c6 pawn which hinders d5 following e5. Instead of 15...b5, 15...Rc8 supports the advance ...c5
Aug-02-09  Knight13: <If Lasker has to play ...Ne8 (which Alekhine always said should only be played as a last resort) to avoid losing a pawn, then Botvinnik must be winning.> And if Karpov plays moves like ...Ne8, it means you're about to die.
Sep-17-09  Ulhumbrus: 12...Qe7 obstructs the diagonal a3-f8 for Black's KB. An alternative is 13...Qc7
Sep-17-09  WhiteRook48: and if Fischer plays ...Nh8, you're dead
Sep-18-09  Ulhumbrus: <WhiteRook48: and if Fischer plays ...Nh8, you're dead>

I assume that you are referring to the move 24...Nh8!! in the game Korchnoi vs Fischer, 1970

It is a famous game, and it appears in the book on the tournament by Fischer and Bjelica.

According to one story Fischer had started a lawsuit against Bjelica or Djelica, or whatever his name is, possibly for publishing Fischer's annotations without having gained Fischer's permission first. When Bjelica came across Fischer taking some drink and offered him a draw in the lawsuit, Fischer refused.

Sep-18-09  AnalyzeThis: This isn't the king's indian, folks. A knight retreat in a classical setup like this is bad news.
Jul-24-13  jerseybob: Ulhumbrus: 12..Qc2 isn't just an alternative, it's a flat-out better move, although black would still be somewhat cramped.
Premium Chessgames Member
  kingscrusher: Oh man - pressure there
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Excellent video analysis of this game from <agadmator's Chess Channel>:

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  GrahamClayton: Lasker was the oldest player in the tournament, aged 67 - maybe he started to get fatigued and make errors the longer the tournament continued?
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  perfidious: During this and the Nottingham event during summer 1936, it was clear that Lasker was not what he had been even the previous year at Moscow, where he turned in an outstanding performance.
Oct-18-19  Granny O Doul: I'm afraid we're never going to see the old Lasker again.
Jul-31-21  Chessmaletaja: According to Neishtadt, after that game, the move 7. ♘c3 became popular.
Premium Chessgames Member
  PawnSac: < AnalyzeThis: This isn't the king's indian, folks. A knight retreat in a classical setup like this is bad news. >

yes we know that NOW.. because we learned it from games like this one!

We have to be fair here. We modern players have all the technology and study aids at our finger tips. So it is not surprising that we quickly spot these "violations" of good chess praxis.. BUT things were not so clear in those days. Many of these early games are initial explorations in waters that were not so clearly defined.

Even at that.. We need to be objective in our criticisms, and not too hard on Lasker for trying an idea. I mean.. we've seen Carlsen park a knight on a5 and make it his queenside kingpin (well ok Dubov.. whatever..) so in and of itself, a regrouping that bounces on e8 is not that big a deal. That is, until you try it in a position where it IS a bigger deal.

anyway.. I'm only saying that we are all the wiser because of their mistakes! And I'm pretty sure that after post game reflection, Lasker probably reevaluated the Ne8 idea. He learned from his mistakes, and so do we!

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