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David Janowski vs Emanuel Lasker
Nuremberg (1896), Nuremberg GER, rd 11, Jul-31
Spanish Game: Berlin Defense. Rio Gambit Accepted (C67)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
Jun-07-07  Whitehat1963: Player of the Day wins a lengthy, unbalanced, well-fought battle against the sitting world champion.
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: Part I

A game that never comes up when Lasker's "psychological approach" is discussed. Janowski was a famous attacking player, so what does Lasker do? Enter into the sharpest possible line, almost begging Janowski to sacrifice the exchange so that he can break up the black king's defense. Janowski complies, and for a while it looks as if Lasker's gamble will play off and his material advantage will prevail. But Lasker goes wrong, not once but several times. Black avoids getting mated, but ends up in a hopeless ending, with Janowski enjoying three pawns for the exchange. Lasker fights hard to the end, but can't save the game.

Was this an unusual approach for Lasker to take against such a dangerous attacker? Not at all. Here's a famous example: Janowski vs Lasker, 1904. Here's another: Janowski vs Lasker, 1899. Usually Lasker's sharp play worked.

Notes are from Brandreth's reprint of Tarrasch's tournament book, which incorporates comments from contemporaneous sources. Comments from Shredder/me are in brackets.

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.0-0 Nxe4 5.Re1 Nd6 6.Nxe5 Be7 7.Bd3

<Introduced by Steinitz against Zuckertort a decade before, this variation is as harmless as it looks. But Janowski beats Lasker with it here, and should have beaten Pillsbury with it several rounds earlier. Janowski vs Pillsbury, 1896 >

7...0-0 8.Nc3 Ne8

<Simply 8...Bf6, or ...Nxe5, here or on the previous move, should lead to equality. But Lasker's move, though provocative, is not bad.>

9.Nd5 Bf6

Deutsche Schachzeitung: Now, as what follows shows, 9...Nxe5 must absolutely be played. <Lasker and Shredder do not agree, and I think they are right.>

10.Ng4 d6 11.Rxe8

A bold sacrifice such as Janowski likes. Such an offer mostly succeeds; compare Janowski's games against Marco and Schlechter. (Janowski vs G Marco, 1896 and Schlechter vs Janowski, 1896) But it is otherwise correct.

Deutsche Schachzeitung: A pretty, if also obvious sacrifice which brings White a speedy advantage.

<Shredder: Unsound!>


Deutsche Schachzeitung: Black must play this. On 11...Bxg4 there follows 12.Rxd8 Bxd1 13.Rxa8 Rxa8 14.Nxc7 with advantage for White.

12.Ngxf6+ gxf6 13.b3

The pawn could better have advanced two squares at once.

13...Ne5 14.Bb2 c6 15.Ne3 d5

Deutsche Wochenschach: Now 15...Nxd3 was in order <Shredder agrees>, for then ...d5 and ...d4 could be played. White conducts the following attack with unusual skill.

16.Bf5 d4 17.Qh5

Threatens Qxh7+ followed by Ba3+.

17...Ng6 18.Ng4 c5

Now the attacking lines of both Bishops are broken and with that the whole attack is really parried. <This is why Tarrasch recommended b2-b4 at move 13; but Shredder thinks his interesting idea could be parried by ...a7-a5.>


With this 20.Nh6+ followed by Nxf7 is threatened, which before ran aground on 21...Qe7 with a mate threat on e1.

19...Kh8 20.Nh6

Stronger immediately appears to be c2-c3. <Shredder thinks Tarrasch's suggestion leads nowhere after 20.c3 Bxf5 21.Qxf5 Nxh4 22.Qh5 Ng6 23.Qxc5 Ne5 24.Nxe5 Rxe5 25.Qxd4 Qxd4 26.cxd4 Re2 with a big advantage for Black in the ending.>

21...Qc7 21.c3 Bxf5 22.Nxf5

22.Qxf5 Kg7 23.Ng4 <23.Qh5 Re5 24.Nf5+ Kh8 25.Qf3 is better, but not good> 23...Qf4 is still more unfavorable to White.

click for larger view


22...Qf4 with the threat to capture the d-pawn and to displace the dangerous attacking piece, the Bishop at b2, decides immediately, for on 23. Rd1, 23...Re5 24. g4 Qf3 wins. But also the text move is good enough; it threatens 23...Nf4 followed by ...Rxg2+. <Tarrasch is right about 22...Qf4, but overrates 22...Rg8.>

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: Part II


<Janowski could boldly play 23.cxd4! Rxg2+ 24.Kh1, and if 24...Rag8 25.dxc5 White has an attack that fully compensates for his material deficit.>


23...Qf4<!> would now be adequately parried with 24. Rd1. <Not so: 24...Ne5! 25.Kf1 (25.cxd4 Nd3) 25...Qe4 26.cxd4 Ng4 (threatening ...Qh1+ and ...Re8+) 27.Kg1 Qc2 forks bishop and rook.> But 23...Nf4 24. Qf3 Qe5 would have parried the attack. <Again mistaken. After 25.Nh6 Rg7 26.Kf1! White is better, e.g. 26...Nd5 27.Nf5 dxc3 28.dxc3 and Black has nothing better than ...Re8 giving back the exchange.> The text move is a decisive mistake, for now the attack diagonal of the bishop on b2 is opened. <Black has given back almost all of his advantage, but is not yet lost.>

24.c4 Qc6

Deutsche Wochenschach: Again threatens 25...Nf4.

25. Ne3<!>

Covers the threatened mate on g2 after ...Nf4 and prepares the decisive attack on f6 with Nd5. <I suspect Lasker overlooked this fine retreating move.>


Much better was 25...Nf4 followed by ...Ne2+ and ...Nd4. <Again, Shredder disagrees: 25...Nf4 26.Qf5 Ne2+ 27.Kh2 Nd4 28.Bxd4 cxd4 29.Nd5 Qe6 30.Qxd3 Qe5 31.f4 Qh5 32.Rg1 (32.Qxd4?? Qe2+ 33.Kh1 Qf3+ and Black mates) 32...Rae8 33.Nxf6 Qe2+ 34.Qxe2 Rxe2+ 35.Rg2 Rxg2+ 36.Kxg2 with a better ending for White.>

26. Nd5 Ne5 27. Qf5 Rg6

27...Re6 offered better defense (28.Nxf6 Nf3+ 29.Kh1 Nd4) <30.Nd5 and both knights are pinned! But White is still better off, e.g. 30...f6 31.Bxd4 cxd4 32.Qxd3>.

28.h5 Rg5<?>

On 28...Rh6 there follows 29.g4 whereupon 29...Nxg4 may not be played on account of 30.Qxg4 Rg8 31.Qxg8+ followed by Ne7+ and Nxc6.

Deutsche Wochenschach: On 28...Rh6 29.f4 Nd7 30. Qg5 decides the game.

<Both these notes can be questioned. Deutsch Wochenschach's 29.f4 is refuted by 29...Qd7. Tarrasch's 29.g4 is stronger but can be met by 29...Qe6 30. Qxe6 Rxe6 31.Ne3 (threatening Nf5) 31...Nxg4 32. Nxg4 Rxh5 33.Nxf6 Rf5 34.Nd5+ f6 35.Kf1 Kg7 36.Re1 Rxe1+ 37.Kxe1 and Black retains some slight drawing chances in the ending. In any case, after 28...Rg5 Lasker is definitely lost.>

29.Qxf6+ Qxf6 30.Nxf6 Re6 31.Ne4

With 31.f4 Rxf6 32.fxg5 Rf5! 33.Re1 f6 White achieves nothing. <A nice line, but instead 33.Rf1! wins, e.g. 33...Rxg5 (33...Rxf1+ 34.Kxf1 f6 35.Bxe5! is an easily won pawn ending) 34.Rxf7 Kg8 35.Re7 Nf3+ 36.Kg2 Kf8 37.Re3 Nd4 38.Bxd4 cxd4 39.Rxd3 .>


The capture of the h-pawn could be answered by 32.f4.


Deutsche Schachzeitung: The correspondent of the London Standard, L. Hoffer, reports that as the news spread in the tournament hall that Janowski had reached a winning position against Lasker, he immediately rushed to the table in question to be able to have a look at the game. However, the spectators stood in an impenetrable row three deep around the competing masters and a crowd of people, who were standing on chairs, were trying to peek over this living wall. Hoffer must have gone away without achieving his object, for it was not to be thought of that anyone could get through.

<Kibitzers of today with the internet and sensory boards can count their blessings.>

32....Re8 33.h6 Rg6

click for larger view

34. Nxd3!

Here White could win a knight with 34.f4 Rxg3+ 35.Kh2 Rg6, but after 36.fxe5 Reg8 or 36.Bxe5+ f6 37.Bc3 Reg8 the game is lost. <White can interpolate 36.Rg1! Rxh6+ 37.Kg2 Rg6+ 38.Kf1 Rf6 39.Nxd3, winning.>

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: Part III

34...f6 35.Nxe5 fxe5 36.Re1 Kg8 37.d4

White can also play 37.Bxe5; the text move is, however, stronger; it does not work well for White to win the e-pawn, but instead to bring his queenside pawn majority to fruition.

37...e4 38.Bc1 e3

In order to exchange the rather worthless e-pawn for the troublesome h-pawn or (with ...Rxe3) to manage the rook exchange.

39.Bxe3 Rxh6

White now has a clearly won endgame, of which the conducting is a matter of technique.

<After 58....Rf5>

If White now carelessly plays 59.c6+, Black easily takes the pawn away.

59.Be5 Rxf2 60.c6+ Kd8 61.Bd4 Rf8

Necessary on account of the threat 62.Bb6+ and Re8#.

62.Bc5 Rfg8 63.d6 Rg5

click for larger view


Here White could end the game immediately with 64.Re7 followed by 65.Ra7.

64...Kd7 65.Re7+ Kc8 66.Kc6 Rxc5+

On 66...R5g6 67. Re1 followed by Rb1 is played.

67.Kxc5 Kb7 68.Re1

Faulty would be 68.Re8 Rxe8 69.d7 Re5+ 70.Kd6 Rd5+! followed by ...Kxc7.

68...Rg5+ 69.Kd4 Rg4+ 70.Kd5 Rg5+ 71.Ke6 and Black resigns.

Dec-10-11  whiteshark: <keypusher> When I read Tarrasch's comment on <11.Rxe8> [<Aber korrekt ist anders.<>>] the other night, I was utterly amazed and laughed out loudly. Is it mild irony or sarcasm or in its monolithic brevity at the end of his comment - something completely different?

Is it possible to translate <"But it is otherwise correct."> with <"But correct is (something completely) different." <>> ?

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <whiteshark: <keypusher> When I read Tarrasch's comment on <11.Rxe8> [<Aber korrekt ist anders.<>>] the other night, I was utterly amazed and laughed out loudly. Is it mild irony or sarcasm or in its monolithic brevity at the end of his comment - something completely different?

Is it possible to translate <"But it is otherwise correct."> with <"But correct is (something completely) different." <>> ?>

Yes, thanks for this (which I missed until now)! Always glad to have my German checked, though of course I would have preferred to get it right the first time.

"But correct is another thing" or "Whether it's sound is a different matter" are possible translations...but Tarrasch's German is more laconic and much better.

Sep-05-16  Howard: A lot of these "ancient" games are, no doubt, underrated. The old-timers were a lot more competent than many modern-day players give them credit for.
Sep-05-16  Retireborn: <Howard> I think Hans Ree put his finger on it when he pointed out that because these games often have openings which are of little or no interest to the modern player, people tend to assume the rest of the game is of low quality too. But that's far from the truth, of course.
Sep-06-16  Howard: Quite true ! Too bad the likes of Capablanca and Lasker didn't have computers.

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