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Frank Marshall vs Emanuel Lasker
Lasker - Marshall World Championship Match (1907), USA, rd 15, Apr-06
Queen's Gambit Declined: Lasker Defense (D53)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  An Englishman: Good Evening: I had always thought of Lasker's Defense as incredibly boring, but this game sure isn't--Black conducts a lightning fast attack on the uncastled King reminiscent of some of Marshall's own games.
Feb-17-05  Shams: 28.Na5? looks ugly
why not 28.Ne3
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <Shams>
<28.Na5? looks ugly
why not 28.Ne3>

White's already lost here, of course.

I think the point of 28. Na5 is to restrain the ...a5 advance, as in 28. Ne3 Nf4 29. Qd2 a5! when 30. Qxa5 exposes the vulnerability of the knight on e3 with 30...Nh3+ 31. Kh1 Qxe3 32. gxh3 Qf3+, etc. with an easy win.

Jan-24-11  Llawdogg: Once Marshall lost that d6 pawn it was all over. A complete wipeout. Qf6, Qxd6, over.
Nov-07-13  Ulhumbrus: With 11...Qc7 the queen heads for the square a5. This suggests 12 Qc3 preventing the check 12...Qa5

On 14 Nd2 c5 threatens to open the e file by with White's king still in the centre. This suggests 14 Be2 getting ready to castle as quickly as possible

Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: Hello again Beatgiant glad you could make it from:

Sergey Karjakin (kibitz #2736)

Sorry to be so 'pedantic'...

You say here:

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White is already lost even if he plays 28.Ne3.

I do not think so, that game is still in the pot and it still is even after White played 23.Na4 (not to block the a-pawn but to play Nb7/Nb3 and Nc5.)

The game continued 28. Na4 Nf4

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White played 29.Qg3 which Soltis said is Marshall playing for a swindle. But 29.Qf3 and the outcome is still unclear. Certainly not 'already lost'.

Finally...In your analysis here

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You suggest 30...Nh3+ 31. Kh1 Qxe3 32. gxh3 Qf3+, etc. with an easy win.

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I agree and this is really taking nit-picking to a new level. I apologise.

from here:

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30...Nh3+ 31.Kh1 Nf2+! 32.Kg1 Qxe3

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Threatens mate and wins a piece (the f1 Bishop is bound to fall as well.) A much easier win.

Well that was pedantic fun.

Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <Sally Simpson>
You don't think White is lost after <28. Ne3>? You didn't post any improvements for White over my line, so let's start where I left off: <28. Ne3 Nf4 29. Qd2 a5>

click for larger view

White has an advanced passed pawn for Black's exchange, remote pawn majority on the march and better piece activity. In fact, I don't see any obvious active plan for White here.

If now <30. Kh1> (to step out of the various tactics around pins and checks), Black can reply 30...Nh5, and the tactics around 31. Qxa5 still don't work for White, so Black aims to continue the queenside march with ...b4.

What am I missing?

Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <Sally Simpson>
As for the position after your improvement <29. Qf3>, I agree that White's position still has a little life in it. If Black's not careful, there can be tactics around Nc6 and Pd7 (revealing another purpose of Marshall's <28. Na5>.

But Black can defend with 29. Qf3 Ne6, planning ...Nd8. Then the center pawns and the c-file are both targets for Black, and I'd bet money on Lasker winning.

Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <Sally Simpson>
Finally, as to your last point, I stand correctly nit-picked.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: Hi Beatginat,

I can see where you are coming from and the outside passer idea on the surface looks good. However...

White to play.

click for larger view

There is a lot of chess left in that position.

The unprotected White Queen and the fact Black has a potential Rc1 is stopping all White's counter play. If White can get in a sound Nf5 then he is right back in the game. That is why I wanted 28.Ne3 instead 28.Na5 (centralisation not dim rim Knights.)

White needs to disturb the balance of the White pieces before the Q-side pawns are a real threat.


Pretty drastic but all White wants is Nf5 and it's game on.

30...Qxh4 31.Nf5 hitting the Queen - Ne7+ is on the board. the a5 pawn hangs, if it goes then the White Queen covers the queening square. 31...Qg5 to put the Nh3+ idea back on the board. Then 32.Ne7+ and 33. Qxa5. White is not losing this.

30...Qh6 stops 31.Nf5 (31...Nh3+) but now 31.d7 Rd8 32.Qxa5 there goes a q-side pawn and another will follow soon. I think this line is Black's best 32...Qxh4 33.Bxb5 (looks risky and I may come a cropper here but there is no forced win I can see for Black. Rc1 with a check is no longer a threat.) This is all unclear (White may be winning - Black surely has a perpetual.)

30...Qg3 31.Nf5 Black has to take the perpetual with Nh3+ Nf2+ etc. Which shows just how good getting Nf5 in is.

All look OK for White, not losing. if there is another plausible try for Black after 30.h4 then I've missed it. Anything else will meet Nf5 and 30...Nh3+ just looks bad with the Queen hanging.

Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <Sally Simpson>
Good point, I seriously underestimated the <h4!> resource and it does look like a good refutation of my suggested ...a5 above.

But if White's play all depends on the power of the Nf5 jump, Black might instead reply (after 28.Ne3 Nf4 29. Qd2) with 29...g6, which appears to prevent any such disturbances. What then?

Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: Hi beatgiant,

Yes 29...g6 keeps the Knight off f5 and it seems we are agreeing the won game is not quite as easy as it looks.

Then I can nick one of your earlier suggestions 30.Kh1 and again I have a new threat 31.Nd5 so once again the queenside majority plan has to go on hold and suddenly it is Black's unprotected Queen that is the target of tricks.

Possibly our version of a won/lost game differ.

To me a won game is if I had the better side I'd win v Carlsen. it has to be a clear demonstrated certainty.

In this game I could lose either side, it is close. There is a lot chess left before one side can say this is winning.

If I was Black v Carlsen here.

click for larger view

Instead of 29...a5 or 29....g6 I'd probably play 29...Rc1 wanting 30.Qxc1 Nh3+ - Nf2+ perpetual. (then falling off my chair on 30.h4 which was how I saw the twists in 30.h4 in the first place.)

Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <Sally Simpson>
Yes, <our version of a won/lost game differ>. Mine is roughly as stated above, <I'd bet money on Lasker winning>.

As to the actual position, from your diagram above, if after 29...g6 White has nothing better than 30. Kh1, seems to me we're back in a situation with not much active play for White. Yes, Black has to do something about the threat of 31. Nd5 but after he does (by 30...Nh5 or 30...Ne6), I don't see White's follow-up, while Black can always revert to the queenside play once the disturbances settle down.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: Hi beatgiant,

I'd probably put money on Lasker winning this v Marshall at this stage of the match as well (this was the last game).

As Soltis says, Marshall had one of his best positions in the match in this game and was determined to put a win on the noticeboard. Too determined and lost.

Black to move. (White is threatening Nd5)

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You are thinking of 30...Nh5 or 30...Ne6 and White has no plan. I don't need one, I'm still waiting for a forced Black win. There is too much going on for a simple Queenside majority win.

I've read my Suba "Dynamic Chess Strategy" we must never roll over like Capa'a opponents did. We must fight, trick, cheapo [White has already fallen for 30.h4 and taken a move back. :)] and place every obstacle at our disposal in the way of a win.

Which one is it? 30...Nh5 or 30...Ne6. This was meant to be a simple Black win. I'm not going to go through both moves. Time is against me and we have drifted out of Soltis's analysis.

But I will look at the chosen move. Both look OK. I'll try to play like Marshall. (Soltis reckons White is OK but added Marshall will probably lose going for a swindle.) Of course that means you have to play like Lasker. :)

Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <Sally Simpson>
<This was meant to be a simple Black win> I said White was lost, but never said it would be simple in a game of <Sally Simpson v. beatgiant>. And to ask for a <forced Black win> at this stage would be an invitation for someone with a good engine to post an incomprehensible 20-move auto-generated line ending with -1.23 because Black's up the exchange for a pawn.

But to answer your question, if I'm supposed to <play like Lasker>, I'd take <30...Nh5> since it looks more likely to provoke the great swindler :)

Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: 30...Nh5.

31.e5 (basically hitting the b5 pawn) and thinking about a possible Nd5 and F6+/e7+

It's 04:30am in Scotland. Have work today so off to bed.

Good Luck.

Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <Sally Simpson>
I think we've already more or less answered the original questions: Why did he play 28. Na5 instead of 28. Ne3? And what's the status of the position if he did play 28. Ne3?

Why 28. Na5: I mentioned blocking the eventual threat of ...a5, you mentioned the option of maneuvering the knight to c5, and I mentioned the possible tactic around Nc6, Rxc6; d7 which comes up in some variations. No doubt Marshall had some of those in mind.

What if he played 28. Ne3: you've made a good case that it would have been a better move. You argue that White's disadvantage in that case is not severe enough yet to call it a Black win.

I'd certainly agree that White doesn't yet resign in the ensuing position. As for whether Black wins with <best play> or with <beatgiant channeling Lasker> and <Sally Simpson channeling Marshall>, it will be hard to prove anything unless someone brings in a supercomputer, but I feel Black is the side with the active options.

Here's what I think is a plausible example.

28. Ne3 Nf4 29. Qd2 g6 30. Kh1 Nh5 31. e5

click for larger view

From here, 31...a6 32. g3 Rd8 33. Bh3 Ng7 34. Qc3 h5 35. Bc8 h4 36. Nf1 a5

click for larger view

Does Black have anything here? You be the judge - there's a lot of unsettled tactical play, and you're the one channeling Marshall.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: Hi beatgiant,

I was going to claim a win on time :)

I'll follow your plausible line of play.

click for larger view


Defends the b4 pawn.


Not sure I would have played this. But see the point. (and like it) luft, stops Nf4 and has Bh3 ideas. Instead of 32.g3 I'd be looking for a move to break the pin on Knight so I can play Nd5. But I'll go along with 32..g3.


I do not think Lasker would have played this till he was forced too. He was all about active defence. Now Black no longer has Rc1 ideas White has a free hand to unpin the e3 Knight.

click for larger view

So I will refrain from taking your conditional 33.Bh3

Now the Rook if off the c-file there cannot be anything wrong with 33.Qc3

But as I'm in Marshall mode and only have to come up with a line that does not lose.


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33...Rxd6 34.exd6 Qxe3 35.Qe8+ Kg7 36.Qe7

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Material is level the d6 pawn means Black has to start finding perpetuals, there looks like there a few knocking about.

Black ideas like 36..Qf2 37.Bd3 Black can check and win that Bishop but when he takes it d7 guarantees a draw.

The trap is 36...Qxe7 37.dxe7 Nf6

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Black is now threatening Ne8 and Kf6 but thanks to your 32.g3 White has Bg2 and Bc6 which wins a piece. If the pawn was back on g2 Black would be better here.

No way Lasker would have fallen for that one but I wanted to show a trap with your g3.


Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <Sally Simpson>
Thanks for the analysis. <33. Qa5> Back to the original theme <to restrain the ...a5 advance>?

No way would Lasker go for a draw with 33...Rxd6 in your line above. At least he might prepare it with 33...Kg7, waiting for 34. Nd5 and only now 34...Rxd6 35. exd6 Qxd5+

click for larger view

Anyway, you made your original point: White can still fight from this position and it's hard to prove a clear outcome.

So, I hedge my claim from <Feb-22-05> <White's already lost here, of course>. <Shams> was right, 28. Ne3 gives some real drawing chances.

May-17-16  Ulhumbrus: Although 11...Qc7 takes a step towards the check ...Qa5+ which seems to inconvenience White, it moves the queen a second time and gets ready to move the queen a third time while Black's QB and QN are still undeveloped. How can this be right? One alternative which this suggests is 12 Bd3 Qa5+ 13 Ke2.

14 Nd2 seems inconsistent. Why has White used his rook to obstruct Black's queen on the e1-a5 diagonal if he is now going to use his knight to do it? This suggests 14 Bd3 preparing to castle.

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