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Emanuel Lasker vs Siegbert Tarrasch
Lasker - Tarrasch (1916), Berlin GER, rd 2, Nov-28
French Defense: McCutcheon Variation (C12)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
Jun-07-05  schnarre: Methodical crushing of Black's position by one of the all-time greats of chess!
Jun-07-05  paladin at large: <schnarre> I like the way Lasker temporarily sacrifices a pawn with 33. c5 to make way for his king to move up and pressure the black rook. Right you are about Lasker's greatness.
Jun-07-05  RookFile: I'm afraid I don't understand. My
view is: Tarrasch had a clear advantage in this game dating back to at least move 20. Lasker's 33. c5 appears to be an inspired sacrifice
to get his otherwise worthless bishop
some play, and provide a path of his
king. Suppose Tarrasch just leaves
the knight on c5. Only person I see
with winning chances is black.
Jun-07-05  schnarre: White's Bishop at d3 is far from being worthless (the reenforced pawns give White a solid center). Leaving the Knight at c5 does Black little (it also can't move very many places either): perhaps playable is 32...Kf6, but I'd still prefer White's game in any event!
Jun-08-05  RookFile: Scharre: are you familiar with the
term: 'bad bishop'? That occurs
when your pawns are on the same color
as your bishop, limiting its mobility.

What's the difference between the
bishop on d3 and a pawn? Not much.
Can the bishop attack anything? No.

Meanwhile, black has a passed pawn
and a piece that can hit both colors
of the board.

I see black as having a slight to clear advantage after 32... Kf6.

Put it this way: can you find
a way for White to even make a
THREAT after 32... Kf6?

Jun-08-05  paladin at large: <RookFile> Agree that white has no advantage until 33. c5. I suppose it was positions like this that caused Capablanca to refer to Lasker as a "man of a thousand resources". What is striking is how little Lasker concerns himself with his bad bishop for much of the game. The great pedagogue Tarrasch may have been pleased about the situation. However, practically speaking, the black knight had little scope. Tarrasch did not take the bishop, because Lasker would of course strengthen his pawn center and the white king, already well poised, would escort them forward.
Jun-08-05  schnarre: <paladin at large> Precisely!

<RookFile> I am well-enough familiar with the term "bad bishop": I belive you should ask, "Can the Bishop attack anything immediately?" instead as it can always be pulled back to e2 or f1 for later use with White's pawn structure still strong. After 32...Kf6, I don't see many options for Black after 33. Rg3. Are you familiar with the term "passed pawn" by the way?

Jun-22-05  RookFile: I believe I've heard the term, yes.
Tarrasch has a passed pawn and the
better position after 32... Kf6.

Of course, Lasker was a resourceful player, a world champion. What do we read when we read "Lasker's Manual of Chess".

Lasker writes in the book.... do not trust something just because it is in print, or because somebody played it. We need to think for ourselves.

I feel that Lasker would welcome those
who think objectively about this game, and recognize that any GM would prefer black's position after 32... Kf6. The chief reason is that the knight can hit both colors of the board, while the bishop is limited in scope and can't make any dark squre threats.

Jun-23-05  RookFile: We note that no one has been able to
list a specific threat that white can
make. Meanwhile, we can list 2 ideas
for black:

1) Push his passed pawn
2) Try to trade rooks. The knight
vs. bishop ending is superior
for black.

Progress for Tarrasch to try to
play for the win will be slow, of course.

Let's try:

32... Kf6 33. Rg1 Rd8 34. Rf1+ Kg7
35. Rg1 Rh8

These are reasonable moves. White must
be wary of something like 36. Rg3 Rh1,
with the idea of ...Ra1.

With reasonable play, it seems like
black is the only one making threats.

Aug-10-06  Marmot PFL: 32...Nd7 is not a bad move and 33.c5 is maybe white's best chance to draw. Black can play 34...Kh6 35.Rg1 Nf6 to attack e4 and stop the white king march, but wheather black can win is another matter. tarrasch played the ending very badly, totally misplacing his knight several times.
Oct-30-06  Ulhumbrus: With 28...Rd6? Black begins to go downhill. White is threatening g5 gaining the point f6 for invasion by Rf6. 28..f6! discourages g5 and gains time for ..Rf8 or ..Rh8. 31...fxg5? is a second mistake, giving the White R time to attack e5 by Rxg5. 32..Nd7? (instead of defending the e5 pawn by 32...Kf6) may be the last mistake, allowing Lasker to free his KB by c5!. It does not take much to turn a won game into a lost game. It may be that in this ending Black does not have the opportunity to score an effortless win, but has instead the opportunity to score a difficult win which appears on the surface to be effortless.
Oct-30-06  chesslearning: Can someone explain why 49...Rxe6? To advance the pawn? Thanks.
Oct-30-06  TrueFiendish: For the record, a bad bishop is one whose pawns are not only on the same colour complex but also immobilised. Lasker's pawns weren't quite immobilised, as he showed, and therefore his bishop was technically not so bad; it just needed liberation. Black might have tried 32...Kf6 to keep his N blockading the pawns but then white pulls back and threatens to come in behind black's pawns with the rook, which looks more drawish. As usual, Tarrasch was going for the win because he felt that theoretically he was better. But if he wants to win he must manouevre his N; if he does that he frees up white's B, giving winning chances to white.
Oct-30-06  TrueFiendish: By move 49 black was in a straitjacket. Taking the bishop was desperation; he has nothing else. White will just move his rook in and start taking all the pawns and advancing his own.
May-29-08  krippp: I would guess this is the game that Capablanca refers to in a 1939 interview (, saying:

"He is a man of a thousand resources at the chessboard. I still have clearly in mind the impression made upon me by one of his games against his constantly outshone rival, Dr Tarrasch. Lasker never paid excessive attention to the theoretical studies of his compatriot Dr Tarrasch, firstly because he was a basically practical player and secondly because Lasker did not attribute to these studies more importance than they deserved. Nevertheless, on a particular occasion he slipped into an inferior position to which Tarrasch induced him and suddenly found himself at his rival’s mercy. It was then that Lasker showed his fighting spirit. Instead of making the ordinary move which would have occurred to any other master, whereby he would sooner or later have lost or, with difficulty, drawn, Lasker sacrificed a pawn. But what a sacrifice! I have seen no such sacrifice in any modern games! It was impossible to know whether it should be accepted or refused. As the saying goes, “it shook the board”. Here was the “eccentricity” of the old teacher of philosophy and mathematics of the University of Breslau who took his opponents by surprise. The result was that after a few moves it was Lasker, not Tarrasch, who had the better game. This game shows any chessplayer the extraordinary quality of play, which he possesses even today as a glorious septuagenarian, of Dr Emanuel Lasker, world champion for 25 [sic] years."

Premium Chessgames Member
  Jonathan Sarfati: <krippp>, my guess would be move B14 in Tarrasch vs Lasker, 1908
Premium Chessgames Member
  Jonathan Sarfati: I also think that Black would have been better after 32... ♔f6. He has a better minor piece, and White's doubled ♙s mean that Black is effectively a ♙ ahead.
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <krippp> <Jonathan Sarfati> here is another candidate. Lasker vs Tarrasch, 1923

See also kibitzing here: Tarrasch vs Lasker, 1908

Sep-16-09  WhiteRook48: the French favors white of course
Nov-26-12  Cucurbit: I'm curious about the opening. I like 5. f3 and wonder why it hasn't been tried more often. I think I may play it in my own games...
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <Marmot PFL: 32...Nd7 is not a bad move and 33.c5 is maybe white's best chance to draw. Black can play 34...Kh6 35.Rg1 Nf6 to attack e4 and stop the white king march, but wheather black can win is another matter. tarrasch played the ending very badly, totally misplacing his knight several times.>

For the record, 32...Nd7 is an awful move, changing SF10's evaluation from about -1.5 to about -0.2, and 34....Kh6, leaving f6 for the knight, is a big improvement.

Feb-15-21  SymphonicKnight: Tarrasch should have played 40...Nd6! instead of 40...Nh6? The difference in evaluation is over 2 points. Although Lasker had been in a slight hole nearly the entire game, after 41...g5? Lasker is able to finally prevail in masterly fashion with his typical endgame prowess.
Jan-27-22  TheFocus: 5. f3 is an odd variation. Lasker explained it thusly: <This odd move has a story. Just as I was considering which option I should choose under the circumstances, a light suddenly blazed on with a roar. Without my knowledge, events for photographing had been made. I was startled and my thinking was taken out of context. I protested the disturbance, demanded a break of a few minutes, which I was entitled to, and then, still unable to collect myself, made the odd move.>
Jan-28-22  SChesshevsky: <For the record, 32...Nd7 is an awful move...>

Yes, think it does miss the best idea for cashing in on probably being better.

After 32. Rxg5, Black does have the passed pawn which likely gives him the edge. But white looks to have compensating better rook and better king. Both big plusses in an endgame.

Think if black improves either king or rook, then probably clearly better. King doesn't seem to have any near term way to improve. So I guess it's up to the rook.

Tarrasch chooses N and his rook play was awful. Appears a well deserved loss.

May-08-22  Dionysius1: I like the practicality of 33.c5 bxc5 34.Bb5 and then Kd3, Kc4, Kxc5. A little bit of wriggliness that would have made me laugh out loud at the board. I was never good at the sepulchral tone.

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