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Emanuel Lasker vs Sergey von Freymann
St. Petersburg (1909), St. Petersburg RUE, rd 4, Feb-19
Tarrasch Defense: General (D32)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
Aug-15-05  iron maiden: <Calli> Maybe this is one for the Great Escapes collection?
Aug-15-05  Calli: Interesting game. I need to go over it a bit more. Thanks!
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <Calli>, let me add my vote to putting this in your Great Escapes collection.

Part I

Here are some notes from Lasker's tournament book, interspersed with Shredder comments. The "great escaping" takes place largely between moves 25 and 37, but I include all his notes because they are stylistically interesting and very accurate, though falling short of Lasker's promised perfection.

The first time control was at move 37.

After 5. Bf4: <Not a commendable continuation, as Black cleverly demonstrates.>

After 7. e3: <The complications after 7. Nb5 d4 8. a3 Ba5 9. b4 dxc3 10. bxa5 e5 would result in Black's favour, as White has not time to mobilize his KB and KR.>

Shredder prefers simply 8....Bxc3+ 9. bxc3 e5, when ...a6 will pick up the knight after the bishop moves. 8. Nc7+ is refuted by 8....Qxc7 9. Bxc7 dxc3.

After 7....Nge7: <Excellent. 7....Nf6 would be far weaker, as the QKt would remain unguarded and the KBP obstructed.>

After 13....Qe7: <Black is well developed and the White QBP is weak.

After 16. c4: <Here White ought to have played for attack <a tout prix>. By 16. f4 he would have definitely ruined the Pawn's position, it is true, but he would have opened lines for Bishop and Rook, thus perhaps recovering the lost ground. The White position does not stand finessing, as Black has obviously the superior position, as long as White's QB is shut out at g3.>

After 17. Qh5: <The intention being, after 17....Rfe8 to continue with 18. c5 bxc5 19. Rb7. But Black finds a far better reply.>

After 18. Rfd1: <But now was the time to liberate the QB by 17. Bxc6 Rxc6 18. Qxe5. This omission is taken advantage of by Black in masterly style.>

After 20....Rc5: <Far better than ...Rc7. If White now play f2-f4, Black can reply ...Rfc8, threatening to win a piece by ...Bxd5.>

After 23....Nc6: <White is now badly in need of the displaced bishop. If the KBP was already at f3, White could play Bf2 and Black's attack would not have succeeded.

Position after 25....b5

click for larger view

The dominant motif of the next ten or so moves will be Black's latent threat of a fork on e2, say after 26. cxb5 Rxc3 27. Rxc3 Rxc3 28. Qxc3 Ne2+. Lasker apparently considers this too obvious to point out. He writes:

<This move was tempting but not as strong as 25....Bxd5. White would have to replay exd5 with the likely continuation: 26. exd5 b5 27. f4 bxc4 28. fxe5 Qxd5 29. Rd1 Rd8 and Black wins yet another pawn because of the threat ...Nf3+.>

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: Part II

After 26....b4: <If 26. Bxd5 27. fxe5 (27....fxe5 28. Bxe5 b4 29. Rg3) 27....Rxc4 28. Qxd4.>

After 29. exd5: <29. Bxe5 would not be defeated by 29....Rxc4 30. Rf1 (30. Rxc4 Bxc4) 30....Rc1. Presumably <not> in the sentence above is a typo, since White is quite defeated after 30....Rc1.>

After 30....Rc1: <If 30....Rc2 31. Qg5 Qxd5? 32. Bxe5!>

After 31. d6: <Of course not Bxe5 on account of 31....Rxe1+ 32. Qxe1 Rc1>

Lasker must have had the board set up wrong, as 32....Rc1 can be met by 33. Rd1 and White is fine -- I don't even need Shredder to see that. 31. Bxe5 R8c2, on the other hand, leaves White with nothing better than to give up the queen.

After 31....R8c2: <White threatened 32. d7 Qxd7 33. Rxc1.>

After 33....Qd7[?]

<Not 33....Rc2 34. Qxc2 Nxc2 35. d7. But he ought to have played 33....Rc6 34. Bf2 Rxd6 35. Bxd4 Rxd4 36. Rxd4 exd4 37 Qxd4 Qxa2 38. Qxb4, and Black might perhaps still have won with the Pawn plus.> In the above line Lasker overlooks the strong zwischenzug 35....Qc4!, and Black's winning chances are quite good after 36. Qe3 Rxd4.>

Hard to tell from Lasker's notes, but I imagine Mr. von Freymann, still four moves from the time control, was on the verge of spontaneously combusting in his chair by this point. Anyway, move 33 is where he finally blows it. He probably overlooked White's 34th move. When the time control is finally reached, he's a pawn down. The game is adjourned at move 42, and von Freymann puts up little resistance in the queen ending.

After 47. Qc6+: <If White force the exchange of Queens by 47. Qe4+, Black would win the RP by 48....Kh5 and draw.>

After 51....Qf2: <This loses immediately. Far better was 51....Qe7+. White dare not interpose the queen at K5, as he would lose the QRP after 52....Qb4+, whilst the KtP could not be captured on account of the threat of the hostile passed pawn. He would, therefore, have to play his King to g4 instead, but by forcing the move h4-h5 and eventually winning Black's RP, he would still be able to win the game.>

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: 31. d6 was classic Lasker, attacking and complicating the game while his own house is on fire. A move later, 32. Qxb4 is met by 32....Ne2+ 33. Kh1 Qf1+ 34. Rxf1 Rxf1#. Von Freymann must have been a bit nonplussed by 32. Rxc1 Rxc1+ 33. Be1.
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: One competitive point about this game: it was played in the fourth round, but Rubinstein, having beaten Lasker in Round 3, was already 1 1/2 points ahead of him (and Rubinstein won again in the fourth round). So, early as it was, losing this game would have put Lasker in a very deep hole.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: After <54...g5>

click for larger view

Instead of 55.Kd5, White's final move is given as <55.Kc5> in Lasker's Tournament Book (p. 36) as well as the American Ches Bulletin, April 1909, p. 76.

Both moves win, but 55.Kc5 is perhaps a shade more accurate. The point is that 55.Kc5 (or 55.kc4) prepare to take the path b5-a6, cqpturing the a-pawn in the quickest manner.

On the other hand, after 55.Kd5 / 56.Kc6 / 57.Kb7, Black has 57...a5. This doesn't draw unless White makes some more mistakes, but why allow any hope at all?

Feb-09-20  Monocle: Lasker's note to move 51 is nigh incomprehensible. He seems to go off on a line in his head and leave the reader behind.
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <Monocle: Lasker's note to move 51 is nigh incomprehensible. He seems to go off on a line in his head and leave the reader behind.>

I think Lasker was a very accurate analyst, particularly by the standards of the time, but he tended to avoid long variations, he tended to assume his readers were very strong players themselves, and he could be difficult to follow. I have no pretensions of being able to follow him myself; I tend to use a computer for notes like this.

<After 51....Qf2: <This loses immediately. Far better was 51....Qe7+. White dare not interpose the queen at K5, as he would lose the QRP after 52....Qb4+, whilst the KtP could not be captured on account of the threat of the hostile passed pawn. He would, therefore, have to play his King to g4 instead, but by forcing the move h4-h5 and eventually winning Black's RP, he would still be able to win the game.>>

Here his first point is the simplest -- as we see in the game, 51....Qf2 allows White to force the queens off the board, with an easy pawn endgame to follow.

His second point is that after 51....Qe7+, if 52.Qe5, then 52....Qb4+ leads quickly to Black winning the a-pawn (53.Kf3 Qa3+; 54.Qd4 Qb1+, etc.), and White won't be able to win the ensuing ending. The engine backs him up.

His third point is that after 51....Qe7+, White can still win the ending in the long run if the king goes to g4, White trades his h-pawn for the g-pawn, and plays to win the a-pawn, finally winning a 2:0 queen ending. Here, though, the engine disagrees. After 52.Kf4 Qf6+ 53.Kg4 Kg7, in a 66 ply/3 hour search, the SF eval is just +0.16 (note that after 54.Qd7+ Kh6 55.Qxa7??, 55....Qf5 is mate). So 51....Qf2 wasn't just an error, it was a losing error.

I suspect Lasker could have played more accurately earlier in the queen ending, but of course it took enormous skill, daring, and luck for him to survive the middlegame.

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