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Abraham Speijer vs Emanuel Lasker
Match (1908), Amsterdam NED, rd 3, Dec-29
Spanish Game: Berlin Defense (C65)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: Part 1 of 2

The last of a three-game exhibition match against young Abraham Speyer a couple of months after Lasker's successful title defense against Tarrasch. See for more details.

Lasker's description of the game gives interesting insight into his approach to chess. In his column in the New York Evening Post, he wrote:

<this third game of my match with the Hollandish champion at the Pavilloen of Amsterdam ran an exciting course. I was in one of those moods where danger is attractive. Hence I plunged from the start into a combination the outcome of which was exceedingly doubtful. For the gain of a pawn I risked to retard the development and to accelerate that of the opponent. Mr. Speijer wisely sacrificed also the exchange, and opened a concentrated fire upon my King; but once he missed the best continuation, and therefore lost quickly. Games of this character, where every move counts for much, are best suited to entertain spectators, and they are of great value for the ripening of the ‘position judgment.’ He who relies solely upon tactics that he can wholly comprehend is liable, in course of time, to weaken his imagination. And he is at a disadvantage against an opponent who tries to win through bold venture, yet does not step beyond the finely drawn boundary of what is sound.”>

When I hear that a chessplayer is in a mood where "danger is attractive," I imagine him sacrificing pawns or a piece to get a speculative attack. But Lasker meant almost exactly the opposite here: grabbing material at the cost of submitting his king to a very dangerous mating attack. Lasker used his exhibitions the same way Botvinnik used his training matches, as a sort of chess lab. Of course, this meant the doctor suffered some embarrassing public explosions...

Here are his annotations in plain text; Shredder's and my comments are in brackets:

1. e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nf6 4.0-0 Be7 5.Nc3 Nd4

The safe continuation here is 5...d6.

6.Nxd4 exd4 7.e5

The best move, of course. It opens the e-file, since 7...Ng8 would evidently leave Black at a disadvantage.

7...dxc3 8.exf6 cxb2

After 8...Bxf6 9.Re1+ Be7 10.Qe2 Black is
greatly hampered in his movements.

click for larger view


Well played. If 9.Bxb2 Bxf6 10.Re1+ Kf8 11.Ba3+ Kg8 12.Qe2 g6 the position of Black is much better than in the variation of 8...Bxf6; and Black is an important pawn to the good.

<Shredder finds a big improvement: 9.Bxb2 Bxf6 10.Ba3!! threatening a murderous check on the e-file. There is no good defense: 10...c5 11.Re1+ (11.Bxc5 allows ...Qc7, clearing d8 for the king) 11...Kf8 12.Bxc5+ Kg8 13.Qf3 g6 13.Qd5 (White has many ways to win) Kg7 14.Bc4, etc.>

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: Part 2 of 2

9...bxa1Q 10.exd8Q+ Kxd8 11.d4 Qxa2 12.Qg4 Rg8

It was to this point that I had made my combination, and for the rest I relied upon my position judgment, which assured me that a loss was not to be apprehended.


If 13.c4 (threatening 14.Bg5+ f6 15.Bxf6+, etc.) 13...f6 14.Qh5 Re8 15.Qxh7 Qe2 16.Qxg7 Qe7 and Black, with the exchange ahead, will probably be able to withstand the attack and to finally win. And 13.c4 f6 14.Bh6 could be sufficiently met by 14...d6 15.Qf3 c6 16.Bxg7 cxb5.


Of course not 13...d6 because of 14.Qxg7. <Shredder points out that 14.Qg5+ f6 15.Qxg7 forces immediate mate, but Lasker's move is also crushing.>

click for larger view


Here White misses the best line of play. With 14.Qe4 he would have left Black no alternative but 14...g5 15.Bxg5+ Rxg5 16.Qe7+ Kc7 17.Qxg5 and now either 17...d6, to try for a laborious win, or an immediate draw by 17...cxb5 18.Qc5+, etc. If 14…cxb5 White wins as follows: 15.Qe7+ Kc7 16.Bf4+ Kb6 17.Qd6+ Ka5 18.Bd2+ b4 19.Re5+ driving the King into mating positions.

14...f6 15.Qh5

White had intended 15.Qc5 but had overlooked the force of the reply 15...Qf7 16.Bf4 (or 16.Bc4) 16...Re8. Thus he changed his mind. <This is a little confusing. 15.Qc5 Qf7 16.Bf4 is indeed well met by 16...Re8; but if White plays 16.Bc4, then 16...Re8? would lose on the spot to 17.Qa5+! (guarding the rook on e1) 17...b6 18.Bxf7 bxa5 19.Rxe8+. But 16.Bc4 d5! leaves White hopelessly behind in material.>

15...Qd5 16.Qe2 cxb5

And after a few vain attempts at reconstructing an attack White resigned the hopeless game.

<Incidentally, when Speyer drew the second game of this match, Lasker wrote that the 150 spectators "roared and clapped their hands." Imagine what they would have done if Speyer had found 9.Bxb2 Bxf6 10.Ba3 here!>

Dec-22-14  TheFocus: Match Game 3 played in Amsterdam, The Netherlands on December 29, 1908.

Lasker won with a score of +2=1-0.

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<This page contains Editor Notes. Click here to read them.>

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