02 November 2006

Endgame (2): Tarrasch - Lasker, Hastings 1895

In the series on Lasker's Moves that Matter, this is my third post on the same game. The position in the diagram is where Endgame: Tarrasch - Lasker, Hastings 1895 left off. That previous post has a link to the complete game on Chessgames.com.

Lasker played 40...Kc4, reaching the position where Kasparov (KAS in the rest of this post) started annotating. After this move, Soltis (SOL) remarked that , 'Both players could sense that the outcome of the game rides on a single tempo. But they each blunder by trying to gain that tempo.'

Hastings 1895
Lasker, Emanuel

Tarrasch, Siegbert
(After 40.Kf3-e4)
[FEN "3b4/pp6/8/8/1k2K1P1/2p5/P3N2P/8 b - - 0 40"]

Tarrasch played 41.Kf5.

KAS: ?!; 'A desperate move!' After showing that White loses with 41.Nd4 b5 42.Nc2 b4 43.Ne3+ Kc5, Kasparov pointed out that White draws with 41.Nxc3 Kxc3 42.Kf5 b5 43.g5 Bxg5 44.Kxg5 Kb2 45.h4 Kxa2 46.h5 b4 47.h6 b3 48.h7 b2 49.h8=Q b1=Q. It is hard to understand why KAS assigned '?!' to Tarrasch's losing move, when there was another move that drew. A '?' would be more accurate.

SOL: ?; 'With 41.Nxc3! White forces a drawable Q-ending' and gives the same line.

The game was annotated in the tournament book by Pillsbury, the winner of the event, who reached the same conclusion. • PIL: 'White should have taken the Pawn first, 41.Nxc3 and a drawn game would have resulted.'


KAS: ??; 'Lasker, Tarrasch, and other commentators thought that 41...c2! would have given Black only a draw: 42.g5 Bxg5 43.Kxg5 Kd3 44.Nc1+ Kd2 45.Nb3+ Kd1 46.a4 (46.h4 46...b5! 47.h5 a5 48.h6 a4) 46...a5 47.Kf5 (47.h4 47...b5!) 47...b5 48.axb5 a4 49.Nc1 49...Kxc1 {50.b6 a3 51.b7 a2 52.b8=Q a1=Q 53.Qf4+ Kb1 54.Qe4 etc.' However, after 54...Qc3 he wins! Those wishing to learn the winning method can look in Averbakh's 'Comprehensive Chess Endings'. • Using a six piece tablebase, I verified that the position after 49...Kxc1 is lost. The tablebase said, 'b5-b6 Lose in 31'.

SOL: ??; 'White's move saved him a tempo compared with 41.Nxc3. But it allowed Black to use a tempo to get closer to Queening with 41...c2!' He then confirmed Kasparov's analysis.

Pillsbury's commentary contradicts Kasparov's statement that 'Lasker and other commentators thought that 41...c2! would have given Black only a draw'. • PIL: 'Black throws away the game, which seems to be won by 41...c2 42.g5 Bxg5 43.Kxg5 Kd3 44.Nc1+ Kd2 45.Nb3+ Kd1 46.Kf5 (best) 46...a5 47.a4 b5 48.axb5 a4 49.b6 (49.Nc1 Kxc1 50.b6 50...a3 etc., Black should win) 49...axb3 50.b7 b2 51.b8=Q 51...b1=Q and should win. In both these variations the Pawn at the seventh square can be forced to Queen shortly. [Ed.: Mr. Lasker pointed out this win immediately on the conclusion of the game.]'


KAS: !; 'Now there is no stopping the passed Pawns.'

SOL: !.

42...Kxc3 43.g5 43...Bb6
SOL: 'The tempo proves decisive in 43...Bxg5 44.Kxg5 b5 45.h4 b4 46.h5.

The game ended with 44.h4 Bd4 45.h5 b5 46.h6 b4 47.g6 a5 48.g7 a4 49.g8=Q 1-0. A fascinating game in all its phases.

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