14 November 2006

From Wonderful to Blunderful

Continuing the thread on one of Lasker's most famous games -- Combination: Pillsbury - Lasker, St Petersburg 1895 -- the diagram shows the position where the last post ended. At this point the game suddenly took a different course when both players started playing second rate moves.

The mistakes started with Lasker's next move 22...Rc7. Both Kasparov (KAS) and Soltis (SOL) assigned the move a '?'. As Lasker himself wrote, '22...Qc4 was the logical continuation. It would have made it impossible for White to guard the second rank.' He blamed this inaccuracy on time trouble and noted that after 23.Rd2, which Pillsbury played, 'White can breathe again.'

St Petersburg 1895
Lasker, Emanuel

Pillsbury, Harry Nelson
(After 22.Kb1-a1)
[FEN "6k1/pp3rp1/5b1p/1q1p3Q/3P4/P7/P5PP/K2R3R b - - 0 22"]

The breathing space lasted one move. Lasker played 23...Rc4, which was answered by 24.Rhd1. KAS: ?; SOL: ?; 24.Re1 Qa5 25.Re8+ Kh7 26.Qf5+ g6 27.Re7+ draws by perpetual check. 24...Rc3. KAS: ?; SOL: ?; 24...Qc6 wins. 25.Qf5 Qc4 26.Kb2. KAS: ?; SOL: ?; 26.Kb1 should win. 26...Rxa3. KAS: !!; SOL: !!. 27.Qe6+ Kh7. KAS: ?, '27...Kh8 'would have won cleanly' 28.Qe8+ Kh7; SOL: ?!.

28.Kxa3. KAS: ?, 28.Qf5+! Kh8 29.Kb1, but Black has a better continuation; SOL: 28.Qf5+ Kg8! 29.Qe6+ Kh8 transposes to the same won position Black could have reached with 27...Kh8. If one of the strongest players of all time has trouble analyzing this position with the aid of a computer, we can understand the trouble the players had with the clock ticking.

The game ended in checkmate a few moves later. 28...Qc3+ 29.Ka4 b5+ 30.Kxb5 Qc4+ 31.Ka5 Bd8+ 32.Qb6 Bxb6# 0-1.

No comments: