21 October 2006

Combination: Lasker - Bauer, Amsterdam 1889

'What? Where is Lasker - Bauer? You know, the two Bishop sacrifice. Almost every collection of Lasker games begins with that, doesn't it?' - Andrew Soltis, 'Why Lasker Matters', introduction to game no.1 (Tietz - Lasker 1889).

Unlike GM Soltis [SOL hereafter], I will adhere to tradition and begin this new series on Lasker's Moves that Matter with the famous Lasker - Bauer game.

Soltis used the game as no.3, introducing it with, 'Okay, it can't be delayed any longer. This is the brilliancy that made Lasker famous. But it was for the wrong reasons. Thanks to it, he became known for his originality in combinational play. But his combination had been played before. What is generally overlooked is that White's victory is based on a well-grounded plan that was designed to create a huge mismatch on the Kingside.'

True to tradition, Kasparov [KAS] included the game as the first in his 108 page chapter on Lasker in 'Predecessors I'. My third collection of Lasker games, 'Lasker's Greatest Chess Games 1889-1914' by Reinfeld and Fine, uses the game as no.2.

Amsterdam 1889
Bauer, Johann Hermann

Lasker, Emanuel
(After 13...Qc7-c6)
[FEN "r4rk1/pb2bppp/1pq1pn2/2ppB3/5P2/1P1BP1N1/P1PP2PP/R2Q1RK1 w - - 0 13"]

Lasker played 13.Qe2. Both KAS and SOL gave this the move '!', the first such award in the game.

SOL: 'Kasparov called this a psychological trap. White seems to be threatening 14.Bb5, but his real goal is to play 14.Nh5, which is stronger now that g2 is protected.'

KAS:'A psychologically subtle move: both prophylactically defending g2, and threatening Bb5, which in fact is a sham -- the Bishop is looking in quite the opposite direction! After 13.Nh5 13...d4!, no win for White is apparent'. He gives two long variations, starting 14.Rf2 and 14.Nxf6+ to prove his point.

SOL: ??; 'It is easy to find improvements: 13...Ne4 and 14...f6, and even 13...g6.'

KAS: ?; 'Bauer falls into the trap set for him, although he had a reasonable choice between 13...Ne4 and 13...Nd7 with equal chances in each instance.' As usual, he gives substantial analysis to back his claim.'

14.Nh5. SOL: '!'; KAS: !; 'It is amazing that Black's position is practically hopeless.' 14...Nxh5. KAS gives four alternatives, concluding that 14...Rfd8 is the strongest. SOL also considers it best. 15.Bxh7+. SOL: '!!'; KAS: '!'. 15...Kxh7 16.Qxh5+ Kg8 17.Bxg7
SOL: !; 'The two Bishop sac [Soltis uses "sack" throughout the book] has been copied dozens of times and dubbed "Lasker's Combination", the title of a 1998 book devoted to it. He then goes into a long discussion about whether the combination is original and whether its originality is importnat.

KAS: !!; 'The double Bishop sacrifice is Lasker's patent'; he mentions that it was played in Tarrasch - Nimzowitsch, St.Petersburg 1914 (no.51 in his book).

Black resigned about 20 moves later. To play through the complete game see...

Emanuel Lasker vs Johann Hermann Bauer, Amsterdam 1889

...on Chessgames.com.

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