08 November 2006

Combination: Pillsbury - Lasker, St Petersburg 1895

Continuing the series on Lasker's Moves that Matter, the Pillsbury - Lasker game is one of the most famous games in chess history, featured in many anthologies. Besides the books by Kasparov and Soltis, which are the core of this series, I found it in 'Lasker's Greatest Chess Games, 1889-1914' by Reinfeld and Fine (p.56), originally 'Dr. Lasker's Chess Career: Part I, 1889-1914'; 'The World's Great Chess Games' by Fine (p.52); 'Emanuel Lasker, The Life of a Chess Master' by Hannak (p.66), with a subset of the notes from the Reinfeld/Fine book; and 'Lasker's Manual of Chess' (p.273), in the chapter on 'The Aesthetic Effect of Chess'.

The combination started in the diagrammed position. Lasker, who had just exchanged Knights on d4, played 15...Be6. This only makes sense if he had anticipated that after 16.f4 Rac8 17.f5, he would play 17...Rxc3. Both Kasparov (KAS) and Soltis (SOL) gave this move a '!!'. Kasparov wrote,

A fine, deeply calculated combination, which any grandmaster could be proud of even today. It is beyond the powers of even a strong computer -- here additional forces are needed. Whereas after the prosaic 17...Bd7 18.Qf3 the chances would have become double-edged.

St Petersburg 1895
Lasker, Emanuel

Pillsbury, Harry Nelson
(After 15.e3xd4)
[FEN "r4rk1/pp1b1pp1/5b1p/q2p3Q/3P4/2N5/PP3PPP/1K1R1B1R b - - 0 15"]

Pillsbury continued 18.fxe6, when both KAS and SOL agreed that 18.bxc3 was inferior. After 18...Ra3, they both assigned another '!!'. Most annotators declare that this is the real point behind Black's 17th move.

Now Pillsbury played 19.exf7+.

KAS: '?'; After dismissing 19.e7?, which was the main alternative considered by the other annotators I listed, Kasparov wrote, 'It also seems hopeless to play 19.bxa3! Qb6+ 20.Kc2 Rc8+ 21.Kd2 Qxd4+ 22.Ke1 Qc3+, but the e-Pawn serves as a shield for the King and by the sequence 23.Ke2 Qc2+ 24.Rd2 Qe4+ 25.Kd1 Qb1+ 26.Ke2 White gains a draw.' He then gave more moves to support his conclusion.

SOL: The American GM player and historian pointed out that after 19.bxa3 Qb6+ 20.Kc2 Rc8+ 21.Kd2 Qxd4+ 22.Ke1, Kasparov's analysis had been improved by Sergey Sorokhtin: 22...Qe3+ 23.Be2 fxe6 24.Qh3 Bc3+ 25.Kf1 Rf8+ 26.Bf3 Ba5 27.Qg3 Bb6.

It is also worth noting that 19.bxa3 Qb6+ 20.Ka1 fails to 20...Bxd4+ 21.Rxd4 Qxd4+ 22.Kb1 fxe6 23.Be2 Qe4+ 24.Ka1 Rf2.

The game continued 19...Rxf7 20.bxa3 Qb6+ 21.Bb5 Qxb5+ 22.Ka1 Rc7. I will pick up the game at this point in the next post in this series. For more about Sorokhtin, see the ChessBase.com article...

Kasparov revisits Pillsbury - Lasker

...To play through the complete game see...

Harry Nelson Pillsbury vs Emanuel Lasker, St Petersburg 1895

...on Chessgames.com.

No comments: