06 November 2006

Pillsbury - Lasker, St Petersburg 1895

The next game in the series on Lasker's Moves that Matter features another of Lasker's most famous combinations. First he sacrifices a Rook for a Knight on c3. After White takes another piece instead, he sacrifices the same Rook on a3, this time for no material, which White accepts. Later he sacrifices the other Rook on a3 for a Pawn, which White accepts a move later.

Before I get to those combinations, the opening is worth a look. The game started 1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Nf3 c5 5.Bg5 cxd4 6.Qxd4 Nc6, reaching the position shown in the diagram. Pillsbury played 7.Qh4. Over eight years later the two players reached the same position in the last game they contested together. In the second encounter Pillsbury played 7.Bxf6!.

St Petersburg 1895 / Cambridge Springs 1904
Lasker, Emanuel

Pillsbury, Harry Nelson
(After 6.Nb8-c6)

Soltis informed, 'Marco, who was emerging as the world's preeminent annotator, helped spread the myth that Pillsbury discovered 7.Bxf6! after [the St Petersburg 1895] game and had to wait eight years before exacting revenge against Lasker.' In Predecessors I, Kasparov annotated the Cambridge Springs 1904 game directly after the previous game, wthout mentioning the myth.

The 13th World Champion noted that after 7.Bxf6!, 7...Nxd4 is bad because of 8.Bxd8 Nc2+ 9.Kd2 Nxa1 10.Bc7 dxc4 11.e4 Nb3+ 12.axb3 cxb3 13.Bc4. Lasker played instead 7...gxf6 8.Qh4 dxc4 9.Rd1 Bd7 10.e3, which Kasparov called the 'critical position of the variation'. Kasparov: '10...Ne5?! Lasker falters! Later he recommended 10...f5; Euwe suggested 10...Be7'. After 11.Nxe5 fxe5 12.Qxc4 Qb6 13.Be2!, Lasker was in trouble and Pillsbury went on to win the game.

To play through the complete game see...

Harry Nelson Pillsbury vs Emanuel Lasker, Cambridge Springs 1904

...on Chessgames.com.

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