10 December 2006

Candidate Moves

Returning to Lasker's Moves that Matter, the position in the diagram is from one of Lasker's most famous games. Marshall played 11.Re1. What's the best move for Black? I fed the position to my chess playing software, and after about ten minutes, it established the following moves as its top choices.

  • Re8
  • Bf5
  • Bb7
  • Rb8
  • Ba6
  • a6
  • Qh4
  • Nc5
  • a5
  • Rd8

There was not much difference in the valuations of these ten moves. There are other moves worth considering, like 11...Be6. What move did Lasker play?

World Championship Match (g.1)
New York 1907

Lasker, Emanuel

Marshall, Frank
(After 10...Qd8-e7(xN))
[FEN "r1b2rk1/p1p1qppp/2p5/3pP3/4n3/8/PPP2PPP/RNBQ1RK1 w - - 0 11"]

Lasker played 11...Qh4. Kasparov (KAS) gave the move '!?' and quoted Zak, 'In search of complications Black avoids 11...f6 which leads to a good position: 12.f3 Ng5 13.Bxg5 fxg5 14.Nc3 Be6 followed by 15...c5.'

Marshall played 12.Be3.

KAS: 'The immediate 12.f3!? would perhaps have been better.'
Soltis (SOL): 'Hoffer led the critics in arguing for 12.f3 immediately. It has merits: 12...Qf2+? 13.Kh1 Nc5 14.Be3 drops a piece. But 12...Nc5 13.Be3 Ne6 and 14...f6 is nothing much.'

After Lasker's 12...f6, SOL commented, 'Tarrasch preferred 12...f5 13.f3 f4, but 14.Bd4 Ng5 15.Nc3 favors White because of the dark square bind. He's also better after 14.Bd4 c5 15.fxe4 cxd4 16.Nd2!.' Now after 13.f3, my software suggested only two moves which don't lose immediately: ...Ng5 and ...fxe5, with a big preference for the first move. What did Lasker play?

To play through the complete game see...

Frank James Marshall vs Emanuel Lasker, World Championship Match 1907

...on Chessgames.com.

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