12 December 2006

Marshall - Lasker, 1907 Match, Game 1

Second-best moves sometimes win. Continuing with Lasker's Moves that Matter, the diagram shows the position reached at the end of the post on Candidate Moves. See that post for a link to the complete game.

After 13.f3, Lasker played 13...fxe5. Both Kasparov (KAS) and Soltis (SOL) gave the move '!'. KAS wrote, '13...Ng5 was more prudent, but Lasker makes a psychologically wise choice'; SOL wrote, 'Black was simply applying a traditional strategy of taking the attack to an attacker'.

World Championship Match (g.1)
New York 1907

Lasker, Emanuel

Marshall, Frank
(After 13.f2-f3)
[FEN "r1b2rk1/p1p3pp/2p2p2/3pP3/4n2q/4B3/PPP2PPP/RN1QR1K1 w - - 0 13"]

After 14.fxe4 d4, Marshall continued 15.g3. Both KAS ('?!') and SOL ('?') criticized the move, pointing out that 15.Qd2! dxe3 16.Qxe3 was much better and might win.

Commenting on Lasker's 15...Qf6, SOL showed that Tarrasch's suggestion of 15...Qh3 was no better. Now KAS gave Marshall's 16.Bxd4 a '?!', and analyzed 16.Bd2 to a perpetual check. SOL agreed that 16.Bd2 is 'at least equal', added that 16.Qd2 'is a close second', and mentioned that Marshall's 16.Bxd4 'would have been good enough to draw'. Now after 16...exd4 17.Rf1 Qxf1+ 18.Qxf1 Rxf1+ 19.Kxf1, the players reached a position that many commentators have believed is a forced win for White.

I've left out most of the detailed analysis here. The whole sequence is extraordinary. Lasker played the inferior 13...fxe5. Two world class commentators gave it a '!', then pointed out that Marshall missed a possible win and at least two ways to draw. Finally, we are told that Marshall should have drawn an endgame that has often been used as an example of Lasker's refined endgame play. I'll look at this last point in a subsequent post.

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