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   Steinitz - Lasker; (3)  1896. 

I saw this game as the "Game of The Day" on the CG website, it intrigued me so much that I decided to annotate it.
(I am sure that I have gone over this game before, I used to have several old books on the various WC matches prior to 1900.)  

An explanation of the symbols that I use when annotating a chess game.  

This is MOSTLY a text-based version of the game with just a few diagrams. 
 (You might need a chess board to follow the game AND the variations.)  

Wilhelm Steinitz (2754) - Emanuel Lasker (2843) 
  The Sixth (# 6) World Chess Championships  
  Moscow, RUS(Game # 03)  /  17,11,1896.  


lask_stein-v-l_wc3-1896_medal.gif, 02 KB

A fine game by Lasker, he plays nearly perfect chess. 
(The computer can find no MAJOR improvements in his play!) 

NOTE: Just about every source that I checked gave a different move order for this game. The version given here is the one I consider the most likely, and also matches the one given by the ChessBase web site. 

  *** *** *** ***  *** *** *** *** ***  *** *** *** *** ***  *** *** *** *** ***  *** *** *** *** ***  *** *** *** *** ***  *** *** *** ***  

{The ratings are taken directly from the website of Jeff Sonas, and have not been altered or changed. 
 See the rating list of October, 1896 ... just before the match began.} 

 1.e4 e5;  2.Nf3 Nc6;  3.Bc4 Bc5;  4.c3 Nf6;  5.d4 exd4;  6.cxd4 Bb4+;  7.Nc3!?,    

This involves a pawn sac, if White wants to, he can avoid the gambit lines with Bd2. 
 (Many GM's - including Korchnoi - have used the line that begins with the move 7.Bd2.) 

See MCO-14, page # 18; for more details on this whole opening.  

     [ After the moves:   
       7.Bd2 Bxd2+8.Nbxd2 d5 9.exd5 Nxd510.Qb3 Nce7;  
11.0-0 0-0; 12.Rfe1, "+/=" 
White has a slight plus.   

        E. Van den Doel - I. Sokolov; / ICT / National Championships   
        Leeuwarden, NED; 2004.  (0-1)    
        (Black won a long game, but the opening was hardly the cause.) ]   


 7...Nxe4;  8.0-0 Bxc3;  9.bxc3!?,   {See the diagram given - just below.}  
Acceptable then, but this variation is considered outmoded today.  


lask_stein-v-l_wc1898-3_pos01.gif, 42 KB

  r1bqk2r/pppp1ppp/2n5/8/2BPn3/2P2N2/P4PPP/R1BQ1RK1 b  


(Here) White has limited compensation for the Pawn invested.  

     [ Better is:  >/=  9.d5! which is The Moeller Attack

        [You can even play ... "The Goldsby Variation." |
         See the book, "Winning with the Giuoco Piano and the Max Lange Attack,"  
         (Revised second edition, 1996); by GM Andy Soltis. (Chapter four, page # 59.)]   

        See the GM game:  
        R. Dzhindzichashvili - A. Karpov; / Mazatlan, MEX; 1988.  (rapid)  1/2    
        {An exciting game - that was drawn in thirty-four tension-filled moves.}   

        [ See (also) MCO-14, page # 20; columns one through four, (1-4) 
          and all appropriate notes. (more)]    


 9...d5!;  10.Ba3!? dxc4;  11.Re1 Be6;   
This is perfectly acceptable, however the 'book' move here is 11...f5. (Lasker nearly always played common sense ideas. Here, rather than becoming embroiled in a bitter dispute over the correctness of Steinitz's opening plan, Lasker is content to simply return the material ... and reach a safe, playable middlegame position.)  

     [ Or 11...f5!?; 12.Nd2!? Be6; 13.Nxe4 fxe4; 14.Rxe4 Qd5; 15.Qg4, "~"  with some play. ("/\") ]   


 12.Rxe4 Qd5;  13.Qe2 0-0-0;  14.Ne5 Rhe8;  15.Nxc6 Qxc6;  16.Re1 Rg8;    
 17.Re5 b6;  18.Bc1 g5!?;  (Maybe - '!!')    
Black sacks a Pawn to open the g-file for a possible attack. (Black risks little with this move, the resulting endgames with opposite-colored Bishops would be difficult for White to win from here.) 

     [ The machine prefers the simple18...Rd5;  - Fritz 8.0 ]   


 19.Rxg5 Rxg5;  20.Bxg5 Rg8;  21.f4 Bd5;  22.g3 Kb7;  23.h3!?,   {Diagram given below.}  
White has a playable position, but it is hard to make progress. 
(I think this move only serves to weaken the White K-side P-structure.)  


lask_stein-v-l_wc1898-3_pos02.gif, 42 KB

  6r1/pkp2p1p/1pq5/3b2B1/2pP1P2/2P3PP/P3Q3/4R1K1 b  


In today's world - in this position - most modern GM's would probably just shake hands and agree to a draw.  

 But not these guys!   

     [ >/= 23.Qe5, ("=") - Fritz 8.0 ]  


Now Lasker finds a nice method to re-arrange his pieces in order to try and increase the pressure.  
 23...Qb5!;  24.Kh2 Rg6;  25.Qc2,   
Some confusion over the move here, the original source gives "Queen to Bishop's Two." 
(That could be interpreted two different ways.)  


     [ One fairly respected historian gives: 
        25.Qf2 f6;  26.Bh4 Bf7;  27.g4 Qd5;  28.Qc2 h5;  29.g5 fxg5;  30.Bxg5 h4;   
        31.Rf1 Rg8;  32.Qd2 a5;  33.a4 Re8;  34.f5 Rg8;  (0-1)   
        as the way that the game really went. 
        (See the volume, "The Collected Games of Emanuel Lasker," by Ken Whyld.  (1998)  
        (Game # 395, page # 75.) Published by the Chess Player. ISBN: 1-901034-02-X    

        See also the German source: "Deutsches Wochenschach," for the year 1896 / page # 443.  

  *** *** *** *** ***  

        This conflicts with several other sources, including an old "handbuch" which gives the scores    
         of the games of this match, the encyclopedia of games, (Vol. II); and also "The {collected} Games   
         of Wilhem Steinitz," (First World Chess Champion); edited by Sid Pickard
         (Sid Pickard and Son, Publishers.)  Copyright, 1995. {By S. Pickard.}   ISBN: # 1-886846-00-6  
         (Game # 470, page # 135.)   

        Since the original translation of the {Russian/German} book of this event talks about mate threats   
        on the long diagonal, it seems extremely unlikely that the Black Bishop ever visited the f7-square.  
         {A.J.G.}  [more]  ]  


 25...f6;  26.Bh4 Bc6;   
Some sources cite Black as playing 26...Bf7 here, but I find that unlikely. 
[ Probably a result of "translating" this game from (old) English Standard Descriptive Notation (ESDN) to the more modern algebraic. "Bishop-to -the-Bishop's square," is how one old book gives this move ... and this is confusing, even to me. ]   

 27.g4 Qd5;  28.Qf2?!,   
White continues to mark time, but this move was not the most precise.  (Possibly - '?')   

     [ Better was:  >/=  28.f5!, "~"  with a wild position ... that is not completely unfavorable to White. 
       (Fritz even awards White a slight edge here.) ]  


 28...h5!?;  29.g5 fxg5;  30.Bxg5 h4!;   
Fixing the Pawns and making White uncomfortable.  


 31.Rf1 Rg8;  32.Qd2!? a5;  33.a4?,   
White's position is truly unenviable, but fixing a Pawn on the same square as Black's Bishop has to be a mistake. 
(The box notices an immediate change its 'evals' of the position.)

     [ White had to continue to mark time with:  >/= 33.Qf2[],  (Box?)   
       and force Black to "prove the win." ]   


 33...Re8;  34.f5 Rg8!;   {See the diagram given ... just below.}   
This puts White in a bind, now he can move almost nothing without losing material. (Zugzwang?) 


lask_stein-v-l_wc1898-3_pos03.gif, 43 KB

  6r1/1kp5/1pb5/p2q1PB1/P1pP3p/2P4P/3Q3K/5R2 w  


Black's last move also created a monster of a threat. 


Now Fritz 'thinks' that 35.Rg1 might be forced for White in this position. 
[ In that case, Black wins with 35...Rxg5!!; 36.Qxg5, (Taking with the Rook allows ...Qh1 mate.)
  36...Qd6+!  (37.Rg3 is now forced for White, when 37...QxR/g3+; is an easy win for Black.) ]  
 35.Re1 Qxf5;    
This is good and eventually necessary, although Fritz prefers 35...Qf3; in this position.  
(But there is not that big of a difference between the two moves.)  


 36.Re5?!,  (Maybe - '?')    
White's position is already lost, but this move only makes matters worse.  

     [ >/=  36.Rg1[]  - Fritz 8.0 ]   


The threat of the Queen-check (on h1) is decisive.  

 37.d5[] Qg3+;  38.Kh1 Qxe5;  39.dxc6+ Kxc6;  "-/+"   White resigns.   

A nice game by Lasker ... to outplay Steinitz in such fashion is always an impressive achievement - to me. 
(To be fair to Steinitz, Lasker was a robust twenty-seven when this game was played, while the great one was already past sixty years of age.) 


  Copyright (c) A.J. Goldsby, 2005. All rights reserved.  


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The game and the analysis were prepared with the programs, ChessBase 8.0 and ChessBase 9.0

The program, MS FrontPage was used to polish and prepare the analysis for my website. (The diagrams were made with Chess Captor 2.25.)  

    Page first posted (here) in October, 2005.  --  This page was last updated on 04/27/06 .   


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 Copyright ()  A.J. Goldsby;  2003 - 2005. 

  Copyright A.J. Goldsby, 2006.  All rights reserved.