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 Wilhelm Steinitz  vs.  Emanuel Lasker;

 London, (ENG)  Great Britain;  1899.

( I have been studying this game for years, I have been through it maybe well over 1000 times. 
  {ChessBase makes this easy to do, you can go through a whole game literally in 10-20 seconds.}
  I started on this game about 10 years ago, right after a tourney in TX in 1993 or 1994. {But I had seen
  it years before.}  I was talking to another Master. His favorite player is Lasker, and he knows many 
  of his games by heart. This is the game that he told me was  one of his own personal favorites!!! 
   He dared me to study it in depth.   {I went over the game one afternoon shortly after the tourney, 
  then forgot about it for a year or so.}  Then I started another Lasker notebook, and started recording 
  my thoughts and ideas.

  Of course I have NOT worked on this game consistently, many other projects got put ahead 
  of this one. Since I got a computer and ChessBase I have looked at this game MANY times. 
  My current LONG version of this game - with a comment after EVERY move, a diagram every 
  few moves, many analysis diagrams, an opening survey, deep analysis of the variations - 
  runs MORE than 50 pages!!! Of course, I don't plan on even trying to publish this version!  
  (TOO long and boring!)   But stay tuned. This page is a result of a 'short' version I am doing. )  


   So  ... as an improvement over a document that was well over 50 pages, and much, much, much too long ...   
   I instead went back to a blank piece of paper. What I came up with instead is a finished product that is ...   
   ONLY ...  12 (double-column) pages. {With just a few diagrams.} A substantial improvement, LOL!!!!!    


 But in a serious vein - I wanted this to be a high-class job of annotation, with an emphasis on verbiage. 
 (I hope I succeeded. Please let me know what you think.) 

Of course I have been aware of Lasker's work for a very long time. (One of the first players in our chess club years ago was a Lasker fan. We went over these games many times when I was just a lad.) I have had books on Lasker, and I have had friends that were greatly enamored of his play. I also have had students that liked Lasker and liked to study his games together. I also 'met' a Soviet/Russian Master on a 'chess-playing' server, and he also encouraged me to study Lasker as well. 
(He thought that Lasker was mostly unappreciated by the players of today.)

But it is one thing to have studied a game, and be vaguely aware of it. It is a whole different ball of wax to have studied a game in great depth, and to have put it into a historical perspective as well. This is what I have done here.

  GM W. Steinitz (2650) - GM E. Lasker (2760)  
Super-Master (DRR) Tournament  
London, England. (G.B.) (Rd. #27),  05.07.1899  

[A.J. Goldsby I]


   Click  HERE  to see an explanation of the symbols that I use in annotating a chess game.

     Click   HERE    to see  this game  in a java-script re-play format.    

    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.) 


Easily one of the greatest games of all time ... certainly one of Lasker's best. 

This game was the MUCH anticipated encounter between the current World
Champion and the former World Champion. 
(I think their first game was a draw.)

Suffice it to say that this game ...  won  FIRST  BRILLIANCY PRIZE!!!
(In a tournament that was filled with great, brilliant, and beautiful games.)


The ratings are estimates ...  but close to what Sonas gives. 
(I have tried to make them correlate to post-2000 standards.) 


1.e4 e5;  2.Nc3,  {Diagram?}   
The Vienna game. Its a perfectly acceptable opening ...  
and it was also a favorite of Steinitz's, especially in the latter part of his career.

     [  More common today is the move:  2.Nf3, "+/="  {Diagram?}  
        when White usually gains a  small advantage out of the opening 
        phase of the game.  ]   


2...Nf6; ('!')   
The best move, even today.
(Some opening manuals give this move an exclam.) 

     [  2...Nc6; or 2...g6!? ]  


White strikes at the center, and also prepares to open the f-file. 
(If Black is not careful, this can lead to an overwhelming attack.) 

While f4!? was criticized by some authors, it is a perfectly legitimate 
move ... and is hardly the reason for White's loss in this game. 

     [  Also played is the line:  3.Bc4!? Nxe4!; "~"  {Diagram?}  
        but Black comes out OK.  

        With the moves: 3.Nf3 Nc6{Diagram?}  
        we enter "The Four Knight's Game."  ]  


The most vigorous response by Black in this position. 
{I am struck by how modern ...  and what a model of accuracy Lasker's play in this 
 opening was! REMEMBER: This game was played OVER 100 years ago!!!} 

     [ 3...d6!? ]  


This looks like a natural, organic attempt to main a presence in the center by White.

The modern line is PxP (fxe5) in this position.  

Reinfeld calls this a {much} inferior line ... and he may be correct. He also notes that 
despite poor results, Steinitz clung to this line rather stubbornly.  

But I also wish to point out that Steinitz believed in this line, and that he once had a 
pretty decent record with it. (He lost to Pillsbury earlier with this line. But as he said 
in the newspaper account, the opening was hardly the reason for his loss, and he 
was correct!)

But after studying this game literally for many years, I am {finally!} convinced that White 
has a very difficult game after this move  ...  and must struggle uphill for equality!

      [  The modern main line is:  >/=  4.fxe5 Nxe45.Nf3 Be76.d4 0-0;   
         7.Bd3 f58.exf6 Bxf69.0-0!? Nc610.Ne2 Nb4;  "="  {Diagram?}  
          ... and the game/position is probably fairly equal.  

         [ See  MCO-14;  page # 114, and column number nine. (# 9.)  
           See also notes # (h.) through note # (k.). ]  

         Needless to say ... this would have been MUCH better ...  (1000 times!!!);   
         than what actually happened in this particular game. ]   


4...Nc6; ('!') (TN?)  {Diagram?}  
Once again Lasker chooses the best move.

I believe Lasker was the FIRST strong player to play the opening in this way ... 
the "norm"  {book} line of the time was to push the Black Pawn to d4 here.
{See Steinitz's game against Pillsbury from just a few rounds earlier of this 
 same tournament.}

Once again, Lasker's play is an absolute model of precision here.


     [  Not as accurate would be:  4...dxe4!?; ('?!')  5.fxe5,  ("=")  {Diag?}  
         and I do not think either side can claim an advantage.  


        An earlier round in this tourney saw the continuation: 
        4...d45.Nce2 Nc66.Nf3 Bd67.c3 Bg4{Diagram?}  
        {Some sources switch Black's sixth and seventh moves ...  
         but it is a relatively harmless transposition.}

        8.fxe5 Bxe59.Nxe5 Nxe510.Qa4+ c6;  
        11.Nxd4,  (Maybe - "±")  {Diagram?}  
        and White is clearly better in this position, although Black  
        does have limited compensation for his pawn deficit. 

        W. Steinitz - H.N. Pillsbury;  London, England. (GB) 1899. 


        Black can also play:  4...exf4!?5.exd5,   {Diagram?}  
        White has no choice now.  

          ( </=  5.e5!? d4!; "=/+" )   

        5...Nxd56.Nxd5 Qxd57.Bxf4 Bd6!;  "="   {Diagram?}  
        GM D. Bronstein  -  GM A. Matanovic;  Vienna, (AUS); 1957. 

        [ See MCO-14;  page # 114, and column number nine. (# 9.) 
          See also notes # (h.) through note # (k.). ]  ]  



This is pushing the envelope. 

Steinitz wishes to  'break down'  Black's center ... but at the same
time he opens the game up ...  and he is falling further behind in 
his development.  

     [  Maybe White should consider: (>/=)  5.Nf3 dxe4;  
        6.Nxe5, "~"  {Diagram?}  
        with a rather unbalanced position, but White 
        is no worse, I think.  ]   


This is probably both forced ...  and/or best for Black.

     [  Much worse for Black would be the continuation:  
        </=  5...d4?!6.exf6,  "+/="  {Diagram?}  
        and White is definitely a little better here. ]  


White 'kicks' Black's Knight with a gain of time ... grabs the center, and 
gains space. Yet this is a two-edged sword, as White is somewhat 
exposed here. 

     [  White could play:  6.exd5!? Ng6!?7.d4, "="  {Diagram?}  
         with close to equality. 


        Or White could also try:  6.Nf3!? Nxf3+7.Qxf3,  
        7...d4;  "~"  (Maybe - "=/+")  {Diagram?}  
        and after Ne2, White might be better off with the slightly 
        more closed nature of this position, than what occurred 
        in the game.  ]  


6...Ng6!?; ('!')  {Diagram?}  
This is probably the best move ...  although conventional wisdom 
dictates that normally a Knight on this square is not as good as 
good as one on a "Bishop-Three" square. (f6 or c6)  

     [  Playable was:  6...Nc6!?; "~"  {Diagram?}  
         but the position is about equal. ]  


Extremely provocative.  

White 'destroys' (exchanges) Black's last remaining presence in the center. 
But at the same time, Steinitz continues to open the game, and at the same 
time - falls even further behind in his development.

After this move ... no matter what White does ... he seems to incur a very 
serious DIS-advantage. (!!!) Therefore, logically, this move should have 
been avoided.  

     [  I am sure it would have been better for White to play: 
        >/=  7.e5 Ne48.Nf3,  {Diagram?}  
        This seems to be the safest line for White.  

          ( Is the sharp:  8.Nxe4!?, "~"  {Diagram?}     
            really playable for White? (It might be.) )   

        8...Bb49.Bd2, "~"  ("=")  {Diagram?}  
        when White seems to have survived the worst.  ]   


This is just about forced.  (And also quite good for Black.)  

     [  </= 7...Bb4?!; ('?')  8.Qe2+!,  ("=")  (Maybe  -  "+/=")  ]   


8.Nxd5!?,  (Maybe - '?!')  {Diagram?}   
A seemingly logical move by White ... it is also the first choice of several 
strong computer programs.  

But the move helps Black out - who now has the Queen developed to a 
very strong square, and also holds a  "Two-to-NOTHING"  edge in the 
race to develop pieces. 

Several authors - most notably Fred Reinfeld - attach a question mark 
here; and label this as:  < THE LOSING MOVE. >  


This is simply too harsh ... and greatly typifies the type of  "gun-slinging"  
annotation that I deeply despise. The simple fact is that the damage done
to White's position in this game can  NOT  be blamed on any  ONE  
{individual} move!!!!!

(It is incremental. In other words, each move appears OK  ... ... ... 
 all by itself; but when you add them up together - it equals a bad 
 game for White!)  


I should also point out that Steinitz, especially towards the end of his career, 
deliberately played in such a fashion ... as if he was daring his opponent's to:  
"Come and get me."  


     [  An improvement for White would be to play:  
         >/=  8.Bc4!, "~"  {Diagram?}   
        and although Black MIGHT gain the upper hand, it is considerably  
        better for White than what actually happened in this game!  
         - Fred Reinfeld.  


        White could also consider:  >/=  8.Nf3!? Bb4; "=/+"  {Diagram?}  
        But Black is probably a little better in this position.   
         - LM A.J. Goldsby I ]   


Of course Black must play this.

      [  It would be a blunder to try:  8...Qh4+??9.g3 Qe4+; 
         10.Qe2!,  "+/-"  {Diagram?}  as suggested by a student. 
         (The Black Queen is pinned to the King and therefore is 
           unable to capture the White Rook on h1.)  ]   


9.Nf3 Bg4; (Nearly - '!')  {Diagram?}  
This pin is part of Black's plan now, and is very good. 

     [ 9...Bd6!?; "~" ]  


This is now virtually forced for White in this position.  

     [  </=  10.c4?! Qe4+11.Qe2 Bxf312.gxf3 Qxe2+;  
        13.Bxe2 0-0-014.Be3 Bd6!;  "=/+"  ]   


10...0-0-0;   {See the diagram just below.}    
You could really give this an exclam if you wanted to ...  
it is both strong and  a tad more daring  than a mundane castling 
on the King-side.
(Castling on opposite wings is normally a little riskier than castling 
  on the same side of the board as your opponent.) 



   2kr1b1r/ppp2ppp/6n1/3q4/3P2b1/5N2/PPP1B1PP/R1BQK2R (White)  White does not have an enviable position here.  (lask_vst1-lon99_pos1.gif, 09 KB)

(The position immediately following Black's move, 10...0-0-0; in the game.)



Lasker has something VERY unusual and very specific in mind here. 

     [ 10...Bd6!? ]  


11.c3!?,  (slightly dubious?)  {Diagram?}  
Steinitz greatly valued his center pawns ... and therefore would not allow them 
to be exchanged off, especially if he could have prevented it.  

None-the-less, it would have been much better to simply castle and maintain 
a more elastic position for White. 

     [  Better was:   >/=  11.0-0! Bd6!; "=/+" {Diagram?}  
         but Black will still probably retain a small advantage. {A.J.G.} 

          ( Not as convincing is:  </=  11...Bxf3!?;  12.Rxf3!? Qxd4+;    
            13.Qxd4 Rxd4;  14.Rxf7, "~"  {Diagram?}     
             when White might be OK.  - K. Schlechter. )   ]   


11...Bd6;  ('!')    
Again - simple development is the order of the day. 

     [  Some have suggested that Black (instead) play the move: 
        11...f6!?;  {Diagram?}  and I guess the idea is to keep the 
         White Knight off key squares, most notably the crucial e5-post. 

          (But I think Lasker's idea is both simpler AND better!)    ]  


12.0-0 Rhe8;  "=/+"  (Maybe - '!')  {See the diagram just below.}  
With very simple, straight-forward, and logical moves ... the (then) 
current World Champion has built up a very impressive position.
(In fact - Black is probably already slightly better.)



   2krr3/ppp2ppp/3b2n1/3q4/3P2b1/2P2N2/PP2B1PP/R1BQ1RK1 (White)   Black has steadily built up his advantage.  (lask_vst1-lon99_pos2.gif, 09 KB)

The game position immediately following 12...Rhe8
Black is already holds a small advantage here.



If you think this was no big deal, then perhaps you should consult a DB of the 
games of this period. Lasker's play is a DRAMATIC improvement over the way 
that Steinitz's usual opponents handled this line. 

     [  Black could try:  12...Kb8!?;  {Diagram?}  with a fair game. 


        Or even  12...h6!?; "~"  {Diagram?}  with maybe even a slight edge. ]  


13.h3!?, (Hmmm.)   
Some have also condemned this move.  
(Saying that it introduces new weaknesses into White's position here.)  

But the group that has done so has also failed to provide even one line 
that was clearly better than the game.  

The alternative was simply to play an extremely passive waiting move. 

The move played by Steinitz is actually tricky ... and maybe even a bit of psychology. 
Will Lasker rush things, and in so doing - spoil his game?  

     [  Maybe 13.Re1!? h6; "=/+"  Or  </= 13.c4?! Qe6; "=/+" ("/+")  ]  


13...Bd7; ('!')   
This {seemingly tame} retreat looks like a loss of time ...  
but is absolutely the correct move in this position!

     [  Black should not play:  </=  13...Bxf3?!; ('?')  14.Bxf3 Qc4;  
        15.Qb3, "="  (Maybe - "+/=")  {Diagram?}  
        and White is OK ... maybe even a little better! ]  


14.Ng5!?;  {See the diagram just below.}    
"This move has been strongly criticized, but the fact is that White is at a dead end," 
   - - - says Reinfeld ... and I completely agree with him. (To criticize White's moves 
now is like locking the barn door after the horse has already been stolen. The damage 
to White's game was already done.)

In actuality, the move Ng5 is actually somewhat attractive, contains more than one threat, 
and is a natural use of the half-open f-file. But it is far too little and much too late!


   2krr3/pppb1ppp/3b2n1/3q2N1/3P4/2P4P/PP2B1P1/R1BQ1RK1 (Black to move)  While Black has a small and obvious edge, the denouement appears a long way off.  (lask_vst1-lon99_pos3.gif, 10 KB)

(The position immediately following White's move, 14. Ng5; in the game.)



Many of the alternatives to Ng4!? are very bad, some are just losing for 
the first player here. 

     [  If  14.Bd3!?,  then  14...f6!; "=/+"  {Diagram?}  
        and Black is at least a touch better in this position. {A.J.G.}  
          (If c4!?, then ...Qh5!)   


       Or if White should try: 
       </=  14.c4!?, ('?!')  14...Qe6!?; {Diagram?}  
       The safest but not necessarily the best here in this position. 

           ( The move:  >/=   14...Qc6!?; ('!')  might be a little better. )     

        15.Bd3 Nf4!16.Bxf4?! Bxf4; "=/+"  {Diagram?}  
        Black is clearly for choice in this position. 
        (This line is quoted in one of Reinfeld's book on great brilliancies.) 


        One fairly well-respected writer - of that period of time - actually said the move 
        a4!? is a fairly considerable improvement over the course of the game. 
        But after:  </=  14.a4?!(Maybe - '?')  {Diagram?}  
        most programs score a sizeable advantage for Black. And I fail to see what the 
        move really does!  (In any positive manner.)  ]  


14...Nh4!; "/\"  
This is NOT just a simple one move mate threat ... 
Lasker intends to grab the bull by the horns!!
(Seize the initiative.)  

     [  After the moves:  14...f6!?15.Bf3 Qg8; 
        16.Ne4; "~" (Maybe - "=/+")  {Diagram?}  
        White is much better off than in the actual game. ]  


15.Nf3,  {Box?}  {Check the diagram just below.}  
This appears to be completely forced for White. 


   2krr3/pppb1ppp/3b4/3q4/3P3n/2P2N1P/PP2B1P1/R1BQ1RK1 (Black to move)  It is the great Lasker's turn to play in this position ... what move would YOU make here?  (lask_vst1-lon99_pos4.gif, 09 KB)

(The position immediately following White's move, 15.Nf3; in the game.)



Those who have stated otherwise ...  

     [  Several writers - like Tartakower, and also Mason - 
        said Bf3 was better, but this is simply wrong.  

        In the following continuation:  </= 15.Bf3?!, ('?')  15...Nxf3+16.Nxf3!?, {D?} 
        This could be forced.  

         ( Even worse is the endgame after: 16.Qxf3?! Qxf317.Nxf3,  {Diag?} 
            I think this is best. 

            ( One noted author gives: </=  17.Rxf3?! Re1+;  18.Rf1 Bh2+; 19.Kf2 Bg3+;     
               20.Kg1 Rde8; 21.Bd2 Rxa1; 22.Rxa1 Re2; "/+"  {Diagram?}     
                ... and "Black has a winning position." - Fred Reinfeld. )      

           17...Bb518.Re1 Rxe1+19.Nxe1 Re820.Nf3 Re2; "/+"  {Diag?}  
            landing a Rook on the always sensitive seventh rank. )   

        16...Bb5!17.Re1 Rxe1+;  {Diagram?}  
         This could be best ... I analyzed this move in depth while I was a teenager.


            ( Black could also play the move: 17...Qf5!?; "=/+" (Maybe - '/+')  {D?}    
               with a clear advantage.     

               One noted author gives: 17...Bg3; "=/+"  (Maybe - '/+')  {Diagram?}    
               with a very good position for Black. ( - Fred Reinfeld.)  )       


        18.Qxe1 Re819.Qd1!? Re220.b3 Bh2+!!21.Kh1[] Qe4!; "/+" {Diag?}  
         Black gets a very powerful and a probably winning attack. 


        Of course not: </=  15.c4?? Qxg2#]   



15...Nxg2!!;  (Maybe - '!!!/!!!!')   {See the diagram just below.}   
"Stunning!"  "Shocking!!"  < Freaking ... UNBELIEVABLE!!! >  

One could use up an entire volume of superlatives on this particular move and not 
really do it justice.


   2krr3/pppb1ppp/3b4/3q4/3P4/2P2N1P/PP2B1n1/R1BQ1RK1 (White)  Black has just played one of the most stunning moves of all time - how does White respond?  (lask_vst1-lon99_pos5.gif, 09 KB)

(The position immediately following Black's move, 15...Nxg2; in the actual game.)



Lasker is obviously after Steinitz's King here ... and is attempting to remove the pawn 
shield in front of the White monarch. 

<< Maybe one of the best and most surprising/shocking moves of all of the 19th century.

This move amazed and confounded not just the gallery of spectators, but also many of the 
masters - who were present at this tournament and were all closely watching this game! >>
(From an article I wrote many years ago for a southern state chess magazine.) 

     [  Maybe a normal Master would have tried something like:  
        15...Rxe2!?16.Qxe2 Bb5;  "=/+"  {Diagram?}  
         and Black might be a little better.  ]   


16.Kxg2,  {See the diagram just below.}   
Steinitz said this was forced ...  and no one argued with him.


   2krr3/pppb1ppp/3b4/3q4/3P4/2P2N1P/PP2B1K1/R1BQ1R2 (Black)   Once again, it is Black's turn to move - what should the second player do?  (lask_vst1-lon99_pos6.gif, 09 KB)

(The position immediately following White's move, 16.Kxg2, --- in the game.)



The only question now ... is what is the follow-up to Lasker's sack on the g2-square? 

     [ </=  16.c4? Qe617.Ne5 Bxe518.Bg4 Qxc4; "-/+" ]   


16...Bxh3+!!;  HUH?!?!?   {Consult the diagram just below.}    
  (Does this really work?)

 << IMPRESSIVE!!!!!!!!!! >>
(Green Goblin to Spiderman ... in the movie, "Spider-Man.") 


   2krr3/ppp2ppp/3b4/3q4/3P4/2P2N1b/PP2B1K1/R1BQ1R2 (White)   Black just sacrificed his Bishop on h3 ... can Steinitz take the proffered piece?  (lask_vst1-lon99_pos7.gif, 09 KB)

(The position immediately following Black's move, 16...Bxh3+; in the game.)



Wow, and cool, and chill me right out. Lasker completely removes the rest of the pawn 
shield in front of Steinitz's King. 

17.Kf2 [],   
This is completely forced.  


     [ </=  17.Kg1?! Qe4!; "/+"  {Diagram?}  
        and Black probably has a winning attack.  


       Definitely Black cannot play:  
       </=  17.Kxh3? Qf5+!18.Kg2,  {Diagram?}  
       This is also forced.  

           (18.Kh4?? Re4+;  & mates.)     

       18...Qg4+19.Kh1,  {Diagram?}   
       Once again, White really has no choice.  

           ( 19.Kf2, (???)  and  19...Qg3#  )   

       19...Qh3+20.Kg1,  {Diagram?}  
        At the risk of repeating myself, White has no choice.  

           (20.Nh2?? Qxh2#)    

       20...Qg3+!21.Kh1 Re4!; "-/+"  {Diagram?}  
       and White has no good defense against the main threat of ...Qh3+, 
       followed by ...Rg4+, mating. 

 --->    ( One author {now} gives:  21...Re4!22.Bg5{Diagram?}   
             This is forced.  

               (Of course not:  22.Qe1? Rh4+; 23.Nxh4 Qh2#)     

             22...Rg4!?23.Rg1? Qh3+24.Nh2 Qxh2#{Diagram?}  
             - The one and only ...  Fred Reinfeld. )   ]   



17...f6!;  (Probably - '!!')   {See the diagram just below.}  
"Very subtle and unexpected, and certainly stronger than ...BxR/f1." 
  -  Dr. J. Hannak.  
(Who probably based his notes on those by George Marco.) 


   Black just played Pawn (from f7) to f6. How should White respond here? And exactly what is Black's plan in this position?  (lask_vst1-lon99_pos8.gif, 09 KB)

(The position immediately following Black's move, 17...f6; in the game.)


Black's plan is very simple ... he will play ...g5 and ...h5. Sooner or later this pawn 
avalanche will cost White dearly - he will be forced to shed material to save his 
poor King.

     Also - Black could play: 17...Bxf1!?18.Bxf1 h6!; "=/+"  {Diagram?}    
        and Black is a little better. 
         (But this might give White a chance to organize a defense. 
          In the post-mortem; Steinitz was more than able to hold his 
          own in this line.)  ]    


18.Rg1 g5!;   
The beginning of Black's plan. I studied this game in depth with one Internet student 
in 2002. (We took several lessons looking at this one game.)  He was unable to 
refute a simple plan of ...g7-g5; ...h7-h5 -h4; ...Rh8; and then ...g4-g3+, etc.  

     [ 18...Qf7!?; "~" ]  


Steinitz feels this counter-sacrifice was his only chance. 
---> Years of analysis has convinced me that he was probably right. 

"Relatively best,"  says G. Marco.  


     [  Without going into a detailed analysis here - in one version of this game, 
        I spend 7-11 PAGES (!!) trying to examine the complexities that arise before 
        White's 19th move;  -  I will simply note that most of White's other tries have 
        been refuted in some of the sources that I list in my bibliography. 

        White could try: 19.Rh1!?,  Black probably plays ...g4!?; "=/+"  {Diag?}  
        with a good game.  

          (After Rh1 on move 19, Black can also try 19...Qf5! as well, which is    
            also very strong.)    


        Or  </=   19.Qb3?!,   ('?')    19...e4   "/+"   {Diagram?}     
        with the better game for Black. 


        Or  19.c4!? Qe6!?, "/\"  ("=/+")  {Diagram?}  
        but each line has its own problems for the first player.  ]   



The next few moves all appear to be close to being the best.  

19...fxg5;  20.Rxg5 Qe6;  21.Qd3 Bf4!;    
This is best - (the computer also picks this move) - and wins an exchange, says Reinfeld. 
{There were at least five moves worthy of deep analysis at this point.}

     [  21...Kb8!?; or  21...Re7!?; "=/+" ]  


Steinitz felt this was forced.
(But White is losing an exchange, and the game goes with it.)  



     [  After the tricky moves:  22.Rb5!? Bg3+!23.Kg1,   {Diag?}  
        This might be forced.  

            ( After the continuation of: 23.Kxg3 Qg4+;  24.Kf2[] Qg2+;    
               25.Ke1 Qf1+;  26.Kd2 Qxa1; "/+" {Diagram?}      
               Steinitz felt that White was also lost. )     

        23...Qxe2; "-/+"  {Diagram?}  
        White is probably just lost.   


        It was incorrect for White to try the continuation of:  
         </=    22.Rg7? Bf5!23.Qb5 Qe3+24.Kg2,    {Diagram?}  
        Unfortunately for White, this is also pretty much forced.   

            ( 24.Kf1? Bh3+; 25.Ke1 Qxf3; ("-/+") and White is lost. )       

          24...Qxe2+;   25.Qxe2 Rxe2+26.Kh1 Be4;    ("-/+")   {Diagram?}  
        and White should simply resign.   


        Interesting is:  22.Ra5!? Kb8;  "/+" (Maybe  "-/+")  {Diagram?}  


        Simply bad was:  </=  22.Rh5? Qg4!23.Rxh3 Qxh3{Diagram?}  
        and Black is winning. ("-/+")  ]   



22...Bxg5;  23.Nxg5 Qf6+;  24.Bf3!?,  {Diagram?}  
One author (Reinfeld) questioned this move ...  
attached a whole question mark ...  
and said it was bad because it lost more material. 
(Without informing us what line White should have played. And the 
 computers rate White as losing, no matter what he plays.)  


Suffice it to say that: 

# 1.)  This move is the FIRST choice of many strong programs; 

# 2.)  Lasker thought it was the correct move here for White; and ... 

# 3.)  Years of analysis has failed to turn up anything better! 


  ---> See this diagram ... just below  


  7R; PP3K2; 2PQ1B1b; 3P4; 6N1; 5q2; ppp4p; 2krr3 / (Black to move.)  White just played Bf3, ... was this a good move or a bad move? (lask_vst1-lon99_pos9.gif, 09 KB)

(The actual position in the game just after White played 24.Bf3!?)



     [  I think I will give just one line ...  that pretty much proves White's 
        cause is without hope:  
        24.Nf3 Bg425.Rg1!? h526.Bd1 Qf4!?27.a4!?{Diagram?}  
        Another author found all these moves ... but went completely astray 
        after this!  

          ( 27.Qd2!? )    

        27...Rf8!28.b4 Rde8!29.a5 Rf6!{Diagram?}  
        This stops a6, and is probably best for Black. 

          ( I think  29...Qh2+!?;  also wins. )     

        White has to play something.  

          ( Or 30.Rh1 Rfe6; "-/+")     

        30...Bxf3!31.Bxf3 Qh4+!32.Rg3[]  Rg8;  ("-/+")  {Diagram?}  
        and Black wins easily.  ]  


I believe this is the most accurate move for Black in this position.
(Reinfeld, Fine, and Hort all give this an exclam.)  

     [  After the more conventional move,  
        24...Qxg5!?;  "/+"  (Probably  "-/+")  {Diagram?}  
        Black is also much better.  ]   



Lasker now finishes off in real style - a befitting end to this particular game.

All the exclams in the remainder of the game stem from Reinfeld.  



25.Nxh7 Qg6!;  26.Qb5,  {Diagram?}  
A desperate sortie says Reinfeld and Fine. 
(Maybe White should have given a thought to resigning?)

     [ 26.Qd2!? Rg8; "-/+" ]  


26...c6;  27.Qa5 Re7!;  
"Killing two birds with one stone,"  ... ... ... 
  says Reinfeld and Fine.  

     [ 27...Kb8?!; ('?')  28.Bh5!; "<=>" ]  


Steinitz is tricky and resourceful, right to the end of the game. 
(But here he seems to have run out of any useful ideas.) 

     [  If  28.Qc5 Rg7; "-/+"  {Diagram?}  
        and Black is winning.  
        (Taking the Knight probably also work here.)


        Or  28.Qxa7 Rg8!29.Qa8+ Kc730.Qa5+ Kb8;  ("-/+")  {Diag?}  
          ... "and White is out of checks."  - Fred Reinfeld.  ]   


28...Bg4; ('!')    
Black has quite a few moves that he can play here, but this is almost 
certainly the best.

     [  Black should not play:  </=  28...Rxh7?; ('??')  {Diagram?}  
        This is a mistake.  
        29.Qxf5+ Qxf530.Rxf5 Rh2+31.Ke3 Rxb232.a4,  
        32...Rh8; "/+"  {Diagram?}  
        and although Black is better, White has drawing possibilities, 
        due to the reduced material.  ]  


29.Rg5 Qc2+;  
Accurate to the end.  

     [  NOT  </=  29...Qxh7??30.Bxg4+, "~"  {Diagram?}  
        and White will probably not lose this game. ]  


30.Kg3 Bxf3; ('!')  ("-/+" {Diagram below.}  
White ... Resigns

(Black might have played many moves which won ... 
  ---> the try 30...B-Q2; {...Bd7} is  one example.

 Black has just played the move, 30...Bxf3; which is probably best. 
 If now KxB/f3, then ...QxN/h7 wins. Or if Qf5+, then ...QxQ; RxQ/f5, and 
 then Black simply plays ...Be4. White remains a Rook down no matter 
 what he tries.) 



  The final position ... in one of Lasker's greatest games. (lask_vst1-lon99_pos10.gif, 47 KB)

  (The final position after 30...Bxf3. White Resigns.)



In my book ... one of the most amazing games in all of chess. 
It certainly has to be one of the best games of all of the 19th century!!! 
Lasker plays ULTRA-brilliantly. 

  (I find NO major improvements for Black - even with the use of a computer ...      
    and having devoted years of study to this one game!)  


A truly great game!! And it fully deserves the Brilliancy Prize that it garnered. 
It is also one of Lasker's greatest games! 
(Not many people won/dominated a really strong tournament  ...  AND  won 
 the first brilliancy prize to boot!!!) 

  The sacrifice was considered by one annotator, (G. Marco); to be one of the   
   deepest and best combinations in all of chess. (At least, up until that time.)     

"Lasker out-generaled his great opponent from start to finish." 
  - Fred Reinfeld

<< A very brilliant game. Its most striking feature is Black's  "double sacrifice,"  
      (moves 15 and 16);  followed by a "quiet move." (17...f6.) This was a logical 
     result of ultra-rapid and concentric development. >>
     - GM S. Tartakower  &  J. Du Mont.  

I knew this was a great game. But just how great or how complex this struggle was ...  
  I had no clue Then I spent over 5 weeks, off-and-on, studying this game. (With the help 
of several strong programs.) Only then did I get a hint as to the depth of this incredible 
brilliancy! Truly a star of the brightest magnitude!! 
(Also, many authors seem to have criticized all the wrong moves. 
 And also another thing that is overlooked is  ...  that ONE MOVE did NOT cost Steinitz 
 this game!!! No, he lost this battle due to a whole series of less-than-best moves  ...  
 that had a very adverse CUMULATIVE EFFECT on his game! And his inferior opening 
 was as much to blame as anything else.)  

  0 - 1  


I have seen this game in many books and magazines. For instance, I have many collections 
of Lasker's games, including the ones by Barden, Hannak, Reinfeld, etc. Also - several of 
my {former} Internet students did research and sent me material as concerns this game.  
(And the London tournament of 1899.) 

And I also must mention ...   - generically -  ... the (former) student in Washington D.C.  
He went to the Library of Congress and dug up a ton of stuff on Lasker ...  
and on this player's games.

I consulted (EASILY!!!) over a dozen books in annotating this game. 
(NOT counting opening manuals!) 

But the following were my chief sources of information for {my attempts at} 
annotating this game: 


# 1.)  A (barely readable) copy of the original tournament book.  

# 2.)  A photocopy - from an archive, probably on microfilm - of several old magazines 
          of that era ... all of which are on this game.  
          (Courtesy of several German chaps.)  
# 3.)  "The {complete} Collected Games of Emanuel Lasker,"  by   Ken Whyld.  
          Copyright (c) 1998, by the author.  ISBN:  # 1-901034-02-X 
          Published by  'The Chess Player.' 
          (The best Lasker book, in my opinion. Every game is given, hundreds of 
            references. A cross-table for practically every event Lasker played in. Etc.)

# 4.)  "Lasker's Greatest Chess Games,  1889 - 1914."  (Dover reprint.) 
           By  Fred Reinfeld  ...  and  Dr./GM Reuben Fine.   
           Copyright (c) 1935, 1963 by the authors.  
           Published by Dover/G.P.C. Canada. 

# 5.)  "EMANUEL LASKER,  The Life of a Chess Master,"  by   Dr. J. Hannak.  
           Copyright (c) by the author, 1952, & 1959. (1991? Dover reprint.)  
           Published by Dover Books of NY.  ISBN: # 0-486-26706-7 
           {My old/last copy of this book fell apart after years of use/overuse. 
           So in May of 2003, I ordered a new copy on the Internet.}   
NOTE:  Most big Lasker fans inform me this is THE book to own on his life and games! 

# 6.)  The most excellent book:  
          "Great Brilliancy Prize Games of The Chess Masters." 
          By  Fred Reinfeld,  copyright (c) 1961. 
          (Dover reprint, that was first {re-} published in 1995.)  ISBN: # 0-486-28614-2  
          {I have had several copies of this book over the years. My original book, which 
           was a gift to me when I was very young, was a hardback edition signed by 
           Fred Reinfeld himself!}  

# 7.)  The truly great book:  
          "500 Master Games Of Chess."
  Game # 209,  page  # 270. 
          By  GM  (and Dr.)  Savielly Tartakower  and  James Du Mont.  
          Copyright (c) 1952, by the authors. (Repeated in 1975.)  
          (The copy here is a Dover reprint.) 
          Published by G.P.C. Ltd; Toronto, Ontario. (Canada)  

#  8.)  "The (complete, collected) Games of Wilhelm Steinitz,"  
           'First World Chess Champion.' Annotated by W. Steinitz.  
           (Edited by Sid Pickard.) Published by Pickard & Sons. 
            ISBN:  # 1-886846-00-6

# 9.)  'Chess Brilliancy,'  250 historic games;  by  NM Iakov Damsky.  
             Published by EVERYMAN Chess, formerly Cadogan Books. 
            Translated by K. Neat.  (Copyright 2002.)   

(Note: I also purchased a CD-ROM of annotated games, this was one of the games that 
 was  included in that collection ... but the notes for this game look as if they were simply 
 copied {directly} from Hannak's book.)


   Copyright (c) A.J. Goldsby I    Copyright (c) A.J.G;  2003, & 2004.   

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  This page was last updated on 03/19/06


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I basically worked on this game close to  FIVE  months ... (on-and-off)  annotating it. (Several times!)
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