Petroff Defense with 5.Qe2

Emanuel Lasker - Frank James Marshall [C42]

St Petersburg, Final/St. Petersburg, RUS 1914


1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nxe5 d6 4. Nf3 Nxe4 5. Qe2

This seemingly tame line was a Lasker trademark and he presents it quite positively in his famous Manual of Chess. I rather like how it turns the tables on Black's drawish choice of opening, placing the onus on the second player while always maintaining a slight edge for White.

 

5... Qe7

Forced. And now a trade of Queens seems inevitable, though Black will typically avoid it.

 

6. d3 Nf6 7. Bg5!

The most challenging line.

 

7... Be6

Of the same position in another game, Marshall writes: "As is well known 7... Qxe2+ makes the draw almost certain." Yet the position without Queens is not completely free of risk for Black: 8. Bxe2 Be7 9. Nc3 Bd7

(perhaps better 9... c6 10. O-O-O Na6 11. Rhe1 Nc7 12. Ne4 Nxe4 13. dxe4 Bxg5+ 14. Nxg5 Ke7 15. f4 Ne6 16. Nh3 Nc5 17. Nf2 Rd8 18. Bf3 f6 19. h4 Be6 20. g4 a5 21. a3 h6 22. h5 Rd7 23. Nh1 Re8 24. Ng3 Kd8 1/2-1/2 Spassky,B-Hort,V/Reykjavik 1977 (24))

10. O-O-O Nc6 11. Rhe1 O-O 12. d4 Ng4 13. Bxe7 Nxe7 14. Bb5 Bxb5 15. Rxe7 Ba6 16. Rxc7 Nxf2 17. Re1 Rfe8 18. Ree7 Rxe7 19. Rxe7 Rd8 20. Ng5 Ng4 21. h3 Nf6 22. b4 Bf1 23. Rxb7 Ra8 24. g3 Bg2 25. Re7 Rc8 26. Nb5! Nd5 27. Re2 Bf1 28. Nxd6 Bxe2 29. Nxc8 Nxb4 30. a3+- 1-0 Lasker,E-Teichmann,R/Cambridge Springs 1904 (38)

 

8. Nc3 Nbd7

Better may be to unpin with 8... h6 9. Bxf6!

(9. Bh4?! g5! 10. Bg3 Bg7!? 11. d4 Nc6 12. O-O-O Nd5!? 13. Nxd5 (13. Qb5 Nxc3 14. Qxb7 (14. bxc3 g4 ) 14... Nxa2+ 15. Kb1 Nab4 16. Qxa8+ Kd7 17. Qb7 Rb8-+) 13... Bxd5 14. Qb5 Bxf3 15. gxf3 O-O-O 0-1, Kupchik-Marshall, New York 1915 (69))

9... Qxf6 10. d4 Be7

(10... Qe7!? 11. O-O-O d5 12. Ne5 c6 13. f4 Nd7= Steiner-Kashdan, Match 1930)

(10... c6?! 11. d5!+/=)

11. Qb5+! Nd7 12. Bd3!?

(12. Qxb7 Rb8 13. Qxc7 O-O )

12... g5 13. h3 O-O 14. Qxb7 Rab8 15. Qe4 Qg7 16. b3 (16. O-O-O! ) 16... c5? (16... Nc5! ) 17. O-O cxd4 18. Nd5 Bd8 19. Bc4 Nc5 the pawn is lost in any event, and against Capa so is the game: 20. Qxd4 Qxd4 21. Nxd4 Bxd5 22. Bxd5 Bf6 23. Rad1 Bxd4 24. Rxd4 Kg7 25. Bc4 Rb6 26. Re1 Kf6 27. f4 Ne6 28. fxg5+ hxg5 29. Rf1+ Ke7 30. Rg4 Rg8 31. Rf5 Rc6 32. h4 Rgc8 33. hxg5 Rc5 34. Bxe6 fxe6 35. Rxc5 Rxc5 36. g6 Kf8 37. Rc4 Ra5 38. a4 Kg7 39. Rc6 Rd5 40. Rc7+ Kxg6 41. Rxa7 Rd1+ 42. Kh2 d5 43. a5 Rc1 44. Rc7 Ra1 45. b4 Ra4 46. c3 d4 47. Rc6 dxc3 48. Rxc3 Rxb4 49. Ra3 Rb7 50. a6 Ra7 51. Ra5 Kf6 52. g4 Ke7 53. Kg3 Kd6 54. Kf4 Kc7 55. Ke5 Kd7 56. g5 Ke7 57. g6 Kf8 58. Kxe6 Ke8 59. g7 Rxg7 60. a7 Rg6+ 61. Kf5 1-0 Capablanca,J-Marshall,F/St Petersburg 1914 (61)

 

It's also worth noting that Black will also choose a passive path, when White also gets an edge. For example: 8... c6?! 9. Ne4 Nbd7 10. Nd4

 

9. O-O-O

White must be careful also. Not good are 9. Nb5 Ne5!? 10. Nxe5 dxe5 11. Qxe5 O-O-O 12. Nxa7+ Kb8 13. Nb5 Rd5 or 9. d4 h6!=

 

9... h6 10. Bh4 g5!?

Too risky, and a typical sort of error by Black in this position: losing time and creating weaknesses in order to create imbalance. But imbalance tends to favor White here. Better simply 10... O-O-O! 11. d4 g5 12. Bg3 Nd5=

 

11. Bg3 Nh5 12. d4 Nxg3 13. hxg3 g4 14. Nh4 d5 15. Qb5!

Thematic.

 

15... O-O-O 16. Qa5!

White's attack seems to materialize out of nothing. 16. Nxd5? Bxd5 17. Qxd5 Qg5+ 18. Qxg5 hxg5 traps the grim Knight.

 

16... a6

16... Kb8?! 17. Nb5 wins at least a pawn.

 

17. Bxa6! bxa6 18. Qxa6+ Kb8 19. Nb5 Nb6[]

19... Nf6? 20. Rd3! gives White an even more powerful attack.

 

20. Rd3 Qg5+?!

The attack is probably overwhelming, but Black can make White's task more difficult. Kasparov gives the following lines: 20... Nc4!? 21. Rb3! Qg5+ 22. Kb1 (22. f4!? gxf3+ 23. Kb1 Nd2+ 24. Ka1 Nxb3+ 25. cxb3 Qxg3 26. Nxf3 Bd6 27. Rc1 Bf4 28. Ne5! Bxe5 29. Qa7+! (29. dxe5? Qe3) 29... Kc8 30. dxe5 Kd7 31. Nxc7! Qh4 32. Nxd5+ Ke8 33. Nc7+ Kd7 (33... Kf8 34. Nxe6+ fxe6 35. Rf1+ and mate) 34. Qc5! with decisive threats.) 22... Nd2+ 23. Ka1 Nxb3+ 24. cxb3 Bd6 25. Qa7+ Kc8 26. Nxd6+ Rxd6 (26... cxd6 27. f4! gxf3 28. Nxf3 Qe3 29. Re1) 27. Qa8+ Kd7 28. Qxh8 Rc6 29. a3 Rc2 30. f4 gxf3 31. Nxf3 Qxg3 32. Qf8+-

 

21. Kb1 Bd6

Black cannot hold off White's attack, especially once the a-pawn enters the fight.

 

22. Rb3 Rhe8 23. a4! Bf5 24. Na7!

24. a5+-

 

24... Bd7 25. a5 Qd2 26. axb6 Re1+ 27. Ka2 c6 28. Nb5! cxb5 29. Qa7+ and Black resigned. The end might be 29. Qa7+ Kc8 30. Qa8+ Bb8 31. Qa6# "An impressive demolition" notes Kasparov.

 

1-0

Game in PGN