Edward Lasker - Frank James Marshall [C42]

Lake Hopatcong/Lake Hopatcong, NJ USA (2) 1926


This is a fascinating example of Marshall the technician rather than Marshall the tactician. The opening leads to a seemingly equal position, but Marshall is able to place his pieces better than his opponent, and he uses his better position to limit White's options to the point where it is difficult for him to avoid a mistake.

 

1. e4 Nf6
Andy Soltis writes that this move is "an indication of how far Marshall had come since being confronted with hypermodern openings two years before at the New York international." Marshall may have taken readily to the Alekhine's Defense in part because it allowed for transpositions to his favorite Petroff, as in the present game.

 

2. Nc3

"If White has nothing better than this against the so-called 'Alekhine Defense,' that defense is a good one" writes Howell.

 

2... e5 3. Nf3 Bb4 4. Nxe5

"It is a good chess principle not to delay one's development in the opening by capturing a Pawn unless the Pawn can be kept or the opponent made to suffer in development while he is regaining it" writes Howell.

 

4... O-O

The inferior way for Black to recover the pawn is by 4... Qe7 5. Nd3 Bxc3 6. dxc3 Qxe4+ 7. Be2 (or simply 7. Qe2 O-O 8. Qxe4 Nxe4 9. Be3 and the two Bishops are a long-term plus for White.) 7... O-O 8. O-O d6 9. Bf3 Qh4 10. Nf4 Ng4 11. h3 Ne5 12. Be4 Nbc6 13. g3 Qd8 14. Qh5 Ng6 15. Nd5 f5 16. Bg5 Qd7 17. Bg2 1-0 Gikas,B-Batyte,D/Budapest HUN 2004 (50)

 

5. Be2

White cannot hold the pawn successfully:

a) 5. d3 d5 6. a3 (better 6. Bd2 Qe7 7. Nf3 dxe4 8. Nxe4 Nxe4 9. dxe4 Qxe4+ 10. Be2 Re8 11. O-O Qxe2 12. Bxb4 Nc6 13. Qxe2 Rxe2 14. Rfe1 Rxe1+ 15. Rxe1 Bf5 (15... Bg4!?) 16. Bc3 Bxc2 1/2-1/2 Brochet,P-Mellado Trivino,J/Escaldes AND 1999 (24)) 6... Bxc3+ 7. bxc3 Re8 8. f4 dxe4 9. d4 Nd5 10. c4 Ne7 11. Be2? Nf5-> 12. c3 Qh4+ 13. Kf1 e3 (13... f6!) 14. Qe1 Qxf4+ 15. Kg1 Nxd4 16. cxd4 Qxd4 17. Rb1 Qxe5-+ 0-1 Lupi,F-Alekhine,A/Lisbon 1946 (22)

 

b) 5. f3?! d5! (5... Bxc3!? 6. dxc3 Nxe4 7. Qd4=) 6. exd5 (6. Nxd5? Nxd5 7. exd5 Re8 8. f4 Rxe5+!) 6... Re8 7. f4 Nxd5 8. Nxd5 Qxd5

5... Re8 6. Nd3

White returns the pawn for the two Bishops. The other retreat does not gain the two Bishops and is therefore rather equal: 6. Nf3 Nxe4 (as the main line is drawish, Black can consider 6... d5!? 7. exd5 Qe7 ) (6... Bxc3!? 7. dxc3 Nxe4=) 7. Nxe4 Rxe4 8. c3 Bf8 9. d4 d5=

 

6... Bxc3 7. dxc3 Nxe4 8. O-O

More common today is 8. Nf4 followed by c4 with the idea of securing d5, thus preventing Black's advance of the d-pawn and allowing White's Bishops more scope. Black must then develop more circumspectly with 8... d6 9. O-O Nd7!

(9... Nc6 10. c4 Bf5 11. Re1 Nf6 12. b3 Ne5 13. Bb2 Ne4 14. Nd5 c6 15. Ne3 Bg6 16. f4! Qh4 17. g3 Qh6 18. Qd4 ( better 18. Bxe5! dxe5 19. Ng4 Qh3 20. Bf1! Qh5 21. Rxe4!! (21. Nxe5 ) 21... f5 22. Rxe5 ) 18... c5?! (18... f5! unclear ) 19. Qd1 Nc6 20. Bf3! f6? 21. Ng4! Qh3 22. Bg2 Qh5 23. Rxe4! 1-0 Peters,J-Jones,S/Los Angeles USA 2000 (23))

10. c4 Nf8 11. f3 Nc5 12. b3 Nfe6!? 13. Nh5 g6 14. Ng3 Qf6 15. Rb1 Qd4+ 16. Kh1 Qxd1 17. Bxd1 a5= 18. Kg1 b6 19. Re1 Bb7 20. a4 f6 21. Kf2 Kf7 22. Ne2 Ng7 23. Nd4 Rxe1 24. Kxe1 Re8+ 25. Kf2 Nge6 26. Nb5 Bc6 27. Be3 f5 28. Bd2 Re7 29. h4 Bxb5 30. axb5 Re8 31. Ra1 Re7 32. Kf1 Re8 33. c3 Nd3 34. b4 Ne5 35. Be2 axb4 36. cxb4 Nd4 37. Ra7 Re7?

(37... Nxe2 38. Rxc7+ Re7 39. Rxe7+ Kxe7 40. Kxe2 Nxc4 )

38. Bg5! Rd7 39. c5! dxc5 40. bxc5 Ne6?

(40... Nxe2! 41. Kxe2 bxc5 42. Bf4 Ke6 43. Bxe5 Kxe5 44. b6 Rd6! 45. bxc7 Rc6=)

41. f4!+- 1-0 Conquest,S-Piket,J/Ohrid MKD 2001 (41)

 

8... d5 9. Nf4 c6 10. Be3

Soltis writes: "With the two bishops, the d4 outpost, and the prospect of opening the center with 11.c4, White apears to be developing a promising middlegame. Marshall liquidates the situation effectively." White should get in 10. c4! d4 11. Bd3=

 

10... Nd6

Preventing 11.c4.

 

11. Bd3

11. Re1!?

 

11... Bf5 12. Qf3

12. Bxf5?! Nxf5

 

12... Be4! 13. Qh3 Qd7!

A strong move, not least because it asserts Black's superiority in the ending.

 

14. Bc5

14. Qh5 Qf5! (14... Nf5?! Soltis 15. Rae1=) 15. Qxf5 Nxf5

 

14... Qxh3 15. Nxh3 Nc4!?

Though Black hereby exchanges off White's best piece, this is a risky choice by Marshall, since the resulting Bishops of opposite color ending offers White some drawing prospects. Perhaps best is 15... Nf5 16. Rfe1 Nd7

 

16. Bxc4

On 16. b3 there might follow 16... Nd7! 17. Bd4 Na3 18. Rac1 Bxd3 (18... c5!?) 19. cxd3 Re2

 

16... dxc4 17. Rac1 Nd7 18. Bd4 h6

This is a useful move, creating a retreat square for the Bishop along the h7-b1 diagonal, making luft for the King, and controlling more dark squares. It also puts the question to White: what can you do that is useful?

 

19. Rfd1

White's alternatives include:

a) 19. Nf4 g5 20. Nh5 Bg6 21. Nf6+ Nxf6 22. Bxf6 "with some drawing hopes due to the opposite colored Bishops" writes Howell.

 

b) 19. f3 Bf5 20. g4 Bh7!

19... Bf5 20. Nf4 g5 21. Nh5 Bg4 22. Be3?

This is White's critical error, turning a difficult game into a lost one. Black has a much more difficult time gaining an edge following instead 22. Ng7! Re7! (better than 22... Bxd1?! 23. Nxe8 Bxc2 (23... Rxe8 24. Rxd1=) 24. Nd6 (or 24. Nf6+ Nxf6 25. Bxf6 Bd3 26. Re1 ) 24... Bd3 25. Re1 Kf8 26. Nxb7 Rb8 27. Nc5 Nxc5 28. Bxc5+ Kg7 29. Bxa7= and the Bishops of opposite color practically assure a draw with such reduced numbers of pawns.) 23. f3 f6 24. Re1 (24. fxg4 Kxg7 25. Re1 Ne5 ) 24... Rxe1+ 25. Rxe1 Kxg7 26. fxg4 Kf7 and Black has a difficult fight ahead to prove an edge.

 

22... Re7

Suddenly White must lose at least the exchange. Black might also defend the Knight by 22... Red8 23. Rxd7 Bxd7

 

But not 22... Bxd1? 23. Rxd1 Rad8? (23... Rxe3!=) 24. Rxd7! Rxd7 25. Nf6+

 

23. Rxd7 Bxd7 24. h4 gxh4 25. Bxh6 Bf5 26. Rd1?

"The same error in the same place," setting up the fork that follows, notes Howell.

 

26... Re6!

Not immediately 26... Bg4?? 27. Nf6+

 

27. Bg5

27. Ng7 Bxc2!

 

27... Bg4

forking Rook and Knight a second time. And if 28.Nf6+ Rxf6! wins.

 

White used 1 hour and 56 minutes while Black used 2 hours and 13 minutes.

0-1

 

[M. J. Goeller]


Game(s) in PGN