Ilyin A Zhenevsky - Em Lasker [B80]

Moscow International Tournament/Moscow (8) 1925

1. e4 c5 2. Nc3 e6 3. Nf3
Black can now meet the normal Closed Sicilian in French fashion by 3. g3 d5=


3... d6

Now however 3... d5?! allows White to gain open lines and a lead in development after 4. exd5 (4. d4!?) 4... exd5 5. Bb5+ Nc6[] 6. O-O with the initiative.


4. g3

White can return to normal lines by 4. d4 cxd4 5. Nxd4 Nf6


4... Nf6 5. Bg2 Be7

At the cost of a tempo, Black can keep the position closed by 5... e5


6. O-O O-O 7. b3!?

Bogoljubow points out that this move guards the c4 square which often causes inconveniences for White in other variations, where Black sometimes posts his Knight at that square. The move also supports a later advance with Pc4 to help control the d5 square. 7. d4 cxd4 8. Nxd4


7... Nc6 8. Bb2 Bd7 9. d4 cxd4 10. Nxd4 Qa5 11. Qd2 Rac8

Better is 11... Rfd8!=


12. Rad1 Kh8

White threatened to use tactical means to achieve positional ends by Nxc6 and Nd5, because of the double attack on the Queen and the Bishop at e7 with check. For example, 12... h6? 13. Nxc6 Bxc6 14. Nd5 Qd8 (14... Qxd2? 15. Nxe7++-) 15. Nxe7+ Qxe7 16. Rfe1 Rfd8 17. c4 with advantage, since White has the two Bishops, a powerful bind on the position, and chances to attack the weakened pawn at d6.


13. Nce2!

Clearing the way for the c4 advance and offering a trade of Queens that can only benefit White, especially since it would aid him in doubling Rooks on the d-file. White has also accurately calculated that Black cannot safely grab the pawn at a2... Perhaps instead 13. Ncb5 or 13. a3


13... Qxa2!?

Or can he? Bogoljubow writes: "A stange combination by Lasker. But Black gets a very solid position after the resulting Queen sacrifice." Based on the result of the game, it does not seem right for Bogoljubow to give this move a dubious "?!" mark, especially since alternatives are no more clear.


a) 13... Qh5!? 14. Nf4 Qh6 15. Nb5 e5 16. Ne2 Qh5 17. c4 a6 18. Nbc3 Ng4 19. h3 Nf6 20. g4 Bxg4!? 21. Ng3! Bxd1 22. Nxh5 Bxh5 23. Nd5 and White is better.

b) 13... e5 14. Nxc6 Qxd2 15. Rxd2 Bxc6 16. Nc3 b5 17. a3 a5 18. b4 White is better.

c) 13... Qxd2 14. Rxd2 d5?! now or never 15. exd5 Nxd5 16. c4 Nb6 17. Rfd1 and White is much better.


14. Ra1

White gains little for the pawn from 14. c4!? Nxd4 15. Nxd4 Qa6=/+


14... Qxb2 15. Rfb1 Qxb1+ 16. Rxb1 Rfd8 17. c4 Ne8 18. f4

Boboljubow writes that "White proceeds too much by force and disregards his own King's safety. Correct was 18. Nxc6 " perhaps with the idea of building a Queenside initiative by 18... Rxc6 (18... bxc6 19. Ra1+/=) (18... Bxc6 19. Nd4 Bd7 20. Qa5+/=) 19. Ra1 a6 20. Qb4 and White is better.


8... a6 19. Kh1

19. Nxc6!+/=


19... Nc7 20. Qe3 Rb8 21. Rd1 Nb4 22. Qc3

22. e5!? d5= 22. Nc3 Be8 23. e5 d5 24. f5!?+/=


22... a5 23. Ra1 b6 24. Qe3?

"An unfortunate error in an interesting and instructive position." 24. g4!? h6 25. Qg3 is still unclear.


24... e5!

"Lasker now won the Exchange and conducted the endgame simply and energetically to victory." When the Knight retreats, Black will fork Queen and Rook by Nc2.


25. Nf5 Bxf5 26. exf5 Nc2 27. Qc3 Nxa1 28. Qxa1 Bf6-/+ 29. Qg1 d5 30. cxd5 Nxd5 31. fxe5 Bxe5 32. g4 f6 33. h4 b5 34. Nd4 Ne3 35. Qxe3 Rxd4 36. Bf3 a4 37. h5 a3 38. Qe2 Rbd8

Bogoljubow concludes that this is a game that shows Lasker the tactician in the best light. Surely very few chessmasters would have offered the Queen at move 13 let alone survived doing so.


Game in PGN