Judit strikes with the Lasker sacrifice

10/13/2003 – On the first day of the Essent Chess Tournament in Hoogeveen, the Netherlands, the most aggressive player in the "Crown Group" (with Judit Polgar, Ivan Sokolov, Anatoly Karpov and Levon Aronian) struck out against the most experienced one with a classical Lasker sacrifice on h7. Here's the story...

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Essent Chess Tournament 2003

The double round robin Crown Group at the Essent Chess Tournament in Hoogeveen, the Netherlands, started on Octopber 12, 2003. It ends on October 18.

There is also an Open Group (10 -18 October 2003) with a number of GMs, as well as an Amateur's Group.

The official web site provides reports (in Dutch), games and results.

The participants of the Crown Group are:

  • Judit Polgar, Hungary, 27, Elo 2722, strongest female player in history
  • Anatoli Karpov, Russia, 52, Elo 2693, world champion from 1975-1985
  • Ivan Sokolov, Netherlands, 35, Elo 2693, strongest Dutch player
  • Levon Aronian, Armenia, 21, Elo 2649, 2002 world junior champion

In the first round there was an exciting crowd-pleasing game between Judit Polgar, known for her aggressive, tactical play, and ex world champion Anatoly Karpov, one of the most experienced GMs in the world.

Polgar,J (2722) - Karpov,A (2693) [C42]
Essent Hoogeveen NED (1), 12.10.2003

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 d6 4.Nf3 Nxe4 5.d4 d5 6.Bd3 Be7 7.0-0 Nc6 8.c4 Nb4 9.Be2 0-0 10.a3 Nc6 11.cxd5 Qxd5 12.Nc3 Nxc3 13.bxc3 Qd6 14.Rb1 b6 15.Re1 Be6 16.Bd3 Rae8 17.Rb5 Na5 18.Rbe5 Nc6 19.R5e2 Bd7 20.d5 Na5 21.Ne5 Bf6 22.Bf4 Bxe5 23.Bxe5 Qxa3 24.Re3 Qc5.

White has sacrificed a pawn for a very dangerous attack. In his last move Karpov played his queen from a3 to c5, giving Judit Polgar the chance to play the famous "Lasker sacrifice": 25.Bxh7+!! Kxh7 26.Qh5+ and Black, remembering the mechanics of the sacrifice, resigned.


The terrifying piece sacrifice from Karpov's vantage (picture generated by Fritz 8)

IM Malcolm Pein (London Chess Center) tells us that this sacrifice is credited to Emmanuel Lasker. "It begins with the 'Greek Bishop' sac on h7, then the follow up queen check on h5, followed by taking on g7 with the second dark squared bishop. This totally shreds the kingside and with the queen already in attendance it usually only requires the addition of one more piece, commonly a rook to force mate."

The sacrifice was first seen in Em Lasker – JH Bauer, Amsterdam 1889, but also in Kirilov – Furman USSR Ch Qualifier 1949 and many others!

Karpov resigned because of 26...Kg8 27.Bxg7 Kxg7 28.Rg3+ Bg4 29.Rxg4+ Kf6 30.Qg5 mate. There is no defence: 27...f6 28.Bxf6 Rxf6 29.Rg3+ Bg4 (29...Kf8 30.Qh8+ Kf7 31.Qg7#) 30.Rxg4+ Rg6 31.Qxg6+ Kh8 32.Rh4 is also mate.

Click here to replay the games (including the famous Lasker predecessor).


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