Kasparov revisits Pillsbury-Lasker

by ChessBase
3/26/2004 – At the St Petersburg Tournament of 1895 world champion Emanuel Lasker beat the American Harry Nelson Pillsbury in a very complex game. This game was discussed in Garry Kasparov's very successful book "My Great Predecessors". Now the author provides additional analysis and corrections provided by readers. More...

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Garry Kasparov's Great Predecessors: Follow-up #3

Garry Kasparov's book My Great Predecessors continues to be scrutinized by analysts all over the world. A focus point is our special web site on the book. Kasparov himself encourages discussion, and has written a series of articles, taking the suggestion of readers into account. Here is a new installment by the author...

Follow-up #3 to
My Great Predecessors

By Garry Kasparov

This article by Garry Kasparov is part of a whole series that will appear on this web site. In these articles the author presents and evaluates analysis that has been submitted to him after the publication of volume one of his book. It also contains discoveries that were made too late to be included in the book. Remember that this is an ongoing process. With the participation of Kasparov, our analysts (human and silicon), and of course you, the reader, we will dig deeply into every game in the book.

The discoveries in the following game, which Lasker considered the best in his career, are significantly more wide-ranging. They were revealed by the St Petersburg first category player Sergey Sorokhtin.

H. Pillsbury – Em. Lasker [Game 41, p.132-135]
St Petersburg 1895/96, 10th round, Queen’s Gambit D50

1 d4 d5 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Nf6 4 Nf3 c5 5 Bg5 cxd4 6 Qxd4 Nc6 (6...Be7!?) 7 Qh4?! (7 Bxf6! – Volume 1 Game No. 42) 7...Be7 8 0–0–0?! Qa5 9 e3 Bd7 10 Kb1 h6! 11 cxd5 exd5 12 Nd4 0–0! 13 Bxf6. After 13 Bxh6?! I considered 13…gxh6 14 Qxh6 Ne4 to be sufficient, but, of course, the immediate 13…Ne4! (Zaitsev) is even stronger.

Mikhail Tchigorin, Emanuel Lasker, Harry Nelson Pillsbury and Wilhelm Steinitz at the St Petersburg tournament of 1895-1896.

13...Bxf6 14 Qh5 Nxd4 15 exd4 Be6! (Lasker already knows how to respond to the advance of the f-pawn) 16 f4 (16 Ne4? Bxd4!; 16 Bc4 Rfd8! and …Rac8) 16...Rac8 17 f5.

17...Rxc3!! 18 fxe6. I rejected 18 bxc3 because of the quiet move 18...Bd7!! – after 19 Qf3 Rc8 Black has a decisive attack: 20 Rc1 Bxd4 21 cxd4 Bxf5+ and …Qb4+; 20 Kb2 Bxf5 21 Be2 Be4 22 Qh3 Rc6; 20 Rd3 Bb5 21 Re3 Bxd4 22 Bxb5 (22 cxd4 Qb4+ 23 Rb3 Qe1+) 22...Qxb5+ 23 Ka1 Bxe3 (or 23...Bf6!? 24 Rb1 Qc5 25 Rxb7 d4) 24 Qxe3 Qc4 25 Kb2 Rc6.

But, in addition, Black also wins by 18...Rc8! 19 fxe6 (19 Rd3 Rc6) 19...Qxc3 20 exf7+ (20 Qxf7+ Kh8 21 Qg6 Qb4+) 20...Kf8 21 Qe2 Bxd4 22 Qe8+ Rxe8 23 fxe8Q+ Kxe8 24 Rxd4 Qxd4 (Sorokhtin).

18...Ra3!! The point of the combination! This paradoxical rook sacrifice forces the white king to begin a fight for its own existence.

19 exf7+? It also seems hopeless to play 19 bxa3! (19 e7? Re8! 20 bxa3 Qb6+ etc.) 19…Qb6+ 20 Kc2 (20 Ka1? Bxd4+ 21 Rxd4 Qxd4+ 22 Kb1 fxe6! 23 Be2 Qe4+ 24 Ka1 Rf2 and wins) 20...Rc8+ 21 Kd2 Qxd4+ 22 Ke1 (22 Bd3? Rc2+!! 23 Kxc2 Qb2 mate), but after 22...Qc3+ the e6 pawn serves as a shield for the king and by 23 Ke2 Qc2+ 24 Rd2 Qe4+ 25 Kd1! Qb1+ 26 Ke2, or 23 Rd2 Qe3+ (23...fxe6 24 Qe2 Bg5 25 Qxe6+ Kh8 26 Qe2) 24 Kd1 Bb2 25 Qxf7+ Kh8 26 Bc4! Rxc4 27 Qf8+ Kh7 28 Qf5+ White gains a draw.

But in turns out that Black has a completely unexpected resource: 22…Qe3+! 23 Be2 fxe6 24 Qh3 Bc3+ 25 Kf1 Rf8+ 26 Bf3 Ba5!! 27 Qg3 Bb6 (Sorokhtin) and White, despite his extra rook, is lost – 28 h4 e5 29 Rxd5 e4 30 Rd7 Qc3!.

On the other hand, after 19 bxa3! Qb6+ far more tenacious is 20 Bb5! (Pillsbury’s method of defence, but without the inclusion of 19 exf7+? Rxf7) 20…Qxb5+ 21 Ka1.

Analysis diagram

Sorokhtin now gave 21...Rc8 22 exf7+ Kf8 23 Qh3! Rc2 24 Qb3, parrying the attack, 21…Qc4 (21...Qc5 22 Qg4) 22 Qg4 Re8!? 23 Rhe1! fxe6 24 Re3 h5 25 Qf4 e5 26 Qf1 Qxf1 (there is nothing particular to be gained by keeping the queens on) 27 Rxf1 e4 28 Rd1 Rc8 29 Rb3 and Black’s advantage is far from decisive, or 21...fxe6 22 Qg4 e5 (?! – G.K.) 23 Qe6+ Kh8 24 dxe5 Re8 25 Rxd5 Bxe5+ 26 Qxe5 Rxe5 27 Rxb5 Rxb5 28 Rd1 with a probable draw.

True, in this last variation grandmaster Zaitsev suggested the quiet 22...Re8! 23 Rhf1 h5 24 Qf3 (24 Qxh5? Bxd4+) 24...Rc8 25 Rd2 e5 with excellent compensation for the exchange: 26 Qf5?! Qc4 27 Rfd1 e4 28 Qe6+ Kh8 29 Qf5 h4 30 g3 e3!. However, 26 a4 Qc4 27 Rfd1 is stronger, and if 27…exd4, then 28 Rd3 (Sorokhtin).

In any case this was better than the game continuation, which could have led to a rapid defeat for White.

Emanuel Lasker and Harry Nelson Pillsbury in 1895

19...Rxf7 20 bxa3 Qb6+ 21 Kb5! Qxb5+ 22 Ka1 Rc7? In time trouble Lasker misses a simple win – 22...Qc4! 23 Rd2 Qc3+ or 23 Qg4 Re7! (threatening …Re4 or …Re2) 24 Rhe1 Kxd4+ 25 Qxd4 Rxe1 etc.

23 Rd2 Rc4 24 Rhd1? 24 Re1! would have led to a pretty draw: 24…Qa5! (24...Rxd4? 25 Re8+ Kh7 26 Qf5+ g6 27 Qxf6 Qxe8 28 Qxd4 and wins) 25 Re8+ Kh7 26 Qf5+ g6 27 Re7+!! Kxe7 28 Qf7+ Kh8 29 Qe8+ Kg7 30 Qe7+ with perpetual check.

24...Rc3? (24...Qc6! 25 Kb1 Kg5 26 Qe2 Kxd2 27 Qxd2 Qd6 would have won) 25 Qf5 (25 Re1!?) 25...Qc4 26 Kb2? A fatal mistake. 26 Kb1! Rxa3 27 Rc1! would have set Black unpleasant problems: 27...Qb5+ 28 Ka1 Qa5 29 Rc8+ Kf7 30 Rb2.

26...Rxa3!! (this is some kind of mysticism: the second rook is also sacrificed on the very same square!) 27 Qe6+ Kh7. There was a cleaner win by 27...Kh8 28 Qe8+ (28 Kb1 Bxd4) 28...Kh7 29 Kb1 (29 Kxa3? Qc3+ 30 Ka4 a6) 29...Bxd4 30 Qe2 Qb4+ 31 Rb2 Bxb2 32 Qxb2 Qe4+ 33 Ka1 Ra4 etc.

28 Kxa3. I suggested 28 Qf5+ (but not 28 Kb1? Bxd4! 29 Qf5+ g6! 30 Qd7+ Bg7 and wins) 28…Kh8 29 Kb1! Rxa2! 30 Rxa2 Qb3+ 31 Kc1 Bg5+ (31...Qxa2 32 Qc8+ Kh7 33 Qc2+) 32 Rad2 Qc3+ 33 Qc2 Qa1+ 34 Qb1 Qc3+ with perpetual check.

However, after 28...Kg8! 29 Kb1 (29 Qe6+ Kh8! 30 Qe8+ Kh7 and wins, as in the note to Black's 27th move) 29...Bxd4! 30 Re1 Qb4+ 31 Kc1 Qc3+ 32 Qc2 Qa1+ 33 Qb1 Rc3+ 34 Rc2 Be3+ 35 Rxe3 Qxb1+ 36 Kxb1 Rxe3 Black would also have won, although not so prettily as in the game (Sorokhtin).

28...Qc3+ 29 Ka4 b5+! 30 Kxb5 Qc4+ 31 Ka5 Bd8+ 0-1


If you have any comments on Kasparov's analysis please send them to us. Your remarks and analysis will be scanned by GM Karsten Müller, who will pass the most interesting contributions on to Garry Kasparov for evaluation. We will publish our conclusions on these pages.

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