New York 1924, Round 22: Success for Dr. Lasker!

by Johannes Fischer
5/26/2020 – Former World Champion Dr. Emanuel Lasker had won the tournament in New York with one round to spare, and current World Champion José Raúl Capablanca was certain to finish second. But the final round of the top-tournament was still fiercely fought and four of the five games ended with a decision - and in all four games it was White who won.| Photo: The Statue of Liberty in New York (Source: Library of Congress)

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New York 1924: Lasker amazes

Emanuel Lasker defeated Frank Marshall with one of his favourite line: the Exchange Variation in the Spanish. Marshall countered with an early pawn sacrifice, which, however, failed to bring success.

 

With this win Lasker ends the tournament with 16.0/20, (+13, =6, -1), an impressive result. It was particularly impressive how the 55-year-old former World Champion played in the last rounds of the long and grueling tournament. After his defeat against Capablanca in round 14 Lasker had a bye in round 15, but he then scored 6½ points from his last 7 games.

Capablanca misplayed the opening against Bogoljubow and was in trouble but with careful defense he managed to hold and could even win the endgame.

 

As luck would have it Richard Reti had to play most of his games with White in the first half of the tournament, and he scored well. But in the second half of the tournament, when he had to play with Black in most of his games, he suffered a number of losses. However, in the last round Reti had another chance to try "his" opening 1.Nf3 with White – and he came to a quick, easy and clear win against Dawid Janowsky.

 

Geza Maroczy won with a strong counterattack against Frederick Yates after Yates had taken too many liberties with Black in a Spanish.

 

Alekhine and Tartakower played an unspectacular game in which Alekhine had the pair of bishops and a slight advantage but after 32 moves agreed to a draw – the only draw of the round.

 

Results of round 22

J.R. Capablanca 1-0 E. Bogoljubow
Em. Lasker 1-0 F. Marshall
A. Alekhine ½-½ S. Tartakower
G. Maroczy 1-0 F. Yates
R. Reti 1-0 D. Janowsky

Bye: Edward Lasker

Final standings after 22 rounds

Rk. Name 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 Pts.
1 Emanuel Lasker   ½0 ½1 11 11 11 ½1 ½1 ½1 11 16.0
2 Jose Raul Capablanca ½1   ½½ ½½ 01 ½1 11 11 ½1 ½1 14.5
3 Alexander Alekhine ½½   ½½ 10 ½½ ½½ 11 ½½ 11 12.0
4 Frank James Marshall ½0 ½½ ½½   ½1 01 ½0 ½1 11 11.0
5 Richard Reti 00 10 01 ½0   ½½ 01 11 10 10 11 10.5
6 Geza Maroczy 00 ½0 ½½   01 ½½ 11 ½1 10 10.0
7 Efim Bogoljubow 00 00 ½½ 10 10 10   01 11 ½1 01 9.5
8 Saviely Tartakower ½0 00 ½½ ½1 00 ½½ 10   10 ½0 ½1 8.0
9 Frederick Dewhurst Yates ½0 00 ½0 01 00 00 01   11 ½1 7.0
10 Edward Lasker ½0 ½0 ½½ 01 ½0 ½0 ½1 00   6.5
11 Dawid Markelowicz Janowski 00 ½0 00 00 00 01 10 ½0 ½0   5.0

The brilliancy prizes

The first brilliancy prize, a silver cup donated by W. M. Vance from Princeton, and 75$ offered by Albert H. Loeb from Chicago, went to Richard Reti for his game against Bogoljubow.

 

The second brilliancy prize (50$, donated by Abb Landis from Nashville, Tennessee) was awarded to Frank Marshall for his win against Bogoljubow.

 

And the third brilliancy prize ($25, donated by Edward L. Torsch from Baltimore in Maryland) was given to Capablanca for his win against Dr. Lasker.

 

Lasker celebrates comeback, Capablanca is unhappy

The tournament in New York was one of the strongest - if not the strongest - tournaments in the history of chess. With the exception of Akiba Rubinstein and Aron Nimzowitsch, the world's best players took part. The convincing win of Dr. Emanuel Lasker, whom many had already written off after his crushing defeat in the world championship match against Capablanca in Havana in 1921, is a sensation. Much more more so if you keep in mind that the 55-year-old Lasker was the second-oldest participant in New York.

Lasker was World Champion for 27 years and has achieved a lot of successes during his chess career, but the victory in New York is certainly one of the greatest triumphs of his life.

Lasker lost only one game in New York, against Capablanca in round 14. But in the end Lasker was one and a half points ahead of the reigning World Champion, who scored 14½/22 and had to content himself with second place. However, in his review of the tournament Capablanca devalued Lasker's success and explained it with the weak play of the other participants. Capablanca also claimed that nobody could seriously doubt that he, Capablanca, was still the best chess player in the world even though he finished only second.

I question whether Dr. Lasker himself entertains any doubt as to my superiority over him. In fact, outside of a certain number of partisans, who fanatically cling to their opinions, nobody can have any doubt after the Havana affair and the last tournament. [In New York] I was in such poor shape that I am wondering yet how it came to pass that I landed in second place. Yet, when he was supposed to be doing wonders (I do not agree with that view), I beat him in our individual encounter. Frankly, I feel certain that in another match Dr. Lasker would not fare any better than at Havana.

In fact, my honest opinion is that he played better at Havana than he did in the New York Ttournament and that his winning first prize was largely due to the failure of the younger masters to play up to their reputed strength. I do not by this mean to detract from his performance, which, considering it was accomplished after more than thirty years of international tournament play, was really extraordinary. What I am trying to do is to put things in their proper light. His play was good, but not of the world-beating variety. His determination, however, was much more to be admired. I have been at it only half as long as he, yet I could not put such energy into a mere tournament nor, do I think, in a match, unless my championship were in danger. (Source: R. Forster, M. Negele, R. Tischbierek, Emanuel Lasker, Volume II: Choices and Chances: Chess and Other Games of the Mind, p. 330)

Lasker reacted immediately:

I think the champion in some respects to be superior to me. In other respects, I discern a weak spot in his chess armor and fancy myself to be superior to him. As sum total – pardon my vanity – I rather doubt his superiority. (Source: R. Forster, M. Negele, R. Tischbierek, Emanuel Lasker, Volume II: Choices and Chances: Chess and Other Games of the Mind, p. 330)

The chess rivalry between Lasker and Capablanca made the tournament in New York exciting and fascinating. But the verbal exchange of blows between Lasker and Capablanca after the tournament and the dispute over the allegedly defective clock, which Lasker blamed for his defeat against Capablanca in round 14, poison the memory of a great tournament that the chess world will still remember in decades.

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Johannes Fischer was born in 1963 in Hamburg and studied English and German literature in Frankfurt. He now lives as a writer and translator in Nürnberg. He is a FIDE-Master and regularly writes for KARL, a German chess magazine focusing on the links between culture and chess. On his own blog he regularly publishes notes on "Film, Literature and Chess".