Chess Openings

Classic Chess Games: Lasker Em. vs. Nimzowitsch

White: Lasker, Emanuel
Black: Nimzowitsch, Aaron
Place: St Petersburg
Year: 1914
Opening: Caro-Kann Defence

1. e4 c6

2. d4 d5

3. Nc3 dxe4

4. Nxe4 Nf6

5. Nxf6+ gxf6

6. Be2 Bf5

7. Bf3 Qa5+

8. c3 h5!

The plan involved in the pawn sacrifice is quite intricate. If White captures the pawn, he will have to lose a move to bring the Bishop back from the corner before developing the Knight. Black will control the now open h file, so White cannot castle short. However if he castles long he has to take into account threat posed by Queen at a5.

On the other hand, even if White doesn't take the pawn, h5 is still a viable move, since it still makes castling on the king-side dangerous for White. Bh3, exchanging the Bishop, can destroy the king-side defenses when Black wants.

9. Bxh5 Nd7

10. Bg4 Bxg4

11. Qxg4 O-O-O

12. Ne2 e6

13. Bf4 Qb5!

Having fully mobilized his pieces before White, Black begins an assault.

14. O-O-O!

This is much more beneficial than b3 which weakens the pawn structure. That would be dangerous if White intends to castle on queen-side. This move will bag Black two pawns; however Black loses the initiative to White in the process, so that game eventually ends in a draw.

14. ... Nb6

15. Ng3

White prepares for Black's Nb4. Now Queen can move to e2 in reply to that move. The move b3 is not valid as explained in previous note. 15 Rd2 will not work due to Nb4; 16 Rc2 Nxb2.

15. ... Qd5

16. Kb1 Qxg2

17. Rdg1 Qxf2

18. Ne4 Qh4

19. Qf3 Nc4!

Black had to move the Queen 4 times in order to capture the two pawns. All the while White has mobilized his pieces unhindered. He was threatening Rg4 in order to regain the pawn. Black however preempts that with Nc4. If White continued with 20 Rg4 now, the game may continue; 20 … Qh5; 21 Nxf6? Qf5+; 22 Ne4?? Nd2 +, capturing the Queen.

20. Ka1 f5

21. Ng5 Bd6

22. Bc1 Rd7

23. Rg2 Bc7

Black plans to move the Knight via d6 to e4 and target the White Knight on g5, which is hampering his plans.

24. Rhg1 Nd6

25. Qe2 Ne4

26. Nf3 Qh3

27. a3

White remains inactive on purpose, so that Black will be tempted move hazardous f3 and e5, in an attempt keep the pawn he has gained.

27. ... a6

28. Be3 Rhd8

29. Ka2 Rh8

In order to try to win, Black would have to take a risk, such as f3. However, he is unwilling to do so, given the strength of the position occupied by White's pieces. So instead of weakening pawn moves he moves the Rook.

30. Ka1 Rhd8

31. Ka2 Re8

32. Rg8 Rxg8

33. Rxg8+ Rd8

34. Rg7 Rd7

35. Rg8+

Black's careful play means that White is unable to make any headway.

35. ... Rd8

36. Rg7 Rf8

37. c4 Nf6

This move is intended to chase the Rook away. White starts a great sequence to ensure the draw.

38. Bg5! Nh5

39. Rxf7! Rxf7

40. Qxe6+ Rd7

The move 40 … Kb8 would be incorrect because; 41.Qe8+ Ka7 42.Qxf7 Qxf3 43.Qxc7 with threat Be7.

41. Ne5!

Game drawn

If Black plays Bxe5, White will play 42 Qe8+ Kc7; 43 Qxe5+. This is perpetual check.

Both the player evaluated the positions correctly and demonstrated their skill in positional play. The game illustrates that advantage in material on one side can be balanced by the freedom of movement on the other side.