20 November 2013

Lasker's Rules

Lesson of the Week

In the beginning of the chess game, it is important to rapidly mobilize your forces. While doing so, it is necessary to gain control of important points and lines--central squares, files, ranks, and diagonals. As a guideline for opening mobilization, World Champion Emanuel Lasker set out four rules.* Young players this week are learning these rules.

Lasker stated that six moves should be devoted to moving the center pawns, the two knights, and the bishops.

1. Do not move any pawns in the opening of the game but the e- and d-pawns.
2. Do not move any piece twice in the opening, but put it at once upon the right square.
3. Bring out your knights before developing the bishops.
4. Do not pin the opponent's king knight before your opponent has castled.

Lasker presented these rules after going through four short illustrative games in which errors were quickly punished. One of these games was featured in the lesson of the week two weeks ago. The other three games, and additional games are used this week to illustrate the principles. No group of players will see all of these illustrative games.

Lasker adds that the knights are generally best posted on f3 and c3 for White, f6 and c6 for Black. He adds that the kingside bishop should normally stay on its original long diagonal, and most often should be posted on the c-file where it eyes f7 or f2. He grants an exception to the first rule for opening on the queenside, when the c-pawn may need to advance before the knight is deployed.

Illustrative Games

The first illustrative game comes from Saturday's tournament.

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 h6

Black violates the first rule, and White quickly exploits the error.

4.d4! Nf6

Black should have captured the d-pawn with 4...exd4. Now, the knight will be forced to move again.

5.dxe5 Nxe4

Black might play on with 5...Ng4.


Black to move

Black will lose the knight or lose to checkmate.

The second illustrative game offers the same tactic. It is among the model games employed by Gioachino Greco.

Greco,Gioachino -- NN [C54]
Europe, 1620

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.c3

Lasker never played this move. It violates his first rule. However, he did observe that in certain openings, this pawn might be permitted to move as an exception. He mentioned d-pawn openings as often needing c4 prior to Nc3. By preparing d4, this move facilitates the effort to make Black's bishop move a second time.

Despite Lasker's rule, 4.c3 is the main line in the Italian Opening and is okay.

4...Nf6 5.d4

Black to move


The retreat is the wrong square for the bishop. In his World Championship Match, Lasker played  5...exd4 6.cxd4 Bb4+. This line is also in many of Greco's games. Lasker won several games from the Black side of this position.

6.dxe5 Nxe4 7.Qd5 the knight is lost 1–0

The third illustrative game is one of the best known games in chess history. It is called the Opera Game because it was played at the Paris Opera. Paul Morphy played against a Count and a Duke who worked together to find the right moves, or rather the wrong ones.

Morphy,Paul -- Isouard,Carl and the Duke of Brunswick [C41]
Paris, 1858

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 Bg4

Black violates the fourth rule


Black to move

4... Bxf3

4...dxe5 is worse 5.Qxd8+ Kxd8 6.Nxe5

5.Qxf3 dxe5 6.Bc4 Nf6 7.Qb3 Qe7 8.Nc3 c6 9.Bg5

White also violates rule 4, but in this case is appropriate.

9...b5?? 10.Nxb5 cxb5 11.Bxb5+ Nbd7

Now all of Black's pieces are pinned or otherwise tied down to defending against pins.

12.0–0–0 Rd8 13.Rxd7 Rxd7 14.Rd1 Qe6 15.Bxd7+ Nxd7

15...Qxd7 is better, but loses. 16.Qb8+ Ke7 17.Qxe5+ Kd8 18.Bxf6+ gxf6 19.Qxf6+ Kc7 20.Rxd7+ Kxd7 21.Qxh8.

White to move

16.Qb8+ Nxb8 17.Rd8# 1–0

Lasker's First Illustrative Game

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d6 3.Bc4 h6 4.Nc3 Bg4 5.Nxe5 Bxd1 6.Bxf7+ Ke7 7.Nd5# 1–0

Lasker's Second Illustrative Game

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Nxe5 Nc6 4.Nxc6 dxc6 5.d3 Bc5 6.Bg5 Nxe4 7.Bxd8 Bxf2+ 8.Ke2 Bg4# 0–1

Lasker's Fourth Illustrative Game

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 Be7 5.Bxf6 Bxf6 6.Nf3 0–0

6...dxe4 is better 7.Nxe4 Nd7 8.Bd3 b6 9.0–0 Bb7

7.Bd3 b6 8.e5 Be7 9.h4 Bb7

White to move

10.Bxh7+ Kxh7 11.Ng5+ Kg6 12.Ne2 Bxg5

12...Kh6 was played in a game that Lasker might have known 13.Nf4 g6 14.h5 Bxg5 15.hxg6+ Kg7 16.Rh7+ Kg8 17.Qh5 Bf6 18.Rh8+ 1–0 Crespi,N -- Cavallotti Milan 1881

13.hxg5 f5 14.gxf6 Kf7

Another game that Lasker may have known continued 14...Rh8 15.Nf4+ Kf7 16.Qg4 Rxh1+ 17.Kd2 gxf6 18.Qg6+ Ke7 19.Qg7+ Ke8 20.Qg8+ Ke7 21.Qxe6+ Kf8 22.Rxh1 Bc8 1–0 Fritz,A -- Mason,J Nuremberg 1883

15.Nf4 Rh8 16.Qg4 Rxh1+ 17.Kd2 gxf6 18.Qg6+ Ke7 19.Qg7+ Ke8 20.Qg8+ Ke7 21.Qxe6+ Kf8 22.Rxh1 Kg7 23.Rh7+ Kxh7 24.Qf7+ Kh8 25.Ng6# 1–0

These games all illustrate occasional deviations from Lasker's rules in the first moves, but generally the winning player adhered to them more closely, deviating only to seize an opportunity provided by the opponent's neglect.

*Emanuel Lasker, Common Sense in Chess (1917).

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