05 November 2013

Lesson of the Week

World Champion Emanuel Lasker sought to lay out general principles for playing chess in a series of lectures in London in 1895. Lasker had become World Champion by beating Wilhelm Steinitz in a match the previous year. Lasker published the outline of his lectures in Common Sense in Chess (1917).

This week's lesson draws from Lasker's comments on a game that had been played by two strong players nearly two decades earlier.
First of all we shall mobilize our troops, make them ready for action, try to seize the important lines and points which are as yet wholly unoccupied. This proceeding will take, as a rule, no more than six moves. ... If we should neglect to do so, our opponent would avail himself of the opportunity thus given him, would quickly assail some vital point, and ere we could rally, the battle would be finished.
Lasker, Common Sense in Chess, 10.
Lasker emphasizes that with equal forces, one player can gain an advantage over the other through more efficient mobilization and control of lines and points. Lines in chess are files, diagonals, and ranks. Points are important squares, especially those in the center of the board.

Riemann,Fritz -- Anderssen,Adolf [C33]
Breslau, 29.09.1877

1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4

White to move

In the King's Gambit, White offers a pawn with the idea to rapidly mobilize.

3.Bc4 Qh4+ 4.Kf1 d5

White to move

Black returns the pawn for the same reason. Lasker calls this pawn an investment for bringing out Black's pieces.

5.Bxd5 g5 6.Nf3 Qh5 7.h4

"A good move, which gives our rook something to do. The attack on Black's pawn, however, is only an apparent one for the moment, because both the knight and h-pawn are pinned" (Lasker).

Black to move


Lasker states that Black should have played 7...Bg7, and that 7...h6 costs him the game. Computer analysis suggests that the critical error came two moves later. Nonetheless, Lasker's principle of rapid mobilization holds true. His suggested move is Black's best.

8.Bxf7+ Qxf7

If 8...Kxf7, then 9.Ne5+ wins the queen by a discovered attack.


Black to move


9...Qe6 is not mentioned by Lasker, but was played in a game in 1901 that ended in a draw.

10.Qh5+ Ke7 11.Ng6+ Kd8 12.Nxh8 Qxh8 13.hxg5

Black to move

"We now have two pawns and an excellently placed rook for two pieces, while Black's pieces are all still at home. Between fairly even players the issue of the game is therefore decided in favor of White" (Lasker). Lasker's analysis of this game ends here, as did our lesson.


Metger -- Burn, Breslau 1889 continued 13...Nc6 and ended in a draw.

14.gxh6 Nxh6 15.d3 Be6 16.Nc3 Nd7 17.Bxf4 Nf7 18.Re1 Bc5 19.Nd5 Bxd5 20.exd5 Nf6 21.Qf5 a5 22.Rh3 Ra6 23.Rg3 Qf8 24.d6 Nd7 25.Re7 1–0

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