[Event "23. St Petersburg"] [White "Rubinstein,A"] [Black "Lasker,Em"] [Site ""] [Round ""] [Annotator ""] [Result "1-0"] [Date "1909.??.??"] [PlyCount "79"] 1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 ({The gambit mentioned below arises from} 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 c5 4. cxd5 cxd4 5. Qxd4 Nc6 6. Qd1 exd5 7. Qxd5 {.} )Nf6 3. c4 e6 4. Bg5 c5 $6 { Lasker himself wrote of this move: "When this advance is made prematurely, the isolation of the d-pawn is the necessary consequence." QUESTION: It would seem from this remark that the then World Champion considered an isolated queen's pawn to be a weakness. Is that right? ANSWER: Lasker wasn't a great IQP fan; it certainly wasn't his favourite pawn structure. Nevertheless, Tarrasch, who conceived the variation that bears his name, would be only partly in agreement with the idea of considering the isolated pawn as a weakness. Furthermore, as we have already seen, Rubinstein himself, who created some real masterpieces when playing against the IQP, took the black side as well sometimes.} 5. cxd5 exd5 6. Nc3 cxd4 ({Deviating from the line} 6... Be7 7. dxc5 Be6 {, with which Salwe and Rubinstein each lost two games and drew one as Black in matches against Marshall in 1908.} )({Against} 6... Be6 {, Lasker successfully used the violent} 7. e4 {three times (including against Mieses in 1900 and Marshall in 1923);} ({he also played against the isolated queen's pawn with} 7. e3 { , also winning on three occasions, including against Janowski in their 1910 world title match in Berlin.} ))7. Nxd4 ({On} 7. Bxf6 {, Kasparov pointed out that Black could consider the pawn sacrifice} Qxf6 $5 ({rather than} 7... gxf6 8. Qxd4 Be6 9. e4 Nc6 10. Bb5 dxe4 11. Qxe4 {, which is dubious for Black} )8. Nxd5 Qd8 9. Qxd4 Nc6 {, followed by 10...Be6, with rapid development "in the spirit of the Schara-Hennig Gambit" (see 2 c4 above), and here with the bishop pair as well.} )Nc6 $6 {Universally criticized, including by Lasker himself. QUESTION: Why question such a natural developing move? ANSWER: The problem is not with the actual move which, viewed in isolation obviously looks good, but with the opportunity that it offers the opponent, as we shall see.} ({Lasker himself commented: "Correct is} 7... Be7 8. e3 0-0 {, when Black has no weak points." Certainly, to Lasker the problems did not appear to be serious, but his opinion was not shared subsequently; for example, Kasparov wrote: "After} 9. Be2 ({or} 9. Bd3 {, he still has to fight for equality."} ))({And even at the time of this game, Rubinstein opined that} 7... Be7 8. g3 { (instead of 8 e3) gave White the advantage.} )8. e3 ({In the event of} 8. Bxf6 Qxf6 9. Ndb5 {, Black would play} Bc5 $1 {; for example,} ({but not} 9... Bb4 $6 {in view of the simple line} 10. Nc7+ Kf8 11. N7xd5 )10. Nc7+ Kf8 11. e3 d4 $1 12. N3d5 {(N.Dashkevich-L.Novikov, Minsk 1955)} Bb4+ $1 13. Nxb4 dxe3 14. fxe3 ({or} 14. Nd3 exf2+ 15. Nxf2 Qe5+ 16. Be2 Qxc7 )Qh4+ 15. g3 Qxb4+ 16. Qd2 Qxd2+ 17. Kxd2 Rb8 {.} )Be7 {EXERCISE (easy): How can White demonstrate that the move order chosen by Lasker is not the best? ANSWER:} 9. Bb5 $1 {"This move shows why Black's 7th move was open to censure." â (+) Lasker. Thanks to the pin, White gains a tempo for his development.} Bd7 {Forced, but now the d5-pawn loses protection. EXERCISE: What do you think Rubinstein played in this position? ANSWER:} 10. Bxf6 { To some extent this is surprising: to win a pawn White enters rather unclear complications. What happened to the Rubinstein who takes his time about things, as characterized by Razuvaev? Especially in the light of Lasker's remark: "The pawn is won only temporarily. 10 0-0 was more solid, after which the d-pawn would all the same have been bound to fall."} ({It is possible that Rubinstein could not clearly ascertain whether postponing the capture was better or not. After} 10. 0-0 a6 $5 {, for example, Black saves the pawn; and would the position reached after something like} 11. Bxc6 bxc6 12. Rc1 0-0 13. Na4 Rc8 { offer better chances against Lasker than the one that arose in the game? It would seem that Rubinstein did not think so.} )Bxf6 11. Nxd5 Bxd4 { Black needs to exchange this bishop in the interest of rapid development.} ({ Instead,} 11... Be5 $6 {does not provide sufficient compensation for the pawn after} 12. 0-0 0-0 13. Bxc6 bxc6 14. Nc3 Re8 15. Qd2 Qc7 16. Nf3 Bf6 17. Rac1 { etc (Kasparov), even with the two bishops; but the text move is good.} )12. exd4 Qg5 $1 {"The black counter-attack, well conceived, appears very dangerous. " â (+) Rubinstein. EXERCISE: How should White continue? ANSWER:} 13. Bxc6 ({ The danger is apparent in that} 13. Nc7+ $2 Kd8 14. Nxa8 $2 {loses to} Qxb5 { , followed by .. .Re8+ with a winning attack.} )Bxc6 14. Ne3 ({Once again } 14. Nc7+ $2 Kd7 15. Nxa8 $2 {is not possible, in view of} Re8+ {.} )({ There is no benefit in inserting} 14. Qe2+ Kf8 ({Kasparov recommends} 14... Kd7 {, which he considers satisfactory for Black, but it is worth noting that White could have prevented this by employing the move order 13 Qe2+ Kf8 14 Bxc6 etc} )15. Ne3 Bxg2 (15... Re8 {is also good} )16. Rg1 Qa5+ 17. Qd2 Qxd2+ 18. Kxd2 Be4 {with equality.} )0-0-0 $6 {"An extremely risky move, typical of the style of the world champion," commented Rubinstein;} ({who agreed with Lasker's suggestion of regaining the pawn with} 14... Bxg2 15. Rg1 (15. Nxg2 $6 Qxg2 16. Qe2+ Kd8 17. 0-0-0 Re8 {is worse, according to Rubinstein; the d4-pawn protects Black's king, and his rooks can quickly become active on the e- and c-files} )Qa5+ 16. Qd2 Qxd2+ 17. Kxd2 Be4 { , when} 18. Rg4 (18. Rxg7 $2 Bg6 {traps the rook} )Bg6 19. f4 0-0-0 20. f5 (20. d5 Kb8 21. f5 $6 {is not advisable because of} Bxf5 $1 22. Nxf5 Rxd5+ 23. Nd4 f5 )Bh5 21. Rh4 Bf3 22. Rg1 g6 {.} )({Alternatively, Razuvaev recommended simply} 14... 0-0 15. 0-0 Rfe8 {"with good counterplay for the pawn."} )15. 0-0 Rhe8 {EXERCISE: How did Rubinstein defend against the threat of 16...Rxe3 - ? ANSWER:} 16. Rc1 $3 {Lasker: "A move of extraordinary subtlety. White now retains his advantages. He threatens Rc1-c5 and d4-d5, and Black's obvious threat of 16...Rxe3 he meets as is shown by his 17th move."} Rxe3 ({If Black had tried} 16... Kb8 {, then after} 17. Rc5 Qf4 18. d5 Rxe3 19. Qc1 $1 Re4 20. dxc6 bxc6 21. Qc3 {, "Black would have stood badly" â (+) Lasker.} )17. Rxc6+ {Forced.} bxc6 {EXERCISE: What was the key move conceived by Rubinstein when he played 16 Rc1 - ? ANSWER:} 18. Qc1 $3 {"This is the crux of the matter!" â (+) Tarrasch. This move recalls 17 Qc1!!, as Rubinstein played against Capablanca in Game 3 of this book.} ({Not} 18. fxe3 $2 Qxe3+ 19. Kh1 Rxd4 {, when Black overcomes his difficulties.} )Rxd4 ({Lasker later thought that} 18... Re5 {was more tenacious; EXERCISE: Why is} 19. f4 {not better than 19 Qxc6+ - ? ANSWER: Because of the beautiful counter-blow} ({ although after} 19. Qxc6+ Kb8 20. dxe5 Qxe5 21. Rc1 {, the defence still would have been very difficult; Black is a pawn down and his king is the more exposed.} (21. -- ))Rc5 $1 {.} )19. fxe3 {Now Black must choose between defending f7 or c6.} Rd7 20. Qxc6+ Kd8 {According to Kasparov, "If now White delays, his extra pawn will not play any role: after all, his king is also exposed." EXERCISE: How did Rubinstein defend the e3-pawn? ANSWER:} 21. Rf4 $3 ({"A splendid conception. With} 21. Rf4 {he threatens} -- 22. Qa8+ {followed by } Ke7 ({or} 22... Kc7 23. Rc4+ )23. Re4+ {, winning the game by the attack. Black's only alternative is to exchange queens and lose the endgame." â (+) Lasker.} )f5 {EXERCISE: There are several attractive moves now. How do you think Rubinstein proceeded? ANSWER:} ({However, if} 21... Qa5 {, the black king is dragged into the open and perishes after} 22. Qa8+ Ke7 ({or} 22... Kc7 23. Rc4+ )23. Re4+ Kf6 24. Qc6+ Kg5 25. h4+ {, as Lasker pointed out;} )({while in the event of} 21... Rd1+ {, Tarrasch analysed} 22. Kf2 Rd2+ (22... Qa5 {is better, according to Kasparov, but still insufficient} )23. Ke1 Qa5 ({or} 23... Qxg2 24. Rd4+ Ke7 25. Qd6+ {and mate} )24. Ra4 (24. Qa8+ {also wins} )Rd6+ 25. Rxa5 Rxc6 26. Rxa7 {with a winning endgame.} )22. Qc5 $1 {The engines prefer more tactical solutions here, whereas Rubinstein is aiming for an endgame with a decisive advantage. The threat is 23 Qf8+.} Qe7 ({Now} 22... Rd1+ 23. Kf2 Rd2+ 24. Ke1 Qxg2 {loses more simply:} 25. Qa5+ {and 26 Qxd2.} )23. Qxe7+ Kxe7 ({Or} 23... Rxe7 24. Rxf5 Rxe3 25. Rf8+ {and either 26 Ra8 or 26 Rf7+, depending on where the king goes;} ({or just} 25. Rf7 {, as given by Rubinstein.} ))24. Rxf5 Rd1+ {EXERCISE: What had Rubinstein planned to play in this position? ANSWER:} 25. Kf2 $1 {This move is one of the great lessons of this game. In rook endings (and the endgame generally) material is of course important, but no less so is the activity of the king and the rook. Here White immediately returns one of his two extra pawns, in order to optimize his two pieces.} ({In the event of} 25. Rf1 $6 Rd2 26. Rb1 ({or} 26. Rc1 $6 Kd7 )Kd6 {, threatening ...Re2, Black would have gained some drawing chances, since both white pieces would be very passive;} ({rather than} 26... Re2 27. Kf1 { , when} Rxe3 $2 {loses to} 28. Re1 {.} ))Rd2+ 26. Kf3 Rxb2 {EXERCISE (easy): How should White deal with the attack on the a2-pawn? ANSWER:} 27. Ra5 $1 {Played once again with activity in mind. White forces the black rook to return to the defence.} Rb7 {EXERCISE: Now there comes another move by Rubinstein that deserves to be engraved on your memory. What is it? ANSWER:} 28. Ra6 $1 {"In this sort of endgame it is highly effective to restrict the movements of the enemy king and rook," wrote Rubinstein. Kasparov commented: "An ideal place for the rook! White creates a textbook rook endgame, some of those wonderful endings that gave birth to Tartakower's well-known aphorism: 'Rubinstein is the rook ending of a chess game, begun by the gods a thousand years ago.'"} Kf8 29. e4 Rc7 {Black is forced to remain passive, which is an achievement in itself; but White also needs to make progress. EXERCISE: What do you think Rubinstein played here? ANSWER:} 30. h4 $1 {The instructive method of making progress employed by Rubinstein consists of advancing the king and the g- and h-pawns as far as he can. But the order of moves remains important â (+) White needs to key his tactical eye open at all times. 30 h4 is "not only a preparation for further activity, but also prophylaxis against . ..Rc2", according to Levenfish & Smyslov;} ({as can be seen in the line} 30. Kf4 $6 Rc2 31. Kf3 Rc3+ {.} )Kf7 31. g4 Kf8 32. Kf4 Ke7 33. h5 h6 { QUESTION: While this move prevents the pawns from advancing further, it also creates an entry square for White's king at g6. Was it not better to keep waiting? ANSWER: One would think so, but analysis shows that the black position is already beyond salvation;} ({if} 33... Rb7 {, for instance, White continues to advance his king and pawns:} 34. g5 Rc7 35. e5 Rb7 36. Kf5 Rc7 37. g6 $1 {(creating a weakness on g7, which can be exploited with an opportune Rf7 or Rg8)} h6 38. a4 {(once again the tactics help White, who makes a useful waiting move to induce the black rook to abandon the c-file)} Rb7 39. Re6+ $1 Kd7 ({after} 39... Kf8 {, we can appreciate the reason for playing 38 a4; i.e.} 40. Rc6 Ke7 41. Rc8 {and the white rook reaches g7 by means of Rg8} )40. Rf6 $1 Ke8 ({or} 40... gxf6 41. g7 Rb8 42. exf6 {etc} )41. Rf7 $1 Rxf7+ 42. gxf7+ Kxf7 43. e6+ Ke7 44. Ke5 {and wins, as indicated by Lasker.} )34. Kf5 Kf7 35. e5 Rb7 36. Rd6 Ke7 ({On} 36... Rc7 {, White wins with} 37. Rd7+ $1 Rxd7 38. e6+ Ke7 39. exd7 Kxd7 40. Kg6 {.} )37. Ra6 {This was the last move before the time control (which was 2Â1/2 hours for 37 moves, 1Â1/2 hours for the next 23 moves, and then one hour for every 15 moves);} ({so there was no need to calculate the consequences of} 37. Kg6 {, which also wins; for instance,} Rb4 38. Kxg7 Rxg4+ 39. Kxh6 Re4 40. Ra6 Rxe5 41. Kg6 {is mate in 24 moves, according to the Lomonosov endgame tablebases.} )Kf7 38. Rd6 Kf8 39. Rc6 ({Lasker gave another way to win, using the a-pawn:} 39. Rd8+ Ke7 ({or} 39... Kf7 40. e6+ Ke7 41. Rd7+ $1 {etc} )40. Rg8 Kf7 41. Rc8 Ke7 42. a4 {, intending a4-a5-a6 and Rb7.} )Kf7 40. a3 $1 {There are many ways to win, but this is perhaps the neatest, taking b4 away from the black rook, in order to play Kg6 without fearing ...Rb4, and placing Black in zugzwang.} ({After} 40. a3 {, White wins in all lines:} Ke7 (40... Re7 41. e6+ Kg8 42. Kg6 Re8 {and now} 43. e7 $1 Kh8 44. Rd6 {, followed by Rd8.} (44. -- ))(40... Kf8 {allows the king to enter with} 41. Kg6 {, winning after} Rb3 42. Rc8+ Ke7 43. Rc7+ Ke6 44. Rxg7 {.} )41. Kg6 Kd7 ({or} 41... Kf8 42. Rc8+ )42. Rd6+ Ke8 43. Kh7 Kf8 44. Rd8+ Kf7 45. Rg8 {and wins.} )1-0