Tuesday, October 29

World Champion on tour: Dr. Lasker in Munich; New endgame fortress discovered?

The latest reports on the travels of Dr. Lasker find the World Champion in Munich, where on the 23rd inst. he took on more than two dozen opponents in simultaneous play.  Accounts differ as to the precise number of men - 25 or 28 - ranged against the Champion, but all agree that the single player yielded just two draws and suffered only one loss, to Herr J. Bär.

It is that loss, the only game from the Munich exhibition to reach our hands, that we reproduce below.  We urge our readers not to overlook it, for the play from Black's surprising 26th move onward offers a wide variety of unusual and attractive tactical motifs.  Dr. Lasker's opponent, Herr Bär, is to be congratulated on his ability to maintain his bearings in the maelstrom that broke loose upon the board.  And indeed, at the very close of the contest it was the Champion himself who went astray, striving for a win that did not exist and in consequence suffering defeat.

The game merits attention for yet another reason as well.  In the final position - which is undoubtedly a winning one for White, who possesses Rook and g-pawn against Black's lone Knight - it seems that the first player must nevertheless proceed carefully in order to prevent his opponent from constructing a heretofore unknown drawing fortress, one in which the Black King and Knight collaborate to hold the balance against the vastly superior enemy forces.  The position in question, discovered by one of our younger clubmates, does not appear in the endgame manuals, and none of the veteran members of our group, endgame experts all, can recall ever having seen anything quite akin to it. We do not know when fate shall once again afford us the pleasure of speaking with Dr. Lasker, but it is our intention to bring this remarkable drawing idea to his notice.  Perhaps the Champion's fertile chess mind will discover a means of breaching the Black fortress.  If not, then perhaps at some later date he will find the opportunity to avail himself of it, and so rescue a dire situation.  Such a possibility is admittedly remote, but a lifetime in chess has taught us that in our little world remote possibilities arise with uncanny frequency.

First, the game itself:

We now turn to the final position, which, we stress, is with best play a winning one for White.  Nevertheless, our young clubmate, in seeking to determine the surest path to victory, stumbled by chance upon a remarkable drawing fortress.  We ask the reader to follow the analysis given below.

We shall be most eager to hear the opinion of Dr. Lasker with regard to this endgame.  If he confirms the soundness of the drawing fortress, we feel that his name should in some way be associated with it.

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