Wednesday, May 28

Brief hiatus

We take this opportunity to announce a brief hiatus in the appearance of this column. After laboring on a near-daily basis for approximately one and one-half years we find ourselves in need of a pause in which to recoup our energies and refresh our spirit, and trust that our friend readers will not begrudge us such a respite. Accordingly, our next appearance is scheduled for two weeks hence, on the 10th of June.

In that interval the world of chess will, as always, continue to turn. We have received word of a match about to begin between English stalwarts Yates and Thomas, and there is talk of arranging an encounter between Teichmann and Marshall at Berlin as the latter travels westward from St. Petersburg. Teams from Berlin and Prague are likewise preparing to do battle in a few days' time, while this morning we received a packet containing a selection of games from the recently-concluded Championship of Catalonia, a marathon 16-man, double-round affair. On all this, and more, we shall report upon our return. Until then, our best wishes to all.       

Comments on the St. Petersburg tournament; Reconciliation between Dr. Lasker and Capablanca

Having taken a few days to ponder the results of the winners' group at the St. Petersburg tournament, we share a few further thoughts thereon with our readers, and report a most welcome bit of news lately arrived from Russia.

In our view Dr. Lasker and Capablanca today stand clearly in a class by themselves, head and shoulders above all other Masters of world renown. Moreover, each, it seems to us, is now playing as well or better than ever before. In the case of the young Capablanca such an increase in strength is perhaps only to be expected, but that Lasker - after a more than three years' absence from serious chess, and despite having taken part in only one international tournament over the past decade - should display such prodigious power as he demonstrated in the final group is almost beyond our comprehension. One can only gaze in awe upon his achievement, and express the wish that Champion through more frequent forays into the arena would provide his many admirers with further examples of his skill. 

Alekhine: If Rubinstein's stock has fallen in consequence of his relative failure in the tourney, that of Alekhine has risen, and with his third-place finish the younger man has confirmed his rightful place among the elite. Alekhine today is not the equal of Lasker or Capablanca, but in our view he is, or ere long will be, a match for any of the other Masters in the world. The experience that he has gained in the hard fight at St. Petersburg will doubtless serve Alekhine well in his next major event, the Congress of the German Schachbund at Mannheim in July, where we expect a fine showing from him, and where anything less than a finish near the top of the score table would rightly be looked upon as a retrograde step.

Dr. Tarrasch and Marshall fell off badly in the final, but each enjoys such a well-established reputation in the world of chess that little or no harm will be done to it thereby. And as we have remarked before, simply to gain admittance to the winners' group was in itself a noteworthy achievement.

We close with glad tidings. It has long been a source of regret to many in the world of chess that Dr. Lasker and Capablanca, two such honorable and accomplished exponents of our game, should harbor feelings of rancor toward each other. We can now report with pleasure that, largely through the good offices of Mrs. Lasker, a reconciliation between the two men was effected at the closing banquet of the St. Petersburg tournament, at which the Masters shook hands warmly and drank a toast to each other's health. Such a happy development can only be a boon for our game, and will surely help to facilitate the realization of the match between these two Titans that all lovers of chess know must one day take place. May that meeting come soon, and may their newly re-forged friendship last forevermore. 

Sunday, May 25

St. Petersburg tournament, Final group, Round 10: Lasker takes 1st, Capablanca 2nd after victories; World Champion scores 7-1 in final to claim prize

The great struggle is over, and the World Champion has won.

Dr. Emanuel Lasker defeated Frank J. Marshall in the tenth and final round of the winners' group to claim first prize at the St. Petersburg international Masters' tournament. Lasker, who entered the winners' group trailing José R. Capablanca of Cuba by one and one-half points, posted a magnificent 7-1 score over eight games, including a vital win vs. his young Cuban rival in the seventh round, to finish half a point ahead of Capablanca, 13 1/2 to 13. This triumph surely ranks among the Champion's greatest exploits, and will be long remembered for the remarkable energy and determination that he displayed in the closing rounds to overtake Capablanca, twenty years his junior. Such is the mark of a Champion, and the chess world may rejoice that so worthy a Master wears the crown.

Capablanca, too, has distinguished himself extraordinarily well, and must now more than ever be viewed as the coming man of chess. He, too, is not lacking in determination: following consecutive losses to Lasker and Dr. Siegbert Tarrasch in the seventh and eighth rounds of the final, the Cuban Master fought back hard, defeating Marshall despite the loss of a piece and besting Russia's Alexander Alekhine on the tourney's final day to finish second to the Champion by the narrowest of margins. We have no doubt that the 25-year old Capablanca, who has now reached the age at which Lasker first faced Steinitz, will himself one day play for the Championship, and quite likely soon.

Alekhine took third place, with his four losses during the course of the event coming only at the hands of the two men who finished above him, each of whom bested the Russian twice. Tarrasch and Marshall then follow in fourth and fifth places, each after posting a mark of one win, five losses, and two draws in the final group. Let it not be forgotten, however, that merely to earn a place in that group was in itself a great distinction.

We shall have more to say about the tournament as a whole in a summary report to appear within a day or two. For the present we offer the games from the final day.

Final scores of the winners' group: Lasker 13 1/2; Capablanca 13; Alekhine 10; Tarrasch 8 1/2; Marshall 8.

Lasker, in need of only a draw to assure himself of a share of first prize, chose the 5.Qe2 line vs. Marshall's Petroff Defense. The game followed the course of the Capablanca-Marshall encounter from the fourth round of the final until Black's eighth move, at which point Marshall varied from his earlier play, choosing 8...Nbd7 in preference to 8...h6. The American's 14...d5 appears to have been an error, allowing the strong reply 15.Qb5!, by which White either wins a pawn or, as in the game, is afforded the opportunity to launch a powerful sacrificial attack after 15...0-0-0 16.Qa5! a6 17.Bxa6! Marshall, faced with the choice of entering an endgame a pawn to the bad via 17...Qb4 or accepting the sacrifice and hoping to survive the resulting onslaught, took the latter course, but the Champion was relentless, and with accurate and incisive play White soon obtained an overwhelming position. The end came at the 29th move, as White with 29.Qa7+ prepared to deliver mate: 29...Kc8 30.Qa8+ Bb8 31.Qa6 mate. With Marshall's resignation Dr. Lasker secured victory in the tournament..

Capablanca, still with hopes of winning or tying for first prize if the Champion should stumble, opened with the Queen's pawn vs. Alekhine, the game transposing to a French Defense after 1.d4 e6 2.e4 d5. Following the further 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 the Russian chose the rare 4...h6, offering a gambit via 5.Bxf6 Qxf6 6.exd5. As the contest progressed Black enjoyed free play for his pieces, but no more so than his opponent, who all the while retained his material advantage. Capablanca posted his Knight powerfully on the d4-square, where it was easily the match of the Black Bishop, and with the lucid play that is his hallmark the Cuban Master gradually assumed the initiative. White's Knight then joined the attack with the pretty stroke 31.Ne6, and Black soon thereafter found himself under assault in a heavy-piece endgame. An exchange of Queens forced by Alekhine avoided immediate mate, but not defeat, the Russian resigning at the 45th move while three pawns in arrears. Including two exhibition games played in December, Capablanca has now faced Alekhine five times over the board, scoring four wins and yielding only a single draw. For the present there can be little doubt which of these two young Masters is the stronger.


Friday, May 23

St. Petersburg tournament, Final group, Round 9: Lasker draws with Tarrasch; Capablanca defeats Marshall; Leaders half-point apart entering final round

World Champion Dr. Emanuel Lasker of Germany played to a draw on the Black side of a French Defense vs. his compatriot Dr. Siegbert Tarrasch to maintain the leading position after nine rounds of the winners' group at the St. Petersburg international Masters' tournament. Former tourney leader José R. Capablanca of Cuba, currently in second place, recovered from two consecutive losses to defeat U.S. Champion Frank J. Marshall in a long and difficult contest, likewise as second player in a French Defense. With this victory Capablanca now trails Dr. Lasker by only one half-point entering the tournament's final round, which will see the two leaders both playing with the White pieces, Lasker vs. Marshall and Capablanca vs. Russia's Alexander Alekhine, idle with the bye during the ninth round. Tensions remain high as chess aficionados in St. Petersburg and around the globe wait to see if either man will emerge as sole victor of the tournament, or whether these two fierce rivals will cross the finish line side-by-side. Alekhine meanwhile is assured of a third-place finish irrespective of tomorrow's results, while Marshall, in fifth position one half-point to the rear of Tarrasch, will have the opportunity in the final round to equal or surpass the score of the Praeceptor Germaniae, as the Doctor, to whom fate assigned the bye on the opening day of the preliminary tournament, will now sit idle on the last day of the final section.

Scores after 9 rounds of the winners' group: Lasker 12 1/2; Capablanca 12; Alekhine 10; Tarrasch 8 1/2; Marshall 8.
Dr. Tarrasch will have the bye in the final round and so has completed his playing program.

Lasker, winner of his previous four games, opted for the French Defense against White's opening move of the King's pawn. After 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 Dr. Tarrasch advanced 3.e5, choosing a continuation - similar to his use of the Dutch Defense vs. Marshall in the sixth round of the final group - for which he had previously expressed scant regard. A maneuvering game soon developed, which saw no pawn moved after White's 22nd turn and in which - except for a brief visit by the White Queen and the more permanent residence of White's King's Knight, both on the g5-square - no piece on either side ever crossed the demarcation line into enemy territory. One senses that Dr. Tarrasch, for whom the winners' group started so badly, was satisfied to add to his score, and the Champion content to remain in the lead, with the draw that was agreed after a repetition of position at the 39th move.

Capablanca, now in the role of pursuer, faced Marshall in desperate need of a win, which he obtained only after many adventures. The American opened with the Queen's pawn, the game transposing to the Exchange Variation of the French Defense via 1.d4 e6 2.e4 d5 3.exd5 exd5. For more than a dozen  moves the position displayed the balance typical of this line, whereupon Marshall with the advance 14.f4 and 16.f5 established a hold on the e6-square, future locus of much interesting play. Capablanca sought counter-chances on the Queen-side with his Queen and Knight and with 27...Nxa3 gained  a pawn, while Marshall continued resolutely on the other wing, at last occupying the e6-square with 33.Nce6. The crisis came three moves later, when White eschewed the drawing 36.Qxc4 in favor of the surprise stroke 36.Bg4, winning a piece, as 36...Bxg4 loses to 37.Qe8+ Qd8 38.Ne7+ Kb8 39.Qxd8+, and other Black replies are equally unavailing.

But here a new battle began, as Capablanca obtained three pawns for the missing piece and, after 39.Ne3? (better was 39.Qe3), soon gained even a fourth. Marshall then reduced his pawn deficit by half with 45.Nxf6 and 46.Nxh7, but in the process granted Black time to advance his a-pawn and placed his own Knight far from the the sector where it was most needed. Indeed, it rapidly became apparent that White, rather than seeking the best method to secure victory with his extra piece, was now in search of a means to save the game. Such a means, alas, was not to be found, and Capablanca through the sacrifice of his last piece succeeded in promoting his a-pawn at the 56th move. Marshall, as ever, fought to the end, at last resigning five moves later. Thus did Capablanca close to within a half-length of the Champion on the eve of the final round.




Thursday, May 22

St. Petersburg tournament, Final group, Round 8: Capablanca loses second straight game; Cuban falls to Tarrasch after opening blunder; Lasker now clearly in lead; Alekhine, Marshall play to draw

José R. Capablanca lost his second game in succession at the St. Petersburg international Masters' tournament, falling to Dr. Siegbert Tarrasch in the eighth round of the winners' group. Capablanca, who had remained undefeated through fourteen games before a loss to World Champion Dr. Emanuel Lasker in the previous round, committed a blunder in the opening, overlooking a threat of checkmate by Dr. Tarrasch, and in consequence suffered the loss of a piece. The Cuban Master put up a heroic and tenacious resistance in the ensuing play, but was at last forced to strike his colors at the 83rd move. Capablanca, who could have joined Dr. Lasker in first place with a victory, now trails the Champion by a full point, 12 to 11, with only two games remaining for each man. In the day's other contest Alexander Alekhine assured himself of at least a tie for third place with a draw vs. Frank J. Marshall. Dr. Lasker had the bye.

Scores after Round 8 of the winners' group: Lasker* 12; Capablanca* 11; Alekhine 10; Marshall*, Tarrasch 8.
Players marked with an asterisk (*) have had the bye.

Capablanca chose the Four Knights' Game vs. Tarrasch, who at the 7th move varied from the usual 7...d6 in favor of the sharp 7...d5, as suggested by the Swedish analyst Svenonius. Capablanca at his 13th move attacked the Black Queen with 13.Rfd1; to have done so with the Queen's Rook instead would have been superior, as soon became apparent. Nevertheless, the Cuban's true error occurred at the following move, when with 14.Qg3?? (far better was 14.Rxd6) he initiated a sequence in which after 14...Bxd1 15.Bxe5 White seemed ready to regain his temporarily sacrificed piece at his next turn with either 16.Bxf6 or 16.Rxd1. Black, however, had at his disposal the resource overlooked by Capablanca, 16...Qd2!, threatening checkmate, a reply that would be without purpose were the White Rook on f1. The first player thus remained a piece in arrears, but Capablanca thereafter fought with such doggedness that the contest lasted a further sixty-seven moves before he was at last forced to resign. Dr. Tarrasch thereby at last recorded his first victory of the winners' group after scoring only one half-point from his previous six games. 

The endgame deserves comment. Virtually every chess player is aware that Bishop and Rook's pawn cannot win against a lone King if the Bishop does not command the pawn's queening square. Such is not the case, however, if each player is also in possession a Rook: in that instance the superior side can indeed achieve victory, although considerable skill is required, skill that a player of the caliber of Dr. Tarrasch certainly does not lack. We urge our readers to study carefully the Doctor's methods and to examine with particular care the variations given at the close of the struggle. The man who makes the effort to master them may find that effort well repaid in the future.

Alekhine vs. Marshall, another Four Knights' Game, saw complete symmetry for the first eight moves, after which Alekhine employed the suggestion of the Danish analyst Dr. Krause, 9.Kh1, a move that to our knowledge had not been played previously in a Master game. White conducted the entire contest in sacrificial style, offering the temporary sacrifice of a piece at the 11th move, a pawn at the 18th, the exchange at the 20th - all investments that he later recouped as the struggle progressed. But that was all. Marshall defended ably, and this sharp clash between two inveterate fighters came to an end via repetition of position after Black's 45th turn. Alekhine now leads both Marshall and Tarrasch by two points with two rounds yet to be played; Tarrasch, with only one game remaining, cannot hope to equal the young Russian's score, but Marshall, who faces Capablanca and Lasker in the closing rounds, still retains slim hopes of doing so.

Tuesday, May 20

St. Petersburg tournament, Final group, Round 7: Surging Lasker defeats Capablanca; Champion now in lead as Cuban suffers first loss; Alekhine tops Tarrasch

The old lion is still able to bite.

World Champion Dr. Emanuel Lasker defeated Cuba's José R. Capablanca to take the lead after seven rounds of the winners' group at the St. Petersburg international Masters' tournament. Lasker, playing White, employed the Exchange Variation of the Ruy Lopez - a line that has served him well in the past - to hand his young rival his first defeat of the tournament. The surging Champion, who trailed Capablanca by one and one-half points only three rounds ago, now stands atop the score table with 12 points, a full point ahead of Capablanca's 11, although the Cuban, holding a game in hand, can still reclaim a share of the lead with a victory over Dr. Siegbert Tarrasch in the next round, when Lasker will sit idle with the bye. Tarrasch fell in the day's other game to Russia's Alexander Alekhine, losing in 51 moves from the White side of a French Defense. Frank J. Marshall was free.

The World Champion, whose play earlier in the tournament was at times unsteady, seems to have found his full strength precisely when he needs it most. He has now won four games in succession, defeating each of his fellow-finalists in turn after failing to record even a single victory against any member of that quartet in the tourney's preliminary round. The Doctor's most recent games have displayed in brilliant fashion his multifarious chess talents: triumphs over Tarrasch and Marshall in complex tactical battles, a long and difficult endgame victory over Alekhine, and now a positional and strategic masterpiece vs. Capablanca. This, surely, is the Lasker the St. Petersburg organizers hoped to see when they induced him to enter the tournament lists for the first time in five years; this is a Champion.

But the contest is far from over, and Capablanca can assure himself of no worse than a tie for first place by winning in the final three rounds vs. Tarrasch, Marshall, and Alekhine, each of whom he has already defeated once during the tournament. Five years ago at St. Petersburg Lasker and Rubinstein, after an all-out race, finished shoulder-to-shoulder at the wire. We may well see a similar result again.

Scores after Round 7 of the winners' group: Lasker 12, Capablanca* 11; Alekhine 9 1/2; Marshall* 7 1/2; Tarrasch 7.
Players marked with an asterisk (*) have had the bye.

We must confess that upon first receiving the Lasker vs. Capablanca game score we were surprised to find that the Champion had chosen the Exchange Variation of the Ruy Lopez in such a vital encounter, having expected a more enterprising debut. Upon a bit of reflection and research, however, our surprise lessened, as we began to recall that Dr. Lasker had previously wielded this same weapon in World Championship matches vs. Steinitz and Tarrasch, as well as against such luminaries as Chigorin, Schlechter, and Janowski, and usually with success. He knows the line well, and finds in it ample scope for interesting play - certainly reasons enough to call upon it again. (We note in passing that the Champion's familiarity with the Exchange Variation is not limited to the White side of the board, as very recent experience makes clear: the position after Black's eighth move in the Lasker-Capablanca encounter is nearly identical to the one that arose at the same point in the Alekhine-Lasker contest from the previous round, the only difference being the substitution by Capablanca of ...Ne7 for Lasker's ...f6.)

The move 12.f5 has given rise to much discussion in our club, with some members labeling it a positional error, inasmuch as the e5-square is thereby ceded to Black and the White e-pawn becomes a target on the file. Others, however, see rather more merits than demerits in the move, noting that the f5 pawn advance restricts Black's Knight and Queen's Bishop while gaining control of the e6-square. To arbitrate such a question is beyond our playing strength; we do note, however, that while White's Knight became powerfully entrenched on e6, its Black counterpart never succeeded in reaching e5, and that the ostensibly weak White e-pawn survived to deliver a decisive blow at the 35th move, sacrificing itself on the very square thought to reside most securely in enemy hands. Our own impression of the struggle as a whole is that Dr. Lasker's play appears direct and to the point, gaining ground throughout on all sectors of the board, while that of Capablanca seems uncharacteristically dilatory and without purpose, in marked contrast to his previous efforts in this event. In the end Capablanca found himself completely encircled, with the White Rooks having invaded on the a- and h-files and the enemy Knight poised to deliver the death blow. We are informed that the Champion's victory - without doubt one of his finest games - was met with thunderous applause.

Alekhine won a fine game from Tarrasch, a strong performance rather overshadowed by the dramatic clash between the two leaders. The Russian Master once again employed the McCutcheon Variation of the French Defense, as he had done vs. Marshall in the third round of the winners' group. Black soon obtained a good game, and when Dr. Tarrasch at the 11th move chose not to offer the exchange of Queens via 11.Qe2 but opted instead for 11.Kd2?!, he seems to have stimulated the imagination of his youthful opponent, ready as ever to attack. Alekhine began directing his forces toward the Queen-side, residence of the White monarch, and with a series of clever strokes (20...Rd8, 23...c4) Black developed a dangerous initiative. With 27...Rda6! Alekhine offered his Queen, whose capture Tarrasch was compelled perforce to refuse on pain of mate in 2. The lady remained en prise until Alekhine's 30...Rxa2 initiated a transaction leaving him with Queen and two pawns against the opposing Rooks, with the second player enjoying in addition continuing attacking chances against the beleaguered White King. Within the space of a further dozen moves Alekhine had collected White's remaining pair of pawns; Dr. Tarrasch subsequently resigned at the 51st move. The Doctor, who according to reports from St. Petersburg has been feeling rather unwell of late, has scored only one half-point from six games in the winner's group. And his troubles may not be at an end: in the next two rounds he faces Capablanca and Lasker. 


Monday, May 19

St. Petersburg tournament, Final Group, Round 6: Lasker defeats Alekhine after marathon battle; Marshall, Tarrasch play to draw

World Champion Dr. Emanuel Lasker defeated Russia's Alexander Alekhine in a marathon 89-move battle to move into a tie for first place with the idle José R. Capablanca after the sixth round of the winners' group at the St. Petersburg international Masters' tournament. The Champion, playing Black against Alekhine's Exchange Variation of the Ruy Lopez, won the exchange at the 41st move via a fiendishly clever stroke in a simplified and seemingly equal position and worked thereafter for nearly 50 additional moves to extract victory from an endgame with two Rooks vs. Alekhine's Rook and Knight, each side possessing in addition one lone pawn. With this win Dr. Lasker, now on 11 points, has for the moment equaled the score of tourney leader Capablanca, although the Cuban, having four games left to play vs. Lasker's three, still retains a game in hand over his adversary. The two players will meet in the next round in a highly-anticipated clash. The day's other contest saw U.S. Champion Frank J. Marshall and Germany's Dr. Siegbert Tarrasch, currently fighting for fourth place, play to a draw in a Dutch Defense. Capablanca, as noted, was free.

Scores after Round 6 of the winners' group: Capablanca*, Lasker 11; Alekhine 8 1/2; Marshall 7 1/2; Tarrasch 7.
Players marked with an asterisk (*) have had the bye.

Alekhine entered the day in third place, one and one-half points behind the second-place Lasker and an equal distance ahead of Marshall, currently in fourth position. The choice of the quiet Exchange Variation of the Ruy Lopez by the fiery young Russian, who has played several far more combative debuts during the course of the tournament, may well indicate that he was satisfied to consolidate his current standing with a draw rather than risk it in the quest for victory. He obtained neither. Lasker, trailing Capablanca by a full point, was of course sorely in need of a win. For forty moves the Russian Master held the balance vs. the Champion, with the few complications that did arise leading only to the exchange of pieces and with Black's offensive on the Queen-side counter-balanced by White's advance on the other wing. Then came the fateful 41st move, when Alekhine's 41.Rd7? was met by the brilliant reply 41...Rd3!, winning material by force, as Black thereby placed both White Rooks in jeopardy - one via the discovered attack 42...Nc3+ and the other through the threat of 42...Rd1+ 43.Kc2 Ne3+ - and simultaneously set a devious mating trap in the event of 42.Kc1, namely 42...Ra1+ 43.Kc2 Nb4 mate. Alekhine was consequently forced to cede the exchange, and in a sense a new battle then began, as with but one pawn remaining on each side Dr. Lasker needed at all costs to safeguard his lone infantryman from capture or exchange while working to force the exchange of Rooks that would yield an easily won position. In fact, the Black c6-pawn - which in case of need could have been advanced to increase the pressure on the enemy game - never moved again during the further course of the struggle, as the Champion sought instead to make progress through a series of attacks and pins on the White Knight. The process was grueling, and hardly straightforward, as the reader may verify by comparing the positions after, for example, Black's 57th and 70th moves, which differ only in the placement of one Black Rook. With 77...Kc4 Lasker at last forced a weakening via 78.b3+; nine moves later Alekhine faltered, as his 87.Rd2? allowed Black to force the long-desired Rook exchange within a few moves. White could have offered sterner resistance with, for example, 87.Rf1, but Alekhine's oversight after so difficult a struggle can hardly be faulted - rather, the perseverance and stamina of Lasker, nearly a quarter-century older than his opponent, are to be marveled at.

The Champion has thus drawn abreast of Capablanca, though with one game in hand the Cuban's chances must still be rated higher - provided, that is, that he does not suffer defeat in his face-to-face meeting with the Doctor in the next round. The chess world awaits: can the old lion rouse himself to fend off his confident young challenger? The answer will not be long in coming.

Dr. Tarrasch, playing Black vs. Marshall, chose the Dutch Defense, an opening that we had thought the German Master held in rather low esteem. A balanced but not uninteresting contest ensued, with neither side ever appearing likely to obtain victory. Queens were exchanged at the 31st move, after which the presence of opposite-colored Bishops made ever more likely the draw that was in fact agreed sixteen move later.


Sunday, May 18

St. Petersburg tournament, Final group, Round 5: Capablanca leads by one point as first tour ends; Lasker 2nd, Alekhine 3rd

The winners' group at the St. Petersburg international Masters' tournament has reached the half-way stage with Cuba's José R. Capablanca holding a one-point lead over World Champion Dr. Emanuel Lasker. The Champion, who defeated American Frank J. Marshall with the Black pieces in a stormy 5th-round encounter, drew a half-step closer to the leader after Capablanca, also with Black, played to a quiet draw vs. Alexander Alekhine in a Four Knights' Game. Dr. Siegbert Tarrasch was free.

With only four games remaining for each contestant and the third-place Alekhine trailing Lasker by one and one-half points, the tourney has become a two-man race, and the question on all minds is whether Lasker, who seems to be approaching top form, can overtake his young Cuban rival. Much will depend on their seventh-round meeting, in which the Champion, after playing Black vs. Capablanca in both the preliminary section and the first tour of the final, will handle the White pieces. Capablanca will first enjoy a bit of a respite to prepare himself for the coming clash, as he is scheduled to have the bye in the sixth round of the final, which will feature the games Alekhine-Lasker and Marshall-Tarrasch.

Scores after Round 5 of the winners' group: Capablanca 11; Lasker 10; Alekhine 8 1/2; Marshall 7; Tarrasch 6 1/2.

Marshall and Lasker engaged in a wild tactical brawl. The latter sought to take the game into relatively uncharted waters from the outset, answering the American's first move of the Queen's pawn with 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 d6 3.Nc3 Nbd7. Marshall from early on directed his fire against the opposing King, and some members of our club feel that the U.S. Champion missed an opportunity for advantage with 15.Bg5, which they consider clearly superior to Marshall's 15.h3. Lasker then began to complicate the play, and soon tactical surprises and sacrificial possibilities were rife at virtually every move. A key moment came at White's 22nd turn, when Marshall with 22.Bxg6 inaugurated an attack that succeeded in winning the enemy Queen, although the price paid for such a prize proved high indeed, with Lasker gaining half an army in return. It is possible that 22.b3, a suggestion of our friend Herr Fritz, was superior, and a few illustrative variations arising therefrom are included with the game score, but such a turbulent situation will require countless hours of analysis to evaluate with any degree of precision. As played, the timely return of a piece via 26...Bc2 secured Black from all danger and left him in a winning position. Marshall, with only his Queen to battle Black's Rook, Bishop, Knight, and passed d-pawn, resigned at the 36th move.

In sharp contrast to the Marshall-Lasker contest, neither Alekhine nor Capablanca appears to have been aggressively inclined on the day. The two players rapidly exchanged most of their pieces in a Four Knights' Game and agreed to a draw through repetition of position at the 26th move. This is in some respects an understandable result, as with this half-point Alekhine, who had suffered defeat in each of his three previous encounters vs. the Cuban maestro, strengthened his hold on third place, while Capablanca, still undefeated and in the lead with the finish coming into view, may not have felt the need to exert himself unduly. Still, we, like all chess aficionados, are happiest when the Masters fight, and produce memorable and decisive games. Let us hope that there are more to come.