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.


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