Lasker's Bishop Chase

Lasker's Bishop Chase

| 10 | Tactics

The so-called Lasker variation of the Scandinavian Defense (a.k.a. Center Counter) arises after this sequence of moves:

I was not able to find one single game where the second world champion played the variation named after him. My guess is that the variation got its name after one of the lines recommended by Lasker. Here is the line:

As you could see, by chasing the black bishop White gains a lot space on the kingside, secures the advantage of the bishop pair and maintains a big lead in development. These days such a bishop chase with the g- and h-pawns coupled with the Ne5 move is a well-known positional idea in many openings. But the main point of this positional pattern is different from what Lasker had in mind in the Scandinavian Defense. After the h3-h4 move White creates a direct threat to trap the bishop on g6 by playing h4-h5. This threat pretty much forces Black to play h7-h6 or h7-h5 to give his bishop an escape square. But at this moment White captures the bishop with his knight, forcing him to re-capture with the f-pawn which irrepairably ruins Black's kingside. The next (well-known) game of Karpov is a textbook example:

Anatoli Karpov

Of course the same idea should work in the Lasker variation of the Scandinavian Defense as well. In the following game Black decided to castle queenside due to the permanent damage of his kingside. Try to find the simple but effective way White finished the game. (If you have trouble finding the combo, you might want to check the article where we discussed this typical pattern.)

This powerful positional idea was played countless number of times by many strong players. GM Gennadi Sosonko is one of them.

Genna Sosonko

Apparently he likes the idea so much that in the next two games he played it first as Black and then as White!

This fine positional concept should be part of your chess arsenal! Happy bishop chasing! Smile


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