Emanuel Lasker

Emanuel Lasker

Lasker, Emanuel, 1868-1941, German chess player. He won the world championship in 1894 when he defeated Wilhelm Steinitz and held it until he was defeated by José Raúl Capablanca in 1921. Lasker studied the games of his opponents for their weaknesses and predilections in technique and played primarily against the temperament of his opponents. He was a master in closed positions.

See his Common Sense in Chess (1896; rev. ed. by D. A. Mitchell, 1965), Lasker's Manual of Chess (1934), and The Games of Emanuel Lasker, Chess Champion (ed. by J. Gilchrist, 2 vol., 1955-58).

For other persons named Lasker, see Lasker#People with the surname Lasker.

Emanuel Lasker (December 24, 1868January 11, 1941) was a German chess player, mathematician, and philosopher who was World Chess Champion for 27 years. In his prime Lasker was one of the most dominant champions, and he is still generally regarded as one of the strongest players ever.

It is often said that that Lasker used a "psychological" approach to the game, and even that he sometimes deliberately played inferior moves to confuse opponents. However recent analysis indicates that he was ahead of his time and used a more flexible approach than his contemporaries, which mystified them. Although Lasker also published chess magazines and two chess books, later players and commentators found it difficult to draw lessons from his methods. While it is often said that Lasker spent little time studying the openings, he actually knew the openings well but disagreed with many contemporary analyses.

He demanded high fees for playing matches and tournaments, which aroused criticism at the time but contributed to the development of chess as a professional career. The conditions which Lasker demanded for world championship matches in that last 10 years of his reign were controversial, and prompted attempts, particularly by his successor José Raúl Capablanca, to define agreed rules for championship matches.

Lasker was also a talented mathematician, and his Ph.D thesis is regarded as one of the foundations of modern algebra. His attempt to produce a general theory of competitive activities had some influence on the early development of game theory, and his books about games in general presented a problem which is still regarded as notable in the mathematical analysis of card games. However his philosophical works and a drama which he co-wrote now receive little attention.

Life and career

Early years

Emanuel Lasker was born at Berlinchen in Neumark (now Barlinek in Poland), the son of a Jewish cantor. At the age of 11 he was sent to Berlin to study mathematics, where he lived with his brother Berthold, eight years his senior, who taught him how to play chess. Berthold, a strong player in his own right, was according to Chessmetrics among the world's top ten players in the early 1890s. He was also possibly distantly related to International Master Edward Lasker.

To supplement their income Emanuel Lasker played chess and card games for small stakes, especially at the Café Kaiserhof. Lasker shot up through the chess rankings in 1889, when he won the Café Kaiserhof's annual Winter tournament 1888/89 and the Hauptturnier A ("second division" tournament) at the 6th DSB Congress (German Chess Federation's congress), held in Breslau; finished second in an international tournament at Amsterdam, ahead of some well-known masters including Isidore Gunsberg, who finished 3rd in the New York City 1888 "Candidates Tournament" and unsuccessfully challenged for Wilhelm Steinitz' World Chess Championship title, also in 1889. In 1890 Lasker shared first prize with his brother Berthold in a tournament in Berlin and finished third in Graz. He followed up with tournament victories at London 1892 (by 4½ points) and New York City 1893, in both cases without losing a game.

His match record was equally impressive: at Berlin in 1890 he drew a short play-off match against his brother Berthold; and won all his other matches from 1889 to 1893, mostly against top-class opponents: Curt von Bardeleben (1889; 9th), Jacques Mieses (1889; 11th), Henry Edward Bird (1890; then 60 years old; 29th), Berthold Englisch (1890; 18th), Joseph Henry Blackburne (1892, without losing a game; Blackburne was aged 51 then, but still 9th in the world), against Jackson Showalter (1892-1893; 22nd) and Celso Golmayo Zúpide (1893; 29th). Chessmetrics calculates that Emanuel Lasker became the world's strongest player in mid-1890, and that he was in the top 10 from the very beginning of his recorded career in 1889.

In 1892 Lasker founded the first of his chess magazines, The London Chess Fortnightly, which was published from August 15, 1892 to July 30, 1893. In the second quarter of 1893 there was a gap of 10 weeks between issues, allegedly because of problems with the printer. Shortly after its last issue Lasker traveled to the USA, where he spent the next two years.

Chess 1894-1918

Lasker then challenged reigning World Champion Wilhelm Steinitz to a match for the title. Initially Lasker wanted to play for US $5,000 a side and a match was agreed at stakes of $3,000 a side, but Steinitz agreed to a series of reductions when Lasker found it difficult to raise the money, and the final figure was $2,000, which was less than for some of Steinitz' earlier matches (the final combined stake of $4,000 would be worth over $495,000 at 2006 values). Although this was publicly praised as an act of sportsmanship on Steinitz' part, Steinitz may have desperately needed the money. The match was played in 1894, at venues in New York, Philadelphia and Montreal. Lasker won convincingly (10 wins, 4 draws, 5 losses); the scores were even after 6 games but Steinitz lost the next 5 in a row. Lasker thus became the second formally-recognized World Chess Champion, and confirmed his title by beating Steinitz even more convincingly in their re-match in 1896-1897 (10 wins, 5 draws, 2 losses).

Influential players and journalists belittled the 1894 match both before and after it took place. Lasker's difficulty in getting backing may have been caused by hostile pre-match comments from Gunsberg and Leopold Hoffer, who had long been a bitter enemy of Steinitz. One of the complaints was that Lasker had never played the other two members of the top 4, Siegbert Tarrasch and Mikhail Chigorin - although Tarrasch had rejected a challenge from Lasker in 1892, publicly telling him to go and win an international tournament first. After the match some commentators, notably Tarrasch, said Lasker had won mainly because Steinitz was old (58 in 1894).

Emanuel Lasker answered these criticisms by creating an even more impressive playing record. Before World War I broke out his most serious "setbacks" were third place at Hastings 1895 (where he may have been suffering from the after-effects of typhoid), tie for second at Cambridge Springs 1904, tie for first at the Chigorin Memorial in St Petersburg 1909 and a drawn match against Carl Schlechter in 1910. He won first prizes at very strong tournaments in St. Petersburg (1895-1896), Nuremberg 1896 chess tournament, London (1899), Paris (1900) and St. Petersburg 1914 chess tournament, where he overcame a 1½ point deficit to finish ahead of the rising stars José Raúl Capablanca and Alexander Alekhine, who later became the next two World Champions; for good measure he also took first prize in a weaker tournament at Trenton Falls (1906). For decades chess writers have reported that Tsar Nicholas II of Russia conferred the title of "Grandmaster of Chess" upon each of the five finalists at St Petersburg 1914 (Lasker, Capablanca, Alekhine, Tarrasch and Marshall), but chess historian Edward Winter has questioned this, stating that the earliest known sources that support this story were published in 1940 and 1942.

Lasker's match record was as impressive between his 1896-1897 re-match with Steinitz and 1914: he won all but one of his normal matches, and three of those were convincing defenses of his title, against Marshall ( 1907; 11½−3½), Tarrasch ( 1908; 10½−5½) and Dawid Janowski ( 1910; 9½−1½). He also played several exhibition matches, potentially lucrative entertainments for well-off enthusiasts. A 1909 match against Janowski has sometimes been called a world championship match, but contemporary references indicate it was not.

However Lasker only scraped a draw in the 10-game match against Schlechter in 1910 by winning the last game that was played, creating a mystery that has not yet been solved. This match was originally meant to consist of 30 games, but was cut to 10 when it became obvious that there were insufficient funds to meet Lasker's demand for a fee of 1,000 marks per game played. It is generally regarded as a World Championship match, but one post-match press report cast doubt on this. It is also difficult to explain Schlechter's decision to play for a win in the 10th game, when he could have forced a draw quite easily and thus won the match. Some commentators have argued that there was a secret clause that required Schlechter to have a 2-game lead in order to claim victory. However Lasker himself wrote 2 days before the 10th game, "The match with Schlechter is nearing its end and it appears probable that for the first time in my life I shall be the loser. If that should happen a good man will have won the world championship, which appears to remove the suspicions that it was not a world title match and that there was a secret "2-game lead" clause. Another report shortly after the end of the match appears to speculate that Schlechter threw the last game because a narrow victory for him would not have been in the financial interests of either player, as they would have had to play another match if Schlechter won narrowly, but they had not been able to get adequate financial backing for the 1910 match. It has even been suggested that Schlechter played to win the last game because he was too honorable to win the title by a fluke, having won the 5th game by a swindle in a lost position.

In 1911 Lasker received a challenge for a world title match against the rising star José Raúl Capablanca. Lasker was unwilling to play the traditional "first to win 10 games" type of match in the semi-tropical conditions of Havana, especially as drawn games were becoming more frequent and the match might last for over 6 months. He therefore made a counter-proposal: if neither player a had a lead of at least 2 games by the end of the match, it should be considered a draw; the match should be limited to the best of 30 games, counting draws; except that if either player won 6 games (and led by at least 2 games) before 30 games were completed, he should be declared the winner; the champion should decide the venue and stakes, and should have the exclusive right to publish the games; the challenger must deposit a forfeit of US $2,000 (equivalent to over $194,000 in 2006 values); the time limit should be 12 moves per hour; play should be limited to two 2½ hour sessions per day, 5 days a week. Capablanca objected to the time limit, the short playing times, the 30-game limit, and especially the requirement that he must win by 2 games to claim the title, which he regarded as unfair. Lasker took offence at the terms in which Capablanca criticized the 2-game lead condition and broke off negotiations, and until 1914 Lasker and Capablanca were not on speaking terms. However at the 1914 St. Petersburg tournament Capablanca proposed a set of rules for the conduct of world championship matches, which were accepted by all the leading players including Lasker.

Late in 1912 Lasker entered into negotiations for a world title match with Akiba Rubinstein, whose tournament record for the previous few years had been on a par with Lasker's and a little ahead of Capablanca's. The two players agreed to play a match if Rubinstein could raise the funds, but Rubinstein had few rich friends to back him and the match was never played. The start of World War I put an end to hopes that Lasker would play either Rubinstein or Capablanca for the world championship in the near future.

Throughout World War I (1914-1918) Lasker played in only two serious chess events. He convincingly won (5½−½) a non-title match against Tarrasch in 1916. In September to October 1918, shortly before the armistice of 11 November 1918, he won a quadrangular (4-player) tournament, ½ point ahead of Rubinstein.

Lasker was shocked by the poverty in which Steinitz died and did not intend to die in similar circumstances. He became notorious for demanding high fees for playing matches and tournaments, and he argued that players should own the copyright in their games rather than let publishers get all the profits. After winning the 1904 Cambridge Springs tournament Marshall challenged Lasker to a match for the World Championship but could not raise the stakes demanded by Lasker until 1907. Other players resented Lasker's "hunger for money" but most of them soon realized that his attitude was sensible.

Academic activities 1894-1918

Despite his superb playing results, chess was not Lasker's only interest. His parents recognized his intellectual talents, especially for mathematics, and sent the adolescent Emanuel to study in Berlin (where he found he also had a talent for chess). Lasker gained his abitur (high school graduation certificate) at Landsberg an der Warthe, now a Polish town named Gorzow Wielkopolski but then part of Prussia. He then studied mathematics and philosophy at the universities in Berlin, Göttingen and Heidelberg.

In 1895 Lasker published two mathematical articles in Nature On the advice of David Hilbert he registered for doctoral studies at Erlangen during 1900-1902. In 1901 he presented his doctoral thesis Über Reihen auf der Convergenzgrenze ("On Series at Convergence Boundaries") at Erlangen and in the same year it was published by the Royal Society. He was awarded a doctorate in mathematics in 1902. His most significant mathematical article, in 1905, published a theorem of which Emmy Noether developed a more generalized form that is now regarded as of fundamental importance to modern algebra and algebraic geometry.

Lasker held short-term positions as a mathematics lecturer at: Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana (1893); and Victoria University in Manchester, England (1901; Victoria University was one of the "parents" of the current University of Manchester). However he was unable to secure a longer-term position, and pursued his scholarly interests independently.

In 1906 Lasker published a booklet titled Kampf (Struggle), in which he attempted to create a general theory of all competitive activities, including chess, business and war; this later had some influence on von Neumann's work on game theory. He produced two other books which are generally categorized as philosophy, Das Begreifen der Welt (Comprehending the World; 1913) and Die Philosophie des Unvollendbar (The Philosophy of the Unattainable; 1918).

Other activities 1894-1918

In 1896-1897 Lasker published his book Common Sense in Chess, based on lectures he had given in London in 1895.

In Lasker 1903 played in Ostend against Mikhail Chigorin a 6-game match that was sponsored by the wealthy lawyer and industrialist Isaac Rice in order to test the Rice Gambit. Lasker narrowly lost the match. Three years later Lasker became secretary of the Rice Gambit Association, founded by Rice in order to promote the Rice Gambit, and in 1907 Lasker quoted with approval Rice's views on the convergence of chess and military strategy.

In November 1904, Lasker founded Lasker's Chess Magazine, which ran until 1909.

For a short time in 1906 Emanuel Lasker was interested in the Japanese strategy game Go, but soon returned to chess. Curiously he was introduced to the game by his namesake Edward Lasker, who wrote a successful book Go and Go-Moku in 1934.

At the age of 42, in 1911, Lasker married Martha Cohn (née Bamberger), a rich widow who was a year older than Lasker and already a grandmother. They lived in Berlin. Martha Cohn wrote popular stories under the pseudonym "L. Marco".

During World War I, Lasker invested all of his savings in German war bonds. Since Germany lost the war, Lasker lost all his money. During the war, he wrote a book which claimed that civilization would be in danger if Germany lost the war.

1918 to end of life

In January 1920 Lasker and José Raúl Capablanca signed an agreement to play a world championship match in 1921, noting that Capablanca was not free to play in 1920. Because of the delay Lasker insisted on a final clause that: allowed him to play anyone else for the championship in 1920; nullified the contract with Capablanca if Lasker lost a title match in 1920; and stipulated that if Lasker resigned the title Capablanca should become world champion. Lasker had previously included in his agreement before World War I to play Akiba Rubinstein for the title a similar clause that if he resigned the title, it should become Rubinstein's. A report in the American Chess Bulletin (July-August 1920 issue) said that Lasker had resigned the world title in favor of Capablanca because the conditions of the match were unpopular in the chess world. The American Chess Bulletin speculated that the conditions were not sufficiently unpopular to warrant resignation of the title, and that Lasker's real concern was that there was not enough financial backing to justify his devoting 9 months to the match.

When Lasker resigned the title in favor of Capablanca he was unaware that enthusiasts in Havana had just raised $20,000 to fund the match provided it was played there. When Capablanca learned of Lasker's resignation he went Holland, where Lasker was living at the time, to inform him that Havana would finance the match. In August 1920 Lasker agreed to play in Havana, but insisted that he was the challenger as Capablanca was now the champion. Capablanca signed an agreement that accepted this point, and soon afterwards published a letter confirming this. Lasker also stated that, if he beat Capablanca, he would resign the title so that younger masters could compete for it. The match was played in March to April 1921 and Lasker resigned it after 14 games, when he was trailing by 4 games and had not won one.

By this time Lasker was nearly 53 years old, and he never played another serious match; his only other match was a short exhibition against Frank James Marshall in 1940, which he won. After winning the New York 1924 chess tournament (1½ points ahead of Capablanca) and finishing 2nd at Moscow in 1925 (1½ points behind Efim Bogoljubow, ½ point ahead of Capablanca), he effectively retired from serious chess.

During the Moscow Tournament of 1925, Emanuel Lasker received a telegram informing him that the drama written by himself and his brother Berthold , Vom Menschen die Geschichte ("History of Mankind"), had been accepted for performance at the Lessing theatre in Berlin. Emanuel Lasker was so distracted by this news that he lost badly to Carlos Torre the same day. The play was not a success and has little literary value.

In 1926 Lasker wrote Lehrbuch des Schachspiels, which he re-wrote in English in 1927 as Lasker's Manual of Chess. He also wrote books on other games of mental skill: Encyclopedia of Games (1929) and Das verständige Kartenspiel (means "Sensible Card Play"; 1929; English translation in the same year), both of which posed a problem in the mathematical analysis of card games; Brettspiele der Völker ("Board Games of the Nations"; 1931), which includes 30 pages about Go and a section about a game he had invented in 1911, Lasca; and Das Bridgespiel ("The Game of Bridge"; 1931). Lasker became an expert bridge player, representing Germany at international events in the early 1930s.

In October 1928 Emanuel Lasker's brother Berthold died.

Adolf Hitler became Chancellor of Germany in January 1933, gained dictatorial powers in March 1933, and in April 1933 started a campaign of discrimination and intimidation against Jews. Lasker and his wife Martha, who were both Jews, left Germany in 1933, and all their assets in Germany were confiscated. After a short stay in England, in 1935 they were invited to live in the USSR by Nikolai Krylenko, the Commissar of Justice who was responsible for the Moscow show trials and, in his other capacity as Sports Minister, was an enthusastic supporter of chess. In the USSR Lasker renounced his German citizenship and received Soviet citizenship, and was given a post, probably honorary, at Moscow's Institute for Mathematics.

Lasker returned to competitive chess to make some money, finishing 5th in Zürich 1934 and 3rd in Moscow 1935 (undefeated, ½ point behind Mikhail Botvinnik and Salo Flohr; ahead of Capablanca, Rudolf Spielmann and several Soviet masters), 6th in Moscow 1936 and 7th equal in Nottingham 1936. His performance in Moscow 1935 at age 67 was hailed as "a biological miracle.

Unfortunately Stalin's Great Purge started at about the same time the Laskers arrived in the USSR. In 1937, after a trip to New York to visit relatives, Martha and Emanuel Lasker decided to stay in the USA. In the following year Emanuel Lasker's patron Krylenko was purged.

Martha Lasker died in 1937, soon after the couple took residence in the USA. Lasker tried to support himself by giving chess and bridge lectures and exhibitions, as he was now too old for serious competition. In 1940 he published his last book, The Community of the Future, in which he proposed solutions for serious political problems, including anti-Semitism and unemployment. He died of a kidney infection in New York on January 11, 1941, at the age of 72, as a charity patient at Mount Sinai Hospital.


Chess strength and style

Lasker is often said to have used a "psychological" method of play in which he considered the subjective qualities of his opponent, in addition to the objective requirements of his position on the board. Richard Réti even speculated that Lasker would sometimes knowingly choose inferior moves if he knew they would make his opponent uncomfortable. However Lasker himself denied this, and most modern writers agree. According to Grandmaster Andrew Soltis and International Master John L. Watson, the features that made his play mysterious to contemporaries now appear regularly in modern play: the g2-g4 "Spike" attack against the Dragon Sicilian; sacrifices to gain positional advantage; playing the "practical" move rather than trying to find the best move; counterattacking and complicating the game before a disadvantage became serious. Former World Champion Vladimir Kramnik writes, "He realized that different types of advantage could be interchangeable: tactical edge could be converted into strategic advantage and vice versa," which mystified contemporaries who were just becoming used to the theories of Steinitz as codifed by Siegbert Tarrasch.

The famous last round win against Capablanca (St. Petersburg, 1914), which Lasker needed in order to win the tournament, is sometimes offered as evidence of his "psychological" style; but Kramnik argues that his play in this game demonstrated deep positional understanding, rather than psychology. Fine describes Lasker's choice of opening, the Exchange Variation of the Ruy Lopez, as "innocuous but psychologically potent." However an analysis of Lasker's use of this variation throughout his career concludes that: Lasker used the variation only 14 times in his career, from the 13th game of his 1894 match against Wilhelm Steinitz (who won that game) to his final-round win against Frank James Marshall in the 1924 New York Tournament (Lasker already had a winning lead in the tournament); almost all his uses of it were against top-class opponents; he was very successful with it (in serious events: 10 wins, 3 draws and the one loss to Steinitz); early in his career he apparently used it as a safe option with little risk of losing the game; later he gained confidence in the variation and even used it in a couple of "must-win" situations, including against Capablanca at St. Petersburg in 1914. Lasker also won the 3 recorded games in which he played the variation as Black; one was against Alekhine, in the 1914 St. Petersburg Tounament, the day before Lasker, playing as White, beat Capablanca with it.

Many commentators write that Lasker paid little attention to the openings. However Capablanca wrote that Lasker knew the openings very well, although he often disagreed with a lot of contemporary opening analysis. In fact before the 1894 world title match Lasker studied the openings thoroughly, especially Steinitz' favorite lines. Capablanca also wrote that, in his opinion, no player surpassed Lasker in the ability to assess a position quickly and accurately, in terms of who had the better prospects of winning and what strategy each side should adopt. Even when Lasker was in his late 60s, Capablanca considered him the most dangerous player around in any single game.

In addition to his enormous chess skill Lasker had an excellent competitive temperament: his bitter rival Siegbert Tarrasch once said, "Lasker occasionally loses a game, but he never loses his head." Although very strong in matches, he was even stronger in tournaments, for example Capablanca could not finish ahead of him until 15 years after their 1921 match, and by this time Lasker was 68 years old. Lasker enjoyed the need to adapt to varying styles and to the shifting fortunes of tournaments.

In 1964, Chessworld magazine published an article in which future World Champion Bobby Fischer listed the ten greatest players in history. Fischer did not include Lasker in the list, deriding him at page 59 as a "coffee-house player [who] knew nothing about openings and didn't understand positional chess." However, Pal Benko said that Fischer later reconsidered, telling Benko that "Lasker was a truly great player."

Statistical ranking systems place Lasker high among the greatest players of all time. "Warriors of the Mind" places him 6th, behind Garry Kasparov, Anatoly Karpov, Bobby Fischer, Mikhail Botvinnik and José Raúl Capablanca. In his 1978 book The Rating of Chessplayers, Past and Present, Arpad Elo gave retrospective ratings to players based on their performance over the best five-year span of their career. He concluded that Lasker was the joint 2nd strongest player of those surveyed (tied with Botvinnik and behind Capablanca). The most up-to-date system, Chessmetrics, is rather sensitive to the length of the periods being compared, and ranks Lasker between 5th and 2nd strongest of all time for peak periods ranging in length from 1 to 20 years.

Influence on chess

Lasker founded no school of players who used a similar approach to the game. Max Euwe, world champion 1935-1937 and a prolific writer of chess manuals, said, "It is not possible to learn much from him. One can only stand and wonder."

There are several "Lasker Variations" in the chess openings, including Lasker's Defense to the Queen's Gambit, Lasker's Defense to the Evans Gambit (which effectively ended the use of this gambit in tournament play), and the Lasker Variation in the MacCutcheon Variation of the French Defense.

One of Lasker's most famous games is Lasker - Bauer, Amsterdam, 1889, in which he sacrificed both bishops in a maneuver later repeated in a number of games. Similar sacrifices had already been played by Cecil Valentine De Vere and John Owen, but these were not in major events and Lasker probably had not seen them.

Lasker's high financial demands and his demand to own the copyright in his games initially angered editors and other players, but helped to pave the way for the rise of full-time chess professionals who earn most of their living from playing, writing and teaching. Copyright in chess games had been contentious at least as far back as the mid-1840s, and Steinitz and Lasker vigorously asserted that players should own the copyright and wrote copyright clauses into their match contracts. However his demands that challengers should raise large purses prevented or delayed some eagerly-awaited world championship matches, and this problem continued throughout the reign of his successor Capablanca.

Some of the controversial conditions that Lasker insisted on for championship matches led Capablanca to attempt twice (1914 and 1922) to publish rules for such matches, to which other top players readily agreed.

Work in other fields

Despite the relatively small amount of time Lasker spent working on mathematics, he produced a theorem which, after a further refinement, became one of the foundations of modern algebra. His attempt to create a general theory of all competitive activities had some influence on von Neumann's work on game theory, and his later writings about card games presented a significant issue in the mathematical analysis of card games.

However, his dramatic and philosophical works have never been highly regarded.

Other facets of his life

He was also a philosopher, and a good friend of Albert Einstein. Later in life he became an ardent humanitarian, and wrote passionately about the need for inspiring and structured education for the stabilization and security of mankind. He took up bridge and became a master at it, and a registered teacher of the Culbertson system. He also studied Go.

He invented Lasca, a draughts-like game, where instead of removing captured pieces from the board, they are stacked underneath the capturer.

Poetess Else Lasker-Schüler was his sister-in-law.

Edward Lasker, born in Kempen (Kępno), Greater Poland (then Prussia), the American International Master, engineer, and author, claimed that he was related to Emanuel Lasker. They played together in the great New York 1924 chess tournament.


  • Lasker's Chess Magazine, , 1904-1907.
  • Lasker's Manual of Chess, 1925, was as famous in chess circles for its philosophical tone as for its content.


  • "The acquisition of harmonious education is comparable to the production and the elevation of an organism harmoniously built. The one is fed by blood, the other one by the spirit; but Life, equally mysterious, creative, powerful, flows through either." — from Manual of Chess
  • "Lies and hypocrisy do not survive for long on the chessboard. The creative combination lies bare the presumption of a lie, while the merciless fact, culminating in a checkmate, contradicts the hypocrite." — from Manual of Chess

Notable games

Tournament results

Here are Lasker's placings and scores in tournaments:

  • Under Score, + games won, − games lost, = games drawn

Date Location Place Score Notes
1888/89 Berlin (Café Kaiserhof) 1st 20/20 +20−0=0  
1889 Breslau "B" 1st = 12/15 +11−2=2 Tied with von Feyerfeil and won the play-off. This was Hauptturnier A of the 6th DSB Congress, i.e. the "second-division" tournament.
1889 Amsterdam "A" tournament 2nd 6/8 +5−1=2 Behind Amos Burn; ahead of James Mason , Isidor Gunsberg and others. This was the stronger of the two Amsterdam tournaments held at that time.
1890 Berlin 1–2 6½/8 +6−1=1 Tied with his brother Berthold Lasker.
1890 Graz 3rd 4/6 +3−1=2 Behind Gyula Makovetz and Johann Hermann Bauer.
1892 London 1st 9/11 +8−1=2 Ahead of Mason and Rudolf Loman.
1892 London 1st 6½/8 +5−0=3 Ahead of Joseph Henry Blackburne, Mason, Gunsberg and Henry Edward Bird.
1893 New York City 1st 13/13 +13−0=0 Ahead of Adolf Albin, Jackson Showalter and a newcomer called Harry Nelson Pillsbury.
1895 Hastings 3rd 15½/21 +14−4=3 Behind Pillsbury and Mikhail Chigorin; ahead of Siegbert Tarrasch, Wilhelm Steinitz and the rest of a strong field.
1895/96 St. Petersburg 1st 6½/8 +6−1=1 A Quadrangular tournament; ahead of Steinitz (by 2 points), Pillsbury and Chigorin.
1896 Nuremberg 1st 13½/18 +12−3=3 Ahead of Géza Maróczy, Pillsbury, Tarrasch, Dawid Janowski, Steinitz and the rest of a strong field.
1899 London 1st 23½/28 +20−1=7 Ahead of Janowski, Pillsbury, Maróczy, Carl Schlechter, Blackburne, Chigorin and several other strong players.
1900 Paris 1st 14½/16 +14−1=1 Ahead of Pillsbury (by 2 points), Frank James Marshall, Maróczy, Burn, Chigorin and several others.
1904 Cambridge Springs 2nd = 11/15 +9−2=4 Tied with Janowski; 2 points behind Marshall; ahead of Georg Marco, Showalter, Schlechter, Chigorin, Jacques Mieses, Pillsbury and others.
1906 Trenton Falls 1st 5/6 +4−0=2 A Quadrangular tournament; ahead of Curt, Albert Fox and Raubitschek.
1909 St. Petersburg 1st = 14½/18 +13−2=3 Tied with Akiba Rubinstein; ahead of Oldrich Duras and Rudolf Spielmann (by 3½ points), Ossip Bernstein, Richard Teichmann and several other strong players.
1914 St. Petersburg 1st 13½/18 +10−1=7 Ahead of José Raúl Capablanca, Alexander Alekhine, Tarrasch and Marshall. This tournament had an unusual structure: there was a preliminary tournament in which 11 players played each other player once; the top 5 players then played a separate final tournament in which each player who made the "cut" played the other finalists twice; but their scores from the preliminary tournament were carried forward. Even the preliminary tournament would now be considered a "super-tournament". Capablanca "won" the preliminary tournament by 1½ points without losing a game, but Lasker achieved a plus score against all his opponents in the final tournament and finished with a combined score ½ point ahead of Capablanca's.
1918 Berlin 1st 4½/6 +3−0=3 Quadrangular tournament. Ahead of Rubinstein, Schlechter and Tarrasch.
1923 Mährisch-Ostrau 1st 10½/13 +8−0=5 Ahead of Richard Réti, Ernst Grünfeld, Alexey Selezniev, Savielly Tartakower, Max Euwe and other strong players.
1924 New York City 1st 16/20 +13−1=6 Ahead of Capablanca (by 1½ points), Alekhine, Marshall, and the rest of a very strong field.
1925 Moscow 2nd 14/20 +10−2=8 Behind Efim Bogoljubow; ahead of Capablanca, Marshall, Tartakower, Carlos Torre, other strong non- Soviet players and the leading Soviet players.
1934 Zürich 5th 10/15 +9−4=2 Behind Alekhine, Euwe, Salo Flohr and Bogoljubow; ahead of Bernstein, Aron Nimzowitsch, Gideon Stahlberg and various others.
1935 Moscow 3rd 12½/19 +6−0=13 ½ point behind Mikhail Botvinnik and Flohr; ahead of Capablanca, Spielmann, Ilya Kan, Grigory Levenfish, Andor Lilienthal, Viacheslav Ragozin and others. Emanuel Lasker was about 67 years old at the time.
1936 Moscow 6th 8/18 +3−5=10 Capablanca won.
1936 Nottingham 7–8th 8½/14 +6−3=5 Capablanca and Botvinnik tied for 1st place.

Match results

Here are Lasker's results in matches:

  • Under Score, + games won, − games lost, = games drawn

Date Opponent Result Location Score Notes
1889 E.R. von Feyerfeil Won Breslau 1−0 +1−0=0 Play-off match
1889/90 Curt von Bardeleben Won Berlin 2½−1½ +2−1=1  
1889/90 Jacques Mieses Won Leipzig 6½−1½ +5−0=3  
1890 Berthold Lasker Drew Berlin ½−½ +0−0=1 Play-off match
1890 Henry Edward Bird Won Liverpool 8½−3½ +7−2=3  
1890 N.T. Miniati Won Manchester 4−1 +3−0=2  
1890 Berthold Englisch Won Vienna 3½−1½ +2−0=3  
1891 Francis Joseph Lee Won London 1½−½ +1−0=1  
1892 Joseph Henry Blackburne Won London 8−2 +6−0=4  
1892 Bird Won Newcastle upon Tyne 5−0 +5−0=0  
1892/93 Jackson Showalter Won Logansport, Kokomo 7−3 +6−2=2  
1893 Celso Golmayo Zúpide Won Havana 2½−½ +2−0=1  
1893 Andrés Clemente Vázquez Won Havana 3−0 +3−0=0  
1893 A. Ponce Won Havana 2−0 +2−0=0  
1893 Alfred Ettlinger Won New York City 5−0 +5−0=0  
1894 Wilhelm Steinitz Won New York, Philadelphia, Montreal 12−7 +10−5=4 World Championship match
1896/97 Steinitz Won Moscow 12½−4½ +10−2=5 World Championship match
1901 Dawid Janowski Won Manchester 1½−½ +1−0=1  
1903 Mikhail Chigorin Lost Brighton 2½−3½ +1−2=3 Rice Gambit match
1907 Frank James Marshall Won New York, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Baltimore, Chicago, Memphis 11½−3½ +8−0=7 World Championship match
1908 Siegbert Tarrasch Won Düsseldorf, Munich 10½−5½ +8−3=5 World Championship match
1908 Abraham Speijer Won Amsterdam 2½−½ +2−0=1  
1909 Janowski Drew Paris 2−2 +2−2=0  
1909 Janowski Won Paris 8−2 +7−1=2 Exhibition match
1910 Carl Schlechter Drew Vienna−Berlin 5−5 +1−1=8 World Championship match
1910 Janowski Won Berlin 9½−1½ +8−0=3 World Championship match
1914 Ossip Bernstein Drew Moscow 1−1 +1−1=0 Exhibition match
1916 Tarrasch Won Berlin 5½−½ +5−0=1  
1921 José Raúl Capablanca Lost Havana 5−9 +0−4=10 lost World Championship
1940 Frank James Marshall Lost New York ½−1½ +0−1=1 exhibition match

See also


Further reading

  • World chess champions by Edward G. Winter, editor. 19981 ISBN 0-08-024094-1
  • J. Hannak, Emanuel Lasker: The Life of a Chess Master (1952, reprinted by Dover, 1991. Albert Einstein wrote the foreword to this book.). ISBN 0-486-26706-7
  • Ken Whyld, The Collected Games of Emanuel Lasker (The Chess Player, 1998)
  • Twelve Great Chess Players and Their Best Games by Irving Chernev; Dover; August 1995. ISBN 0-486-28674-6
  • Why Lasker Matters, by Andrew Soltis, 2005, Batsford.

External links

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