“Chess World Champion for 27 years!”
Dr. Emanuel Lasker was born on Christmas Eve, December 24th, 1868, in Berlinchen, Germany. He was taught Chess at the age of 11 by his elder brother, Berthold Lasker. As a child, Lasker displayed a talent for both Chess and mathematics. He attended a school in Berlin to develop his mathematical skills and he later went on to study mathematics at Erlangen University. In 1889 in Breslau, at the age of 21, Emanuel won the German title of
Master of Chess.
In 1890 in Berlin, he defeated Curt von Bardeleben and Jacques Mieses in a match and he and his brother tied for first place in a tournament as well. In 1892 he won his first important success in a small but strong tournament in London when he took first place a half a point ahead of Blackburne. Lasker then played a match against Blackburne and when he won decisively he began to think of the possibility of becoming world champion. He challenged Tarrasch but his challenge was declined.
Tarrasch told him that he should first win a major tournament. Lasker visited the U
.S. in 1893 where he won the New York International. He defeated the American Champion, Jackson Showalter, with 6 wins, 1 draw, and 2 losses. The next year, in 1894, Lasker challenged Steinitz for the World Chess
title. Lasker defeated Steinitz to become the second World Chess Champion at age 25. He remained the World Chess Champion until 1921.
He was World Champion for 26 years, and 337 days, a record not likely to be broken. The great Chess player Steinitz who had been World Champion for
8 years was famous for his introduction of strategy to Chess.
Emanuel Lasker is most famous for seeing that Chess is a struggle between two minds.
In practicing that theorem he smashed Steinitz, Pillsbury and Tchigorin.
The fact that Emanuel Lasker had never won any major tournaments before this date did not make his claim of World Champion any easier. This prompted Tarrasch, who had the best tournament record at this time, request a separate title of
“World Tournament Champion.” The tournament was to take place in Hastings in 1895. It was believed that the victor would be either Lasker, Tarrasch or Steinitz.
However, a major upset occurred when Harry Nelson Pillsbury, an American playing in his first major tournament, won instead leaving the issue of world champion undecided. Later in the year the top five winners of the Hastings tournament, Pillsbury, Tchigorin, Lasker, Tarrasch and Steinitz were invited to play in a tournament in St. Petersburg to resolve the matter. Tarrasch, however, was unable to attend due to professional commitments.
The tournament in St. Petersburg consisted of 18 rounds with each player playing his rival six times. Lasker emerged clear winner by two points and Steinitz took second place. At the rematch for the world championship in Moscow in 1896 Lasker beat Steinitz with a score of ten wins to two with five draws. Lasker’s excellent results left no one in any doubt as to who was the real world champion.
At the London tournament of 1899, Lasker finished 4 points ahead of the rest of the field with 18 wins, 7 draws, and only 1 loss to Blackburne.
In 1900, Lasker won the Paris tournament with 14 wins, 1 draw and 1 loss. The next tournament Dr. Lasker played in, was the Cambridge Springs Tournament in 1904. Dr. Lasker tied for second with David Janowski. Frank Marshall came in first place. In 1906, Lasker played in the 19th New York State Chess Championship and won first place.
In 1908, Dr. Siegbert Tarrasch challenged Lasker for the Chess World Title. Lasker was convinced that Tarrasch had hypnotic powers and therefore wanted to play the match from a different room. Lasker again prevailed with 8 wins, 5 draws, and 3 losses.
In 1909, Lasker tied with Akiba Rubinstein at St. Petersburg, winning 3, drawing 5, and losing 2. That same year Lasker was given 7,000 francs to play two exhibition matches against David Janowski. Lasker won one and drew one.
Lasker was again challenged to defend his title in 1910 against the great Carl Schlecter in Vienna and Berlin. Lasker tied the match by winning the 10th and final game. Schlecter would have become World Champion if he had drawn the 10th game but Lasker retained his title with one win, 8 draws, and one loss. Lasker received 1,000 marks for each game played.
Later that same year, Lasker defeated David Janowski in a match in Berlin. Emanuel Lasker won with 8 wins and 3 draws.
In 1911 Lasker married Martha Kohn. They stayed together until Martha’s death in 1939. Dr. Lasker’s next great tournament was at St. Petersburg, Russia, 1914. This was a great tournament. Lasker came in first place, ahead of Capablanca, Alekhine, Tarrasch, and Marshall. Lasker had plans to play Akiba Rubinstein for the Chess World Title. Capablanca planned to play the winner.
In 1918, after World War 1, Lasker played a Chess tournament in Berlin, and came in first place.
In 1920, he resigned his world title to Capablanca with a letter written to him in Spanish. No one in history has ever done this before. This shows what a great gentleman Dr. Lasker was. But the public wanted a match. Finally, in 1921, in Havana, Cuba, he played Capablanca who won 4 games and drew 10 games and became the new World Champion.
In 1924, at the great New York International Tournament, of course Dr. Lasker came in first, Capablanca came in second, Dr. Alehkine came in third. In 1927, Dr. Lasker returned to Berlin and learned Bridge and GO.
He became an International player and Life Master of Bridge. He was the team leader of the German team at the Bridge Olympics. Because Dr. Emanuel Lasker and his wife were Jewish, they fled to England in 1933 after their property was confiscated by the Germans.
They lived for a short time in the USSR and finally settled in New York in 1937. Lasker came in 5th in Zurich in 1934, 3rd in Moscow in 1935, 6th in Moscow in 1936, and 7th in Nottingham in 1936. After moving to Manhattan, New York in 1937, Lasker began teaching Chess and bridge and writing philosophical articles including, Struggle, Understanding of the World, The Philosophy of the Unattainable and The Community of the Future.
Lasker’s winning percentage is the highest of any World Champion: 66%. He won 52, drew 44 and lost 16 games and scored 74 points in 112 games. He defended his Chess World Championship title 7 times in the 26 years he was the World Champion. His calculated peak ELO rating is 2720. In his stellar career he played in 10 international tournaments; he came in first 8 times, 2nd once and 3rd once.
Emanuel Lasker died in Manhattan, New York on January 11, 1941 at the age of 72.