Emanuel Lasker

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Dr. Emanuel Lasker was the second world chess champion as well as the longest reigning champion of all time (twenty seven years). A mathematician, philosopher, and author, Lasker had one of the greatest minds and longest careers in the history of the game. Emanuel Lasker was born on December 24, 1868 in Berlinchen Prussia, what is now Barlinek, Poland. At the age of eleven he sent to Berlin to live with his older brother, Berthold, and attend school. Berthold, who was a strong chess master, taught the young Emanuel the game and its strategies. Emanuel Lasker began playing frequently at Café Kaiserhof, some say for small stakes that would supplement his income. In 1889 Lasker won Café Kaiserhof's annual tournament starting what would be an epic chess career.

In the early 1890's Lasker would solidify himself as one of the world's finest chess players and assert himself as a world title contender. He won several tournaments throughout Europe including two strong tournaments in London in 1892. In 1893, Lasker would travel to the United States where he would spend the next couple of years. At the New York Tournament of 1893, Lasker would put on a show, going a perfect 13 wins (zero draws and zero losses). Lasker also displayed total dominance in match-play chess over some of the world's greatest veterans of the day such as Henry Edward Bird, Joseph Henry Blackburne and Jacques Mieses.

In 1894 Lasker secured a world championship match against the current and only world title holder, Wilhelm Stenitz. The match took place in three venues: New York, Montreal, and Philadelphia. Lasker decisively won the match 12 to 7, becoming the second formal World Chess Champion. Some three years later in their rematch for the title, Lasker once again defeated Steinitz and retained his crown, this time 12 ½ to 4 ½ . For the next twenty some years, Emanuel Lasker would remain world chess champion. He would become the most dominant player the game had ever known, defending his title many times and finishing at or near the top at several strong tournaments. He defended his title against Frank Marshall in 1907, crushing him 11 ½ to 3 ½. In 1908 Lasker defeated his bitter rival Seigbert Tarrasch with a score of 10 ½ to 5 ½. He would follow this up the next year with title defenses against Dawid Janowski and Carl Schlechter in 1910. In 1914, he finished second in possibly the strongest tournament ever assembled in St. Petersburg, Russia. Lasker would even score a win against eventual tournament winner the up and coming Cuban master, Jose Capablanca. This was the last major tournament that was held for several years as soon the Great War would begin.


Emanuel Lasker




December 24, 1868


January 11, 1941


Peak Rating


In 1921, Lasker would face Jose Raul Capablanca for his world championship title. At 53, Lasker was past his prime, but still arguably the world's best player. The younger Capablanca was a talent the likes of which the chess world had never seen. Lasker could not win a single game and eventually resigned the match. Amazingly this was Lasker's first and only loss in match play. After 27 long dominant years, Emanuel Lasker's world championship reign had come to an end. While Lasker would never go on to play another match, he would continue to play in international tournaments with strong results into his late sixties. He would score an impressive result in 1935 in Moscow, finishing undefeated and ½ point off from first place.

Lasker died at the age of 72 on January 11, 1941 in New York City. He had lived an accomplished life not without its struggles on and off the board. Being a Jew, he escaped persecution from the Nazis during World War II. This forced him to come out of retirement to support his family. His playing style was bold. His attacks were impeccably conducted and he defended tenaciously. Dr. Lasker was a fighter on and off the board. He was keenly aware of the importance of psychology, often changing his play to match the style of his opponent. His legacy is not only the longest reigning world champion of all time, but as a brilliant mind and one of the greatest contributors to the game of chess. He was not only a chess champion, but a scientist and intellectual. His chess career bridged the gap of generations from Wilhelm Steinitz to Mikhail Botvinik.

Some Famous Lasker Quotes:
"When you see a good move, look for a better one."

"To find the right plan is just as hard as looking for its sound justification."

"On the chessboard, lies and hypocrisy do not last long."

On Lasker:
"Lasker was my teacher, and without him I could not have become whom I became. The idea of chess art is unthinkable without Emanuel Lasker." – Alexander Alekhine

"The greatest of champions was, of course, Emanuel Lasker. At the chess board he accomplished the impossible!" – Mikhail Tal