Emanuel Lasker and his successors

by Johannes Fischer
2/20/2018 – Emanuel Lasker was born on December 24, 1868, in Berlinchen, which today is Barlinek in the northwest of Poland. This year Lasker would celebrate his 150th birthday — reason enough for the German Chess Federation to declare 2018 as Lasker-year. From 1894 to 1921 — 27 years — Lasker was World Champion, longer than any other player before or after him. Let's take a look at the legacy of the second official World Champion. | Photo: (left) public domain (right) Bundesarchiv, Bild 102-00457 / CC-BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Master Class Vol.5: Emanuel Lasker Master Class Vol.5: Emanuel Lasker

The name Emanuel Lasker will always be linked with his incredible 27 years reign on the throne of world chess. In 1894, at the age of 25, he had already won the world title from Wilhelm Steinitz and his record number of years on the throne did not end till 1921 when Lasker had to accept the superiority of Jose Raul Capablanca. But not only had the only German world champion so far seen off all challengers for many years, he had also won the greatest tournaments of his age, sometimes with an enormous lead. The fascinating question is, how did he manage that?

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Lasker vs his successors

When Lasker lost his title to José Rául Capablanca in 1921, he was 53 years old. Other World Champions no longer played at that age but even in his sixties Lasker was still one of the world's best players. This is shown by Lasker's games against his successors after he lost the title. The former World Champion had a positive overall score against the players who gained the title after him.

After 1921, Lasker played 18 games against his successors Capablanca, Alexander Alekhine, Max Euwe and Mikhail Botvinnik. He won five and lost four, and nine ended in a draw, which results in an overall score of 9½-8½ in favour of Lasker.

Against Euwe, Lasker was particularly successful. They played three times and each time Lasker won.

But against Capablanca he had more trouble. After their World Championship match they played another seven games and with a score of 3-4 (+1, =4, -2, seen from Lasker's perspective) Capablanca again had the better of it.

Capablanca against Lasker | Photo: media2-web.britannica)

However, in the four tournaments in which they both participated (New York 1924, Moscow 1925, Moscow 1935, and Nottingham 1936) Lasker finished ahead of his rival twice. Only in Moscow 1936 and in Nottingham 1936, the last two tournaments Lasker played in his life, the Cuban was able to finish ahead of Lasker.

Perhaps Lasker's victory in New York 1924 was particularly sweet for the former World Champion. New York 1924 was a strong and prestigious tournament in which eleven of the best players of that time competed in a double-round-robin. Lasker won with 16.0 / 20, 1½ points ahead of the reigning World Champion, Capablanca, who finished second with 14½ / 20. Third place went to Alekhine who scored 12.0 / 20.

New York 1924

Rg. Name Country 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 Pts.  
1 Emanuel Lasker
 
  11 11 11 ½1 ½1 11 16.0 / 20  
2 Jose Raul Capablanca
 
  ½½ ½½ 10 ½1 11 11 ½1 14.5 / 20  
3 Alexander Alekhine
 
½½   ½½ 10 ½1 ½½ ½½ 11 ½½ 11 12.0 / 20  
4 Frank James Marshall
 
½½ ½½   ½1 01 ½0 ½1 11 11.0 / 20  
5 Richard Reti
 
00 01 01 ½0   ½½ 01 11 10 01 11 10.5 / 20  
6 Geza Maroczy
 
00 ½0 ½0 ½½   10 ½½ 11 ½1 01 10.0 / 20  
7 Efim Bogoljubow
 
00 00 ½½ 10 10 01   10 11 01 9.5 / 20  
8 Saviely Tartakower
 
½0 00 ½½ ½1 00 ½½ 01   10 ½1 8.0 / 20  
9 Frederick Dewhurst Yates
 
½0 00 ½0 01 00 00 01   11 7.0 / 20  
10 Edward Lasker
 
½0 ½½ 10 ½0 00   ½0 6.5 / 20  
11 Dawid Markelowicz Janowski
 
00 00 00 00 10 10 ½0 ½1   5.0 / 20  

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Lasker lost only one game, against Capablanca of all people. But in a demonstration of his defensive skills Lasker managed to beat Alekhine, who three years later would defeat Capablanca in a World Championship.

 

The Art of Defence

The purpose of this DVD is to explain the viewer all main methods of defence: exchanging pieces, creating a fortress, eliminating dangerous enemy pieces, escaping the danger zone with the king, improving the position of the pieces.

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After the loss of his title Lasker played four games against Alekhine: one win, one loss, two draws.

Alexander Alekhine | Photo: Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

But after winning against Capablanca in St. Petersburg 1914, Lasker had to wait for 25 years and 11 games before he managed to inflict another loss on the Cuban — at the Moscow tournament 1935.

 

The French Defence for the Tournament Player

This French Defence DVD is a complete attacking opening repertoire for black after 1.e4 e6. GM Nick Pert has played the French defence his whole life and provides all his la test and most up to date analysis crammed into 1 DVD.

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However, against Botvinnik Lasker failed to win a single game. Maybe age finally took its toll. When they played their first game, on March 6, 1935, at the Moscow tournament, Botvinnik was 23 years old, Lasker 66. The game ended in a draw. In Moscow 1935, Lasker finished third with 12½ / 19, half a point behind Salo Flohr and Botvinnik, who shared first place with 13.0 / 19 each, but half a point ahead of Capablanca who scored 12.0 / 19 to finish fourth.

Moscow 1935

Rg. Name Country 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 Pts.
1 Salo Flohr
 
  ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 ½ ½ 1 1 1 1 1 ½ ½ 13.0
2 Mikhail Botvinnik
 
½   ½ ½ 1 0 1 ½ 1 1 ½ ½ 1 1 ½ 1 0 ½ 1 1 13.0
3 Emanuel Lasker
 
½ ½   1 ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ 1 1 1 12.5
4 Jose Raul Capablanca
 
½ ½ 0   ½ 1 1 ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 0 ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ 1 1 12.0
5 Rudolf Spielmann
 
½ 0 ½ ½   ½ ½ ½ 1 0 0 1 ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 1 1 11.0
6 Ilia Abramovich Kan
 
½ 1 0 0 ½   ½ 0 0 1 1 ½ 1 ½ 0 1 1 ½ ½ 1 10.5
7 Grigory Levenfish
 
½ 0 ½ 0 ½ ½   ½ ½ ½ 0 1 1 ½ 1 1 1 ½ 0 1 10.5
8 Andor Lilienthal
 
½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½   ½ 0 0 ½ 1 ½ ½ 0 ½ 1 1 ½ 10.0
9 Peter Arsenievich Romanovsky
 
0 0 ½ ½ 0 1 ½ ½   1 1 ½ 0 ½ ½ 1 ½ 0 1 1 10.0
10 Viacheslav Ragozin
 
½ 0 ½ 0 1 0 ½ 1 0   ½ 0 1 ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 ½ 1 10.0
11 Ilya Leontievich Rabinovich
 
0 ½ ½ ½ 1 0 1 1 0 ½   1 0 ½ 0 0 ½ ½ 1 1 9.5
12 Vladimir Alatortsev
 
½ ½ ½ 0 0 ½ 0 ½ ½ 1 0   1 0 1 ½ ½ ½ 1 1 9.5
13 Nikolay Nikolaevich Riumin
 
½ 0 ½ 1 ½ 0 0 0 1 0 1 0   ½ 0 1 1 1 ½ 1 9.5
14 Victor Arsentievich Goglidze
 
0 0 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½   ½ 0 ½ 1 1 1 9.5
15 Georgy M Lisitsin
 
0 ½ ½ 0 ½ 1 0 ½ ½ ½ 1 0 1 ½   ½ 0 ½ ½ 1 9.0
16 Gideon Stahlberg
 
0 0 ½ ½ 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 ½ 0 1 ½   ½ ½ 1 1 8.0
17 Fedor Parfenovich Bohatirchuk
 
0 1 ½ ½ ½ 0 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ 1 ½   ½ 0 ½ 8.0
18 Vasja Pirc
 
0 ½ 0 ½ 0 ½ ½ 0 1 0 ½ ½ 0 0 ½ ½ ½   1 1 7.5
19 Vitaly A Chekhover
 
½ 0 0 0 0 ½ 1 0 0 ½ 0 0 ½ 0 ½ 0 1 0   1 5.5
20 Vera Menchik
 
½ 0 0 0 0 0 0 ½ 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 ½ 0 0   1.5

A year later, at the Moscow tournament 1936, Lasker scored 8.0 / 18, less than 50 percent, finishing sixth.

Moscow 1936

Rg. Name Country 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Pts.
1 Jose Raul Capablanca
 
  ½½ ½1 ½1 11 ½½ 13.0
2 Mikhail Botvinnik
 
  ½½ 11 ½½ 12.0
3 Salo Flohr
 
½½   ½0 11 ½0 ½1 ½0 9.5
4 Andor Lilienthal
 
  ½½ ½½ ½1 ½½ ½1 9.0
5 Viacheslav Ragozin
 
½1 ½½   ½½ ½1 8.5
6 Emanuel Lasker
 
½0   ½1 ½½ 8.0
7 Erich Gottlieb Eliskases
 
½½ 00 ½½ ½0   ½½ ½½ 01 7.5
8 Ilia Abramovich Kan
 
½0 00 ½1 ½0 ½½ ½½   ½0 ½½ 7.5
9 Nikolay Nikolaevich Riumin
 
00 ½0 ½½ ½½ ½½ ½1   ½1 7.5
10 Grigory Levenfish
 
½½ ½½ ½1 ½0 ½0 10 ½½ ½0   7.5

The tournament was a double-round-robin and, in the second half of the tournament, Botvinnik managed to win his first and only game against Lasker.

 

Three months after the tournament in Moscow, Lasker went to Nottingham where he played the last tournament of his life. With 8½ / 14 he finished on place eight but won against Euwe — the last game of his career in which Lasker played against a World Champion.

 

Nottingham 1936 

Rg. Name Country 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 Pts.
1 Jose Raul Capablanca
 
  ½ 1 ½ ½ 1 ½ 0 1 ½ ½ 1 1 1 1 10.0
2 Mikhail Botvinnik
 
½   ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 1 1 1 1 1 ½ 10.0
3 Samuel Herman Reshevsky
 
0 ½   ½ 0 1 1 ½ 1 ½ 1 1 1 1 ½ 9.5
4 Reuben Fine
 
½ ½ ½   ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ 1 1 1 ½ 1 9.5
5 Max Euwe
 
½ ½ 1 ½   0 0 ½ 1 1 ½ 1 1 1 1 9.5
6 Alexander Alekhine
 
0 ½ 0 ½ 1   ½ 1 ½ 1 1 ½ 1 ½ 1 9.0
7 Emanuel Lasker
 
½ ½ 0 0 1 ½   0 ½ ½ 1 1 1 1 1 8.5
8 Salo Flohr
 
1 ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 1   1 ½ 1 0 0 1 1 8.5
9 Milan Sr Vidmar
 
0 0 0 ½ 0 ½ ½ 0   ½ 1 ½ 1 ½ 1 6.0
10 Saviely Tartakower
 
½ 0 ½ ½ 0 0 ½ ½ ½   ½ 0 0 1 1 5.5
11 Efim Bogoljubow
 
½ 0 0 0 ½ 0 0 0 0 ½   1 1 1 1 5.5
12 Theodore Henry Tylor
 
0 0 0 0 0 ½ 0 1 ½ 1 0   ½ ½ ½ 4.5
13 Conel Hugh O'Donel Alexander
 
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 ½   ½ ½ 3.5
14 George Alan Thomas
 
0 0 0 ½ 0 ½ 0 0 ½ 0 0 ½ ½   ½ 3.0
15 William Winter
 
0 ½ ½ 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 ½ ½ ½   2.5

After the tournament in Nottingham 1936, Lasker still gave simuls and played casual games and in 1940 even a two-game match against his old rival Frank Marshall, but Nottingham 1936 was to remain his last serious tournament.

Lasker died on January 11, 1941, in New York

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Johannes was born in 1963 in Hamburg and studied English and German literature in Frankfurt. He now lives as a writer and translator in Nürnberg. He is a FIDE-Master and regularly writes for KARL, a German chess magazine focusing on the links between culture and chess. On his own blog he regularly publishes notes on "Film, Literature and Chess".
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Avoid Knightmares Avoid Knightmares 2/21/2018 10:15
Are there living descendants of Lasker?
billvan61 billvan61 2/21/2018 04:43
Thank you for this informative article. Lasker went his own way, founded no schools: a true original.
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