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A.J.'s Web Page on Emanuel Lasker 

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   One of the greatest chess players who ever lived.  (lasker1.jpg, 05 KB)

A picture of Emanuel Lasker.

  (Click  here  to view- or buy - pictures, or other Lasker memorabilia.)  

 Click  HERE  to go to the  USCF page  that covers great U.S. Chess players. 

 (This great player actually lived in the U.S. -  for quite some time.) 

I first became interested in Lasker as a very young lad ... one of the stronger players at the Pensacola Chess Club was interested in this player and had a fine [chess] library. We studied together quite a bit.

I later moved on to 'other' great players. Perhaps the problem was when I was coming up was that books on Capa or Alekhine were easily obtained, but there were few books on this particular player.

About 10-15 years ago, when chess computers and databases were really taking off, I studied a game of Lasker with one of my students. I thought I found a good move and sent all my analysis in to GM A. Soltis ... but alas! The score of the game in the electronic database was incorrect!!  (I vowed to never repeat this mistake.) 

In approximately 2001 or 2002, a friend of mine, (Sig Smith); gave me  Ken Whyld's  book on Lasker as a gift. I also had an Internet student for about 2-3 years who was greatly interested in Lasker. This, along with several other projects, led to me working on  ... and DEEPLY analyzing  ...  quite a few of Lasker's games. 

I had always been taught - and read! - that  Lasker  played bad chess,  that he played dull or boring chess, that he excelled at playing inferior lines and dubious positions, etc, etc, etc. (I may {also} have been overly influenced by Bobby Fischer's opinion of Lasker. Bobby called Lasker,  ... "a bad player ... a coffee-house player ... with no knowledge of positional chess." See the Winter/March issue of 'Chess Life,' 2004.) The truth is that when I began to study his games (again) I appreciated even more the depth and level of his play. (GM Reuben Fine - once a candidate for the World Championship - has often said that Lasker was his favorite player.) His games seemed to be the complete opposite of what I had always thought they were supposed to be. A few of the games I had studied seemed to be brilliancies of unmatched depth and level of play. 

This new interest has spurred me to do more work, and to read as much as I possibly could about this great player. Some very interesting facts surfaced, such as - that Lasker may have been the best tournament player of all time. Another interesting fact was Lasker's rating and the time that he spent as the NUMBER ONE player in the world. (See the excellent web site of Jeff Sonas.) It seemed the more I found out about Lasker, the more I wanted to know. It has been a fascinating journey, and this web page results from my desire to share these discoveries. I hope you enjoy my work! 

Many still consider this player to be one of the greatest - if not  THE  greatest! - chess players who ever lived. But how much do you know about this player, really?

Irving Chernev ranks him as the fourth greatest player of all time. The late Dr./GM Reuben Fine, the winner of A.V.R.O. 1938, said Lasker's games were like, "bottomless pools."

Several chess historians have said that he might have been the greatest tournament player who ever lived. He certainly won MANY of the best and strongest tournaments ever held!

If you go to J. Sonas's web site, (click here); you will see that from the 1890's until the late 1930's, Lasker was rated in the top ten in the world. AND!!!!!!! For most of this period, he was rated either  # 1  OR  # 2.  This is a feat that I have almost no words to describe!


 Three tournaments stand out above all others, (for me):    

#1.)  NUREMBURG, 1896.  ALL  the chess historians and mathematicians agree that this was simply one of the strongest events ever played. VIRTUALLY EVERY PLAYER IN THE WORLD'S "TOP 15"  WAS PRESENT AT THIS EVENT!!!!! Try that today! Lasker ran away with this event. (Nobody went undefeated! It was simply too strong an event.) 

# 2.)  LONDON, 1899.  Another one of the strongest tournaments ever played. Of the world's top players, ONLY Tarrasch was missing. This was a DOUBLE-Round-Robin event. (Each contestant played the other TWICE!!) Lasker  DOMINATED  this event. He lost only  ONE GAME!  ... to the always dangerous Blackburne. I have now deeply studied just about ALL the games from this event. 

Practically  ...  every game that Lasker played  ...  was a great brilliancy!!!

# 3.)  Paris, 1900.   Another one of the strongest events ever held. Just about EVERY PLAYER was any good was present at this tournament. Once again ... Lasker dominated the play. (I think he lost one game ... to F.J. Marshall.) Again, Lasker was simply in a league of his own.


Lasker's performance rating ... translated to today's standards ... would easily have been over 3000 ELO!! This was a VERY HIGH PLANE of play ... that perhaps no other master, with the exception of Capablanca or Fischer, has ever attained. All three of the these events would simply to be IMPOSSIBLE to hold in modern times. (No other tournament organizer has ever gotten all of the world's best players together, it might be too expensive a proposition in the post-Fischer era.)


Another thing to consider is that many of these events ... 

   (In one event, they were required to REPLAY drawn games!!!!!!)    

Compare this to some of the downright UN-sportsmanlike and cowardly quick draws in many of the more  'so-called'  stronger  and more modern tournaments. (See the tournament of  "The XX Super-GM Tournament,"  Linares, ESP;  2003.  MANY draws in UNDER 20 moves!!! One in particular that really angered me was an 11-move draw by the FIDE World-Champion. {Ponomariov.}  What about some fans  ...  who may have driven many miles  ...  and even purchased tickets to see these guys play? What harm can there be in trying? Do they care?) 

Emanuel Lasker - (1868 - 1941) He was born in Brandenburg, Germany. (Now a part of Poland.) His Father originally worked at a synagogue. He learned the game at the age of 11 and made very rapid progress after that. Before he was out of his teens, he was already a strong master. By age 21, he won a Hauptturnier that gave him the Master title.

He won a series of matches and small tournaments. This eventually placed him in a position to challenge Steinitz for the title of World Champion ... which the brash young man did. And he easily won. He also held off a determined Steinitz in a re-match. 

He was one of the strongest players who ever lived. Many of his tournament victories are considered by many to be some of the best and/or strongest tournaments ever held. 
(Click here to see just one example.)

He was not just a chess player either ... he was also a very distinguished mathematician and a scholar ... rubbing elbows with some of the world's intellectual giants. He also maintained a level of excellence in chess over a greater time period than just about any other player. He may be the ONLY player to be in the top five of  Jeff Sonas's   one-year,   three-year,  and  five-year  (rating) peaks. He also played VERY well towards the end of his career!! (Only Korchnoi can rival Lasker for playing great chess after the age of 60 or 65.) 

His book,  "Lasker's  Manual Of Chess"  is still being sold and widely read, even today. 


Emanuel LASKER  - He was the Chess Champion of the WORLD ... for 27 years, a record that may never be equaled. In a tournament career spanning almost half a century - he was lower than third on only three occasions; the first of them being when he came out of retirement at the age of 65. The ONLY ONE of his 22 matches that he lost was the last one, when he was defeated by the great Cuban, J.R. Capablanca, in a title contest.  

His successor as World Champion described Lasker as: The most profound and imaginative player - and the GREATEST ENDGAME EXPONENT - I have ever known. (!!!!!)  


March, 2005:  Sadly, since I first wrote this page, several outstanding chess historians have passed away. The most notable of all of these was my friend, Ken Whyld. (Who can replace him? No one!) 

Many chess historians have written to tell me that Lasker was one of the greatest players who ever lived. And now we have MORE proof. (When you factor in inflation, I think it makes a strong case for Emanuel Lasker as the greatest player ever. Even so, to have come in #3 in the best all-time list for a TWENTY-YEAR average is still quite impressive.  


I did my own little study, but it was nowhere near as scientific as Sonas's work. I checked, and for over a fifty-year, period, super-tournaments ... simply the opportunity to play in them, only came up about once every five years. In fact, for a very long stretch, not counting the disruption caused by the years that included WWI or WWII, an opportunity to play in a real "Super-Tournament" came along only every 3.5 years. Compare this to Kasparov, who had THREE in the same year! (Amsterdam, 1988; Belfort, 1988; and the Thessaloniki Olympiad of 1988.) When you add up all the factors, slower travel - and no planes; fewer opportunities, Lasker's achievement might even be considered more impressive than Garry's. Or to put it another way, if you multiply Lasker's six +2820 results by 3.5, he comes out with 21, well ahead of Garry Kasparov. As I already said, this is NOT a scientific way of doing things! Nonetheless, it does provide a point of reference.  (May, 2005.) 

In this day of inflated ratings and greater opportunities, who's to say how well Lasker might have done?  

  [The ChessBase website.]     Part I of the articles by Jeff Sonas.   Part II   Part III   Part IV   

The more research I do, the more I am convinced what a great player Lasker was - and what his place in history should be.  

LASKER's Games
  Annotated by  A.J. Goldsby I  

  1.   Click  HERE  to see Lasker's great game vs.  Bauer  ....... one of the best games he played, and also the FIRST actual example of a ... 

  2.  Click  HERE  to see the game between Porges and Lasker, from Nuremburg, 1896. A wonderful game with VERY sharp and accurate tactics by (former) 
      World Champion, Emanuel Lasker. 

  3.    Click  HERE  to see the extremely brilliant game: Emanuel Lasker - Francis Lee;  LONDON, (England); 1899
    (I plan on - maybe - doing this game in more detail later.) 

  4.     Click  HERE  to see the extremely brilliant game:  Francis Lee - Emanuel Lasker;  LONDON, (England); 1899
        (I plan on - maybe - doing this game in more detail later.) 

  5.    It's here!!    the game:  Wilhelm Steinitz - Emanuel LaskerRd./Gm. # 27,  Super-Master Tournament, (a double-RR event); LONDON, (England); 1899
    A true ...  "Clash of The Titans!"   (The former World Champion against the current one.)   
      This is the game that won  ...  FIRST BRILLIANCY PRIZE!!!!  (And deservedly so.)  (Click  HERE   to see this truly great game.)   
      Completed:  August 5th, 2003. 

  6.   While perhaps NOT one of Lasker's best game ... it is still one of the most interesting, well-known, and one of the most complicated games Lasker ever played. I am, of 
      course!, talking about  Lasker - NapierCambridge Springs, PA (USA);  1904.  Click  HERE  to see this wild and hairy tactical slug-fest! 

  7.   Many - like CHERNEV - consider this to be one of the great Lasker's best games! It certainly is a battle royale, as both players go for the throat. Capablanca's  loss 
      here definitely cost him first place.  Click  HERE  to see this interesting game. (Em. Lasker - J.R. Capablanca;  FinalsSt. Petersburg, RUS; 1914.) 

  8.   Many writers - Burn, Reinfeld, Chernev, Fine, etc - have all said the following contest is one of the best games of all time and one of Lasker's best. Of course I am talking about the epic contest: GM Harry N. Pillsbury - GM Emanuel LaskerSuper-Quadrangular TourneySt. Petersburg, Russia1895-1896 Click  HERE  to see this really grand and very exciting ... and extremely historic! ... game of chess!!! (Posted: Sat, Oct. 04, 2003.) 

  9.   I saw this game on one web server ... I am sure that I had studied it somewhere ... many years ago. I enjoyed it so much, that I decided to drop everything and go ahead  
      and annotate it.  The contest is:  W. Steinitz - Em. Lasker / World Championship Match (Game No. Three) / Moscow, RUS; 1896.   Please check it out   

  10.   Keep watching .... more games to come!!

  11.   .....  and more  ...  and more  ...  and more! 

May, 2003:  I hope to soon have about {at least} a dozen of Lasker's games annotated here for your enjoyment. Until then, I suggest you visit any on-line database and download his games! His game against  Porges, (Nuremburg, 1896 I believe.); is a great game. (See Chernev's book, "The Most Instructive Games Of Chess Ever Played.")  His games  ...  BOTH of them!  ...  against  F. Lee  from  London, 1899;  (Click here.) ...  are quite simply brilliancies of the very highest order. Also - his game vs.  W. Steinitz,  from  London, 1899 won the first brilliancy prize for that event. 


(Watch this space!)

  Good books on Lasker  

Friday;  August 22nd, 2003:  A fairly well-known New York Master wrote me today and asked me - since I am, "the Lasker expert," (ha) - to provide a list of the best Lasker books.  (I definitely do  NOT  consider myself a Lasker expert, that title would have to go to the late Ken Whyld.)

But the request was nice ... very flattering ... just the sort of stuff I like to hear! And the idea is 
basically sound. I guess there are plenty of young players out there who want to know what 
books any Lasker fan should read or buy. So I will give this a shot.
 (GM Andy Soltis ... are you listening?  Emanuel Lasker ... RE-DISCOVERED?)  

  1. While not my choice ...  I have received at least 50 e-mails confirming what I had already suspected. 
    The NUMBER ONE choice ... for most Lasker fans  is the following book:  "EMANUEL LASKER: The Life of A Chess Master,"  by  Dr. J. Hannak. 
     Copyright (c) by the author, 1952 and 1959. Published (in the USA) in 1959 by Simon & Schuster of New York. Reprinted in 1991 by Dover books. 
     ISBN: # 0-486-26706-7

     Now don't get me wrong, this is a GREAT book. You have a ton of biographical info, plus ONE HUNDRED (100) nicely annotated games. You also get a few cross-tables, etc. (You also get a brief summary of his tournament and match careers.) But other than the cover, you get no photo's. This is also supposed to be a book about a chess player, but Hannak seems to want to talk about anything but chess. But the bottom line is if you want to 'read up' on this great player ... this is really your only choice.  (I have had several copies of this book, I literally wore one copy completely out!)  

  2.  My favorite Lasker book is definitely this one. And its autographed by the author,  who is unfortunately now deceased.  (Courtesy of my good friend, Sig Smith.) 
     "The Collected Games Of Emanuel Lasker,"  by  Ken Whyld.  Copyright () 1998 by the author. Published by 'The Chess Player.'  (CZE) 
       ISBN:  # 1-9011034-02-X

     Again ... almost NO photo's, and just a few pages of biographical detail. BUT!!!! you get maybe every game ever played by Emanuel Lasker ... in one of the most 
     carefully checked books I have ever seen. (Virtually every conceivable reference has been consulted and listed. I have found close to 100 errors in the game-scores 
     in most electronic databases by referencing this book.) 

    This is NOT the average player's chess book. This is a great book for a Master, and also THE Lasker book for any chess historian. And its a hard-back! Love it! 

  3.   (Thursday; April 27th, 2006.)  I just got the book: 
       "Why Lasker Matters,"  by  GM Andrew Soltis.  Printed in 2005 by B.T. Batsford. ISBN  # 0-7134-8983-9, paper/flex cover, 320 pages.   (More on this book later.)  
      (All the games that are on this page ... are in that book. Plus ... some of his analysis of key variations looks similar to mine. Purely a coincidence?)  


Good all-around game collections that have good info and Lasker games.

Click  here  to go to a  GOOGLE  page ...  with THOUSANDS of Lasker links!!

Other Lasker Links

Link Number One     Link Number Two     Link Number Three     Link Number Four     

Link Number Five     Link Number Six      Link Number Seven     Link Number Eight   

Link Number Nine     Link Number Ten     Link Number Eleven     Link number Twelve  

This page was last updated on 07/21/13 .


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