Emanuel Lasker (1868-1941) was born in Neumark, Prussia. It took him just fifteen years from first learning the game of chess to defeat the famous German theorist Wilhelm Steinitz and take the championship title. He handily defeated his rival and began an uninterrupted reign that spanned 27 years, until the rise of Capablanca. Lasker more than held his own against the world’s best like Tarrasch and managed to keep Rubenstein at bay in match play too. The great attacking genius Frank Marshall was completely stymied by Lasker’s strange yet effective play.
I’d like to leave you with a great game that Lasker played in his first championship match with Steinitz. It has loads of drama from the mysterious 29. Kb1, to the knight stuck in the corner, to the novel piece sacrifice that Steinitz tried to turn down.
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 d6 4. d4 Bd7 5. Nc3 Nge7 6. Be3 Ng6 7. Qd2 Be7 8. O-O-O a6 9. Be2 exd4 10. Nxd4 Nxd4 11. Qxd4 Bf6 12. Qd2 Bc6 13. Nd5 O-O 14. g4 Re8 15. g5 Bxd5 16. Qxd5 Re5 17. Qd2 Bxg5 18. f4 Rxe4 19. fxg5 Qe7 20. Rdf1 Rxe3 21. Bc4 Nh8 22. h4 c6 23. g6 d5 24. gxh7+ Kxh7 25. Bd3+ Kg8 26. h5 Re8 27. h6 g6 28. h7+ Kg7 29. Kb1 Qe5 30. a3 c5 31. Qf2 c4 32. Qh4 f6 33. Bf5 Kf7 34. Rhg1 gxf5 35. Qh5+ Ke7 36. Rg8 Kd6 37. Rxf5 Qe6 38. Rxe8 Qxe8 39. Rxf6+ Kc5 40. Qh6 Re7 41. Qh2 Qd7 42. Qg1+ d4 43. Qg5+ Qd5 44. Rf5 Qxf5 45. Qxf5+ Kd6 46. Qf6+ 1-0
But Lasker’s sheer ability resonated as much when he seemed lost as when he was delivering checkmates. He was fantastic at saving the lost game. Check out the game below noting that on white’s 87th he appears to be down a clear exchange and seems to be about to resign. In addition white’s remaining pawn will fall before long and his knight is busy blockading a passed pawn. However Lasker discovers a hidden resource…
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.O-O Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 O-O 8.c3 d6 9.h3 Na5 10.Bc2 c5 11.d4 Qc7 12.Nbd2 cxd4 13.cxd4 Bd7 14.Nf1 Rfc8 15.Re2 Nh5 16.dxe5 dxe5 17.Nxe5 Bxh3 18.Nxf7 Be6 19.Ng5 Bc4 20.Bd3 Rd8 21.Rc2 Nf4 22.Bxf4 Qxf4 23.Nh3 Qe5 24.Bxc4+ Nxc4 25.Qe2 Rd4 26.f3 Rad8 27.Rac1 Bc5 28.Kh1 Bb4 29.b3 Nd2 30.Ne3 Ba3 31.Rd1 Bb4 32.a3 Ba5 33.b4 Bc7 34.f4 Nxe4 35.Kh2 Rxd1 36.Nxd1 Qe7 37.Rxc7 Qxc7 38.Qxe4 Qc4 39.Qe7 Qc8 40.Ndf2 h6 41.Qa7 Qe6 42.Qb7 Qd5 43.Qb6 Rd6 44.Qe3 Re6 45.Qc3 Qc4 46.Qf3 Qc6 47.Qd3 Rd6 48.Qb3+ Qd5 49.Qb1 Re6 50.Ng4 Re2 51.Nxh6+ gxh6 52.Qg6+ Kf8 53.Qxh6+ Ke8 54.Qg6+ Kd8 55.Qg3 Re8 56.Qf2 Rg8 57.Qb2 Qd6 58.Qc3 Kd7 59.Qf3 Kc7 60.Qe4 Rg7 61.Qf5 Re7 62.Ng5 Re3 63.Ne4 Qe7 64.Nf6 Kb8 65.g3 Rxa3 66.Kh3 Ra1 67.Nd5 Rh1+ 68.Kg2 Qh7 69.Qxh7 Rxh7 70.Kf3 Kb7 71.g4 Kc6 72.Ke4 Rh8 73.Ne3 Re8+ 74.Kd4 Rd8+ 75.Ke4 a5 76.bxa5 b4 77.a6 Kc5 78.a7 b3 79.Nd1 Ra8 80.g5 Rxa7 81.g6 Rd7 82.Nb2 Rd2 83.Kf3 Rd8 84.Ke4 Rd2 85.Kf3 Rd8 86.Ke4 Kd6 87.Kd4 Rc8 88.g7 Ke6 89.g8=Q+ Rxg8 90.Kc4 Rg3 91.Na4 Kf5 92.Kb4 Kxf4 93.Nb2 Ke4 94.Na4 Kd4 95.Nb2 Rf3 96.Na4 Re3 97.Nb2 Ke4 98.Na4 Kf3 99.Ka3 Ke4 100.Kb4 Kd4 101.Nb2 Rh3 102.Na4 Kd3 103.Kxb3 Kd4+ 1/2-1/2