Lasker vs Tarrasch 1908
Düsseldorf / Munich
Siegbert Tarrasch was born in Breslau, Prussia (now Wrocław, Poland) in
1862. In the late 1880s, he established himself as one of the strongest players in the world with several tournament
successes. After Tarrasch's first place in Manchester (1890), the Havana Chess Club proposed a
match against world champion Wilhelm Steinitz. A practicing
physician, Tarrasch declined as he couldn't devote that much time to chess. Besides his successful chess
career, he is also famous for propagating and deepening chess, which earned him the nickname "praeceptor germaniae"
(lat. teacher of Germany).
In 1906, world champion Emanuel Lasker
singled out Tarrasch and Geza Maroczy as worthy contenders for the world championship,
and said "Dr. Tarrasch's strength or weakness, if one likes - is his pronounced amour propre
[fr. self-love]. Without it he would have been a very mediocre chess player; gifted to an abnormal degree, he has
become a giant."
Instead of participating in Dresden (1892), won by Tarrasch, Lasker challenged the tournament winner to a
match via Leopold Hoffer.  Tarrasch declined the offer, since
Lasker had avoided a tournament battle with him by not participating in Dresden. Tarrasch was willing to play Lasker,
once the latter had won first prize in an international tournament. Two years later, Lasker took the title
from Steinitz in the Lasker - Steinitz World Championship (1894) match. After his successful
comeback at Monte Carlo (1903), Tarrasch challenged Lasker for a world
championship match, to take place in autumn 1904. The conditions were published at the end of
1903. An ice-skating accident in January 1904 disabled Tarrasch. He visited Lasker in Berlin in March 1904,
suggesting they postpone the match until the next year. But Lasker declined, declaring the contract null and void if the
match couldn't take place at the agreed date. Tarrasch would have to issue a new challenge.
Tarrasch's victory in the Marshall - Tarrasch (1905) match induced Rudolf
Gebhardt, chairman of the German Chess Federation, to contact the Manhattan Chess Club on November 24, 1905 to negotiate
a match for the title. The Club didn't respond, so after five months Gebhardt contacted Lasker directly on April 20,
1906. Lasker agreed to play Tarrasch in principle, but wanted to play in America only, as he believed that a match could
be financed nowhere else. Tarrasch said he could only play in Germany, due to his profession. In 1906,
Lasker also negotiated for a world championship match with Maróczy, but ultimately without success.
When Lasker defended his title in the Lasker - Marshall World Championship Match
(1907) by the score (+8 -0 =7), comparisons were made to Tarrasch's previous victory (+8 -1 =8) against the same
opponent in 1905, as if the title match had only been a substitute for a match between the two German
chessmasters. Later that year, Tarrasch triumphed in Ostend (Championship)
(1907), so a match between them again became a pressing matter. A good opportunity for negotiations
arose in February 1908, when Lasker visited Europe again for the first time in four years.
The lengthy negotiations were successfully finalized on August 1, 1908. Lasker had originally demanded an
honorarium of 15,000 Marks. The chairmen of the German (Gebhardt) and Bavarian (Schenzel) Chess Federations persuaded
the world champion to accept a lower honorarium of 7,500 Marks. Tarrasch even agreed to forego an honorarium in order to
help bring about the match. The winner would be the first to win eight games, with draws not counting. The victor would
receive 4,000 Marks, and the loser 2,500 Marks.  The time control was 1 hour for 15
moves. Otto Rosenfeld was the arbiter. Tarrasch's second was Heinrich Renner. Lasker's second in
Düsseldorf was Appun, while in Munich Schropp and Kollmann alternated as seconds.
The match began on August 17 in the Kunstpalast in Düsseldorf, where the first 4 games were played. The contract
stipulated that the match be relocated to Munich as soon as one competitor had scored three points. Both
players were in a separate room, together with their seconds. The numerous spectators followed the match in a large
hall. Lasker drew the white pieces by lot, and won Game 1. According to
Lasker, Tarrasch could have won Game 2, had he abstained from pawn grabbing
and continued his attack. With Lasker leading 2-0, Tarrasch took two rest days to recover from the
losses, and then scored his first win in Game 3. Lasker won Game 4 on August 31, after refuting Tarrasch's combination by 27...♖xf4.
With the score now 3-1 in Lasker's favor, the match now moved to the Rathaus in Munich on September 1. About 1,200
spectators witnessed Lasker's win in Game 5. Game 6 ended drawn, although Tarrasch missed a win on move 42. After his win in
Game 7, Lasker was in the lead by the score of +5 -1 =1. The match became more
even now, with draws in Games 8 and 9. Tarrasch won Game 10,
called by Garry Kasparov "probably his best game of the match."
Lasker struck back by winning Game 11. 1,100 spectators in the afternoon and
1,300 in the evening attended Game 12. Tarrasch won, and Lasker's lead was now
cut to +6 -3 =3. Lasker took four rest days, and then won Game 13. In Game 14,
Tarrasch tried to convert a better position for three days and 119 moves, but the game was finally drawn. Lasker was
held to a draw in Game 15. On September 30, Tarrasch blundered a piece in time
trouble and immediately resigned. Lasker won the match +8 -3 =5. Several commentators considered Tarrasch
to have played below his ability, and that the result did not truly represent his true strength. Most, however, agreed
that Lasker's victory was well deserved, and that he had demonstrated his superiority over Tarrasch.
FINAL SCORE: Lasker 8; Tarrasch 3 (5 draws)
Reference: game collection WCC Index [Lasker-Tarrasch 1908]
NOTABLE GAMES [what is this?]
- Rod Edwards, Siegbert Tarrasch
- Rod Edwards, Manchester 1890
- New York Sun, 6 October 1890. In Jacques N. Pope, Chess Archaeology
- Wiener Schachzeitung, February 1934, pp. 49-50. In ANNO / Österreichische Nationalbibliothek
- Emanuel Lasker, Lasker's Chess Magazine, January 1906, pp. 126-127. In Edward Lasker, ed., Lasker's Chess Magazine Vol.III Nov 1905 - April 1908, Olomouc 1998. Translation of amour propre by Karpova. Lasker goes on explaining "His amour propre is such that he must excel at something. Chess was, as it were, the easier medium for him to choose, and he is very fond of chess, therefore, but most particularly of his own chess."
- Rod Edwards, Dresden 1892
- Leopold Hoffer, The Championship Match: Lasker v. Tarrasch, London 1908, p. 1
- Siegbert Tarrasch, Der Schachwettkampf Lasker-Tarrasch um die Weltmeisterschaft im August-September 1908, Jens-Erik Rudolph Verlag, Hamburg 2009. Originally Veit & Comp., Leipzig 1908. Chapter 1, p. 1
- Wiener Schachzeitung, December 1903, pp. 291-292. In ANNO / Österreichische Nationalbibliothek
- Tarrasch, chapter 1, p.2
- Tarrasch, chapter 1, p.3
- Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, New York), 11 September 1906, p. 6. In Brooklyn Newsstand
- Wiener Schachzeitung, May-July 1907, pp. 163-164. In ANNO / Österreichische Nationalbibliothek
- Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, New York), 2 August 1908, p. 45. In Brooklyn Newsstand
- Wiener Schachzeitung, May-June 1908, pp. 176-177. In ANNO / Österreichische Nationalbibliothek
- Wiener Schachzeitung, September-October 1908, p. 263. In ANNO / Österreichische Nationalbibliothek
- Wiener Schachzeitung, September-October 1908, p. 265. In ANNO / Österreichische Nationalbibliothek
- Tarrasch, chapter 1, p.15. Among the tasks of the seconds mentioned were checking the clocks prior to the games. The chessplayer's second had to be contacted at least 1 hour before start of the game, if a rest day was taken (chapter 1, p.14). They were not for analysis of adjourned games, as clause 13 prohibited analysis or replaying of adjourned games in presence of a third person.
- Wiener Schachzeitung, July-August 1908, p. 193. In ANNO / Österreichische Nationalbibliothek
- Emanuel Lasker, Wiener Schachzeitung, Supplementheft 1908, pp. 381-416 (originally from Pester Lloyd, 1908). In ANNO / Österreichische Nationalbibliothek
- Tarrasch, chapter 3, p. 30
- Garry Kasparov, On My Great Predecessors Part I, 2003, Everyman, pp. 167-168.
- Tarrasch, chapter 13, p. 78. The break lasted 5 days overall, since a Sunday was in between.
- Wiener Schachzeitung, September-October 1908, pp. 323-328. In ANNO / Österreichische Nationalbibliothek. The Bohemia and Karl Behting, in the Düna-Zeitung, agreed that Tarrasch had played below his strength but acknowledged Lasker's superiority. The Frankfurter Zeitung (2 October 1908) was more sympathetic to Tarrasch, noting that the match result was not indicative of his actual strength. Hans Seyboth in the St. Petersburger Zeitung, Eugene Aleksandrovich Znosko-Borovsky in Novoe Vremia, and the New-Yorker Staatszeitung noted Lasker's superiority.
- Wiener Schachzeitung, December 1908, pp. 370-376. In ANNO / Österreichische Nationalbibliothek. Max Hofschläger in the Hamburger Nachrichten notes that Lasker was the better player, but that Tarrasch had played below his strength.