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Lasker vs Schlechter 1910
Vienna and Berlin

Carl Schlechter was born in Vienna, Austria in 1874. He became one of the strongest chessplayers in the world in the late 1890s.[1] Schlechter shared 1st with Harry Nelson Pillsbury at Munich (1900), won both Vienna (1904) and the huge Ostend (1906) tournament, and shared 1st at both Vienna (1908) and Prague (1908).

 Schlechter vs Lasker, 1910
 Schlechter and Lasker ready for game #1
Theodor Gerbec wrote of Schlechter that "Apart from the reputation of being the greatest defensive player of all times, his attacking conduct was famous for an almost undefinable grace and method," [2] and Richard Reti said "His games stand out through their breadth of scheme — just as in the forest the trunks of trees and their branches stretch themselves out on all sides wherever there are open spaces: thus did Schlechter develop his forces; forcibly and, like Nature as it were, objectless. No hidden places and traps were there, but only sound development. With him was no undue haste and no pinning himself down to one idea, but one harmonious evolution" [3] In 1906, world champion Emanuel Lasker acknowledged Schlechter's aptitude to play for the crown, but observed that Schlechter had "so little of the devil about him that he could not be moved to take anything coveted by somebody else."[4]

Following his tournament successes, Schlechter travelled to Berlin in November 1908 and challenged Lasker to a title match. The world champion accepted, and they issued a joint statement on December 3, stating that the match would last 30 games, the winner would need a +2 score and the match would take place at the end of 1909.[5] Further negotiations led to an announcement on September 15, 1909, that the match would be played in December 1909 or January, February or March 1910 and would be public.[6] Schlechter biographer Warren Goldman reports that "...conditions governing the truncated contest in 1910 were never published so far as the author has been able to determine as of 1994," but goes on to note that the "Deutsches Wochenschach put the matter thusly: the victor would be the one who scored the majority of the games, and if necessary the referee would decide the title."[7] According to the Pester Lloyd,[8] the conditions were as follows: ten games were to be played, five in Vienna and five in Berlin. Whoever won the most games would be the winner, with draws counting a ½ point. The size of the winner's prize would depend on the number of subscriptions. In addition, the Vienna Chess Club donated 3,000 Austro-Hungarian Kronen to the purse, and the Berlin Chess Society added another 2,000 Marks. Emanuel Lasker held the copyright for the game scores.

On January 7, 1910 the world championship match began in the Vienna Chess Club with many celebrities present. Georg Marco was the match director, and the seconds were Hugo Faehndrich, Siegmund Pollak and Eduard Stiaßny.[9] Usually, the games began at 5 pm and lasted until 8 pm. After a break of 1 ½ hours, play was resumed until 11 pm and then adjourned if necessary.[10] The time control was 15 moves per hour.[11] On January 8, Lasker took a rest day.[10] After the third game, play was relocated to the Café Marienbrücke for games 4 and 5, with Faehndrich becoming the match director and Pollak and Nikolaus Doery von Jobahaza serving as seconds.[12] Game 4 was played in public with a fee of two Kronen for a day ticket and 10 Kronen for booked seats.[13] According to Lasker, this innovative event was a great success and drew many spectators.[13] The 1st leg of the match ended after the 5th game, which the challenger won after four draws.[12]

After four rest days, the 2nd leg began on January 29 in the Hotel de Rome in Berlin.[14] Lasker was held to draws in games 6 and 7. He reported that about 400 spectators were present during the resumption of game 7, crowded around the masters' board or analyzing on their own boards.[15] Additionally, Semion Alapin commented on the game in a separate room.[15] Lasker was also held to draws in games 8 and 9, and had only one chance left to defend his title, having the white pieces in game 10.[14] The game lasted 3 days and more than 11 hours. Although a draw would have sufficed for a match victory,[16,17] Schlechter played actively and got a promising position. But while playing for a win instead of a draw, he drifted into a worse position and Lasker finally converted his advantage after an arduous struggle. Lasker called the win in game 5 fortunate and said that Schlechter had wanted to add a second win in the final games of the match.[11] Schlechter remarked that he hadn't wanted to "play for a draw" in the last game.[18] Tournament director Alfred Ehrhardt Post declared the match drawn (+1 -1 =8), and rapturous applause ensued.[19] Both contestants shook hands.[19] Lasker retained his title, but Schlechter hadn't been beaten.

click on a game number to replay game 12345678910
Lasker½½½½0½½½½1
Schlechter½½½½1½½½½0

FINAL SCORE:  Lasker 5;  Schlechter 5
Reference: game collection WCC Index [Lasker-Schlechter 1910]

NOTABLE GAMES   [what is this?]
    · Game #10     Lasker vs Schlechter, 1910     1-0
    · Game #5     Schlechter vs Lasker, 1910     1-0
    · Game #7     Schlechter vs Lasker, 1910     1/2-1/2

FOOTNOTES

  1. Rod Edwards, Carl Schlechter
  2. Wiener Schachzeitung, December 1928, p. 370. In ANNO / Österreichische Nationalbibliothek
  3. Richard Réti, Modern Ideas in Chess, Hardinge Simpole, 2002, pp. 82-83
  4. Emanuel Lasker, Lasker's Chess Magazine, January 1906, p. 126
  5. Wiener Schachzeitung, December 1908, p. 376. In ANNO / Österreichische Nationalbibliothek
  6. Wiener Schachzeitung, September 1909, p. 315. In ANNO / Österreichische Nationalbibliothek
  7. Warren Goldman, Carl Schlechter! Life and Times of the Austrian Chess Wizard, Caissa Editions, 1994, pp. 400-401
  8. Pester Lloyd, 8 January 1910, p. 6. In ANNO / Österreichische Nationalbibliothek
  9. Our sources do not indicate who was whose second, and we assume that the seconds' role was restricted to administrative tasks mainly. Emanuel Lasker mentioned in the Pester Lloyd (see source 8) that the seconds drew the lot to decide who got the white pieces in game 1.
  10. Wiener Schachzeitung, January 1910, pp. 1-5. In ANNO / Österreichische Nationalbibliothek
  11. Emanuel Lasker, Ost und West, March 1910, pp. 171-176. In Compact Memory - Organ der Deutschen Conferenz-Gemeinschaft der Alliance Israélite Universelle Organ der Alliance Israélite Universelle
  12. Wiener Schachzeitung, February-March 1910, pp. 58-78. In ANNO / Österreichische Nationalbibliothek
  13. Emanuel Lasker, Pester Lloyd, 19 January 1910, p. 7. In ANNO / Österreichische Nationalbibliothek
  14. Wiener Schachzeitung, February-March 1910, pp. 78-95. In ANNO / Österreichische Nationalbibliothek
  15. Emanuel Lasker, Pester Lloyd, 4 February 1910, p. 6. In ANNO / Österreichische Nationalbibliothek
  16. Wiener Schachzeitung, February-March 1910, pp. 92-94. In ANNO / Österreichische Nationalbibliothek
  17. Since the final conditions for the match have never been published, there are rumors that Schlechter had to win the match by a score of +2 to become world champion. A +2 clause existed in the conditions issued by both players on 3 December 1908 (source 5). In addition, when communicating his terms to his challenger Jose Raul Capablanca in The Evening Post of 22 November 1911, the second clause determined that if the match ended with the scores 1:0, 2:1 or 3:2, the match was to be declared drawn (reproduced in Edward G Winter, Capablanca: a compendium of games, notes, articles, correspondence, illustrations and other rare materials on the Cuban chess genius José Raúl Capablanca, 1888-1942 (McFarland 1989), p.56). After Capablanca's protest, Lasker explained that a difference of one point was very slight and that the rule was directed against the hopes of nursing a one point lead to match victory by drawing the rest of the games. A score of 4:3 with 23 draws would establish proof of severe fighting and suffice for a match win (clause 2, reproduced in Winter, Capablanca, p.60). In both cases, with explicit +2 clauses demanded, the matches could last up to 30 games. The present match consisted of 10 games only, which makes a comparison doubtful. We know of no contemporaneous source claiming that there was a +2 clause in effect in the actual world championship match, except for one: Richard Forster quoted a report in the Basler Nachrichten of 20 February 1910 in C.N. 4144 by Walter Preiswerk, who was in Leipzig at that time. Preiswerk claims that Schlechter, instead of becoming world champion by drawing the tenth game, would have had to play a rematch regardless of the financing in that case. Both chessplayers, also excellent businessmen, didn't like this prospect. Winter notes that it is difficult to know quite what to make of this commentary. In C.N.s 7109 and 8222, Winter shows examples of how the alleged +2 clause is usually introduced in books, by referring to the conditions without mentioning the sources and although the final conditions have so far not been found published anywhere (Winter). An example of this type of claim is given by Garry Kasparov, who simply states that However, to all appearances, one of the points stated that to win the title the challenger had to gain an advantage of two points, and that if Schlechter were to win by one point (5½-4½) the match would be declared... drawn. (Garry Kasparov, On My Great Predecessors Part I, 2003, Everyman, p.173) and presenting the speculation as an established fact later (Kasparov, p.177). Winter presents a list of items on this controversial question in C.N. 7109 for everyone who is further interested in the topic. When researching the matter, we found no indication that such a clause existed. Neither Schlechter, nor Lasker explain the challenger's enterprising play in game 10 by a +2 clause (sources 11 and 18). The annotators of game 10 also don't mention it (source 16), and source 8 noted that the winner would be he who scored the most points. Still, as long as the final conditions are not known, this matter remains open for debate.
  18. Carl Schlechter, Allgemeine Sport-Zeitung, 27 February 1910, p. 219. In ANNO / Österreichische Nationalbibliothek
  19. Emanuel Lasker, Pester Lloyd, 12 February 1910, p. 20. In ANNO / Österreichische Nationalbibliothek

 page 1 of 1; 10 games  PGN Download 
Game  ResultMoves Year Event/LocaleOpening
1. Schlechter vs Lasker ½-½69 1910 Lasker - Schlechter World Championship MatchC66 Ruy Lopez
2. Lasker vs Schlechter ½-½35 1910 Lasker - Schlechter World Championship MatchC80 Ruy Lopez, Open
3. Schlechter vs Lasker ½-½31 1910 Lasker - Schlechter World Championship MatchC66 Ruy Lopez
4. Lasker vs Schlechter ½-½56 1910 Lasker - Schlechter World Championship MatchC80 Ruy Lopez, Open
5. Schlechter vs Lasker 1-058 1910 Lasker - Schlechter World Championship MatchC66 Ruy Lopez
6. Lasker vs Schlechter ½-½47 1910 Lasker - Schlechter World Championship MatchC80 Ruy Lopez, Open
7. Schlechter vs Lasker ½-½48 1910 Lasker - Schlechter World Championship MatchB57 Sicilian
8. Lasker vs Schlechter ½-½43 1910 Lasker - Schlechter World Championship MatchC80 Ruy Lopez, Open
9. Schlechter vs Lasker ½-½65 1910 Lasker - Schlechter World Championship MatchB33 Sicilian
10. Lasker vs Schlechter 1-071 1910 Lasker - Schlechter World Championship MatchD11 Queen's Gambit Declined Slav
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2)  
 

Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 4 OF 4 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Jul-14-09
Premium Chessgames Member
  visayanbraindoctor: All the previous World Championship matches before this had pretty high error rates, and most were mismatches. The next ones, with the exception of the the Lasker-Janowski (1910) mismatch, were generally of higher quality. This was the first.

The 1910 Lasker-Schlechter World Championship Match was the first super-GM match-up in chess history.

Jul-14-09  returnoftheking: Interesting posts! Do you know what time control was enforced?
Jul-14-09
Premium Chessgames Member
  visayanbraindoctor: <returnoftheking: Interesting posts! Do you know what time control was enforced?>

Lasker vs Schlechter, 1910

Here Capablanca in his annotations says that the game was adjourned on the 36th move. Maybe it was two hours to make 36 moves, with additional time of one hour per 18 moves. This is just speculation.

Jul-14-09  vonKrolock: <better reading <incredibl<y> high> in my post from 4th July above>

<time limit> 15 moves per hour

Jul-14-09
Premium Chessgames Member
  visayanbraindoctor: <vonKrolock: <better reading <incredibl<y> high> in my post from 4th July above>

<time limit> 15 moves per hour>

Thanks.

I think this is much more preferable than the Sofia 1.5 hours for 40 moves, and then play to the finish comedy. Even a Lasker would not be able to produce such great endings under such time controls.

Jul-14-09  returnoftheking: That luxurious time control may also explain the high quality of the games. I never really looked goot at those, except for the 10th, but the rest is very entertaining as well indeed!
Jul-14-09
Premium Chessgames Member
  visayanbraindoctor: <returnoftheking: That luxurious time control may also explain the high quality of the games. I never really looked goot at those, except for the 10th, but the rest is very entertaining as well indeed!>

I don't think so. They probably had the same time controls in the 1880s and 1890s . But many of the 1880s - 1890s World Championship matches games were terrible by modern standards.

This 1910 Lasker-Schlechter World Championship Match is actually one of the best ever in chess history in terms of quality. I think it's even better than all the WC matches that came later quality-wise except for the 1921 Lasker - Capablanca match.

Compared to the following WC matches for instance

Kasparov-Short (1993)
Kasparov-Anand (1995)
Kasparov-Kramnik (2000)
Kramnik-Leko (2004)
Kramnik-Topalov (2006)
Anand-Kramnik (2008)

this match quality-wise is better. This is just an opinion; the only way to know for sure is to analyze all the games of all these matches with computers and find out their errors rates. I suspect this 1910 match has a lower error rate.

In addition, some of the game strategies that Lasker and Schlechter employed are more creative and wonderful than those in the matches above.

Jul-14-09  returnoftheking: well it sure looks interesting. Whether or not it is a better match.
Jul-14-09
Premium Chessgames Member
  visayanbraindoctor: <returnoftheking: well it sure looks interesting. Whether or not it is a better match.>

I completely agree regarding <interesting>. What other WC match has less errors and yet has more interesting games? I can't think of any.

The 1921 Lasker - Capablanca match probably had a smaller gross error rate, but this one has more interesting and entertaining games.

Jul-14-09
Premium Chessgames Member
  visayanbraindoctor: A caveat has to be mentioned in all our discussions above.

These World Championship matches, Lasker-Schlechter (1910) and Lasker-Capablanca (1921), will always be underestimated by many ordinary present-day chess pundits for the simple reason that when they look, the years after these matches read (1910) and (1921). Oh that's so ancient, they must be patzers!

The best way to present these matches to such types of present-day chess pundits seems to be just to present their games without saying what years they were played, nor who specifically played them. The games stand out alone by themselves. They are so obviously good and masterly that if one were to present them as having been played only yesterday by some of the very best of chess masters, a chess pundit ignorant of their ages or players would probably go gaga over such great games and immediately agree they are of World Championship caliber indeed.

I wonder what would happen for example if CG.com presented some of the Lasker-Schlechter (1910) WC match games as having been played by two top ten GMs, without mentioning they were top ten in 1910. "Oh that must Topalov as White, such a scintillating attack. And that must be Anand or Kramnik as Black, such a brilliant defense." "Wow amazing ending, it must be Carlsen or Jakoveko playing." "Gawd, incredible tenacity, only Aronian or Leko could do that." Etc..

Jul-15-09  ughaibu: Capablanca says the game was adjourned on move 36, but he also says that the game wasn't resumed, so the status of his comment is unclear.
Jul-15-09  solskytz: Dear VishyBrainDoctor,

thank you very much for your illuminating, stimulating comments, relating to the match as a whole and specifically delineating the proceedings of each individual game. This is a marvelous introduction to a match that I was actually curious about for a long time.

Now I read your comments for a game, then examine it, and so on. Thanks again :-)

solskytz

Jun-09-10  wandas: NO DOUBT 2 WINS BS WAS REQUIRED,

encyclopediasupreme.org/wcc1910.pgn HERES FINE SITE EXPLAINS IT ALL, LASKER WAS BAD, SCHLECTER SHOULD HAVE BEEN CHAMP UNTIL 1921 OR CO CHAMP, HE PLAYED BETTER, SHAME ON LASKER!

Jun-09-10  Marmot PFL: <visayanbraindoctor> I must look at all these games, but in the few i did so far the substandard, almost casual opening play defines the era as pre-modern. As early as game 2 Lasker was in serious trouble with white and i do not think a modern player like Carlsen or Anand would let him escape, nor even an older player like Korchnoi or Larsen.
Jul-15-10  dmillergp: I think part of the reason Schleter played for the win in game 10, and something people forget about, this match was played for a high amount of money, and for a man like Schleter, who ended up dying of starvation, money was short so this was a big deal
Jul-15-10
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: Actually, Schlechter died of pneumonia brought on by his weakened condition from an lack of food. I am not trying to cut straws here. If there had been enough food in Europe, he might have lived. Schlechter also supported his Mother. I wonder how she fared?
Jul-16-10
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <dmillergp: I think part of the reason Schleter played for the win in game 10, and something people forget about, this match was played for a high amount of money, and for a man like Schleter, who ended up dying of starvation, money was short so this was a big deal>

Things were a lot better in 1910 for Schlechter (and millions of other people in Central Europe) than they were at the end of the Great War.

In his Lasker book Soltis dubbed Schlechter the hardest-working man in chess, editing magazines, writing openings books, and maintaining a killer tournament and match schedule.

Jul-16-10  ughaibu: 1) it's pretty much a cliche that the easiest way to lose, is to play for a draw. Schlechter, I expect, was aware of this.

2) I think the simplest explanation for Schlechter's play is that he thought he was making the best moves.

Jul-16-10  Petrosianic: <something people forget about, this match was played for a high amount of money,>

We forget about it because it's irrelevant. The prize fund wasn't pro-rated by score. A 6-4 victory wouldn't have paid any better than a 5½-4½ victory would have. UNLESS that elusive 2-point clause existed. but if it did, there's no mystery about why he played so hard.

May-22-11
Premium Chessgames Member
  Adriano Saldanha: Games 1-5 took place in Vienna.
Games 6-10 took place in Berlin.

Here an extract from both games 5 and 6:

FIFTH GAME - Ruy Lopez - Here Schlechter chose a better continuation against the same defence, as in the first and third games. Lasker courted the exchange of pieces, relying on his superlative skill in the end-game. But Schlechter met the champion on his own ground, and playing in masterly style, scored the first victory in the match. This game closed the Vienna series, the net result of which showed Shlecter in a highly favourable light. Not only had he registered the only won game, but he had troubled Lasker in the majority of the drawn games, and the honours of the series were largely in his favour.

SIXTH GAME - Ruy Lopez - The first game of the Berlin series, interest in the news from Vienna, that Schlechter held the big advantage of 1 to 0 and 4 draws. Hence the latter half of the match worthily upheld the interest of the former. In this game Schlechter again utilised the recognised defence to the variation hitherto played by Lasker. Exchanges in passing from the opening to the close of the middle game left Lasker with a Pawn ahead for the ending. Here again he was unable to utilise his skill in the end-game to appreciable advantage, and Schlechter was able to draw an instructive ending.

source:
http://graeme.50webs.com/chesschamp...

Oct-23-11
Premium Chessgames Member
  visayanbraindoctor: For an analysis of all the games of this match, please go to User: bridgeburner and User: game mapping project,

part of a project to determine and compare the error rates of key World Championship matches.

Oct-23-11
Premium Chessgames Member
  visayanbraindoctor: The analysis in the project referred to above indicate that Lasker and Schlechter were playing about the same quality (in terms of the ability to avoid errors) of chess as Kramnik in the Anand-Kramnik World Championship Match (2008); and that Anand was playing just a tad better than Kramnik, Lasker and Schlechter.
Jul-14-12  blazerdoodle: I'd like to see the original in German, of course. I can have it read to me by friends.
Jan-29-13  LastDaysofSaloFlohr: Maybe if his mother had named him Hannibal he would have had the requisite killer instinct to finish Lasker off. (Geddit?)

Anyway, back to sobriety - I read Thomas Glavinic's novel based on Schlechter - <Carl Haffner's Love of the Draw.> An interesting and entertaining read but that's all.

One of the previous kibitzers noted that Lasker and Schlechter had both written annotations to (most of) the match games - where could I find these? Have they been translated into English?

The controversy about the conditions for the match - did Schlechter need to win by two points? - is perhaps something that could be settled by a thorough scholar looking through the archives (assuming they weren't destroyed during WWII.) What about contemporary reports in the newspapers or chess magazines? I'm sure they've been researched but you never know.

I don't believe e.g. that Schlechter felt bad about winning game #5 - Capablanca had some nerve to call it a "fluke" (if he did write that.) It was a tremendous struggle and yes, Lasker should have won but it was extremely complicated. Dvoretsky (and other annotators) looks at the game in great detail in his Analytical Manual. In Lasker the human element was very important; certain players (Schlechter and Rubinstein) perhaps neglected this aspect in favour of strict objectivity and their games are all the better for it. But Lasker wasn't World Champion for over twenty five years for nothing.

Apr-30-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  Karpova: Dr. Emanuel Lasker (Berlin, January 29, 1910):

<Ich habe in Schlechter eine neue Spielweise zu bekämpfen; mit Schwierigkeit habe ich die richtige Strategie entdeckt, bin aber gerade dann unglücklich gewesen. In der fünften Partie schien mir der Sieg bereits sicher, als ich den entscheidenden Fehler beging. Es wäre nicht so gekommen, hätte Schlechter mich nicht durch Ausnützung jeder gebotenen Gelegenheit ermüdet, und es hätte auch so leicht anders kommen können. In der Theorie bin ich im Vorteil geblieben, wenn mir auch die Praxis unrecht gegeben hat.>

In Schlechter, I have to fight a new way of playing; with difficulty I discovered the correct strategy, but was unfortunate right then. In the fifth game, my victory appeared already safe, when I committed the decisive mistake. This wouldn't have occurred, hadn't Schlechter tired me through capitalising on every given opportunity, and that way it could also have easily been otherwise*. In theory I kept my advantage, but practice proved me wrong.)

Source: 'Pester Lloyd', 1910.01.31, p. 5

* I hope this is clear. I guess that with this last part of the sentence, Lasker wants to say that even with schlechter tiring him, he may not have committed the mistake, i. e. that the blunder was not an inevitable.

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