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  WCC Overview
Lasker vs Schlechter 1910
Vienna and Berlin

From January 7 to February 10, 1910, Emanuel Lasker defended his title by playing a 10 game match with the Viennese master, Carl Schlechter.

 Schlechter vs Lasker, 1910
 Schlechter and Lasker ready for game #1
The conditions for this match have been a source of endless controversy. Going into the final game, Schlechter led by a point, achieved a complicated but winning position, in which he could easily have forced a draw. Instead, Schlechter (nicknamed "the Drawing Master") made wildly uncharacteristic winning attempts, finally losing his way in the complications, allowing Lasker to win the game and tie the match. In fact, it's commonly believed now that there was a match clause requiring Schlechter to win by 2 points to become World Champion.[1]

Others maintain that Schlechter was too honorable to win the title by a fluke (he had been lucky in a lost position in the fifth game) and therefore strove to win at all costs. Others say it was simple human error: Schlechter saw a win but miscalculated and lost, and it had nothing to do with honor codes or secret contracts. [2]

In spite of this controversy, the final result of the match is quite certain: Lasker, upon achieving a tie score of 5 to 5, retained his title of World Chess Champion.

click on a game number to replay game 12345678910

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

1. World Chess Championships by Graeme Cree
2Was Schlechter Robbed? by Ray Keene

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

<time limit> 15 moves per hour>


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  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  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  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 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 :-)



Premium Chessgames Member
  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
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?
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.

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.


Oct-23-11  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  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.

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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