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  WCC Overview
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.[1] After Tarrasch's first place in Manchester (1890),[2] the Havana Chess Club proposed a match against world champion Wilhelm Steinitz.[3] A practicing physician, Tarrasch declined as he couldn't devote that much time to chess.[3] 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).[4] 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."[5]

Tarrasch and Lasker Instead of participating in Dresden (1892), won by Tarrasch,[6] Lasker challenged the tournament winner to a match via Leopold Hoffer. [7] 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.[8] 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,[5] to take place in autumn 1904. The conditions were published at the end of 1903.[9] 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.[10]

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.[11] In 1906, Lasker also negotiated for a world championship match with Maróczy, but ultimately without success.[12] 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,[13] 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.[11] A good opportunity for negotiations arose in February 1908, when Lasker visited Europe again for the first time in four years.[11]

The lengthy negotiations were successfully finalized on August 1, 1908.[14] 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.[15] [16] The time control was 1 hour for 15 moves.[17] 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.[18]

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.[19] 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.[20] With Lasker leading 2-0, Tarrasch took two rest days to recover from the losses,[21] 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.[20] Tarrasch won Game 10, called by Garry Kasparov "probably his best game of the match."[22] 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.[20] Lasker took four rest days,[23] and then won Game 13.[20] 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.[20] 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.[24] [25]

click on a game number to replay game 12345678910111213141516

FINAL SCORE:  Lasker 8;  Tarrasch 3 (5 draws)
Reference: game collection WCC Index [Lasker-Tarrasch 1908]

NOTABLE GAMES   [what is this?]
    · Game #2     Tarrasch vs Lasker, 1908     0-1
    · Game #4     Tarrasch vs Lasker, 1908     0-1
    · Game #1     Lasker vs Tarrasch, 1908     1-0


  1. Rod Edwards, Siegbert Tarrasch
  2. Rod Edwards, Manchester 1890
  3. New York Sun, 6 October 1890. In Jacques N. Pope, Chess Archaeology
  4. Wiener Schachzeitung, February 1934, pp. 49-50. In ANNO / Österreichische Nationalbibliothek
  5. 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."
  6. Rod Edwards, Dresden 1892
  7. Leopold Hoffer, The Championship Match: Lasker v. Tarrasch, London 1908, p. 1
  8. 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
  9. Wiener Schachzeitung, December 1903, pp. 291-292. In ANNO / Österreichische Nationalbibliothek
  10. Tarrasch, chapter 1, p.2
  11. Tarrasch, chapter 1, p.3
  12. Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, New York), 11 September 1906, p. 6. In Brooklyn Newsstand
  13. Wiener Schachzeitung, May-July 1907, pp. 163-164. In ANNO / Österreichische Nationalbibliothek
  14. Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, New York), 2 August 1908, p. 45. In Brooklyn Newsstand
  15. Wiener Schachzeitung, May-June 1908, pp. 176-177. In ANNO / Österreichische Nationalbibliothek
  16. Wiener Schachzeitung, September-October 1908, p. 263. In ANNO / Österreichische Nationalbibliothek
  17. Wiener Schachzeitung, September-October 1908, p. 265. In ANNO / Österreichische Nationalbibliothek
  18. 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.
  19. Wiener Schachzeitung, July-August 1908, p. 193. In ANNO / Österreichische Nationalbibliothek
  20. Emanuel Lasker, Wiener Schachzeitung, Supplementheft 1908, pp. 381-416 (originally from Pester Lloyd, 1908). In ANNO / Österreichische Nationalbibliothek
  21. Tarrasch, chapter 3, p. 30
  22. Garry Kasparov, On My Great Predecessors Part I, 2003, Everyman, pp. 167-168.
  23. Tarrasch, chapter 13, p. 78. The break lasted 5 days overall, since a Sunday was in between.
  24. 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.
  25. 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.

 page 1 of 1; 16 games  PGN Download 
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Lasker vs Tarrasch 1-0551908Lasker - Tarrasch World Championship MatchC68 Ruy Lopez, Exchange
2. Tarrasch vs Lasker 0-1411908Lasker - Tarrasch World Championship MatchC66 Ruy Lopez
3. Lasker vs Tarrasch 0-1441908Lasker - Tarrasch World Championship MatchC98 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Chigorin
4. Tarrasch vs Lasker 0-1411908Lasker - Tarrasch World Championship MatchC66 Ruy Lopez
5. Lasker vs Tarrasch 1-0381908Lasker - Tarrasch World Championship MatchC98 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Chigorin
6. Tarrasch vs Lasker ½-½531908Lasker - Tarrasch World Championship MatchC10 French
7. Lasker vs Tarrasch 1-0761908Lasker - Tarrasch World Championship MatchC12 French, McCutcheon
8. Tarrasch vs Lasker ½-½481908Lasker - Tarrasch World Championship MatchC67 Ruy Lopez
9. Lasker vs Tarrasch ½-½711908Lasker - Tarrasch World Championship MatchC12 French, McCutcheon
10. Tarrasch vs Lasker 1-0321908Lasker - Tarrasch World Championship MatchC67 Ruy Lopez
11. Lasker vs Tarrasch 1-0281908Lasker - Tarrasch World Championship MatchC12 French, McCutcheon
12. Tarrasch vs Lasker 1-0651908Lasker - Tarrasch World Championship MatchC49 Four Knights
13. Lasker vs Tarrasch 1-0441908Lasker - Tarrasch World Championship MatchD32 Queen's Gambit Declined, Tarrasch
14. Tarrasch vs Lasker ½-½1191908Lasker - Tarrasch World Championship MatchC67 Ruy Lopez
15. Lasker vs Tarrasch ½-½521908Lasker - Tarrasch World Championship MatchD02 Queen's Pawn Game
16. Tarrasch vs Lasker 0-1261908Lasker - Tarrasch World Championship MatchC49 Four Knights
 page 1 of 1; 16 games  PGN Download 
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2)  

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Premium Chessgames Member
  Chessical: "<DR. LASKER V DR. TARRASCH.>

A consultation having taken place at Coburg between the president and the secretary of the German Chess Association and Dr. Lasker about the conditions of the proposed championship match. Dr. Lasker demanded in addition to the stakes an honorarium of 15,000 marks for a match of eight games up, draws not counting. But the association, not seeing their way to procure such a sum, proposed the best out of 20 games.

Dr. Lasker demanded for such a match in addition to the stakes, 10,000 marks. It was, however, remarked that such a match might depend to a greet extent upon a player winning the first or the first two games, as he could play the others for a draw. Dr. Lasker joined issue on this point, and made the proposal to play a match, six games up for the honorarium of 10,000 marks, besides the stakes.

Dr. Tarrasch, although of opinion that six games up are not enough for so important a match, finally agreed also to the latter conditions, if Dr. Lasker should insist on six games, so that the match should be brought about. A new set of conditions were, therefore drawn up, and sent to both Dr. Lasker and Dr. Tarrasch.

According to 'Deutches Wochenschach' the following are the new conditions) —

1. Dr. Lasker and Dr. Tarrasch are willing to play a match for the championship of the world.

2. The winner of the first eight games, draws not counting, to be victor.

3. The winner to receive from the German Press Association 4,000 marks.

4. Dr. Lasker to receive besides 15,000.

Dr. Tarrasch waives all claim to compensation, but the association promise to hold him free of all expenses. Dr. Tarrasch, however, promises to return the amount in case of victory.

5. Should the required sum of 23,00O marks not be forthcoming, then Dr. Lasker and Dr Tarrasch agree to play the match, six games up, Dr. Lasker to receive 10,000 marks.

8. If the required fund should not be forthcoming, this contract is null and void, but the association are willing to renew negotiations upon a basis in conformity with the means at their disposal if both masters should notify their intention by July 16.

7. The association undertake to inform the two masters on or before July 6, whether they have succeeded to procure the required funds.

8. Should the funds be subscribed then the match is to begin on August 17, at a place to be chosen by the association.

9. Where the match is to be played remains with the association.

10. Play days six per week, only six hours' play in afternoons and evenings.

11. Fifteen moves per hour. No second game to be commenced on any day.

12. Each player has the right of three free days during the match.

13. Before the beginning of the match both players elect an umpire.

14. In each place where the match shall be played each player shall select his second.

16. The games to be the property of both players.

16. Each player shall deposit 2,000 marks forfeit money within one week, after signing the conditions, the forfeit money to be returned after the first game shall have been played."

<Source:> "The Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser" (NSW, Australia), Wednesday 12th August 1908, p.444.

May-29-15  JimNorCal: "Emanuel Lasker and Siegbert Tarrasch were bound by a rivalry that the latter was able to sum up in one sentence. Mr. Lasker, I have only three words to say to you: check and mate!"

In Chess Secrets by Ed. Lasker, the author says Tarrasch said the words at a small gathering of friends before traveling to the match. In other words, the claim is that Tarrasch said something like "I will certainly not speak to Lasker, I will only say to him-- 'check and mate'".

May-29-15  RookFile: What a character Tarrasch was.
Jul-22-15  thegoodanarchist: please give a caption for the photo on this page!

I think that is Doctor Tarrasch addressing the board. Is that Doctor Lasker beside him, kibitzing? If not, who is it?

Jul-22-15  Retireborn: <thegoodanarchist>

It's indeed Lasker, and the photo was taken during the match, according to Edward Winter here:-

Jul-06-16  zanzibar: Boy, oh boy, if any fact in an intro needed a footnote:

<An ice-skating accident in January 1904 disabled Tarrasch>

this is one.

Currently lacking in the intro above.

Oh, here's a link to an online version of Tarrasch's book about the match:

(Sorry, but I think this is US-viewable only.)

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: Apparently it was a big air double Lutz, or as Tarrasch called it, in 300 Chess Games: "<Eine Grosseluftdoppel-Lutz mit ein Süßigkeiten-Flutz>".

It must've looked spectacular.

Jul-07-16  zanzibar: RE: Ice-skating accident

Siegbert Tarrasch (kibitz #332)

has sources.

Jul-07-16  zanzibar: BTW- I don't recommend doing a search for "ice-skating accident" on youtube, unless you have a fairly strong constitution.

But I did find this image searching for <Süßigkeiten-Flutz>:

Feb-20-17  thegoodanarchist: < offramp: Apparently it was a big air double Lutz, or as Tarrasch called it, in 300 Chess Games: "<Eine Grosseluftdoppel-Lutz mit ein Süßigkeiten-Flutz>".

It must've looked spectacular.>

I've heard rumors that the double Lutz contained a McTwist as well..

But those rumors only play in dark, twisted corners of the internet.

Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: <WMD: <Tarrasch attributed his poor start in the 1908 world title match to the exposure of his talent to the influence of the sea. BCM responded thus: This does not leave altogether a pleasant flavour in the mouth. Dusseldorf is some 170 miles from the coast. A gift so sensitive to sea influences at that distance is not robust enough to carry the world's championship. If the validity of this excuse is admitted, we shall some day hear of masters so sensitive to electric influences that they cannot play within 150 miles of a telegraph post.> BCM, May 1983> Siegbert Tarrasch (kibitz #88)
Dec-13-18  WorstPlayerEver: <AVRO38>

You are wrong. That's a pic of a younger Lasker from the 19th century. I don't know who the other player is yet, but it is certainly not Tarrasch.

Tarrasch is from 1862, the profile pic shows Tarrasch in his forties.

Btw I have found a pic of Lasker vs Pillbury (1895/96). With Chigorin and Steinitz watching. Where Lasker is about the same age as in your pic.

Dec-13-18  WorstPlayerEver: Pillsbury.
Dec-13-18  JimNorCal: <WPE>: that web page has a gorgeous photo of Lasker, Pillsbury, Steinitz and Chigorin! I wonder who is the fellow whose image is framed on the wall looking over the four players.
Dec-13-18  WorstPlayerEver: <JimNorCal>

I think Chigorin. It's a better pic than at the tournament page itself here.

However, if you click on the pic and click 'search' then you get an even better pic (but the wrong players).

The photo <AVRO38 claims> is everywhere held as being a photo of the 1908 match. So I have to apologize to AVRO38, because they are probably right. It's the light which makes Tarrasch almost not recognizable. The clocks have to give the answer, though.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Eggman: What a great pity these two could not have met 10 years earlier. By the time of this match, Tarrasch was in his mid-40s and surely past his best.
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <Eggman: What a great pity these two could not have met 10 years earlier. By the time of this match, Tarrasch was in his mid-40s and surely past his best.>

Yes, he was about as old as Lasker was in St. Petersburg (1914), though a decade younger than Lasker was in New York (1924).

Admittedly Lasker was an outlier in that respect as in many others. But if you're going to regret something, regret that Lasker-Pillsbury or Lasker-Maroczy never happened. I think the main reason to regret that this match didn't happen until Tarrasch was in his mid-40s is all the posts lamenting that it didn't happen until Tarrasch was in his mid-40s. Lasker would have whipped Tarrasch any time from the early 1890s on. See Chigorin vs Tarrasch, 1893.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Diademas: <Eggman: What a great pity these two could not have met 10 years earlier. By the time of this match, Tarrasch was in his mid-40s and surely past his best.>

From "The World Chess Championship: A History" by Horowitz

<"The end came when, in the sixteenth game, Tarrasch made a crowning blunder in time pressure; the final score was 8-3, with 5 draws. The inevitable comment was "If Tarrasch had only played Lasker some years before, when he was in his prime...", but there was no indication that, at the age of forty-six, his play had weakened appreciably, and the inflexibility of approach that had proved costly on occasion was with him at the best of times. He had his chance, and failed.">

Courtesy of <OJC> Tarrasch vs Lasker, 1908

Dec-03-19  RookFile: Surely Tarrasch would have had a chance had he played Steinitz directly when he had a chance, considering his plus score against the aging champ. That seems more clear cut than playing Lasker.
Dec-03-19  Olavi: In 1893 Tarrasch received an invitation to play Steinitz for the crown in Havanna, but declined due to his medical practice. He accepted the invitation to St Petersburg, presumably it was less time-consuming.
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <RookFile: Surely Tarrasch would have had a chance had he played Steinitz directly when he had a chance, considering his plus score against the aging champ. That seems more clear cut than playing Lasker.>

That's probably another match that's worth regretting. Though I wouldn't count 1893-edition Steinitz, at least, out. He, Tarrasch, and Chigorin all seem to have been on about the same level at that time. Later on, Tarrasch seems clearly better. He finished a point ahead of Steinitz at Hastings and Nuremberg and by a lot at Vienna. Though Steinitz was no slouch after losing the title. He finished well behind Chigorin at Hastings, but ahead of him at St. Petersberg, Nuremberg, and Vienna, and also beat Schiffers in a match.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Eggman: <Keypusher: <... if you're going to regret something, regret that Lasker-Pillsbury or Lasker-Maroczy never happened.>>

Absolute agreement on this point. But I'm surprised you didn't mention Lasker-Rubinstein, perhaps the biggest regret of them all. Also, Lasker-Capablanca, 1921 occurred about a decade after it should have.

Not saying Lasker ducked anyone, but there were many challengers he didn't wind up meeting.

Finally, I think you're too dismissive about a much younger Tarrasch's chances against Lasker. At least we should be able to agree that a younger Tarrasch would have had no excuses.

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <Eggman> I don't know why I didn't mention Lasker-Rubinstein -- maybe because it was later? (It was scheduled for October 1914, I seem to remember.) Anyway, yes, that is definitely a match to regret.
Dec-04-19  Olavi: Yes, Lasker and Rubinstein had signed an agreement for autumn 1914. Also a match with Maroczy almost happened, I remember this (there were reports in Lasker's Chess Magazine):
Dec-05-19  RookFile: The nerve of those people, having a world war 1. They should have realized that they were interfering with more important chess events.
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