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1908 World Chess Championship
Compiled by Penguincw

★★★ INTRO ★★★

The 1908 World Chess Championship was between 40 year old Emanuel Lasker of Germany who was the defending champion and 46 year old Siegbert Tarrasch also of Germany who was the challenger.


Tarrasch was once considered to even be better than Lasker, although Lasker was the world chess champion at the time. Tarrasch challenged Lasker, although the match was delayed, and by then Tarrasch had lost some, but not all of his form.


The winner would be the first to reach 8 wins (draws not counting, but shown in brackets). The games were played in Düsseldorf and Munich, Germany. Game 1 was played on August 17th, 1908.


Game 1: Lasker vs Tarrasch, 1908

1.e4 e5 2.♘f3 ♘c6 3.♗b5 a6 4.♗xc6 dxc6 5.d4 exd4 6.♕xd4 ♕xd4 7.♘xd4 c5 8.♘e2 ♗d7 9.b3 ♗c6 10.f3 ♗e7 11.♗b2 ♗f6 12.♗xf6 ♘xf6 13.♘d2 O-O-O 14.O-O-O ♖d7 15.♘f4 ♖e8 16.♘c4 b6 17.a4 a5 18.♖xd7 ♘xd7 19.♖d1 ♘e5 20.♘xe5 ♖xe5 21.c4 ♖e8 22.♘h5 ♖g8 23.♖d3 f6 24.♔d2


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Both sides have just a rook, minor piece and pawns at that point. Since white has a majority on the kingside, and black having doubled pawns, the white king starts getting active.

24...♗e8 25.♘g3 ♗d7 26.♔e3 ♖e8 27.♘h5 ♖e7 28.g4 c6 29.h4 ♔c7 30.g5 f5 31.♘g3 fxe4 32.♘xe4 ♗f5 33.h5 ♖d7 34.♖c3 ♖d1 35.♔f4 ♗d7 36.♖e3 ♖h1 37.♘g3 ♖h4+ 38.♔e5 ♖h3 39.f4 ♔d8 40.f5 ♖h4 41.f6 gxf6 42.♔xf6 ♗e8 43.♘f5 ♖f4 44.g6 hxg6 45.hxg6 ♖g4 46.♖xe8+ ♔xe8 47.g7 ♔d7 48.♘h4 ♖xg7 49.♔xg7 ♔e6 50.♘f3 ♔f5 51.♔f7 ♔e4 52.♔e6 ♔d3 53.♔d6 ♔c3 54.♔xc6 ♔xb3 55.♔b5 1-0

55.♔b5 1-0

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This the 12th square the white king has traveled to in this game, and it comes just in time to protect a4 and c4. If those pawns are captured, black could win. At this point, if I were Lasker, I would just maintain the king position and use the knight. One way to win (although not the most accurate) could be 55...♔c3 56.♘e5 ♔d4 57.♘d7 ♔e4 58.♘xb6 ♔e5 59.♘d7+ ♔d6 60.♘xc5 ♔c7 61.♔xa5 ♔c6 62.♔b4 ♔b6 63.a5+ ♔a7 64.♔b5 ♔b8 65.a6 ♔a8 66.♔b6 ♔b8 67.♘e6 ♔a8 68.♘c7+ ♔b8 69.a7+ followed by promotion on the next move.

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Game 2: Tarrasch vs Lasker, 1908

1.e4 e5 2.♘f3 ♘c6 3.♗b5 ♘f6 4.O-O d6 5.d4 ♗d7 6.♘c3 ♗e7 7.♖e1 exd4 8.♘xd4 O-O 9.♘xc6 ♗xc6 10.♗xc6 bxc6 11.♘e2 ♕d7 12.♘g3 ♖fe8 13.b3 ♖ad8 14.♗b2 ♘g4 15.♗xg7 ♘xf2 16.♔xf2 ♔xg7 17.♘f5+ ♔h8 18.♕d4+ f6 19.♕xa7

After 19.Qxa7

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Tarrasch here is up a pawn, but with black's king now safe, and white's king not safe, Lasker starts an attack.

19...♗f8 20.♕d4 ♖e5 21.♖ad1 ♖de8 22.♕c3 ♕f7 23.♘g3 ♗h6 24.♕f3 d5 25.exd5 ♗e3+ 26.♔f1 cxd5 27.♖d3 ♕e6 28.♖e2 f5 29.♖d1 f4 30.♘h1 d4 31.♘f2 ♕a6 32.♘d3 ♖g5 33.♖a1 ♕h6 34.♔e1 ♕xh2 35.♔d1 ♕g1+ 36.♘e1 ♖ge5 37.♕c6 ♖5e6 38.♕xc7 ♖8e7 39.♕d8+ ♔g7 40.a4 f3 41.gxf3 ♗g5 0-1

41...♗g5 0-1

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A nasty discovered attack is on the way. White probably does best with 42.♖xe6 ♖xe6 43.♕d7+ ♖e7 44.♕xe7+ ♗xe7 45.c4 ♗h4 46.♔c2 (46.♔e2 ♕f2+ will win the knight anyway) ♗xe1 47.f4 ♕e3 48.f5 ♕e2+ 49.♔c1 d3 with mate to follow in 3 moves (ex. 50.♖a2 ♕xa2 51.f6+ ♔xf6 52.c5 and black can chose 52...♕a1# 0-1 or 52...♕c2# 0-1.

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Game 4: Tarrasch vs Lasker, 1908

1.e4 e5 2.♘f3 ♘c6 3.♗b5 ♘f6 4.O-O d6 5.d4 ♗d7 6.♘c3 ♗e7 7.♖e1 exd4 8.♘xd4 ♘xd4 9.♕xd4 ♗xb5 10.♘xb5 O-O 11.♗g5 h6 12.♗h4 ♖e8 13.♖ad1 ♘d7 14.♗xe7 ♖xe7 15.♕c3 ♖e5 16.♘d4 ♖c5 17.♕b3 ♘b6 18.f4 ♕f6 19.♕f3 ♖e8 20.c3 a5 21.b3 a4 22.b4 ♖c4 23.g3 ♖d8 24.♖e3 c5 25.♘b5 cxb4 26.♖xd6 ♖xd6 27.e5 ♖xf4

After 27...♖xf4

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At first glance, 27.e5 seemed like a good move) but at the same time, it's a bad move, as it opens up the b1-h7 diagonal, and also allows for this rook sacrifice.

28.gxf4 ♕g6+ 29.♔h1 ♕b1+ 30.♔g2 ♖d2+ 31.♖e2 ♕xa2 32.♖xd2 ♕xd2+ 33.♔g3 a3 34.e6 ♕e1+ 35.♔g4 ♕xe6+ 36.f5 ♕c4+ 37.♘d4 a2 38.♕d1 ♘d5 39.♕a4 ♘xc3 40.♕e8+ ♔h7 41.♔h5 a1=♕ 0-1

41...a1=♕ 0-1

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Black is up a queen and 3 pawns, which is way more than enough to win, especially at this level in this position. The way I see it, Tarrasch has one last trap in 42.♘e6 (if 42...fxe6?? 43.♕g6+ ♔g8 44.♕e8+ etc. saves the day), but 42...♕d1# 0-1 is a nice quick mate (if 42.♘f3 ♕d1 with mate to follow shortly).

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★★★ FINAL ★★★

The final game of the match was played on September 30th, 1908. Entering the round, Lasker had an 7-3 lead and needed just 1 more win to secure his title.

Game 16: Tarrasch vs Lasker, 1908

1.e4 e5 2.♘f3 ♘c6 3.♗b5 ♘f6 4.♘c3 ♗b4 5.O-O O-O 6.d3 d6 7.♗g5 ♗e6 8.d4 exd4 9.♘xd4 h6 10.♗h4 ♘e5 11.f4 ♗c5

After 11...♗c5

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A pseudo sacrifice by Lasker, as he will, in a couple of moves, re-gain the material, and be superior.

12.♗xf6 ♕xf6 13.fxe5 ♕xe5 14.♘e2 ♗g4 15.♖f3 ♗xf3 16.gxf3 f5 17.♕d3 c6 18.♗c4+ ♔h8 19.♔h1 b5 20.♗b3 fxe4 21.♕xe4 ♕xe4 22.fxe4 ♖ae8 23.♘xc6 ♖xe4 24.♘g3 ♖ee8 25.♖d1 ♖f2 26.♘d4 ♗xd4 0-1

26...♗xd4 0-1

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A blunder by Tarrasch. Even though the knight's not attacked for the moment, Tarrasch moves it anyway. I see that after 27.♖xd4, Lasker can force mate with 27...♖e1+ 28.♘f1 ♖exf1# 0-1. If white decides not to capture back, then black is still winning, as black has a rook and pawn for a knight.

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Lasker won the match 8-3 (10 1/2-5 1/2 including draws) and defends his championship title for the 3rd consecutive time.

★★★ MINI TABLE ★★★

Lasker 1 1 0 1 1/2 1 1/2 1/2 0 1 0 1 1/2 1/2 1 (8 wins, 3 losses, 5 draws) <65.6% score>

Tarrasch 0 0 1 0 1/2 0 1/2 1/2 1 0 1 0 1/2 1/2 0 (3 wins, 8 losses, 5 draws) <34.4% score>


See also: Lasker - Tarrasch World Championship Match (1908)

Head to Head Record Prior to 1908: (tied 1 win, 1 loss and 0 draws)

Previous World Championship: Game Collection: 1907 World Chess Championship

Next World Championship: Game Collection: 1910 World Chess Championship (first one)

Game 1, Lasker leads 1-0 (1-0)
Lasker vs Tarrasch, 1908 
(C68) Ruy Lopez, Exchange, 55 moves, 1-0

Game 2, Lasker leads 2-0 (2-0)
Tarrasch vs Lasker, 1908 
(C66) Ruy Lopez, 41 moves, 0-1

Game 3, Lasker leads 2-1 (2-1)
Lasker vs Tarrasch, 1908 
(C98) Ruy Lopez, Closed, Chigorin, 44 moves, 0-1

Game 4, Lasker leads 3-1 (3-1)
Tarrasch vs Lasker, 1908 
(C66) Ruy Lopez, 41 moves, 0-1

Game 5, Lasker leads 4-1 (4-1)
Lasker vs Tarrasch, 1908  
(C98) Ruy Lopez, Closed, Chigorin, 38 moves, 1-0

Game 6, Lasker leads 4-1 (4 1/2-1 1/2)
Tarrasch vs Lasker, 1908 
(C10) French, 53 moves, 1/2-1/2

Game 7, Lasker leads 5-1 (5 1/2-1 1/2)
Lasker vs Tarrasch, 1908 
(C12) French, McCutcheon, 76 moves, 1-0

Game 8, Lasker leads 5-1 (6-2)
Tarrasch vs Lasker, 1908 
(C67) Ruy Lopez, 48 moves, 1/2-1/2

Game 9, Lasker leads 5-1 (6 1/2-2 1/2)
Lasker vs Tarrasch, 1908 
(C12) French, McCutcheon, 71 moves, 1/2-1/2

Game 10, Lasker leads 5-2 (6 1/2-3 1/2)
Tarrasch vs Lasker, 1908 
(C67) Ruy Lopez, 32 moves, 1-0

Game 11, Lasker leads 6-2 (7 1/2-3 1/2)
Lasker vs Tarrasch, 1908 
(C12) French, McCutcheon, 28 moves, 1-0

Game 12, Lasker leads 6-3 (7 1/2-4 1/2)
Tarrasch vs Lasker, 1908 
(C49) Four Knights, 65 moves, 1-0

Game 13, Lasker leads 7-3 (8 1/2-4 1/2)
Lasker vs Tarrasch, 1908 
(D32) Queen's Gambit Declined, Tarrasch, 44 moves, 1-0

Game 14, Lasker leads 7-3 (9-5)
Tarrasch vs Lasker, 1908 
(C67) Ruy Lopez, 119 moves, 1/2-1/2

Game 15, Lasker leads 7-3 (9 1/2-5 1/2)
Lasker vs Tarrasch, 1908 
(D02) Queen's Pawn Game, 52 moves, 1/2-1/2

Game 16, Lasker wins 8-3 (10 1/2-5 1/2)
Tarrasch vs Lasker, 1908 
(C49) Four Knights, 26 moves, 0-1

16 games

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