Emanuel Lasker was the champion who took up after Wilhelm Steinitz in 1894. He was born on the 24th of December 1868 in Barlinek, Poland. His career path was set to be a mathematician, which he started at the age of 11. While living with his brother at that time, his older brother introduced him to chess which he took an interest to immediately.
The soon to be top class chess player lived in the shadows of his brother Berthold, who was then a talented chess player and had a prestigious spot in the top 10 players of the 1890s. After learning a few tricks from his brother, he finally gathered the courage to play for small stakes, which was also a way to supplement the income his brother was getting. His usual playing spot was at Café Kaiserhof; it is here that his talent for chess came alive and was soon to be known globally.
True to his talent, he soon rose to a higher rank by winning the Winter Chess Tournament that was always held at Café Kaiserhof annually. After the Winter tournament he proceeded to win the Second Division chess tournament at Breslau which earned him the nickname master. It sounds like it was an easy scoop of the title however Emanuel Lasker faced his first tough challenge at the two particular tournaments. The original competitors were divided into two groups each having ten people.
The first four winners in each group were to be picked to compete at the finals. ‘Master’ had come out strong with two and half points than his closest rival. Regardless the points were all reset to give each player a fair chance at playing the finals. This however was not a deterrent to him, he once more proved himself by winning all his final games, taking the top spot from Vienesse von Feierfeil. Through a play-off win, he acquired the nickname Master thanks to his great moves. It is said that this chess pro used a tactic different from what everyone else was using. His approach of chess was through a psychological edge. He read his opponents moves in order to launch his deceptive moves; these famous deceptive moves always drew the opponents out before he closed in on them with a master play.
Despite how flexible he tried to keep his games, word in those times was it was unable to draw lessons from his style. Emanuel was a psychological player, which was a signature play of his own that few could gimmick. Fame started to grow on him, and word went out fast of the Master of chess from Germany. His fame saw him travel to Amsterdam for a tournament, which he won second but was way above great chess players like Isidore Gunsberg. He then travelled to Graz where his great chess moves landed him third best then moved to play in Berlin. It is at Berlin where he played his one and only chess teacher, his brother Berthold whom they drew the first place together.
He continued to play more, employing his amazing tactics until he won many more tournaments in his chess career. In 1892, he dazzled the streets of London by winning two tournaments and coming out stronger than before. He later on moved to New York in 1893, where he played in 13 games and once more he came out the master as he was famously called. More victory was to follow; he beat Curt Von Bardelen who was the 9th best chess player in 1889, Jackson Showalter who reigned supreme in chess in 1892-93, Henry Edward Bird who was a strong chess player in 1890 and Joseph Henry Blackburne who was a strong player around 1892.
The Most Memorable Matches
Emanuel Lasker definitely played so many matches in which he was unbeatable. However there are those tournaments he faced other champions that will forever be remained etched in the history of professional chess playing. One of these great matches was against his predecessor William Steinitz. This match was interesting since Lasker had grown to use some of the great chess tactics invented by Steinitz, and now he was facing the champion himself.
Because of the high stakes in this game, it was pretty hard for the two gentlemen to agree to the price of play. The match was first staked at $5000 but Steinitz agreed to a reduction of $2000 since his opponent, the Master, was not able to raise any higher than that. The tournament happened at New York, Philadelphia as well as Montreal.
For the first time of meeting Wilhelm Steinitz, it was not so hard to pick up the boastful nature of his predecessor. Steinitz had believed that he was going to win all matches with no problem. However the outcome was a shocker when Emanuel Lasker won the first round fair and square. Steinitz became more serious and won the second match against his new challenge. He was able to maintain a balance around the sixth match however he was dismayed when his new opponent won the rest of the matches all the way to the 11th one. The Master had finally proven to be the top chess player after crashing Steinitz at his own game; and tactics at that.
Steinitz had to take a break from these blows to go and regroup. When he came back for the next match, he was confident of his new ammunition as he won the 13th and 14th matches flat. But the Master lashed back by winning the 15th and 16th match. By the end of the day, Steinitz had to admit the victory of his new opponent, which was 10wins, 5 losses and 4 draws. Steinitz still couldn’t let his ego be bruised that easy so he requested a re-match with the new Second World Champion chess player. The rematch happened in 1896 to 1897 where the play outcomes were 10wins, 5 draws and this time only 2 draws. Steinitz had to finally admit.
Emanuel Lasker had a really impressive chess career and he goes down as the only chess player in history who employed deception and psychology in beating opponents.