The Doctor of Chess

The Doctor of Chess

| 33 | Chess Players

“Chess, like love, like music, has the power to make men happy."

Siegbert Tarrasch (March 5, 1862 – February 17, 1934) was born in Breslau the hometown of Andersen and Zukertort. The young Tarrasch learned to play chess when he was 15 years old. He studied chess and medicine at the same time and moved to Berlin in 1880 for further studies. His free time he spent playing chess in cafes.

In 1883 he became a chess master after he won the Haupttournier at Nuremberg. He also did well in the chess tournament at Hamburg that year. Tarrasch started winning tournaments and became German champion in 1890.

He was one of the strongest chess players and most influential chess teachers of the late 19th century and early 20th century. Tarrasch began to give the theory of chess a scientific form and became the teacher of the generation of chess masters after Steinitz. Tarrasch was a medical doctor by profession but may also have been the best player in the world in the early 1890s. He was even offered a match for the world championship against Steinitz by the Havana Chess Club. He refused because of his medical practice and… Lasker took his place, won, and would be world champion for 27 years!

His outstanding successes were: First prizes at Breslau 1889, Manchester 1890, Dresden 1892, Leipzig 1898, Vienna 1898, Monte Carlo 1903 and Ostend 1907 as well as his match with Marshall 1905 winning in superior style by the score of +8 -1 =8.

When in 1908 Lasker and Tarrasch agreed to play a match for the world championship, Tarrasch was 46 years old and lost by +3 -8 =5.

Tarrasch was a very influential chess writer, and was called the "Teacher of Germany." He was editor of the magazine Deutsche Schachzeitung in 1897 and wrote several books, including Die Moderne Schachpartie and Three Hundred Chess Games. About the last one, where Tarrasch interpreted his theories in a most fascinating manner, we can say that is probably the most valuable of his books.

In 1931 he published The Game of Chess it being his first to appear in an English edition. This book has had a really phenomenal success of which Tarrasch was justly proud. In the preface of this book he wrote a legendary passage:

"Chess is a form of intellectual productiveness. Therein lies its peculiar charm. Intellectual productiveness is one of the greatest joys - if not the greatest one - of human existence. It is not everyone who can write a play, or build a bridge, or even make a good joke. But in chess everyone can, everyone must, be intellectually productive and so can share in this select delight. I have always a slight feeling of pity for the man who has no knowledge of chess, just as I would pity the man who has remained ignorant of love. Chess, like love, like music, has the power to make men happy."

His most famous quote was: “Rooks should be placed behind passed pawns, either yours or your opponent's.”

His contributions to chess theory were many, both in the opening and in general rules. Lines from both the Queen's Gambit and the French Defense are named after him. Many of his theories on the principles of positional play still stand as well and today guide players of all levels of ability.

He had five children from his first marriage and lost three sons (some sources say one son) in World War I. During the last years of his life he lived in Munich, where he witnessed the rise of the Nazi’s.

He died in Munich and was buried there. His grave at the Nordfriedhof was only rediscovered in recent years and a new stone was placed there.

Siegbert Tarrasch was truly a "Praeceptor Mundi" of chess!

Today I want to share with you some classical positions of the Doctor of Chess. They are presented as puzzles, so to see the variations, click on move list after solving them. Enjoy!











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