Lasker Letter Addresses 1927 New York Tournament Issues
In an article published in the first number of the American ChessJournal, the legendary tournament held at New York in 1927 was examined in depth. One of the issues discussed was the failure of the only ex-World Champion of the time, Emanuel Lasker, to play. A month or so after the conclusion of the 1927 tournament, Lasker released his version of events. It was a ten-page single-spaced explanation of both the clock incident and the financial questions that lingered from the 1924 tournament. Here is part 1 of 4
The Emanuel Lasker Affair
Lasker's Version, Part One
From: Emanuel Lasker
To: Various Newspapers and Organizations
Date: April or May [?], 1927
The Late New York Chess Tourney DisputeTo my article of December 21st, the Committee, Mr. W.P. Shipley, Mr. Lederer and Mr. Capablanca have replied. The Committee had as spokesman its Secretary, Mr. Lederer, who issued a statement of a most aggressive nature which appeared on January 26th in the New York Times and thereafter in many other papers and also in magazines. Mr. Shipley spoke inthe Philadelphia Inquirer and the American Chess Bulletin. Mr. Lederer sent a kind of letteror article for which he himself bears responsibility to the Telegraaf Amsterdam which sent it to me, and Mr. Capablanca wrote me an important letter in connection with the dispute.
Much that has been written by my opponents needs correction. Under these conditions, I must crave pardon if I again fly for safety into publicity and if the present article which contains, for the sake of much-needed clarity, several hitherto unpublished letters verbatim, extends to great length.To begin with, my article of December 21st, which appeared abridged in the Essener Allgemeine Zeitung and other papers of the Girardet concern, was published, translated and abridged, on January 3rd in the Telegraaf Amsterdam, and probably appeared in January inNacion Buenos Aires, has never fully nor correctly been made known in the United States. He who desires to judge the original should collect its various publications as above stated.The New York Times of January 26th I cite: “Mr. Lederer, on behalf of the Tournament Committee, said that all of Lasker’s charges were false. Concerning the clock incident, Mr.Lederer explained, ‘What happened is that Lasker forgot to stop his clock after one of his moves. The time was running against it and he did not notice it. I reached over and stoppedhis clock.’ He went on, ‘Anything to win is Lasker’s motto. He indulges in virtual gas attacks on his opponents.’” And he dwelt on great length on charges designed to prove that I won my games in New York by tactics altogether foreign to chess, for instance, by smoking “long, black five-cent cigars which caused acute irritation in the nose and back of the throat of ordinary persons.”It is surprising – but perhaps it is not surprising – that the Tournament Committee should lend its name to support such statement. The clock incident was at the time of its occurrence commented upon by various eye-witnesses and, I think, also in quite a number of papers, and was by no means so harmless as the statement of the Tournament Committee wants tomake out. As to the charges of gas attacks, etc., I wrote a letter to the New York Times which proved to the satisfaction of every thinking man that these charges are ludicrous.Walter Penn Shipley in the Philadelphia Inquirer according to the American [Chess]Bulletin told his readers of my charges. Unfortunately, he sees the facts in a wrong light. He exaggerates my statements. I did not charge that the clock in my game with Capablanca hadbeen “fixed” as Mr. Shipley says; I had said that the clock was defective, not that it had been artificially caused to be defective. In regard to the promise of the Committee to divide the surplus among the Masters, I charged that the Committee, after having pledged their promise, had been generous with the surplus and thus reduced it to nothing, but I never doubted the fact of the deficit, which fact is doubted by no one, but he does not touch upon my real charge. He leaves his readers in the dark as to my motive, which is to force a certain clandestine spirit of intrigue into the open, to prove that the Committee of 1924 was partial to Capablanca and the Committee of 1927 likewise, and that such partiality leads to bad results.The article of Mr. Shipley is also otherwise inaccurate. He speaks of my “wonderful recordprevious to 1921” and forgets for his conclusions my embarrassing record after 1921. According to this record I still seem able to compete with young masters though Mr. Shipley doubts that. The Committee had stated sundry reasons, published by various newspapers, why it did not invite [me to New York 1927]; Mr. Lederer’s letter of December 10th, the insincerity of which is demonstrated by his attack on me of January 26th obviously was an afterthought. Mr. Shipley’s motive is to show me up as a “cantankerous, unreasonableindividual.” I doubt whether Mr. Shipley has read my article of December 21st which he so strangely criticizes and so strongly condemns. He does not seem to be critical as the hearsay that has reached him. Such is the attitude of one who being versed in Law must be versed also in the rules of testimony and argument.
[End, Part 1]
© 1996 Hanon W. Russell All Rights Reserved