Lasker vs. Tarrasch


Some background:
Lasker won the title of World Champion by defeating Steinitz in 1894 (and again in a rematch in 1896-7).  Before challenging Steinitz (i.e. between 1890-1894), Lasker had beaten many important players in match play including Curt von Bardeleben,  Jacques Mieses, Joseph Blackburne, Jackson Showalter, Henry Bird and Berthold Englisch. In 1892 Lasker had challenged Tarrasch to a match. Lasker had yet to win a major international tournament while tournament play was Tarrasch's forte. Tarrasch declined the challenge claiming that Lasker should first win a  major international tournament before deigning to challenge Tarrasch.  In 1894 Steinitz accepted Lasker's challenge and lost his title. The fact that Lasker has still not won a major international tournament clouded his own claim to the title.  Tarrasch would be one of the first to point out that beating an old Steinitz, far past his prime, was not sufficient to claim the title of World Champion.  Lasker was able to win a few tournaments after this, but match play was his strongest area.  The fact the Tarrasch remained a strong tournament player entered into his negotiations with Lasker in the sense that even as late as 1908 Tarrasch didn't really seem to accept the idea that HE was the challenger.

 from the 1908 "Yearbook of Chess," edited by E.A. Mitchell:
                    Although Lasker had been ready to play Dr. Tarrasch a match
          before he won the championship by beating Steinitz, Tarrasch was not
         disposed to arrange a meeting, his reputation at that time being greater
         than the present champion's. Meetings between the two were therefore
         scarce, and before the year 1908 they had only played two games. The
         first was played at Hastings, 1895, and was won by Tarrasch; the second
         at Nuremberg, 1896, and was won by Lasker.
              We have drawn attention elsewhere to the importance attached to
         the present match before it began, as a test of strength between the
         two players of greatest reputation today. There are many who claim that
         the result has not irrevocably decided this point, but it is not our intention
         to discuss such a question. Given the best possible play on the part of
         Tarrasch, which it must be admitted was not forthcoming in many of the
         games, we are inclined to think that Lasker would have been capable of
         putting forth that great effort which he was not called upon to make.


from the championship match book by Leopold Hoffer



                                             GENESIS OF THE MATCH.

     AFTER winning his spurs at Breslau (1889), Lasker, the new-fledged master, tried his hand in a masters' tournament at Amsterdam in the same year. The entries were less numerous than in the Congresses of the German Chess Association, but it was, nevertheless, patronised by Burn, Mason, Blackburne, Gunsberg, Van Vliet, and others. Burn won the first prize and Lasker the second — a success as a maiden effort. He increased his reputation in England by beating Bird in a match, by winning the National Masters' Tournament of the British Chess Association, and by defeating Blackburue in a match.
     In the meantime the date for the Dresden Congress of the German Chess Association approached, in which Lasker intended to take part. He changed his mind, and did not enter. But during its progress he wrote a letter to me, with the request to ask (privately) the winner of this tournament, presumably Dr. Tarrasch, whether he would be willing to play him a match. I handed his letter over to Dr. Tarrasch, but his reply was unsatisfactory, and I informed Lasker of my abortive mission. This episode has been ventilated in the chess press at the time, and need not be recapitulated here in detail. It will suffice to state that I did not communicate Dr. Tarrasch's reply verbatim. but in a form which I deemed less offensive to Lasker, so as not to prevent a renewal of the  challenge. Dr. Tarrasch held afterwards that I had no right to give what I called a diplomatic answer, and the consequence was a sharp polemic in the Chess Monthly, which disturbed my friendly relations with Dr. Tarrasch for the time being ; but the matter was finally cleared up during the Hastings Tournament, in which Dr. Tarrasch competed.
     Lasker, who did not intend to hide his talent under a bushel, challenged Steinitz, the then champion ; beat him in a match and return match, acquiring the title champion. Steinitz being beaten, Dr. Tarrasch's position as tournament champion became insecure. The two rivals met at Hastings, 1895, and at Nuremberg, 1896. In the former Lasker was third, and Tarrasch fourth ; and in the latter Lasker was first and Tarrasch third. After winning the first prize at Monte Carlo, 1903, Dr. Tarrasch was resolved to try conclusions with the former despised rival, and challenged him to a match. Lasker accepted ; the conditions were settled and published and the time fixed, when Dr. Tarrasch had to cry off in consequence of an accident which he had on the ice. He repaired to Berlin, to arrange for a delay, to which Lasker did not accede, and the match was off. Now we arrive at the present challenge, which originated in a speech by Dr. Tarrasch at the banquet given after his decisive victory over Marshall, 1905.
     Dr. Tarrasch said : "After my newest and greatest achievement, I have no reason to consider that anybody stands above me in the chess world. It was certainly more difficult to beat the youthful Marshall than old Steinitz. I am willing, under reasonable conditions, to play a match with Lasker ; but I shall not challenge him. This is the duty of the one who has the inferior record. My successes during twenty years are at least equal to his (Lasker's) ; my challenge two years ago was a faux pas. If the chess world is desirous of seeing such a match, the chess world — i.e., representatives of Germany and America — must bring it about. They know what we can do, and it is in their hands to arrange the match Lasker-Tarrasch."

     Professor Dr. Gebhardt, of Coburg, the president of the German Chess Association, has the merit of having taken the matter in hand at once. He placed himself in communication with the Manhattan Chess Club, New York, on November 25th, 1905. After a delay of five months, not having received a reply he wrote direct to Dr. Lasker requesting him to name his conditions. Lasker accepted the challenge, conditional upon the match being played in America, where his stakes would be found.
     In the meantime negotiations took place with Maroczy. These negotiations proved also abortive, and then the Lasker-Marshall match supervening, nearly two years elapsed, when Dr. Tarrasch, after his victory at Ostend, acquired the title Tournament Champion, which placed him on an equality with the match champion, Lasker, and the victor in a match between these two champions would acquire logically the right to the title Champion of the World.  Dr. Tarrasch, writing an article in the Berlin Lokal Anzeiger  to that effect, and thinking the moment opportune, since Dr. Lasker was shortly expected in Europe, the negotiations were resumed, and finally carried to a successful issue, after a laborious correspondence following a consultation which took place at Coburg between Professor Gebhardt, Herr Schenzel, aud Dr. Lasker about the conditions of the proposed championship match. Dr. Lasker demanded in addition to the stakes an honorarium of 15,000 mark for a match eight games up, draws not counting. But the German Chess Association not seeing their way to raise such a sum, they proposed the best of twenty games. Dr. Lasker demanded for such a match, in addition to the stakes, 10,000 mark. It was, however, remarked that such a match might depend to a great 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 mark, besides the stakes. Dr. Tarrasch, although of opinion that six games up were 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. The following new set of conditions were therefore drawn up and sent to both Dr. Lasker and Dr. Tarrasch : — 
   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 the victor.
   3. The winner to receive from the German Chess Association 4,000 mark.
   4. Dr. Lasker to receive besides 15,000 mark.
       Dr. Tarrasch waives all claim to compensation, but the Association promise
       to hold him free of all expenses, which Dr. Tarrasch promises to return in
       case of his victory.
    5. Should the required sum of 23,000 mark not be forthcoming, then Dr. 
        Lasker and Dr. Tarrasch agree to play the match six games up, Dr. 
        Lasker to receive 10,000 mark.
    6. 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 15th.
    7. The Association undertake to inform the two masters on or before July 6th,
        whether they have succeeded in procuring the required funds.
    8. Should the funds be subscribed, then the match is to begin ou August 17th,
        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 the afternoons and evenings.
   11 . Fifteen moves per hour. No second game to be commenced on any day.
   12. Each player to have the right of five free days during the match.
   13. Before the beginning of the match both players to elect an umpire.
   14. In each place where the match shall be played each player shall select
         his seconds.
   15. The games to be the property of both players.
   16. Each player shall deposit 2,000 mark forfeit money within one week after
        signing the conditions, the forfeit money to be returned after the first
        game shall have been played.

It appears that the above conditions were  sent to Dr. Tarrasch, who affixed his signature ; but Dr. Lasker declined to sign them, for reasons given below : —

                            DR. LASKER to DR. GEBHARDT.
                                                         "Prague, June 22nd, 1908.
Highly honoured Herr Professor, — The draft of conditions (Vertrag) which you sent me is in essential points so different from the agreement drawn up at Coburg that I was obliged to take a few days to consider it. It contains a clause from which I gather that you put aside 4,000 mark for expenses in case I should win the match. If these expenses should include any compensation to Dr. Tarrasch, I am willing, in case I should win, to pay Dr. Tarrasch the sum of 2,000 mark, which he originally proposed to set aside for the loser. Other expenses are not required for a match, according to my experience. The various places where play takes place are quite willing to provide the rooms, cards of
admission, &c. The clause of 4,000 mark should therefore be cancelled.
     "Moreover, it seems clear to me that the non-German chess world would like to contribute towards the prize funds. This would naturally require time. If the German Schachbund collect 10,000 mark, and the chess world the prize funds, the match is assured. Should, therefore, the hastily solicited contributions not reach the required height, you could renew the same proposal next year, and in the meantime quietly collect the funds. Should I then still be champion of the world, I would accept your proposals ; if not, the new champion could take my place. —  Yours, &c., 
                                                                      "(Signed) Emanuel Lasker"

Professor Gebhardt's reply : — "
     Highly honoured Herr Doctor, — I have just received from Dr. Tarrasch the signed conditions. I sent it on to our secretary for signature, and it will be forwarded to you to-morrow.
     "To your letter, received to-day, I have to reply : The agreement sent to you contains, as far as you are concerned, all your demands and desires (Wunsche]. The 2,500 mark compensation mentioned in §4 is certainly small enough  compared with your honorarium. That Dr. Tarrasch should accept, in case of defeat, a present of 2,000 mark from the victor I cannot propose."
     "The assumption that the organising of the match would entail no further outlay is already disproved by facts, &c. . . .
     "That the non-German chess world would be quite willing to contribute to the prize funds seems to me, after my experience in that direction since 1905, to say the least, doubtful. 
     "The refusals received up to date are not caused through the shortness of time, but through the exorbitant amount of your honorarium demanded. 
     "Since having written to you already in April, 1906, a further delay to next year would not be advisable, because my functions and those of the secretary terminate on August 2nd.
. . . I might also add that Dr. Tarrasch, who is your senior by at least six years (a disadvantage which grows every year), has declared publicly that he would only play the match with you this year. For this reason he has accepted all your conditions, although they did not suit him on principle. I beg, therefore, again to return the conditions signed by you to avoid further delay. On July 6th I shall let you know the amount of the means at our disposal, and, in case they should not reach the full amount, I shall look forward to your further proposal till July 15th. — Yours, &c., 
                                                                          "(Signed) DR. GEBHARDT. "

Dr. Lasker's reply : —
                                                                   "Prague, June 25th, 1908. 
     "Highly honoured Herr Professor, — You said in Coburg that you considered the collection of 15,000 mark out of the question, but you assumed that it might reach 10,000 mark, but the very least 7,000. I have, therefore, signed a contract at Coburg, which contained a real obligation (Verpflichtung) on your part. Now you do not send me the contract with your signature, but another one, which does not contain a guarantee on your part. I shall not sign it ; I shall abide by the propositions enumerated in my letters till July 6th.— Yours, &c.,
                                                                        "(Signed) Emanuel Lasker"

Professor Gebhardt's reply : —
                                                                    "Coburg, June 28th, 1908.
     "Highly honoured Herr Doctor, — Your esteemed letter of June 25th I received. I am somewhat surprised at the new objections to sign the draft articles sent to you on the i8th, especially as you did not raise any objections in your letter of the 22nd. I also cannot understand which obligation (Verpflichtung) you mean that was mentioned in the first, and omitted in the present articles. On the 9th I wrote to you from Augsburg that objections had been raised against our agreement of twenty games, and proposed to you to reinstate my former proposal (eight games) for a honorarium of 10,000 mark. This you declined in your letter from Frankfort, June 13th, put proposed to accept 10,000 mark for a match six games up. Dr. Tarrasch agreed also, if necessary. The new proposals therefore cancelled the former, especially the proviso that you should choose the place, where a number of games should be played. You made the marginal note in pencil, ' Applies only if twenty games are fixed.' The minimum stake of 7,000 mark being, therefore, also cancelled, there remained nothing else but to make the attempt to raise the full amount of your demands and the expenses. That we included therein also a compensation for Dr. Tarrasch (in case of defeat only), which, compared with your remuneration, can only be called very moderate, is the only 'new' clause. But it appears out of the question that you should take umbrage at this. I hope, therefore, still that I may receive within the next few days the contract signed, especially as you have not returned the contract signed by Dr. Tarrasch, Herr Schenzel, and myself. But should you have any serious objections, we are willing to meet you, and shall not insist on the ratification of the contract, as the conditions are covered by your letter, in which you agree to hold yourself bound till July 6th. In the latter case I shall likewise inform you by July 6th, according to §6, and await your counter proposals till July 15th. We are actuated by the assumption that the German chess world takes a great interest in this match, but you are mostly interested, since the opportunity is given you to prove that you have still the right to claim the title 'champion' of the world.' — Yours, &c.,                                      
                                                                                 "DR. GEBHARDT." 
* This letter was returned to Dr. Gebhardt on July 1st, marked, "Gone away without leaving address." 
                             DR. GEBHARDT to DR. LASKER. 
                                                                         "Coburg, July 4th, 1908.
     "Highly honoured Herr Doctor,  — My reply to your letter of June 28th, which I sent to the address which you gave me (Schwarzes Ross, Prag), has been returned marked, ' Gone away without information where to.'  Strange to say, no other address had been given to me by you. I have, however, accidentally obtained from a private source that you have been seen on Wednesday evening, at the Berlin Chess Club. I address, therefore, this letter to your brother, as I wish at least to endeavour to keep to the date fixed — July 6th — on which it was stipulated that I should give the result of the subscriptions obtained.
     "Inclusive of an increased endowment by the town of Munich, we have received up till this evening, seven o'clock, the round sum of 11,500 mark.
     "Since the match cannot take place owing to your terms, I shall look forward for your alternative proposals till July 15th. The draft agreement signed by Dr. Tarrasch and us (Dr. Gebhardt and Herr Schenzel. — Ed.), which you declined to sign, has nevertheless not been returned to me yet ! — Yours, &c.,                                                                     "(Signed) DR. GEBHARDT."

                                 DR. LASKER To DR. GEBHARDT. 
                                                                       "Berlin, July 7th, 1908. 
     "Highly honoured Herr Doctor, — In the first instance, I thank you for your friendly efforts and the active interest which you have taken for bringing about the match. I am in great hurry, starting to-morrow for Copenhagen ; but I should like, if possible, to prevent all further delay in reference to the match. If you make the proposal that the honorarium shall be 7,500 mark, 4,000 mark to the winner and 2,500 mark to the loser, I should accept it. The match would consist then, according to your choice, either the best out of twenty games, or six games up, in the latter case draws not counting. The subscriptions being, probably, not closed, the required additional amount might be forthcoming. If you desire to make another proposal, please confer with Herrn Richard Buz, president of the Augsburg Chess Club, whom I shall beg to act on my behalf. My permanent address, however, is Ñ�.о. Dr. B. Lasker, Berlin, and for the next three days Copenhagen Chess Club."

                              DR. GEBHARDT to DR. LASKER      
                                                                        "Coburg, July 8th, 1908. 
     "Highly honoured Herr Doctor, — With great pleasure I gather from your letter just received that you have taken into account that impossible (<<unerfüllbare>>) conditions would endanger the match. I may take it, therefore, that your present conditions are : — "
     "1. Six games up (draws not counting) or twenty fixed games.
     "2. The winner to receive 4,000 mark.
     "3, You to receive a fixed honorarium (eventually besides the prize for the
          winner) of 7,500 mark.  
      "4. Herr Dr. Tarrasch to receive in case of his defeat 2,500 mark.  
"The beginning of the match, August 17th, Düsseldorf, not being altered by the new conditions, need not be mentioned again. Therefore 3,000 mark more are to be obtained. If this be possible, I do not know. There is a somewhat increased probability, since you have modified your original conditions. I have in hand a mass of letters, in which great indignation is expressed that I should have entered negotiations at all for an honorarium demand of 10-15,000 mark. From these letters (by well-meaning and intimate persons), press-cuttings, &c., I see that further efforts would be futile if you did not concede the following two condition : — "
     "1. The match to be eight games up (the general opinion being that it will not extend to twenty or more than twenty games), at an honorarium of 7,500 mark.
      "2. Without prejudice to your right — to dispose (verwerten) of the games advantageously outside Germany, as nothing has been contributed elsewhere to the funds — the subscribers require to see something of the games. Certainly, by right ! I propose, therefore, in fulfilment of this justifiable desire that half of the games shall be placed at our disposal according to our choice. Possible proceeds therefrom to be divided amongst the two players."
     "If you comply with these conditions, I am readily willing to make a new attempt to procure the missing amount (3,000 mark), if not I consider it useless to try. I might add that in the former event (according to my own opinion) the coming off of the match may be considered assured."
     In reply to the above letter, Dr. Lasker replied agreeing to the conditions, and the following document was submitted to both players and signed : — 

Between Prof. Dr. Gebhardt and Herr J. Schenzel (on behalf of the German Chess Association) and Dr. I/asker, of New York, and Dr. Tarrasch, of Nuremberg. 
    1. Dr. Lasker and Dr. Tarrasch agree to play a match for the championship
         of the world. 
    2. The winner of first eight games (draws not counting) to be the victor. 
    3. The winner to receive the prize of 4,000 mark from the German Chess
         Association, and the loser 2,500 mark.
    4. Dr. Lasker to receive a fixed honorarium of 7,500 mark. Dr. Tarrasch
          relinquishes any honorarium in order to facilitate the bringing about of
          the match.
     5. The match to begin on Monday, August 17th, at 2-45 p.m., at Düsseldorf,
          and to be continued at Munich on August 31st. 
     6. Six games per week to be played, six hours daily (afternoon and evening). 
     7. Each player has the right to take an off day five times during the match.
     8. No second game to be commenced on any day.
     9. Time limit, fifteen moves per hour.
These are the main points ; there are six more paragraphs, besides a CODICIL, of eight paragraphs, which, as they concern the players only, are omitted here. 

                                       RECORD OF THE PLAYERS. 


1884. Nuremberg . . First
1885. Hamburg . . Second*
1887. Frankfort . . Fifth*
1888. Nuremberg . . First
1888. Leipzic . . . . Eighth
1889. Breslau . . First
1890. Manchester . First
1892. Dresden . . First
1894. Leipzic . . . . First
1895. Hastings . . Fourth
1896. Nuremberg . . Third*
1898. Vienna . . First
1902. Monte Carlo . Fifth*
1903. Monte Carlo . First
1905. Ostend . . Second
1906. Nuremberg . . Ninth*
1907. Ostend . . First 

1889. Breslau . . First
1889. Amsterdam . Second
1890. Graz . . . . Third
1892. London . . First
1893. New York . . First
1895. Hastings . . Third
1896. St. Petersburg First
1896. Nuremberg . . First
1899. London . . .First
1900. Paris . . .First
1904. Cambridge Springs . .Second


Beat Walbrodt by 7 to 0
          Marshall by 9 to 1
Drew with Tchigorin.

Beat Bird by 7 to 2
        Bird by 5 to0
        Mieses by 5 to 0
        Bardeleben by 3 to I.
        Blackburne by 6 to 0
        Steinitz by i o to 5
        Steinitz by 8 to 2.
        Marshall by 8 to 0

     Dr. Tarrasch is essentially a tournament player ; Dr. Lasker excels both in tournaments and matches — in the latter capacity he stands foremost.
     Dr. Tarrasch, born at Breslau in 1862, gained his mastership at Nuremberg, 1883 ; and Dr. Lasker, born at Berlinchen, 1868, gained his mastership at Breslau, 1889 ; Dr. Tarrasch winning the first prize in the Masters' Tournament at the same Congress. The first four matches, won by Lasker, are comparatively unimportant ; his first important victory being in the match with Blackburne.

  has a collection of the Lasker-Tarrasch Championship Match
Viewable and downloadable

Harald E. Balló's brief yet wonderful  biography of Dr. Siegbert Tarrasch


Highly honoured Herr batgirl Laughing:

I read almost everything and was cool to know how difficult was to start that game, now Ill study those games, 


thank you


wow so long i can t read all of em


i just like to see some chess piece move


Great Post!

We know who came first at Cambridge Springs in 1904, ahead of Lasker. 

An American.  Frank J. Marshall won the tournament going undefeated.

Harry Nelson Pillsbury another American had a 5-5 lifetime record vs Lasker.