Emanuel Lasker (December 24, 1868 – January 11, 1941) was a German chess player and mathematician, born at Berlinchen in Brandenburg (now Barlinek in Poland).
In 1894 he became the second World Chess Champion by defeating Steinitz with 10 wins, 4 draws and 5 losses. He maintained this title for 27 years, the longest unbroken tenure of any officially recognized World Champion of chess. His great tournament wins include London] (1899), St Petersburg (1896 and 1914), New York (1924).
In 1921, he lost the title to Capablanca. He had already offered to resign to him a year before, but Capablanca wanted to beat Lasker in a match.
In 1933, the Jewish Lasker and his wife Martha Kohn had to leave Germany because of the Nazis. They went to England, and, after a subsequent short stay in the USSR, they settled in New York.
Lasker is noted for his "psychological" method of play, sometimes choosing a theoretically inferior move if he knew it would make his opponent uncomfortable. In one famous game against Capablanca (St. Petersburg 1914) he needed to win at all costs, and so chose a drawish opening which induced his opponent to drop his guard. Lasker won the game.
One of Lasker´s most famous games is Lasker - Bauer, Amsterdam, 1889, in which he sacrificed both bishops in a maneuver later repeated in a number of games. Some opening variations are named after him, for example Lasker´s Defense (1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 Be7 5.e3 O-O 6.Nf3 h6 7.Bh4 Ne4) to the Queen´s Gambit. In 1895, he introduced a line that effectively ended the popular Evans Gambit in tournament play (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.b4 Bxb4 5.c3 Ba5 6.d4 d6 7.0-0 8.dxe5 dxe5 9.Qxd8+ Kxd8 10.Ne5 Be6). Lasker´s line curbs White´s aggressive intentions, and according to Reuben Fine, the resulting simplified position "is psychologically depressing for the gambit player."
Lasker was also a distinguished mathematician. He performed his doctoral studies at Erlangen from 1900 to 1902 under David Hilbert. His doctoral thesis,
Über Reihen auf der Convergenzgrenze, was published in Philosophical Transactions in 1901.
Lasker introduced the concept of a primary ideal, which extends the notion of a power of a prime number to algebraic geometry. He is most famous for his 1905 paper Zur Theorie der Moduln und Ideale, which appeared in Mathematische Annalen. In this paper, he established what is now known as the Lasker-Noether theorem for the special case of ideals in polynomial rings.
Other facets of his life
He was also a philosopher, and a good friend of Albert Einstein. Later in life he became an ardent humanitarian, and wrote passionately about the need for inspiring and structured education for the stabilization and security of mankind. He also took up bridge and became a master at it, in addition to studying Go.
He invented Lasca, a draughts-like game, but instead of removing captured pieces from the board, they are stacked underneath the capturer.
The poetess Else Lasker-Schüler was his sister-in-law.
- "Chess is a game restricted to this world, go has something extraterrestrial. If ever we find an extraterrestrial civilisation that plays a game that we also play, it will be go, without any doubt."
- "The acquisition of harmonious education is comparable to the production and the elevation of an organism harmoniously built. The one is fed by blood, the other one by the spirit; but Life, equally mysterious, creative, powerful, flows through either." — from Manual of Chess
- World chess champions by Edward G. Winter, editor. 19981 ISBN 0080249041
- J. Hannak, Emanuel Lasker: The Life of a Chess Master (1952, reprinted by Dover, 1991). ISBN 0486267067
- Ken Whyld, The Collected Games of Emanuel Lasker (The Chess Player, 1998)
- Twelve Great Chess Players and Their Best Games by Irving Chernev; Dover; August 1995. ISBN 0486286746