1907 World Chess Championship
Emanuel Lasker (Germany) vs. Frank J. Marshall (USA)
New York / Philadelphia / Baltimore / Chicago / Memphis, USA
January 26 - April 6, 1907

Conditions:  First to Win 8 Games.

USA, 1907 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 Score
Lasker 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 8 (w/7 draws)
Marshall 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 (w/7 draws)
Result:  Emanuel Lasker retains the World Championship.

See the Games of the Match!

  • Lasker virtually retired for several years after the 1896/7 match to pursue other studies. Marshall first challenged him in 1904, but was unable to raise the necessary $2000. Maroczy and Lasker nearly agreed to a match in 1905, but were unable to agree on a site. A match against Tarrasch was nearly arranged in 1904 also, but also fell through.

  • Eventually, Lasker agreed to play Marshall for a $1000 purse.

    From The Yearbook of Chess, 1907, reprinted in Classical Chess Matches, 1907-1913, edited by Fred Wilson

    After a lapse of eleven years since Dr. Lasker beat Steinitz for the second time, a championship match was at last arranged, and commenced on January 26, 1907. Many of the world's greatest players had in the meantime entered into negotiations for a match, but in every instance Dr. Lasker and the challenger were either unable to agree as to the conditions or else some other circumstance prevented the event taking place. marshall had won from Lasker at Paris, 1900, and drawn at Cambridge Springs, 1904, winning the latter tournament outright, with Lasker second. He therefore had a right, so far as actual individual scores were concerned, to issue a challenge to the champion, although it was generally acknowledged that it was only a question of Lasker retaining his best form for him to emerge victorious.

    Naturally the interval which had elapsed since the last championship match, together with the dissimilarity of the contestant's respective stylse, gave every promise of some interesting play, and the play was closely followed at the beginning of the contest. The interest, however, flagged before the end, owing to the fact that every game was either won by the champion or else resulted in a draw. In fact, by scoring the first three games, Lasker practically secured himself against defeat, as he could be content to take the draw whenever the slightest opportunity offered, whilst his opponent, always a player with a predilection for hazardous and brilliant strokes, was tempted into unsound play in his efforts to score a victory.

    Lasker's greatest strength is as a match player, although it must not be inferred from this that he is not almost equally formidable in tournament play, as reference to his record will demonstrate. This record is better than any other master can show in tournament play. Tarrasch's record is perhaps as good in its way, as although his percentage may not be quite so high, it extends over a longer period of activity.

    1889 Amsterdam          2     6 -2
    1895 Hastings           3    15-5
    1896 St. Petersburg     1    11-6
    1896 Nuremburg          1    13-4
    1899 London             1    22-5
    1900 Paris              1    14-1
    1904 Cambridge Springs  2-3  11 -4
    Average: 1st-2nd; 70.05%

    1st at Berlin, 1889 without losing a game;1st at German Chess Association Minor Tournament, 1889, after a tie with V. Feyerfeil, thereby winning title of Master; tie with Dr. B. Lasker, Berlin National, 1890; 3rd at Graz, 1890; 1st at British Chess Association Tournament, London, 1892 (Mason 2nd); 1st Quintangular tournament, 1892, without losing a game (Blackburne 2nd, Mason 3rd); 1st at New York, 1893 (Albin and Delmar 3rd), scoring the maximum 13 points out of a possible 13.

    a) Championship Matches
    1894 vs. Steinitz  +10-5=4
    1896 vs. Steinitz  +10-2=5
    1907 vs. Marshall  + 8-0=7
    b) Other Matches
    1889 vs. Bardeleben  2-1
    1890 vs. Mieses      6-1
    1890 vs. Bird        9-4
    1890 vs. Miniati     4-1
    1891 vs. Lee         1-
    1892 vs. Blackburne  +6-0=4
    1892 vs. Bird        5-0
    1893 vs. Golmayo     +3-2=1
    1893 vs. Vazquez     3-0
    1893 vs. Showalter   +6-2=2
    1893 vs. Ettlinger   +5-0=0
    Lasker withdrew from the Lee match
    due to illness.  The Ettlinger match
    was at odds
    1900 Paris             3-4   12-4
    1901 Monte Carlo       10     5-7
    1902 Monte Carlo       9     11-8
    1902 Hanover           9-10   8-9
    1903 Monte Carlo       9     12-14
    1903 Vienna            2     11-6
    1904 Monte Carlo       3      6-3
    1904 Cambridge Springs 1     13-2
    1905 Ostend            7-9   12-13
    1905 Scheveningen      1     11-1
    1905 Barmen            3     10-5
    1906 Ostend            7     16-13
    1906 Nuremberg         1     12-3
    Marshall also won two Rice Gambit Theme
    tournaments at Saint Louis and Monte
    1905 vs. Janowsky +8-5=?
    1906 vs. Tarrasch +1-8=?
    1907 vs. Lasker   +0-8=7

    The first three games of this match were most interesting. Lasker conducting the attack on bold and forcible lines. The sacrifice in the first game was evolved out of a position which did not hold out any likelihood of brilliant play, and from this game and Dr. Lasker's manner of conducting it, it was rightly conjectured that the champion was determined to meet Marshall more or less on his own ground and was prepared to take rather more risk than he has the reputation of doing. It is, indeed, a rule, which could well be more widely applied, that against an attacking player attack is more likely to succeed than defence, whilst against a defensive player attacking tactics give way to a more solid style of play. The reason for this is not far to seek, for attacking players are seldom good at defence or defensive players at attack. Dr. Lasker is so thorough a student of the psychology of the game that he can readily adapt his play to either style, and at the same time it will be noticed that he always has enough defensive force at the back of his attack to guide the game into that path where he is absolutely unrivalled, - the ending. It will be noticed that in the present match he more than once initiated a strong attack, pressed it home, and then relinquished it for an end-game position, which he forced by exchange of pieces, and which he can be relied on to win, given the most infinitesimal advantage.

    The second game is one of those which Marshall might have won, but not by the move N-Q7, pointed out by all the critics. About this important question it is interesting to quote Dr. Lasker's reply to Dr. Tarrasch's comments in the latter's book of the match. These comments appeared, with the following diagram in Lasker's Chess Magazine, August, 1907. Speaking of Dr. Tarrasch's criticism on the match, he says: -

    "Again, in analytical detail he is inaccurate to the point of carelessness. He bases his opinion that the second game after sacrifice of the NP, was a win for Marshall on an analysis where many question marks must be put. he lets White make the unnecessary move N-B4, although the Knight retreats later to Q3. And thus he arrives at the following position [viz: White: Kg1, Rf3, Nd3, Pa2, Pb2, Pg2, Pg3, Ph3; Black: Kb8, Rd8, Nc6, Pb7, Ph7, Pd4, Pc2], which he declares a win for Black, though after the moves 30. Rf2 Nb4 31. Nc1 d3 32. Rd2 the threat a3 followed by Rxd3 forces Black to seek a draw by 32... Re8; 33. Kf2 Rf8+, etc. All these moves being forced ones, the omission to proceed with the analysis further is a grave defect, especially in view of the doctors pretensions to prove a result directly contrary to the one arrived at actually."

    The third game was another very instructive example of the champion's skill. This game was conducted by Dr. Lasker more cautiously than the first two games. Here he adopted waiting tactics, and with excellent judgment allowed Marshall to make all his plans for a sacrifice whilst himself preparing at the same time a valid defence and a counter demonstration. In praising Lasker, Marshall must not be forgotten, for the sacrifice was cleverly conceived, and the game also contains a very pretty trap, set by the loser. At the end of the game Marshall played a weak move, which lost immediately, whereas he could have made the process of winning very difficult for his opponent.

    The fourth, fifth and sixth gamse were uninteresting draws. Early in each game, the champion seemed imbued with a desire to draw at all costs, and exchanged pieces without making any attempt to obtain an advantage in the middle game. In the seventh game Dr. Lasker purposely chose a variation of the Queen's, which he does not recommend, so as to vary his choice of opening. This latter game was the most attractive of the first succession of draws, but by this time the interest in the match had begun to wane a little, at any rate in this country. It was revived over the eighth game, which was concluded with an ending conducted in Lasker's finest style, leading to a declared mate in five.

    Another series of draws followed, more interesting than the first series; but the match was now regarded as practically finsihed, the only point for speculation being whether Marshall would succeed in winning a single game. The general opinion appeared to be that Lasker held his opponent in such a grip that he had merely to put forth his full powers to win the remaining games, the draws arising chiefly from lack of energy.

    In the twelfth and thirteenth games Marshall did not take full advantage of Dr. Lasker's play in the opening, which gave him the opportunity of scoring. Nevertheless, the games contained much instructive play, and will be perused with pleasure by the student.

    The same cannot be said of the last two games, which Marshall played really badly and indulged his opponent with easy victories.

    The result of the match leaves the impression that Dr. Lasker is still the world's finest chessplayer, and the title champion is, as it happens, held by the strongest player. A great deal has been made out of the fact that Lasker should have lost several games, but the same is said of the winner in every match and tournament and only serves to demonstrate the difference between the practical and the theoretical side of the game. The conditinos in the study, where every move can be analyzed with precision by a skilful theoriest, are totally different to the anxious, nervous strain of actual play over the board, where a move irrevocably commits him who makes it, and not only accuracy of position judgment, but also detailed analysis of many variations is essential. What wonder, then, that a player will hesitate to embark on a complicated line of play involving correct insight into several continuations for a number of moves in advance? Dr. Lasker's judgment in actual play has stood the test of many years first class play during which period he has lost very few games. His present match against Marshall has shown him as invincible as before, and should another championship match be forthcoming in the near future we shall look forward to further success for Lasker, whoever his opponent may be.

  • Match Breakdown
     #    White - Black      Locale        Date        ECO  Result
     1    Marshall - Lasker  New York      01-26-1907  C65  0-1 
     2    Lasker - Marshall  New York      01-29-1907  C11  1-0 
     3    Marshall - Lasker  New York      01-31-1907  D53  0-1 
     4    Lasker - Marshall  New York      02-02-1907  C12  -
     5    Marshall - Lasker  New York      02-05-1907  D53  -
     6    Lasker - Marshall  New York      02-09-1907  C12  -
     7    Marshall - Lasker  Philadelphia  02-16-1907  D32  -
     8    Lasker - Marshall  Philadelphia  02-19-1907  C12  1-0 
     9    Marshall - Lasker  Philadelphia  03-02-1907  D32  -
    10    Lasker - Marshall  Baltimore     03-08-1907  C12  -
    11    Marshall - Lasker  Chicago       03-16-1907  A83  -
    12    Lasker - Marshall  Memphis       03-19-1907  C11  1-0 
    13    Marshall - Lasker  Memphis       03-21-1907  D07  0-1 
    14    Lasker - Marshall  Memphis       03-23-1907  C11  1-0 
    15    Marshall - Lasker  New York      04-06-1907  D53  0-1 

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