1908 World Chess Championship
Emanuel Lasker (Germany) vs. Siegbert Tarrasch (Germany)
Dusseldorf / Munich, Germany
August 17 - September 30, 1908

Conditions:  First to Win 8 Games.

Germany 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 Score
Lasker 1 1 0 1 1 ½ 1 ½ ½ 0 1 0 1 ½ ½ 1 8 (w/5 draws)
Tarrasch 0 0 1 0 0 ½ 0 ½ ½ 1 0 1 0 ½ ½ 0 3 (w/5 draws)
Result:  Emanuel Lasker retains the World Championship.

See the Games of the Match!

  • Siegbert Tarrasch was one of the great chess teachers of the early years, and the one whose overly dogmatic theories were the subject of attack by the Hypermodern School after World War I. Unlike Steinitz, who considered himself above his theories at times, Tarrasch adhered to them rigidly.

  • In the early 1890's, after several tournament successes, he was widely considered the most likely successor to Steinitz. At one point, Lasker had challenged him to a match and been curtly brushed off. Lasker, audaciously challenged the world champion instead, and successfully arranged a match (the fact that both were in America at the time must have helped).

  • Because of Tarrasch's earlier snub, the two were not on speaking terms for years, which delayed any chance Tarrasch might have of playing for the title. Lasker was angry at Tarrasch over the snub, Tarrasch (a medical doctor who could afford to play chess for free if he wished), was angry about Lasker's large financial demands for every event he played in.

  • By the time this match was finally arranged, Tarrasch was 46, and their feud had barely cooled. An attempted reconciliation before the match came to nothing, when Tarrasch refused to shake hands, made a stiff little bow, and said "To you, Herr Lasker, I have only three words to say: "Check and mate".

    From The Yearbook of Chess, 1908, reprinted in Classical Chess Matches, 1907-1913, edited by Fred Wilson
    Between the years 1896 and 1907 no Championship Match took place, for various reasons. As if to compensate for this and for the champion's infrequent appearances in first-class chess during the present century, the last two years, 1907 and 1908, have each furnished a match at which the world's championship has been at stake. In 1907, as is well known, Mr. F. J. Marshall was Dr. Lasker's opponent, and, as is equally well known, the champion had not the slightest difficulty in retaining his title, passing through the contest without the loss of a single game. In the present instance, he crossed swords with Dr. Tarrasch.

    It had for some time been the general opinion that Tarrasch was the player whose record in the past and whose general qualifications would give rise to the most evenly contested match. The history of former negotations and efforts to bring about a meeting between the two stars of the chess firmament need no be repeated here. Suffice it to say that in 1908 the match, which at one time never seemed in the least likely to take place, was actually arranged under the auspices of the German Chess Association, the scenes of action being Düsseldorf and Munich.

    In the article on "General Review of the Year," Lasker's record is duly set forth. Siegbert Tarrasch is a year or two senior to Lasker, and holds an unique tournament record. Although playing in good form, and with average success, in one or two tournaments before 1889, it was in this eyar - the year of Lasker's appearance - that Tarrasch began his long list of triumphs by winning the Breslau Tournament, without the loss of a game, following it by a similar performance at Manchester, 1890. At Dresden, 1892, he again won, this time losing one game to Albin; and at Leipsic, 1894, he continued his victorious career by yet another first, although losing as many as three games on this occasion. At Hastings, 1895, and Nuremburg, 1896, he was fourth on each occasion; and at Vienna, 1898, won this big double-round tournament, after a tie with Pillsbury. He did not take part in the London or Paris Tournaments, 1897 and 1900 , won by Lasker, and at Monte Carlo, 1902, could only tie fifth with Schlecter and Wolf. The next year, however, he won from Maroczy, Pillsbury, Schlecter, and ten others, this making his sixth international victory. At Ostend, 1905, he had to strike his colours to Maroczy, tieing for second and third prizes with Janowsky; in 1906 he failed signally at Nuremberg, where he could only just finish amongs the prize-winners, tieing for 9th prize with Vidmar and Snosko-Borowsky; but in 1907 he just won the championship tournament at Ostend, from Schlecter, Janowsky, Marshall, Burn, and Tschigorin. His tournament play is the best on record, showing no less than seven great international victories, four of which were accomplished without the loss of a single game. In match play he played a drawn match with Tschigorin, and won against Walbrodt by 7 to 0 and Marshall by 8 to 1.

    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.

    There is little more than this to be said. We have consulted the leading authorities on the match, and given the substance of their opinions in the notes to teh games, pointing out any special line, which some single annotator may have discovered, left untouched by others.

    We now leave the games themselves and the comments of their critics to settle the numerous arguments which they have called forth.

  • Match Breakdown
     #    White - Black      Locale       Date        ECO  Result
     1    Lasker - Tarrasch  Duesseldorf  08-17-1908  C68  1-0
     2    Tarrasch - Lasker  Duesseldorf  08-19-1908  C66  0-1
     3    Lasker - Tarrasch  Duesseldorf  08-22-1908  C98  0-1
     4    Tarrasch - Lasker  Duesseldorf  08-24-1908  C66  0-1
     5    Lasker - Tarrasch  Munich       09-01-1908  C98  1-0
     6    Tarrasch - Lasker  Munich       09-02-1908  C10  ½-½
     7    Lasker - Tarrasch  Munich       09-05-1908  C12  1-0
     8    Tarrasch - Lasker  Munich       09-09-1908  C67  ½-½
     9    Lasker - Tarrasch  Munich       09-11-1908  C12  ½-½
    10    Tarrasch - Lasker  Munich       09-14-1908  C67  1-0
    11    Lasker - Tarrasch  Munich       09-15-1908  C12  1-0
    12    Tarrasch - Lasker  Munich       09-16-1908  C49  1-0
    13    Lasker - Tarrasch  Munich       09-23-1908  D40  1-0
    14    Tarrasch - Lasker  Munich       09-24-1908  C67  ½-½
    15    Lasker - Tarrasch  Munich       09-28-1908  D02  ½-½
    16    Tarrasch - Lasker  Munich       09-30-1908  C49  0-1

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