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Edward Lasker
This article uses algebraic notation to describe chess moves.

Edward Lasker (December 3, 1885 – March 25, 1981) was a leading American chess and Go player. He was awarded the title of International Master of chess by FIDE. Lasker was an engineer by profession, and an author.



Edward (then Eduard) Lasker was born in Kempen (Kępno), Province of Posen (Greater Poland), Prussia, German Empire, (present Poland). He studied in Breslau (Wrocław) and in Charlottenburg (now part of Berlin). Before World War I he moved first to London and then, in 1914 shortly before the outbreak of war, to America, the birthplace of his mother. He found a job in Chicago. When America entered the war, he was sent enlistment papers, but with the right of exemption as a German. He waived his right to exemption, which he said would make his American citizenship be granted more quickly; however, the war was over before he was called.

Engineering career

Lasker earned undergraduate degrees at the Technical College of Charlottenburg in Mechanical and Electrical Engineering. In 1921-23, he invented a mechanical breast pump, which saved many premature infants' lives and made Lasker a lot of money, although it caused his friends to refer to him facetiously as "the chest player."[1][2]


His chess teacher in Breslau was Arnold Schottländer. In Berlin, he won the City Championship (1909) and wrote his first chess book on Chess Strategy (Schachstrategie, 1911) which got many English (and German) editions.

Edward Lasker published several books on American checkers, chess, and Go. He won five U.S. Open Chess Championships (1916, 1917, 1919, 1920, 1921). His best result was his narrow 8.5–9.5 loss in a match with Frank Marshall for the U.S. Championship in 1923. For that, Lasker was invited to participate in the legendary New York 1924 chess tournament, facing world-class masters like Alekhine, Capablanca, Rubinstein, Emanuel Lasker and Réti. He finished 10th out of 11 players.

His most famous game is probably the queen sacrifice and king hunt against Sir George Thomas.[3] After Lasker checkmated him, Thomas said, "This was very nice." Lasker, who had yet to learn English, was touched by Thomas's sportsmanship after a spectator translated Thomas's remark into German for him. Lasker wrote that had he won the game against a leading Berlin amateur, his opponent would likely have told him, "You are just lucky! Had I played [10...Bxe5] instead of [...Qe7], you would have been lost."[4]

Although Lasker never won against Capablanca, he drew as Black against him at New York 1924.[1] Lasker wasn't usually so fortunate, e.g. Capablanca once arrived one minute before he would have forfeited the game for late arrival, at New York 1915, and Lasker played the Riga variation with which he had some experience, but Capablanca found an advantageous continuation over the board. [5]

Lasker lived on the Upper West Side of New York City until his death in 1981.

He was friends with former World chess champion Emanuel Lasker. Edward Lasker wrote in his memoirs of the New York 1924 tournament as published in the March 1974 edition of Chess Life magazine: "I did not discover that we were actually related until he (Emanuel Lasker) told me shortly before his death that someone had shown him a Lasker family tree on one of whose branches I was dangling." In a February 8, 1973 letter to Robert B. Long, Lasker explained their exact relationship:[6]

The genealogy, incidentally, indicates that the common forbear of Emanuel and myself was the son Samuel Lasker of the Rabbi of the Polish village Lask, whose name was originally Meier Hindels. However, later the additional name Lasker was given to him to distinguish him from another Meier Hindels also living in Lask. Samuel Lasker moved to another Polish village, Kepno, in 1769, after it had been captured by Frederick the Great and became a German township, and I am the last descendant of his who was born there. He was the greatgrandfather of my greatgrandfather. His first-born son left Kepmen [sic-Kempen] and moved to Jarotschin, another Polish village, and Emanuel Lasker was that one's greatgrandson.


Go and Go-Moku; The Oriental Board Games by Edward Lasker

Lasker was deeply impressed by 'Go'. He first read about it in a magazine article by Korschelt which suggested Go as a rival to chess, a claim which he found amusing.[7] Later on his interest was piqued again when he noticed the record of a Go game on the back of a Japanese newspaper being read by a customer of a cafe where they played chess. He and his friend Max Lange (not to be confused with the more famous chess player with the same name) took the paper after he had left, and deciphered the diagram, but the game was not complete. The position led them to assume that the notation under the game would indicate a black victory, but being unable to read Japanese, they had to ask another Japanese customer at the cafe. To their surprise, it was a resignation by black. Only after three weeks of study was Max Lange able to understand the reason for white's victory. This experience led them to a deeper appreciation for the game, and they studied it in earnest, but were unable to interest other chess players.

After two years, Emanuel Lasker, then the world chess champion, returned to Germany. When Edward told him that he had found a game to rival chess, he was skeptical, but after being told the rules, and playing one game, he understood that Go was strategically deep. They started studying go with Yasugoro Kitabatake, a Japanese student, and after two years were able to beat him with no handicap.

Kitabatake arranged a game for Edward, Emanuel and Emanuel's brother Berthold, against a visiting Japanese mathematician, and strong Go player. The Laskers took a nine-stone handicap, and played in consultation with each other, considering their moves deeply, but their opponent beat them effortlessly and without taking much time to think. After the game, Emanuel suggested to Edward that they travel to Tokyo to study Go. In 1911, Edward got a job at AEG. After a year at the company, he tried to get transferred to the Tokyo office, but as the company only posted fluent English speakers in Tokyo, he went to work in England first. He was detained there during World War I, and never made it to Tokyo. He was, however, given permission to travel to the USA by Sir Haldane Porter, who remembered that he had won the London chess championship in May 1914. Lasker was instrumental in developing Go in the USA, and together with Karl Davis Robinson and Lee Hartman founded the American Go Association.


  • Chess Strategy, 1915 (second edition)
  • Chess and Checkers: the Way to Mastership, 1918
  • Go and Go-Moku, 1934 (2nd ed. 1960)
  • The Adventure of Chess, 1949 (2nd ed. 1959), ISBN 0-486-20510-X.
  • Chess Secrets I Learned from the Masters (semi-autobiographical and instructional) (1951, 1969) ISBN 0-486-22266-7.
  • Chess for Fun and Chess for Blood, 1942 (2nd ed.), ISBN 0-486-20146-5.


  • "It has been said that man is distinguished from animal in that he buys more books than he can read. I should like to suggest that the inclusion of a few chess books would help to make the distinction unmistakable." — The Adventure of Chess
  • "While the Baroque rules of Chess could only have been created by humans, the rules of Go are so elegant, organic, and rigorously logical that if intelligent life forms exist elsewhere in the universe, they almost certainly play Go."

Notable games

Chess zhor 26.png
Chess zver 26.png a8 rd b8 nd c8 d8 e8 f8 rd g8 kd h8 Chess zver 26.png
a7 pd b7 bd c7 pd d7 pd e7 qd f7 g7 pd h7 pd
a6 b6 pd c6 d6 e6 pd f6 bd g6 h6
a5 b5 c5 d5 e5 nl f5 g5 h5 ql
a4 b4 c4 d4 pl e4 nl f4 g4 h4
a3 b3 c3 d3 bl e3 f3 g3 h3
a2 pl b2 pl c2 pl d2 e2 f2 pl g2 pl h2 pl
a1 rl b1 c1 d1 e1 kl f1 g1 h1 rl
Chess zhor 26.png
Position after 10...Qe7
Chess zhor 26.png
Chess zver 26.png a8 rd b8 nd c8 d8 e8 f8 rd g8 h8 Chess zver 26.png
a7 pd b7 bd c7 pd d7 pd e7 qd f7 g7 pd h7
a6 b6 pd c6 d6 e6 pd f6 nl g6 h6
a5 b5 c5 d5 e5 f5 g5 h5
a4 b4 c4 d4 pl e4 f4 g4 nl h4 pl
a3 b3 c3 d3 e3 f3 g3 pl h3
a2 pl b2 pl c2 pl d2 kl e2 bl f2 pl g2 h2 rl
a1 rl b1 c1 d1 e1 f1 g1 kd h1
Chess zhor 26.png
Final position

This is Lasker's most famous game, and one of the most famous games of all time:

Ed. Lasker-Sir George Thomas, London 1912 (offhand clock game)[8][9] 1.d4 e6 2.Nf3 f5 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 Be7 5.Bxf6 Bxf6 6.e4 fxe4 7.Nxe4 b6 8.Ne5 O-O 9.Bd3 Bb7 10.Qh5!? Qe7?? (diagram at left; 10...Bxe5! 11.Qxe5 Nc6 or 11.dxe5 Rf5 wins a pawn)[10] 11.Qxh7+!! Kxh7 12.Nxf6+ Kh6 (12...Kh8 13.Ng6#) 13.Neg4+ Kg5 14.h4+ (14.f4+! achieved the aim more rapidly) Kf4 15.g3+ Kf3 16.Be2+ (Again, 16.0-0-0, with the threat 17.Ne5# or 17.Nh2# was a quicker mate) Kg2 17.Rh2+ Kg1 18.Kd2# 1-0 (diagram at right)

See also


  1. ^ Edward Lasker, Chess Secrets I Learned from the Masters, David McKay, 1951, pp. 249-50.
  2. ^ Patent No. 1,644,257 issued by U.S. Patent Office
  3. ^ Ed. Lasker-Thomas, London 1912.
  4. ^ Lasker 1951, pp. 149-50.
  5. ^ Capablanca-Ed. Lasker
  6. ^ Edward Winter, Chess Explorations, Cadogan Chess, p. 173(quoting Lasker and His Contemporaries, No. 3, p. 119). ISBN 1-85744-1710. The bracketed sic was apparently added by Winter.
  7. ^ Go Monthly Review 1961/7, p.51, article by Lasker From My "Go" Career
  8. ^ The players played under the stipulation that neither player could exceed his opponent's time by more than five minutes at any stage of the game. "Thus, if one of the contestants plays leisurely, the other can also take his time. But a player who plays fast, compels his adversary to follow suit." Lasker 1951, p. 148.
  9. ^ Ed. Lasker-Thomas, London 1912
  10. ^ Edward Lasker, Chess for Fun and Chess for Blood, Dover Publications, 1962, p. 120.

External links



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