How was Capablanca so good at chess

Chess genius Emanuel Lasker: Historic defeat in Havana

Chess: 100 years ago the genius who had a summer house in Thyrow lost his world chess title.

That tropical heat. The temperatures, which kept Havana firmly in a headlock, put Emanuel Lasker hard, they softened the will to win, which his opponent on the other side of the black and white playing field also wore down with tireless attacks. After 14 games in which the German chess genius fought ten draws and suffered four defeats, Emanuel Lasker finally ended the fight for the world title in Havana in spring 1921 by giving up. On April 28, 1921, after 27 years on the throne of the chess world, the then 52-year-old Emanuel Lasker, who owned a summer house in Thyrow in today's Teltow-Fläming district, passed the scepter on to José Raúl Capablanca, the third world champion in chess history .

In a report entitled “My competition with Capablanca”, Emanuel Lasker writes about the eleventh game: “Another week has passed in which Capablanca increased its winning counters. This time through a part that shows his style in a very good light: Strong, but careful; Looking for fixed positions from which one can easily advance to attack. I didn't play it badly either, except for the last part. Then I failed, presumably succumbing to the effects of the climate. But I do not want to diminish Capablanca's earnings, because he posed problems for me of the difficulty that was enough to completely relax the tired man - and he couldn't get more out of the position. "

In pictures: These are Brandenburg's athletes of the year since 1998.

Brandenburg's Sportsman of the Year since 1998. ©

An era like Lasker's almost three decades as the title holder - a long-term dominance that hardly exists in sport anyway, because in other sports the physique hardly allows such a long term in office - did not exist later. “That Emanuel Lasker was at the top for so long actually says it all. This is unique and a very special chapter in chess history, ”says Thomas Weischede, the chairman of the Emanuel Lasker Society (ELG).

“One of his great strengths was to find the optimal move for the respective position. Lasker's secret of success was certain that he did not submit to any dogma, but rather had a flexible, pragmatic and effective style of play. Capablanca was his equal in this. In 1921, after the lost World War and the loss of a large part of his fortune, Lasker was no match for this opponent - especially in hot Havana - and by his standards lost almost without a fight. For whatever reason, he could not call up his high level of combat readiness in 1921. "

Shortly afterwards, however, it was different again. "In 1924 at the world-class tournament in New York, Lasker triumphed again in front of Capablanca and Alekhine, who dethroned Capablanca in 1927," reports Thomas Weischede from ELG. According to the society, the members of the society also include chess superstars such as Garry Kasparov and Anatoli Karpov - Lasker's successor as world champion.

At the time when the tropical endurance test in Havana resulted in the end of his tenure as world champion, Emanuel Lasker moved to what is now the Teltow-Fläming district: in 1921 the Jewish mathematician and philosopher had a summer house built in Thyrow with a very modern architecture and wrote some of his writings there. In 1928 parts of the house were destroyed in a fire. Attempts to preserve the increasingly decaying building failed until the dilapidated property was finally demolished.

Emanuel Lasker set standards as a chess journalist

Emanuel Lasker was unable to regain the title of world champion, but set standards as a publicist: in 1925 his “Textbook of Chess Game” was published. The book contains numerous philosophical excursions and is one of the classics of chess literature today - the great strategist is likely to have worked on this work in Thyrow as well. “Emanuel Lasker was one of the masterminds of the transition from romantic to scientific chess, which is historically one of his great merits. At a time when a lot was already in motion due to scientific progress, he also managed to philosophically classify the game of chess as a battle of the mind and school of thought in modern and enlightened society, ”estimates Thomas Weischede.

In 1933, after the Nazis came to power, Emanuel Lasker emigrated from Germany. After staying in the Netherlands, England and Russia, he finally moved to the USA. He died on January 11, 1941 at the age of 72 in New York. In Germany, too, Emanuel Laskers belongs to the ranks of really great personalities - in 2008 he was inducted into the Hall of Fame of German Sports.

It is quite possible that in Thyrow in the year of the 80th anniversary of his death and 100 years after the only German world chess champion moved into the community, the great universal genius will be commemorated again with an action. "We have not yet met on this due to the corona," says Gertrud Klatt (CDU), the Thyrower town councilor, "but we will certainly still consult."