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World Chess Championship 1910 (Lasker–Schlechter)

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World Chess Championship 1910 (Lasker–Schlechter)

Emanuel Lasker faced Carl Schlechter in the 1910 World Chess Championship. It was played from January 7 to February 10, 1910 in Vienna and Berlin. The match was tied and Lasker retained his title.

Results

The winner would be the player with the best score after 10 games. The match was drawn, so Lasker retained the world title.

World Chess Championship Match 1910
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Points
 Carl Schlechter (Austria-Hungary) ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 5
 Emanuel Lasker (Germany) ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 5

World Championship?

The match is generally regarded as a World Championship match, but some sources have doubted this in view of its strange outcome. J.R. Buckley reported in the American Chess Bulletin that the ten-game match was not for the World Championship, and that its result suggested that "a contest on different terms, a match for the World Championship" should be played. But at the foot of this article the editor added that Lasker had told him, "Yes, I placed the title at stake."[1] In the Encyclopaedia of Chess, Anne Sunnucks describes the match as "a so-called championship match".[2]

On the other hand, in its book Le guide des échecs the chess author Nicolas Giffard does not express the slightest doubt that this was a chess championship, but points out that in case Schlechter won, he would still need to win a revenge match before being called the World Champion.[3]

Two-point margin?

Lasker drew the match by winning the final game. It may be that Schlechter needed to win by a two-point margin in order to win the title, and so had no choice but to play for a win in the final game, in which he missed first a win, then a clear draw, before losing the game.

Historians are divided over whether the two-point margin was required. Israel Horowitz, Nicolas Giffard and Fred Wilson all write that a two-point margin was required.[3][4][5] The chess researcher Graeme Cree writes,

There are still some who doubt whether this two-point clause existed, and as far as I know, positive proof does not exist. But the evidence of Schlechter's play in that final game, plus the difficulty of imagining a cagey bird like Lasker risking his title in such a short match without some extra protection seems pretty telling. Not to mention the fact that negotiations for a Lasker–Capablanca match broke down the very next year over that very same 2-point tie clause.[6]

Lasker himself wrote two days before the tenth game, "The match with Schlechter is nearing its end and it appears probable that for the first time in my life I shall be the loser. If that should happen a good man will have won the World Championship",[7] which could imply that it really was a world title match and that there was no secret "two-game lead" clause.

Other explanations have been advanced for the development of the last game. A report shortly after the end of the match appears to speculate that Schlechter threw the last game because a narrow victory for him would not have been in the financial interests of either player, as they would have had to play another match if Schlechter won narrowly, but they had not been able to get adequate financial backing for the 1910 match.[8] Journalist Larry Evans writes,

The truth is Schlechter probably never saw a clear draw! He missed 35...Rd8! with good winning chances. Later he said he intended 38...Qh4 39 Kg2 Qg4 40 Rg3 Qxc8 overlooking 41 Qg6! Flustered, he then missed a draw – and the title – by 39...Qh4! 40 Kd2 Qh2 41 Ke3 Rxf3 42 Kxf3 Qh3 43 Ke2 Qxc8 44 Qxb5, etc. The last hope to hold was 46...Qa2.[9]

Luděk Pachman's explanation on the outcome of the last game is that "both players were labouring under such nervous stress that their power of judgment was not working as well as it normally did."[10] It has even been suggested that Schlechter played to win the last game because he was too honorable to get the title by a fluke, having won the fifth game by a swindle in a lost position.[11]

Popular culture

A fictionalised account of the match is presented in the 1998 novel Carl Haffner's Love of the Draw by Thomas Glavinic.

Footnotes

References

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