Lasker's Chess Magazine/Volume 1
A Monthly Record of Chess Science and Chess Doings.
DR E. LASKER.
J. HALPERN, S. LOYD, DR. L. D. BROUGHTON, JR.
H. E. ATKINS, J. F. BARRY, F. J. MARSHALL, A. .F. MACKENZIE, W. E. NAPIER,
G. REICHHELM, J. W. SHOWALTER, W. A. SHINKMAN, F. M. TEED.
DR. E. LASKER, MORTON BUILDING, NEW YORK CITY.
MANSION HOUSE CHAMBERS, 20 BUCKLEBURY, LONDON, E. C.
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NEW YORK AND LONDON, JANUARY, 1905
From the Editorial Chair
The aim of this magazine is to convey
correct information of all doings in the
chess world, to cultivate a sound taste
for the efficient and the beautiful in
chess and to spread the love for chess
among all peoples speaking the English
The pending negotiations for the match between Mr. Marshall and Mr. Lasker for the title of chess champion of the world, brings up for discussion a few questions which, it is believed, have never been fully considered by the chess public, and a study of them forcibly demonstrates the necessity of some kind of organization by chess masters and the leading men of the chess world.
A match for the chess championship involves a long period of training, the incurring of extra expenses during the contest, the effort of playing, which may occupy several months, and the loss which a person necessarily undergoes as a consequence of abstention from regular duties. Added to these is the work of arranging for the contest with clubs or other places where the best interests of the players will be cared for, the gathering together of one's backing and the expenditure of time and care in covering all the points that have to be considered in the negotiations. All of these matters are a drain upon the strength of a player that cannot be estimated by anyone who has not experienced them.
In arranging the match for the championship, which was played between Mr. Steinitz and Mr. Lasker in 1894, six months were occupied in the negotiations, and there was a great amount of correspondence before the contest was finally settled. The match lasted from the beginning of March to the 26th of May. The stakes were $2,000 a side. The contributions of clubs and the amount paid by the public for tickets reached the sum of $1,200 which was equally divided between the two players. The match was followed with close attention by chess players in every part of the world, and the games were published in thousands of newspapers and magazines. At the conclusion of the contest two books were published giving the games in full, one by the British Chess Magazine, and the other by the veteran master, Bird. But neither the newspapers or the publishers of the two books contributed in any way to the match funds.
Under the plan which has been adopted in chess matches, the men who subscribe to the fund which makes up the stake receive, if the player wins the match, their money back, and fifty percent in addition as a bonus. Hence it will be seen that though the stakes in the Steinitz-Lasker match were $2,000 a side, the winner of the match received but $1,000 of the stakes, his backers receiving the other $1,000 for the loan of their money. With this arrangement the total compensation for the enormous labor involved in the nine months was $1,600 for the winner and $600 for the loser.
The entire European chess world contributed nothing for the games, and nothing to the backing of the challenger, still, it cannot be doubted that there were many who would gladly have added their quota for the benefit of the players had the opportunity been afforded. Considering the fact that thousands of players derived enjoyment from the games, and that a large amount of money must have been paid for the space which they occupied in newspapers, and for the sale of the books on the match, the recompense to the players themselves was far from a fair proportion of the amount extended by the chess public at the time.
Property rights in the games in a championship match are as clear as are those of any other form of mental effort, because the product of that effort remains to the world. But it would be a difficult problem to solve to decide just what means would be best to adopt to retain to the players of a match their full rights in the literature of the contest. Publication of the games in a newspaper is a virtual gift of all rights, as the copyright of a daily newspaper is only for a day, and nothing could prevent reproduction. Whether the chess public would be content to wait till the match was finished, receiving only the daily reports of the results of each game, and then accept all the games in book form with all the rights which copyrights afford is a very doubtful matter. The whole question is fraught with difficulties, and should be amicably settled by the masters, the press and the organized chess world.
(From a letter to the Editor.)
I was a lad of 16 years only, and Morphy was my idol. He took a great notion to me, so young, and so very small for my age, as did Mr. Mead, the President of the Club. Scharetts, of the Dey Street House, was my chaperone. I lost but one game, an entirely new defense to the Evan's Gambit, by Leonard, during my three months play in the two cities, New York and Brooklyn. I never shall forget how Morphy astonished the crowd of noted players during one of his games with Perrine. They all seemed to think that Perrine would have won if he had made a certain move. They asked if they might interrupt the game to ask him a question. He said, "certainly." Then the move was shown him, and he was asked if Perrine would not have won had he made that move. So fast that it was diffi cult to follow him, he made the move, and followed it up for about six moves —"he go there, I go here, he go there, I go here," etc., etc., "and I win." He seemed inspired with a perfect knowledge of the game. He was young, smooth-faced, modest as a girl, dressed in perfect taste, and never said a word when playing, unless spoken to. He sat leaning a little forward, at the table, his legs crossed and his hands free from the board. He never made a motion until ready to play, and then, quickly, he reached forward and with the thumb and two fingers he made his move and as quickly withdrew until ready for his next move. He looked as if he had just "jumped out of a band-box," so neat and boyish was he in his appearance. I loved him. I went three times to his hotel (the Fifth Avenue) to play with him, at his invitation, but I did not find him in. I published his games with Perrine, and criticised them in a chess column that I edited at the time. Paulsen took seventy-five minutes for one move in a game with Morphy during the American Chess Congress, in 1857. Thomas Frere, chess editor of Frank Leslie's, told me that it annoyed Morphy so that he told him (Frere), going to lunch at the noon adjournment, he would never let Paulsen win a game of him, and he kept his word. Morphy played from inspiration rather than from calculation. Everything possible in the game seemed revealed to him. He made Mead, President of the New York Club, angry when the $1,500 gift was presented to him, in New York City, because he said in his reception speech that he differed with Mead in what he said about chess in his presentation speech, alluding to it as a profession. Morphy said it should never be so considered, but merely as a recreation. I was told that Mr. Mead was so angry that he left the room and refused to have anything further to do with the ceremonies of the occasion. Steinitz went to New Orleans to see Morphy not long before he (Morphy) died. He sent to Morphy his name and asked if he could see him for a few minutes. Morphy consented to see him, but upon one condition, and that was, "nothing was to be said on the subject of chess." Steinitz was grievously disappointed, as that was the subject, above all others, he had come so far to talk with him about. Steinitz was ushered into Morphy's presence, all curious to see, study and "diagnose", the great chess genius, whose wonderful performances had astonished the whole world, and made him the welcome guest of the great rulers of the two hemispheres, with his mouth closed, by his promise, as to the one subject that he was more than anxious to talk about. He came away grievously disappointed, but still glad that he had seen the only Morphy that the world had ever produced. He had the poor taste, we think, as well - as the mistaken judgment, thereafter to say that Morphy's play was not up to that of the present day. Mr. Samuel Loyd said, in the chess column he edited at the time, that the complete answer to Steinitz's statement was "the following game," which was given as one of Morphy's "every-day" games, without any effort to select one from among his best. And, so it was a most "complete answer" to Steinitz's statement not only, but to all those who were conceited enough to agree with him. If I may be allowed to express my opinion, Morphy's style of play and that of the present day are so different that it is difficult to compare them. Morphy's was genius; that of the present day is skill. The one is inspiration, the other is calculation. the one is instant insight, the other is careful analysis. The one is Napoleonic, the other Von Molteonic. The fact is, Morphy was a "Sui Generis." I don't believe he was ever taxed to his full strength. If he met a new player, stronger than any other thus far, it would only tax his apparently inexhaustible reserve strength, or knowledge of the game, and over and down would go his new antagonist, like all the others before him. I don't believe he was ever "put to his trumps" to know what to do. I don't believe he was ever worried in playing, or had any doubt about the result of any game he ever played.
Poor Morphy. I loved him. When will we see his like again? I began to play chess at 10, and quit before I was 17 years of age to engage in the battle of life. I had everything I could find on the subject of chess, in all languages. I edited a chess column at 15, and knew most of the American players, many of whom contributed to my column. Forty-odd years having elapsed since then? I find myself interested again in the greatest of games.
By the way, why is it that we hear but little now of the Evan's Gambit, the most brilliant opening in the game? Yours truly,
NERVOUSNESS OF CHESS PLAYERS.
Mr. Marshall, like all expert chess players, is of a nervous temperament, and this fact was noticeable especially when the visitor was playing many games at one time. While standing at the table considering his move, although his mind would have only the impression of the game before him, his feet would shuffle uneasily and his fingers beat an industrious tattoo on the edges of the board. It was also observed that he smoked incessantly, and while smoking would chew savagely at the end of his cigar or cigarette. One of the club members spoke to Mr. Marshall and asked him how it was that all the great chess players were so highly strung. The master smiled and replied, "I don't know, unless the hard work the brain is given to do puts the nerves on edge, and sends them twitch- ing all unconsciously."
Mr. Marshall, speaking further on the subject, said that all the well-known masters were very nervous while at play. Tschigorin, the Russian master, has a way of swinging his right foot slowly to and fro across his left leg like a pendulum. His foot goes by the hour, with never a rest, and when the Russian is losing or in a very tight place his foot goes furiously.
Pillsbury, Mr. Marshall said, had a way of working his eyes when at play in a tournament. The skin on the sides of his face is full of wrinkles from the eye twitching.
Janowski shakes his legs, his feet remaining firm on the floor, and at times, when excited, he knocks his knees together. Fox, when at play, moves both his feet. and kicks his heels, and Dr. Laskcr has a way of crossing his legs and gently swaying one foot.—New Orleans Picayune.
Post mortems are the Maud Mullers of chess.
Some play chess with their hands. They can be identified by the usual remark: "Let's do that and see what he does."
An unsatisfactory man to play against is he who is never defeated without losing his temper; he wants to bet that it cannot be done again; he immediately wants to play a match; he can win every game he plays against that particular opponent; he ends by cooling down and tries again with the same result.
Not less unsatisfactory is the man who, when defeated, is anxious to point out how it could have been done in fewer number of moves; how little the winner knows about chess anyway; how he lost by not playing a different move at a critical place, and when that move is demonstrated to lose also, how he hadn't played the variation as carefully as he would if he had tried it during the game, etc., etc.
To offset these is the man who plays the gentlemanly game. He loses with unruffled mien. If he wins he delights in analyzing the better positions of the game, even demonstrating where the loser might have improved his play. He smilingly denies the assertions of his opponent that he won by greater skill. He is the builder of chess clubs, the creator of interest of amateurs, the persona grata whom mankind delight to meet everywhere.
FIREMEN AND CHESS.
Why is it that firemen do not play chess? They certainly have the time, but it seems that chess has never been introduced among them. In every en gine house you will see men playing checkers, and excellent players they are. One of them was asked recently why he did not learn to play chess. The answer was:
"We don't know anything about the game, and I don't believe we could learn it if we tried."
To the person who has not learned the game it seems a profound mystery, capable of being comprehended only by men of extraordinary minds. The fireman continued:
"Chess is too complicated a game to learn. I saw two old fellows playing a game once, and I was watching them for fifteen minutes and neither made a move. What they were trying to do I haven't the remotest idea. Excuse me! While those fellows were trying to figure out what they were going to do, we could play a whole game of checkers."
It is a pity that the knowledge of the royal game should not be possessed by the firemen, who are often wearied for want of variety in their amusements. Can someone suggest a method whereby they may be enlightened?
It has become a habit among older players to make comparison between the character of game played in our day and that of the time of Morphy, to the detriment of the chess now played in our clubs, in tournaments, and in matches. One would suppose, to read the descriptions given off-hand that genius was of the past, that nothing exists now but the dry edges of frayed-out variations, that the brilliancies of the olden times no longer exist and the beauties which once blossomed in the combinations of chess are things of the past. It is very often the form of assertion that is made in regard to literature, music and art. In each age there is the usual amount produced; there is an average of bad and good, in which the bad is always most abundant. The good lives, the bad is forgotten and the fact that the beautiful is all that we have by which to remember the past proves merely the truth of the axiom of the theory of evolution; it is the survival of the fittest. And so it is with chess.
It is very pleasant reading which our friend "Caissa" gives us in his letter in another column of memories of Paul Morphy and his times, with the usual comparison of Morphy's style with the "nose to the grindstone" methods of to-day. Paul Morphy was the greatest chess player that ever lived. Every student of the game, who has delved into the stories of the past, realizes that no one ever was so far superior to the players of his time, or ever defeated his opponents with such ease, and no one ever offered knight odds to the men who considered themselves his equal. And yet every game that was played by Morphy was not brilliant. Many of them show the impress of the hard study which our students of to-day give to their battles. At the end of some of the games there is the evidence of labor in the statement of time consumed, and with Paulsen, who was nearer to Morphy's strength than any other player of that time, though it is known that Paulsen consumed most of the time, the games occupied many hours.
A game of chess played by men of equal strength, and played accurately, will end in a draw, and it is apt to be dull. Brilliancy occurs usually from opportunities that are afforded by errors in combination, and where one of the players is stronger than the other the pretty things will crop out at every move. It is here that the genius of chess has its full sway. Anderssen voiced it well when asked why he did not play as brilliantly as usual in his game with Morphy, when he replied: "Morphy will not let me." To play brilliant chess requires that you catch your opponent napping, or that you are the stronger player. Equality of strength, especially when the opponents are of the master class, leads to long games, with beauties just touched upon, foiled by clever repartee, and possibilities that are unseen by the onlooker and would be lost were it not for the notes which show the traps and will 'o the wisps with which each triesto lead the other into error.
There are more real beauties of combination in the games played by Morphy against men of less strength than anywhere else in his published battle. It was also here where Steinitz excelled. With what infinite skill he would develop intricate combinations in his simultaneous exhibitions where he knew that the players were of a class that would allow of chances to be taken. There were not many games played by Steinitz in his exhibitions that were not worthy of publication. It is so in all simultaneous chess, and Gray's Elegy never had a more realistic application than to the beauties so developed and lost in the multitude of games so played.
Another element that must be considered in the comparison of play in our day and that of Morphy is that limitation of time by clocks was unknown then. It was possible to figure out any doubtful combination, no matter how long it took, and necessarily the possibilities for brilliancies were much enhanced. The introduction of the time limit has compelled the student to keep his analysis within bounds and conservative management of games has been a consequence. Many a combination has been avoided on account of the near approach to the hour limit and games that might have bristled with gems have gone on drawing lines. And yet, in spite of this, the games of the earlier congresses without time limit are not on an everage better nor more brilliant than those of tournaments of to-day.