Lasker triumphant

One hundred years ago, much as today, there was a little squabble over the title of "world champion". Wilhelm Steinitz had held the title from its inauguration in 1886 until he was defeated by the young Emanuel Lasker in 1894. In the eyes of many, however, Lasker still had a good deal to prove. He was, after all, generally believed to be only the second best player in Germany, behind Dr Tarrasch.

Lasker settled the matter with two outstanding tournament victories in 1896, winning at St Petersburg, ahead of Steinitz, and at Nuremberg, well ahead of Tarrasch. After those wins, it was another 25 years before anybody dared challenge Lasker's right to call himself champion of the world.

The following game from Nuremberg gives a glimpse of Lasker's genius. Black plays passively but solidly, and seems to have emerged well after exchanges of all the rooks on the c-file. White's advanced pawns look vulnerable, and Black still has no obvious weakness.

The depth of Lasker's strategy becomes clear with 32.Qh4! and 33.Qe7! The plan is to launch a mating attack with h4, h5, g4, g5 and g6 and Black, despite his extra pawn, can find no defence. In the final position, Black loses his queen after either 53...Kxe6 54.Qf6+ Kd7 55.Ne5+ or 53...Ke8 54.Qd7+ Kf8 55.e7+.

White: Emanuel Lasker

Black: Mikhail Chigorin

1 d4 d5 28 Qg4 Nd5

2 c4 dxc4 29 Nxd5 cxd5

3 Nf3 e6 30 Rxc7 Rxc7

4 e3 Nf6 31 Rxc7 Nxc7

5 Bxc4 Be7 32 Qh4 Qxa4

6 Nc3 0-0 33 Qe7 Qc2

7 0-0 Nbd7 34 h4 a5

8 Qe2 c6 35 bxa5 bxa5

9 Rd1 Qc7 36 h5 a4

10 e4 Rd8 37 g4 Qc1

11 Bg5 Nf8 38 Kg3 g5

12 e5 Ne8 39 hxg6 fxg6

13 Bxe7 Qxe7 40 Qd8+ Kf7

14 Rac1 b6 41 g5 h5

15 Ne4 Bb7 42 Qd7+ Kf8

16 Ba6 Rac8 43 Qxa4 h4+

17 Rd2 Ng6 44 Kg4 Qh1

18 g3 Bxa6 45 Qd7 Qg2+

19 Qxa6 Qd7 46 Kf4 Ne8

20 Kg2 Ne7 47 Qxe6 Qxf2

21 b4 Nd5 48 Qxg6 Qg3+

22 a3 Rc7 49 Ke3 Qg4

23 Rdc2 Ne7 50 e6 Nd6

24 Qd3 h6 51 Qf6+ Ke8

25 Nc3 Qc8 52 Qh8+ Ke7

26 Qe4 Qa6 53 Qg7+ 1-0

27 a4 Rdc8