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E. Lasker Trail
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Emanuel Lasker Print E-mail

Barlinek, Christmas afternoon, 1868. In poor flat of local synagogue cantor / singer/ and carpenter by trade fourth child was born. The son.. The father, Michaelis Aaron called him Immanuel and this name has been written in the register together with second name – Lasker. What is that name? Where it comes from? Yet local but from Poland. From town of Łask where Michaelis’ ancestors lived. Their descendants looking for their place on earth moved to other places where were called Laskers after their hometown. Second name remained while the first name was changed into Emanuel at school.

The youngest Laskers’ child was growing up in rather poor family but in atmosphere full of love and understanding. Since his early childhood the boy has astonished his surrounding with his wisdom and extraordinary skills. He bewildered, firstly the local teachers then professor of  Landsberg /now Gorzów/ Gymnasium.

„I was the best chess-player in the town...” – Professor Kiewitz starts his story. Soon, being absolutely surprised he lost with his pupil, whose mind has been totally possessed by chess. This passion has been impressed to future Grand Master by his elder brother, Berthold. The second Emanuel’s passion became his hometown. „ I love my Barlinek”- he repeated being in his declining years.















With his Matura certificate in the pocket Emanuel left Barlinek in 1888. He studies at Berlin University. How does he earn for his expensive education? In the beginning he works in the cafes. Berlin high – life adores playing chess with young and talented men. With someone like private dancer in nobler issue. For money, of course. Emanuel beats everyone and gets popularity that decides about his future life.

„I took part in my first tournament: Breslau /now Wrocław 1889/ and for my astonishment I took first place!” My chess career began so”- he mentioned  in interview. Prizes 400-500 Mark provided the existence. Breslau is the first place on the map of his international successes. In five years he visits whole Europe and America obtaining international fame. Chess are his passion and profession. At least comes The Day. Day of his greatest duel.

In 1894 in remote Montreal two champions stay face to face: World Champion Wilhelm Steinitz, 58 and Emanuel Lasker, 25. After long and exhausting fight  in the evening of 26 th of May Steinitz is defeated and surrenders decisive game. He stands up and overcoming bitter taste of defeat announces the new World Champion. One moment later, sitting in the next room new World Champion- Emanuel Lasker is immersed in thoughts and cannot hear the cheering crowd.











Next day the newspapers went mad.The hero’s name was inflected in all cases. Barlinek received also its part of fame. For the first time in its history people in far away countries were looking for this hardly visible, tiny point marked with small letters: Barlinek in the maps. And there old Emanuel’s father with joy and pride touched money lying down in cigar box send  him by his famous son, University of Heidelberg graduate and soon wide known scientist.

Does Lasker was equal to Einstein with his depth of mind? Nobody confirms and nobody denies. Author of relativity theory expressed his gratitude to him. But the others...? Lasker was claimed by them „The King of Chess”. No wonder. His magnitude was the most visible in black and white battlefields. He kept his World Championship won in Montreal for 27 years. The longest time. Nobody before and after him did not achieve that result.
Fate called coincidence and inevitable turn of things prepare the surprise. Behind the Ocean a new star was born:  a young and energetic Cuban – Jose Raul Capablanca. In game with him, affected by diseases 53 years old Lasker is surprisingly defeated. Sensation. Incomparable champion of attack and counterattack has given his Champion’s title to his successor but... he is still The Chess King.













He has more time for his scientifical work.. And he visits his dreamed Barlinek more often. How he could suppose that he will lose it? Almost in the last minute he goes to Moscow to take part in chess tournament. Foreseeing he take his wife with him. Antisemic hunt in Germany made his return impossible. He left Soviet Union also in last minute before Stalin’s purges. Last shelter was in New York. For four years Emanuel is happy with freedom and... on 11th of January, dying he whispers his last unfinished sentence:” The Chess King....”

Legendary Chess King of Barlinek was buried in remote and strange to him land.

Kazimierz Hoffman

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