Saturday, March 24, 2012

Tarrasch Illustrated and Steinitz Libeled

The above picture of Siegbert Tarrasch is probably the first portrait of a chess player printed in a Hebrew-language newspaper, Ha'Melitz, on April 2nd, 1903. It is part of a long article about chess, appropriately titled "What have the Jews been Doing" (ישראל מה פעל), as every player mentioned in it is a Jew. This article was pointed out to me by our frequent correspondent, Moshe Roytman, who usually posts on the excellent Chess-il forum (in Hebrew).

Most of the article deals with Tarrasch's biographical information and chess career. But, alas, the paper already libels Wilhelm Steinitz, claiming that 'poor Steinitz' could not stand his 'humiliation and distress' due to losing the world title (rematch) to Emanuel Lasker in 1896, and therefore 'went insane' and died in 1899 (actually 1900).

It is true that Steinitz was, in fact, hospitalized in a mental hospital in the end of his days, but it is at the very least extremely doubtful that the loss of the world championship to a much younger Lasker was the cause. It is sad to see this myth, which smeared Steinitz's memory every since, has been going on for so long.

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