Saturday, December 7, 2013

Eduard, Emanuel, and Edward Lasker

Source: Ha'Tzfira, Oct. 1st, 1897, p. 3
The Jewish press, even in the 19th century, sometimes reported on chess. In this report of Emanuel Lasker's victory over Wilhelm Steinitz in the world championship match, we read much interesting biographical information about Lasker -- i.e., his father's initials (M. Lasker), exact birth date, early history, and so on.

With the flowery language typical of the Hebrew press at the time, it describes him as a genius whose game 'went from strength to strength', how the match between him and  the match as a contests about who will be 'the supreme king and ruler of all the lands' in chess, and so on. To be fair, most of the flowery language are in fact biblical verses, originally describing kings or emperors, used to describe, here, chess players. This was considered a sign of education and good taste at the time, much like using classical Latin or Greek quotes was in the wider literary world.

What is interesting is that the article opens with the claim that:
 The name "Lakser" became known in this century. Who, while hearing the name, does not remember fondly the man who, with his genius, fought gallantly in the German Parliament for the German Jews' rights and the rights of all Germans? 
The famous Lasker here is Eduard Lasker  -- a liberal German Jewish politician. Not the least of the chess world's Lasker's claims to fame, notes  Ha'Zfira, is his family relation to this man.

As wikipedia notes (with sources), the chess playing Edward Lakser was distantly related to Emanuel Lasker -- and, therefore, also to Eduard Lasker. One wonders if Edward Lasker, the chess player, who was born Eduard Lasker (as the name is spelled in German-speaking countries) is named in honor of Eduard Lasker, the politician?

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