Born on 24th December 1868 at 7 Chmielna Street in Barlinek, the youngest son of Adolf Lasker, the cantor, and Rosalie Israelssohn, a mathematician, philosopher and a worldwide known chess player.
Emanuel Lasker is the most famous Jew connected with the kehilla in Barlinek. He had two sisters, Theophila and Amalia and a brother, Bertold. The latter was the one to teach the 12-year-old Emanuel to play chess. However, according to his parents it absorbed him too much. Therefore, they decided to send him to the junior high school in Gorzów Wielkopolski, where he took and passed the Matura (the leaving examination).
In 1889 Emanuel Lasker took up mathematical studies in Berlin and subsequently in Göttingen. In the same year he won a chess competition in Wrocław (Breslau) and his chess career began. In 1891 he gave up the studies and left for London, and 2 years later to New York, where he also showed his talent for the game. Simultaneously, he applied for the position of a lecturer at universities in Germany, England and the United States but he was not admitted. Finally, he decided to return to Germany and in 1911, in Berlin he married a writer, Martha Kohn. The repressive anti-Semitic policy that was spreading around the country after the national socialists took power forced the couple to leave Germany in 1933. First, they went to the Netherlands, then to London again. In 1935 Lasker received an invitation from Moscow to the USSR, which was at the same time an offer to join Moscow Academy of Sciences. His stay in that country significantly contributed to the popularization of chess in the USSR. However, due to the terror of Stalin’s reign, Lasker left the USSR at the earliest opportunity and in 1937 he left to New York together with his with. A year later they were both denied German citizenship.
Emanuel Lasker was the second official world chess master and so far the only German who achieved it. He obtained this title in 1894, when he defeated the first world master, Wilhelm Steinitz, with 10 games won, 4 drawn and 5 lost. Lasker remained the world master for 27 years, nobody else managed to retain the title for such a long time. He was not defeated until 1921, when he lost with a Cuban player, José Raúl Capablanca, however, it was a year earlier when Lasker admitted his opponent was the best chess player in the world. It was in 1936 in Nottingham when he took part in an international tournament for the last time; he ranked 7.
Apart from playing chess, Emanuel Lasker also played bridge and poker. He occupied himself with creating and modifying some other games too. He published magazines for chess players, for example Deutsche Schachzeitung and Lasker's Chess Magazine, he wrote books as well as philosophical dissertations. Handbook Lehrbuch des Schachspiels is thought to be one of his most important publications and a piece of classic chess literature. Lasker's opponents often described his game style, which brought him so many victories, as follows: Lasker wasn't interested in moves correct from the scientifical point of view, but those which for the opponent were the least pleasant. Emanuel Lasker died on 11 January 1941 in New York and was burried in the Beth Olom cemetery in Queens.
- Klaus-Dieter Alicek, Lexicon der jüdischen Gemeinden im deutschen Sprachraum, Munich 2008.