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  WCC Overview
Lasker vs Steinitz 1896
A Return Match in Moscow

In January of 1896 Emanuel Lasker won the very strong St. Petersberg tournament ahead of Steinitz, Pillsbury, and Chigorin by an impressive two point margin. Wilhelm Steinitz achieved second place, and this admirable finish was enough encourage the persistent veteran to challenge Lasker one more time. Lasker accepted, and they agreed to meet in Moscow in November of 1896.

Steinitz and Lasker, 1896 However, before that match could take place, there was one more very strong tournament to get through: the Nuremberg Tournament in the summer. In addition to Lasker and Steinitz, the line-up included Tarrasch, Pillsbury, Chigorin, Blackburne and an upcoming star from Vienna by the name of Carl Schlechter. In August of 1896, after 18 intense rounds of chess, Lasker took the top honors at Nuremberg with a score +12 -3 =3, one of the crowning achievements of his career. Steinitz's sixth place with a score of +10 -6 =2 was a disappointment, and did not bode well for his chances in the upcoming Moscow match.

Come November, the two great rivals met in Moscow. Steinitz lost the very first game with the White pieces. Lasker won the second game, which some regard as the best game of the match. More wins for Lasker followed, one after another, and after only 17 games, Lasker retained his title with the tremendous score of 10 to 2 (and 5 draws).

Four weeks later, Steinitz's mind went, and he was sent to a psychiatric clinic. He was soon found to be hopelessly mad. [1]

click on a game number to replay game 1234567891011121314151617

FINAL SCORE:  Lasker 10;  Steinitz 2 (5 draws)
Reference: game collection WCC Index [Lasker-Steinitz 1896]

NOTABLE GAMES   [what is this?]
    · Game #3     Steinitz vs Lasker, 1896     0-1
    · Game #2     Lasker vs Steinitz, 1896     1-0
    · Game #12     Lasker vs Steinitz, 1896     0-1


  1. The Great Jewish Chess Champions by Harold Ribalow and Meir Ribalow

 page 1 of 1; 17 games  PGN Download 
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Steinitz vs Lasker 0-1451896Lasker - Steinitz World Championship RematchC54 Giuoco Piano
2. Lasker vs Steinitz 1-0411896Lasker - Steinitz World Championship RematchC64 Ruy Lopez, Classical
3. Steinitz vs Lasker 0-1391896Lasker - Steinitz World Championship RematchC54 Giuoco Piano
4. Lasker vs Steinitz 1-0661896Lasker - Steinitz World Championship RematchC64 Ruy Lopez, Classical
5. Steinitz vs Lasker ½-½391896Lasker - Steinitz World Championship RematchD50 Queen's Gambit Declined
6. Lasker vs Steinitz 1-0581896Lasker - Steinitz World Championship RematchC50 Giuoco Piano
7. Steinitz vs Lasker ½-½751896Lasker - Steinitz World Championship RematchD50 Queen's Gambit Declined
8. Lasker vs Steinitz ½-½561896Lasker - Steinitz World Championship RematchC62 Ruy Lopez, Old Steinitz Defense
9. Steinitz vs Lasker ½-½341896Lasker - Steinitz World Championship RematchD50 Queen's Gambit Declined
10. Lasker vs Steinitz 1-0411896Lasker - Steinitz World Championship RematchC68 Ruy Lopez, Exchange
11. Steinitz vs Lasker 0-1641896Lasker - Steinitz World Championship RematchD50 Queen's Gambit Declined
12. Lasker vs Steinitz 0-1301896Lasker - Steinitz World Championship RematchC71 Ruy Lopez
13. Steinitz vs Lasker 1-0401896Lasker - Steinitz World Championship RematchD50 Queen's Gambit Declined
14. Lasker vs Steinitz 1-0781896Lasker - Steinitz World Championship RematchC68 Ruy Lopez, Exchange
15. Steinitz vs Lasker ½-½361896Lasker - Steinitz World Championship RematchD50 Queen's Gambit Declined
16. Lasker vs Steinitz 1-0421897Lasker - Steinitz World Championship RematchC71 Ruy Lopez
17. Steinitz vs Lasker 0-1631897Lasker - Steinitz World Championship RematchD60 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defense
 page 1 of 1; 17 games  PGN Download 
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2)  

Kibitzer's Corner
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Sep-13-06  percyblakeney: The result of this match didn't only have to do with the age of Steinitz, he was still a formidable opponent also a couple of years later, as his result in the exhausting tournament in Vienna 1898 shows (and I doubt he was hopelessly mad by then...):

Beating an old but still very strong Steinitz with 10-2 is one of many proofs of Lasker's extremely high level of play the years before and after 1900.

Premium Chessgames Member
  paulalbert: I have a question about the pictures used here and the writeup of the 1894 match. Are they purported to be pictures at the actual matches? Both Lasker and Steinitz look younger here than the picture used in the 1894 writeup. I have seen both pictures before, but I'm not sure I've seen a caption. Paul Albert
Premium Chessgames Member If photographs are provided they should be from the actual match. The photo in Lasker-Steinitz World Championship (1894) is from the Montreal games of that match.

This photo above, we have come to learn is unfortunately is also from Montreal 1894. We have not been able to locate any photographs from the Moscow match; it is possible that there simply aren't any.

Sep-13-06  jamesmaskell: Love the top banner with linking between matches. Nice and simple.
Sep-13-06  positionalgenius: <>This site just gets better and better...
Sep-13-06  Ron: Don't forget that Lakser said that the fact he defeated Steinitz is due to no defect in Steinitz theories. Lasker considered himself a follow of Steinitz. What a great champion.
Sep-14-06  whatthefat: Chessmetrics rates this as the 2nd best match performance of all time, behind only Fischer's drubbing of Larsen. Steintiz was indeed past his prime, but still rated 2754 for #4 in the world.
Sep-14-06  lazydaisy: wow. thank you chessgames, this is what i always wanted. great job.
Sep-20-06  Bartleby: <Madness means suffering and misery and is not cool.>

I have to say, this choice remark is nearly sig material. Ah, I enjoy surgical removal of context, like organ transplants.

Pity that Pillsbury didn't follow up his Hastings tour de force and win 2nd (or 1st!) at Petersburg 1896, considering he was leading in the first half of the event. Damn syphilis!

A little change in standing may have given him the cred needed for a title challenge in 1896. Pillsbury's window of optimum strength was a short one (1895--1900 approximately), and 1896 would have been good a year as any.

Jul-28-07  actionhero56: <"More wins for Lasker followed, one after another, and after only 17 games, Lasker retained his title with the tremendous score of 10 to 2 (and 5 draws).

Four weeks later, Steinitz's mind went, and he was sent to a psychiatric clinic. He was soon found to be hopelessly mad.">

No wonder he lost so bad, he was half-crazy at that point anyway.

Aug-21-07  sanyas: If chess is your life, and you leave it, you go mad. cf. Morphy, Steinitz, Fischer.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Stonehenge: <sanyas> Yes, there's a fine line between genius and insanity. Those players you mention all crossed that line.
Aug-21-07  Petrosianic: Steinit didn't leave chess, he simply lost a title match. Though he was hospitalized after the match, he wasn't exactly "hopelessly" mad. He continued to play chess up through 1899.
Feb-27-08  Knight13: <Four weeks later, Steinitz's mind went, and he was sent to a psychiatric clinic. He was soon found to be hopelessly mad.> Wow! He must've really hated Lasker.
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: There apparently is a typescript of an unpublished book (annotated by Tarrasch) of this match. From Winter's Chess Notes:

<5691. Lasker v Steinitz (C.N. 5687)

From Michael Clapham (Ipswich, England):

‘I have a typescript of a book on the second world championship match between Lasker and Steinitz, although no book was ever published on this match. The title page states that the games were taken from Deutsches Wochenschach with annotations by Siegbert Tarrasch. I do not know who compiled the typescript, but there are the occasional “Translator’s Notes” which may provide some clues.’>

The link has a couple of pictures from the typescript (scroll down). I'd love to see the whole thing.

Oct-23-08  OJC: < Four weeks later, Steinitz's mind went, and he was sent to a psychiatric clinic. He was soon found to be hopelessly mad. >

Not only is this nonsense, it doesn't even quote the source correctly. The relevant extract from the link is:

< ... In their second championship match, Lasker destroyed Steinitz. He won the first five games with ridiculous ease. Three draws followed and then two more victories for Lasker. It ended with a 10-2 score. The final game was played on January 14, 1897. Four weeks later, Steinitz's mind went and he was sent to a psychiatric clinic. In 1899 he played miserably in the London tournament and shortly thereafter was found to be hopelessly mad. ... >

Apr-24-09  talisman: Steinitz gets excited, semi-levitates, and starts playing the ivories, when he makes his signature move for the giuoco piano. Lasker was not amused.
Premium Chessgames Member
  jessicafischerqueen: <The chronology of Steinitz's bouts with madness up to the time of his death:>

After his release from the Morosov Institute in Moscow on March 12, 1897, Steinitz went to great lengths to convince the world that he had never once "gone mad" in Moscow, and that he had in truth been held against his will.

In a perhaps bizarre public letter, Steinitz blamed his incarceration on the angry uncle of a teenage Russian secretary named "Polly" with whom he claimed to have had a notorious romantic affair. Steinitz reports that Polly demanded that he divorce his wife, which he refused to do. Polly then wrote his wife directly "offering to purchase me."

The affair ended badly- very badly for Steinitz, if he's to be believed- since Polly's complaints, conveyed through her uncle, to Moscow authorities led to his unwilling, and unjustified detention in the Morosov clinic.

It should be noticed that the first line of Steinitz's account of this tale is

"It sounds like a fairy tale..."

It would not be till after his return to New York after the London 1899 tournament that Steinitz actually "went mad."

On February 13, 1900 Steinitz was committed to Bellevue Hospital and transferred 4 days later to the Ward's Island State Mental Asylum. Due to strenuous efforts on the part of his friends, the New York newspapers, and the Manhattan Chess Club to raise sufficient funds, he was moved to much more amenable quarters at the private River Crest Sanitarium in Astoria, New York.

On April 7, 1900, he was released to the care of his family.

On April 27 he was recommitted to Bellevue Hospital, where he died on August 12.

On the afternoon of the day of his death, one of the worst electrical storms in New York history devastated Manhattan, killing several people by fire and flood and wounding hundreds more.

A befitting end, perhaps, to the "King Lear" of chess history.

I found the preceding information in the following source:

<"William Steinitz, Chess Champion. A biography of the Bohemian Caesar"

by Kurt Landsberger

pp. 338-392>

Premium Chessgames Member

Part One:

Part Two:

Part Three:

Part Four:

Part Five:

Part Six:

Jan-18-12  AVRO38: <><If photographs are provided they should be from the actual match.>

This is a bad joke! I provided a photo of the 1908 title match but you continue to use the strange non-match photo on that page.

I also pointed out that the photo of the 1937 match that you have posted is actually of the 1935 match but nothing has been done about that either.

Also, your 1978 photo is of the 1974 match. There are plenty of photos available of the '78 match. In addition, your 1987 photo is of the 1990 match, again, plenty of photos available but the commitment just doesn't seem to be there.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Chessical: Details of the purse for the match and a surprising mention of Steinitz preparing with Pillsbury. Is this corroborated by any other source? The statement that the match will last for only 12 days may lay question to the reliability of the report.

£200 = approximately £21,700 in 2015.

<Lasker v. Steinitz.>

The match between Lasker and Steinitz for the championship of the world is fixed to come off the Moscow Club on 1st to 12th October.

The winner receives £200 and the loser £100, these sums, together with cost of hotel and travelling expenses, being provided by the Club. Besides this, however, there is personal stake on the result the match between the players themselves, or rather their backers, of not less than £50 nor more than £400.

<Steinitz at present is engaged in a "practice” match with Pillsbury> in preparation for the grand event.

<Source: "Dundee Advertiser", Wednesday 24th June 1896, p.6>.

Premium Chessgames Member
  jnpope: Pillsbury's plans to play a match with Steinitz fell through. Pillsbury spent that month hanging out in Boston and Brooklyn before heading to Nuremberg on July 4, 1896.

I suspect the Dundee Advertiser report is based on this news item from the Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

<Henry Nelson Pillsbury has announced his intention of entering the great International tournament of the world's chess masters at Nuremberg, where he will represent America, and in a peculiar sense, Brooklyn, let it be hoped, as worthily as he did at Hastings. No chess player has ever attached himself so strongly to the affections of Brooklyn chess enthusiasts as has Pillsbury, and his plan, therefore, of a practice match with the veteran Steinitz, prior to his departure for Nuremberg, will secure for it the interest and co-operation of many public spirited citizens. The games must be played during the present month and it is proposed, if possible to have some of them contested at such great social clubs as the Hamilton, the Union League, the Crescent and others of the same standing, as well as at the Brooklyn Chess club.

Such a match should be a splendid fitting for Pillsbury for the work before him at Nuremberg, where he will have to meet not only Tarrasch and Tschigorin and the other great masters, but probably also the world's champion, Lasker.

As the Brooklyn lad's victory will add fame and honor to Brooklyn it is to be hoped that five or six of the games of the match may be arranged for here, with the co-operation of the social clubs, details being easily obtainable of Pillsbury by addressing him, care Brooklyn Chess club.

<Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 1896.06.04, p5>>

May-19-15  Marmot PFL: Steinitz was suffering from depression and I believe stayed at Bellevue Hospital for some time.
Mar-31-19  OrangeTulip: Remarks like ‘went mad’ do not sound scientific to me. Steinitz might have suffered from delerium caused by cystitis or suffered from frontotemporal dementia
Aug-02-19  Chesgambit: Steinitz and Lasker very strong chess players
but Steinitz making risky moves example game :Steinitz vs Lasker, 1896
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