It encouraged the persistent veteran to challenge Lasker one more time. Lasker of
course accepted and it was agreed they would meet in November, 1896, in Moscow, but first
there was another important tournament to get through, the one in Nuremberg in July of the
same year. The field was impressive, for it included Tarrasch, Pillsbury, Tchigorin,
Blackburne and Carl Schlechter from Vienna, an upcoming star. Steinitz, too, was an entry.
When it was all over, after eighteen rounds of chess, Lasker was again number-one, and
Steinitz was sixth. It was a formidable showing but the old lion was not satisfied. He was
unable to face up to the idea that he was losing his skill; that he was not as strong as
he had been. He saw himself as the permanent champion. Yet he realized that something had
happened. After all, he had come in sixth, and his confidence began to go.
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.
In the summer of 1900 he died, leaving his family poverty-stricken. His fate made a
profound impression on Lasker, who was determined that he would not suffer a similar
destiny. This was the reason why Lasker asked for and sought good purses; it was why he
broke away from chess for long periods of time. But late in his own life, he, like
Steinitz, needed money and had to play for pittances. Steinitz not only was a major
opponent he also was a dark shadow over the life of Lasker. Dr. Hannak writes that
"Steinitz exhausted himself in chess and died of it. Lasker rose above chess to live
another life in all the riches of the spirit. Steinitz was unhappy whenever he lost a game
of chess. Lasker was unhappy whenever he failed to get away from the game."
It was said of Lasker that he had "erudition, judgment of position, quickness of
conception, imagination, enthusiasm and culture." Richard Reti, another Jewish
player, whose Masters of the Chess Board is one of the best books written on the
game, reviewed Lasker's career and said that "Lasker must be considered as the most
successful of all the chess-masters." He paid tribute to Lasker's open game and said
that he turned more defeats into victory than any other player.
From 1896 to 1899 Lasker decided to pay no attention to chess. From time to time he
made these breaks and devoted his time to mathematics, to lecturing, to the writing of
poetic dramas and other creative projects. After the three-year break, however, he felt
refreshed and returned to chess competition. He was now living in England and was invited
to participate in the London tournament of 1899. Immediately, Lasker revealed that he had
lost none of his skill. Facing an assemblage of the leading masters of the dayexcept
for Tarrasch who did not take part in the competitionLasker won the first prize by a
record margin, some four-and-a-half points ahead of his nearest opponent; but he also won
the first brilliancy prize for a remarkable game. Oddly enough, he played this game
against Steinitz, who was taking part in the last tournament of his life and who, for the
first time in his career, ended up unplaced in an international tourney.