Shortly after winning this tournament, Lasker was just as impressive in winning the
Paris tournament, held in 1900. He lost only to Frank Marshall and drew with Tchigorin.
Quite incredibly he won every other match, fourteen in all, against a powerful field. He
had in these tournaments given clear evidence of his superiority over all other players.
Having done so, he took another respite from the game. He turned to the university and
earned his doctorate in mathematics with high honors. It also was at about this time that
he met the woman, Martha Kohn, whom he was ultimately to marry. She was a married woman
when he first met her. Her husband was very ill and the Kohns and Lasker had become social
friends. When Mr. Kohn finally died, Lasker courted Martha and they eventually married.
Her father, Jacob Bamberger, had been a patron of Lasker. Her grandfather was the famous
Jewish composer, Giacomo Meyerbeer, and the founder of the Bamberger banking house had
been a friend and patron of the Jewish philosopher, Moses Mendelsohn.
In 1907, Lasker played against and beat the American champion Frank Marshall. Lasker
had wanted to defend his title against Tarrasch, himself a Jew and a somewhat tragic
figure. Tarrasch was one of those dignified, staunch German patriots who learned later to
his dismay that when Germany turned violently against the Jews, he was not overlooked. But
as negotiations between Lasker and Tarrasch broke down, with Tarrasch withdrawing, Lasker
met Marshall. This match marked the first time that the title was at stake since Lasker
retained it against Steinitz in their return match. Marshall was, of course, a brilliant
player but also an inconsistent one. The first time he met Lasker, Marshall won. The same
thing happened the last time they had met. But in between, Marshall was unable to handle
Lasker's game. Still, Lasker wanted to show that he could do better against Marshall than
Tarrasch had done. Tarrasch had won eight times from Marshall and lost once, with eight
draws. Lasker did a bit better, with eight victories, no losses and seven draws.
A year later, in 1908, Lasker met Tarrasch and it was, up to that date, the most
exciting chess match in history. Lasker won the first game. It appeared to be unexciting
and uneventful but slowly Tarrasch fell into an indefensible position and he was defeated.
The second game was a brilliant one for Lasker. At the outset, Tarrasch earned what he
thought was a superior position until Lasker made his fourteenth move. Tarrasch, in his
own notes on the game, said of that move that it was "evidently an oversight, such as
is apt to occur in inferior positions." Here Dr. Hannak spells out the meaning of the
move and the kind of player Lasker was:
"How little he knew his wily opponent! It was anything but an oversight; it was
Lasker, the psychologist at his best. The move put his opponent in the quandary of having
to choose between either winning a pawn immediately or continuing a promising attack. It
seemed a delectable choice, and Tarrasch, as conscientiously and thoroughly as ever, spent
a lot of time and nervous energy in deciding the course to take. But Lasker was never in
any doubt as to what the decision would be. He knew his opponent's mind, rather better
than Tarrasch did himself. He knew that, having lost the first game, Tarrasch would grasp
the tangible advantage of the pawn rather than the speculative one of the attack; and
Lasker also knew that this would not be the wiser choice for him to take. Yet, he took it,
and once again a deliberately poor move by Lasker, the chess-player, was justified by
Lasker, the psychologist."