Person of day   -  2 MARCH 2021

CARL SCHLECHTER

CARL SCHLECHTER

One of the 20th century’s greatest chess players began to play relatively late, at the age of 13. By 18, he was already one of Vienna’s best. After beginning to participate in international tournaments in 1984, his successes grew rapidly.

His finest performances, such as the victory at a tournament in Ostend in 1906, took place in the first decade of the century. He emerged as one of the candidates for the match against world champion Lasker, who took up the Austrian’s challenge. The match took place in 1910, but they met before in St Petersburg in 1909, where their contest finished with a draw.

It is thought that Schlechter had to win by 2 points against Lasker- those were the conditions. The first four matches finished as draws. Schlechter won the fifth in a fierce battle, then four more draws followed. Everything was decided in the final round. The world champion took the advantage, but Schlechter regained the initiative. In a better position that, granted, had a double-edged position, the candidate suddenly and unexpectedly sacrificed the exchange on the 35th move and lost the match. The match finished as a 5:5 draw and Lasker retained the title of world champion. He exalted the strength of his opponent: “I have found no weaknesses in Schlechter…he is an example of a true fighter.”

Schlechter made a sizeable contribution to debut theories and developed a line in the Slav Defence which is named after him. After falling seriously ill, he died prematurely in 1918 in Budapest.