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Chess and Checkers: The Way to Mastership

Complete instructions for the beginner [and]
valuable suggestions for the advanced player.


Edward Lasker







Board and men
The moves of the men
Special terms
Symbols for moves
Chess laws


Fundamental endings
Relative value of the men
How the different men cooperate


King's Pawn openings
Queen's Pawn openings
The middle game


Game No. 1: Jackson Showalter vs. Edward Lasker,
Lexington, Ky., 1917

Game No. 2: Edward Lasker vs. Jose R. Capablanca,
New York, 1915






The first position
The second position
The change of the move
The third position
The fourth position
The fifth position




The following is an e-text of "Chess and Checkers: The Way
to Mastership," by Edward Lasker, copyright 1918, printed in
New York.

This e-text contains the 118 chess and checkers board game
diagrams appearing in the original book, plus an extra chess
diagram that appears on the front cover of the book, all in
the form of ASCII line drawings. The following is a key to
the diagrams:

For chess pieces,

R = Rook
Kt = Knight
B = Bishop
Q = Queen
K = King
P = Pawn

Black pieces have a # symbol to the left of them, while
white pieces have a ^ symbol to the left of them. For example,
#B is the Black bishop, while ^B is the white bishop. #Kt is
the black knight, while ^Kt is the white knight. This will
let the reader instantly tell by sight which pieces in the
ASCII chess diagrams are black and which are white.

For Checkers pieces,

* = black single piece
o = white single piece

** = black king
oo = white king

Those who find these diagrams hard to read should feel free
to set up them up on a game board using the actual pieces.


The present world war has given great impetus to the game of
Chess. In the prison camps, in the field hospitals, in the
training camps and even in the trenches Chess has become a
favorite occupation in hours of leisure, not only because it
offers a most fascinating pastime, but mainly because it serves
beyond any doubt to develop what is now the most interesting
study for every soldier - the grasp of the principles underlying
military strategy and the ability to conceive and to carry out
military operations on a large scale.

Frederick the Great, Napoleon and Moltke, the great scientists of
war, had a decided liking for the game of Chess and owed to it
many an inspiration which helped them in laying out their
military plans. Indeed, no other game exists which offers such
complete analogies to war.

Two armies oppose each other on the Chess board, composed of
different units which may well be compared with infantry, cavalry
and artillery.

The success of the operations on the board, which represents the
battlefield, does not depend upon any element of chance, but
solely upon the ingenuity and the skill of the players who are
the commanders-in-chief of the forces.

Although a Chess game differs from a battle in that the material
strength of the opponents is equal, the order of events is the
same in Chess as in war. The troops are first mobilized and made
ready for action with utmost speed, then important positions are
occupied which give the troops freedom of action and insure safe
lines of retreat and, finally, when the formation of the enemy is
known, the strategic plan is made which the generals try to carry
out by means of different tactical maneuvers.

Considering this similarity of Chess and war it is not surprising
that Chess has gained greatly in popularity among all those whose
work or thought is more than superficially influenced by the
present war.

No special inducement, however, would be necessary to learn the
game, were it more generally known that great advantage is to be
derived from the study of Chess, quite apart from the cultivation
of strategic ability.

The faculty which is developed by playing Chess is useful
wherever logical thinking and concentration are needed, and it
cannot be denied that these qualities are most desirable in the
every day struggle in which mental work has so largely superseded
manual labor.

The thoughtful playing of the game not only cultivates the
logical quality and imaginative power of the mind but also tends
to develop strength of character. It teaches us not to be hasty
in our decisions, but to exercise foresight at all times as we
must abide by all consequences of our actions. Moreover, we learn
from it circumspection which causes us to survey the whole scene
of action and does not allow us to lose ourselves in detail; we
also learn not to be discouraged by reverses in our affairs but
to hold out and always search for fresh resources.

Thus, Chess serves a good purpose for young and old. The boy will
find it a fascinating pastime and, unconsciously sharpening his
wits in playing the game, will acquire a fine preparation for his
calling in life, no matter what it may be. For the man, and the
woman too, Chess is well worth learning, as it will prove the
best companion in hours of leisure.

The reason why many people hesitate to learn the game and to
teach it to their children is that Chess has been misrepresented
as a game which is very difficult to master. This false
impression has been created mainly by the wrong methods of
teaching usually employed. The majority of writers on Chess deal
with a maze of variations and they expect the reader to memorize
the moves with which to parry the maneuvers of the opponent,
instead of simply developing a few common sense principles which
are easy to grasp and perfectly sufficient to make a good player
of any one.

This is really the great advantage of the game of Chess over any
other board game, that it lends itself to the application of
general principles, so that any one can grasp and enjoy it
without memorizing more than the rules according to which the men

I have tried to develop these principles in a simple way so that
they are sure to be easily understood, and I have been greatly
aided in my task by Miss Helen Dvorak and Mr. Eugene Fuller, who,
without any previous knowledge of the game, have learned it in
reading through the manuscript of this book. They have given me
many valuable hints in pointing out all that did not seem readily
intelligible to the mind of the beginner.

In explaining the game of Checkers, to which the second part of
the book is devoted, I have also tried to develop general
principles of strategy, rather than to offer a mere
classification of analyzed lines of play, which the reader would
have to memorize in order to be able to compete with experts.

I was fortunate enough to secure the collaboration of the Checker
Champion, Alfred Jordan, who enthusiastically adopted the new
idea of teaching and furnished most of the material which I have
used in illustrating the vital points of the game.



The History of Chess

The game of Chess in the form in which it is played to-day is
usually assumed to be of a much older date than can be proved
with certainty by documents in our possession. The earliest
reference to the game is contained in a Persian romance written
about 600 A.D., which ascribes the origin of Chess to India. Many
of the European Chess terms used in the Middle Ages which can be
traced back to the Indian language also tend to prove that India
is the mother country of the game.

We are, therefore, fairly safe in assuming that Chess is about
1300 years old. Of course we could go farther, considering that
the Indian Chess must have been gradually developed from simpler
board games. Indeed we know from a discovery in an Egyptian tomb
built about 4000 B.C. that board games have been played as early
as 6000 years ago; but we have no way of finding out their rules.

The game of Chess spread from India to Persia, Arabia and the
other Moslem countries, and it was brought to Europe at the time
of the Moorish invasion of Spain. It also reached the far East,
and games similar to Chess still exist in Japan, China, Central
and Northern Asia, the names and rules of which prove that they
descended from the old Indian Chess.

In Europe Chess spread from Spain northward to France, Germany,
England, Scandinavia and Iceland. It became known with
extraordinary rapidity, although at first it was confined to the
upper classes, the courts of the Kings and the nobility. In the
course of time, when the dominance of the nobility declined and
the inhabitants of the cities assumed the leading role in the
life of people, the game of Chess spread to all classes of
society and soon reached a popularity which no other game has
ever equaled.

While in the early Middle Ages the game was played in Europe with
the same rules as in the Orient, some innovations were introduced
by the European players in the later Middle Ages which proved to
be so great an improvement that within a hundred years they were
generally adopted in all countries including the Orient. The
reason for the changes was that in the old form of the game it
took too long to get through the opening period. The new form,
which dates from about 1500 A.D. and the characteristic feature
of which is the enlarged power of Queen and Bishop, is our modern
Chess, the rules of which are uniform throughout the civilized

In the Seventeenth Century Chess flourished mostly in Italy,
which consequently produced the strongest players. Some of them
traveled throughout Europe, challenging the best players of the
other countries and for the most part emerging victorious. At
that time Chess was in high esteem, especially at the courts of
the kings who followed the example of Philip the Second of Spain
in honoring the traveling masters and rewarding them liberally
for their exhibition matches.

Towards the beginning of the Eighteenth Century the game reached
a high stage of development in France, England and Germany. The
most famous master of the time was the Frenchman, Andre Philidor,
who for more than forty years easily maintained his supremacy
over all players with whom he came in contact, and whose fame has
since been equaled only by the American Champion, Paul Morphy,
and by the German, Emanuel Lasker.

During the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries the number of
players who obtained international fame increased rapidly, and in
1851, due to the efforts of the English Champion Staunton, an
international tournament was held in London to determine the
championship of Europe. It was won by the German master
Anderssen, who maintained his leading place for the following
fifteen years, until he was beaten by the youthful Morphy. The
latter, at twenty years of age, was the first American master to
visit Europe and defeated in brilliant style all European masters
whom he met.

Morphy withdrew from the game after his return to America and did
not try to match himself with the Bohemian Steinitz, who in the
meantime had beaten Anderssen, too, and who had come to America.
Steinitz assumed the title of the World's Champion and defended
it successfully against all competitors until 1894, when he was
beaten by Emanuel Lasker, who is still World's Champion, having
never lost a match.

The next aspirant for the World's Championship is the young
Cuban, Jose Raoul Capablanca, who has proved to be superior to
all masters except Lasker. He entered the arena of international
tournaments at the age of twenty-two in San Sebastian, Spain, in
1911, and won the first prize in spite of the competition of
nearly all of Europe's masters. In the last international
tournament, which was held in Petrograd in 1914, he finished
second, Emanuel Lasker winning first prize.

The present ranking of the professional Chess masters is about
the following:

1. Emanuel Lasker, Berlin, World's Champion.
2. J. R. Capablanca, Havana, Pan-American Champion.
3. A. Rubinstein, Warsaw, Russian Champion.
4. K. Schlechter, Vienna, Austrian Champion.
5. Frank Marshall, New York, United States Champion.
6. R. Teichmann, Berlin.
7. A. Aljechin, Moscow.

Other players of international fame are the Germans, Tarrasch and
Spielmann, the Austrians, Duras, Marocy and Vidmar, the Russians,
Bernstein and Niemzowitsch, the Frenchman, Janowski and the
Englishman, Burn. Up to the time of the outbreak of the war the
leading Chess Clubs of the different countries arranged, as an
annual feature, national and international tournaments, thus
bringing the Chess players of all nationalities into close

This internationalism of Chess is of great advantage to the Chess
player who happens to be traveling in a foreign country. There
are innumerable Chess Clubs spread all over the globe and the
knowledge of the game is the only introduction a man needs to be
hospitably received and to form desirable social and business

It would be going beyond the limit of this summary of the history
of Chess if I tried to give even an outline of the extremely
interesting part Chess has played in French, English and German
literature from the Middle Ages up to the present time. Suffice
it to mention that Chess literature by far exceeds that of all
other games combined. More than five thousand volumes on Chess
have been written, and weekly or monthly magazines solely devoted
to Chess are published in all countries, so that Chess has, so to
speak, become an international, universal language.

The History of Checkers

The literature on the game of Checkers (English: Draughts) is
very limited and there are no certain references to prove that
the game was known before the Sixteenth Century. Two theories are
current as to its origin; one of them claiming it to be a
simplified Chess, the other explaining it as the result of
transferring the Spanish game Alquerque de doze to the Chess

H. J. R. Murray, the greatest authority on the history of games,
considers it most likely that the game has been evolved from both
Chess and Alquerque. The method of capturing men and the rule
concerning the huffing of a man unquestionably point to the
Spanish game, while the board, the diagonal move of the men and
the idea of crowning a man are taken from Chess.

In France, Germany, Italy and Spain the name of the game is still
that of the Queen of Chess (Dame, Dama) whose move in the Middle
Ages was identical with the move of the Checkermen.

Checkers has never been able to attain more than national
uniformity, and it is played with different rules in different
countries. In the United States it is more popular than in any
other country and a number of players have obtained national
fame. The best players at present are considered to be Newell
Banks and Alfred Jordan.





The game of Chess is played by two armies who oppose each other
on a square board or battlefield of sixty-four alternate white
and black squares. Each army has sixteen men; one King, one
Queen, two Rooks (or Castles), two Bishops, two Knights and eight
Pawns. The Generals of the two armies are the two players
themselves. The men of one side are of light color and are called
White, those of the other side are of dark color and are called

The object of the game is to capture the opposing King. When this
is done the battle is ended, the side losing whose King is
captured. To understand what is meant by the capture of the King
it is first necessary to become acquainted with the laws
according to which the different men move on the board.

To start with, the board must be placed so that the players have
a white square at their right. Then the men take the positions
shown in Diagram 1.

The Rooks occupy the corner squares; next to them stand the
Knights; then the Bishops and in the center the King and the

+ - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -+
8 | #R | #Kt| #B | #Q | #K | #B | #K | #R |
| - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -|
7 | #P | #P | #P | #P | #P | #P | #P | #P |
| - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -|
6 | | | | | | | | |
| - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -|
5 | | | | | | | | |
| - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -|
4 | | | | | | | | |
| - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -|
3 | | | | | | | | |
| - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -|
2 | ^P | ^P | ^P | ^P | ^P | ^P | ^P | ^P |
| - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -|
1 | ^R | ^Kt| ^B | ^Q | ^K | ^B | ^Kt| ^R |
+ - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -+
a b c d e f g h


The white Queen must be on the white square and the black Queen
on the black square. These eight, men are commonly known as
"pieces" in distinction from the Pawns. The latter occupy the
line of squares immediately in front of the Pieces.

The lines of squares now occupied by the men and the other four
vacant horizontal lines between them are called RANKS. The
vertical lines of squares running perpendicularly to the ranks
are called FILES. The oblique lines of squares, that is, lines
which connect squares of the same color, are called DIAGONALS.

To describe the moves of the men on the board in a simple way it
is necessary to indicate every square and every man by a short
symbol. For this purpose different systems have been suggested at
different times, but only two of them have been generally
adopted. The older one, called the "descriptive notation," still
predominates in the English, French and Spanish speaking
countries, but as leading English and American writers have
lately used the newer "algebraic notation" which is much more
simple, the latter will be employed in this book. Later the
former method will be explained for the sake of completeness.

In the algebraic notation the files are lettered from a to h,
starting from the file on White's left. The ranks are numbered
from 1 to 8, starting from the rank on which White's pieces stand
at the beginning of the game. Each square is now easily indicated
by naming the file and rank at which it forms the intersection.
The Rook in Diagram 2, for instance, stands on e4, the Bishop on
C4, the Pawns on h4 and g7, the Knight on f7, the Queen on d6 and
the Kings on c1 and g3.

+ - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -+
8 | | | | | | | | |
| - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -|
7 | | | | | | ^Kt| #P | |
| - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -|
6 | | | | #Q | | | | |
| - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -|
5 | | | | | | | | |
| - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -|
4 | | | #B | | ^R | | | ^P |
| - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -|
3 | | | | | | | #K | |
| - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -|
2 | | | | | | | | |
| - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -|
1 | | | ^K | | | | | |
+ - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -+
a b c d e f g h


As symbols for the men the first letters of their names are used.
Thus K stands for King, Q for Queen, R for Rook, B for Bishop, Kt
or N for Knight and P for Pawn.


Each of the six kinds of men moves in a different way. To
remember the six varieties of moves naturally requires a little
more effort than to remember just the one way of moving as in
most other board games. But it takes only very little practice to
become familiar with the various moves of the Chessmen and it is
soon revealed to the learner that the variety of the moves
enables a surprising depth and wealth of combinations which give
keener and greater pleasure to this game than to any other.

The Rook

The Rook may move forward, backward or sideways in a straight
line along a path not obstructed by a man of the same color. In
other words, he may move to any square of the rank or file on
which he stands unless another man of his own color is in the
way. If there is a hostile man in the way he may capture him by
occupying his square and removing him from the board.

In Diagram 2, for instance, the Rook could move to e5, e6, e7,
e8, e3, e2, e1, f4, g4, d4 and c4. In making the latter move he
would capture the black Bishop. The Rook may not go to h4 because
a man of his own color stands there nor may he go to b4 or e4
because he is not allowed to jump over the Bishop. He could, of
course, move to either of these squares on his next move after
capturing the Bishop.

The Bishop

The Bishop moves along an oblique line, that is, he may move to
any square of the diagonals on which he stands unless - as in
the case of the Rook - his way is obstructed by a man of his own
color. If there is a hostile man in the way he may capture him.
In Diagram 2, therefore, the Bishop may move to a2, b3, d5, e6
or, by capturing the Knight, to f7. He may not move, however, to
g8, until his next move after capturing the Knight. In the other
diagonal all squares, that is, fi, e2, d3, b5 and a6, are
accessible to him.

As the Bishop is confined to squares of the same color as the one
on which he stood at the beginning of the game he has access only
to thirty-two squares of the board, and from this it is evident
that the Rook to whom all squares of the board are accessible is
a stronger man.

The Queen

The Queen has the power of both Rook and Bishop having the choice
of moving to any square of the rank, file or diagonal on which
she stands as long as her path is clear. In Diagram 2 the squares
to which the Queen may move are, therefore, e3, b4, c5, e7, f8,
f1, b5, C7, b8, d1, d2, d3, d4, ds, d7, d8, a6, b6, c6, e6, f6,
g6 and h6. Like the Rook and Bishop she has the power of
capturing a hostile man by occupying his square.

The Queen is by far the most powerful of the pieces. Later it
will be seen that ordinarily her strength is about equal to the
strength of two Rooks.

The King

The King, like the Queen, moves and captures in any direction,
but he is much less powerful because he may move only one square
at a time. Nevertheless, he is the most important man, for, as
said at the beginning, the object of each side is the capture of
the opposing King.

To save the King from untimely death there is a rule that the
King may not move into any square which is in the direct range of
any man of his enemy. Thus, in Diagram 2 the black King may move
to f2, g2, h2, f3 and h3, but he may not move to f4 or g4 nor may
he capture the Pawn on h4, for on any of these squares he could
be captured by the white Rook.

The white King in Diagram 2 has only three squares to which he
may go, namely, b1, b2 and c2, as the squares d1 and d2, though
being in his range, are commanded by the black Queen.

The Knight

The Knight moves neither in rank nor file nor diagonal and,
therefore, usually offers a little more difficulty to the
beginner than the other pieces. The Knight's move is perhaps best
described as a leap to the next but one square of different
color.[Footnote: It may be helpful to consider the Knight's move
when completed as having described a letter "L" composed of four
squares, three in one direction and one at right angles to them.]

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