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Emanuel Lasker Charges Manhattan Chess Club Was Unfair in 1924 Tournament

Dr. Emanuel Lasker, former world’s champion chess player, has decided not to take part in the international grand masters’ chess tournament in New York next month, charging that in the tournament in 1924 he was robbed of fifteen minutes because of the way a clock was manipulated, disturbing him to such an extent that he lost his game to Capablanca, and that his share of the receipts had not been delivered to him.

Dr. Lasker made these allegations in a letter to the Manhattan Chess Club, and as a consequence was not invited formally to take part in this year’s tournament. However, it was stated, Dr. Lasker was informed informally that he would be allowed to participate in the coming competition if he would cable his intention of doing so to a friend. Dr. Lasker refused, it was said.

N. L. Lederer, secretary of the tournament committee, refuted Dr. Lasker’s charges, declaring: “He complains that he was not paid his regular fee of $500. The fee of $500 is that which is paid to the champion. Capablanca won the championship. As for his share of the surplus, that is ridiculous, instead of having a surplus, the committee showed a deficit of $400. The charge that the clock was manipulated to injure him is absolutely false.”

Mr. Lederer declared that during chess games Dr. Lasker smokes long black five cent cigars and blows the smoke across the table, “indulging in virtual gas attacks on his opponents.” Very fine Havanas are smoked by Dr. Lasker when not playing chess, Mr. Lederer declared.

Concerning Dr. Lasker’s allegation about the manipulation of the clock. Mr. Lederer explained that “each contestant in the chess game is allowed two hours in which to make thirty moves. He may use that time as he sees fit. He is timed by a clock. Each player must turn off the clock as soon as he has made the move, to prevent time from being checked against him. What happened is that Dr. Lasker forgot to stop his clock after one of the moves. The time was running against him and he did not notice it.

“I reached over and stopped his clock. Instead of injuring him, that helped him. He alleged that the clock was afterwards repaired and that this cost him fifteen more minutes. That is false. He says that this clock incident caused him to make a terrible blunder which resulted in his losing to Capablanca. That is not the case. The clock incident occurred in the afternoon. The blunder was committed by Dr. Lasker in the evening, three or four hours later.”

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