Baron Tassilo von Heydebrand und der Lasa

by Bill Wall


Baron Tassilo von Heydebrand und der Lasa (von der Lasa) was born on October 17, 1818 in Berlin, Germany.  He studied law in Berlin and Bonn, Germany.

His name is usually abbrevieated as Baron von der Lasa.  The Prussian King William I once greeted him by saying, “Good morning dear Heydebrand.  How is von der Lasa doing?”

In 1837, he was one of the seven co-founders of the Berlin Chess School (the Berlin Pleiades), which was the first “research group” in the history of chess.  He promoted the first German chess magazine, Schachzeitung (later Deutsche Schachzeitung).

In 1840, von der Lasa’s good friend, Paul Rudolf von Bilguer (1814-1840), died before finishing his chess handbook, Handbuch des Schachspiels.  Von der Lasa took over the project and had it published with Bilguer’s name as the author in 1843.

From 1845 to 1864, he was a diplomat in the service of Prussia.

In matches, he beat some of the best players in the world.  In 1843, he won against Henry Thomas Buckle with the score of 2-1.  In 1845-46, he defeated Adolf Anderssen 4-2.  In 1846, he defeated Johann Lowenthal 6-1.  In 1850, he defeated John William Schulten 4-1.  In 1851, he defeated Adolf Anderssen again, with the score of 10-5.  In 1853, he defeated Howard Staunton 7-6. 

In 1843, he published Handbuch des Schachspiels.  Von der Lasa revised and edited the next four editions, up to 1873, while always retaining Bilguer’s name to the title.  This book was the first complete review of openings in any language.

In 1850, he tried to organize the first international tournament ever, to be held in Trier.  Instead, the first such tournament was held in London in 1851.  He also proposed that each player’s time should be limited by way of separate clocks.

In 1897, he wrote Zur Geschichte und Literatur des Schachspiels, Forschungen (Researches in the History and Literature of Chess.

In 1898, the German Chess Federation gave him the first honorary membership of their organization.

Von der Lasa died on July 27, 1899 in Storchnest near Lissa, Prussia (now Poland).  When he died, he had over 2,263 chess books.  His library is still intact at Komik Castle near Poznan (Posen), Poland.  He contributed more than 90 articles to chess periodicals, over more than 40 years.