Born in Stuttgart(24 July 1895-12 December 1958) Hagenlacher first was an apprentice in a machine factory.Accidentaly he found himself in the billiard hall of the Wilhemsbau at the age of 15,and learned there how to handle a cue taught by the billiard masters,Stehle and Straub.After one year he played 4-5 average on the big table.He liked the game with three balls so much that he gave up his former occupation.After playing in Karlsruhe and Frankfurt,he came to Berlin eighteen years old.He improved himself to a 6-8 average with the active advice of Zielkas and managed series over a 100.
Hagenlacher trained with champion Jean Bruno for almost eighteen months and received further valuable stimulation by Jamada,professional champion who played exhibitions at Cafe Zielka.The master diploma-usual among the professional players-was awarded when he achieved a 20 average,always of course on the big table.After he met hans Niedermayer Hagenlacher experienced a decisive change in his further career.Niedermayer himself stated that he had never a student that was so thorough and persevering.Series of 200-300 were the norm.
In 1919 Hagenlacher felt so confident enough to travel to Switzerland,Italy and Turkey for tournaments.The continuous change from one table to another strengthened his skills incredibly.Arriving back(down: Hagenlacher in Camel advertisement,1933) in Germany he couldn’t find a player who could possibly beat him.So he traveled to America the same year.The material that he found was not what he would have liked.He became used to a new cushion pushed off quickly and his game showed an incredible exactness.For an impartial spectator,the game appeared simple but actually hid a mastery of perfection.Even the outer appearence of the master-tall,athletic,slim,defined face expressed serious concentration.Carelessness in the foot or in the body position,or in the focusing din’t exist for him.Thus,he achieved a regularity in the mechanism of the game that impressed an incredible clarity on the game.He overcame the dangers even before the spectator could realize.These dangers were avoided before they appeared.
His restless life took place half in Europe and half in America.On one of his journeys he married the daughter of his great patron(sponsor?)Zielka.A girl enthusiastic about billiards who herself knew how to score points on the table.One of his great successes was the triumph over the balkline world champion Jake Schaefer in 1926.Hagenlacher won the match with 27,27 average and 308 series.He became the balkline(47/2)world champion.The sixteen years Hagenlacher spent in America were a financial and athletic success.In 1932 he received two thousand dollars for an exhibition for one night in New York.
Hagenlacher decided to leave America in 1935 and came back to Germany where he showed his capability on big tournaments.From 5-8 May 1938 in Gelsenkirchen he played his only professional German championship in balkline 47/2.He won with 65,12 average.Double compared with second player Hans White 32,47.In his last years he returned to his old job as a mechanic and ventured with a friend in the transition of cafe Maurer.He died at age 64 from a brain tumor.He was buried in Stuttgart.
Rumors about Hagenlacher
A)He had played billiard and chess with Jose Raul Capablanca,the chess world champion.
An interesting article appears in the October 1982 issue of the Yugoslav magazine Šahovski Glasnik (pages 363-364).
We learn(left:Capablanca) that after the London Rules for world championship challenges had been agreed in 1922, Capablanca went to Monte Carlo ‘to relax’. Also there at that time was Erich Hagenlacher, a German from Stuttgart who in the 1920s was the unchallenged billiards champion of all cafés and casinos in Europe. Since each of the champions could play the other’s game, somebody had the idea of a contest between them. Billiards came first(balkline?), with a match for the first to reach 100 points,with Capa given a start of 75.Hagenlacher won 100-94.
So on to chess. One game was played, with Capa giving the odds of his queen’s rook: J.R. Capablanca- E. Hagenlacher, Monte Carlo, 1922. Remove White’s queen’s rook. 1 e4 e5 2 Nc3 Bc5 3 f4 exf4 4 d4 Bb4 5 Bxf4 Bxc3+ 6 bxc3 d5 7 e5 Be6 8 Bd3 Ne7 9 Bg5 h6 10 Bh4 O-O 11 Qh5 c6 12 Nf3 Qd7 13 h3 Nf5 14 g4 g6 (Now comes an appealing finish.) 15 gxf5 gxh5 16 Rg1+ Kh8 17 Bf6+ Kh7 18 fxe6 mate.
David Hooper (player and author of chess books)writes:”After giving six simuls in England in October 1922, Capa left for the USA, arriving there on 12 November 1922, staying about five weeks, and then going home to Cuba for Christmas. Capa often left the USA to arrive in Cuba on Christmas Eve. He could hardly have been in Monte Carlo on 31 December.”
In the Batsford book of Chess and records Yakov Damsky writes that the whole thing was a hoax.Capablanca’s opponent was named as Hagenlohen.
B)Hagenlacher was a German spy.
In the book “Wanderon”by Fred Walther we read “that during the twenties,Hagenlacher traveled frequently between the United States and Germany and with the cover of a professional billiard player,Hagenlacher would hardly be suspected of gathering intelligence for the Hitler-led party.”
References:Wikipedia,”Wanderon”book,Fred Walther.