“Chess is not for the faint-hearted; it absorbs a person entirely. To get to the bottom of this game, he has to give himself up into slavery. Chess is difficult; it demands work, serious reflection, and zealous research.” These lines are of a strong player, first true theoretician of chess & very first acclaimed world chess champion, Wilhelm Steinitz. He was an Austrian and later American chess Master Player, and the first undisputed world chess champion from 1886 to 1894. Steinitz had 25 consecutive wins from 1873 to 1882. He was undefeated for 9 years and 283 days. Who is this mastermind and what makes him very first chess grandmaster? Let’s see.
Childhood & Early Life
Born on May 17, 1836, in the Jewish ghetto, Prague Mr. Wilhelm Steinitz was the youngest of a tailor’s thirteen sons to survive. With poor financial background all his life required the aid of a crutch. This small stature boy started to learned chess from his father’s friend or according to other sources from a school friend at the age of 12.
From his twenties he began playing serious chess. Steinitz went to college after leaving Prague in 1857 to study mathematics at the Vienna Polytechnic for two years. Along with that, he worked as a journalist to support his studies.
Unfortunately he could not meet the fees for his studies in this way and was having health problems with his lungs and eyes, so Steinitz stopped studying ….in later life he began to apply scientific principles to chess as a profession.
But during those years Steinitz improved rapidly in chess, progressing from 3rd place in the 1859 Vienna City championship to 1st in 1861.30/31. During this period he was nicknamed “the Austrian Morphy” (strongest player in Austria)
For the 1862 chess tournament, Steinitz was sent to represent Austria in the London, at that time the center of the chess world. This was the life turning event for Steinitz. In this chess tournament, he ranked fifth place contestant & won five wins, one draw, and three losses but this encouraged him to turn professional, and he started living in London.
During the same era he Steinitz recorded and wined a match with Joseph Henry Blackburne, who later on to be one of the world’s top ten for 20 years. Steinitz then won a match against some leading UK players. Steinitz soon gets recognized as one of the leading players of the time. By 1863, His victory matches against some veteran players like Frederic Deacon, Augustus Mongredien (world’s number one player), and Valentine Green were remarkable ones.
On the other hand, Steinitz’s financial situation wasn’t so well which was clear with a letter wrote by him to Ignác Kolisch for not repaying a loan.
Some tournaments push Steinitz to rethink its strategies & change his chess playing style, like the 1870s, to lose the tournament in Baden-Baden with Anderssen.
He worked well on his gaps and just three years later in 1873 credibly won the competition in Vienna and established himself as the world’s best player.
After this success he focuses more on chess journalism and theoretician he withdrew from tournament chess for nine years. But in 1876 he played a match against Blackburne which he won 7-0.Steinitz was the main chess communicator in London from 1873 to 1882 and used this to present his ideas about chess strategy. In 1885 he founded the International Chess Magazine in New York and edited it until 1891.
Major Achievements & Life Work
Wilhelm Steinitz was an excellent defensive player, he pursued to schematize chess and devoted much time and effort to arguing his theories. Following are his amazing chess plays & theories. Those will always be remembered in the history of chess.
Anderssen – Steinitz (1866)
Steinitz – Zukertort (1872)
Steinitz – Blackburne (1876)
- Vienna (1873)
- Schiffers – Steinitz (1896)
2nd City Chess Club Tournament (1894)
- Baden-Baden (1870)
- St. Petersburg 1895/96 (1895)
- Paris (1867)
Steinitz vs Von Bardeleben, 1895 1-0
Steinitz vs Chigorin, 1892 1-0
Dbois vs Steinitz, 1862 0-1
- Steinitz vs Mongredien, 1863 1-0
Zukertort vs Steinitz, 1886 0-1
- Steinitz vs Mongredien, 1862 1-0
- Steinitz vs Paulsen, 1870 1-0
- S Rosenthal vs Steinitz, 1873 0-1
- Steinitz vs Rock, 1863 1-0
- Steinitz vs Bird, 1866 1-0
- Steinitz – Chigorin World Championship Rematch (1892)
- Steinitz – Lasker World Championship Match (1894)
- Lasker – Steinitz World Championship Rematch (1896)
1870s – 1890s Classic Chess Principles Arise by Fredthebear
Wilhelm Steinitz’s Best Games by KingG
Wilhelm Steinitz’s Best Games by Nimzophile
1851 Beyond London by Fredthebear
Match Chigorin! by Amadeus
Max Euwe – From Steinitz to Fischer, Part 1 by Chessdreamer
Max Euwe – From Steinitz to Fischer, Part 1 by FRoeten
The Modern Chess Instructor
Wilhelm Steinitz was humorous with sharp words and tempered nature. But he was able to maintain a long friendly relationship with many groups and people from the chess world.
Steinitz endeavored to be neutral in his writings about chess competitions and games. There are several examples where narrate defeated player with bad luck on the other hand praise of great plays by even his strong opponent.
This very recorded first world champion Mr. Wilhelm Steinitz, was poor in handling his finances and in 1900 died in poverty. But the story not ends here, it says that wisdom is priceless and so as his work for chess. His magnificent work, strategy, theories; the game plays always a guide book for future chess aspirants.
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