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Zukertort vs Steinitz 1886
New York / St. Louis / New Orleans

 Steinitz and Zukertort, 1886
 Zukertort (left) and Steinitz.
Wilhelm Steinitz was born in Prague, Bohemia (today Czech Republic) in 1836.[1] He dominated the chess world for most of the second half of the 1800s,[2] and beat his strongest active contemporaries in matches: Anderssen - Steinitz (1866), Steinitz - Zukertort (1872) and Steinitz - Blackburne (1876). Steinitz considered his world championship tenure to have started with his win over Adolf Anderssen,[3] although in these matches the title of world champion was probably not officially at stake.[4] In 1882, Steinitz challenged Johannes Zukertort to another match but the negotiations failed.[5] Zukertort was born in Lublin, Poland in 1842,[6] and by the 1870s he had become one of the world's strongest chessplayers.[7] Zukertort scored an overwhelming victory at London (1883) ahead of Steinitz. Contemporaneous periodicals openly questioned Steinitz's superiority.[8] At the end of June 1883, Steinitz again challenged Zukertort to a match, and proposed conditions.[9] Zukertort agreed in principle to the match, but his poor health after his tournament victory did not permit the stress of such a match in the near future.[10]

Steinitz emigrated to the USA in late 1883.[11] The negotiations for a match with Zukertort now dragged on. The main disagreement was location: Steinitz wanted to play in the USA, but not in London, where he had encountered unfairness and hostility.[12] Zukertort, on the other hand, insisted on a match in London, where his financial backers resided.[13] Finally, in mid-1885 Zukertort agreed to a match in the USA and Steinitz agreed to play a return match in London.[14] At first, the preliminary seconds were to be Gustave Simonson for Steinitz and James Innes Minchin for Zukertort, but by the time the match started, Steinitz had chosen Thomas Frere and Zukertort Charles Moehle as their respective seconds. Frère and Minchin went on to conduct the match negotiations.[15] A forfeit deposit of $250 was imposed.[16] Steinitz forwarded the sum at the beginning of December 1885.[17] Zukertort arrived in New York on December 13 but the transmission of his deposit was delayed, so the match began later than originally planned.[18]

The conditions for the first official world chess championship match were signed on December 29, 1885. The stakes were $2,000 a side,[19] with a guarantee of at least $750 to the winner and $500 to the loser.[20] The winner would be the first to win 10 games. In case of 9:9 (draws not counting), the match was to be declared drawn. The time control was 30 moves in 2 hours and then 15 moves in 1 hour. The match was to begin in New York and remain in that venue until one player had scored 4 wins. Then it would move to St. Louis until one player had won 3 games there. The rest of the match was to take place in New Orleans. An umpire for each player was chosen from the chess club hosting the match during each of the three legs. The two umpires supervised the games and settled all disputes. In the case of a disagreement between the umpires, or of a player feeling that an umpire's decision contradicted the rules, the referee had the final say.[19] A change was made in St. Louis that the match would be considered drawn if the score reached 8:8, draws not counting.[21]

The match began on January 11, 1886 [18] in Cartier's Hall, Fifth Avenue, in New York.[22] The New York leg ended January 20, when Zukertort scored 4 consecutive victories after losing the first game. Play was resumed on February 3 in St. Louis.[23] The games were played during the day in the Harmonie Hall and at night in the Chess, Checkers and Whist Club.[24] The umpires were Ben R. Foster for Steinitz and William Duncan for Zukertort.[25] The St. Louis leg ended on February 10 after Steinitz scored 3 wins and a draw.[23] After a rest of almost 2 weeks, the New Orleans leg began on February 26.[26] Charles Francis Buck was the referee. The umpires were Fernand Clairborne for Steinitz and Charles Maurian for Zukertort.[27] Play took place in the New Orleans Chess, Checkers and Whist Club at the corner of Baronne and Canal Street.[28] Carnival activities led to a suspension of the match for a few days.[29] After a draw, Steinitz pulled ahead with 2 wins. Zukertort struck back with a win, but managed only 3 draws and another loss in the next games. Steinitz then went on to win the last 3 games, becoming the first official world champion on March 29, 1886 with a final score of (+10 -5 =5).[23]

click on a game number to replay game 1234567891011121314151617181920
Zukertort0111100½0½001½½0½000
Steinitz1000011½1½110½½1½111

FINAL SCORE:  Steinitz 10;  Zukertort 5 (5 draws)
Reference: game collection WCC Index [Steinitz-Zukertort 1886]

NOTABLE GAMES   [what is this?]
    · Game #19     Zukertort vs Steinitz, 1886     0-1
    · Game #1     Zukertort vs Steinitz, 1886     0-1
    · Game #9     Zukertort vs Steinitz, 1886     0-1

FOOTNOTES

  1. Jeremy Gaige, Chess Personalia: A Biobibliography, (McFarland 1987, softcover reprint 2005), p. 406
  2. Rod Edwards, Wilhelm Steinitz
  3. Obituary in the New York Times, 14 October 1900, quoting Steinitz from My advertisement to anti-Semites in Vienna and Elsewhere. In Edward Winter, Early Uses of ‘World Chess Champion’
  4. Edward Winter, Early Uses of ‘World Chess Champion’
  5. Kurt Landsberger, William Steinitz - Chess Champion 2d ed. (McFarland 1995), p. 168
  6. Gaige, pp. 481-482
  7. Rod Edwards, Johannes Zukertort
  8. The Chess Player's Chronicle mentions that Zukertort had become champion "in the opinion of some" (18 July 1883, p. 50. In Edward Winter, Early Uses of ‘World Chess Champion’). According to the Cincinnati Commercial, the "indications are that Mr. Z. is the strongest living player" (7 July 1883. Reprinted in Jacques N. Pope, Chess Archaeology, Item 2). The Baltimore Sunday News was quoted as saying that Zukertort was now the acknowledged world champion chessplayer (Newark Sunday Call, 8 July 1883. Reprinted in Jacques N. Pope, Chess Archaeology) and the New York Turf, Field and Farm announced Steinitz's soon to be published match challenge to be a challenge to Zukertort's "title to the championship" (6 July 1883. Reprinted in Jacques N. Pope, Chess Archaeology, Item 1). Johannes von Minckwitz writes, that their rivalry grew more and more acute after the tournament, and a match between them moved closer and closer (Source #cite_15>15, pp. 4-5. Reprinted in Internet Archive). Charles Devide described the tournament as a bitter disappointment and that then all of Steinitz' energies were bent on securing a match (Devidé, A Memorial to William Steinitz, New York and London, 1901, p. 7. Reprinted in Internet Archive).
  9. New York Turf, Field and Farm, 13 July 1883. Reprinted in Jacques N. Pope, Chess Archaeology, Item 1
  10. British Chess Magazine, August-September 1883, pp. 282-283
  11. Landsberger, p. 138
  12. Landsberger, p. 146
  13. Landsberger, p. 145
  14. Landsberger, p. 148
  15. Johannes von Minckwitz, Der Entscheidungskampf zwischen W. Steinitz und J. H. Zukertort um die Meisterschaft der Welt, Leipzig, 1886, pp. 7-8. Reprinted in Internet Archive
  16. Landsberger, p. 150
  17. Nashville Union, 6 December 1885 (originally from the New Orleans Times Democrat). Reprinted in Jacques N. Pope, Chess Archaeology, Item 3
  18. British Chess Magazine, February 1886, p. 69
  19. Chess Monthly, January 1886, pp. 136-137. In Edward Winter's World Chess Championship Rules
  20. Landsberger, p. 150
  21. British Chess Magazine, May 1886, p. 184
  22. British Chess Magazine, February 1886, p. 54
  23. Rod Edwards, Steinitz-Zukertort (1886)
  24. British Chess Magazine, March 1886, p. 116
  25. St. Louis Globe-Democrat, 3 February 1886. Reprinted in Jacques N. Pope, Chess Archaeology
  26. Charleston Sunday News, 21 February 1886. Reprinted in Jacques N. Pope, Chess Archaeology, Item 1
  27. British Chess Magazine, April 1886, pp. 139-140 (originally from the New Orleans Times-Democrat, 28 February 1886)
  28. Landsberger, p. 163
  29. Brooklyn Chess Chronicle, 15 March 1886, volume 4, number 6, p. 81. Reprinted in HathiTrust Digital Library

 page 1 of 1; 20 games  PGN Download 
Game  ResultMoves Year Event/LocaleOpening
1. Zukertort vs Steinitz 0-146 1886 Steinitz - Zukertort World Championship MatchD10 Queen's Gambit Declined Slav
2. Steinitz vs Zukertort 0-146 1886 Steinitz - Zukertort World Championship MatchC47 Four Knights
3. Zukertort vs Steinitz 1-047 1886 Steinitz - Zukertort World Championship MatchD10 Queen's Gambit Declined Slav
4. Steinitz vs Zukertort 0-139 1886 Steinitz - Zukertort World Championship MatchC67 Ruy Lopez
5. Zukertort vs Steinitz 1-032 1886 Steinitz - Zukertort World Championship MatchD10 Queen's Gambit Declined Slav
6. Steinitz vs Zukertort 1-061 1886 Steinitz - Zukertort World Championship MatchC67 Ruy Lopez
7. Zukertort vs Steinitz 0-135 1886 Steinitz - Zukertort World Championship MatchD35 Queen's Gambit Declined
8. Steinitz vs Zukertort ½-½22 1886 Steinitz - Zukertort World Championship MatchC67 Ruy Lopez
9. Zukertort vs Steinitz 0-138 1886 Steinitz - Zukertort World Championship MatchD37 Queen's Gambit Declined
10. Steinitz vs Zukertort ½-½21 1886 Steinitz - Zukertort World Championship MatchC67 Ruy Lopez
11. Zukertort vs Steinitz 0-142 1886 Steinitz - Zukertort World Championship MatchC49 Four Knights
12. Steinitz vs Zukertort 1-044 1886 Steinitz - Zukertort World Championship MatchC67 Ruy Lopez
13. Zukertort vs Steinitz 1-086 1886 Steinitz - Zukertort World Championship MatchD35 Queen's Gambit Declined
14. Steinitz vs Zukertort ½-½48 1886 Steinitz - Zukertort World Championship MatchC67 Ruy Lopez
15. Zukertort vs Steinitz ½-½49 1886 Steinitz - Zukertort World Championship MatchD50 Queen's Gambit Declined
16. Steinitz vs Zukertort 1-049 1886 Steinitz - Zukertort World Championship MatchC65 Ruy Lopez, Berlin Defense
17. Zukertort vs Steinitz ½-½52 1886 Steinitz - Zukertort World Championship MatchD55 Queen's Gambit Declined
18. Steinitz vs Zukertort 1-040 1886 Steinitz - Zukertort World Championship MatchC65 Ruy Lopez, Berlin Defense
19. Zukertort vs Steinitz 0-129 1886 Steinitz - Zukertort World Championship MatchD53 Queen's Gambit Declined
20. Steinitz vs Zukertort 1-019 1886 Steinitz - Zukertort World Championship MatchC25 Vienna
 page 1 of 1; 20 games  PGN Download 
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2)  
 

Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 8 OF 8 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Jan-28-12  AVRO38: <We are not "blogging" here>

<The word blog is a portmanteau of the words web log. Simply put, a blog is a website with content that is written frequently and added in a chronological order.>

Sounds like a blog to me...Apparently this site is a magnet for really stupid people!!

You say I'm a troll but you keep responding to me!!! If I am a troll, then I'm doing an excellent job of exposing what a bunch of idiots you are by making you jump like a bunch of dogs every time I toss a bone.

Jan-28-12
Premium Chessgames Member
  twinlark: <Notice how you're the only one posting responses..LOSER!!>

Interesting. What does that say about the person to whom the response is directed? A self-hating kibitzer maybe?

Jan-28-12  Shams: <AVRO38> Frankly, I think I deserved a better effort than that. Well, it is what it is. Goodbye.
Jan-28-12  King Death: <twinlark: <Notice how you're the only one posting responses..LOSER!!> Interesting. What does that say about the person to whom the response is directed? A self-hating kibitzer maybe?>

I'd think it would say more about the person who used it than about the target of the abuse. Other than that I agree with your evaluation.

Jan-29-12
Premium Chessgames Member
  twinlark: <KD> we're on the same page. Your interpretation is actually the interpretation I intended, as the response I'm referring to is the one referred to in the bracketed quote rather than the bracketed quote per se.
Jan-29-12  ughaibu: Interesting that Steinitz said "Zukertort, Blackburne and Martínez contested it twice each in Matches". Why are all but one of these not generally considered to be championship matches? If one takes Steinitz seriously about this, then one should accept that he wouldn't have considered himself to be champion had he lost any of these.
Jan-29-12  King Death: <twinlark> Enough said, but I wasn't about to put words in your mouth. Way too much has been said and I'd already put the abuser on ignore.
Jan-29-12  AVRO38: <keypusher><King Death><twinlark><Shams>

Watch the doggies jump...here doggie doggie...

Jan-29-12  AVRO38: Since silence is an admission of defeat, I accept your admission.

How anyone can claim that Wilhelm Steinitz was world champion before 1886 or after 1889 is beyond comprehension. Even the years 1886-1889 is a stretch when you consider the circumstances of the 1886 match.

After Zukertort wiped the floor with Steinitz in New York (+4-1=0) most commentators at the time were predicting a final score of +10-1=0. This is perfectly reasonable considering the strength of the two players. Unfortunately, on the way to St. Louis, Zukertort suffered what we would call a mini-stroke today and asked for a postponement of the match. Nobody expected Steinitz to act honorably under these circumstances, and he didn't disappoint.

Zukertort's stroke on the train to St. Louis is the only reason Steinitz is considered a world champion at all today.

Steinitz was clearly one of the weakest players of the late 19th century, having failed to win a single international competition for over 25 years (1874-1899). He did tie one tournament with Winawer, but failed to win the playoff. I know of no other world champion that lost every international competition he participated in for a 25 year period!

His only success in this 25 year period was in offhand matches that were little more than skittles games. Some matches being played entirely in one day!

Jan-29-12
Premium Chessgames Member
  twinlark: Warning: don't feed the troll.
Jan-29-12
Premium Chessgames Member
  jnpope: <King Death>: Thanks for pointing out the ignore feature!
Jan-29-12  ughaibu: Zukertort didn't need a stroke, it was a miracle that he wasn't 4-1 down after the first five games. He only had two convincing wins in the entire match. What kind of idiots were predicting a 10-1 result? They cant have been chess players.
Jan-30-12  RookFile: I can't imagine anybody predicting 10 to 1.
Jun-10-12
Premium Chessgames Member
  Chessical: AVRO38's statement "<Steinitz was clearly one of the weakest players of the late 19th century, having failed to win a single international competition for over 25 years (1874-1899)>" is incorrect; refuted by the record.

From 1859, Steinitz's worst tournament was London 1862 (although he was awarded the brilliancy prize for his win over Mongredien), nearly all the rest were first or second places. For example:

1861, Vienna championship, 1st
1862, London championship, 1st
1865, Dublin, 1st-2nd, tied with MacDonnell.
1866, London handicap tournament, 1st
1872, London,1st
1873, Vienna, 1st-2nd, won the tournament after a play-off with Joseph Henry Blackburne.

1882, Vienna, 1st-2nd, tied with Winawer and drew the play-off. 1894, New York championship, 1st
1897, New York, 1st-2nd

As tournament became more frequent at the end of the 19th century, he played succesfully in the following super-tournaments:

1895-6, St Petereberg - 2nd to Lasker
1896 Nuremberg - 6th on 11/18, the winner Lasker scored (13.5) 1898 Vienna 4th, in a very large field and ahead of Schlechter, Chigorin, Burn, Paul Lipke, Maroczy, Alapin, Blackburne, Schiffers, Marco, Showalter, Walbrodt, etc

1898 Cologne, 5th ahead of Schlechter, Showalter, Johann Berger, Janowski and Schiffers

Steinitz's one big failure being his last tournament 1899, London. He was 10-11th.

Jun-10-12  Petrosianic: <AVRO38's statement... is incorrect; refuted by the record.>

Have you guys not figured out yet that AVRO makes mistakes deliberately just to get attention that he couldn't get any other way?

Jun-10-12  AVRO38: <Petrosianic><Chessical><AVRO38's statement "<Steinitz was clearly one of the weakest players of the late 19th century, having failed to win a single international competition for over 25 years (1874-1899)>" is incorrect; refuted by the record.>

You say my statement is refuted by the record and for proof you offer pre-1874 tournaments and a national U.S. tournament in 1897!

I'm still waiting for you to refute the ACTUAL statement that Steinitz "failed to win a single international competition for over 25 years (1874-1899)".

Jun-12-12
Premium Chessgames Member
  Chessical: <Petrosianic> You were quite right.
Jun-23-12  King Death: < Chessical: AVRO38's statement "<Steinitz was clearly one of the weakest players of the late 19th century, having failed to win a single international competition for over 25 years (1874-1899)>" is incorrect; refuted by the record...>

Steinitz was one of the weakest players of the late 19th century? Shows what I know, I thought he could really play. Reading this gave me the best laugh I've had in a few days.

Jun-23-12  RookFile: I'm curious. What do you make of Vienna 1882?
Jun-23-12  Open Defence: from the bio

<Tournaments

Steinitz was more adept at winning matches than tournaments in his early years, a factor, which alongside his prolonged absences from competition chess after 1873, may have prevented more widespread recognition of his dominance of chess as world champion until the first “official” world championship match in 1886. Nevertheless, between 1859 and his death in 1900, the only tournament in which he did not win prize money was his final tournament in London in 1899>

Dec-31-13
Premium Chessgames Member
  MarkFinan: Did I ever tell anyone that when Steinitz's clock broke he had it fixed in a jewelers called Fatorini's in my hometown?

No? Okay, I'll copy and paste some lengthy articles and post them here later. 👌

Dec-31-13
Premium Chessgames Member
  jessicafischerqueen: <Mark Finan>

<Did I ever tell anyone that when Steinitz's clock broke he had it fixed in a jewelers called Fatorini's in my hometown?>

Are you referring to an earlier <Stenitz> match that was played in England?

This match was played in New York, St. Louis, and New Orleans. Wouldn't your hometown be in England?

There is a broken clock being sent to the jeweler's story from this match, though it might be a different incident then the one you refer to.

<Zukertort's> clock broke during the 3d game in St. Louis: Steinitz vs Zukertort, 1886

<"The third game attracted an even larger audience, but was interrupted when <<<Zukertort's clock broke down>>> and refused to tick. While the time-piece was carried to a neighboring jeweler, the two players wandered about and conversed with those who approached them...">

The clock was repaired in time to restart the game, but then it stopped again. Both <Steinitz> and then <Zukertort> shook the clock until it started again, and they were able to finish the game.

-Kurt Landsberger, "Wilhelm Steinitz, Chess Champion." (McFarland 1995), p. 161.

If your story is from a different match, it would be excellent if you gave us more information and a source for it. Sounds intriguing.

Aug-16-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: Losing a World Championship match after being 4-1 ahead was also achieved by Alekhine in Alekhine - Euwe World Championship Match (1935).

No one else has managed it, but Karpov came quite close in the epic Karpov - Korchnoi World Championship Match (1978); he was 4-1 up but Kortschnoi managed to level the match at 5-5 in the first-to-6-wins match.

Kasparov had similar troubles in Karpov - Kasparov World Championship Rematch (1986). He was 4-1 up but contrived to lose 3 games in a row to his resourceful opponent. But he finished the match strongly and won by a point.

Apr-02-15
Premium Chessgames Member
  jessicafischerqueen:

This event has a new introduction, researched and written by <Karpova>.

May-11-15  A.T PhoneHome: Oh 1886, how I miss the smell of cigars and the bottles of wise men's liquid!

How I miss the daring gambit play and boast of men, by the young and by the old!

The above is a short introduction to what I am going to say. There was no clear international chess federation, moreover, the players themselves worked out the details between themselves. The very best had the last say most often.

Phenomenal talents like Anderssen, Staunton and Morphy made people talk about the best players in the world as World Champions.

To settle the score, the best players started to play matches and the conditions were largely decided by them.

After this independence of such arrangements, one could say that the Championship title became something of a personal belonging which eventually prompted the talks of choosing an impartial chess federation to host these said events.

Today our top-level players fight for their spots in the Candidates Tournament, after which the winner plays against the World Champion. Sounds really simple, but it hasn't always been like that.

This is where it all started!

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