In the late spring of 1899, eighteen of the world's best chess masters were invited to participate in a double round robin tournament in London, England. Among those who attended were the World Champion, Emanuel Lasker, and the former world champion, Wilhelm Steinitz. Of the eighteen invited, Siegbert Tarrasch declined his invitation, citing his medical practice as the higher priority. Rudolf Rezso Charousek wished to attend but an illness (which later proved fatal) prevented him. Amos Burn, who had agreed to come, left on the first day.
In an interview Mr. Burn said his reasons for withdrawing were that he was dissatisfied with the general arrangement of the tournament, but more so with the supercilious treatment he has met with from certain persons connected with the management since his arrival in London. He averred that he would never again take part in any chess competition under the management of the British Chess Club. (1)
The remaining fifteen players gathered in St. Stephen's Hall, (2) near the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Aquarium, where their play was dwarfed each day by the towering statues of historic statesmen. The time control for the tournament was set at 15 moves every hour. Over the course of the tournament, the players were entertained and treated in a number of ways, including exhibitions by the London Chess Club at the Crystal Palace and gatherings at the Star and Garter Hotel in Richmond (a favorite stop over of Charles Dickens). Among the festivities, a banquet was held for the players at the Cafe Monaco on June 29th. The early rounds of the tournament proved surprising as Janowski took off with an early lead of 4 points after the first four rounds, while Lasker, who had dominated at Nuremberg (1896), held only two points. It was at this point that Richard Teichmann had to withdraw due to an eye infection (the same that later left him blind in one eye). His remaining games in the first half were considered lost by forfeit. The tide turned though, as Lasker's loss to Blackburne in the fourth round proved to be his only defeat. He went on to defeat Janowski in their first head-to-head game in the tenth round, and then never gave up the lead for the rest of the tournament. He finished four and a half points ahead of the shared seconds, asserting his dominance once more against the field of candidates vying for his crown. It was also to be an unfortunate landmark for Steinitz, who finished a tournament for the first time without a prize. It was also to be his last, for he died in poverty a year later.
London, 30 May - 10 July 1899
References: (1) Liverpool Mercury, Wednesday 31st May 1899, p. 8. (2) Wikipedia article: St Stephen's Chapel.
01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 Pts
1 Lasker ** 1½ ½1 ½1 ½1 01 11 11 1½ 1½ ½1 11 11 11 1- 22½
=2 Janowski 0½ ** 10 01 11 1½ 11 ½1 00 11 10 11 01 1½ 1- 18
=2 Pillsbury ½0 01 ** ½½ ½1 00 10 ½½ 11 11 11 11 1½ 11 ½- 18
=2 Maróczy ½0 10 ½½ ** ½½ ½1 01 1½ 10 11 ½1 ½1 1½ 11 1- 18
5 Schlechter ½0 00 ½0 ½½ ** 1½ 10 ½1 ½1 0½ 11 11 11 11 1- 17
6 Blackburne 10 0½ 11 ½0 0½ ** ½0 01 1½ 01 10 1½ 11 11 ½- 15½
7 Chigorin 00 00 01 10 01 ½1 ** 1½ 1½ 01 ½1 10 11 10 1- 15
8 Showalter 00 ½0 ½½ 0½ ½0 10 0½ ** 0½ 0½ 1½ 11 11 01 1- 12½
9 Mason 0½ 11 00 01 ½0 0½ 0½ 1½ ** 00 01 00 11 ½1 1- 12
=10 Cohn 0½ 00 00 00 1½ 10 10 1½ 11 ** 0½ 1½ 10 00 1- 11½
=10 Steinitz ½0 01 00 ½0 00 01 ½0 0½ 10 1½ ** ½0 ½1 11 1- 11½
12 Lee 00 00 00 ½0 00 0½ 01 00 11 0½ ½1 ** ½1 ½½ 1- 9½
13 Bird 00 10 0½ 0½ 00 00 00 00 00 01 ½0 ½0 ** 11 1- 7
14 Tinsley 00 0½ 00 00 00 00 01 10 ½0 11 00 ½½ 00 ** 0- 6
15 Teichmann 0- 0- ½- 0- 0- ½- 0- 0- 0- 0- 0- 0- 0- 1- ** 2
Original collection: Game Collection: London 1899, by User: suenteus po 147.
| page 1 of 8; games 1-25 of 186
| page 1 of 8; games 1-25 of 186
|Apr-13-13|| ||keypusher: Reposting this curious fact:
London 1899 was a disaster for the White pieces overall. According to Hoffer's tourament book, White scored as follows:
+59-81=46, or .31/.44/.25
I wonder if there has been another major tournament in which White scored so badly?
Some particularly bad openings for White:
Vienna Game +1-7=1 (Steinitz had a terrible system that accounted for a number of the losses)
Evans Gambit +0-2=0
Sicilian Defense +1-5=0
But even stalwart openings fared poorly:
QP Game +12-20=10 (this includes a lot of games by bottom finishers against the leaders)
Ruy Lopez +10-11=4
These openings did well:
Ponziani Opening +3-0=0 (the tournament book called it the "English Knight's Opening." Caro-Kann +3-0=3
White's score with the French and the QGD looks good only by comparison to the other mainstay openings:
French +10-8=5 (players were jumping at the chance to take on Chigorin's 2.Qe2)
Tournament winner Lasker was no exception to the general rule. He gave up five draws and a famous loss to Blackburne with White, and just two draws with Black. He also won the first brilliancy prize (against Steinitz) with Black.
I don't think this was normal for him. At St. Petersburg 1909 he was +9-0=0 with White, while giving up two losses and three draws with Black.
|Apr-21-14|| ||whiteshark: <<keypusher> White scored as follows: +59-81=46, or .31/.44/.25 > Additionally, I wonder if there also had been another 'great' tournament with 75% decisive games.|
I'll keep that in mind. ;)
|Apr-21-14|| ||keypusher: <whiteshark: <<keypusher> White scored as follows: +59-81=46, or .31/.44/.25 > Additionally, I wonder if there also had been another 'great' tournament with 75% decisive games.>|
I'm sure that was a normal result for the time. I checked Hastings 1895 and got a 74.8% decisive-game rate (not counting von Bardleben's forfeit to Pillsbury).
Schlechter was the only player at Hastings to draw more than half his games -- 12 out of 21. No one at London 1899 drew half his games, it looks like.
|Mar-01-15|| ||Fusilli: <whiteshark> <keypusher> My first thought was that this could be explained by the fact that roughly the top half of the contenders were so much stronger than the bottom half. But then I looked at just the top seven in the crosstable and the results among them, and counted only 13 draws in 42 games.|
Something that makes an important difference with modern times (although I do not think it fully explains the apparently greater combative spirit of the masters of the past) is that grandmaster draws weren't part of chess culture yet. When did GMs begin to feel okay with agreeing to a peaceful draw in 15 moves?
|May-26-16|| ||Gypsy: <... When did GMs begin to feel okay with agreeing to a peaceful draw in 15 moves?>|
When playing chess became a job. While playing was either a hobby or a prize-fight, players came to the game to win. Perhaps the motivation was different in each case, but winning was usually the objective of their play.
When playing became a job, one great of the Soviet Chess School famously jested: < ... You want me to attack Smyslov for 15 kopeyek a day?> (Or was it 15 rubles? His point stays the same, of course.)
|May-24-17|| ||zanzibar: For those trying to determine the hows and whys of the pairings:|
<Order of Play. — Each player must play two games with every other
competitor. The order in which the players will meet each other will be
decided by the drawing of lots before the commencement of the Tournament, but the pairing for each day will not be made known to the players
until the morning of such day.>
tb - pxvi
So they likely drew up a Berger ordering, and then randomly picked the Berger round from those remaining unplayed rounds each morning of play.
<CG>'s games are all dated, and R23 matches Harding's note:
<19. Ken Whyld, "London 1899, in Quarterly for Chess History 7, pages 264-269; in that article, composed in 2002 (notwithstanding the nominal date of that volume) he provided the full round-by-round pairings for both tournaments. His chart contains one mistake, however. He dated Round 23 to 29 June, which was a Thursday and therefore one of those set aside for playing off adjournments. Round 23 was in fact played on Friday 30th. The London Standard, 31 May 1899, said that Caro was absent through illness.>
(Harding-Blackburne p555 ch15n19)
|May-24-17|| ||zanzibar: Here's a little from BCM describing some of the tournament (in particular, the other side of Burns' withdrawal, as mentioned by Harding):|
<The prize fund of £8oo is divided into nine prizes for the fourteen competitors, and some provision is also made for those players who would otherwise be non-prize winners. It was expected that the liberal prizes and the importance of the contest would attract all the foremost expert players of the day, but this has not been the case, and the tournament in many respects falls far short of that of 1883. The committee of management decided that sixteen contestants would be sufficient for such an important contest; and we agree that this number is sufficiently large to permit of all the very foremost players of the world being brought together. According to our information, the sixteen selected names were: Messrs. Bird, Blackburne, Burn, Lasker, Mason, Tinsley, and Teichmann, of England; Cohn and Caro, Germany; Janowski, France; Tchigorin, Russia; Schlechter, Austria; Maroczy, Hungary; and Pillsbury, Steinitz, and Showalter, America. We regret the absence of Dr. Tarrasch and Herr Charousek. The latter enjoys poor health, and is probably physically unfitted to undergo such a strain as a double-round contest involves, whilst it has long been reported that the famous doctor's professional duties would not permit of his taking part in the tournament. Almost at the last moment Herr Caro retired, in consequence of ill health, and Mr. F. J. Lee, London, was invited to fill the place, and did so; but still the intended 16 contestants was destined to be reduced by the withdrawal of Mr. Amos Burn, Liverpool. It is not necessary for us to enter into the alleged cause of Mr. Burn's resignation, but his action coming so soon after his abstention from the cable match—especially as he must have been fully conversant with the tournament conditions before he entered the lists—suggests that the best interests of the game are secondary to individual consideration. Another withdrawal, this time compulsory and most regrettable, was that of Herr Teichmann, London, who was compelled to retire, after playing four games with great credit, in consequence of serious inflammation in his eye. The number of actual competitors is therefore 14, the same number as was engaged in 1883.
The place of play, St. Stephen's Hall, Royal Aquarium, Westminster, is spacious, and the spectators could watch the various games with ease, but the room is a depressing apartment. With its rounded roof and multiplicity of wire girders, it has a striking resemblance to a garret in one of our big railway stations, and its large half-circular window at each end let in a dim subdued light, which was certainly not religious. The whole surroundings, too, of the room were in marked contrast to the handsome upholstered and carpeted saloon in the Criterion, wherein the 1883 gathering took place; nor does St. Stephen's Hall compare at all favourably with the handsome apartment provided at Hastings in 1895. There was also a further marked contrast in the number of the spectators present, to the disadvantage of the present Congress. In one particular, however, the gathering showed an improvement as compared with the 1883 meeting, and that was the assemblage of lady visitors. In 1883 the presence of a lady was an event to chronicle; but during the present Congress, small groups of ladies might be seen every day eagerly watching the progress of the games.>
BCM v19 (1899) p297
|May-24-17|| ||zanzibar: Here's the list of byes (or non-games) vs. round:|
Rd N_players Byes
1 14 Lee
2 14 Showalter
3 14 Blackburne
4 14 Mason
5 12 Bird, Chigorin, Teichmann
6 12 Janowski, Schlechter, Teichmann
7 12 Lasker, Steinitz, Teichmann
8 12 Janowski, Maroczy, Teichmann
9 12 Maroczy, Steinitz, Teichmann
10 12 Lee, Pillsbury, Teichmann
11 14 Teichmann
12 12 Bird, Schlechter, Teichmann
13 12 Lasker, Mason, Teichmann
14 12 Cohn, Teichmann, Tinsley
15 12 Cohn, Showalter, Teichmann
16 12 Mason, Teichmann, Tinsley
17 12 Cohn, Teichmann, Tinsley
18 14 Teichmann
19 12 Janowski, Schlechter, Teichmann
20 12 Bird, Schlechter, Teichmann
21 12 Cohn, Showalter, Teichmann
22 12 Bird, Chigorin, Teichmann
23 12 Lasker, Mason, Teichmann
24 12 Maroczy, Steinitz, Teichmann
25 12 Janowski, Maroczy, Teichmann
26 12 Blackburne, Chigorin, Teichmann
27 12 Blackburne, Lee, Teichmann
28 12 Lee, Pillsbury, Teichmann
29 12 Lasker, Steinitz, Teichmann
30 12 Pillsbury, Showalter, Teichmann
You can see the weirdness from the randomization - Teichmann single bye shows up R11 / R18 (and not R11 / R26 ).
That would be the rounds where Tarrasch and Teichmann were matched...
So, after Teichmann dropped out we get the hard-to-follow double bye rounds.
(I'm worrying about this a little, since I'm considering stubifying the tournament)
|May-25-17|| ||JimNorCal: In the Tournament Standings section why are Pillsbury, Showalter and Blackburne missing their first names?|
|May-25-17|| ||zanzibar: A stubified version of the PGN can be found here:|
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