Vienna, western capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and a city rich in culture and chess, hosted a World's Fair in the spring of 1873. In the tradition of earlier world exhibitions, great buildings were constructed, inventions and events were hosted and people all over the world were invited to come, observe, and participate.
The central hall of the exhibition was erected at the Prater and the fair opened on May 1st. Unfortunately for the city and the fair, the stock market crashed the following week (later known as the "Panic of 1873") and a cholera epidemic later swept through the city and its people in early July. Whereas previous world's fairs were attended by hundreds of thousands to millions of people, Vienna was virtually deserted during the summer following the market crash and the growing epidemic.
In spite of these conditions, or perhaps because of them, Kaiser Franz Josef along with Baron Albert von Rothschild and Ignatz von Kolisch pooled together a large prize fund and organized an international chess tournament to be played from July 19th to August 29th, a period that would be during the worst of the epidemic. Games were played in the rooms of the Wiener Schachgesellschaft, and the tournament was organized differently from the previous world's fair competitions. The international chess tournament held at the London world's fair of 1851 was a knockout tournament. In 1862, it was the first all-play-all with draws to be replayed. At the Paris world's fair in 1867, double rounds had been played where draws were not counted. In Vienna an all-play-all system was devised, wherein each of the players were paired against each other and then made to play best of three rounds for each pairing. Unlike traditional scoring in previous tournaments, the results of all three games would be used to determine a sole winner for the pairing or if the two players were drawn. In the event a player won the first two games of the pairing, the third round need not be played. One of the goals of this format was to avoid replaying of draws and also to increase the chances of a definite result. Second round games were played with colors reversed, and if a third round game was required, the players would resume the colors they played in the first round. The schedule called for one game to be played a day, and twenty moves had to be played each hour. Every seventh day was a rest day, although chess masters who quickly dispatched an opponent could get "an extra rest day" on scheduled days for third round play.
Twelve chess masters were invited to participate in the elite event. Adolf Anderssen, who had won the previous world's fair competitions in 1851 and 1862, and Louis Paulsen participated on behalf of Germany. Joseph Henry Blackburne, Henry Edward Bird, and Wilhelm Steinitz (who had long played in Vienna prior) participated on behalf of Great Britain. Samuel Rosenthal, originally from Poland, participated on behalf of France. And the final six seats were occupied by chess masters of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, including Maximilian Fleissig, Oscar Gelbfuhs, Josef Heral, Philipp Meitner, Karl Pitschel, and Adolf Schwarz. Eight games from the tournament were decided by forfeit and they are omitted from this collection. Pitschel withdrew from the tournament after the completion of the eighth pairing's third round, so his six remaining games were forfeited. In the final pairing, both Fleissig and Meitner forfeited a game to each other. Although Anderssen was the clear favorite going into the competition, previous world's fair tournament participant and long time Viennese player Steinitz rose to the occasion and tied British chess master Blackburne in his international debut. Traditional scoring would have placed Blackburne a full point ahead of Steinitz in the final, but because the scoring followed best of three games for each pairing, both men finished with 10 points out of a possible 11 total. A two round playoff match was devised to determine a sole winner, and Steinitz, hot off a fourteen game winning streak to finish the tournament, swept the playoff match winning both games. His last sixteen wins here would contribute to an overall twenty-five game winning streak in professional competition, a record for chess history. Steinitz was crowned champion, being paid the prize fund of 1000 francs as well as an additional 200 golden ducats for winning the playoff match. Blackburne, as second, was awarded 600 francs, while Anderssen (as clear third) received 300 francs. Rosenthal received 200 francs for finishing clear fourth. The remaining players were compensated for their travel expenses. The tournament was later seen as a landmark moment in chess history, with the passing of the guard from Anderssen's reckless, swashbuckling style to Steinitz's more studied, "modern" play, a style that would come to influence the latter century of chess players and theory and herald a new era of competition.
Vienna, Austria-Hungary (Austria), 21 July - 29 August 1873
=1 Blackburne 10 /11 ** 1½1 101 00½ 101 11 11 101 11 101 1½1 011 (21½)
=1 Steinitz 10 /11 0½0 ** 11 11 11 11 11 ½½1 ½½1 11 11 11 (20½)
3 Anderssen 8½/11 010 00 ** 101 11 101 101 0½1 ½1½ 011 11 1½1 (19)
4 Rosenthal 7½/11 11½ 00 010 ** 0½1 00 110 11 11 11 011 11 (17)
=5 Paulsen 6½/11 010 00 00 1½0 ** 11 0½1 11 1½1 1½0 11 11 (16)
=5 Bird 6½/11 00 00 010 11 00 ** 10½ 11 11 11 11 11 (14½)
=9 Heral 3 /11 00 00 010 001 1½0 01½ ** ½10 01½ 10½ ½10 001 (12)
=7 Fleissig 3½/11 010 ½½0 1½0 00 00 00 ½01 ** 101 01½ 010 11 (11½)
=7 Meitner 3½/11 00 ½½0 ½0½ 00 0½0 00 10½ 010 ** ½11 1½½ 11 (11½)
=9 Schwarz 3 /11 010 00 100 00 0½1 00 01½ 10½ ½00 ** ½½½ 1½½ (10½)
=9 Gelbfuhs 3 /11 0½0 00 00 100 00 00 ½01 101 0½½ ½½½ ** ½11 (10)
12 Pitschel 1 /11 100 00 0½0 00 00 00 110 00 00 0½½ ½00 ** (5)
Steinitz / Bird / Blackburne vs Anderssen, 1873 was a consultation game played at this event. Much of the historical content for this tournament comes from the hard work of Jan van Reek and others.
1 Steinitz 1 1 2
2 Blackburne 0 0 0
Original collection: Game Collection: Vienna 1873, by User: suenteus po 147.
| page 1 of 7; games 1-25 of 163
| page 1 of 7; games 1-25 of 163
TIP: You can make the above ads go away by registering a free account!
|Jun-12-13|| ||brankat: It must have taken a lot of courage for these chess-master to compete for forty days in an almost deserted Vienna just after a catastrophic stock market crash, and then in the midst of a cholera epidemic!|
Somewhat ironically, but quite justifiably, the Vienna Tournament of 1873 is seen as a beginning of a new, modern era, in the history of chess tournaments.
|Dec-16-14|| ||suenteus po 147: <brankat> For these reasons you mention I once had aspirations of writing a novel about this event. I wish someone would, it's a great story.|
|Dec-31-15|| ||Tabanus: <Traditional scoring would have placed Blackburne a full point ahead of Steinitz in the final> That's just because he played 5 games more that Steinitz i. e. struggled harder to get the 10 points.|
The crosstable indicates 11½ for Rosenthal vs Blackburne, but then the 3rd game would not be necessary? Also 110 for Pitschel vs Heral.
In the crosstable, =9th Heral is placed ahead of =7th. Same as in https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vienn....
|Feb-27-16|| ||zanzibar: From the intro...
<Pitschel withdrew from the tournament after the completion of the eighth pairing's third round, so his six remaining games were forfeited.>
This is a little confusing to me, since the mini-matches were either 2 or 3 games.
So wouldn't it be better to explicitly say he forfeited against three opponents (or matches)- Rosenthal, Paulsen, and Meitner - and then note this equated to six forfeited games?
I'd also prefer the details of forfeits be broken out in a separate paragraph (starting with "Eight games were ..." ).
Also, there is some debate raised by the assertion that this was the first international tournament for either Blackburne or Steinitz.
It's actually unclear who is the "his" in the "his debut". Blackburne or Steinitz?
Additionally, <London (1872)> preceded this tournament, and was viewed as an International tournament in the press of the time. I view it as such as well. And it had both Blackburne and Steinitz in it.
|Feb-27-16|| ||zanzibar: Here is the xtab from p44 of the tournament book:
|Mar-01-16|| ||zanzibar: Unless I'm mistaken, the original rules must have been modified:|
<II. Game hours and disruption of games.
§. 4. Every Match must be completed within two consecutive days. The
Time takes on the first day of such a match from 9am Morning to 1 o'clock noon and 3:00 to 7:00 in the evening -
on second day 9-1 noon and from 3 pm until the conclusion
the third game. The price candidates can spend their free time even to
using games to which they do not behave according to the agenda
are; but the same are to play in the tournament locale.> (tb p15)
It seems that the original intent was for an entire "match" to last just two days.
As it was finally played, matches lasted three days, as reported in the intro.
A breakdown of play by day can be found here:
July 30th, 1873 is unusual, no player had a free day on the 3rd-game day for R3. That didn't happen again during the entire tournament.
|Mar-01-16|| ||zanzibar: Right, from the tb p24, perhaps also due to the influence of the recent British arrivals, is a relenting of the strictures:|
<Then a few changes to § 4 of the tournament rules were still (in Meaning of §. 12) hit. Namely, since the number of participators is as a lower out, as we initially reported taken had, it was deemed necessary, the resulting Time savings to a reduction of the players imposed daily to use effort. Accordingly, it was determined that each match must be completed within <three consecutive days>, and that until obtaining of a result every day at least one game to was playing. The season was from <10 am to 2 pm After noon and from 4 pm until the close of the game> firmly set.>
Does this mean no adjournments? Wonder how many games went past midnight.
|May-31-16|| ||dernier loup de T: A pity the five strongest masters and the Viennese ones did not play separately, in two tournaments; it would have been less tiring for all participant; Bird was sickly towards the end, maybe exhausted...
Anyyway the games are demonstrating in my mind at least, a big superiority of Steinitz from this year, while his victory against Anderssen in the match of 1866 was still not neat and convincing... The positional style of Steinitz is here superb from the beginning to the end of the contest; Blackburne was much more irregular...|
|Apr-22-18|| ||Big Pawn: It's interesting that Blackburne actually won more games than Steinitz, but Steinitz' new position style got all the attention and all the credit. Blackburne scored more wins with the attacking style, so why did this happen?|
Spot an error? Please suggest your correction and help us eliminate database mistakes!
NOTE: You need to pick a username and password to post a reply.
Getting your account takes less than a minute, totally anonymous,
and 100% free--plus, it
entitles you to features otherwise unavailable.
Pick your username now and join the chessgames community!
If you already have an account, you should
Please observe our posting guidelines:
- No obscene, racist, sexist, or profane language.
- No spamming, advertising, or duplicating posts.
- No personal attacks against other members.
- Nothing in violation of United States law.
- No posting personal information of members.
See something that violates our rules? Blow the whistle and inform an administrator.
NOTE: Keep all discussion on the topic of this page.
This forum is for this specific tournament and nothing else. If you want to discuss chess in general, or
this site, you might try the Kibitzer's Café.
posted by Chessgames members do not necessarily represent the views of Chessgames.com, its employees, or sponsors.|
your profile |
Premium Membership |
Kibitzer's Café |
Biographer's Bistro |
new kibitzing |
Tournament Index |
Player Directory |
Notable Games |
World Chess Championships |
Opening Explorer |
Guess the Move |
Game Collections |
ChessBookie Game |
Chessgames Challenge |
privacy notice |
Copyright 2001-2018, Chessgames Services LLC