Vienna Tournament

Wilhelm Steinitz22.5/27(+20 -2 =5)[view games]
Joseph Henry Blackburne21.5/32(+20 -9 =3)[view games]
Adolf Anderssen19/30(+17 -9 =4)[view games]
Samuel Rosenthal15/25(+14 -9 =2)[view games]
Henry Edward Bird14.5/24(+14 -9 =1)[view games]
Louis Paulsen14/25(+12 -9 =4)[view games]
Josef Heral12/31(+9 -16 =6)[view games]
Adolf Schwarz10.5/30(+6 -15 =9)[view games]
Maximilian Fleissig10.5/27(+8 -14 =5)[view games]
Oscar Gelbfuhs10/29(+6 -15 =8)[view games]
Philipp Meitner8.5/25(+4 -12 =9)[view games]
Karl Pitschel5/21(+3 -14 =4)[view games] Historical Chess Event
Vienna (1873)
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 in the modern Vienna.

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 Rothchild 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.

The final standings and crosstable:

=1st Blackburne 10 /11 ** 11 101 00 101 11 11 101 11 101 11 011 <21> =1st Steinitz 10 /11 00 ** 11 11 11 11 11 1 1 11 11 11 <20> 3rd Anderssen 8/11 010 00 ** 101 11 101 101 01 1 011 11 11 <19> 4th Rosenthal 7/11 11 00 010 ** 01 00 110 11 11 11 011 11 <17> =5th Paulsen 6/11 010 00 00 10 ** 11 01 11 11 10 11 11 <16> =5th Bird 6/11 00 00 010 11 00 ** 10 11 11 11 11 11 <14> =9th Heral 3 /11 00 00 010 001 10 01 ** 10 01 10 10 001 <12> =7th Fleissig 3/11 010 0 10 00 00 00 01 ** 101 01 010 11 <11> =7th Meitner 3/11 00 0 0 00 00 00 10 010 ** 11 1 11 <11> =9th Schwarz 3 /11 010 00 100 00 01 00 01 10 00 ** 1 <10> =9th Gelbfuhs 3 /11 00 00 00 100 00 00 01 101 0 ** 11 <10> 12th Pitschel 1 /11 100 00 00 00 00 00 110 00 00 0 00 ** <5>

Playoff Match

1st Steinitz 2/2 1 1 2nd Blackburne 0/2 0 0

Much of the historical content for this tournament comes from the incredible hard work of Jan van Reek and others.

Original collection: Game Collection: Vienna 1873, by User: suenteus po 147

 page 1 of 7; games 1-25 of 163  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves Year Event/LocaleOpening
1. A Schwarz vs J Heral  ½-½45 1873 ViennaC01 French, Exchange
2. Gelbfuhs vs Bird 0-165 1873 ViennaC61 Ruy Lopez, Bird's Defense
3. K Pitschel vs Steinitz 0-120 1873 ViennaC39 King's Gambit Accepted
4. Meitner vs Anderssen  ½-½71 1873 ViennaC45 Scotch Game
5. Blackburne vs Paulsen  1-052 1873 ViennaC41 Philidor Defense
6. M Fleissig vs S Rosenthal  0-140 1873 ViennaC45 Scotch Game
7. Bird vs Gelbfuhs 1-015 1873 ViennaA02 Bird's Opening
8. J Heral vs A Schwarz  1-072 1873 ViennaB23 Sicilian, Closed
9. Paulsen vs Blackburne 1-063 1873 ViennaB01 Scandinavian
10. Anderssen vs Meitner  ½-½34 1873 ViennaC41 Philidor Defense
11. S Rosenthal vs M Fleissig 1-018 1873 ViennaC46 Three Knights
12. Steinitz vs K Pitschel 1-014 1873 ViennaC01 French, Exchange
13. A Schwarz vs J Heral  1-028 1873 ViennaC15 French, Winawer
14. Meitner vs Anderssen 0-126 1873 ViennaB41 Sicilian, Kan
15. Blackburne vs Paulsen 1-044 1873 ViennaC41 Philidor Defense
16. Anderssen vs Bird 0-140 1873 ViennaC51 Evans Gambit
17. M Fleissig vs Paulsen 0-173 1873 ViennaC41 Philidor Defense
18. Blackburne vs Steinitz 1-027 1873 ViennaC60 Ruy Lopez
19. Meitner vs S Rosenthal  0-151 1873 ViennaC45 Scotch Game
20. Gelbfuhs vs J Heral  ½-½39 1873 ViennaB01 Scandinavian
21. A Schwarz vs K Pitschel  ½-½81 1873 ViennaC01 French, Exchange
22. K Pitschel vs A Schwarz 0-127 1873 ViennaC41 Philidor Defense
23. J Heral vs Gelbfuhs  0-143 1873 ViennaC46 Three Knights
24. Paulsen vs M Fleissig 1-051 1873 ViennaC49 Four Knights
25. Bird vs Anderssen 0-137 1873 ViennaA02 Bird's Opening
 page 1 of 7; games 1-25 of 163  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2)  

Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  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.

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