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Anderssen - Steinitz Match

Wilhelm Steinitz8/14(+8 -6 =0)[games]
Adolf Anderssen6/14(+6 -8 =0)[games] Chess Event Description
Anderssen - Steinitz (1866)
Traditionally this match marked the beginning of Steinitz's reign as World Champion, an idea not generally accepted today. Any claim that Anderssen was "World Champion" would have been based on his victory at London (1851) and Paul Morphy 's retirement. While Anderssen had won a major tournament victory at London 1862, he had also lost a number of matches before this one.

At any rate, it did mark an important step in Steinitz's unbroken match dominance that lasted until 1894. This was truly a blood-thirsty affair, with gambits breaking out all over the place, both players enjoying four game winning streaks, and not a single draw.

London, 18 July - 10 August 1866

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 1 Steinitz 0 1 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 1 1 8 2 Anderssen 1 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 1 0 0 1 0 0 6

Original collection: Game Collection: WCC Index (Anderssen - Steinitz 1866), by User: Benzol.

 page 1 of 1; 14 games  PGN Download 
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Anderssen vs Steinitz 1-0361866Anderssen - SteinitzC51 Evans Gambit
2. Steinitz vs Anderssen 1-0531866Anderssen - SteinitzC37 King's Gambit Accepted
3. Anderssen vs Steinitz 0-1631866Anderssen - SteinitzC51 Evans Gambit
4. Steinitz vs Anderssen 1-0431866Anderssen - SteinitzC37 King's Gambit Accepted
5. Anderssen vs Steinitz 0-1441866Anderssen - SteinitzC51 Evans Gambit
6. Steinitz vs Anderssen 0-1541866Anderssen - SteinitzB20 Sicilian
7. Anderssen vs Steinitz 1-0341866Anderssen - SteinitzC51 Evans Gambit
8. Steinitz vs Anderssen 0-1241866Anderssen - SteinitzC37 King's Gambit Accepted
9. Anderssen vs Steinitz 1-0421866Anderssen - SteinitzC51 Evans Gambit
10. Steinitz vs Anderssen 1-0361866Anderssen - SteinitzC37 King's Gambit Accepted
11. Anderssen vs Steinitz 0-1431866Anderssen - SteinitzC51 Evans Gambit
12. Steinitz vs Anderssen 0-1611866Anderssen - SteinitzB20 Sicilian
13. Anderssen vs Steinitz 0-1431866Anderssen - SteinitzC65 Ruy Lopez, Berlin Defense
14. Steinitz vs Anderssen 1-0851866Anderssen - SteinitzC30 King's Gambit Declined
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2)  

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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  brankat: "A blood-thirsty affair" indeed! Also, a beginning of Steinitcz's great matches run, which lasted for 28 years!
Sep-08-13  Alpinemaster: There is a question of the legitimacy of this match as the start of Wilhelm Steintz reign as the First Official World Chess Champion...

This match certainly was not an "Official World Championship Match", as no terms were agreed upon that utilized such terminology. However, it is obvious that global opinion during the Steintz-Zukertort World Championship Match of the 1880's was NOT that Steintz was challenger; Zukertort was the man most capable of challenging Steintz, not vice-versa. That opinion, was due in no small part to this match.

So while the Anderssen-Steintz (1866) match may not have cemented Wilhelm Steintz as World Champion, it certainly cemented him as World #1, in a day before any formal rating system could exist.

One thing that may be of note is that Steintz is a far more conservative and modern player in the Zukertort match; this however, was really the start of a new era. In the 1860's, Romantic chess play was the norm and a Youthful Steintz would not have been wise to attempt a groundbreaking style in such a high profile match, as in the event of failure to win, Steintz's career (due greatly to the crippling effect of losing future prospective match/tournament invitations) would likely have never recovered. By the 1880's, after years of global dominance and acknowledgement as World #1, plus the allowance of time to polish his pioneering strategies, Steintz was able to confidently usher the world into the Modern Era of Chess.

Good studies,


Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: Winner received £100 and the loser £20.

It hardly seems worth it to lose.

May-12-16  Olavi: According to one converter, £100 in 1866 is appr. $12 100 today. In the Sherlock Holmes story A case of Identity a young lady says that she could live with far less than £60 a year (in the 1890's). I suppose Conan Doyle didn't make that up. So it was something.
May-12-16  AlicesKnight: IN the UK, £100 in the 1860s represented about two years' wages for an unskilled labourer - 1 year for an engineer or similarly skilled person. So no mean sum - <TheFocus> even the loser's purse means something in these terms. Steinitz was known to be poor. NB I don't know about their living costs - any ideas out there?
May-13-16  RookFile: Anderssen got crushed by Morphy, but certainly was competitive against Steinitz ( 11 wins, 11 losses ). No draws between Anderssen and Steinitz - I guess both sides took turns going for the throat.
Premium Chessgames Member
  morfishine: <RookFile: Anderssen got crushed by Morphy....> True, Anderssen did not fare so well. But, and all due fairness to Anderssen's shortcomings, this match brought out a side of Morphy we hadn't seen much of: His positional acuity was precise and if nothing else, exemplary


Dec-17-16  The Kings Domain: Fascinating historical match. This is the kind of match that gets the Chess romantic's imagination and sense of wonder going.
Premium Chessgames Member
  jnpope: here is the CA first pass on the 1866 Anderssen-Steinitz match:

Of interest are the match conditions from the <Illustrated London News> and the history of bringing about the match from <The Field>.

Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: Of interest is this paragraph from Anthony Guest's 1900 article on Steinitz:


Among the most enthusiastic amateurs of those days was the late Lord Russell of Killowen, then a rising young barrister, who, however, did not find the demands of clients so pressing as to prevent him from indulging freely in his favourite games of whist and chess at the old Westminster Club. It was owing to his exertions, in combination with those of a few friends, that the match between the young aspirant, Steinitz, and the veteran champion, Anderssen, was arranged. Lord Russell, however, told me only two or three months before his death, at the last chess function he attended—the annual dinner of the Metropolitan Chess Club—that all his sympathies had been with Anderssen, of whom he was the backer. He admired the old man’s dashing and dauntless style of play, and the cautious, subtle tactics of the younger expert did not appeal to his taste. Moreover, Steinitz had not the gift of making himself popular, even in his youth. His character was independent and aggressive, and he loved a fight, in which it must be said he always bore himself sturdily; for never was there a bolder or more determined opponent. Thus it was a great disappointment to Lord Russell, and to many other amateurs of the old school, that Steinitz defeated Anderssen, and by this victory gained the championship of the world, a distinction that he held against all comers for twenty-eight years. Lord Russell always held that Anderssen, who only lost by a margin of two games out of fourteen, was in reality the better player, and doubtless there were many others of the same opinion, for, even at the present time, no one would regard such a narrow victory as conclusive. In any case, it is certain that Steinitz’s powers at that time were far from having reached their maturity. He had not developed the theories that revolutionised the existing ideas on chess and established the “modern school.”


(Various sources)

Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: Please follow some of the other Russell posts starting here:

Russell (kibitz #1)


Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: <jnpope>'s preliminary notes seems to leave off the American press' reaction to the match.

Using the O'Keefe timeline, there is some interest, and commentary worth noting. It is surprising that the Clipper article seems to have gotten the prizes wrong - as I believe the wager was for 100 pounds, all to the winner.

As far as denoting a world champion - that seems to have been backfilled long after the match was over, although I did find this:

<It was a hard-fought battle, and fairly won, and entitles the victor to rank among the very first chess-players of the world.>

in the 1866-09-10 issue of the Georgia Weekly Telegraph (who was the editor?):

(Most of the US reporting was several weeks late)

Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: The reason the Clipper being wrong is surprising, btw, is because the editor was Hazeltine.
Premium Chessgames Member
  jnpope: No, the Clipper was one of the few that got it correct, re: 50/20. Read the "history" from The Field, directly below the match conditions. The 100l. a side was a wager made by the backers of the match. Steinitz got 50l. for the win and Anderssen got 20l. from a consolation subscription.
Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: Yes, thank you for that correction, <jn>.

I've been assuming for quite awhile that the wagers were actually a form of supporting the players directly, and not as an investment of the backers.

Certainly, there has always been the issue of remuneration of the loser, but I always assumed the winner took 100% of the wager.

What about other matches during this period?

PS- This expands some of Russell's comments - was he was actually betting directly on Anderssen winning? In other words, what percentage of the wager would Anderssen have taken if he had won.

(I'm assuming each side bargained independently with their player - but maybe such wasn't the case?)

Premium Chessgames Member
  jnpope: As far as I know, Anderssen only negotiated for the 20l. guarantee if he lost. I have not read of any special amount if Anderssen won (i.e. I think it was just 50l. to the winner).

One of the reasons I'm doing these match pages is to unearth the information surrounding these match (rules, purse/prize, daily accounts, etc.). Lots of information exists, it is just spread-out all over the place... many sources have game collections, but nobody has done a sufficient job of documenting the complete story around each match.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Tabanus: Bell's Life in London and Sporting Chronicle, 28 July 1866, p. 2:

<Match between Anderssen and Steinitz.— On Thursday five games in all had been played in this match, of which Anderssen won the first and lost the remaining four. This result is highly favourable to his youthful antagonist. The player who first scores eight won games carries off the laurel of victory, and the minor stake of the £5OO for which the match is played. Particular interest is naturally felt for Steinitz, he being permanently located here, while our old friend Anderssen has so many times come over and defeated every player we could ever match him with, except Paul Morphy, that he may well afford for once to strike his flag, should such be the result, without a blemish on his shield. The time for each move being limited, according to the excellent plan introduced by the London Chess Club, is slightly in favour of Anderssen, as Steinitz, when unlimited, is a very slow player. The five games played are all of first-rate character and brilliancy. All credit is due to the British Chess Association, who got up the match and furnished the cash at stake.>

Premium Chessgames Member
  jnpope: I suspect Bell's meant to state £50 (no other source made a £500 claim). Most sources say £100 a side with the £50 purse for the winner going to Steinitz according to the Field.
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