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Wilhelm Steinitz
Number of games in database: 891
Years covered: 1859 to 1899

Overall record: +453 -191 =154 (66.4%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games in the database. 93 exhibition games, blitz/rapid, odds games, etc. are excluded from this statistic.

With the White pieces:
 Vienna Opening (93) 
    C25 C29 C28 C27 C26
 French Defense (74) 
    C00 C11 C01 C02 C13
 King's Gambit Accepted (51) 
    C39 C37 C38 C35 C33
 French (46) 
    C00 C11 C10 C13 C12
 King's Gambit Declined (33) 
    C30 C31
 Evans Gambit (25) 
    C51 C52
With the Black pieces:
 Ruy Lopez (124) 
    C62 C70 C60 C64 C65
 Evans Gambit (72) 
    C52 C51
 Giuoco Piano (33) 
    C50 C53 C54
 King's Gambit Accepted (25) 
    C33 C39 C38 C34 C37
 Scotch Game (21) 
 Three Knights (16) 
Repertoire Explorer

NOTABLE GAMES: [what is this?]
   Steinitz vs Von Bardeleben, 1895 1-0
   Steinitz vs Chigorin, 1892 1-0
   Dubois vs Steinitz, 1862 0-1
   Steinitz vs Mongredien, 1863 1-0
   Zukertort vs Steinitz, 1886 0-1
   Steinitz vs Mongredien, 1862 1-0
   Steinitz vs Paulsen, 1870 1-0
   Steinitz vs Bird, 1866 1-0
   Steinitz vs Rock, 1863 1-0
   M Hewitt vs Steinitz, 1866 0-1

WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: [what is this?]
   Steinitz - Zukertort World Championship Match (1886)
   Steinitz - Chigorin World Championship Match (1889)
   Steinitz - Gunsberg World Championship Match (1890)
   Steinitz - Chigorin World Championship Rematch (1892)
   Lasker - Steinitz World Championship (1894)
   Lasker - Steinitz World Championship Rematch (1896)

NOTABLE TOURNAMENTS: [what is this?]
   Anderssen - Steinitz (1866)
   Steinitz - Zukertort (1872)
   Vienna (1873)
   Steinitz - Blackburne (1876)
   Vienna (1882)
   2nd City Chess Club Tournament (1894)
   Schiffers - Steinitz (1896)
   Baden-Baden (1870)
   London (1883)
   St. Petersburg 1895/96 (1895)
   Paris (1867)
   Vienna (1898)
   Hastings (1895)
   Nuremberg (1896)
   London (1899)

GAME COLLECTIONS: [what is this?]
   Match Steinitz! by amadeus
   The t_t Players: Staunton, Steinitz & Zukertort by fredthebear
   The Dark Side by lonchaney
   World Champion - Steinitz (I.Linder/V.Linder) by Qindarka
   World championship games A-Z by kevin86
   the rivals 1 by ughaibu
   1870s - 1890s Classic Chess Principles Arise by fredthebear
   Wilhelm Steinitz's Best Games by KingG
   Match Chigorin! by amadeus
   Max Euwe - From Steinitz to Fischer, Part 1 by demirchess
   Max Euwe - From Steinitz to Fischer, Part 1 by Chessdreamer
   Vienna 1898 by suenteus po 147
   Vienna 1898 by JoseTigranTalFischer
   Vienna 1882 by suenteus po 147

   Showalter vs Gossip, 1889
   J McConnell vs Steinitz, 1886
   Chigorin vs Gunsberg, 1889
   Max Weiss vs N MacLeod, 1889
   Pillsbury vs Schlechter, 1895

Search Sacrifice Explorer for Wilhelm Steinitz
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(born May-14-1836, died Aug-12-1900, 64 years old) Austria (federation/nationality United States of America)
[what is this?]

Wilhelm Steinitz was the first official World Champion of chess.


The last of thirteen sons of a hardware retailer, he was born in Prague in what was then the Kingdom of Bohemia within the Austrian Empire and which is now within the Czech republic. Like his father he was a Talmudic scholar, but then he left to study mathematics in the Vienna Polytechnic. He eventually dropped out of the Polytechnic to play chess professionally. Soon after, he played in the London tournament of 1862, and then settled in London for over twenty years, making his living at the London Chess Club. He emigrated to the USA in 1883, taking out US citizenship, living in New York for the rest of his life, and changing his first name to “William”.


He was recognized as the world's leading player, and considered to be the world champion by many, after he defeated the then-acknowledged number one chess player in the world (now that Paul Morphy had retired), Adolf Anderssen, in a match in 1866 which he won by 8-6. However, it was not until his victory in the Steinitz - Zukertort World Championship Match (1886) – where he sat beside a US flag - that he was recognised as the first undisputed world chess champion. He successfully defended his title three times in the Steinitz - Chigorin World Championship Match (1889), the Steinitz - Gunsberg World Championship Match (1890), and in the Steinitz - Chigorin World Championship Rematch (1892). In 1894, Emanuel Lasker won the crown from Steinitz by winning the Lasker - Steinitz World Championship (1894) and retained it by winning the Lasker - Steinitz World Championship Rematch (1896).

Steinitz was an extremely successful match player. Between 1860 and 1897, he played 36 matches, winning every serious match with the exception of his two matches against Lasker. Some of the prominent players of the day that he defeated in match play other than in his world championship matches included Max Lange, Serafino Dubois, Frederic Deacon, Dionisio M Martinez, Joseph Henry Blackburne, Anderssen, Augustus Mongredien, Henry Edward Bird, Johannes Zukertort, George Henry Mackenzie, and Celso Golmayo Zupide.


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. His wins include the Vienna Championship of 1861 which he won with 30/31 and earned him the nickname the “Austrian Morphy”, the London Championship of 1862, Dublin 1865 (equal first with George Alcock MacDonnell), London 1872, equal first at Vienna 1873 and 1882 (the latter was the strongest tournament to that time, and Steinitz had just returned from 9 years of absence from tournament chess), and first in the New York Championship of 1894. Other successes include 3rd and 2nd at the Vienna Championships of 1859 and 1860 respectively, 2nd at Dundee in 1867, 3rd in Paris in 1867, 2nd in Baden Baden in 1870, 2nd in London in 1883, 5th at the Hastings super tournament in 1895, 2nd at the sextuple round robin St Petersburg quadrangular tournament behind Lasker and ahead of Harry Nelson Pillsbury and Mikhail Chigorin, 6th at Nuremburg in 1896, and 4th at Vienna in 1898.

Steinitz’s Legacy

The extent of Steinitz’s dominance in world chess is evident from the fact that from 1866, when he beat Adolf Anderssen, to 1894, when he relinquished the world crown to Emanuel Lasker, Steinitz won all his matches, sometimes by wide margins. His worst tournament performance in that period was third place in Paris in 1867. This period of Steinitz’s career was closely examined by Chessmetrics exponent and advocate, Jeff Sonas, who wrote an article in 2005 in which he found that Steinitz was further ahead of his contemporaries in the 1870s than Robert James Fischer was in his peak period (1970–1972), that he had the third-highest total number of years as the world's top player, behind Emanuel Lasker and Garry Kasparov, and that he placed 7th in a comparison the length of time great players were ranked in the world's top three.

Despite his pre-eminence in chess for those decades in the late 19th century, Steinitz’s main contribution to chess was as its first true theoretician. He rose to prominence in the 1860s on the back of highly competent handling of the romantic attacking style of chess that had been popularised by Morphy and Anderssen and which characterised the style of the era. However, in the Vienna tournament of 1873, he introduced a new positional style of play which not only commenced his run of 25 consecutive high level victories, but profoundly transformed the way chess was played from shortly after that time, when its efficacy was embraced by the chess world. It enabled him to establish his complete dominance over his long time rival, Johannes Zukertort, and to easily win the first official match for the World Championship.

Lasker summarised Steinitz’s ideas as follows:

"In the beginning of the game ignore the search for combinations, abstain from violent moves, aim for small advantages, accumulate them, and only after having attained these ends search for the combination – and then with all the power of will and intellect, because then the combination must exist, however deeply hidden."

Although these ideas were controversial and fiercely debated for some years in what has become known as the <Ink Wars>, Lasker and the next generation of the world’s best players acknowledged their debt to him.

"He was a thinker worthy of a seat in the halls of a University. A player, as the world believed he was, he was not; his studious temperament made that impossible; and thus he was conquered by a player ..." - <Emanuel Lasker>.

"He understood more about the use of squares than did Morphy, and contributed a great deal more to chess theory.' - <Bobby Fischer>.

Sources: Wikipedia article: Wilhelm Steinitz and <jessicafischerqueen>'s YouTube documentary - in turn sourced mainly from <Kurt Landsberger's> biography "Bohemian Caesar."

Steinitz played on the following consultation teams: Steinitz / Bird / Blackburne, Steinitz / Boden, Burn / Steinitz / Zukertort, Steinitz / Allies, Steinitz / Zukertort, Schiffers / Steinitz, Steinitz / Chigorin, Steinitz / Blackburne & Blackburne / Steinitz / De Vere.

Last updated: 2017-02-11 20:05:54

 page 1 of 36; games 1-25 of 891  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Steinitz vs Lenhof 1-0321859ViennaC52 Evans Gambit
2. Lenhof vs Steinitz 0-1451859ViennaC23 Bishop's Opening
3. Hamppe vs Steinitz 0-1231859ViennaC29 Vienna Gambit
4. Steinitz vs Meitner 1-0341859ViennaC52 Evans Gambit
5. E Pilhal vs Steinitz 0-1211859ViennaC53 Giuoco Piano
6. Hamppe vs Steinitz 0-1281859ViennaC38 King's Gambit Accepted
7. Steinitz vs F Nowotny 1-0311859ch Vienna Chess ClubC55 Two Knights Defense
8. Steinitz vs Strauss 1-0331860Vienna m3C29 Vienna Gambit
9. Hamppe vs Steinitz 0-1311860ViennaC27 Vienna Game
10. Steinitz vs NN 1-0121860UnknownC25 Vienna
11. Steinitz vs Lang 1-0231860Vienna m2C44 King's Pawn Game
12. Steinitz vs E Jenay 0-1321860Vienna m1A13 English
13. Steinitz vs Strauss 1-0291860ViennaC52 Evans Gambit
14. Steinitz vs Lang 1-0191860ViennaC37 King's Gambit Accepted
15. Steinitz vs E Jenay 1-0331860Vienna m1A13 English
16. Steinitz vs Reiner 1-0191860ViennaC51 Evans Gambit
17. Steinitz vs Reiner 1-0321860Vienna m4C51 Evans Gambit
18. E Jenay vs Steinitz 0-1351860Vienna m1C44 King's Pawn Game
19. Steinitz vs Meitner 1-0261860ViennaC55 Two Knights Defense
20. Strauss vs Steinitz 0-1311860Vienna m3C51 Evans Gambit
21. E Jenay vs Steinitz 1-0221860Vienna m1C53 Giuoco Piano
22. Steinitz vs Lang 1-0291860ViennaC25 Vienna
23. Reiner vs Steinitz 0-1181860ViennaC44 King's Pawn Game
24. Steinitz vs NN 1-0311861ch Vienna Chess ClubC30 King's Gambit Declined
25. Steinitz vs NN 1-0151861Casual Game000 Chess variants
 page 1 of 36; games 1-25 of 891  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2) | Steinitz wins | Steinitz loses  

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Premium Chessgames Member
  Joshka: While researching the Steinitz variation of the Caro-Kahn, he played 1 game with it, thus netting a whole variation named after?? In fact he didn't even play it as black!!LOL
Mar-17-17  TheFocus: Quote of the Day: <Fame, I have already. Now I need the money> - Steinitz.

You should have had a better financial adviser.

Apr-16-17  TheFocus: According to the <Atlana Sunny South>, of 5/5/1888, Steinitz reported that he lost a Knights-odds match versus S. Lopez, a 14 year old from Havana, Cuba. Lopez won 4 of 5.
Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: From Chicago Tribune - Feb 19, 1900

<Steinitz, formerly chess champion of the world, was declared insane last Monday in New York and sent to an asylum. His family are left in destitute circumstances.>

Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: It's a precarious life being a chess professional, but it can be worse being part of their family. Let's not pretend this only applied to the 19th century.
Premium Chessgames Member

According to Dr. Roberts, in charge of the insane ward at Bellevue Hospital, Steinitz, the chess ex-champion, though pronounced insane after yesterday's examination, is not hopelessly deprived of the use of his faculties. While not prepared to furnish a thorough diagnosis, the doctor stated that a couple of months would readily demonstrate to what extent the veteran's mind was really affected. Unless friends provide for his being placed in a private asylum, Steinitz will be sent to Ward's Island within a week>

BDE 1900.02.09 p15

Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: More about his family (wife + 2 young children):


Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: Steinitz voluntarily sought his hospitalization, his affliction largely due to stress due to poverty, and his lamenting treatment by chess community:

(He resigned from Manhattan CC just the year before)

Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: Steinitz's last publication:

<My Advertisement to Anti-Semites in Vienn. and Elsewhere by a Schacherjude Mercenary Jew; or, an Essay on Capital, Labor, and Charity>

"The manner in which the introduction is handled is, to say the least, eccentric, and many will undoubtedly attribute it to an unbalanced mind."

Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: Moved to River Crest Sanatorium, Astoria, classified as insane due to paranoia, but able (and anxious) to be released:

Released to his wife on April 6, 1900:

And yet his obituary reports him dying on Randall's Island, claiming he was confined there since February.


Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: Ah, he was reafflicted a month after his April 7 release, and then taken to Manhattan State Hospital, where he remained till his death.


Jul-10-17  WorstPlayerEver: Pic of a younger Steinitz. Other players as well.

Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: Steinitz/Chigorin cartoon:


Premium Chessgames Member
  denopac: Steinitz's final resting place in Queens NYC is well worth the visit for anyone living in or visiting NYC. It's a short walk from L train station Bushwick/Aberdeen to Evergreens Cemetery. The marker is humble, giving only his name and dates, with an engraved chessboard only hinting at his extraordinary accomplishments.
Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: Is that bird poop on the chess board?

Curious that the inscriptions are in German, but William is used instead of Wilhelm.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Gypsy: <Born in Germany, ...>

Why, Steinitz was born in Prague.

<Curious that the inscriptions are in German, but William is used instead of Wilhelm.>

Steinitz formally changed his first name to William.

Premium Chessgames Member
  denopac: <Born in Germany, he defeated the reining World Chess Champion Adolf Anderssen in 1866>

That bio from findagrave can use some fact checking: as pointed out by <Gypsy>, he was born in Prague, and Anderssen was not a World Chess Champion. Plus it misspells "reigning" to boot.

The headstone gives his date of birth as 14 May, but Wikipedia gives 17 May.

<MissScarlett> I can assure you there was no bird poop on the chessboard when I visited two days ago.

Mar-07-18  pinoy king: an 1800 rated at best player. He would lose to most online blitz players. If an 1800 blitz player on played Steinitz in a 5 minute game, Steinitz would lose more often than not.
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: If Steinitz no better than a present-day 1800, what is Carlsen in <pinhead king>'s demented imagination? 1900? Perhaps 1950?

Mr Rawn has returned.

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: <MissScarlett: Curious that the inscriptions are in German, but William is used instead of Wilhelm.>

The book published after his death was <A Memorial To <William> Steinitz by Charles Devidé. I'll bet Steinitz changed it when he became an American citizen.

Premium Chessgames Member
  morfishine: <pinoy king: an 1800 rated at best player. He would lose to most online blitz players. If an 1800 blitz player on played Steinitz in a 5 minute game, Steinitz would lose more often than not.> This is glorious and most welcome news, which if true, means I can beat Steinitz! Where is he? I want to play him right away!!


Premium Chessgames Member
  chancho: This business about Steinitz and blitz got me to look up when blitz first originated.

I found this article by batgirl aka <SBC>

Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: Re. C.N. 4171:

<We should firstly like to be reassured that the above account from the New Orleans Times-Democrat (whose chess editor was a foe of Steinitz, James Séguin) accurately reflects what appeared in the New York Sun. At any rate, it is certainly a far cry from Chernev’s account.>

I think we can say that it does:

The embarrassing climbdown wasn't long in coming:

Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: Cheltenham Examiner, October 30th 1907, p.6:

<The Manchester City News has lately started a chess column, edited by Mr. R. J. Buckley — a well-known chess writer long resident in Birmingham. We say ditto to the following remarks by him in reply to a correspondent who had sent a wrong solution to a problem, and afterwards asked if incorrect "keys" made him smile.

We never smile at the mistakes of our friends. We in our time have made mistakes. Where is the chess player who has not had his fit of chess-blindness? Did not William Steinitz print a new defence to the King's Gambit, backed by two columns of analysis, when in the early stages the defence was smashable by a mate in two? Did not Dr. Tarrasch announce a deep, deep mate in five, when the mate could have been made on the move? And Steinitz was the world-champion for thirty years. And Tarrasch played through four great international tourneys without losing a game. Did not the sixteen judges of an international problem tourney throw out the great three-er of Kohtz and Koekelkorn on an alleged cook, when in reality there was no cook at all? Did not the Hastings International Committee award first prize to Professor Benyon's three-er, which was promptly cooked by a small boy? And did not the Gazetta Literaria award first prize to a two-er which had no solution at all? No, no; we never smile, in the sarcastic sense, at any slips our friends may make. We know too much about chess. Only the novice indulges in flouts and sneers.

Another friend, in thanking us for replies to queries, apologises for the trouble given. There was no trouble. On the contrary we enjoy the pleasure of giving any information we can. We don't know everything, but what we do know is quite at the disposal of our valued friends.>

Jul-26-18  Jean Defuse: ...

'New' recovered Steinitz game vs Falconer Madan

Herr ‘Stemitz’ and the Librarian:


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