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La Bourdonnais 
Louis Charles Mahe De La Bourdonnais
Number of games in database: 100
Years covered: 1821 to 1838
Overall record: +53 -28 =15 (63.0%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games
      Based on games in the database; may be incomplete.
      4 exhibition games, odds games, etc. are excluded from this statistic.

With the White pieces:
 Evans Gambit (20) 
    C51 C52
 Queen's Gambit Accepted (15) 
 King's Gambit Accepted (5) 
    C37 C39 C38
 Giuoco Piano (4) 
With the Black pieces:
 Sicilian (19) 
    B21 B32 B30
 King's Gambit Accepted (11) 
    C33 C37 C38
 Evans Gambit (6) 
    C51 C52
Repertoire Explorer

NOTABLE GAMES: [what is this?]
   McDonnell vs La Bourdonnais, 1834 0-1
   La Bourdonnais vs McDonnell, 1834 1-0
   La Bourdonnais vs McDonnell, 1834 1-0
   McDonnell vs La Bourdonnais, 1834 0-1
   La Bourdonnais vs McDonnell, 1834 1-0
   La Bourdonnais vs McDonnell, 1834 1-0
   McDonnell vs La Bourdonnais, 1834 0-1
   La Bourdonnais vs McDonnell, 1834 1/2-1/2
   McDonnell vs La Bourdonnais, 1834 0-1
   McDonnell vs La Bourdonnais, 1834 0-1

GAME COLLECTIONS: [what is this?]
   WCC Index [La Bourdonnais-McDonnell 1834] by suenteus po 147
   1 by gr2cae
   McDonnell vs. De La Bourdonnais by Gioachino Greco
   a-1749 by wina
   zumakal blunders archivadas6 by zumakal
   Blunder Check: Louis Charles De La Bourdonnais by nimh
   Selected 19th century games by atrifix
   Monte Carlo French Exchange by kenilworthian
   Pre-romantic era of chess by Calar
   K-c by classicalwin

Search Sacrifice Explorer for Louis Charles Mahe De La Bourdonnais
Search Google for Louis Charles Mahe De La Bourdonnais

(born 1795, died Dec-09-1840, 45 years old) France

[what is this?]
Louis Charles Mahe De La Bourdonnais was born in Ile Bourbon on the French island of Reunion. He was sent to Paris where in 1814 he learnt to play chess but he only took up the game seriously in 1818. About 1820 Alexandre Louis Honore Lebreton Deschapelles took on La Bourdonnais as his pupil and when he retired La Bourdonnais became not only the undisputed Champion of France but also the World's leading player. In 1834 La Bourdonnais met Irish master Alexander McDonnell in a series of six matches with La Bourdonnais winning (+45, =13, -27) overall. In 1838 he became ill with a stroke and then later with dropsy (old term for edema/oedema). He passed away in 1840.

Wikipedia article: Louis-Charles Mahé de La Bourdonnais

 page 1 of 4; games 1-25 of 100  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves Year Event/LocaleOpening
1. La Bourdonnais vs Cochrane 0-130 1821 ParisC37 King's Gambit Accepted
2. La Bourdonnais vs A D'Arblay 1-024 1830 FranceC39 King's Gambit Accepted
3. La Bourdonnais vs Pelling 1-017 1830 Casual000 Chess variants
4. La Bourdonnais vs McDonnell 1-021 1834 London m5 ;HCL 18C51 Evans Gambit
5. McDonnell vs La Bourdonnais 0-150 1834 LondonC00 French Defense
6. La Bourdonnais vs McDonnell 0-130 1834 London m3 ;HCL 18D20 Queen's Gambit Accepted
7. La Bourdonnais vs McDonnell 1-030 1834 London m6 ;HCL 18C51 Evans Gambit
8. La Bourdonnais vs McDonnell 1-029 1834 LondonD20 Queen's Gambit Accepted
9. McDonnell vs La Bourdonnais 1-019 1834 London m4 ;HCL 18C37 King's Gambit Accepted
10. McDonnell vs La Bourdonnais 0-120 1834 London m 20C33 King's Gambit Accepted
11. La Bourdonnais vs McDonnell ½-½51 1834 LondonC21 Center Game
12. McDonnell vs La Bourdonnais 0-132 1834 London m4 ;HCL 18B30 Sicilian
13. La Bourdonnais vs McDonnell 1-032 1834 MatchC51 Evans Gambit
14. McDonnell vs La Bourdonnais 0-139 1834 London m3 ;HCL 18C37 King's Gambit Accepted
15. La Bourdonnais vs McDonnell 0-142 1834 London m5 ;HCL 18C51 Evans Gambit
16. McDonnell vs La Bourdonnais 1-051 1834 LondonB21 Sicilian, 2.f4 and 2.d4
17. La Bourdonnais vs McDonnell ½-½49 1834 Match 03C53 Giuoco Piano
18. La Bourdonnais vs McDonnell ½-½59 1834 London m4 ;HCL 18C23 Bishop's Opening
19. La Bourdonnais vs McDonnell 0-167 1834 London m6 ;HCL 18C51 Evans Gambit
20. La Bourdonnais vs McDonnell 0-144 1834 LondonC53 Giuoco Piano
21. McDonnell vs La Bourdonnais 1-021 1834 London m4 ;HCL 18B32 Sicilian
22. La Bourdonnais vs McDonnell 1-026 1834 LondonD20 Queen's Gambit Accepted
23. McDonnell vs La Bourdonnais 0-148 1834 London m5 ;HCL 18B21 Sicilian, 2.f4 and 2.d4
24. McDonnell vs La Bourdonnais 1-048 1834 LondonC24 Bishop's Opening
25. McDonnell vs La Bourdonnais 1-032 1834 London m3 ;MAINBC38 King's Gambit Accepted
 page 1 of 4; games 1-25 of 100  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2) | La Bourdonnais wins | La Bourdonnais loses  

Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  Knight13: <Computer analysis shows that La Bourdonnais and McDonnell were by far more accurate players than Philidor.> That's because 1. Philidor's age was less advanced in chess knowledge/theory and 2. Philidor barely has any games in the database.
Jan-25-08  TigerG: Did this person spend his life playing with Alexander McDonnell?
Jan-26-08  savagerules: < TigerG: Did this person spend his life playing with Alexander McDonnell? >

Yes, I believed this was mentioned somewhere in the movie Brokeback Mountain.

Jan-26-08  Open Defence: heh I believe they were buried side by side is that right ? ... hmmmm probably they had a different idea of check mate
Premium Chessgames Member
  kellmano: I never knew who i preferred out of McDonnell or Labourdonnais until i saw that picture.

Every time i play through one of their games now, i will be picturing Labourdonnais at the board and be hoping he wins.

Mar-12-08  pawnofdoom: Haha he does look pretty funny. Like a really short, chubby man. But still an awesome player. Way better than me at least. I'm not sure how he would compare to players today. But he makes exciting, usually decisive chess.

I wonder if you wrote out his name on a piece of paper, would it be taller than him?

Mar-14-08  sneaky pete: De La Bourdonnais also composed problems. This one was published in Le Palamède, 1837:

click for larger view

# in 7

Premium Chessgames Member
  Knight13: <TigerG: Did this person spend his life playing with Alexander McDonnell?> No need to use sarcasm, right? It was 1834, reason his games are mostly against McDonnell is because they were the best at that time and people cared enough to record the games. There weren't many masters in 1834. Of course, La Bourdonnais played many games against other weak players.
Premium Chessgames Member
  GrahamClayton: The De La Bourdonnais v McDonnell match was the first match where all of the games were recorded and made available to the general public.

Source: David Hooper and Kenneth Whyld, "Oxford Companion to Chess", 2nd edition, OUP, 1992

Sep-07-08  sneaky pete: Only 85 of the 88 games known to be played "were recorded and made available to the general public."
Premium Chessgames Member
  Karpova: Jeremy Silman's article about La Bourdonnais:


<What makes this all the more impressive is the fact that de la Bourdonnais, once wealthy (he and his English wife lived in a chateau at St Malo with, reportedly, five servants and two carriages), had lost his fortune (how this happened has never been made clear) and was now earning a living from chess and chess alone. A man that loved to talk and laugh, he had a tendency to swear horrible oaths (in French) of horror and frustration when he was losing. One reason for this might have been the fact that, while de la Bourdonnais tended to move quickly, McDonnell often took 1 to 2 hours for a SINGLE move! That’s right, the chess clock hadn’t been invented at that time and a player could sit there all day and think about what he intended to do! On the other hand, McDonnell’s long thinks allowed de la Bourdonnais the time to go to another room and play games for money with anyone who wished to place the bet. JUST IMAGINE: you’re playing a serious game against a man who claims he’s the world’s best (McDonnell), you make your moves quickly while he thinks forever, and you play dozens of quick games for cash at the same time as you are playing an unofficial World Championship match game! Then, to top it all off, you crush him (and everyone else you play) like a bug. Now THAT is domination!>

Oct-09-08  drukenknight: DIdnt at one pt. in one of the matches, after no one had moved for an hour or two, one of the players looked up and said: "Oh is it my move?" Or is that apocryphal?
Nov-05-09  vonKrolock: In 1840, in the rooms of the Cercle des Echecs , Rue Menars, Paris, Louis Charles Mahe De La Bourdonnais (or 'Labourdonnais') interviewed an old chess-player, Barneville, or <"le Chevalier de Barneville">. From his memories, he received ♘ and ♙ from Philidor, but, in the other hand, with Jean Jacques Rousseau he played giving ♖ odds!

Méry: quote<"-Il était donc bien faible. -Mais en revanche, dit le Chevalier, il avait un amour propre colossal, et le plus affreux caractère de joueur d'échecs qui ait existé. Comme il avait la manière de se croire grand mathématicien et de faire de la musique avec des chiffres, il voulait appliquer les calculs algébriques à l'échiquier. Nous plaisantions fort là dessus et alors il brouillait les pièces du jeu avec une certaine rage peu philosophique, et on ne le voyait plus au café pendant quinze jours."> ... The French Revolution : <" Et 1789 ne vous a pas dérangé de votre habitude ? -89 ! J'ai laissé passer 89 comme une année ordinaire. Le 14 juillet à midi moins le quart, je remontais sur le quai des Célestins des hommes qui allaient prendre la bastille, moi je me rendais au café de la Régence pour faire ma partie avec M Louvet de Couvray. <...>

Et en 93, vous avez donné relâche sur l'échiquier ?
-En 1793 Je jouais régulièrement aux échecs au café de la Terrasse des Feuillants, et presque tous les jours, j'avais pour galerie M de Robespierre, M Danton, M Barrière qui venaient assister à mes "échecs au Tyran" avant de se rendre à la convention. J'ai même fait quelques parties avec M de Robespierre qui jouait fort mal.">
... <"Ainsi, demanda Labourdonnais, vous avez laissé passer la révolution sans la voir ? -Je n'ai pas eu le temps de la voir. Le matin, j'avais ma toilette à faire, à midi, j'avais mes échecs, je rentrais à six heures chez moi, je lisais Lolli degli Scacchi, un auteur très fort ! J'étudiais des gambits, je méditais les combinaisons Calabrese. Tout cela prend beaucoup de temps. Un jour on m'apprit que nous avions un empereur, c'était en 1804 ou 5; je donnais un échecs au Roi à un capitaine de Berchiny. Un empereur ! pas possible ! s'écria le hussard, et il fut échecs et mat sur le coup."> (thanks to B. Lucas for transcribing Méry's article online)

Premium Chessgames Member
  Marmot PFL: Every book i have spells this player's name Labourdonnais. Maybe this is wrong but I found it very hard to search out his games on the site.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Chessical: Here is a rough translation of the Barneville interview conducted by Labourdonnais. Improvements are welcome!

"Jean Jacques Rousseau was so very weak. "But on the other hand", said Barneville, "he had an enormous pride, and most frightful character for a chess player that ever existed. Thus, he had the manner of a great mathematician making music with numbers, he wished to apply calculus to the board".

"We joked to extremes, and it scrambled a certain and not very philosophical fury into our play , and one did not see him any more in the cafe fopr two weeks".

The French Revolution:"And in 1789 was not your usual mode of life disturbed?

-89! "I passed 89 as an ordinary year. On July 14 at 11.45am, I was on the Celestine quay with the men who would storm the Bastille, I myself went to Cafe de la Regence to play my game with M Louvet de Couvray". <...>

"And in '93, were you tied to the chessboard?"

-" In 1793 I played chess regularly at the Cafe de la Terrasse Feuillant, and almost every day, I had as an audience M Robespierre, M Danton, M Barrière who came to attend my "failures in tyranny" (a pun? on chess/failure being the same word) before going to the Convention. I even played a few games with M Robespierre who played badly. "> ... <"So" asked Labourdonnais "you've let the Revolution pass you by without even seeing it"? "I have not had time to see it. In the morning I prepare to go out, at noon, I play chess, I come home six hours later, and I read Lolli's " Degli Scacchi", he is a very profound author! I studied gambits, I analysed Calabrese's combinations. All of this takes time. One day I was told we now had an Emperor, it was in 1804 or 5. I was checkmating a captain of the Berchiny regiment. "An Emperor! Impossible!" said the Hussar, and it was checkmate on the move".

Dec-25-09  vonKrolock: For me the 'échec au Tyran' sounds just like <"check to the tyrant"> (the opposing King, with obvious allusions to Kings in general). More excerpts from the same interview can be seen online in (the parts writen by M. Lucas himself can not be reproduced without his authorization)

Merci beaucoup de la traduction, <Chessical>, .. et encore, étant donée l'ocasion: un joyeux jour de Noël e bonne nouvelle année deux-mille-dix pour Vous et tous les amis de

May-24-13  thomastonk: From "The Era", December 6, 1840 (one week before his death):

"A Chance for Chess-players. - M. De la Bourdonnais, the first chess-player in Europe, is once more amongst us, playing daily in the Strand, a locale selected by the French hero as central, and as presenting a large scale area for spectators. We regret to see the dreadful state of health under which De la Bourdonnais continues to suffer : dropsy and fever have changed his frame so much since his last visit to England, seven (sic) years back, we could hardly at first recognise him. De la Bourdonnais is to chess what Paganini was to the violin, a phenomenon, a wonder, a miracle of art. He will give, and can give, pawn and move to any other player in Europe ; aye, even at the present moment, brought down as he is to the grave's verge by a complication of disease and suffering. He made his debût on Wednesday, playing a couple of games against one of our finest players, yielding the odds to our countryman of pawn and move, and yet winning both games! Country players should hasten up to have a look at the great master, who is only here for two or three months, and whose health will not allow him to visit any provincial club. We hope arrangements will be made liberally to pay Monsieur for his time by British amateurs; one suggestion strikes us as good, that those who play with him should pay on losing, but should receive nothing on winning ; his stake being half a crown. De la Bourdonnais challenges every player in England to come up now to the scratch and take pawn and move."

May-27-13  thomastonk: From "The Times", December 14, 1840 (one day after his death):

"TO CHESS PLAYERS. -- M. de la Bourdonnais, the celebrated French player, is at the moment in London, and suffering from illness of a grave and complicated character, which prevents his fulfilling the professional engagement for which he left Paris, and leaves him entirely destitute of support. Under these circumstances, a Committee has been formed to raise a SUBSCRIPTION, and chess amateurs will doubtless readily contribute to this fund, in testimony of their respect for de la Bourdonnais, the acknowledged Philidor of the past 10 years."

Treasurer of the fund was George Walker.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Oliveira: <Egoch: I am desesperatly looking for the author of this portrait of La Bourdonnais. And by the way, in which circonstances was it drawn?>

My reply comes rather late, but the fact is: it is stated in the Palamède in 1842 that this portrait of La Bourdonnais, the only existing of him, was drawn from a mold taken from his corpse (this one, I suppose: and from author Jean Henry Marlet's recollection of his features.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Oliveira: Oliveira: <offramp (Oct-25-04): From Chess magazine: "Bowsing through the Latest Wills section of the Times the other day we came across details of the estate of one Rachel Ursula Isolde De Mahée de la Bourdonnais, commonly known as Princesse de Mahée, the wife of Prince John de Mahé, of Ascot Berkshire. We presume that Prince J de M is a kinsman of the immortal Louis Charles Mahé de Labourdonnais (who died in London), but would welcome confirmation from any genealogical experts out there." >

"Prince John Bryant Digby de Mahé is the son of Prince Charles Digby Mahé de Chenal de la Bourbonnais. He married Rachel Ursula Isolde Guinness, daughter of Henry Seymour Guinness and Mary Middleton Bainbridge, on 26 November 1931. He had two daughters."


Further information at

Premium Chessgames Member
  Oliveira: A biography of Louis-Charles Mahé de La Bourdonnais:
Premium Chessgames Member
  Oliveira: Now that's something!

I believe very few people are aware of this head cast of La Bourdonnais (on which his portrait is based) since most material out there about him depict his infamous portrait. Don't get me wrong. I find the picture very funny, but something has obviously gone wrong since its purpose was to fill in the void left by there being no image of the late master in life. Nobody could possibly buy that's what he looked like unless he was a troll come out of a fairy tale!

Mar-16-14  RedShield: He looks like Peter Lorre on steroids. It seems that Staunton was an early critic of the portrait:

<“We must, however, protest against the insertion of such lugubrious twaddle as ‘The last moments of Labourdonnais’, from – Bell’s Life in London! and the lithographic enormity, from the same classic source we presume, presented as the portrait of that distinguished chessplayer.”’>

Premium Chessgames Member
  Oliveira: "The Last Moments of Labourdonnais" (or "lugubrious twaddle", according to Staunton) translated to French in Le Palamède, 1842:

Premium Chessgames Member
  jnpope: An interesting tidbit:

<The following is the last game of chess ever played by M. de la Bourdonnais. It was played on Wednesday, Dec. 9, at his lodgings, No. 4, Braufort-buildings, against an amateur a very promising player as to talent. De la Bourdonnais gave Queen's Rook. He began a second game, but could only play a few moves, severe indisposition coming on. He died the Sunday following as we have stated :- The chess board on which this game was played, and on which De la Bourdonnais played exclusively during the last days of his life belongs to Mr. George Walker, the chess men being the property of Mr. Ries. It would seem that poor De la Bourdonnais had an internal conviction that he played on Wednesday for the last time. His words in the evening to Madame de la Bourdonnais were "Put away that chess board carefully, I shall never need it again." The two games played on the 8th with Mr. George Walker will appear in our columns in due season. In the specimen before us, De la Bourdonnais has white, and gives Queen's Rook. «source: Bell's Life in London, 1840.12.27»>

[Event "Offhand Game: Odds of Queen's Rook"]
[Site "GBR London"]
[Date "1840.12.09"]
[White "de la Bourdonnais, L.C.M."]
[Black "NN"]
[Result "1-0"]

1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Bc4 Qh4+ 4.Kf1 g5 5.Nc3 Bg7 6.d4 d6 7.Nf3 Qh5 8.Nd5 Kd8 9.h4 c6 10.Nc3 h6 11.Kf2 Bg4 12.hxg5 Bxf3 13.gxf3 Qxg5 14.Ne2 Nd7 15.Bxf4 Qf6 16.Be3 Ne7 17.f4 Kc7 18.Ng3 Rad8 19.Nh5 Qg6 20.Rg1 Qxe4 21.Rxg7 Nf5 22.Rg3 Nxg3 23.Nxg3 Qe7 24.d5 Rde8 25.Nf5 Qe4 26.dxc6 bxc6 27.Qxd6+ Kd8 28.Bd3 Qh1 29.Qb4 Rhg8 30.Qa5+ Nb6 31.Bxb6+ axb6 32.Qxb6+ Kd7 33.Qb7+ Kd8 34.Qb8+ Kd7 35.Qd6+ Kc8 36.Ba6# 1-0 «source: Bell's Life in London, 1840.12.27»

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