Members · Prefs · Laboratory · Collections · Openings · Endgames · Sacrifices · History · Search Kibitzing · Kibitzer's Café · Chessforums · Tournament Index · Players · Kibitzing

Chessgames premium membership fee will increase to $39 per year effective June 15, 2023. Enroll Now!

Bird - Steinitz Match

Wilhelm Steinitz9.5/17(+7 -5 =5)[games]
Henry Bird7.5/17(+5 -7 =5)[games] Chess Event Description
Bird - Steinitz (1866)

Westminster Chess Club, London, England; September 1866-November 1866

1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Wins —————————————————————————————————————————————————— Steinitz 1 ½ 1 0 ½ 1 0 1 1 0 0 ½ 1 ½ ½ 0 1* 7 Bird 0 ½ 0 1 ½ 0 1 0 0 1 1 ½ 0 ½ ½ 1 0 5 —————————————————————————————————————————————————— * Steinitz claimed the game, the match, and the stakes, when Bird was sent to America on business. Format: First to ten (1) or eleven (2) wins, draws not counting, to be the victor. Time Control: Minimum four games per week (waived by mutual consent). Stakes: £15 (3), £20 (4)(5), or £25 (6).

To the regret of London amateurs, Mr Bird's professional engagements have called him abroad for an absence of probably a couple of months; the match is therefore resigned in favour of Mr Steinitz, the final score being Mr Steinitz 7, Mr Bird 5, drawn 5. This abrupt termination of the contest is all the more disappointing to the lovers of hard chess play (and particularly the members of the Westminster Chess Club, where the match was being played), because Mr Bird was "pulling up" his play with every game; though Mr Steinitz, as it seemed to us, was not working with quite the same pains and energy wherewith he opposed the redoubtable Anderssen. (7)

Mr. Bird, it appears, has been obliged by urgent business to leave England for America; but, as his return is not likely to be delayed beyond the end of next month, he endeavoured to make arrangements with his opponent for concluding the match at that time. The latter, however, considering that the struggle had been sufficiently protracted, and finding, perhaps, that it was becoming unpleasantly close, has declined an armistice and claimed the stakes. We are not aware that any fixed time was agreed upon for the duration of the match, but we are told that Mr. Steinitz's demand will not be disputed, and that the contest may, therefore, be considered at an end. (8)

<From Steinitz:> Sir,—Will you allow me to correct some erroneous statements which appeared in your columns of the 24th ult. respecting the score and the stipulation of my match with Mr. Bird. The final score, when Mr. Bird left for America, was—Myself, 7; Mr. Bird, 5; and 5 draws. There had been a stipulation, made in the first instance, practically limiting the duration of the match, as it had been arranged that four games a week should be played at least. This condition had been relaxed at the request of Mr. Bird, who had to attend pressing business, and adjournments had taken place by mutual consent from time to time. But, as the match had been protracted already for two months and a half, I had not alone an undoubted right to claim the victory on Mr. Bird's departure for America, but I was bound in honour and duty not to ignore my backer's interest, especially as the latter had left it entirely to my own discretion to decide the question of a further adjournment; and I therefore claimed the stakes, with the full approbation of all the parties concerned in the match. Mr. Bird very chivalrously accepted my proposal of giving him his revenge in another contest on his return from America, which I hope will prove a fairer test of our relative strength than the last one. Mr. Bird had evidently been very much out of play at the commencement of the last match, and would, in consequence, have had to fight against the disadvantage of being two games behind in the score if the match had been resumed; whereas, in a fresh contest, he will start even.—Yours obediently, William Steinitz. (9)

<From Bird:> This match was for the winner of the first 11 games, and the number of games played in all was 18 [sic; 17]. When the 17th [sic; 16th] game was in progress I received a telegram requesting my early presence in America on business of our firm, and at their request I started two days afterwards. To oblige Mr. Steinitz I commenced the 18th [sic; 17th] game, but was unable to proceed further with it, and my stakes were paid over for me by Mr. P. T. Duffy, my colleague and a representative of our firm, who had full authority to act on my behalf at his own discretion. It was played in the Westminster Chess Club at Paine's, Covent Garden, and Haxell's, Strand. (2)

(1) London Field, 1866.09.15, p216
(2) Bird's Modern Chess and Chess Masterpieces, Bird, London 1884, p35
(3) Chess Practice, Bird, London 1892, pp14-15
(4) Chess Novelties, Bird, London 1895, p(xx)
(5) Steinitz & Lasker Match, Bird, London 1894, p12
(6) Chess History and Reminiscences, Bird, London 1893, p115
(7) London Field, 1866.11.24, p405
(8) Illustrated London News, 1866.11.24, p515
(9) Illustrated London News, 1866.12.08, p559

 page 1 of 1; 17 games  PGN Download 
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Steinitz vs Bird 1-0321866Bird - SteinitzC10 French
2. Bird vs Steinitz 0-1181866Bird - SteinitzA02 Bird's Opening
3. Steinitz vs Bird 1-0231866Bird - SteinitzC25 Vienna
4. Steinitz vs Bird ½-½431866Bird - SteinitzC10 French
5. Bird vs Steinitz 1-0271866Bird - SteinitzC67 Ruy Lopez
6. Bird vs Steinitz ½-½241866Bird - SteinitzC65 Ruy Lopez, Berlin Defense
7. Bird vs Steinitz 1-0411866Bird - SteinitzC41 Philidor Defense
8. Steinitz vs Bird 1-0121866Bird - SteinitzC10 French
9. Bird vs Steinitz 0-1661866Bird - SteinitzC65 Ruy Lopez, Berlin Defense
10. Steinitz vs Bird 0-1281866Bird - SteinitzC10 French
11. Bird vs Steinitz ½-½561866Bird - SteinitzC65 Ruy Lopez, Berlin Defense
12. Bird vs Steinitz ½-½231866Bird - SteinitzC65 Ruy Lopez, Berlin Defense
13. Steinitz vs Bird 1-0161866Bird - SteinitzC00 French Defense
14. Steinitz vs Bird 1-0401866Bird - SteinitzC13 French
15. Steinitz vs Bird ½-½321866Bird - SteinitzC13 French
16. Steinitz vs Bird 0-1631866Bird - SteinitzC14 French, Classical
17. Bird vs Steinitz 1-0221866Bird - SteinitzC84 Ruy Lopez, Closed
 page 1 of 1; 17 games  PGN Download 
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2)  

Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  jnpope: I was wondering why Bird was stating 18 games to this match in the material quoted from <Bird's Modern Chess and Chess Masterpieces>, Bird, London 1884, p35.

Turns out on page 36 he gives a breakdown of the _18_ games without realizing his source, <Chess World>, printed game 2 twice (once on page 244 and once on page 308).

Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: <It was played in the Westminster Chess Club at Paine's, Covent Garden, and Haxell's, Strand.>

Bird isn't the most reliable source. Harding has:

<The match got underway in early September at the Westminster's temporary home, the Gordon Hotel. Then in the week beginning Monday, 17 September the club moved to Haxell's Hotel, adjoining Exeter Hall.> (Steinitz in London, p.137)

Harding's proposed schedule would mean the first four, possibly, five games were played at the Gordon. Its address is typically given in the papers as simply <Gordon Hotel, Covent Garden>, but some specify the <Piazza>, so here:

The Gordon was one of the sites used in Anderssen - Steinitz (1866).

Premium Chessgames Member
  jnpope: Does Harding give better information on the match format (10 or 11 wins) or the stakes (£15, £20, or £25)?
Premium Chessgames Member
  jnpope: I guess I should probably re-evaluate Harding. After identifying me as "Richard Pope" from 2004.10.12 to 2015.02.04 he does correctly credit "Jacques N. Pope" for the Chess Archaeology website, it was hard to take him seriously for those 10 years and I just ignored him for the last 6.
Feb-13-22  Z free or die: Harding is good stuff, imo - once he gets it right (we all make mistakes after all!)


Feb-13-22  George Wallace: A very close match! Steinitz edged out Bird by a very narrow margin.

Morphy whooped Bird. It wasn't even close. Sometimes styles make fights, but I get the feeling that Morphy would have whooped Steinitz much like he whooped Bird.

For that matter, I bet Morphy would have whooped Lasker too.

Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: <Its address is typically given in the papers as simply <Gordon Hotel, Covent Garden>, but some specify the <Piazza>, so here...>

That link is dead, but this should endure:

<The corner house of this group (No. 3) was also let to Thomas Barnes, whose term began at Lady Day 1635. (fn. 12) Barnes erected a house with three bays facing the Piazza and a return front to James Street. The James Street face, north of the portico walk, was rebuilt in grey stock bricks by the tenant, Matthew Pearce of St. Martin's, bricklayer, in 1754. (fn. 1) The Piazza face was renewed in a plain style at the beginning of the nineteenth century.

By 1777 the premises were in the occupation of Thomas Starling (Stirling, or Sterling) who established a licensed hotel known as the Gordon. (fn. 13) On the ground floor in the part of the premises facing James Street a public house was established, probably by George Belshaw, victualler, who became the tenant in 1805. (fn. 3) This was called the Britannia Tavern. In 1847 Belshaw's widow assigned the lease of the Gordon Hotel and the Britannia to G. F. Webber, another victualler, who employed a Mr. Harrison, surveyor, and William Cubitt and Company, builders, to dress the front of the Britannia with compo. The Gordon Hotel and the Britannia survived until 1876.>

Sep-04-22  stone free or die: It's nice to have other resources, but the first place I go to revive dead links is Wayback - which has this 2017 capture:


NOTE: Create an account today to post replies and access other powerful features which are available only to registered users. Becoming a member is free, anonymous, and takes less than 1 minute! If you already have a username, then simply login login under your username now to join the discussion.

Please observe our posting guidelines:

  1. No obscene, racist, sexist, or profane language.
  2. No spamming, advertising, duplicate, or gibberish posts.
  3. No vitriolic or systematic personal attacks against other members.
  4. Nothing in violation of United States law.
  5. No cyberstalking or malicious posting of negative or private information (doxing/doxxing) of members.
  6. No trolling.
  7. The use of "sock puppet" accounts to circumvent disciplinary action taken by moderators, create a false impression of consensus or support, or stage conversations, is prohibited.
  8. Do not degrade Chessgames or any of it's staff/volunteers.

Please try to maintain a semblance of civility at all times.

Blow the Whistle

See something that violates our rules? Blow the whistle and inform a moderator.

NOTE: Please keep all discussion on-topic. This forum is for this specific tournament only. To discuss chess or this site in general, visit the Kibitzer's Café.

Messages posted by Chessgames members do not necessarily represent the views of, its employees, or sponsors.
All moderator actions taken are ultimately at the sole discretion of the administration.

Spot an error? Please suggest your correction and help us eliminate database mistakes!

Copyright 2001-2023, Chessgames Services LLC