Zukertort vs Steinitz 1886
New York / St. Louis / New Orleans
Wilhelm Steinitz was born in Prague, Bohemia (today Czech Republic) in 1836. He dominated the chess world for most of the second half of the 1800s, and beat his strongest active contemporaries in matches: Anderssen - Steinitz (1866), Steinitz - Zukertort (1872) and Steinitz - Blackburne (1876). Steinitz considered his world championship tenure to have started with his win over Adolf Anderssen, although in these matches the title of world champion was probably not officially at stake. In 1882, Steinitz challenged Johannes Zukertort to another match but the negotiations failed. Zukertort was born in Lublin, Poland in 1842, and by the 1870s he had become one of the world's strongest chessplayers. Zukertort scored an overwhelming victory at London (1883) ahead of Steinitz. Contemporaneous periodicals openly questioned Steinitz's superiority. At the end of June 1883, Steinitz again challenged Zukertort to a match, and proposed conditions. Zukertort agreed in principle to the match, but his poor health after his tournament victory did not permit the stress of such a match in the near future.
| ||Zukertort (left) and Steinitz.|
Steinitz emigrated to the USA in late 1883. The negotiations for a match with Zukertort now dragged on. The main disagreement was location: Steinitz wanted to play in the USA, but not in London, where he had encountered unfairness and hostility. Zukertort, on the other hand, insisted on a match in London, where his financial backers resided. Finally, in mid-1885 Zukertort agreed to a match in the USA and Steinitz agreed to play a return match in London. At first, the preliminary seconds were to be Gustave Simonson for Steinitz and James Innes Minchin for Zukertort, but by the time the match started, Steinitz had chosen Thomas Frere and Zukertort Charles Moehle as their respective seconds. Frère and Minchin went on to conduct the match negotiations. A forfeit deposit of $250 was imposed. Steinitz forwarded the sum at the beginning of December 1885. Zukertort arrived in New York on December 13 but the transmission of his deposit was delayed, so the match began later than originally planned.
The conditions for the first official world chess championship match were signed on December 29, 1885. The stakes were $2,000 a side, with a guarantee of at least $750 to the winner and $500 to the loser. The winner would be the first to win 10 games. In case of 9:9 (draws not counting), the match was to be declared drawn. The time control was 30 moves in 2 hours and then 15 moves in 1 hour. The match was to begin in New York and remain in that venue until one player had scored 4 wins. Then it would move to St. Louis until one player had won 3 games there. The rest of the match was to take place in New Orleans. An umpire for each player was chosen from the chess club hosting the match during each of the three legs. The two umpires supervised the games and settled all disputes. In the case of a disagreement between the umpires, or of a player feeling that an umpire's decision contradicted the rules, the referee had the final say. A change was made in St. Louis that the match would be considered drawn if the score reached 8:8, draws not counting.
The match began on January 11, 1886  in Cartier's Hall, Fifth Avenue, in New York. The New York leg ended January 20, when Zukertort scored 4 consecutive victories after losing the first game. Play was resumed on February 3 in St. Louis. The games were played during the day in the Harmonie Hall and at night in the Chess, Checkers and Whist Club. The umpires were Ben R. Foster for Steinitz and William Duncan for Zukertort. The St. Louis leg ended on February 10 after Steinitz scored 3 wins and a draw. After a rest of almost 2 weeks, the New Orleans leg began on February 26. Charles Francis Buck was the referee. The umpires were Fernand Clairborne for Steinitz and Charles Maurian for Zukertort. Play took place in the New Orleans Chess, Checkers and Whist Club at the corner of Baronne and Canal Street. Carnival activities led to a suspension of the match for a few days. After a draw, Steinitz pulled ahead with 2 wins. Zukertort struck back with a win, but managed only 3 draws and another loss in the next games. Steinitz then went on to win the last 3 games, becoming the first official world champion on March 29, 1886 with a final score of (+10 -5 =5).
FINAL SCORE: Steinitz 10; Zukertort 5 (5 draws)
Reference: game collection WCC Index [Steinitz-Zukertort 1886]
NOTABLE GAMES [what is this?]
- Jeremy Gaige, Chess Personalia: A Biobibliography, (McFarland 1987, softcover reprint 2005), p. 406
- Rod Edwards, Wilhelm Steinitz
- Obituary in the New York Times, 14 October 1900, quoting Steinitz from My advertisement to anti-Semites in Vienna and Elsewhere. In Edward Winter, Early Uses of ‘World Chess Champion’
- Edward Winter, Early Uses of ‘World Chess Champion’
- Kurt Landsberger, William Steinitz - Chess Champion 2d ed. (McFarland 1995), p. 168
- Gaige, pp. 481-482
- Rod Edwards, Johannes Zukertort
- The Chess Player's Chronicle mentions that Zukertort had become champion "in the opinion of some" (18 July 1883, p. 50. In Edward Winter, Early Uses of ‘World Chess Champion’). According to the Cincinnati Commercial, the "indications are that Mr. Z. is the strongest living player" (7 July 1883. Reprinted in Jacques N. Pope, Chess Archaeology, Item 2). The Baltimore Sunday News was quoted as saying that Zukertort was now the acknowledged world champion chessplayer (Newark Sunday Call, 8 July 1883. Reprinted in Jacques N. Pope, Chess Archaeology) and the New York Turf, Field and Farm announced Steinitz's soon to be published match challenge to be a challenge to Zukertort's "title to the championship" (6 July 1883. Reprinted in Jacques N. Pope, Chess Archaeology, Item 1). Johannes von Minckwitz writes, that their rivalry grew more and more acute after the tournament, and a match between them moved closer and closer (Source #cite_15>15, pp. 4-5. Reprinted in Internet Archive). Charles Devide described the tournament as a bitter disappointment and that then all of Steinitz' energies were bent on securing a match (Devidé, A Memorial to William Steinitz, New York and London, 1901, p. 7. Reprinted in Internet Archive).
- New York Turf, Field and Farm, 13 July 1883. Reprinted in Jacques N. Pope, Chess Archaeology, Item 1
- British Chess Magazine, August-September 1883, pp. 282-283
- Landsberger, p. 138
- Landsberger, p. 146
- Landsberger, p. 145
- Landsberger, p. 148
- Johannes von Minckwitz, Der Entscheidungskampf zwischen W. Steinitz und J. H. Zukertort um die Meisterschaft der Welt, Leipzig, 1886, pp. 7-8. Reprinted in Internet Archive
- Landsberger, p. 150
- Nashville Union, 6 December 1885 (originally from the New Orleans Times Democrat). Reprinted in Jacques N. Pope, Chess Archaeology, Item 3
- British Chess Magazine, February 1886, p. 69
- Chess Monthly, January 1886, pp. 136-137. In Edward Winter's World Chess Championship Rules
- Landsberger, p. 150
- British Chess Magazine, May 1886, p. 184
- British Chess Magazine, February 1886, p. 54
- Rod Edwards, Steinitz-Zukertort (1886)
- British Chess Magazine, March 1886, p. 116
- St. Louis Globe-Democrat, 3 February 1886. Reprinted in Jacques N. Pope, Chess Archaeology
- Charleston Sunday News, 21 February 1886. Reprinted in Jacques N. Pope, Chess Archaeology, Item 1
- British Chess Magazine, April 1886, pp. 139-140 (originally from the New Orleans Times-Democrat, 28 February 1886)
- Landsberger, p. 163
- Brooklyn Chess Chronicle, 15 March 1886, volume 4, number 6, p. 81. Reprinted in HathiTrust Digital Library