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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)

London, England; 18 July 1866—10 August 1866

1 1 1 1 1 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 Wins ———————————————————————————————————————————— Steinitz 0 1 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 1 1 8 Anderssen 1 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 1 0 0 1 0 0 6 ———————————————————————————————————————————— Format: The winner of the first eight games to be declared the victor, draws not counting. Time Control: 20 moves every 2 hours. Wager: £200 (£100 a side Forster vs Burden) Purse: £50 of the wager to the winner, £20 club subscription to the loser.


The history of this match, the most interesting which has taken place in London for some years past, is as follows: About a month or more ago discussion arose in the course of a casual conversation amongst several metropolitan amateurs as to the relative merits and powers in play of the leading continental masters, especially Herr Anderssen and Herr Steinitz. As some difference of opinion existed, one amateur (Mr Forster) very spiritedly proposed to bring the matter to a test by stating that he was willing to back Mr Steinitz for the sum of £100 in a match. This proposal was at once taken up by Mr Burden, who was joined in his wager by about half a dozen other gentlemen, so that there was speedily subscribed another £100, wherewithal to back Herr Anderssen. It was then agreed that of the £100 wagered on each side (between Mr Forster and Mr Burden and Co.) the sum of £50 should be proffered to the winner of a short match, if Herr Anderson would come over and play with Herr Steinitz in London. On being written to by Herr Steinitz, however, Anderssen naturally declined to undertake a long and costly journey unless he were guaranteed £20 towards his expenses in case he ultimately came off loser of the match.

On this being represented to Mr Burden and Mr Forster they declined to be responsible for the extra amount, and the match might perhaps have hung fire for a short space had not the members of the London Chess Club, on being spoken to as to the state of affairs, immediately offered to subscribe £10 of the required £20, proposing that the St. George's Chess Club should find the other £10, and that in return the games of the match should be played at these two clubs alternately. Mr Medley, the active and zealous secretary of the London Club, whose exertions have promoted many an exciting chessboard battle, at once gave his guarantee for the money due from the members of that circle, and Mr Forster and Mr Burden agreed to the condition proposed. Pending these arrangements, however, and ere Mr Andersson arrived, the Westminster Chess Club was organised; and as Mr Forster and all the backers of Herr Anderssen had become members of it, this society considered it only due to their club that a portion of this attractive match should take place in their rooms. A proposal for this re-arrangement was made to the London Chess Club, and was received in the most fair and gentlemanly spirit, that circle of amateurs at once agreeing to waive the previous agreement, if the Westminster Club would take their share in the payment of the £20 expenses. It was then agreed on all sides that each of the three clubs would find a third part of the £20, that this £20 should in any case be given to the loser of the match, and that the games should be played alternately at the Westminster Chess Club, the London, and the St. George's.

Mr Anderssen had now arrived in town, and all that remained to be done was to arrange the terms of the match, which was presently accomplished at a meeting of the promoters of the match and their representatives, held at the Westminster Club's rooms, at the Gordon Tavern, Covent-garden, Mr Staunton in the chair. The terms decided on were briefly these:

That the winner of the first eight games should be declared victor, and entitled to the sum of £50; that the loser should be entitled to £20, that in case of any dispute, the Earl of Dartrey, known to all chess players as Lord Cremorne, be appealed to as final umpire; that all members of the London, the St. George's and the Westminster Chess Clubs have free admission throughout to see the play, as also the members of the British Chess Association; that the games are the property of any on-looker who chooses to record them; that the games be played according to the set of rules preferred by the players; and that the games, four per week, and always commencing at one o'clock in the day, be played at the three clubs in rotation, in the order which we have already indicated, and which order was justly decided by the casting of lots.

The first game of this inspiriting match come off at the Westminster Club last Wednesday, to the no small entertainment and interest of a sufficiently numerous circle of amateurs."(1)

(1) London Field, Saturday, 21.07.1866, p.59

Traditionally this match marked the beginning of Steinitz's reign as World Champion, which would have marked his reign as World Champion at the longest in history (28 years), specifically, dominating from c. 1866 - 1894. However, the claim that Anderssen defaulted to the status of "World Champion" would have been dubiously 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.

Richard Dawson, 1st Earl of Dartrey KP (7 September 1817 – 12 May 1897), was a prominent Liberal Unionist Politician. (See Wikipedia article: Richard Dawson, 1st Earl of Dartrey)

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 0-1551866Anderssen - 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)  

Kibitzer's Corner
Jun-12-13  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,


Jun-18-15  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.
May-13-16  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>.

Feb-28-17  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)

Mar-01-17  zanzibar: Please follow some of the other Russell posts starting here:

Russell (kibitz #1)


Mar-01-17  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)

Mar-01-17  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.
Mar-01-17  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.
May-25-20  Sally Simpson: ***

The first post mentioned this:

If the title was backdated to this match (1866) and Steinitz lost it in 1894 - that makes 28 years.

The opening piece here says 26 years making it appear Steinitz lost the title in 1892 which was the last time he successfully defended it.

Just noticed this after reading Raymond Keene at:

And came here to see if I could source Steinitz's claim the world title started with this match.

(moot point but it appears this bit needs tidying up)

"....he was willing to ['back' or 'bet on' ] Steinitz for the sum of £100 in a match."


Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: Staunton in <The Chess World>, vol.i, p.379:

<This little affair has terminated, much to the astonishment of the German player's friends, in an easy victory to our young countryman, the score at the end showing:-

De Vere to have won 7, Steinitz 3, Drawn 2.

We have not examined many of the games, but some who have say that Mr. Steinitz must have greatly mistaken his powers, or must have been very injudiciously advised when he undertook the task of giving odds to a player of Mr. De Vere's capabilities. From what we have seen of the play we agree with them; but the error committed by Mr. Steinitz in consenting to this match, is as nothing compared to that which he is rumoured to have in contemplation, to wit, the challenging of Mr. Anderssen to a contest, on even terms, for £100 a side! We suspect, however, and hope that this absurd report will prove to be an idle hoax.>

Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: From the <Field> introduction: <...that the games should be played alternately at the Westminster Chess Club, the London, and the St. George's. [...] be played at the three clubs in rotation, in the order which we have already indicated, and which order was justly decided by the casting of lots.>

Boden is in error - the order was Westminster, St. George's, London.

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