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1890-1891 World Chess Championship
Compiled by Penguincw
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★★★ INTRO ★★★

The 1891 World Chess Championship was between 54 year old defending champion Wilhelm Steinitz of the United States and 36 year old challenger Isidor Gunsberg of the United Kingdom.

★★★ QUALIFICATION ★★★

Gunsberg earned his qualification for placing 3rd in a 1889 New York tournament (see Game Collection: New York 1889 for games). The first place winners (Mikhail Chigorin and Max Weiss) weren't interesting in playing.

★★★ CONDITIONS ★★★

The winner would be the first to reach 10 1/2 points and 10 wins. If a 10-10 tie in wins occurs after 20 games, the match continues until one reaches 10 wins. However, if both players reach 9 wins, Steinitz would retain his title. The first round was played in 1890. Note: For this game collection, the overall score is listed, with the number of wins listed in brackets.

★★★ NOTABLE GAMES ★★★

Game 7: Steinitz vs Gunsberg, 1890

1.d4 d5 2.c4 dxc4 3.♘f3 ♘f6 4.e3 e6 5.♗xc4 ♗b4+ 6.♘c3 O-O 7.O-O b6 8.♘e5 ♗b7 9.♕b3 ♗xc3 10.bxc3 ♗d5 11.♗xd5 exd5 12.♗a3 ♖e8 13.c4 c5 14.♖ac1 ♘e4 15.♖fd1 cxd4 16.exd4 f6 17.cxd5

After 17.cxd5


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A knight sacrifice allows white to eventually have 2 connected passed pawns in the endgame.

17...fxe5 18.d6+ ♔h8 19.♕d5 ♘xf2 20.♖d2 ♘d7 21.♖xf2 ♘f6 22.♖xf6 gxf6 23.d7 ♖g8 24.dxe5 ♖g5 25.♕xa8 ♕xa8 26.♖c8+ ♖g8 27.♖xa8 ♖xa8 28.e6

28.e6 1-0


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The finish is very simple. One way I see to finish black off is 28...♖d8 29.e7 ♖xd7 (29...♖g8 30.e8=♕ ♖xe8 31.dxe8=♕+) 30.e8=♕+ forking both the rook and king. In other words, white will have a winning endgame.


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Game 9: Steinitz vs Gunsberg, 1890

1.♘f3 ♘f6 2.d4 e6 3.e3 c5 4.c4 d5 5.dxc5 ♗xc5 6.♘c3 ♗b4 7.♗d2 dxc4 8.♗xc4 O-O 9.O-O ♘c6 10.♕e2 ♕e7 11.e4 ♗xc3 12.♗xc3 e5 13.♕e3 ♗e6 14.♗e2 ♘g4 15.♕c1 ♖ac8 16.h3 ♘h6 17.♕e3 f6 18.a3 ♘f7 19.b4 a6 20.a4 ♘xb4 21.♗xb4 ♕xb4 22.♖fb1 ♕e7 23.♖b6 ♖c7 24.♖ab1 ♖fc8 25.♘e1 ♘d8 26.♘d3 ♕a3 27.♔h2 ♖d7 28.♖xe6 ♘xe6 29.♗g4 ♖e8 30.♗xe6+ ♖xe6 31.♘c5 ♕xe3 32.fxe3 ♖ee7 33.♘xd7 ♖xd7 34.♔g3 ♔f7 35.a5 ♔g6 36.♔f3 ♖c7 37.♖b2 ♖c5 38.♖a2 ♖b5 39.♔e2 ♔f7 40.♔f3 ♔e6 41.h4 h5 42.♖a1 g6 43.g4 hxg4+ 44.♔xg4 ♖b4 45.♔f3 f5 46.exf5+ ♔xf5 47.♖h1 ♖b5 48.e4+ ♔f6 49.♖d1 ♖xa5 50.♖d6+ ♔g7 51.♖d7+ ♔h6 52.♖xb7

After 52.♖xb7


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At this point, for the next 25 moves (approx.) the battle is to get the a-pawn to a1.

52...♖a3+ 53.♔f2 ♖a5 54.♖b6 ♔h5 55.♖c6 ♖a4 56.♔f3 ♖a3+ 57.♔f2 ♔h6 58.♖e6 ♖a5 59.♔g3 ♔g7 60.♔g4 ♔f7 61.♖b6 ♖a1 62.♖b7+ ♔f6 63.♖b6+ ♔g7 64.♖e6 a5 65.♖xe5 a4 66.♖a5 a3 67.♔g5 a2 68.♖a7+ ♔f8 69.♖a8+ ♔f7 70.♖a7+ ♔e6 71.♖a6+ ♔e5 72.♖a5+ ♔xe4 73.♖a4+ ♔f3 74.♖a3+ ♔f2 75.♔xg6 ♖g1+ 76.♔f7 a1=♕ 77.♖xa1 ♖xa1 78.h5 ♖h1 79.♔g6 ♖g1+ 80.♔f6 1/2-1/2

80.♔f6 1/2-1/2


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Black can try as hard as they want to try to get the h pawn without giving up the rook, but it won't work. I would play something like 80...♖h1 81.♔g6 ♖g1+ 82.♔f6 ♔f3 83.h6 ♖h1 84.♔g7 and the pawn is mere steps away from queening. The black king is too far away from stopping. If I were black, I would take the white pawn as soon as possible.


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Game 12: Gunsberg vs Steinitz, 1891

1.e4 e5 2.♘f3 ♘c6 3.♗c4 ♗c5 4.b4 ♗xb4 5.c3 ♗a5 6.O-O ♕f6 7.d4 ♘h6 8.♗g5 ♕d6 9.d5 ♘d8 10.♕a4 ♗b6 11.♘a3 c6 12.♗e2 ♗c7 13.♘c4 ♕f8 14.d6 ♗xd6

After 14...♗xd6


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Early on, black has been fishing for material, and while they are up 2 pawns, white will win at least one back.

15.♘b6 ♖b8 16.♕xa7 ♘g4 17.♘h4 ♘e6 18.♗xg4 ♘xg5 19.♘f5 ♘e6 20.♖fd1 ♗c7 21.♘a8 ♖xa8 22.♕xa8 ♔d8 23.♖xd7+ ♔xd7 24.♖d1+

24.♖d1+ 1-0


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In this position, white is down a bishop for pawn, but white is getting compensation. Something like 24...♘d4 25.cxd4 exd4 26.♘xg7 + ♔e7 27.♗xc8 c5 28.♘f5+ ♔f6 29.♕xb7 ♕xc8 30.♕c6+ ♕e6 31.♕xc7 ♕xe4 32.♘g3 leaves white up a full piece.


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★★★ FINAL ★★★

The last round (19) was played sometime in early 1891. Entering the round, Steinitz had a 10-8 advantage in wins, and just needed one draw in the remaining two games to retain his title. He would get his first chance with the white pieces.

Game 19: Steinitz vs Gunsberg, 1891

1.d4 d5 2.e3 ♘f6 3.c4 e6 4.♘c3 ♗e7 5.♘f3 O-O 6.♗e2 dxc4 7.♗xc4 c5 8.O-O ♘c6 9.dxc5 ♗xc5 10.♕xd8 ♖xd8 11.♗d2 a6 12.♖ac1 ♗a7 13.♖fd1 ♗d7 14.♗e1 ♘g4 15.e4 ♘ce5 16.♘xe5 ♘xe5 17.♗e2 ♗c6 18.♔f1 ♗d4 19.f3 ♖d7 20.♗f2 ♖ad8

After 20...♖ad8


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This game is about half way over. Both sides have a king, 2 rooks, 2 bishops, a knight and 6 pawns. Unless someone blunders, it's going to be an easy draw.

21.♗xd4 ♖xd4 22.♖xd4 ♖xd4 23.♖d1 ♖xd1+ 24.♘xd1 ♔f8 25.♔e1 ♘g6 26.♘e3 ♔e7 27.♔d2 ♔d6 28.♔c3 ♔c5 29.g3 ♗b5 30.b4+ ♔b6 31.♗d1 ♔c7 32.a4 ♗d7 33.f4 ♗c6 34.♔d4 ♘e7 35.♗b3 ♗e8 36.♘c4 ♘c6+ 37.♔c5 ♘d8 38.♘b6 f6 39.b5 axb5 40.axb5 ♗g6 41.♗c2 h5 1/2-1/2

41...h5 1/2-1/2


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Gunsberg didn't put in much of an effort to try to win, and that's what he got: a draw. Here, I'm going to try to exchange off all the kingside pawns, and see what'll happened. 42.f5 exf5 43.exf5 ♗f7 44.♗d1 g6 45.fxg6 ♗xg6 46.h3 f5 47.g4 fxg4 48.hxg4 hxg4 49.♗xg4 ♗e8 50.♗e2 ♗xb5 51.♗xb5 ♘e6+ 52.♔b4 ♔xb6 Even though white can not win, the bishop is there to prevent the knight pawn from promoting.


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★★★ MINI TABLE ★★★

Steinitz 1/2 1 1/2 0 0 1 1 1/2 1/2 1 1/2 0 1 1/2 1/2 0 1/2 1 1/2 (6 wins, 4 losses, 9 draws) <55.3% score>

Gunsberg 1/2 0 1/2 1 1 0 0 1/2 1/2 0 1/2 1 0 1/2 1/2 1 1/2 0 1/2 (4 wins, 6 losses, 9 draws) <44.7% score>

★★★ OTHER LINKS ★★★

See also: Steinitz - Gunsberg World Championship Match (1890)

Head to Head Match up Prior to 1890:
http://www.chessgames.com/perl/ches... (haven't faced yet)

Previous World Championship Title: Game Collection: 1889 World Chess Championship

Next World Championship Title: Game Collection: 1892 World Chess Championship

Game 1, Match tied 1/2-1/2 (0-0)
Steinitz vs Gunsberg, 1890 
(D35) Queen's Gambit Declined, 25 moves, 1/2-1/2

Game 2, Steinitz leads 1 1/2-1/2 (1-0)
Gunsberg vs Steinitz, 1890 
(C62) Ruy Lopez, Old Steinitz Defense, 40 moves, 0-1

Game 3, Steinitz leads 2-1 (1-0)
Steinitz vs Gunsberg, 1890 
(D31) Queen's Gambit Declined, 27 moves, 1/2-1/2

Game 4, Match tied 2-2 (1-1)
Gunsberg vs Steinitz, 1890 
(C50) Giuoco Piano, 57 moves, 1-0

Game 5, Gunsberg leads 3-2 (2-1)
Steinitz vs Gunsberg, 1890 
(D20) Queen's Gambit Accepted, 28 moves, 0-1

Game 6, Match tied 3-3 (2-2)
Gunsberg vs Steinitz, 1890 
(D00) Queen's Pawn Game, 43 moves, 0-1

Game 7, Steinitz leads 4-3 (3-2)
Steinitz vs Gunsberg, 1890 
(D26) Queen's Gambit Accepted, 28 moves, 1-0

Game 8, Steinitz leads 4 1/2-3 1/2 (3-2)
Gunsberg vs Steinitz, 1890 
(C53) Giuoco Piano, 36 moves, 1/2-1/2

Game 9, Steinitz leads 5-4 (3-2)
Steinitz vs Gunsberg, 1890 
(A46) Queen's Pawn Game, 80 moves, 1/2-1/2

Game 10, Steinitz leads 6-4 (4-2)
Gunsberg vs Steinitz, 1891 
(C53) Giuoco Piano, 43 moves, 0-1

Game 11, Steinitz leads 6 1/2-4 1/2 (4-2)
Steinitz vs Gunsberg, 1891 
(D05) Queen's Pawn Game, 29 moves, 1/2-1/2

Game 12, Steinitz leads 6 1/2-5 1/2 (4-3)
Gunsberg vs Steinitz, 1891 
(C52) Evans Gambit, 24 moves, 1-0

Game 13, Steinitz leads 7 1/2-5 1/2 (5-3)
Steinitz vs Gunsberg, 1891 
(A46) Queen's Pawn Game, 40 moves, 1-0

Game 14, Steinitz leads 8-6 (5-3)
Gunsberg vs Steinitz, 1891 
(C52) Evans Gambit, 33 moves, 1/2-1/2

Game 15, Steinitz leads 8 1/2-6 1/2 (5-3)
Steinitz vs Gunsberg, 1891 
(E14) Queen's Indian, 39 moves, 1/2-1/2

Game 16, Steinitz leads 8 1/2-7 1/2 (5-4)
Gunsberg vs Steinitz, 1891 
(C52) Evans Gambit, 21 moves, 1-0

Game 17, Steinitz leads 9-8 (5-4)
Steinitz vs Gunsberg, 1891 
(D06) Queen's Gambit Declined, 56 moves, 1/2-1/2

Game 18, Steinitz leads 10-8 (6-4)
Gunsberg vs Steinitz, 1891 
(C52) Evans Gambit, 54 moves, 0-1

Game 19, Steinitz wins 10 1/2-8 1/2 (6-4)
Steinitz vs Gunsberg, 1891 
(D00) Queen's Pawn Game, 41 moves, 1/2-1/2

19 games

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