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Isidor Gunsberg vs Wilhelm Steinitz
"Happiness is a Warm Gunsberg" (game of the day Nov-16-2014)
Steinitz - Gunsberg World Championship Match (1891), New York, NY USA, rd 12, Jan-05
Italian Game: Evans Gambit. Slow Variation (C52)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 1 OF 2 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Apr-24-03  ughaibu: This is great, the moves and positions that Steinitz was prepared to play are really inspiring.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Calli: ughaibu, Nick Pope did an amazing job of digging out all of the newspaper accounts of this match and the games are annotated by both players! Check it out at
Apr-24-03  ughaibu: Calli: thanks, I'll take a look later.
Jun-09-04  zb2cr: This is the game where Gunsberg had the advantage of knowing what Steinitz was going to play.

Steinitz had published some analysis claiming that 6 ... Qf6 was the proper defense to the Evans' Gambit. He was at this point engaged in a "correspondence match" via cable with Tchigorin, using the same line. The story goes that when this game reached the 6th move, Steinitz looked across the table at Gunsberg and said: "If you expect me to go one with my defense, I'll do it." Gunsberg's reply was something to the effect of you may do what you want, but the public will expect you to defend your theories.

Apr-22-05  capanegra: Isn't 21.♘a8 cute?
Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: Around move 15 it looks like Steinitz is trying to go for a position out of FischerRandomChess, but Gunsberg took the open square a8 with his knight first!
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: Here Steinitz actually reaches a FischerRandom position (although I am not sure it's legal for black to be castled), with equally disastrous results.

Lasker vs Steinitz, 1895

Apr-22-05  capanegra: Here is another truly FisherRandom position (with a non castled King), in which Steinitz is successful. I specially recommend take a look at the Queen after move 14.

Chigorin vs Steinitz, 1889

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: Wow, <capanegra>. I think Steinitz single-handedly kept the Evans alive for 20 extra years with his horrible defenses.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Honza Cervenka: Steinitz was very stubborn in his endeavour to prove over the board that his highly original (and sometimes pretty dubious) opening ideas were correct. His 6...Qf6 defence in Evans (played several times in match with Gunsberg and much more times in match with Chigorin) is a good example of this behaviour. Another similar case was his Nh3 retreat in Two Knights (see Repertoire Explorer: Wilhelm Steinitz (white)) or famous King stroll line in Vienna/King's Gambit (see Repertoire Explorer: Wilhelm Steinitz (white)). He paid a lot of for this stubborness (especially in WC matches) but it's hard to not admire such a consistency.:-)
Premium Chessgames Member
  Calli: <He paid a lot of for this stubborness (especially in WC matches) but it's hard to not admire such a consistency.:-)>

This must be one of those elusive "Principles of Steinitz" that Lasker often referred to, but don't seemed to be written down anywhere. :-)

Nov-18-06  RookFile: Well, Lasker wrote about them in his Manual of Chess. I know that Steinitz published a lot of work in the magazine "The Field".
Oct-06-07  RookFile: Is it a good idea to castle early in a double e pawn game?
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <Calli><This must be one of those elusive "Principles of Steinitz" that Lasker often referred to, but don't seemed to be written down anywhere. :-)>

It would seem they would be here if anywhere. I'll have to look. Google Books is going to ruin me.

Feb-28-08  Knight13: Steinitz the Super Passive. 7...Nh6?
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: 1 of 2


Here is Steinitz on his curious defense to the Evans, from the 1889 edition of the Modern Chess Instructor:

<[W]e wish to make some special remarks on the new defence adopted by the author in the Evans' Gambit, as it affords striking examples of the application of, and the selection between, some of the different maxims laid down in our chapter on "The Modern School and the Principles of Play." It may be said of the Evans' Gambit that it puts the modern theories to a crucial test, for a Pawn is given up on the extreme Queen's wing for a remote attack in the centre and against the adverse King. For the ending, the defence ought to have a winning superiority, as his being a Pawn ahead is also greatly strengthened by his having the majority of Pawns far away from the hostile King, which invariably has to castle on the King's side early in this opening. But the chief difficulty for the defence is the formation of White's two center pawns at Q4 and K4, and the powerful ranges which the latter's two bishops obtain against the Black's King's side after Castling, more especially that of White's QB at QKt2.

It was chiefly with the view of obviating these difficulties that the author after the moves 1 P-K4, 1 P-K4; 2 KKt-B3, 2 QKt-B3; 3 B-B4, 3 B-B4; 4 P-QKt4, 4 BXKtP; 5 P-B3, 5 B-R4; 6 0-0, introduced the move 6....Q-B3, and we now propose the following continuation: 7 P-Q4, 7 Kt-R3 (in the games of the contest <i.e., the first Steinitz-Chigorin match> the author played 7....KKt-K2, which on further analytical examination we find to be much inferior to the move now proposed). There are now several lines of attack, but anyhow the most interesting is the one based on Mr. Tschigorin's idea applied in actual play against the other defence 7....KKt-K2 namely: 8 P-Q5, Kt-K2; 9 Q-R4, 9 B-Kt3; 10 QB-KKt5, 10 Q-Q3; 11 Kt-R3, 11 P-QB3; 12 QR-Q sq. At this juncture Black has to take his choice between retarding his development for a long time or allowing two "holes" (compare p. xxxi, chapter on "The Relative Value of Pieces, etc.") to be formed in the centre. As will be seen the two holes are more dangerous to his game than the block that White will create. If, for instance, 12....P-KB3; 13 PXP, 13 QXP; 14 Kt-Kt5, 14 PXB (or 14....B-B4; 15 B-K3, etc. Or 14....B-B2; 15 B-Q5, Q-Kt3; 16 B-K3, 16 Q-R4; 17 Kt-Q6 ch., 17 K-Bsq.; 18 QXQ, 18 BXQ; 19 BXP, etc.); 15 KtXKP, 15 Q-B4; 16 Kt-Q6 ch., K-Bsq.; 17. KtXB (not the tempting 17 QXQP on account of 17....Q-B3!), 17....QXKKt; 18 KtXB and wins.>


Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: 2 of 2

< The defence has therefore to resort to the line of play that actually occurred in the contest in a similar position and the game would continue 12....Q-Ktsq.; 13 BXQKt, KXB; 14 P-Q6 ch., 14 K-Bsq.; 15 Q-Kt4. This is no doubt much superior to 15 KtXP to which Black would reply 15....B-B4. And now Black's pieces are certainly shut out uncomfortably for the present, but our theory is that White's QP being too far advanced will require the protection of Queen and Rook for some time, and if Black's King can only be guarded against any attacking surprises the defence ought gradually to obtain the best of the game with the majority of Pawns on the Queen's side and the two Bishops. For that purpose we would advise even to give up the Pawn gained and to proceed with 15....B-Qsq. at once, if only for the reason that if 15....P-B3 White might have some good sacrificing opportunities by 16 K-Rsq., 16 B-Qsq.; 17 KtXP, and if 17....PXKt; 18 P-B4. However, after 15....B-Qsq.; 16 KtXP, 16 P-QR4; (not 16....P-QKt4, on account of the rejoinder 17 KtXBP, etc.); 17 Q-Kt2 (if 17 Q-B5, 17 Q-R2; and after the exchange of Queens Black has the superior game with 3 combined Pawns available for advance on the Queen's side, as against 2 separated ones of the opponent, besides that, White's QP will be weak), 17 P-QKt4; and we believe Black ought to able to extricate himself with the superior game. >

Here is the position at the end of Steinitz' analysis:

click for larger view

Of course, you might still wonder which of Steinitz' principles suggested that, e.g., ...Qf6-d6-b8 was a good maneuver. If you put it that way, it's a hard question to answer. But I think the general rationale for his opening play was the idea that the defense should prevail, absent a serious error, and secondly that a pawn majority far from the opposing king was of great value in the ending. (I don't think the concept of the minority attack existed in 1889.)

The more specific notion behind his defense, I think, was that he did not want to play ...exd4 (as in the Normal Position, which would be reached after 6. 0-0 via 6....d6 7. d4 exd4 8. exd4 Bb6) which would give White a mobile center and (by getting the pawns at c3 and e5 off the board) go a long way toward opening the a1-h8 diagonal for a White bishop on b2. Maintaining a center pawn at e5 until the position had become blocked would blunt White's attack, Steinitz thought.

Lasker found a more pragmatic approach to Steinitz' goal: 6. 0-0 d6 7. d4 Bb6, and the pawns on c3 and e5 remain in place. Of course White can regain his gambit pawn, but only by entering a disagreeable ending.

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: Of course Chigorin blew holes in Steinitz' analysis, and Gunsburg took full advantage. See earlier comments on this page and also see here:

Chigorin vs Steinitz, 1890

You have to love Steinitz, though, publishing his analysis in his pet line and then playing into his opponents' preparation.

Feb-07-10  Petrosianic: I never cease to be amazed at Steinitz's conviction that the key to refuting the Evans Gambit was to turn himself into a human pretzel. It's why the 1889 match is one of the most entertaining, along with the encores played in this one.
Feb-08-10  Petrosianic: <Lasker found a more pragmatic approach to Steinitz' goal: 6. 0-0 d6 7. d4 Bb6, and the pawns on c3 and e5 remain in place. Of course White can regain his gambit pawn, but only by entering a disagreeable ending.>

That would be this game:

Chigorin vs Lasker, 1895

But this was played in 1895, and Steinitz seems to have abandoned the 6...Qf6 line before that. He didn't play it a single time against Tchigorin in 1892.

Mar-04-10  kibitzwc: (1457) Gunsberg,Isidor - Steinitz,William [C52]
World Championship 3rd New York (12), 05.01.1891
[Fritz 12 (5m)]
C52: Evans Gambit Accepted: 5 c3 Ba5 1.e4 [1.Nc3 Nf6 2.d4 e6 3.e3 c5 4.d5 c4 5.Qe2 Qe7 6.e4 e5 7.Qe3 Ng4 8.h3 Nh6 9.a3 a6 10.a4 Qb4 11.Rb1 Qa3 12.g4 a5 13.Ke2 g6 14.Kf3 f5 15.exf5 e4+ 16.Kg3 Kf7 17.Ra1 Kf6 18.bxa3 Ra7] 1...e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.b4 Bxb4 5.c3 Ba5 6.00 Qf6 7.d4 Nh6 8.Bg5 Qd6 9.d5 Nd8 10.Qa4 Bb6 11.Na3 c6 12.Be2 Bc7 13.Nc4 Qf8 14.d6 Bxd6 15.Nb6 Rb8 16.Qxa7 Ng4 last book move 17.Nh4 Ne6 18.Bxg4 [18.Nxc8?! Rxc8 19.Bxg4 Nxg5] 18...Nxg5 19.Nf5 Ne6? [19...Bc7 20.Nxc8 Nxe4 ] 20.Rfd1 Bc7 21.Na8 Rxa8 22.Qxa8 Kd8 23.Rxd7+!! Kxd7 24.Rd1+ [24.Rd1+ Nd4 25.cxd4 ] 10
Sep-01-10  Whitehat1963: Monday puzzle after 22...Kd8.
Sep-02-10  soothsayer8: If this isn't a refutation of Steinitz's defense (6...Qf6?) to the Evan's Gambit, I don't know what is. Why purposefully put yourself in such a cramped an defensive position? Stubborn one that Steinitz seems to have been...
Jan-17-11  Llawdogg: I've read a lot about the genius of Steinitz. It is good to see the stubborn Steinitz. It was hard for him to abandon one of his pet theories. Oh well, he learned eventually.
Premium Chessgames Member
  morfishine: Yes the 1890 match was very entertaining: Steinitz - Gunsberg World Championship Match (1890)

Gunsberg had his moments, even winning two games in a row (4 & 5). Here in game 4, Steinitz looks almost feeble: Gunsberg vs Steinitz, 1890

And if thats not bad enough, in game 5, Steinitz looks almost childish: Steinitz vs Gunsberg, 1890

But Steinitz had the last laugh, securing the title with this rather bizarre win in game 18: Gunsberg vs Steinitz, 1891

What all this has to do with a song released in 1968, I have no idea


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